Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style is a touring exhibition co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts. Support for the U.S. national tour is provided by the Dr. Lee MacCormick Edwards Charitable Foundation. The exhibition comprises works from the collections of Glasgow City Council (Museums and Collections), with loans from Scottish collections and private lenders.

Innovation in Glasgow

The Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style exhibition focuses on art nouveau from the 1890s to the early 20th century situated primarily in Glasgow. On display currently are works by Scottish designers Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, James Herbert McNair and Frances Macdonald McNair. Books, ceramics, stained glass, glass, mosaic, metalwork, furniture, textiles, stenciling, needlework and posters, as well as interior and architectural design are all on display. Albuquerque Museum Director Andrew Connors praises Glasgow’s ability to innovate during the Industrial Era in a way that other major cities in Great Britain did not.

Embracing Reductionist Elements

The exhibition is divided into various sections throughout the museum. The first focuses on artwork from the late 19th century. There are also pieces that were not created by Mackintosh and come from different parts of the world that may have been an inspiration to Glasgow’s artists. Connors discusses the nuances behind commonplace furniture and the reductionist elements in details and ornaments and points to a simple chair to demonstrate this. Mackintosh embraced reductionist elements in several of his works including textile, architectural drafts and furniture. Connors says, “By making art more interesting, people engage more.” Connors also points to various graphic design artworks that demonstrate how the Industrial Revolution created posters, such as the ones currently housed in the Albuquerque Museum, that told old stories in a new way.  

Bringing it Home

Bringing projects to New Mexico that seem to have no connection to our art scene may strike some as odd. But by looking at arts around the world, we can come to understand our local arts and culture on a broader scale. Glasgow was booming with the Industrial Revolution and had a clean slate where new designs had the potential to grow and blossom. Similarly in Albuquerque, Connors says, “We do not have centuries of fixed culture. Albuquerque has always been about the new and innovative. And Glasgow was the same way. Our hope is that many people in the maker community and in our artist community, will see in this exhibition the potential for inspiration for what you can do here in Albuquerque.”

Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style will be at the Albuquerque Museum from October 30 through January 23, 2022.