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exhibitions

Inside Louise Fili’s Elegantissima Exhibit

Before we could say “Gelato Fiasco,” Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili had opened and closed at the Art Directors Club in NYC. If you missed the show’s two-week run, which wrapped up Friday in a evening pleasant prosecco haze, all is not perso. The series of thematic interiors, designed by the incomparable Kevin O’Callaghan and sure to inspire a run on violet-hued fainting couches, live on in a short film (below). We suggest following this taste of Fili’s brand of la dolce vita with her stunningly beautiful new book, Grafica della Strada: The Signs of Italy, published earlier this month by Princeton Architectural Press.

At MCNY, a Look Back to the ‘Mad Men’ Era, Illustrated

What do you get when you cross Norman Rockwell with Roy Lichtenstein? The Don Draper-era illustrations of Mac Conner. Writer Nancy Lazarus previewed the new exhibition of his work and sketched out her impressions.

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Mac Conner’s illustrations for “The Girl Who Was Crazy About Jimmy Durante” in Woman’s Day, September 1953 and below, for “How Do You Love Me” in Woman’s Home Companion, August 1950. (Courtesy of the artist)

01_How Do You Love Me_Mac Conner_1950_Courtesy of MCNY.jpgAt the ripe age of 100, McCauley “Mac” Conner is ready for his close-up. The illustrator made a special appearance this week at the opening of an exhibition of his work at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY). “Mac Conner: A New York Life,” on view through January 19, 2015, provides an in-depth look at Conner’s career along with his working process.

“The period from the late 1940s through the early ’60s was Mac’s heyday,” said Terrence Brown, the exhibit’s guest curator and director of the Society of Illustrators, at Tuesday’s press preview. During the “Mad Men” era, Conner’s illustrations appeared on the covers of leading magazines of the day such as The Saturday Evening Post and the “Seven Sisters” women’s titles, like Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and Redbook.

“It was a vibrant time and Mac relished it,” said Sarah Henry, MCNY deputy director and chief curator. “Magazines were Mac’s favorite medium since they allowed more creative freedom. That’s also the time when he grew as a designer,” she added.
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In Which the Smithsonian Is Yarn-Bombed

smith

If you’re spending this Labor Day weekend in our nation’s capital, stop by the Smithsonian Castle, which, along with the surrounding gardens, is presently ensnared in a thicket—approximately six miles worth—of cherry red yarn. The yarn bombing, revealed today (after two weeks of work by some 120 volunteers) and up through Tuesday morning, is a crafty way to draw attention to the Chiharu Shiota exhibition that opens tomorrow at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Japanese artist has used 350 donated shoes and four miles of the same shade of red yarn used in the knit-splosion to create an installation that amasses personal memories of lost individuals and past moments. “The threads are woven together,” Shiota has said. “They become entangled. They tear. They unravel. They are a mirror of the emotions.” As for the fate of the post-bomb yarn, the Freer|Sackler is open to ideas: tweet your craftiest suggestion(s) to @FreerSackler or post on the museum’s Facebook page.

Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker Turns Curator for ‘Politics of Fashion’ Exhibition

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Backstage at Maison Martin Margiela’s fall 2012 haute couture show. (Photo: Tyrone Lebon)

If you know fashion, you know Fashion Television. Hosted by the indefatigable Jeanne Beker, the Toronto-based fashion news show ceased production in 2012 after 27 seasons of designer interviews and from-the-collections reports. (In many American markets, it aired before or after its Canadian counterpart, Fashion File, prompting viewers to wonder why stateside networks jettisoned the newsy angle on fashion after the CNN run of Elsa Klensch.) Beker is now making her curatorial debut with “Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics,” an exhibition that opens September 18 at Design Exchange in Toronto.

The Canadian design museum will showcase more than 200 works that reveal fashion as a powerful tool of expression, including the (relatively) scandalous non-gown worn by Margaret Trudeau to the White House in 1977, a gold leopard print burqa from Jeremy Scott‘s spring 2013 “Arab Spring” collection, and an artisanal leather poncho from the fall 2013 Maison Martin Margiela collection. Fashion designer Jeremy Laing is masterminding the exhibition design, while Design Exchange curator Sara Nickleson worked with Beker on organizing the show. The bold and often subversive pieces, which span from the 1960s (a star-spangled Bobby Kennedy-for-president paper dress) to today (an androgynous Rad Hourani jacket) are organized around five themes: Ethics/Activism, War/Peace, Consumption/Consumerism, Campaign/Power Dressing, and Gender/Sexuality.

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.

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

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