Birth of the Cool


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Hard to pin down, but easy to recognize — a look into the many iterations of what it means to be cool.

1950s West Coast style exuded “cool” from the smooth, hypnotic strains of a Miles Davis riff, Richard Neutra’s elegant, modernist residences, the hard-edged paintings of Helen Lundeberg and Karl Benjamin. This richly illustrated volume casts a fresh eye on Fifties West Coast style with illuminating commentary from a variety of perspectives.
Designed to echo the period it celebrates, this catalogue explores modernist innovations in art, architecture, design, film and music. Prominent cultural critics write on an array of topics: Thomas Hine about the culture of cool, Elizabeth Smith on domestic aspects of the period’s architecture, Francis Colpitt on hard-edged abstract painting, Dave Hickey on jazz, Bruce Jenkins on the crossover between animation and experimental film. The result is a multi-faceted exploration of the 1950s West Coast zeitgeist in all its colour, creativity, and cool.
By Elizabeth Armstrong
Hardcover, 301 pages.
Published by Prestel Publishing

Weight 4 lbs
Dimensions 10.75 × 10 × 1 in





Prestel Publishing

Charles & Ray Eames


Charles Ormand Eames Jr., a nearly-licensed architect born in St. Louis in 1907, and Bearnice Alexandra “Ray” Kaiser, an abstract painter born in Sacramento in 1912, are cemented into the canon of 20th-century design. Since uniting in 1940, these partners in life and work have been internationally recognized at the forefront of the design, architecture, filmmaking, and furniture communities.

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