One day while I was attending the University of Southern California, my father called. He was exuberant.
It was July of 1975 and he said, "Laurence I'm thrilled; the Smithsonian Institution is doing a retrospective of my career. It is a tremendous honor."
Of all of the tributes and awards Dad had received over the years, the exhibit at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery was his ultimate accolade.
I received my invitation to the exhibit's dinner shortly thereafter and immediately had it framed. It hangs in my office today.
Back in Washington, D.C. and across from the White House, the Renwick had been busy featuring 136 exhibits of Loewy's work.
This included a creme-colored Avanti hoisted on its side and pulled through two narrow doorways in order to be placed inside the Renwick's main gallery room.
In addition to the actual exhibition, the Smithsonian released a catalog which detailed the items displayed.
The catalog's foreward was written by Joshua C. Taylor, director of the National Collection of Fine Arts. He wrote in part: "His (Loewy's) simple unambiguous designs that substituted rolling surfaces for finite bulk gave a new pleasure to touch and sight at a time when beauty and technology had yet to become good friends."
The Smithsonian began its tribute with before/after photographs of a 1929 Gestetner duplicating machine which Dad, using plasticine clay in his New York Apartment, streamlined. This marked Loewy's first opportunity to apply his design philosophies to the improvement of an industrial product. It was the beginning of the profession: industrial design.
Other rendering exhibit items included: NASA Skylab habitability studies; the 1953 V-8 Starliner Coupe; the Pennsylvania Railroad's S1 locomotive; the 1954 Greyhound Scenicruiser; and the interior and exterior of Air Force One. The aircraft's exterior paint scheme is still in use today.
Moreover, the Renwick featured commercial and consumer products such as: the 1935 Sears Coldspot; the 1948 Dole Deluxe Coca-Cola dispenser; the Lucky strike pack; the Exxon sign; and various packaging classics for Nabisco, Ritz, Oreo and Gerber.
Featured logos included: TWA, Exxon, Shell, Newsweek, Canada Dry, Discover America, and my personal favorite, International Harvester.
Examples of Loewy architecture incorporated photographs of Dad's residences in Telepan, Mexico and Tierra Caliente in Palm Springs.
These were just a few examples of a career, which in 1975, spanned 40 years.
I remember being at my father's side as his chest swelled with pride. It was a gala affair.
Today, Loewy's work continues to be displayed through many venues worldwide. I consider the US traveling exhibition, "Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture," to be the most entertaining and comprehensive. Not only does it focus on my father's accomplishments, it highlights Dad's international lifestyle.
Glenn Porter, the respected authority on my father's body of work and former curator of Delaware's Hagley Museum, dedicated several years molding this exhibition.
It is currently on display at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, M.A. It will run through March 23, 2008. You may visit their website at www.monh.org.