February 1 - April 17, 2011
Free with Museum admission
Joseph Urban was a prolific and innovative Gilded Age illustrator, designer, architect, and one of the most significant set designers of the early 20th century. The New York Herald-Tribune observed, “did more than any other man to revolutionize the American sense of design … He had a feeling for color and material so original that they did much to remake the American stage, revitalize American architecture and contribute a new impetus to American industrial design.”
Urban received his first architectural commission at age 19 when he was selected to design the new wing of the Abdin Palace in Cairo. He became known around the world for his innovative and unprecedented use of color, his pointillist technique, and his sensuous and decorative use of line. He designed buildings throughout the world from Esterhazy Castle in Hungary to the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. Urban’s legacy in Palm Beach are his iconic buildings, Mar-A-Lago, the Paramount Theater, and the Bath and Tennis Club. This exhibition will explore Urban’s impressive body of work and celebrate this highly original designer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibit includes rarely seen objects that have been archived for more than 90 years, including the only surviving copies of Urban's elevations of the Mar-a-Lago estate, and the only surviving rendering of the demolished Oasis Club. A highlight of the exhibit will be the recreation of the Wiener Werkstätte Showroom in New York.
The primary lender to the exhibition will be the Joseph Urban Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, with a variety of important objects lent by: bel etage, Wolfgang Bauer, Vienna; Detroit Institute of Arts; Galerie St. Etienne, New York; Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens; the Mar-a-Lago Club; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Alan Moss; and several private collectors.
There are various events held in conjunction with the exhibition, including: a Gallery Talk with biographer John Loring, a Children's Exhibit Activitiy, and a movie screening of Little old New York in the Museum's Grand Ballroom.
"This is an intimidating show, the kind that leaves one speechless because the best thing one could say would still do a lame job of describing the works. As you walk the show, keep in mind that before you is not just an artist who took on every project that came his way but one who delivered, extraordinarily, again and again and again."
- Gretel Sarmiento, Palm Beach ArtsPaper.