January 1, 2009

Playing For Kepes

kepes_morse_life_port.jpg

So far, I haven't been able to get the LIFE Magazine photo archive on Google to return more than 200 images at a time. So who knows how many photos Ralph Morse actually took of the awesome nursery Juliet and Gyorgy Kepes built for their kids in their Cape Cod house?

It was July 1949, and Kepes had been at MIT for just a couple of years. The artist/designer had left his Bauhaus colleague--and former employer--Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in Chicago to set up MIT's visual studies program, and he and Juliet, also an artist, were outfitting their kid's room in the family's Wellfleet cottage with all the natural materials they could find. And that's when LIFE came a-calling.

kepes_cork_clock_lifemag.jpg

Just surf through Morse's photos for the details, but it's basically a modernist's DIY nirvana. There was an awesome, giant clock made of cork floats, and a pegboard-covered closet door. I think that wooden radiator cover is rainbow-colored. That plywood divider has cutouts big enough to jump through, but you have to climb the tree first to reach them. The fold-down plywood art table, the phosphorescent ceiling decorations, Juliet's animal mural, the extremely Calder-esque fish mobile [Or maybe it's real? The Kepes were friends with everyone else in the mid-century modernist canon, why not Calder, too?] It just goes on and on and on.

Kepes Nursery, July 1949, photos by Ralph Morse [life]
Gyorgy Kepes [wikipedia]
"They also built, around this time... a much publicized children's play room with many features still considered 'recent,'" [harvardsquarelibrary.org]

3 Comments

That is the most amazing nursery I have ever seen. I love the drop down desk. I'm thinking the clock could easily be recreated and plan to try once we are settled in our next home.

And Juliet in those rolled jeans and the smock, so cute!! She makes me want to forget my refusal to return to the 80s and head out to buy some ballet flats tout de suite!

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