September 14, 2007–January 27, 2008
For more than forty years, Ingo Maurer has been one of the most celebrated and imitated designers in the world. Part designer, part artist, part entrepreneur and magician, whose work defies easy categorization, Maurer has spent four decades taking risks as a technical innovator, shrewd manufacturer, and inspired dreamer.
Maurer’s lights and lighting installations are not passive, functional objects, like most of the lighting one encounters on a daily basis. Instead, his lights have distinctive “personalities” which interact with and enliven their surrounding space. Their active presence compels the viewer to realize light’s ephemeral and illusory nature. Anyone seeing Maurer’s work for the first time must give up all preconceived ideas of how artificial light should look or act. Beyond any functionality, Maurer’s lighting regularly crosses from design into contemporary art. Above all, Maurer treats light as a dimensional object which, in his hands, not only illuminates what is seen but changes how it is seen. Maurer’s creativity and his open collaboration with his working “family” in achieving every facet, mood, and expression of his works are astonishing. The results are inspired by brilliance, generated out of passionate teamwork, and, ultimately, entirely unique.
Maurer’s art installations, public projects, and exhibitions at design fairs have made him a legend in the design world. For Provoking Magic, Maurer’s first solo museum exhibition in America—and the first major exhibition by a living designer at Cooper-Hewitt in nearly a decade— Maurer and his team have created a dozen brand-new objects and site-specific installations, all of which evoke the humor, emotion, romanticism, and optimism for which he is revered.