Industrial Materials Used in Art

Industrial Materials Used in Art
From architecture, to interiors, to sculpture, artists have used industrial
components exclusively or in combination with new or found materials. I will
discuss examples of stylish and functional works of art.

The Arts and Crafts movement (1875-1920) was popular in Europe and the US.

Entrance gates for the subways (Metro) of Paris were designed by Hector Guimard
from 1900-1913.

The entrance with the distinctive sign "Metropolitain" is known as "style Metro"
and made of cast-iron set-in concrete, then painted in green to mimic weathered

A recognized metalworker in California, Dirk van Erp, created "Lamp" (1912-
1915), a hand hammered copper base in reddish brown color with a copper and
orange mica shade.

Herman Miller, based in Michigan, debuted a modern furniture line in 1933. A
glass and aluminum "Beam Table/Desk" recently sold on 1stdibs for thousands.

American sculptor Alexander Calder is the founder of kinetic art. Although the
term "mobiles" was coined by Marcel Duchamp, Calder is credited as being the

By using metal, wood, wire, and string, Calder strove to "redefine space around
them [mobiles] as they move." "Mobile" (1941) can be seen at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, NY.

In home design, "The Glass House" (1949) is the signature work by American architect Philip Johnson. Made of steel with exterior glass walls, there are no inner walls. For the curious, there is an opaque construction for the bathroom.

Now a National Trust Historic Site, The Glass House is open for tours in New Canaan, Connecticut.

American sculptor and painter David Smith created two hanging sculptures, both
titled "Untitled" (1953) and made with steel and iron.

One is made with rings, a cover plate, and hooks. The other contains
nails, bolts, and hooks. Both pieces are from the estate of David Smith.

Canadian American architect Frank Gehry designed the Guggenheim Museum in Balboa, Spain (1993-1997).

The material used for the exterior was thin titanium sheets, 45% lighter than
steel. Continuing the organic theme, he used limestone and glass.

For American artist Richard Serra's work "Reverse Curve" (2005/2019) he used
weatherproof steel, AKA weathering steel, AKA Cor-ten steel. This material is
typically used for construction or shipbuilding.

I saw Serra's "Reverse Curve" and “Rounds” at Gagosian, NY during its exhibit in
2019-2020. Both are a fine example of form and color with immense weight.

"The Philip Johnson Glass House: An Architect in the Garden" Hardcover book, available here from

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