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Archives: September 2012

Friday Photo: Viktor Koen’s Dark Peculiar Toys

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.”

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Quote of Note | Klaus Biesenbach

klausB.jpg“I’m from a village where the church comes from the 11th century. As a child, I’d imagine what it must have felt like, a few hundred years earlier, coming to Cologne to see this dome and these stained-glass windows even as everyone for miles around lived in earthen huts. You come into this cathedral and are hit with organ music, incense, colored light, and a skyscraper-tall building—let’s call it architecture or art—but the rest of your existence is lived in a mud shack. Wow. It’s an inspiration. Then years later, civilization built museums so we could go there and find that inspiration.

Today, the thing that inspires artists, and us, are all the images that surround us. So what are those images? It might not be Cologne Cathedral as much anymore because we have lots of skyscrapers, and it might not be paintings because we have YouTube on our phones. So museums have to embrace contemporary practice as something as wide-spanning as a German band like Kraftwerk—along with visual performance, music, synesthesia, and fashion, and all these possible articulations of boundless creativity whenever they reach a certain innovative excellence. Museums have to realize that the influential images that might change our lives are not necessarily paintings, drawings, and sculptures.”

-Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large at the Museum of Modern Art Klaus Biesenbach in the October issue of WSJ. Magazine, which hits newsstands tomorrow in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend paper.

Watch Out, London Eye! New York to Get World’s Tallest Ferris Wheel

Wheel’s Up. A rendering of the New York Wheel, to be built on Staten Island.

Round and round she goes, and where she stops…well, it will be Staten Island. Start overcoming your acrophobia through therapeutic sketch-journaling now, design fans, because New York City is getting its very own London Eye-style “observation wheel,” and at 625 feet—roughly 60 stories—high, it will be the world’s tallest. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (whose name one rarely hears in the same sentence as “world’s tallest”) and other city leaders joined representatives from the company in charge of the project yesterday for the announcement of plans for the New York Wheel, which will be built on the northeastern side of Staten Island and offer riders swell views of the Lower and Midtown Manhattan skylines, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, and the New York Harbor. The mega Ferris Wheel was proposed in response to the NYC Economic Development Corp’s request for bids for projects that would increase economic growth, boost tourism, and create jobs on Staten Island.

The wheel will be nestled beside a large terminal building that will feature exhibitions about NYC history, alternative energy, and environmental sustainability—created in collaboration with Cornell’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Johnson and the global relief and development agency CARE. Meanwhile, both the wheel and the terminal building will be constructed with an eye to Platinum LEED certification. Among the architects, engineers, designers, and consultants who have been tapped to work on the project are Starneth (the Ferris Wheel specialists that built the London Eye) and Perkins Eastman. Construction on the New York Wheel is expected to begin in early 2014 with a grand opening scheduled for early 2016. If all goes according to plan, the 36 capsules will carry some of their first passengers on New Year’s Eve 2015.

George Eastman House Appoints New Director

The search for a worthy successor to Anthony Bannon has concluded, and Bruce Barnes (pictured) is the new director of George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York. He’ll take the helm of the world’s oldest museum of photography and one of the largest motion-picture archives next week. Barnes, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, is the president of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation, a private foundation based in New York that works to foster understanding and appreciation of American decorative art from the period around 1900. Before founding ADA1900, he served as CEO of Rochester-based online education company Element K.

“Having devoted most of the last seven years to collaborating with major museums across the country and furthering art scholarship, I am eager to apply my strategic and management skills to leading George Eastman House,” said Barnes in a statement announcing his appointment. “The house and a great many of the museum’s objects fall precisely within my longstanding interest in American art, decorative art, and architecture of the period from 1876 to 1940. My background in innovative online education will be invaluable to the creation of a virtual museum that will provide global access to its superb collections.” Barnes succeeds Bannon, who retired from George Eastman House earlier this year after 16 years in the position.

Wanted: Editorial Designer for MVP/NY

Calling all creatives! MVP/NY is hiring a new editorial designer to work on the conceptual development and execution of editorial layouts from its New York-based office.

If you land the gig, you’ll be responsible for extensive layout work, including design. You’ll also assist design directors and help out on photo shoots, while reviewing proofs for accurate color reproduction. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

Spike Lee: My First Big Break

In the latest episode of mediabistroTV’s “My First Big Break,” we talk to legendary filmmaker Spike Lee.

While Lee is well-known for his movies, did you know that if it wasn’t for NBA superstar Michael Jordan and a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers, Lee–and Nike–might not be the icons they have become today? It all came down to a risky commercial shoot.

“So Michael Jordan could easily have said, ‘I can’t take a chance on this young gun, this young boy, just give me the reels of the top guys on Madison Avenue.’ But Michael Jordan didn’t do that,” the Red Hook Summer director recalls. “For some reason, he decided to give me a shot. And the commercial I did with Michael Jordan ended up being some of the greatest campaigns ever in the history of advertising and Nike took off.”

For more videos, check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

In Brief: I Spy a New Eye Site, Write Captions for Stan Lee, Exhibition A Pop-Up, Mo’ Millions for Mobli

“Valencia” (1961) is included in “The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker and the Institute of Design,” on view through February 24, 2013 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

• Feast your eye (well, eyes) on the new Eye magazine website. The London-based graphic design review’s overhauled online home incorporates the four-year-old Eye blog as well as an issue archive that goes all the way back the first issue in 1990. Look for more writing from the archives and many more images to be added in the coming months. Get a taste of the latest issue–#83–with Adrian Shaughnessy’s reevaluation of Herb Lubalin.

• Comics legend Stan Lee has turned to Facebook for some crowdsourced captions. Learn more about the contest from our sister site, Galleycat.

• Our friends at the art flash sale site Exhibition A are preparing to showcase their suitable-for-framing wares in the real world. On Saturday, the Exhibition A Pop Up Gallery will take over Half Gallery in NYC. Stop by between noon and 6 p.m. to preview and collect prints by the likes of Olaf Breuning, Les Rogers, and Jessica Craig-Martin. Not in New York? Peruse the latest crop of offerings at your leisure online.
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Dine with Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti died 32 Septembers ago, but you can still have dinner with him. A large set of silverware created by the Milan-born architect, industrial designer, poet, painter, and founding editor of Domus goes on the block this afternoon in Chicago at Wright’s Living Contemporary auction. Estimated to sell for between $5,000 and $7,000, the 85-piece set includes a five-piece service for 12 with 26 additional serving pieces. Ponti designed the “Diamond” pattern in 1958 for Taunton, Massachusetts-based Reed & Barton, which promoted it in advertisements that asked “Are you ready for it? The most advanced sterling of our generation.” Other highlights of today’s sale of more than 300 modern and contemporary art and design objects include a Dandelion sculpture by Harry Bertoia, an aerodynamic Wendell Castle rocker, and a smashing oil and enamel work by Rudolf Stingel.

Demand for Designers Climbs Yet Salaries Remain Stagnant, AIGA Survey Finds

You may need to look no further than your paycheck and your inbox to corroborate some of the findings of the 2012 AIGA/Aquent Survey of Design Salaries, released this week: design salaries have remained relatively flat for several years, even as many design firms report that they are busier than ever. “There are indications that firms are busy because they have not replaced workers who had been released during the start of the recession,” according to AIGA executive director Richard Grefé, who has observed a move toward outsourcing by in-house design departments. “The result has been an increase in the use of freelance and contract employees, whose availability has held compensation increases in check. In addition, approximately 12,000 students of communication design graduate from four-year programs each year—more than can be absorbed into the current workforce.”

The good news? Design is increasingly in demand, and compensation is on the rise for some positions, particularly those involved with integrating design into business strategy—strategists and operations management—as well as roles which deal with usability, web, and interactive design. Below are some more thought-provoking highlights from the survey results. Dig into the data yourself at AIGA’s newly launched design salaries site.

• Those with 10 to 19 years of experience earn the greatest compensation, though younger designers’ (0–10 years of experience) technology skills may put them on par with older designers (20–30 years of experience) in terms of earnings
• There does not seem to be a noticeable premium paid for the highest levels of education: a 4 percent median salary difference was reported between MFA and BFA graduates
• Sixty-six percent of freelance respondents work with a staffing agency, and one in four of those working with an agency receive benefits
• Women are still not earning as much as their male counterparts, despite the fact that 54 percent of design professionals are female and more than half of AIGA’s members are female

There’s an App for That: Pop-Art Portraits

Limited-edition cans of Campbell’s Soup with labels derived from Warhol artwork.

Andy Warhol would surely have been one of the first people aboard the social media bandwagon, and while we’ll never know how he might have translated his “Pop art is for everyone” ethos into pixels, tweets, and status updates, a new photo app hazards a guess. Seizing the Warhol-mania moment, Campbell Soup Company has introduced “Pop Art Portrait,” a nifty tool for transforming your Facebook photos into a Warhol-style silkscreen. “A few lucky fans will receive their 15 minutes of fame by being displayed on the Campbell’s Condensed Soup Facebook cover photo,” promises the company on its “Art of Soup” site, created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Warhol’s “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans.” Once you’ve tired of the DIY portrait app, test your recall with a round of Soup Can Memory. Meanwhile, back in the non-virtual world, limited-edition cans (pictured) of Andy’s favorite–Condensed Tomato–are available at Target stores nationwide, reprising similar collaborations (between Campbell’s and The Andy Warhol Foundation) with Barneys and a Pittsburgh supermarket. In a true pop twist, the cans that sold at Barneys for $12 in 2006 during its Simon Doonan-helmed “Warholidays” campaign are now priced at just 75 cents each.

Got an app we should know about? Drop us a line at unbeige [at]