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For Picasso’s Birthday, a Guernica Made of Legos

Lego Picasso 2
Picasso’s Guernica made of Lego bricks by Veronica Watson. (Photo: Legoland Discovery Center Westchester)

Today marks the 133rd anniversary of Picasso‘s birth, and while some will celebrate by taking in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s spellbinding show of Leonard Lauder‘s Cubist collection, others will admire the artist’s famous Guernica—recreated in Legos in Yonkers. The blocky birthday tribute is the work of Veronica Watson, a master model builder at Legoland Discovery Center Westchester. It took her a couple of days and 800 Legos to create the replica, which is seven inches tall and just under fifteen inches wide, but little convincing: Guernica is one of her favorite Picasso works. “The style used to represent the chaotic subject matter of the Spanish Civil War makes it an incredibly powerful piece in 1937 and in 2014,” Watson told us, before answering a few of our questions about her Lego homage.

What was the most challenging aspect of making a Lego version of Guernica?
The most difficult aspect of making the Lego version was deciding how much detail to include. There is a lot going on in the painting. Rather then explicitly recreating every detail, I worked at suggesting the right forms so that the painting would be instantly recognizable.
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Mediabistro Course

Multimedia Journalism

Multimeida JournalismStarting November 6, work with a multiplatform journalist to create interactive packages using audio, photos, and video! In this course, Darragh Worland will teach you how to organize your news stories into complete multimedia packages, shoot video for the web, make an audiovisual slideshow, and build a multimedia portfolio on a blog. Register now!

In Brief: RIP Oscar de la Renta, Banksy Riffs on Vermeer, Istanbul Design Biennial Update

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• Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died last night after a long battle with cancer. The bon vivant, whose fashion house announced last week the appointment of Nina Ricci veteran Peter Copping as creative director, was 82.

Banksy is back. His latest work, painted on a building in his hometown of Bristol, is a pierced-eardrum riff on Vermeer‘s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

• It’s all systems go for the second Istanbul Design Biennial, which kicks off November 1. Curated by Zoë Ryan and associate curator Meredith Carruthers, the biennial will host 53 projects created around the theme “The Future Is Not What It Used To Be.” The list of participating designers, announced this week, includes Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini, Sissel Tolaas, Beth Schechter and Eric Rodenbeck of Stamen Design, and Atelier Bow-Wow’s Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima.

• The Museum at FIT holds its fourteenth fashion symposium—Dance & Fashion—this Thursday and Friday. Speakers including Wendy Whelan, Narciso Rodriguez, and Valerie Steele will explore topics ranging from tutus and ballet shoes to African-American dance and the trend of tapping fashion designers to create dance costumes. Don’t miss the wrap-up session: a tango performance that will inevitably evoke the dearly departed Mr. de la Renta. Register for free here.
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Holy Philately! USPS Debuts Batman Stamps in Gotham City

batman stampsBatman turns 75 this year (and yet, riddle us this, Adam West just turned 86), and the U.S. Postal Service is celebrating with—you guessed it—stamps! The collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment debuted last week in Gotham City at the Batcave-like Javits Center, where legions of Batfans had conveniently already gathered for Comic Con. There was no mention of Robin. The stamps, a limited-edition Forever affair (which only sounds oxymoronic) now available at a post office near you and on the USPS website, follow the Caped Crusader and his trusty Bat emblem, through four eras of comic book history.

Pass the Mvstard: New Design Marketplace Debuts

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Between Quirky and Kickstarter comes Mvstard, which aims to offer a new way to discover, shop for, and support design. Launched last month to coincide with London Design Week, the web-based platform was born out of a frustration with the current process for getting product to market. “We found it difficult to introduce new products at a sensible cost without scale, and tough to get scale without big investment,” says founder James Coombes. “We believed there was a better way.” Sign up to help solve the chicken-and-egg scale issue and directly support designers by committing to pre-purchase products you love. The opening selection includes an iPhone-charging desk lamp, a mobile made of varnished leaves, and a nifty cast-aluminum stool.

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Parsons Adds Industrial Design MFA Program

(Alessio D' Aniello)Would-be undergraduates aren’t the only ones with innovative new educational opportunities at Parsons The New School for Design. There’s also a new Master of Fine Arts program in the works. Slated to launch in the fall of 2015, Parsons’ full-time Industrial Design MFA is geared to professionals who want to further develop their industrial design practice as well as those who are new to the field. As for the curriculum, developed by Rama Chorpash, expect well-crafted opportunities “to employ advanced making skills and critical inquiry to design products at various scales of production, from low- to high-volume, and from desktop manufacturing to systems involving global supply chains.” Students will cap off their two years of study with a thesis project “that develops innovative or provocative designs carrying forward or challenging industrial design theory and practice.” Excited? The program’s official kickoff will take the form of “Product City: Shortening the Supply Chain,” an October 30 panel discussion featuring Matthew Burnett and Tanya Menendez (founders of Makers Row) and Stephanie Schacht (head of responsible growth at Etsy), with Chorpash and Victoria Hattam (professor of politics at The New School for Social Research) moderating.

The New School, Parsons Launch Journalism + Design Program

logo_horiz_sm2-300x46The goal? “To build a community of students and practitioners dedicated to building a future for journalism that isn’t dictated by corporate PR, wealthy individuals, or government spin.” The means? An interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program at The New School in Manhattan that merges design thinking with traditional journalistic principles. The catalyst? A $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that will fund the pilot initiative along with a journalist-in-residence program to bring in practitioners and thought leaders as well as social media editors, technologists, and data reporters. “The Journalism + Design program recognizes the critical and growing role design plays in the creation, consumption and experience of media,” said Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons The New School for Design, in a statement issued recently by the Knight Foundation. “It creates an exciting new space to explore emergent methods and channels for relaying information that will transform the media industry of the 21st century.”

At NYC’s French Embassy, New Bookstore Celebrates ‘La Joie des Livres’

Starbucks is a pauvre excuse for a reading room. Writer Nancy Lazarus visits a splendid new place to curl up with a good livre.

(Jess Nash)
(Photo: Jess Nash)

albertine exteriorThe replica of Michelangelo‘s Young Archer in the entry rotunda of the French Embassy in New York is about to attract a bookish new cohort of admirers: visitors to Albertine, a bookstore, reading room, and event space that opened Saturday in the Stanford White-designed Beaux Arts mansion. It’s located a few blocks south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the original Young Archer has resided (on loan through 2019), after it was moved from the embassy five years ago.

“The goal for Albertine was to open the space to the public and make French culture more accessible to Americans,” said Antonin Baudry, the French Embassy’s cultural counselor and creator of the project, during a recent interview. Visitors will mingle with authors and browse a selection of 14,000 contemporary and classic books from 30 French-speaking countries. Most are English translations, with some titles in French. “We also plan to host two events per week, so it will be a lively place,” he added.

“Albertine will be unique and not have an institutional look,” Baudry said. The space originally served as a grand private library, the same goal as for the redesign. “The spirit of the place was already here,” he noted. “We selected French designer Jacques Garcia since he can manipulate classical forms with contemporary ambience, to give the place its original charm and purpose.” Atelier Premiere, a Brooklyn-based firm of French craftsmen, painted and detailed both floors.
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Wadsworth Atheneum Receives $750K for Reinstallation of Collections

Wadsworth Atheneum

Did you know that the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut is the oldest public art museum in the United States? Now you do. The 172-year-old institution, now in the final stages of a five-year, $33 million renovation, announced today that it has received a combined $750,000 from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (HFPG) to fund the comprehensive reinstallation of its collections and to continue related programming aimed at community engagement.

The NEH awarded the Wadsworth Atheneum $400,000 for “the creation of an interdisciplinary gallery with interactive technology” to introduce visitors to the Cabinet of Art and Curiosities: an exhibition of remarkable 17th-century objects, many of them collected by J. Pierpont “Remarkable Objects” Morgan, combined with natural history specimens and other rarities. The space will be part of the reinstallation of European artworks in the restored Morgan Memorial building, slated to open in September 2015. The HFPG grant of $325,000 will fund community engagement initiatives over the next three years through the museum’s “Beyond the Walls/Behind the Scenes” program.

Lucie Foundation Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Photographers

(Patricia Dinu)
A photo from Patricia Dinu’s “Desert of Souls” project, for which she is seeking to raise money through Fotofund.

camera moneyFor photographers who seek dollars but don’t want to get lost in the vast sea of Kickstarter projects, there is Fotofund, a new crowdfunding platform exclusively for photo-based works. The site is the latest initiative of the non-profit Lucie Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting, honoring, and cultivating photographic talent.

Fotofund was created “to provide financial backing to photographic projects through online contributions and to support photography worldwide by bringing photographers’ visions to life.” Distinct from other crowdfunding sites, the platform offers two models: a flexible funding model in which the project creator receives all donations whether or not their full funding goals are met or alternatively, they can select to only receive funding if the full amount of their goal is reached. Among the first campaigns to hit Fotofund are those aiming to create an official archive of the late Jerry Stoll’s photography from the California jazz era, a documentary project showcasing men and women who live off the grid throughout Europe, and a personal interpretation of the music and lyrics of Tom Waits—we suspect “Picture in a Frame” will figure prominently.

Milton Glaser Versus Global Warming

glaser gwIf you, too, had the best of intentions but just couldn’t manage to sit through the PowerPoint deck-plus-Al-Gore-on-a-plane-B-roll that is An Inconvenient Truth, Milton Glaser has boiled down “global warming” and “climate change” into a new campaign that calls out these terms as the clumsy euphemisms they are. The bottom line: “It’s not warming, it’s dying.”

With his signature inform-and-delight tactics, Glaser pairs this grim yet clear-eyed slogan with a roiling green orb that suggests the planet Earth viewed from space—as its expanse of life-sustaining terrain recedes into blackness. On Friday the message debuted as a billboard at New York’s School of Visual Arts, where Glaser serves as a faculty member and acting chairman of the board (look for the billboard on the western exterior wall of SVA’s East 23rd Street building). Spread the word—and the orb—in button form: available in $5 sets of five here. SVA also plans to distribute free buttons on college campuses nationwide.

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