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TO SEPTEMBER 4
I made the mistake of trying to view Library of Congress’ deceptively compact new exhibit, “The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention,” quickly. Though it turned out to be impossible to see everything, I did get a vivid sense of the immense creative energy of the husband-and-wife design team (pictured), best known for its streamlined, form-fitting chairs and the innovative manufacturing processes it created to produce them. The exhibit reveals two people who never stopped thinking about the visual world they inhabited and the bridges they built for the rest of us to cross into it. Though almost all of us have probably seen some example of their famous furniture, so widely was it absorbed into popular culture, the most compelling aspects of the exhibit are the wonderful films the Eameses produced (such as Toccata for Toy Trains, a typically elegant marriage of childlike wonder and visual sophistication), the visual materials they surrounded themselves with for inspiration (including a mind-boggling table of their slides), and the sketches and models they used to develop their work. In addition to its distinction as the first posthumous exhibit devoted to the prolific designers’ work (he died in 1978, she in 1988), “Legacy” also marks an important historical shift by acknowledging Ray as a partner who participated fully in the remarkable couple’s prolific and diverse output. On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, to Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building, 1st & Independence Ave. SE. Free. (202) 707-4604. (Daniel Searing)