Frederick Kiesler

Whitney Museum of American Art

The small selection of drawings at Jason McCoy and the large retrospective at the Whitney helped substantiate Frederick Kiesler’s uncategorical philosophy of design, the restrained eclecticism and sense of invention that informed and shaped his work. That Kiesler was versatile but not consistently accomplished makes his status difficult to determine. Neither exhibition was an exercise in hagiography; both depicted the artist’s bright innovations and disquieting failures.

Kiesler’s design training and esthetic foundation were formed by Russian Constructivism and De Stijl—by the crisp lines, flowing planes, brisk colors, and orthogonal organization of Neo-Plasticism. In particular, his L + T installation system, 1924, shows clear geometric orientation. The L + T system was first used at the International Exhibition of New Theater Techniques in Vienna. Ensembles of this flexible network of

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