The Object in Its Place: As Designed by Ted Cohen

The Object in Its Place: As Designed by Ted Cohen

Published on Thursday, March 24, 2022. This article appears in the Spring 2022 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author JoAnn Edwards
modern living room with prominent windown and concrete panel walls with various craft objects on display throughout

As art consultant for Evans and John Wyro, Cohen turned their home into a gallery of distinguished artworks. Photo courtesy of Frank McGrath.

The Museum of Craft and Design is especially proud to present a distinctive, celebratory exhibition honoring the extraordinary exhibition designer Ted Cohen (1928–2021). Brimming with artwork from a selection of collectors and artists spaced as vignettes, in addition to a special feature on Ted himself, The Object in Its Place: As Designed by Ted Cohen is a glimpse into his process, his passion, and his discipline.

portrait of ted cohen with a white shirt and blue vest posing seated at a desk with a pad of paper

The Object in Its Place:
As Designed by Ted Cohen

Museum of Craft and Design
San Francisco, California
February 12–June 5, 2022

Cohen at his desk. Photo courtesy of M. Lee Fatherree.

For 60 years, Ted Cohen created inspired art spaces for museums, galleries, hospitals, and private residences. He reimagined the in-home collections of many and was often called back to tweak this or that as collections expanded, tastes changed, or collectors simply wanted to share tea, lunch, or chocolate. He brought life to objects and installations, transformed spaces, made exhibit marquees sizzle, and nourished our creative appetites. To quote one of the Museum of Craft and Design’s long-standing board members, “Ted was a master of the museum, a legend of reputation, and the dearest soul.” He was a mentor, a loyal friend, a brilliant designer, an inventive curator, an avid collector, an arbiter of good taste, and a world traveler.

exhibition space with orange walls and green accents with various craft object on display

Ted Cohen arranged the objects in Donna and Ralph Briskin’s residence. From left: a ceramic head by Terry Turrell, a Goro Suzuki chair, and, at far right, a wooden bust by Joe Brubaker. Photo courtesy of Frank McGrath.

Despite a global pandemic and living with considerable pain, he was enlivened by his final creative endeavor and emerged from retirement for this exhibition about his life’s work in conjunction with the book The Object in Its Place: The Art of Exhibition Design by Ted Cohen, written by Signe Mayfield. Visitors will see works in wood, glass, fiber, and ceramics by major artists, including Mildred Howard, Peter Voulkos, Robert Brady, Marilyn Levine, Mary White, Clifford Rainey, and Therman Statom—all presented in Ted’s unique, illuminating style.

Ted Cohen loved MCD and helped define its essence and its visual construct as the only museum in San Francisco devoted to craft and design. With honor, we will carry his legacy through his fabulous exhibition and beyond.

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