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Archives: July 2011

Around the Art and Design World in 180 Words: Triumphant Returns Edition

Recent releases from the Monacelli Press written by (from left) Marc Kristal, Eva Hagberg, and Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins. (Photos: Monacelli Press)

They’re ba-ack! Today we look at news of returns and do-overs:

  • The Monacelli Press is independent again. According to Publishers Weekly, founder Gianfranco Monacelli has bought back the 17-year-old art and design publishing house, which Random House acquired in 2008. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Monacelli will continue to use Random House as a distributor.

  • Actor-cum-performance artist James Franco is returning to General Hospital. His character, the creatively named “Franco,” will appear in an episode that will air in September. According to a spokesperson for the soap opera, Franco’s latest turn will be part of a long-term plot line that could have him reemerging later in the season.

  • Earlier this week, jewelry designers Monique Péan and Eddie Borgo were awarded Tiffany & Co. Grants, part of a three-year partnership between the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF) and Tiffany & Co. Péan and Borgo, both former CVFF finalists, received $150,000 and $100,000, respectively. All jewelry designers who participated in the CVFF since its inception in 2004 were eligible to apply for the grant.

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    Proenza Schouler Changes Hands: Andrew Rosen and John Howard Acquire Stake from Permira

    P.S. We Love You Looks from the fall 2011 Proenza Schouler collection.

    Last month, Proenza Schouler‘s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez set some kind of land-speed fashion achievement record by collecting their second womenswear designer of the year award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for a label that is less than a decade old. Today the dynamic duo have new bosses in fashion industry veterans Andrew Rosen (Theory) and John Howard (Irving Place Capital), who head up a group of investors that have acquired a non-majority stake in Proenza Schouler from European private equity firm Permira. Financial terms of the deal, which was first reported this afternoon by WWD, were not disclosed, and Permira-owned Valentino Fashion Group will retain a small share in Proenza Schouler. A statement received by WWD describes the new partnership as a “recapitalization” that will allow the brand to blossom. “We believe that the Proenza business is the future of American luxury, and uniquely poised to compete in a global marketplace, which is currently dominated by European designers,” said Rosen and Howard in a joint statement issued today. “In infusing this brand with our resources and experience, we will position this business to achieve its full potential.”

    A Long Weekend Ahead as the Met Announces Plans to Stay Open Until Midnight to Capture ‘Alexander McQueen’ Crowd

    New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art really, really, really wants you to come see their popular “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition before it closes next weekend. Accounting for a large chunk of the museum’s record-setting attendance levels, when we wrote a couple of weeks back that, for the third time since the exhibition opened in May, it was extending its hours, we warned you that this would be the last chance you’d get to see it. However, we were smart to add a little extra at the end: “Or until they extend it again.” And, of course, that they have. For the first time in the Met’s history, they plan to leave an exhibition open until midnight. You’ll have only those last two days, August 6th and 7th, to attend the show that late, as they haven’t yet decided to go all “Body Worlds 2 is closing, so we’re leaving the museum open for 24 hours” yet, but given the recent past, anything is possible. Here’s a bit from Met director Thomas Campbell:

    “We have created these late hours to satisfy the unprecedented interest in this landmark retrospective. Visitors from across the globe have come to see this remarkable exhibition, and we want to keep it open for as many people as possible. Indeed, these midnight hours will mark a fitting conclusion to this powerful exploration of McQueen’s work.”

    Jeffrey Deitch Gets Back to Commissioning Wall Murals, As Shepard Fairey, Retna and Kenny Scharf Paint a Library

    Shepard Fairey, whose street art work seems so identifiable that developers won’t need to build for him a tracking app, has just recently finished up a mural project for a not-yet-open public library branch in West Hollywood. According to the LA Times, Fairey was commissioned, along with fellow artists Retna and Kenny Scharf, after Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art director Jeffrey Deitch took a tour of the under-construction library and thought murals might look nice on the sides of the building’s large parking structure, no doubt with the intent of also boosting interest in the MoCA’s popular but sometimes controversial “Art in the Streets” exhibition. You might recall that this is the second time in recent days that Deitch has brought in Fairey, as he had him paint a mural just before leaving New York. A few eyebrows are sure to be raised at Deitch suggesting big murals on public walls, given that just a few months ago, the newly-West Coast-transplanted museum director was catching a generous amount of flak for painting over a mural he had commissioned from French street artist Blu, fearing that it would generate hostilities among the locals. However, while he might not be able to dodge that coming-criticism, the whole mural-painting crew seems to have thought a bit ahead when it came to another important question, particularly in a financially-starved state, as Fairey writes on his blog, “Calm down taxpayers…I was not paid to do the mural and paid for my own supplies and labor.”

    Teaser Titles for Stefan Sagmeister’s Documentary, The Happy Film

    Currently making the rounds this week are the four fun titles, or perhaps simply teasers, for The Happy Film, which is described as “a feature-length documentary (in production) in which graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister undergoes a series of self-experiments outlined by popular psychology to test once and for all if it’s possible for a person to have a meaningful impact on their own happiness.” Shot in reverse and three-quarters of which feature animals, it’s well worth the minute of your time. Also, interesting to learn that Sagmeister is making a film which is being co-directed by Hillman Curtis.

    New Medals, Finished Buildings, Weird Mascots and Strange Type: A 2012 Olympic News Bonanza

    We told you a few days back that with just a year left before it kicks off, we were going to start hearing a lot more about the 2012 London Olympics. And of course we were right, because we’re not only smart, but we’re also gifted with the second sight. Just in the last couple of days there’s been a bevy of news about the games and their various accoutrements. First, it’s been announced that construction is now complete on all the main venues. Furthermore, organizers are bragging that the whole effort came in both on time and under budget. Said chairman of the London Olympics, John Armitt, “In 2006 we said that the summer of 2011 was the point when we wanted the venues available for test events.” Thanks to a great team effort, we are exactly where we wanted to be.” Among those now-finished buildings is the much-discussed Aquatics Center by Zaha Hadid, which was broken in on Wednesday with a ceremonial first dive. In Building Design‘s review, they like the building itself, but aren’t so hot on the extra seating temporarily affixed to the sides that will allow Olympic-sized crowds. Next, hot off the heels of last month’s unveiling of the torch, the 2012 medals have now been shown to we the public. Designed by David Watkins, they’re nice and shiny and each has all sorts of symbolism, as you’d expect. Finally, we make two quick judgements: First, although they’re apparently already more than a year old, we’re only just now learning about the 2012 mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville. Maybe they’re a nod to some sort of thing that only British people understand, or maybe London is just continuing that popular tradition of making mascots that don’t make a bit of sense, but either way, we’re confused. Second: they’re apparently still really keeping to the standards book that must’ve been created along with Wolff Olins‘ controversial logo, because that’s the only thing that can help explain the “1 Year To Go” signs that were everywhere during this week’s announcements (see the photo above). Either that or they thought of reminding people about the time left only seconds before the press conferences and just decided to using masking tape to make a couple of podium signs.

    Battles Begin Over Inclusion of ‘World Trade Center Cross’ at National 9/11 Museum

    What’s the best possible way to get people worked into an angry froth? Easy. Just combine one part religion and one part World Trade Center site and sit back and watch it lather itself. As you might have read, in quieter, more peaceful times, a steel T-beam found in the wreckage after September 11th that had been preserved and placed in St. Peter’s church because it resembled a cross, was quietly being lowered into the soon-to-open and already extremely popular National September 11th Memorial and Museum. After that everything went south. A group called American Atheists have called for its removal, filing a lawsuit (pdf) that argues that “government enshrinement of the cross was an impermissible mingling of church and state” and that they “not allow the many Christians who died get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate.” This, of course, is the sort of thing that outrages the sorts of people who get outraged about such things. Chief among the critics of the critics has been the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who has vowed to help fight off the lawsuit by “preparing a critical amicus brief to be filed in support of the Cross memorial.” As the Village Voice reports, the ACLJ was founded by Pat Robertson and was also “one of the groups who tried to block the Islamic center in downtown New York.” Hearing reference to that lengthy screaming match from last year, and now knowing who is already involved in the argument, you’re no doubt thinking, “Oh no. How long is this fight going to last?” which is exactly the same question we have. Our advice: settle in and get comfortable.

    Only the Most Valuable Walls Need Apply: App Tracks Banksy’s Street Art

    Another week and another chance to say “You’re welcome, universe, for giving you such wonderful ideas.” Of course we’re talking about the credit we should be duly given, first for the city of Bristol deciding that it might need a registry of pieces of Banksy‘s street art, something we’d suggested might be a good idea so their residents don’t accidentally keep painting over them after one of its residents accidentally painted over one. Now that same sort of idea has come out on a larger scale with a whole iPhone app. Called Banksy Locations, the app not only offers galleries and videos of pieces by the mysterious artist, but will also “show you locations of Banksy’s famous street art and then give you directions so you can experience them for your self!” Granted, the app was announced back in early July and we didn’t write our post recommending a registry until the 15th, but we’re still just going to keep claiming everything Banksy-related as stemming from our borderline-divine, shared inspiration. Seems easier that way. Anyway, here’s the app’s promo video:

    UK’s Supreme Court Rules Against George Lucas Over Stormtrooper Helmet Design Lawsuit


    Like we’ve been saying for the past couple of days, it’s a week full of closures to high-profile lawsuits. We’ve very nearly reached the end of the week, so let’s continue, shall we? The legal battle that started more than seven years ago between filmmaker George Lucas‘ company Lucasfilm and designer Andrew Ainsworth has finally come to something of an end, though we’ll believe it’s finally over when we see it. After winning a $20 million copyright infringement suit in the US against Ainsworth for selling replicas of the iconic Star Wars Stormtrooper helmets (which he himself had originally helped design), the company took the fight to the UK, where the designer was still making them available for purchase without their permission, nor the hefty licensing fee that presumably goes with such a thing. However, after losing both that original lawsuit and then its appeal, Lucas decided to fight back one last time by taking the case all the way to the UK’s Supreme Court, and bringing in big guns like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg as vocal support. However, it apparently wasn’t enough to sway the court and Lucas has once again lost the fight. “If there is a Force, then it has been with me these past five years,” Ainsworth told the AFP. However, Lucas did wind up making a slight inroad, with the court ruling that “that the director’s copyright had been infringed in the United States by the 62-year-old designer selling his work there, paving the way for proceedings to be brought in England over the alleged breaches.” So while the company was able to chip a tiny bit away, they clearly aren’t thrilled with this third rejection, judging from the press release they issued shortly after the verdict. Here’s a bit:

    The decision unfortunately also maintains an anomaly of British copyright law under which the creative and highly artistic works made for use in films — which are protected by the copyright laws of virtually every other country in the world — may not be entitled to copyright protection in the UK . Lucasfilm remains committed to aggressively protecting its intellectual property rights relating to Star Wars in the UK and around the globe through any and all means available to it, including copyright, trademark, design patents and other protections afforded by law. We encourage the UK government’s recent efforts to modernize its copyright and design laws to afford full protection to three dimensional artistic works.

    Peter Buchanan-Smith and Friends Create Ultimate Summer Camp Care Package

    A U.S. Army survival field book, sewing kit, kazoo, and engineer’s compass are a few of the items in Best Made’s Summer Camp Care Package. (Photos: Best Made Company)

    We have long been fascinated by camp, whether of the sort codified by Susan Sontag, celebrated by the likes of Simon Doonan, or enjoyed by millions of youngsters the world over at this time of year. And so we were thrilled to discover that designer Peter Buchanan-Smith‘s Best Made Company has expanded beyond beautiful handmade axes to new frontiers of rugged yet covetable goods. Any camper (and frankly, just about everyone we know) would be overjoyed to receive the Summer Camp Care Package, a collection of “objects of utility, curiosity, and hilarity sure to remedy the worst case of the homesick blues.” Among the 16 treats stowed in a bed of wood wool and tucked inside a corrugated box hand-stenciled “Fragile Eggs” (to deter prying bunkmates) are a vintage Swiss army flashlight, a whittling knife, a roll of green polka dot tape, a joy buzzer, a selection of fake mustaches, and a “mystery prize.” Best Made will even include a personalized note to the lucky camper. Priced at $145, the epic care package is available in very limited quantities here.

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