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exhibitions

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

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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

National Building Museum Explores ‘Designing for Disaster’

johnstown PA 1889The Washington Monument reopens to the public today—nearly three years after sustaining severe damage from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast in August 2011. Total cost of repairs to the towering obelisk? Approximately $15 million. Amidst rising costs associated with natural disasters, the National Building Museum is exploring new approaches to disaster resilience in “Designing for Disaster,” an exhibition that runs through August 2 of next year at the Washington, D.C. institution.

Organized by the destructive forces associated with each of the elements—earth, air, fire, and water, the show is a mix of case studies, artifacts (including singed opera glasses from the Waldo Canyon wildfire, and stone fragments from the earthquake-damaged National Cathedral), and immersive experiences (DIY disasters?) such as a “wall of wind” against which visitors can compare how various roof shapes perform in hurricane-force gales. Those that find even simulated disasters overwhelming can take refuge in the FEMA-specified tornado safe room.

In Which André Leon Talley Fondles Tom Ford’s Waistcoat

Style.com and the rest of the Condé Nast crew elected not to repeat last year’s rather awkward livestreaming of the arrivals at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala, but they did keep a camera trained on the indefatigable André Leon Talley on Monday evening as he held court at the top of the carpeted granite stairs shouting terse greetings (“Instagram! Patricia!”) and complimenting ensembles. The result is a series of very, very short videos such as this one, in which Talley and Tom Ford discuss the work of designer Charles James, the subject of this year’s spring Costume Institute exhibition; the textile of Ford’s own sumptous white waistcoat (spoiler alert: silk!); and the sartorial preferences of Ford’s toddler son.

Quote of Note | Fred Tomaselli

FT
Collages from Fred Tomaselli’s ongoing New York Times series are among the new works on view through June 14 in an exhibition at James Cohan Gallery in New York. Pictured, from left: Feb. 11, 2009 (2014) and July 12, 2010 (2013).

“I stopped using pills in 2005. I still use leaves, though not necessarily pot. I use fig, grape, and rose leaves. The fact that you can’t tell the difference means, maybe, that anything I do now has become psychoactive in a way. Like, when I took the pills out, I replaced them with dots, with the idea that they functioned as placebos. Either that, or maybe they’re just dots.”

-Artist Fred Tomaselli interviewed by Paul Laster in Time Out New York

Metropolitan Museum Debuts Roof Garden Commission: Dan Graham with Günther Vogt

Who needs a plain old terrace when you can have a Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout? Nancy Lazarus heads to the roof of the Met to reflect on the matter.

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(Photos: Hyla Skopitz, The Photograph Studio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

As the Metropolitan Museum of Art prepares to roll out the red carpet for its Costume Institute gala, it has rolled out a green carpet of grass turf for its annual roof garden exhibit: Two-Way Hedge Labyrinth Walkabout, a collaboration between American artist Dan Graham and Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt.

“I designed the changing convex and concave pavilion as a funhouse for kids and a photo op for parents,” said Graham at Monday’s press preview. “The work relates to Central Park and to the earlier works in my collection.” Some of his prior projects are on view in a companion exhibit on the museum’s second floor. That multimedia display encompasses photos, architectural models, videos, and a smaller, triangular-shaped glass pavilion with circular cutouts.
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Watch: William S. Burroughs Has a Gun

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) was not inclined to share the frame. He made exceptions for things he adored, including cigarettes, cats, guns, and pretty much anything that connoted or denoted danger. Artist Kate Simon photographed the Beat writer over two decades, from 1975 to 1995, and an exhibition of her portraits is on view through May 9 at the London shop of Nick Knight‘s Showstudio. The below video focuses on one shot of Burroughs, with gun, as part of a series of interviews with Simon by SHOWstudio Shop’s associate director Niamh White.

Snuff Bottles and Moon Jars! Five Must-See Asia Week New York Exhibits

Writer Nancy Lazarus heads to the Far East without leaving Manhattan as she takes in the sixth annual Asia Week and offers up five highlights.

Kaneko Toru Blue Rust #1 2009
Kaneko Toru’s Blue Rust #1 (2009) is on view during Asia Week at Lesley Kehoe Galleries.

Spring marks the arrival of Asia Week New York. The nine-day event (March 14-22), a marathon of 47 gallery shows and 19 auction sales, along with museum exhibitions and special events, offers the opportunity to admire a wealth of ancient and modern treasures. We’ve picked five exhibits where the themes, settings, timeless works, contemporary pieces, or unique techniques reward close looking. They’re listed by location, starting in midtown.

Lesley Kehoe Galleries (Melbourne, Australia-based gallery specializing in Japanese art; has Asia Week gallery space in Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street, 5th floor)
The Transcendent Spirit, a special Asia Week exhibit, highlights works of seven Japanese artists. Owner Lesley Kehoe believes “there’s not another culture with the patience and self-discipline to master these complex techniques.” Mitsuo Shoji creates paintings, calligraphy, and objects. He’s inspired by Buddhist chanting and fascinated with fire, using traditional Japanese foils to fire canvases. Kaneko Toru and Kidera Yuko specialize in metalworks. Yoku hammers flat metal sheets to create spirited female forms of dance and song. Toru uses copper oxide and enameled metals to craft colorful tin-plated decorative vessels with exotic textures.

Ralph M. Chait Galleries (specializes in Chinese art; 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, Crown Building, 12th floor)
For Asia Week, the oldest U.S. firm dealing in Chinese art is focusing on porcelain, silver sculpture, root carvings, and a collection of 20 snuff bottles dating from the 18th-20th centuries. Though miniature in size, the bottles were quite eye-catching, especially given the variety of animal and botanical motifs, shapes, and design types. Some were inlaid, while others were carved, painted, or embellished. Among the gemstones were lapis, jasper, jade, rhodonite, and moss agate. A stopper in a matching or contrasting color sat atop each bottle.
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