Celebrating Interior Space Oddities Designed by The Memphis Group and Loved by Bowie

“Rivieria, 1981” by Michele Di Lucchi is among the furniture purchased by David Bowie. In background photo: Masanori Umeda designed “Tawaraya” for Memphis, featuring seat furniture in the form of a boxing ring. The founding members of Memphis are shown in it in a famous Memphis group photo.

September 11, 2019 | By Julie Garisto

Celebrating Interior Space Oddities

Mount Dora’s Modernism Museum is currently exhibiting furniture owned by David Bowie and other intriguing pieces, all created by The Memphis Group — well worth the two-hour drive.

On View Through mid-2020
Modernism Museum
Mount Dora FL
Details here

In 1981, around 5,000 miles away from Graceland, designer Ettore Sottsass organized The Memphis Group in Milan, Italy.  The artist collective included designers from around the world. They challenged perceptions of functionality and aesthetics with their wildly creative juggernaut, dubbed the Memphis Movement. The works turned heads throughout the decade.

Thirty-eight years later, around 125 miles from Tampa Bay, the Modernism Museum Mount Dora is exhibiting eye-catching furniture designed by Memphis Group artists in Space Oddities II: The Sequel. So named because several pieces on display belonged to music’s much-missed stardust king, David Bowie.

“It is the largest exhibition on Memphis that has ever been assembled,” said guest curator Glenn Adamson. Here’s a snippet of Adamson’s introductory video, which plays in a loop at the museum.

“First, 1983,” also by Di Lucchi and formerly owned by David Bowie.

According to Adamson, Bowie built up an extensive body of Memphis work over the years. His collection included works by Sottsass and his colleagues, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie DuPasquier, Shiro Kuramata and Martine Bedin. Those works and others, such as some striking pieces by Michael Graves, are included. The Bowie works are labeled with a gold star sticker.

The Modernism Museum’s exhibition represents the largest gathering of Memphis Group objects ever presented in an American museum. It includes more than 75 examples, many from Bowie’s private collection.

The show “is a fabulous opportunity to see Memphis as it should be seen — in profusion — and to experience the private world of a great pop visionary,” the museum’s website proclaims.

Memphis designs incorporated mid-century kitsch, modernism, art deco, the influence of Fisher-Price toys and other pop culture influences. The group came up with the name while listening to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. The classic album’s tune “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again” inspired the artists to name themselves after the city that inspired that longing instead of Mobile, the Alabama residence of the “ragman.”

The Modernism Museum is open Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  and closed on major holidays. It can be found at 145 E. 4th Ave. in Mount Dora.

Visit modernismmuseum.org
Find out more about the Memphis Group here



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