Turbines to Tupperware (cont.)
engineers notebooks and architects plans demonstrate
how drawing aids the process of inventionhow it helps an idea
become reality. Drawings can sell a concept or a product. The illustrated
beauty of a façade can persuade a building committee to go
ahead with construction; the carefully depicted cleverness of a
water wheel can persuade someone to manufacture it. Drawings can
control production: by telling workers what the product should look
like, or by motivating workers to put their best efforts into the
job. They can also control how a product is used: Tuppers
patent drawing shows how the innovative sealing lid is to be applied
to the bowl. And the most basic use of a drawing is to establish
a record: to assert ownership in the case of patent drawings, or
to supply a reference in case repairs are needed.
most interesting question, Lubar said, is why these drawings are
aesthetically appealing. Part of the answer is techniquethey
were done by people who knew how to draw and who took pleasure in
it. The drawings have more style than is necessary for the practical
purpose to which they were put. Another part of it is the power
of abstraction: the drawings are designed to call attention to what
is important; they turn objects into edges; they remove context
and clutter; they appeal to truth. And part of it is the sheer sense
of power: many of the objects depicted were realized (that is, they
were made real) and they were sold, sometimes through the very agency
of these drawings.
exhibition was organized by the National Museum of American Historys
curatorial team of Peter Liebhold, Steven Lubar, Alison Oswald,
and William Worthington, and co-sponsored by the National Museum
of Industrial History.
Payne Gallery, with newly installed lighting and climate control,
new walls for the display of works of art, and new landscaping,
provided a fitting venue for this important collaboration with the
nations premier museum system.