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In Which the Smithsonian Is Yarn-Bombed

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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.

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Friday Photo: Picasso, Bullish on the Beach

(Gjon Mili) xWhen it comes to great men on the beach, our heart has always been with Einstein (and Robert Wilson, and Philip Glass). But where more literal beaches are concerned, we’re biased toward those in the south of France, particularly in the 1920s, when wealthy American expats Gerald and Sara Murphy frolicked on and off the sand with an eclectic group of friends that included a young Pablo Picasso. Back then the artist favored a less-the-breezy fedora to shield his cap of black hair from the sun, but by 1949, he had moved on to bolder Côte d’Azur chapeaux: a minotaur mask, here worn backward in a photo by Gjon Mili for LIFE magazine.

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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Friday Photo: Tadao Ando Takes a Picture

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(Photo: UnBeige)

Clark Center from Reflecting Pool 7Tadao Ando first visited the Clark Art Institute, located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 2001, having emerged as the clear winner in the competition to develop an architectural master plan for the institution, known for its top-notch collection of Old Masters and Impressionists as well as a hub for art historical research and conferences. On his most recent visit from Osaka, just last week, Ando surveyed the nearly finished project, camera in hand. Trailed by a scrum of journalists and museum staff, he regarded with approval and personal snapshots the expanded Clark and its transformed 140-acre campus, which opens to the public today.

The multi-phase project combined Ando’s talents with that of Annabelle Selldorf (who expanded and renovated the Clark’s original 1955 museum building), Gary Hilderbrand (responsible for the sweeping and sustainable redesign of the Clark’s grounds), and Gensler (which served as executive architect). Ando’s 42,560-square-foot Clark Center, the new stone, concrete, and glass centerpiece of the campus, serenely fulfills an astounding array of functions spread between two levels—reception, exhibition space, dining, retail—while uniting the new with the old and the built environment with natural wonders—verdant hills, trails, and a new three-tiered reflecting pool that later this year will become an epic skating rink. In describing the project, Ando emphasized the theme of continuity: “The continuity of the Clark family, the continuity of history, the continuity of the seasons,” he said. “There really is this continuity throughout the site.”

On Valentine’s Day, Times Square Meets Its Match(Maker)

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What’s your sign? That old astrological pick-up line is at the core of the project that emerged victorious in this year’s Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, co-hosted by Van Alen Institute. Brooklyn-based Young Projects bested fellow finalists Haiko Cornelissen Architecten, Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio, Schaum/Shieh Architects, SOFTlab, and The Living with “Match-Maker” (pictured). The amorphous sculpture, on view in Father Duffy Square in Times Square through March 11, is a cosmic connector: “Guided by their zodiac sign, visitors arrange themselves at twelve points around the heart-shaped sculpture,” according to Young Projects, which worked with Kammetal on the construction. “Peering through colorful, interwoven periscopes provides glimpses of each viewer’s four most ideal astrological mates, offering potential novel connections between lonely souls or settled lovers.”

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.

Friday Photo: Chair and Chair Alike

What would a plastic lawn chair do? That’s the big question for Bert Löschner. The Munich-based artist infuses this bland yet globally ubiquitous piece of outdoor furniture —officially known as the Monobloc—with personality by contorting it into poses that include that of caped crusader (“Superchair“), eager-to-serve butler (“valet“), and hitchhiker. “Like other everyday objects, the Monobloc chair is something we have in mind. A certain un-removable picture,” Löschner has said. “This picture can be used as a canvas.” His work includes a chair on a swing, 24 stacked to resemble a human spinal column, and a meta-moment in which one reclines in Gaetano Pesce‘s famed “Donna” chair. We like the look of “The Dudes” (2011, pictured), a chair pair that may have the makings of a loveseat.

Friday Photo: Goodnight Moon Green Room


(Photo: Jonathan Blanc)

It’s the summer of children’s books in New York. The Society of Illustrators is celebrating the creative legacy of Maurice Sendak with an exhibition of more than 200 Sendak originals, and his beloved wild things can also be found rumpusing at the New York Public Library as part of “The ABC of It,” a show that examines why children’s books are important, what and how they teach children, and what they reveal about the societies that produced them. Among the books and objects on view through March 2014 is this recreation of the great green room of Margaret Wise Brown‘s Goodnight Moon, complete with a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.

Yeezus Lives! Kanye West Pops into Design Miami Basel


(Photo: Seth Browarnik for Design Miami Basel)

When last we saw Kanye West, he was wandering the tulip-lined halls of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). His latest appearance on the international art circuit (Gray hoodie? Check.) was at Design Miami Basel, where, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, he gave an impromptu listening party for Yeezus. The album, due out on June 18, is expected to sell 500,000 copies in its first week of release.

Some 2,000 guests (Hans Ulrich Obrist? Check.) gathered–amidst a few Rick Owens chairs–at the center of the Herzog and de Meuron-designed Hall 1 Sud at Basel’s Messeplatz to sample West’s latest, including a track produced by Daft Punk and an a capella rendition of “New Slaves,” which includes a shout-out to Alexander Wang. The decision to appear at Design Miami Basel makes perfect sense considering that West has moved on from George Condo to…Le Corbusier. In a recent interview with Jon Caramanica of The New York Times, he pointed to architecture as influencing the pared-down vibe of Yeezus:

You know, this one Corbusier lamp was like, my greatest inspiration. I lived in Paris in this loft space and recorded in my living room, and it just had the worst acoustics possible, but also the songs had to be super simple, because if you turned up some complicated sound and a track with too much bass, it’s not going to work in that space. This is earlier this year. I would go to museums and just like, the Louvre would have a furniture exhibit, and I visited it like, five times, even privately. And I would go see actual Corbusier homes in real life and just talk about, you know, why did they design it? They did like, the biggest glass panes that had ever been done. Like I say, I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body. It’s cool to bring all those vibes and then eventually come back to Rick [Rubin], because I would always think about Def Jam.

At Frieze NY, Mondrians Served by the Slice

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Blue Bottle Rooftop Cafe has become famous for its art-inspired treats, including a fudge pop based on an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture and confections frosted to resemble those painted by Wayne Thiebaud. It’s the slices of colorblocked Mondrian cake (pictured) that are the sweet treat to be seen with at Frieze New York, where Blue Bottle is one of the many providers of edibles and drinkables. Can’t make it to Randall’s Island? Pastry chef Caitlin Freeman reveals her recipes (and step-by-step assembly instructions) in Modern Art Desserts, new from Ten Speed Press.

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