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Archives: December 2009

Happy New Year from UnBeige!

Whether you’ll be welcoming 2010 in a chalet in the Swiss Alps, New York’s Times Square, the comfort of your own home, a flair-fueled gathering at the local T.G.I. Friday’s, or the disco/art museum/pet shop that you manage on Second Life, we at UnBeige wish you good cheer and great design. We were told that sending a bottle of champagne to each and every UnBeige reader was “cost-prohibitive” (among other adjectives), and so we’ve put together a selection of favorite festive images from the holiday cards that landed in our virtual and actual mailboxes this season. Enjoy!

From Howard Greenberg Gallery: Dan Weiner‘s “New Years Eve – Times Square,” c. 1956.

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From Friends of the High Line: a vintage wine coneflower planted along the High Line and photographed by Anastasia Courtney.

From—you guessed it—New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

From M Z Wallace, our favorite purveyor of handbags and accessories (and consistently delicious graphic design).

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At left, from Printed Matter, Jack Pierson‘s “Slow,” 2009, and at right, season’s greetings from The Architect’s Newspaper.

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Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on Janaury 27  at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media compaies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Quote of Note | Richard Avedon

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“Isn’t it trivializing and demeaning to make someone look wise, noble (which is easy to do), or even conventionally beautiful when the thing itself is so much more complicated, contradictory, and therefore, fascinating?”
-Richard Avedon

The Decade That Was and the Year That’s Going to Be


Before this writer bids you adieu and will see you in another decade, we thought we’d do another year end list (but always just the best of the best, we continue to promise you). First up comes former Sun Times critic, brilliant photographer, and general well-connected, man-about-town, Lee Bey, and his overview of Chicago architecture from 2000-2009, as he guest blogs for NPR affiliate WBEZ. If you live here, it’s incredible to look back and see how much happened in just these few short years (Millennium Park, IIT’s upgrades, the Trump Building) but also how much came down or never happened at all (among the most high-profile: The Robert Taylor Homes and the Chicago Spire, respectively). Even if you don’t live here, it’s probably a familiar template most anyone can see repeated nearly everywhere. Second, the LA TimesChristopher Hawthorne has filed his picks for the paper’s Faces to Watch in 2010 feature, and there are some surprises therein. Notably, his selection of Ray LaHood (preparing to spend billions of government funds on national projects like high-speed rail) and his pick of Mexico City-based Michel Rojkind and UK-based Thomas Heatherwick as the next possible big names in architecture. So while you read up on both the past and future, we wish you all a very happy New Year’s and here’s to hoping 2010 has lots more we can share with you. Thanks for all your support.

Review of a Year Museums Won’t Soon Forget


Well, as the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. After reading this brief report about the Orange County Museum of Art deciding to postpone a Richard Diebenkorn exhibit for the second time this year, due to its not being able to handle the many hundreds of thousands of dollars it would cost to put it together, it made us think that reading Daniel Grant‘s recap of the museum industry in 2009, “Portrait of a Challenging Year,” all the more relevant and worthy of posting another year-in-review link. Grant provides a great overview of all the good and bad that came this year (mostly the latter), ranging largely from those museums who had to scale way back once their endowments disappeared and audiences stopped coming or came with less money to give, to those museums who just couldn’t weather the storm and were forced to close. We here at UnBeige have reported on hundreds of museum stories this year, and told in small doses, it’s easy to lose sight of what an incredibly tumultuous year 2009 has been. Good to see the big picture and read a bit about how those who survived will be trying to get their homes back in order.

AIA Guide to NYC Author, Norval White, Passes Away


Some sad news for fans of architecture in New York. The NY Times has reported that Norval White, author of the famed AIA Guide to New York City, has passed away this week. The book, which was first published in the late-’60s and is soon to be on its fifth edition, has long been considered the end-all-be-all for information about building in the city. White was also a committed activist for preservation in the city, both through his role as an educator, in his books, and working with groups to save the city’s landmark buildings. Here’s a bit about his AIA Guide and its importance:

The guide made architecture accessible to a broad public by discussing buildings in context rather than treating them in isolation. And it did not require readers to know the difference between a volute and a voussoir.

It celebrated the vernacular background buildings that are as much a part of the city’s character as its best-known landmarks. By establishing the provenance of these structures, the guide introduced readers to a legion of second-tier architects who had done first-rate work. It also raised the profile of the American Institute of Architects and its New York chapter, which sponsored the guide.

David Lynch and Vittorio Storaro Join Fight to Get Frank Gehry in Lodz, Poland


As we inch ever closer to 2010, what are we most looking forward to hearing more about in the coming year? From this writer, it’s the news (found by way of Archinect) that Frank Gehry has teamed up with both director David Lynch and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro in trying to get the city of Lodz, Poland to come up with the financing to build a cultural center in the heart of the city, designed by Gehry. This week, both Lynch and Storaro made pleas to the city council, practically on their knees, begging them to build the structure, saying what an incredible opportunity it will be for the city. According to the site Polish Architecture, the center would feature not only four movie theaters, but would also have gigantic projections throughout its entire interior, as well as a general focus on cinema, hence the two filmmakers’ connection to the project. We’ll be interested to see how it all pans out. Here’s a rough translation, via Google Translate, of Lynch’s appeal to the city:

Dear Councilors, please do not miss this chance to develop their own city. Please, do everything in your power to your children and grandchildren are proud to live in one of the most interesting cities in Europe. Do not neglect the huge potential that lies dormant in these projects. There is no doubt that these projects will attract crowds of visitors – both artists, entrepreneurs and tourists from Europe and around the world.

Inside the Making of American Artifact

(Hatch Show Print).jpgAs you may have deduced, we at UnBeige are rather obsessed by documentary films, and 2009 delivered in a big way: Helvetica director Gary Hustwit continued his beautifully shot journey into the world of design with Objectified, Megumi Sasaki created a tender portrait of Herb & Dorothy, R.J. Cutler helped the talented Grace Coddington grow her fan base by millions with his fascinating The September Issue, and Matt Tyrnauer revealed his brilliance as both a filmmaker and a marketing man with Valentino: The Last Emperor, which deserved every one of the 286 sumptuous fêtes thrown in its honor. Merle Becker‘s American Artifact, as you may recall, chronicles the rise of American rock poster art. And while you go and circle March 27 on your new 2010 calendar as the date of the DVD release, we wanted to share with you an artifactual tale about the making of the film. In this helpful story about how not to interview Frank Kozik, Becker described to us her fateful meeting with the rock poster legend:

Frank Kozik is the artist that is generally regarded as the one who “single-handedly revived the [rock poster] scene.” He helped to make it what we know it as today. Going into Frank’s interview, I knew it was very important to ‘nail it,’ or else a crucial part of the movie would be missing. So, I won’t say I was nervous, but let’s just say, I was extra prepared for this one; questions written and re-written, equipment checked, then checked again, alarm set an hour early…the whole bit.

Click to continue reading. You’ll be glad you did.

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Getting to Know Klaus Biesenbach Before He Takes Over P.S.1 Next Week


Back just a couple of months ago, we were one of the first to tell you that Klaus Biesenbach had been named the new director of MoMA‘s P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, a position he’ll take on officially next week at the start of the new year. Our pals over at New York were kind enough to drop us a line with their lengthy piece about Biesenbach, “Herr Zeitgeist.” If you weren’t familiar with P.S. 1′s new man in charge, or just vaguely familiar with his name being on signs in front of exhibits at the MoMA, where he’d been serving as chief curator of media and performance art, this piece should provide a nice primer, giving you a complete rundown of how Biesenbach grew from a rural German pop fan to the tops of the NY art scene, as well as why he’s constantly around celebrities:

Biesenbach says he doesn’t seek out the famous. “I’ve now been a curator for twenty years, and it’s perhaps only a given that some of these people you work with…will arrive at a certain state of recognizability,” he says. “I always try to bring these people together.” Ultimately, though, “I think it’s a given if you are interested in excellence.” In other words, don’t hate him for having good taste in people.

Six Months of Issues Later, Arem Duplessis Looks Back at the NY Times Magazine Redesign


Since everyone is looking backward this week, what with New Year’s and all, we thought we’d share our pick from that theme as well. The Society of Print Designers have gotten a chance to talk to Arem Duplessis, the NY Times Design Director about last June’s big redesign of the paper’s Sunday magazine (actually, “big” is perhaps a bit incorrect, given that the redesign was brought on by the paper’s decision to trim pages from it). Duplessis, already a friend of SPD, having won their awards and popped up at their various events, felt enough time had passed between now and the original launch of the new look, and provides some great insight about every portion of the redesign, down to the font selections (Knockout, Dino dos Santos, and Lyon Text):

We were attracted to Lyon because it’s well drawn, very legible and nice to look at, but also slightly more condensed than our previous body copy, which in turn allows for more words per line (very beneficial when your page shrinks). For our serif display we chose a font called Esta for its versatility and had the designer (Dino dos Santos) draw several more weights and customize some of the characters. He renamed our version of the font Nyte. Having a versatile serif face is key for us because we cover such a broad range of topics. Finally, we chose Knockout. We wanted a face that would help us give our cover and interior headlines more impact. Knockout is a condensed face, allowing for larger display. It also has a nice variety of weights, which helps make it a great workhorse font. .

Caricaturist David Levine Dies at 83

levine-david_2.gifBrooklyn-born artist David Levine, whose caricatures of everyone from John Keats to Martha Stewart have graced the pages of The New York Review of Books (among other publications) died today from prostate cancer and a combination of other illnesses. He was 83.

Levine had a penchant for pouncing on politicians, who he once told Time magazine “should be jumped on as often as possible.” His sharp and satirical eye for chief executives is on display in American Presidents (Fantagraphics). Published last year, the book is a collection of Levine’s caricatures and anecdotes that chronicle the highs and lows (especially the lows) of five administrations.

Writer Bruce Weber has composed an elegant tribute to Levine for The New York Times, but it’s hard to improve upon the words of the late John Updike, a favorite Levine subject, who had this to say about Levine more than 30 years ago:

Besides offering us the delight of recognition, his drawings comfort us, in an exacerbated and potentially desperate age, with the sense of a watching presence, an eye informed by an intelligence that has not panicked, a comic art ready to encapsulate the latest apparitions of publicity as well as those historical devils who haunt our unease. Levine is one of America’s assets. In a confusing time, he bears witness. In a shoddy time, he does good work.