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Their signature lounge chair sell for more than four grand, so it’s easily forgotten that Charles and Ray Eames didn’t want their work to become sequestered within the pages of Design Within Reach catalogs. The married couple—whom many mistook for brothers, given Ray’s androgynous name—sought to create beautiful things that could belong to anybody. One of their mantras was, “The best for the most for the least.” They were O.G.s of mid-century modern way before they were the darlings of the Dwell set. (Is it any surprise Ice Cube is a fan?) The couple became media favorites whose work grew in scale and ambition, segueing from military splints to furniture to film to the IBM Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. But Eames: The Architect and the Painter, which aired last year as part of PBS’ “American Masters” series, also explores the Eames’ place within prefeminist America. Ray was more softspoken than her husband (“She sat like a delicious dumpling in a doll’s dress,” is the chosen praise of one male television host), but she worked with him equally; in a way, she was a forebear of the gender politics that would sweep the country 20 years later.
The film shows at 4:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. nga.gov. 202-737-4215.