Times & Places

20th Century Design: The 1940s

During the 1940s, World War II devastated the lives of countless people; however, the war effort produced many important technological advances. Foremost were the development of the first nuclear reactor (1941) and the construction of the electromechanical computer (1943). Many artists and designers of the 1940s and 1950s were inspired by the freedom and power suggested by such scientific advances. For example, Jackson Pollock's drip paintings, begun in 1946, and Charles and Ray Eameses' bentwood furniture designs of the early 1940s reflect a sense of freedom and infinite possibility unlike anything seen before the war. Even Christian Dior's New Look style of 1947 freed women from the fashion conventions of earlier decades.

Excerpt from

Dallas Museum of Art, Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff: Designs of the 20th Century (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1996).