A slide show of modern houses and interiors greeted visitors to the exhibition Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism. Among the images were the Idea House II, a demonstration house commissioned in 1948 by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Marcel Breuer’s interior for the House in the Museum Garden from 1949 and Gregory Ain’s Exhibition House from the following year, both shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and a prototype building by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons for developer Joseph Eichler’s X-100 House from 1956. Yet the exhibition’s concept was more complex than this initial display of ideal modern homes as imagined by architects suggested.

The...

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