Go Rococo

This spring, the Smithsonian’s Cooper- Hewitt in New York will present a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the Rococo style and its continuing revivals up to the present day – in multiple fields including furniture, decorative arts, prints, drawings and textiles.

On view in the museum’s first- and second- floor galleries, Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730- 2008 charts the progress of the Rococo style as it radiates from Paris, travels to the French provinces, migrates to other European countries, and later crosses the Atlantic to the United States. The exhibition examines the forms of this free- spirited 18th- century style, tracks its reappearances in Art Nouveau, and continues its exploration through the 20th and 21st centuries.

Rococo design – exuberant, opulent, theatrical and sensuous – emerged in Paris during the regency of Philippe d’Orlans ( 1715- 1723) in reaction to the imposing Baroque style of Louis XIV’s Versailles court. The term Rococo, first coined in the early 19th century, is derived from the French rocaille ( the shell- laden rockwork often found in grottoes) and the Italian barocco ( or Baroque). It came to signify an aesthetic – along with a lifestyle, spirit and attitude – that preferred wit and pleasure to pomp and circumstance.

Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008 runs at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum from March 7 to July 6.