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Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Organically-shaped, clean-lined and elegantly simple are three terms that well describe mid-century modern American furniture. The style, which emerged primarily in the years following World War II, is characterized by pieces that were conceived and made in an energetic, optimistic spirit by creators who believed that good design was an essential part of good living.

Postwar American architects and designers were animated by new ideas and new technology. The lean, functionalist “International Style” architecture of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus eminences such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius had been promoted in the United States during the ’30s by Philip Johnson and others. New building techniques, such as “post-and-beam” construction, allowed the International-style schemes to be realized on a small scale, in open-plan houses with long walls of glass.

Materials developed for wartime use became available for domestic goods and were incorporated into mid-century modern furniture designs. Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen, who had experimented extensively with molded plywood, eagerly embraced fiberglass for, respectively, pieces such as the La Chaise and the Womb chair. George Nelson and his design team created Bubble lamp shades using a new translucent polymer skin. Harry Bertoia and Isamu Noguchi devised chairs and tables built of wire mesh and wire struts. Materials were re-purposed: the Danish-born designer Jens Risom created a line of chairs that used surplus parachute straps for webbed seats and backrests.

As the demand for casual, uncluttered furnishings grew, more mid-century designers caught the spirit.

Classically-oriented creators such as Edward Wormley, house designer for Dunbar Inc., offered such pieces as the sinuous Listen to Me chaise; the British expatriate T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings switched gears, creating items such as the tiered, biomorphic Mesa table. There were Young Turks such as Paul McCobb — who designed holistic groups of sleek, blonde-wood furniture — and Milo Baughman, who espoused a West Coast aesthetic in lushly upholstered chairs and sofas with angular steel frames.

As the collection of vintage mid-century modern American furniture on 1stDibs demonstrates, this period saw one of the most delightful and dramatic flowerings of creativity in design history.

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Handcut Marbleized Paper Butterfly Box
Located in Houston, TX
Handcut marbleized butterfly box from vintage hand painted Marbalia wallpaper samples (circa 1957) handcut into butterfly shapes. Each mounted on brushed gold foil. Marbalia wallpape...
Category

2010s American Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Foil

Set of Four Framed F. Leger Porcelain Plates
Located in West Palm Beach, FL
This stylish and chic set of four porcelain plates date to the 1970s and have been professionaly framed as of March 2021 in custom lucite shadow boxes and mounted on a white woven fa...
Category

Mid-20th Century French Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Lucite, Porcelain, Fabric

Large Octagonal Wood and Glass Shadow Box or Collectible Box with Latch
Located in Oklahoma City, OK
A wonderful mid-century wood octagonal shadow box perfect for display on a coffee table, or for hanging on a wall. The inside features 9 shelves for storing collectibles. A glass lid...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Glass, Wood

Sculptural Vintage Painted Metal Cut-Outs, Mounted and Framed
Located in East Hampton, NY
This intricately cutout vintage painted Metal Art piece with original paint and patina, showing losses and age appropriate. Very much reminiscent of Calder or Noguchi era. Stunningly...
Category

1950s American Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Metal

Sculptural Vintage Painted Metal Cut-Outs, Mounted and Framed
Located in East Hampton, NY
This intricately cutout vintage painted Metal Art piece with original paint and patina, showing losses and age appropriate. Very much reminiscent of Calder or Noguchi era. Stunningly...
Category

1950s American Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Metal

Antique Butterfly Collection Glass Shadow Box Wall Decoration, Spain, 1970
Located in Madrid, ES
Shadow box made in wood and glass containing a butterfly collection.
Category

1970s Spanish Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Glass, Wood

Ron Fritts Pop Art Wall Shadow Box Sculpture Signed Vintage
Located in North Miami, FL
This eye-catching and rare Ron Fritts pop art shadow box wall sculpture has suspended resin or Lucite balls floating in four different window vignettes that change. The background is...
Category

1960s American Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Aluminum, Chrome

Vintage Metal Letter F Lighted Sign
Located in San Diego, CA
Cool vintage metal rusted letter F, new rewired lighted cord and bulbs switch off/on in perfect working condition nice rusted patina.
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Metal

Art Deco Style “Woman Walking Panther” Etched Glass Framed Art Light, 1950s
Located in San Francisco, CA
A 1950s Art Deco style “Woman Walking Panther” framed etched glass wall hung art light. The striking image of an elegant woman confidently controlling a black panther was first made...
Category

1950s American Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Metal

Greg Copeland 1970s 3-D Geometric Op Art
Located in St. Louis, MO
Greg Copeland 1970s 3-D assemblage of 7 layers of geometric cutout in acrylic frame. Form of abstract art in shadow box frame. Signed Copeland, date of 1978, style # 1657. Very nice ...
Category

1970s American Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Lucite, Paper

School Teaching Display Corn & Corn Products, circa 1960
Located in Berghuelen, DE
A vintage school teaching showcase illustrating the corn and products made out of corn. Used as teaching material in German schools, circa 1960. Measures: Width 19.69" (50cm)...
Category

Early 20th Century German Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Mid-Century Modern Walnut and Mirrored Shadow Box
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Stunning Mid-Century Modern shadow box features a vintage walnut finish and six shelves to place items for display. Beautiful wall decoration with mirror back adds style to any item ...
Category

1970s Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

Materials

Mirror, Walnut

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Previously Available Items
A Vintage Letterpress Printing Block Wall Sculpture
Located in New York, NY
A vintage letterpress printers blocks wall sculpture with a variety of letters and numbers in a wooden frame. Good vintage condition with age appropriate wear. One letter is green....
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Framed Fornasetti "Tema E Variazione" Plate
Located in North Miami, FL
Early "Tema e Variazione" plate, #238 by Piero Fornasetti on an Eschenbach blank, cased in a white gessoed shadowbox frame with plexiglas front. Markings on underside of plate are vi...
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1950s Italian Vintage Mid-Century Modern Shadow Boxes

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Signed Ron Fritts Pop Art Wall Shadow Box Sculpture
Located in Haddonfield, NJ
Small rare pop art in a shadow box, by US artist Ron Fritts. Ron Fritts has led a life motivated by the creative impulse. He was always making things, drawing and having to produc...
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  • Signed Ron Fritts Pop Art Wall Shadow Box Sculpture
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Changable Neon Display Sign Display/Shadowbox
Located in Van Nuys, CA
Mid Century era changeable neon display sign with light up neon border. This neon display features a slot in the back that takes 11" X 14" inch display cards, change out messages and...
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Miss Transportation 1977 Tiara
Located in Essex, MA
A rhinestone tiara which was used to crown Miss Transportation in 1977, mounted in a black velvet line deep shadow box with a silvered wood frame.
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  • Miss Transportation 1977 Tiara
  • Miss Transportation 1977 Tiara
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H 12.13 in. W 11.13 in. D 3.5 in.
Handcut Paper Butterfly Box
Located in Houston, TX
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  • Handcut Paper Butterfly Box
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H 25 in. W 25 in. D 2 in.
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