"The business of life in general is the primary source of rewarding experiences," Charles Eames told an over-flow audience at the Loeb Drama Center last night, as he called for a new understanding of the role of art.
Ushers at the Loeb turned away disappointed admirers of the inventor of the multi-media presentation as the Loeb filled fifteen minutes before the beginning of his first Charles Eliot Norton Lecture.
In his presentation, Provocations, Eames criticized the development of art in America. American civilization has become institutionalized, he said, the arts "have built themselves up a niche of specialty." When people confront an experience of life, they are apt to abandon their own reactions and translate their experience into terms dictated by established art, he added.
Eames showed two films and a slide-tape recording as illustrations of a new way of understanding art. Slides of calliope pipes, wagon wheels, tent stakes, to the accompaniment of circus music and tigers' eyes played on three screens as an alternative to a more conventional circus film. At the end of the presentation, Eames showed Tops, the classic film of children's toys which he and his wife Ray produced.
In introducing Eames, Eduard Sekler, Director of the Carpenter Center, praised his "delightful toys and thoughtful furniture," which have the same concern for communication as Eames's early multi-media presentations.
Sekler traced Eames's career, from his early association with Eero Saarinen and their furniture designs to his
latest films. The extent of his influence has been enormous, Sekler said, and almost everyone in America has either "played with his toys, seen his films, or sat in his chairs."
Eames will deliver two more lectures this term, one next week and one in November, and complete the lecture series in the spring term.