Radical: Italian Design 1965–1985 Exhibition at The MFA Houston

With an extraordinarily timely exhibition, Cindi Strauss, the Sara and Bill Morgan curator of decorative arts, craft, and design at the MFAH, is featuring approximately 70 furniture pieces and designs from the collection of Dennis Freedman–the former creative director of W magazine and Barneys New York.

The exhibition leaves no page unturned and no obvious voids as it brings prototypes, one-of-a-kind and important furnishings, and a carefully curated assortment of paintings, models, and objets by the preeminent roster of the Italian Radical Design movement.

Studio65, Chocciol Chair, designed 1972, made 1973, polyurethane foam and upholstery.

Studio65, "Chocciol Chair",Dennis Freeman gift to MFAH. Kent Pell photographer

The commitment to the design field of the MFAH is evident as this exhibition not only includes pieces that have been generously gifted or loaned by Dennis Freedman to the museum, but also a significant number that were acquired by the museum itself. The exhibition includes works by Archizoom Associati, Lapo Binazzi, Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini, Gaetano Pesce, Gianni Pettena, Ugo La Pietra, Ettore Sottsass, Studio65, Studio Alchimia and Superstudio.

The exhibition will run from February 14, 2020 until April 26, 2020 at the MFAH, and then it will travel to the Yale Architecture Gallery at the Yale School of Architecture in fall 2021. The MFAH and Yale University Press have also published a catalog, Radical, which includes interviews with prominent participants of the Radical Design movement and with Dennis Freedman. It also includes essays by Cindy Strauss and critic Germano Celant. Celant’s participation in this catalog is interesting and essential as he coined the term “Radical Design,” and was also the curator of the seminal Guggenheim exhibition The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943 – 1968which surveyed the explosive period of visual arts in Italy from the death of Benito Mussolini until 1968.