Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe | New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe

At the Museum of International Folk Art

Design for matchboxes of the restaurant La Fonda del Sol, Alexander Girard, 1960. Alexander Girard Estate, Vitra Design Museum.

Born in New York City, raised in Florence, Italy, schooled in architecture in London, Alexander Girard was a world-class designer who chose to spend his final years in Santa Fe.

A pivotal figure in the history of the Museum of International Folk Art, Alexander Girard donated more than 100,000 objects from the collection he and his wife, Susan, built. In 1981, Girard created the museum’s long-term beloved exhibition, Multiple Visions featuring his playful designs, passion for colors, ornamentation, and inspiration from folk art.

To celebrate Girard’s work, as both a modernist designer and Santa Fe’s premier folk art collector, MOIFA hosts the Vitra Design Museum’s traveling exhibition, Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe through Oct. 27, 2019. Vitra’s traveling exhibition complements Multiple Visions by merging Girard’s two halves into a complete picture. The traveling retrospective complements MOIFA’s narrative about Girard’s collections.

“Girard’s Multiple Visions exhibit is MOIFA’s permanent exhibit, beloved by generations of Santa Feans and tourists alike,” says MOIFA Executive Director, Khristaan Villela. “We hope visitors will come and see how great the displays are looking.”

An artist installation created before such displays became common, the museum’s Alexander Girard Wing presents about 10,000 items from the famous designer’s collection. Girard designed and personally installed every object in the exhibition, emphasizing his signature color blocking, attention to texture, and modernist styles into tableaus. He envisioned a whimsical, immersive, entirely visual experience, creating villages and scenes without labels so that guests of all ages and backgrounds may enjoy the collection. To enhance this experience, the museum has begun the process of cleaning and cataloging the Multiple Visions exhibition, which has produced unique finds for those involved in the process. The cleaning and documenting are being undertaken with support from both the State of New Mexico and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, which is soliciting donations as part of a Girard capital campaign.

The process of cleaning and preserving the integrity of Girard’s design while making structural improvements is lengthy. Each “city” or collection is comprised of objects arranged into tableaus that must be cleaned, documented, and replaced exactly as Girard intended. By the end of the process, all 10,000 pieces on view will be tagged and cataloged for a digital guide to the exhibition. Santa Fe residents now have a rare opportunity to see the long-term exhibition in a new way each Tuesday and Wednesday during museum hours.

Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and closed Mondays for the months of November through April; from May through October, the museum is open daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission $7 for New Mexico residents with ID. $12 for non-residents, free for children 16 and under. The first Sunday of each month is free for New Mexico residents with ID. Wednesdays are free for New Mexico resident seniors (60+) with ID.

On view through Aug. 25, 2019: A Gathering of Voices celebrates the promised gift to the Museum of International Folk Art the collection of Judith Espinar and Tom Dillenberg, who collected some of the world’s best folk art.

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