Our roots in the rusty husk that is Motown make us suckers for the boom in photo projects that document the city’s fading glory [cue "(Nothing But) Flowers"]. Leading the pack, in our view, is Julia Reyes Taubman‘s Detroit: 138 Square Miles, published last December by the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD), but for a perspective that tends more toward the hauntingly gorgeous and immersive, no one does it better than Andrew Moore. His 2008-2009 “Detroit Disassembled” photo series is the subject of an exhibition on view through February 13, 2013 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. (running concurrently is “Detroit Is No Dry Bones,” a show of photos by Camilo José Vergara). In this photo, Moore captures the Surrealist afterlife of a clock that once measured the days of students at Detroit’s Cass Tech High School.
The Velveteen Rabbit meets Blade Runner in “Dark Peculiar Toys,” an exhibition of photographs by Viktor Koen that opens Thursday, October 4 at the United Photo Industries Gallery in Brooklyn. Koen’s dystopian playthings evoke the scarred and spooky future stars of a Steampunk sequel to Toy Story. “Their appeal lies solely in the tendency children (of any age) have to cannibalize existing objects in order to fuse their own,” says the artist of his “tragic action figures” in a statement about the project, which has been previously exhibited in Berlin, Boston, and Athens. “These creations come at odds with their carefully planed origins and brake gender and age molds by defying children experts, focus groups, and sales projections. The newly assembled toys, though somewhat dramatic and traumatic due to their darkness, evoke our emotions and form a connection with us, by taking a place in our personal memories. Not in a ‘lost childhood blah, blah, blah’ way—but as images that communicate nostalgia and joy, or the nostalgia of joy.”
A child’s wheelbarrow designed in 1923 by Gerrit Rietveld and manufactured in 1958 by Gerard van de Groenekan. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/PICTORIGHT, Amsterdam
From this Gerrit Rietveld wheelbarrow to Yves Behar’s XO laptop, designing for kids is not simply a matter of scaling down stuff aimed at adults. The global awakening to this reality—and the resulting explosion of architecture, objects, and books for the younger set—is the focus of a must-see exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. On view through November 5, “Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000” offers a global tour of design types, materials and scales, tackling themes ranging from “Avant-Garde Playtime” to “Designing Better Worlds.” Can’t make it to New York? MoMA has launched this gorgeous interactive site dedicated to the exhibition, making virtual visits child’s play.
The modern and contemporary design experts at Wright know that when the urge hits for a buttery leather sofa designed by Josef Hoffmann or a fractal-inspired Arik Levy chandelier, it can be awfully difficult to wait for the Chicago-based auction house’s next lovingly curated (and gorgeously catalogued) sale. Satisfy your design cravings instantly with Wright Now, a new online marketplace of great design ranging from classic pieces to exclusive one-offs—and a glass turkey (Toni Zuccheri for Venini). Among our favorites from Wright’s click-to-buy assortment, restocked regularly, is this 1970 set of “Arc-en-Ciel” bookends by Lucio Del Pezzo. From an edition of 500 by Plura Edizioni, the stainless steel and Plexiglas pair would be equally at home in a kid’s room, on the groaning gift table at a same-sex wedding, or under the tree this Christmas with a tag that reads “To: LeVar, From: Santa.”
It’s not just venerable statues that are getting tricked out in Olympic finery for the London Games. Boats are also getting into the act. Print wizards Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto of Eley Kishimoto designed this “Cam Chevron” sail for Team Great Britain. The black and white main, which dazzles the eye like a seafaring Bridget Riley canvas, took to the Thames yesterday afternoon on an Olympic Star class yacht skippered by John Gimson, a strong contender for Team GB in Rio come 2016. Also on board was real estate developer Michael Ross, sponsor of a “Fine Art on Sail,” a new initiative that will raise money for assorted sailing-associated nonprofits. “The striking repetitive zig-zag movement in the design aligns with a sailboat’s repetitive tacking between port and starboard,” said Ross of the Eley Kishimoto creation. Stay tuned for more art sails. The project has commissioned four top artists to design sails that will be revealed later this month in London and then make appearances at Art Basel in Miami and at the America’s Cup.
The King George IV statue in Trafalgar Square wears a new hat designed by Stephen Jones. Below, Lord Nelson in a design by Sylvia Fletcher of Lock & Co. (Photos: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
How does London top an opening ceremony full of dark Satanic mills, dancing ill children, Mr. Bean, a star-crossed love story that may have involved time travel, and the guy who wrote Tubular Bells? With hats, lots of lots hats. The Olympic host city surprised residents and visitors this week with “Hatwalk,” a quirky collaboration between the Mayor of London, Grazia magazine, and sponsor BP that placed giant hats on the venerable public artworks of the capital. With the help of milliners such as Phillip Treacy and Stephen Jones, 21 statues were fitted with elaborate chapeaux (made of plastic or other non-conductive materials). The task of securing them fell to a crew of workers and a fleet of cranes in the wee hours of Monday. It’s not a project we can imagine happening anywhere else. “Around the world, people tend to associate us with hats now,” says Jones. “Historically of course, this was always true. But I think nowadays, thanks to things like the Royal Wedding, and the Jubilee, people around look and see someone with a crazy hat on and think, ‘Oh, they must be British.’ Hats really are representative of British culture.”
Photos: Martin Grant (top), Corinne Arndt Girouard (inset)
Visitors to the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, New Hampshire will no longer need to ask directions to the Hopkins Center for the Arts. They can simply scan the horizon for the rainbow that was added to the building’s eastern facade this week. The five aluminum rectangles—each measuring approximately 22 feet high and 5.5 feet wide—are the work of Ellsworth Kelly, who created “Dartmouth Panels” for the site and was present for its installation.
Dartmouth alum Leon Black (who earlier this year paid $120 million for Edvard Munch‘s “The Scream” at Sotheby’s) commissioned the wall sculpture, which will be dedicated on September 14 along with the new Black Family Visual Arts Center. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates, the 105,000-square-foot building will house the school’s departments of studio art, film and media studies, and the nascent digital humanities program. A plaza with a formal lawn and hardscape sculpture terrace will connect the new center with the Hopkins Center and the Hood Museum of Art. “We are actively pursuing extended loans of public sculpture, as well as commissions of significant new works for the dynamic space where the Black Family Visual Arts Center, the Hopkins Center for the Arts, and the Hood Museum of Art intersect,” said Michael Taylor, director of the Hood Museum, in a statement issued earlier this year.
As Americans strive to wring the last morsels of patriotic fun from this year’s awkwardly placed Fourth of July holiday, let’s take a moment to remember who is to thank for all of the picnics, sparklers, and fireworks (even if, by some glitch, they all go off at once). It was 236 years ago that Thomas Jefferson hunkered down at this proto-laptop and drafted the Declaration of Independence. The hinged top will look familiar, but in place of USB ports, TJ had a locking drawer for supplies such as pens and an inkwell (and probably some snacks). Unlike the sleek yet disposable devices of today, this chunky “writing box” saw Jefferson through some five decades of document preparation and diplomatic doodling. “Politics as well as Religion has its superstitions,” he wrote in a note that he attached under the writing board in 1825, before gifting it to his new grandson-in-law, Joseph Coolidge. “These, gaining strength with time, may, one day, give imaginary value to this relic, for its great association with the birth of the Great Charter of our Independence.” The family later donated the portable desk to the U.S. government, and today it is in the Smithsonian collection.
“I feel an affinity with the tradition of documentary photography, but my photographs nevertheless have aspects that make them different. I’m attracted to portraiture because of the personal relationships I develop with people I meet and am interested in. These are encounters where, each time, something happens and a certain emotional interaction takes place. I’m looking for something that’s real. To me photography means that you can point to something and show other people the unexpected, the unusual. Precisely by bringing life to a standstill, you can capture things that often go unnoticed day to day–it has to do with the extraordinary quality of the ordinary. I’ve chosen photography as a medium for making art because I want to show something that cannot be expressd in any other.”
Above: “Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 19, 2005.” © Rineke Dijkstra (Courtesy the artist and Jan Mot)
Juergen Teller, “Pettitoe, Suffolk, 2011,” a photograph from his “Keys to the House” series exhibited earlier this year at New York’s Lehmann Maupin gallery.
“I can achieve something in a very quick moment. But it does get very personal. I think I open up a lot too. I don’t come around as the archetype fashion photographer dude, playing the big guy with the horde of assistants. I let them know I’m also nervous or insecure. Then I let them relax. The way I photograph is quite hypnotizing. I found a way to hide my insecurity—I have two cameras and I photograph like this [mimes cameras in each hand moving hypnotically] and this helps me to figure out what I should do, where they should go…it’s so intense, so psychologically draining, it’s like my brain works on overdrive in those minutes—or hours or days—I’m photographing. That’s why I can’t do it so much because I’m really super-concentrated. Other people think it’s a stupid snapshot—I get that a lot—but it’s very precise. And it has to be very fast because if I’m on a job or something, I can’t just doodle around and days go past and I take a picture. Sometimes there’s a lot of money involved and I have a responsibility to the client to get the fucking thing done. A lot of other people say, “Stand like that, stay like that,” and they do a Polaroid and everyone—all the assistants, the hair and makeup, everyone—stands around looking at the Polaroid or nowadays looking at the screen, then they say, “Let’s do it, shoot,” by which time the model is so tense the Polaroid is better than the end product. I ease that up where they don’t feel necessarily, ‘This is the big decisive moment.’”