Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York

Co-curated with Steven H. Jaffe

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, New York City’s artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort.  Many of them worked for the federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity. Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examined the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice.

From the outbreak of the European conflict in 1914, however, New York had also been a city at war with itself—a place where debates about ethnic and racial loyalty, pacifism, the right to side with France, Belgium, and England or Germany, and the very meaning of patriotism spawned impassioned art for a mass audience. In rediscovering a wartime dialogue between images of conformity and dissent, Posters and Patriotism showcased over 60 examples from the World War I poster collection donated to the Museum by railroad executive and financier John W. Campbell (1880-1957) in 1943, most being exhibited for the first time, as well as the work of defiant artists in such colorful publications as The Masses, The Fatherland, and Mother Earth.

Mr. Albrecht collaborated with co-curator Steven H. Jaffe to develop the show’s themes, select all artifacts, write exhibition text, and work with the exhibition and graphic designer.

Exhibition designer: Perrin Studio
Photographer: Rob Stephenson

Gay Gotham

Written by Donald Albrecht with Stephen Vider

This 304-page book accompanied the exhibition of the same name and uncovered the lost history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender artists in New York City. The book underscored that queer people have always flocked to New York seeking freedom, forging close-knit groups for support and inspiration. Gay Gotham brought to life the countercultural artistic communities that sprang up over the last hundred years, a creative class whose radical ideas would determine much of modern culture. Almost 400 images—both works of art, such as paintings and photographs, as well as letters, snapshots, and ephemera—illuminated their personal and professional bonds. By peeling back the overlapping layers of this cultural network that thrived despite its illicitness, this publication revealed a whole new side of the history of New York and celebrated the power of artistic collaboration to transcend oppression.

Gay Gotham was a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist for LGBTQ nonfiction.

>See exhibition

Chosen by the New York Times as a 2016 holiday book selection: “With a title that just about says it all…it is awash in photographs while encompassing a great deal of the cultural contributions of New York City’s nonstraight denizens.” Roberta Smith, New York Times, November 24, 2016

Authors: Donald Albrecht with Stephen Vider
Designer: Pure+Applied
Publisher: Skira Rizzoli

Saving Place

Co-edited with Andrew Dolkart in association with Seri Worden

This 208-page book accompanied the exhibition of the same name and was published in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the passage of New York’s pioneering Landmarks Law, enacted in April 1965. That law was a key factor in the rebirth of New York in the final quarter of the 20th century. It fostered pride in neighborhoods and resulted in neighborhood preservation in every borough, connecting and motivating residents and bringing new economic life to older communities. It ensured that huge swaths of the city remain a rich complex of new and old. It also ensured the creative re-use of countless buildings. At the same time, a new body of important architecture has emerged as architects, clients, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission devised innovative solutions for the renovation of landmark buildings and for new buildings in historic districts. The law spawned creativity in architects’ responses to building preservation that has enhanced the cityscape in all five boroughs. The book featured specially commissioned photographs of city landmarks by Iwan Baan.

See exhibition

Co-editors: Andrew Dolkart and Seri Worden
Publisher: The Monacelli Press
Managing Editor: Elizabeth White
Principal photography by Iwan Baan
Designer: Pentagram

Designing Home

This book accompanied the exhibition of the same name that looked at the contribution of Jewish designers, architects, patrons, and merchants in the creation of a distinctly modern American domestic landscape. In the aftermath of World War II, the hub of world Jewry shifted from Europe to America. The exhibition examined the cultural context in which many Jewish émigré architects and designers from Europe in the 1930–40s were welcomed and embraced into the creative communities that sprang up around the US—including Black Mountain College, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, and even in the Bay Area at Pond Farm in Guerneville. The story told in this exhibition gave remarkable insight into Jewish assimilation into American society. At the same time, Designing Home went beyond a simple exploration of physical Jewish contributions to the history of modern architecture and design—an impact that continues today—to examine broader cultural and social themes.

Mr. Albrecht developed the idea of the show, selected all artifacts, wrote exhibition text, assembled the design team, and wrote the catalog’s primary essay.

>See exhibition

Publisher: The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Managing Editor: Elizabeth Hamilton
Contributing Editor: Lily Siegel
Photo Coordinator: Ella Levitt
Catalog Designers: Pure+Applied, New York
(Urshula Barbour, Paul Carlos, and Carrie Kawamura)

Gilded New York

Gilded New York: Design, Fashion, and Society accompanied the exhibition of the same name, exploring the city’s visual culture at the end of the 19th century, when its elite class flaunted their money as never before. In New York, this era was marked by the sudden rise of industrial and corporate wealth, amassed by such titans as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould, who expressed their high status through extravagant fashions, architecture, and interior design. The exhibition presented a lavish display of some 100 works, including costumes, jewelry, portraits, and decorative objects, all created between the mid-1870s and the early 20th century. The dazzling works in the exhibition illuminated an era when members of the new American aristocracy often displayed their wealth in storied balls in Fifth Avenue mansions and hotels. It was a time when New York became the nation’s corporate headquarters and a popular Ladies’ Mile of luxury retail establishments and cultural institutions helped launch the city to global prominence.

>See exhibition


“Through jeweled tiaras and gold Ascot pins, family portraits gleaming with trompe l’oeil satin, and photos of the homes of the nouveau riche, the authors illustrate the transformations wrought by manna storms of wealth, the social mobility they encouraged and the cultural institutions they fostered, many of which continue to be cherished.”
Julie Lasky, New York Times Gift Guide
Christmas 2013

Designer: Tsang Seymour
Publisher: Monacelli Press

Keep Calm and Carry On

This catalog accompanied the exhibition Keep Calm and Carry On, which traced developments in architecture, engineering, urban planning, fashion, graphics, media, and product and automotive design between 1938 and 1951, a tumultuous 13-year period that spanned the run-up to World War II and its immediate aftermath. From 1939 to 1945, Britain’s creative class mobilized to win the war on the home front. Wartime initiatives spurred new levels of design innovation in a wide range of fields. Architects and engineers created air raid shelters to protect civilians from bombs and missiles and proposed new ideas in architecture and planning to rebuild the nation’s bombed-out cities. Designers in other media conceived fashions and furnishings that saved essential wartime materials while injecting style and beauty into the harsh realities of wartime life. Graphic designers created visually dynamic posters and filmmakers produced inspirational movies that shaped the nation’s behavior and attitudes. Arts promoters also rose to the challenges, forging new and lasting relationships between museums, artists, musicians, the British government, and the public. The end of the war in 1945 accelerated these progressive trends with a series of exhibitions presenting new and innovative ideas.

> See exhibition

Catalog design: Pure + Applied
Photographs: John Halpern

The Nature of Design

Co-edited with Dianne Pierce

This book accompanied an exhibition of the same name, which explored the work and philosophy of Hudson River Valley resident and renowned industrial designer Russel Wright. The show and book focused on one of Wright’s most pervasive preoccupations, and one with much current relevance: the relationship of humankind with the natural world. While examining Wright’s entire career from the 1920s through the 1970s, the exhibition will focus on his work between 1945 and 1968, a less-scrutinized period when Wright increasingly designed in experimental and innovative ways.

Co-editor: Dianne Pierce
Designer: Office of Communications & Marketing/Design Services, State University of New York at New Paltz; Senior Designer Jeff Lesperance, based on an initial concept design by Randall Martin.

Doris Duke’s Shangri La

Co-edited with Thomas Mellins

This catalog accompanied the traveling exhibition that explores Doris Duke’s Shangri La, a five-acre estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Honolulu. Begun in the mid-1930s and developed over the course of more than fifty years, Shangri La seamlessly melds together modern architecture, tropical landscape, and art from throughout the Islamic world. Representing an approach that may be termed “inventive synthesis,” Shangri La mixes original and commissioned architectural elements, sometimes incorporating complete historic rooms that function as museum-quality period installations. Shangri La’s collections are equally diverse and encompass a broad time spectrum, from the pre-Islamic and mediaeval periods through the mid-20th century, as well as myriad media, styles, and techniques developed within the realm of the Islamic arts. The exhibition combined artifacts, photographs, drawings, and ephemera, as well as works of five artists who have participated in Shangri La’s artists-in-residence program.

> See exhibition

Co-editor: Thomas Mellins
Principal photography by Tim Street-Porter
Designer: Abbott Miller/Pentagram
Publisher: Skira/Rizzoli

Bel Geddes Designs America

Norman Bel Geddes Designs America accompanied the first major traveling retrospective to explore the figure the New York Times recently dubbed “the Leonardo de Vinci of the 20th century.” When you drive on an interstate highway, attend a multimedia Broadway show, dine in a sky-high revolving restaurant, or watch a football game in an all-weather stadium, you owe a debt of gratitude to Bel Geddes. A promethean figure who was equally comfortable in the realms of fact and fantasy, Geddes was both a visionary and a pragmatist who had a significant role in shaping not only modern America, but also the nation’s image of itself as leading the way into the future. He was a polymath who had no schooling or professional training in the activities he mastered, which included designing stage sets, costumes, and lighting; creating theater buildings, offices, nightclubs, and houses, as well as their furnishings, from vacuum cleaners to cocktail sets; and authoring oracular books and articles that landed him and his prophesies on the front page of newspapers across the country.

> See exhibition

Designer: Sarah Gifford
Publisher: Abrams