Orange Country Museum of Art

Birth of the Cool Catalogue

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EDITED BY ELIZABETH ARMSTRONG


1950s West Coast style exuded “cool”: from the smooth, hypnotic strains of a Miles Davis riff through Richard Neutra’s elegant modernist residences to the hard-edged paintings of Helen Lundeberg and Karl Benjamin. This richly illustrated volume casts a fresh eye on Fifties West Coast style with illuminating commentary from a variety of perspectives. Designed to echo the period it celebrates, this catalog explores modernist innovations in art, architecture, design, film and music. Prominent cultural critics write on an array of topics: Thomas Hine about the culture of cool; Elizabeth Smith on domestic aspects of the period’s architecture; Frances Colpitt on hard-edged abstract painting; Dave Hickey on jazz; Michael Boyd on modernist design in Southern California; Lorraine Wild on graphic design and advertising; and Bruce Jenkins on the crossover between animation and experimental film. The result is a multi-faceted exploration of the 1950s West Coast zeitgeist in all its color, creativity, and cool.


Hardcover; 304 pages


Elizabeth Armstrong was the  Deputy Director for Programs and Chief Curator of the Orange County Museum of Art. 

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