Carefree California: Cliff May and the Romance of the Ranch House

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© Courtesy of Art, Design & Architecture Museum
Carefree California: Cliff May and the Romance of the Ranch House

University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-7130
February 26th, 2012 - June 17th, 2012

santa barbara
Wednesday–Sunday noon–5 pm
models, sales pamphlets, photography, video-art


The Art, Design & Architecture Museum presents the first major exhibition based on the work of Cliff May, the designer who popularized the ranch house and made it an icon of casual California living in the post-war era.

The exhibition is co-curated by Jocelyn Gibbs, Curator of the AD&A Museum's Architecture and Design Collection, and historian Nicholas Olsberg. The curatorial team includes Christina Chiang, Laura Dizerega, Marta Faust, and Melinda Gandara.

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue examine the modernization of the ranch tradition and its transition from regional designs in adobe, brick, tile, and stucco to the modest wood and glass tract house of the forties, to the near-minimal system-built ranches May designed and sold in the late 1950s and, finally, to his luxury ranch houses. Carefree California is based on the Cliff May archive and also draws upon the archives of more than twenty additional California architects, all part of the AD&A Museum's Architecture and Design Collection. Through drawings, models, sales pamphlets, photographs, site maps, publications, film and television clips and stills,  and popular magazines, the exhibition will address the opening up of the plan, the emphasis on patio and glass corridor to suggest additional space, and the integration of house and garden. It will explore wartime industry, post-war in-migration, and the federal subsistence and military building programs that set many of the material terms and language for postwar tracts and for May's ubiquitous Californian solution that helped create an important regional identity.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Getty Foundation, and the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional support comes from ARC (American Reprographics Company), Bank of America, and Gensler. Thanks to the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation for support of the film series produced in conjunction with this exhibition.

Carefree California is part of Pacific Standard Time. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene.

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