Leading up to her new class After-Hours: Making Music Modern, instructor Marianne Eggler sits down with MoMA’s Susannah Brown to share her excitement for this unique new program.
What is the most significant theme or aspect of the exhibition Making Music Modern?
ME: I really think the idea that design should be for everyone is beautifully played out (pun intended) in the show Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye, particularly with the album covers, music posters, and zines. Everyone relates to at least one, but usually many objects in the show and it’s fun to relive our youth or recent youth or the youth that we are still experiencing through the music.
The exhibition is filled with music and that’s another innovative installation technique, it’s “surround sound” if you will. You walk through the show and you are bombarded not just with images, graphic designs, and works of fine art, but also with music. It’s fully immersive.
Are there any objects or works in the show that you think particularly stand out or are excellent examples of that point?
ME: Absolutely, the most compelling part of the show is what I call the modernist grid of record album covers. It’s a brilliant display that at first looks very abstract and very patterned, but then you get up close and you realize that it’s the whole history of graphic design styles, of musical genre, really from the 1950s right up to the 90s. Everyone has their favorite, they say “I have that record” and the very young people say “Oh I know the music of Patti Smith, but I’ve never seen the album cover and it’s so interesting.” Then we talk about the Robert Mapplethorpe photo on the cover, it just offers a whole entrée onto the discussion of music and art. It’s brilliant.
Thinking about this workshop what do you think the participants will experience that is unusual or unique to this one particular class?
Aha, well we have a lot of fun things planned. First of all, the whole atmosphere will be conducive to listening to rock-n-roll, punk, new wave, and psychedelia. We will frame the whole evening in a kind of club atmosphere, so we’ll start, have a drink, a social talk, activities that will be really fun and get us thinking about the ideas.
We thought it would be really fun to have participants look at illustrations of album covers, and then hear different songs with a real range of musical genres, and try to match the song, the band, to the album cover.
I think it’s important for everyone to realize that the design of album covers were so important in communicating, it was such a heyday of combining form and function, where the very identity of the band or the singer needed to be communicated on a shelf in a store. The ways that the designers worked together with the performers, I think is brilliant, within that very specific square framework. A sort of emblem or icon of the 20th century.
I know this class also takes place off-site leaving MoMA, can you tell me a little bit more about what the students will experience?
ME:After the exhibition, the highlight of the evening will be “after hours” when we’ll leave the Museum together and go to a music haunt on the Lower East Side. We’re going to Pianos, which is a classic rock-n-roll venue. We are going to a concert by Marc Delgado, who’s a wonderful performer. We’ll get to experience the downtown club scene the only way you truly can, which is by living it. So wear your leather jacket for a rock-n-roll experience.
Anything else students should know?
ME: Expect to meet new people, learn and get to know some new musicians and designers that you that you didn’t know before. Just be ready to have fun, this is going to be a really unique event.