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exhibitions

Hollywood Glamour Coming to MFA Boston

(Edward Steichen)

Sartorially speaking, the summer has belonged to the idiosyncratic, emotionally fraught fashion genius known as Charles James, the subject of exhibitions at both New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Menil Collection in Houston. The glamour continues next month, sans James, in Boston as the Museum of Fine Arts rolls out the red carpet for “Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen.”

The exhibition will focus on how jewelry—something of an MFA specialty—and clothing contributed to the style of major stars of the 1930s and 1940s, from Gloria Swanson (pictured here in a 1927 photo by Edward Steichen) and Greta Garbo to Joan Crawford and Mae West, who at five feet tall, often got her kicks in nine-and-a-half-inch platform shoes. In addition to fashion (think designs by Adrian, Chanel, and enough satin to make Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz say assez!) and jewelry (including recently donated gems by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin), a “silver screen” in the gallery will play highlights from famous films. An equally star-studded companion exhibition, “Karsh Goes Hollywood,” will feature photographs by Yousuf Karsh from the 1940s through the 1960s.

“Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen” is on view at the MFA Boston from September 9 through March 8, 2015.

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Friday Photo: Monkey on Board

(Garry Winogrand)In 1959, Bronx-born photographer Garry Winogrand (1928–1984) captured what is surely one of the most wonderfully—and perplexingly—absurd scenes in the history of photography: a snow monkey perched on the rear of a Chevy convertible paused at an intersection on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The man and the woman in the car look over their shoulders to regard the primate with gazes of barely suppressed annoyance, as if poised to answer the are-we-there-yet? whines of a bored child. Meanwhile, the monkey, having spied Winogrand and his trusty Leica, looks straight at the lens with his mouth open.

“One day I asked Winogrand what actually was happening when he made that now-classic photograph,” said Jeff Rosenheim, a former student of Winogrand’s who now serves as curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s department of photographs, at the recent press preview for the museum’s exquisite Winogrand retrospective. “He smiled at let rip a common refrain: ‘Forget about the original situation, Jeff. It’s gone. Look at the picture. A photograph is a new thing. An illusion. A lie. A transformation.’ It was important lesson for me to learn then, and even today I revisit its truths as I work to understand this ever-changing nature of this medium of photography.”
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SVA to Honor Tom Geismar with ‘Masters Series’ Retrospective

(Art Beach)It’s a good year to be Tom Geismar. He and partner (and fellow graphic design legend) Ivan Chermayeff are the 2014 recipients of the National Design Award for lifetime achievement, but even before they pick up their chunky glass asterisks at the Cooper Hewitt’s awards gala in October, Geismar will get the retrospective treatment at New York’s School of Visual Arts. A panel of his peers has selected Geismar to be the 2014 SVA Master Series honoree, joining a roster of past laureates that includes Chermayeff, Saul Bass, Steven Heller, Duane Michals, and Paula Scher. In addition to his logo designs for the likes of Mobil, Chase Manhattan Bank, National Geographic, PBS, Rockefeller Center, Univision, NYU, and Xerox, the exhibition will feature personal works, books, and student projects from Geismar’s own collection.

“The Masters Series: Tom Geismar” opens August 25 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery in NYC.

NYHS Exhibit Fêtes Ludwig Bemelmans and Madeline on Her 75th Anniversary

Nancy Lazarus heads up Central Park West covered in vines, in search of twelve little girls in two straight lines, or at least the smallest one of the bunch: Madeline, and her creator.

Madeline at the Paris Flower Market
Madeline at the Paris Flower Market, 1955. Courtesy the Estate of Ludwig Bemelmans.

As a hotelier, cartoonist, and fabric designer, Ludwig Bemelmans was a jack of all trades, but Madeline, published in 1939, became his masterpiece. The New York Historical Society is marking the 75th anniversary with a retrospective of his career. “Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans,” is on view through October 19.

“He took any jobs that came along,” said exhibition curator Jane Bayard Curley of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, the show’s organizer. Over 100 works are on display, reflecting Bemelmans’ many talents: drawings, paintings, manuscripts, photographs, and specially commissioned objects, including murals for the playroom of Christina, the Onassis yacht. Bemelmans’ family opened their archives to lend artwork and memorabilia.

“We created a faux Bemelmans’ Bar, but don’t tell the Carlyle,” joked Charles Royce, who along with his wife Deborah, lent murals from their luxury hotel, Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. They acquired six plaster works, which had once graced the walls of Bemelmans’ La Colombe bistro in Paris. Royce was referring of course to New York’s Carlyle Hotel, where Bemelmans painted murals depicting the seasons of Central Park.
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Chicago Getting Its Own Architecture Biennial

chicago archWatch out, Venezia. The Windy City is getting a biennial of its own. Announced this week, the Chicago Architecture Biennial—billed as the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America—is set to open October 1, 2015 in and around the Chicago Cultural Center. The three-month-long event, presented by the City of Chicago and the Graham Foundation, will be funded through private donations (BP has already chipped in $2.5 million).

“Chicago is the birthplace of modernism in architecture and every architect in the world knows our city’s history of innovation in the field through the work of architects such as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe,” says Graham Foundation director Sarah Herda, who will serve as artistic director of the Biennial with architect, writer, and curator Joseph Grima. “The Biennial will place Chicago, once again, at the forefront of the architectural imagination.”
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‘Detroit—Bruce Weber’ Exhibition Debuts at Detroit Institute of Arts

(bruce weber)The Detroit Institute of Arts has been busy lining up pledges—$26 million from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, and General Motors Foundation; $10 million from the Mellon Foundation; $3 million from the J. Paul Getty Trust—toward its goal to raise $100 million as part of a “grand bargain” that will help the City of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, support city pensioners, and protect the museum’s art collection for the public. An exhibition that opens today should bolster hometown pride. The DIA has partnered with Condé Nast to present “Detroit—Bruce Weber,” an exhibition of approximately 80 photographs by the celebrated fashion photographer, filmmaker, and golden retriever enthusiast. Weber began photographing the city and its citizens in 2006, and the images range from portraits of famous locals such as Aretha Franklin and Patti Smith to legendary locales such as Belle Isle, where he came upon a wedding and captured a poignant image of the flower girl. “Detroit—Bruce Weber” is on view through Sept 7 at the DIA.

Pictured: Christopher Gardner, Artist, and Von Jour Reece, Fashion Designer, at Bert’s Marketplace, Detroit, Michigan, 2006, gelatin silver print. © Bruce Weber

Björk (and Her App) Bound for MoMA: Retrospective Planned for Spring 2015

bjork

The Museum of Modern Art has expanded from video games to apps. Pioneering this new collecting category for MoMA is Björk’s Biophilia, the 2011 app-cum-album—with interactive graphics, animations, and musical scoring—designed in 2011 in collaboration with the likes of Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag of M/M Paris. We hear that the gentlemen of M/M will get the retrospective treatment at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2016, but Björk will beat them to the multidisciplinary punch: the work of the Icelandic composer, musician, and artist will be the subject of a full-scale retrospective slated to open March 7, 2015 at MoMA, the museum announced this week.

Chief curator at large Klaus Biesenbach is drawing upon more than two decades of Björkian endeavors, including her seven full-length albums, to chronicle her career through sound, film, visuals, instruments, objects, costumes, and performance. As for the installation, which will not travel beyond MoMA, expect “a narrative, both biographical and imaginatively fictitious, cowritten by Björk and the acclaimed Icelandic writer Sjón Sigurdsson” as well as a “newly commissioned, immersive music and film experience” conceived and realized with director Andrew Huang and Autodesk.

Biennale Bling: Rem Koolhaas and Swarovski Sparkle in Venice

(Gilbert McCarragher)
(Photo: Gilbert McCarragher)

The long-awaited Rem Koolhaas-curated Venice Architecture Biennale is upon us. Along with a newly cohesive approach to the national pavilions, in which the 65 participating nations each address a “key moment from a century of modernization,” and the central “Elements of Architecture” exhibition (spoiler alert: “It is nothing to do with design,” Koolhaas explained yesterday), there is “Monditalia,” a multidisciplinary portrait of Italy in the form of 82 films, 41 architectural projects, and a merger of architecture with the Biennale’s dance, music, theater, and film sections. Mamma mia!

Visitors enter Monditalia through a dramatic illuminated archway, which is saved from smacking of Vegas or Disney by its setting in the augustly industrial Arsenale. Dubbed Luminaire, the sparkling facade—spanning nearly 66 feet in length—was created in collaboration with Swarovski using thousands of colored light bulbs and a generous dusting (read: 33 pounds worth) of Swarovski crystals, all encrusting an elaborate wooden frame. Koolhaas describes what lies beyond the gate as dealing with “the current state of Italy, between treasure and crisis, knowledge and controversies, history and politics.”

Abbott Miller Designs Exhibition Celebrating Century of Type

Century_installation

Headed to New York City? Don’t miss “Century: 100 Years of Type in Design,” on view through June 18 at the AIGA National Design Center. Part of AIGA’s centennial celebration, the fontastic—and free—exhibition was created by Pentagram partner and AIGA medalist Abbott Miller (we are eagerly anticipating his new book, Design and Content, coming soon from Princeton Architectural Press) in partnership with Monotype. It runs the chronological and technological gamut from Akzidenz Grotesk to Zapf Dingbats with works drawn from the collections of the Type Directors Club, Condé Nast, Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, the Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union, and many more. Here’s a preview:

Quote of Note | Harold Koda

Charles James ballgown“[A]t the end of his life, if you went down to the street and said, ‘Charles James lives there,’ nobody would care. But think about Anna Piaggi—she had Antonio [Lopez] do all these drawings of his work immediately after he died. The people who were really savvy never forgot him. It’s just that he was never a household name, even when he was at his peak. He was always known as being at the cutting edge of the design world. I think what will happen with this exhibition is that fashionable people will come in, and they’ll be inspired by the colors and the shapes, but they will [translate] them in a more traditional way so that [the clothes] can be easily manufactured. But I think the people who will come away with even more inspiration will be industrial designers, graphic designers, and architects, because you will see such interesting ways of thinking.”

-Curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute Harold Koda, who organized “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” with Jan Glier Reeder. The exhibition is on view through August 10 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pictured: Clover Leaf Ball Gown designed in 1953 by Charles James

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