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museums

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.

12_The Girl Who was Crazy About Jimmy Durante_Mac Conner_1953_Courtesy of MCNY.jpg
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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Rock Star: Doug Pray on Levitated Mass, the Documentary

levitated mass

Michael Heizer is an artist whose work you tend to stumble upon—perhaps literally, in the case of the bewitching ribbons of rusting steel embedded in the lawn of the Menil Collection—and then can’t stop thinking about. He made headlines in recent years during the installation of Levitated Mass (2012), a 456-foot-long slot constructed on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus, over which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith. That momentous, paperwork-laden process, which entailed a $10 million, 22-city tour for the boulder and its custom-made trailer, is the subject of a new film by Doug Pray (Art & Copy, Surfwise). Now playing in select cities, Levitated Mass weaves together Heizer’s biography, the dreams of a major museum, and the uniting of a city—all while proving that it is possible to make a fascinating film about a massive rock. Pray (pictured below), who happens to be the son of a geologist, made time between screenings to tell us more about the film and its making.

(Diana Rathe)How did you first encounter the work of Michael Heizer?
Long before I knew about the work of Michael Heizer I had seen Adjacent, Against, Upon on the waterfront in Seattle, and, like millions of others, I’d encountered the smaller, running-water version of Levitated Mass in New York City, but I didn’t swim in it, so to speak. My first full, immersive experience was during the early days of our production on Levitated Mass while we were endlessly awaiting for the rock to get its permits and approvals and to move out of the quarry. I drove out to Mormon Mesa, near Overton, Nevada—about an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas—and spent a half day walking around and inside Heizer’s massive Double Negative.
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Vitra’s Rolf Fehlbaum to Receive Philly Museum of Art’s Collab Design Excellence Award

vitra

collab awardMake way for the chairman. Vitra’s Rolf Fehlbaum is the winner of the 2014 Collab Design Excellence Award, bestowed annually by a collaboration of design professionals supporting the modern and contemporary design collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Past winners of the award include Marc Newson, Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Marcel Wanders, and Frank Gehry.

Hadid (designer of the Vitra Fire Station) and Gehry (who worked his magic for the Vitra Design Museum and offices) are old chums of Feldbaum, who currently serves as chairman emeritus at Vitra, the legendary design firm founded in 1950 by his parents. The family-owned Swiss firm was quick to make inroads stateside, in part by becoming a licensee of Herman Miller (enter George Nelson and the Eameses). Feldbaum will give a lecture and pick up his award, a silver and laser-etched rubber swoop (pictured) designed by Kate Reynolds and fabricated by jewelry designer Maria Eife, on November 21, which will also mark the opening of “Vitra: Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots,” an exhibition that will be on view through April 26.

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.

LACMA to Honor Barbara Kruger, Quentin Tarantino

(Barbara Kruger)Any number of lines from the films of Quentin Tarantino (perhaps the Pulp Fictional: “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character” or “Personality goes a long way”?) would look swell sprawled out in Futura Bold Italic by Barbara Kruger. The artist and the filmmaker will come together on November 1 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as the honorees of its 2014 Art+Film Gala, the museum announced today. Further upping the Gucci-backed fete’s cinematic koan quotient will be Leonardo DiCaprio, who is chairing the event with LACMA trustee Eva Chow.

In other exciting film-related LACMA news, the museum is prepping the first major retrospective of the work of Pierre Huyghe. The exhibition, which is being “designed as a single, extraordinary environment,” opens November 23.

Pictured: Barbara Kruger, Untitled (You Are A Very Special Person), 1995

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.

Quote of Note | Paul Hornschemeier on Giant Sloths

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“There actually is a prehistoric giant sloth on the campus of the college I went to, Ohio State. I think it was vandalized sometime in the last couple of years, but I think they repaired it since then. I can’t remember which school it’s a part of. I want to say it’s the geology school. Whatever museum it’s in, a lot of the signage and a lot of the exhibits kind of feel like these leftovers from the ’70s and ’80s. It just always felt a little out of step with modern times. It just kind of had this very particular vibe that really stuck with me. But I didn’t really have the idea for the actual story….There was always something about the giant sloth, just being this creature that its modern day equivalent is so puny and so inconsequential. It’s funny, when I mention the film to some people, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s funny, like a giant sloth.’ I’m like, ‘No, there really were giant sloths.’ A lot of people aren’t even necessarily aware of them. They were these gigantic, huge, powerful things the size of bears. So there was always a metaphor there in the back of my head.”

-Paul Hornschemeier on the slothful inspiration for his animated feature-in-the-making, Giant Sloth, starring Paul Giamatti as an insane museum curator

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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MoMA Names Martino Stierli Chief Curator of Architecture and Design

martinoThe nearly year-long parlor game of “Who will replace Barry Bergdoll at MoMA?” has, at long last, come to an end with today’s announcement that Martino Stierli has nabbed the plum role of Philip Johnson chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. Stierli is the Swiss National Science Foundation Professor at the Institute of Art History of the University of Zurich, where he teaches the history of modern architecture. Beginning in March 2015, he will oversee the MoMA department of architecture and design’s special exhibitions, installations from the collection, and acquisitions. Stierli has a tough act to follow in Bergdoll, who stepped down last summer in leave-’em-wanting-more fashion—and in the midst of a stellar Le Corbusier exhibition—to become Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, although he remains a part-time curator at MoMA.
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Quote of Note | Ed Ruscha

hans memling“I can’t stop looking at this guy, because he looks like somebody on the street, like somebody I know. If you cut his hair a little different, he might be a baseball player—I don’t know. He could be José Canseco. He’s got a certain look that puts him into the twenty-first century. Most paintings of people do not, so it’s really unusual. Especially with Memling’s pictures, they sort of cross centuries. And I like to be aware of that. Every so often I’ll see someone on the street that looks to me like they’re from 1950—they’re dressed like they are today, in today’s clothing, but they still have a 1950 face. And this man has a twenty-first century face somehow.”

-Artist Ed Ruscha on Hans Memling‘s Portrait of a Man, c.1470, during a recent event at the Frick Collection

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