Alexandra Lange | Essays

On the Grid

There’s a great shot at the hospital in last Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, “The Fog,” where the checkerboard carpet on the floor rises to meet the real and reflected squares of light on the dark shiny ceiling. (I can’t find it online and I don’t have DVR.) We’ve seen these converging grids before at the Sterling Cooper offices, and now they are infiltrating the suburban idyll that is the Drapers’ life in Ossining. In the scenes in the suspiciously dark “solarium,” where fathers wait to know their fate (sons!), more of the office creeps in to Don’s home turf: booze, cigarettes, cagey male banter. There are even the unseen grids of Sing Sing in the metaphorical background of the prison guard’s talk. Would a hospital really have bronze fronds in the style of Curtis Jere on the wall? They strike a fussy note in a room that already feels a little too fancy for Westchester. Curtis Jere pieces, like the Harry Bertoia sculpture from which they loosely derive (a brooch is pictured above), were intended to add a little (frozen) nature to the modular world of the future. The brown plaid on the Drapers’ kitchen walls looks particularly dowdy after the suave waiting room, a grid without purpose or echo.

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