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exhibitions

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

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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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Eight Years B.C.: Bill Cunningham Exhibit Opens at NY Historical Society

Intrepid blue-smocked street photographer Bill Cunningham turned 85 yesterday, and the New York Historical Society marked the occasion with a press preview of an exhibit of his photographs. We dispatched writer Nancy Lazarus—via bicycle, of course—to take in the architectural riches and fashion history of New York through Cunningham’s lens. The show opens to the public today.

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(All photos courtesy New York Historical Society)

billWhile his images don’t depict biblical times, Bill Cunningham did delve back to the Civil War, Victorian era, and Gilded Age for his eight-year-long project, Facades. From 1968-1976, the New York Times photographer who documented social, architecture, and fashion trends collected over 500 outfits and shot more than 1,800 locations around New York City. Editta Sherman, his friend, neighbor and fellow photographer, served as project collaborator and frequent subject.

Cunningham donated 88 black-and-white images from his photo essay to the New York Historical Society in 1976, and 80 gelatin silver prints and enlarged images are on display through June 15. Valerie Paley, NYHS historian and vice president for scholarly programs, curated the exhibit, and she said assistant curator Lilly Tuttle, found the photos in the museum’s archives. “We have so many undiscovered treasures, and we’re delighted to rediscover them,” said Paley.

Although Cunningham wasn’t on hand for yesterday’s preview, Paley said he was enthusiastic about the exhibit and had pitched in to locate details of specific photos. Many of his quotes accompany the exhibit highlights. The display is arranged by historic era, and additional photos in the collection are projected onto the walls of the museum’s side entrance rotunda.
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City as Canvas: MCNY Explores Origins of Graffiti Art

Once upon a time, before Banksy murals were making the covers of auction catalogues, what many today know as street art was viewed as urban blight. Martin Wong saw creativity ripe for collecting. A new exhibition brings together works from his trove and traces the evolution of the New York graffiti art movement. We tagged writer Nancy Lazarus to take a sneak peek.

Untitled by Zephyr, 1984, MCNY
Pictured above, an untitled 1984 work by Zephyr, a key figure in the transition of the writing movement from trains to canvas. The below portrait of artist and collector Martin Wong was taken in 1985 by Peter Bellamy. (All images courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York)

Martin Wong by Peter Bellamy, 1985, MCNY“Street art has become the biggest art movement the world has seen,” said Sandra Fabara, the graffiti artist known as Lady Pink. She was one of the few female artists involved in the street scene of Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the 1970s and 1980s. That’s where Martin Wong, an avid collector, befriended and mentored a group of fellow graffiti artists.

“He was passionate, not just a patron,” said Christopher Ellis, aka Daze, one of many members of the group who paid tribute to the late Wong on Monday at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY), which today opened an exhibition of works from Wong’s pioneering collection. On view through August 24, “City as Canvas: Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection” consists of nearly half of the 300 mixed media pieces that Wong donated to the museum in 1994, five years before he died of AIDS. Sean Corcoran, MCNY’s curator of prints and photographs, curated the show, and the artists helped to identify many of the pieces in the exhibition.
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Friday Photo: In the Studio with Robert Rauschenberg

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François Halard, Robert Rauschenberg Portrait #2, 1998. (Image courtesy Demisch Danant)

The puckish Robert Rauschenberg at work and play in his studio in Captiva Island, Florida. Blurred geometry at Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre. The crumbling grandeur of the Villa Noailles. Pleated pottery arrayed in Cy Twombly’s bedroom. These are some of the dreamy spaces, people, and places captured over the past two decades by François Halard, the subject of a career-spanning exhibition that opens Saturday at New York’s Demisch Danant gallery. Many of the works in “François Halard: Architecture” have never before been published or exhibited—don’t miss the Polaroids, including the mind-blowing dolce vita view from Twombly’s studio in Southern Italy.

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