Cooper–Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
New York City, NY
Passion for the Exotic
is a series of exhibitions featuring Cooper Hewitt’s collection. This exhibition highlights works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) in the context of the
Carnegie Mansion’s Teak Room
designed by Tiffany’s former business partner Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) in 1902. By this point, Tiffany and de Forest had collaborated on aesthetic interiors together and apart for over twenty years. Alongside a Tiffany dragonfly lamp owned by the Carnegie family and important loans of a Daffodil lamp, an inkwell box, and a fire screen from the collection of Richard H. Driehaus, this installation affords the visitor an opportunity to experience the interplay of Tiffany and de Forest’s designs as would have been possible in Andrew Carnegie’s era. Carnegie had a special appreciation for the artistic glass production of Louis Comfort Tiffany and during the years the
was in use, it was lit by at least four Tiffany table lamps and a turtleback chandelier from the center of the ceiling similar to the one lent to the exhibition courtesy of Macklowe Gallery. Tiffany’s chandelier would have given off a golden glow much like the yellow-lacquered stenciled walls designed by de Forest.
Tiffany’s tireless experimentation with new materials, motifs, and radiant hues is explored through a range of glass production. He was fascinated with many of the objects that both he and de Forest brought back from the Middle East, and that de Forest sent from India. The former provided ample sources for reinterpretation and inclusion in the designer’s creative output, as did the Indian brass and woodwork acquired from de Forest for some of his decorating schemes. Both men delighted in pattern, as can be seen by the harmonious combination of Tiffany’s work in de Forest’s setting.
Exhibition overview from the Cooper Hewitt website