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The Illusion of an Endless Summer: Californian Design, Sun and Mirages

Lilian Froger
Traduction de Phoebe Clarke
p. 129-144
Cet article est une traduction de :
L’Illusion d’un été sans fin : design californien, soleil et mirages

Notes de la rédaction

Lilian Froger is the third recipient of the grant for the writing and publication of a critical essay that was created in 2016 by the collaboration between the Institut français, the Institut national d’histoire de l’art and Critique d’art. The two previous years, the grant enabled Julie Crenn to travel to South Africa in order to write about the country’s women artists1, and gave Clélia Zernik the opportunity to explore the form and status of art festivals in Japan.2 Each journey results in the publication of a long article in French and English. After three years, it is safe to say that this grant – whose goal it is to support the mobility of art critics, as well as the circulation of their ideas and the translation of their essays – offers contemporary authors a unique space for thought and visibility. As this essay is published, a call for applications has been opened for 2019, which will allow a critic to receive this grant created in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Direction générale de la création artistique. We hope to receive many applications!

The ideas Lilian Froger develops in the following essay were prompted by the coincidence of three exhibitions that were held respectively in Helsinki, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and which all “[explore] the relationship between design, California and the imaginaries it evokes”. Far from being only a way of manufacturing objects and creating spaces for living and working, design also shapes behaviours, imaginaries, and ultimately societies themselves. Through the close attention he pays to the museographic devices of each one of the exhibitions, Lilian Froger highlights the discrepancies between the different narratives they produce. Some operate by subdivisions and specialisations (“modernist” Southern California vs. geek Northern California), others, on the contrary examine junctions, quotations, the presence of others (between California and Mexico). The essay you are about to read is erudite and tinged with humour, as well as being a critical text that appeals to the responsibility of museums as places of engaged thought that should maintain their independence from the logics of the corporations whose history they exhibit. We hope you enjoy it!

Elitza Dulguerova, Research adviser in the field of 18th to 21st Century Art History, INHA and Vincent Gonzalvez, Head of the Visual Arts and Architecture Department, Institut français.

Extrait du texte

Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en novembre 2019.

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Installation photograph, Designed in California, SFMOMA, January 27–May 27, 2018, photo: Don Ross

For the past few years, Apple has been adding Designed in California t...

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Référence papier

Lilian Froger, « The Illusion of an Endless Summer: Californian Design, Sun and Mirages », Critique d’art, 51 | 2018, 129-144.

Référence électronique

Lilian Froger, « The Illusion of an Endless Summer: Californian Design, Sun and Mirages », Critique d’art [En ligne], 51 | Automne/hiver, mis en ligne le 27 novembre 2019, consulté le 23 mars 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/critiquedart.36760

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Lilian Froger

Lilian Froger holds a PhD in Contemporary Art History. His research focuses on Japanese photography from the 1950s to the present and questions the connections between photography, publishing and exhibitions. Alongside his academic research, he writes critical essays published in esse arts + opinions, 2.0.1, Critique d’art, IMA and Marges that examine the role of fiction in the fields of contemporary art and design, as well as the necessary implication of the viewer, reader, or user in the activation of objects and the understanding of images. He is currently developing a cycle of conferences at EESAB (Brest) on the oppositional power of design.

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