Norman Bel Geddes
Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, the Museum of the City of New York, and Abrams
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.
Designer: Sarah Gifford