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Archives: February 2011

Freakonomics Uses Recent Jeff Koons’ Battle to Examine Copyright Bullying

Now that the high-profile tussle between Jeff Koons and the makers of some balloon animal bookends has come to an end, with the artist walking away and the product still for sale on the shelf, the NY TimesFreakonomics blog got into the “what does it all mean?” territory, filing this great, short read by guest bloggers and intellectual property experts, Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman. The long and short of it turns out to be pure and simple bullying, using copyright threats to shut a person or company down, without actually having to go to court, since the bullied will often back down at just the threat of an expensive legal battle. While they don’t flat out accuse Koons of acting with that in mind, even suggesting that maybe the artist was just “attempting to point out how absurd copyright law can be” (we find this more than a bit generous and/or rooted in a very, very alternate reality), the lean in the bullying direction seems fairly clear. They mention the Chilling Effects website, an ongoing collection of these practices, which you’ll definitely get sucked into for the rest of the morning (and read some similarities to the Koons matter along the way).

University of Iowa Fights Off State Legislature’s Attempts to Sell Their Prized Jackson Pollock

While the University of Iowa continues its frustrating battle with FEMA over where and if they can rebuild their art museum after floods in 2008 damage the former structure and forever made it un-insurable, the school has found itself locked into an art-based fight with another party, the Iowa state legislature. Unlike at Fisk or at Brandeis, where the universities themselves were trying to sell off some valuable art to help pay the bills, in U of I’s case, it’s the Republican leaders of the Iowa House, who just recently introduced and passed a bill that once again tries to make a case for the selling of the university’s prized, Peggy Guggenheim-donated Mural” by Jackson Pollock (their last effort was just two years ago, immediately after the flood). The school doesn’t want it sold, the museum’s namesake, John Pappajohn, thinks the idea is “a disaster,” the Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Association of Museums have issued letters saying what a horrible idea this is (the AAM has also threatened to pull accreditation from the university, should it go through), and original letters from 1963, written by Ms. Guggenheim, have been dug out, indicating that she wanted the canvas to stay put or would fight for its return, should the University ever got the itch to sell. The House believes that the sale of the painting, which is estimated to be worth somewhere between $100 to $200 million, would help create a large scholarship endowment for arts students and programs. All well and good and altruistic, until, as the LA TimesChristopher Knight puts it, once that endowment runs out, “someone would tell the Legislature that the university’s great Max Beckmann painting was also worth a lot of cash. And how about that Ad Reinhardt? And — well, you get the idea.” Lee Rosenbaum, per usual, is going full guns on an important arts issue, recapping this ongoing controversy. Given how these things usually pan out in long, drawn out fights, we’re guessing/hoping she continues, and we’re all beneficial for it. For those in Iowa this week who are against the move, we highly recommend hitting up the ‘Save the Pollock’ Rally on Thursday morning.

Update: The issue is now moot, with the legislature backing down and the sale now off the table.

New Yorker Selects Dozen Winners of Eustace Tilley Design Contest


The magazine’s signature dandy as reimagined by, from left, Julie Hecht, Michael Clayton, Gary Amaro, and Dave Hoerlein

With his moncole at the ready and a butterfly his constant companion, Eustace Tilley has been The New Yorker‘s dapper mascot since founding art director Rea Irvin sketched him into being in 1925. The magazine recently invited readers to put their own twist on the discerning dandy in its fourth Eustace Tilley design contest. And this year’s competition came with a bookish bonus: the grand-prize winner’s design printed on a Strand Bookstore tote bag (an icon for an icon!) and a $1,000 Strand shopping spree. After sifting through roughly 600 entries, New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly has selected a dozen winners, now featured in a slideshow on the magazine’s web site. The victorious Eustaces range from Seattle-based Dave Hoerlein‘s cartographic version (“A Dandy Map of New York”) to a Facebook-ready Tilley created by Nick McDowell of Mamaroneck, New York. Savannah-dwelling William Joca‘s “Cubist Tilley” was inspired by the work of Picasso (with a sprinkling of Ben-Day dots for good measure), while Pixo Hammer of Toronto channeled Joan Miro. As for the big winner, keep guessing (Grecian Eustace? Symbolic Eustace? Eustace through the years?). The champion and the tote bag will be revealed this spring.

Frank Gehry’s Stalled Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation Seems Back on Track

Last week when a surprise decision was made by a Parisian judge to block the construction of Frank Gehry‘s Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, we suspected that the move was more posturing than permanent. Now it looks like it was as such and Gehry’s building might soon be on track. ArtInfo points our way to this reporting in La Monde, indicating that the government is pushing to have the judge’s decision overruled, with construction of the Foundation “a public good.” Legislators were able to make the move much like they are within our own government, by slipping an amendment into a completely unrelated bill. If you’re up to date on your French lessons, the whole story is here. If you’re feeling a bit rusty, here’s the news filtered through Google Translate, resulting in a semi-readable, occasionally-incoherent report. The ultimate take away is that, as most knew when the ruling came down, most expected it only to be temporary, considering the bulk of Parisian legislators who backed the building.

Designer Behind Academy Awards Envelopes Announced

It seems at once as both the most trivial and most important part of the entire Academy Awards, so while your eyes might not be entirely honed on the envelope as a winner is announce, you’ll undoubtedly be eager to have it opened (if just to see if Banksy does in fact take the stage in a monkey mask). Because the Oscar envelope holds such importance, and because the Academy needs to release more information about itself so the public doesn’t lose interest a week before the show, the organization has released information on the design of the folded paper. This year, designer Marc Friedland, of the firm Creative Intelligence has been hired to design them, creating perhaps the most high-profile, finest-to-touch envelopes of the year. They sound much fancier than what our mortgage notices get sent in every month and rightly so. After all, Gweneth Paltrow rarely touches them (or at least we hope). Here are the details:

Friedland’s custom-designed envelope will be handcrafted from a high-gloss, iridescent metallic gold paper stock, with a red-lacquered lining featuring the Oscar statuette hand-stamped in satin gold leaf.

…The winner’s name will be printed in charcoal ink and mounted onto a matching, red lacquer hand-wrapped frame. The back of the card will be printed with the award category.

…After final tabulation of the ballots, Brad Oltmanns and Rick Rosas, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partners, will insert the appropriate announcement cards and fasten the envelope with a red double-faced satin ribbon and a red-lacquered and gold-embossed seal featuring the PwC logo.

A small handful of photos of the envelopes can be found here. We’d say that you should feel free to print them out and hand them to your cat as you pretend that you’re James Franco or Anne Hathaway, but that’s really something you should run past the Academy first (and your cat).

Fashion Week: Isaac Mizrahi Lets Them Eat Cake


(All photos: UnBeige)

Guests at this afternoon’s Isaac Mizrahi show at Exit Art were treated to a confection of a fall collection, complete with the most mouthwatering and memorable accessories of fashion week: elaborate cakes, whipped up by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and his team at Carlo’s Bakery, and color-coordinated poodles (fresh from Westminster, perhaps?). Emerging from this living Maira Kalman illustration—and with Kalman herself sketching from the front row—were 26 looks that distilled Mizrahi’s dazzling mixed-media collage of a spring collection into a luxe, bold, and energizing vision for fall.

The parade of poodle-poufed models began with macaroon hues—a plush lavender ensemble, a pistachio coatdress—accented with jumbo bows. Long-sleeved dresses in intensifying shades of rose and circus-peanut orange were sent out with crowd-pleasing canine escorts. And if a tea-length charcoal number wasn’t enough of a palette cleanser, there were the delicious pauses afforded by gentlemen dressed in chefs’ whites and balancing cakes on silver platters. One covered in tiny fondant flowers heralded the arrival of a matching nubby knit jacket and skirt. For those who prefer their blooms big, Mizrahi reprised his favorite floral photo prints with a stunning topper covered in outsized purple pansies and a shoulder-skimming poppy-print organza gown. Rounding out the collection were bubblegum pink cocktail dresses, bias-cut gowns that appeared to be dusted in glittering sugar, and a strapless, floor-length lace creation in a fizzy shade of thistle.

The whimsical show delighted an eclectic crowd that ranged from fashionable front-row staples (Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo) and a cross-section of TV types (eminently huggable Bravo exec Andy Cohen, QVC host Shawn Killinger) to art world figures (the lovely Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and artist Laurie Simmons, who was graciously accepting praise for daughter Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture). As for the cake on offer, many audience members were content to admire it from afar. Figure skater and fashion lover Johnny Weir, dressed in a mint green fur chubby and toting a matching Balenciaga satchel, eyed our seatmates’ barely touched slices longingly. “Is the icing soft and fluffy?” He asked, wide-eyed. “Maybe I’ll take a piece to go.”

Quote of Note | Details Editor Dan Peres

“‘Redesign’ has become a dirty word in magazine publishing. Our new Body section has been in the works for four or five months. It’s like adding on to a house—in this case, it’s a gym. Let’s say, it’s going really well, the gym looks amazing, and then you look at the rest of the house, and you think, I just kind of want to change this, and do small tweaks. That’s what we did to the rest of the book—gave a little polish to the existing architecture.”

-Dan Peres, editor-in-chief of Details, in today’s issue of The Daily Front Row

Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment Looks for Permanent Home to House Video Game Collection

While the Smithsonian‘s American Art Museum might be planning a sure-to-be-popular exhibit for next year about the art of video games, a group in San Francisco is attempting to build an entire museum around the subject. The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment has recently been established with the intent of collecting pieces of digital works of art and video games and exhibiting them as a traditional, brick and mortar museum in the Bay Area (here’s their full mission statement). While they’ve received non-profit status and have assembled a large, impressive collection, the trick is now finding a space to house it in. They’ve launched a Kickstarter page, and are already nearly $8,000 into their $20,000 goal, which if they’re given, they’ll put to use for “rent and utilities associated with a ~1000 sq ft space near BART for 6 months to a year, depending on the rent we find. Additional funds will keep the space open longer.” Once you’ve sent them some cash, if you’re on the hunt for a way to break into the museum world, they’re also looking to fill a number of positions, all the way up to Chief Curator and Director of Marketing. Might sound a bit risky, the MADE doesn’t even have a location yet, but hey, even the Met and the Guggenheim started from scratch, right?

After 10 Year Battle, Steve Jobs Begins Demolition of Historic Home

A decade-old battle has finally come to an end this week, resulting in tech guru Steve Jobs landing in even lower esteem within some preservation and restoration communities. You might recall that last fall, the Apple CEO finally won his court battle over the home he had purchased back in 1984, located in Woodside, California. Jobs had originally purchased the property with the intent of demolishing the house, constructed in 1925 and designed by George Washington Smith. Preservationists stepped in once he had started making plans to have it razed and their legal actions held up the plans (very heavily over the past six years), until the aforementioned decision was made by a judge this past September which gave Jobs the go-ahead. This week a wrecking ball brought the house down, and it’s suspected that the tear down is well underway. Friends of the Jackling House, also known as Uphold Our Heritage, the group who had fought Jobs for all those years, with help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, issued a very somber series of statements on their site upon learning the news, highlighting in bullet points their distaste for the man and his actions. “Jobs does demolition because brains, billions and some Buddhism don’t buy wisdom or even basic respect for others,” reads one of their notes. Once the original house is completely removed, it’s believed that Jobs will construct an $8.45 million dollar home in its place, designed by the same firm who designed Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York and has a history of building in the neighborhood, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Interboro Selected for PS1′s Young Architects Program

Even though it’s supposed to be nearly 60 degrees here in Chicago today, we know it’s but a cruel tease the winter plays on us. So while we bask in this temporary warmth, we have also enjoyed thinking about a much sunnier, more comfortable season with the news of who has won PS1‘s annual Young Architects Program. You’ll recall that every year, since 2000, the MoMA offshoot has held a contest inviting up-and-coming architects or firms to submit ideas for what to do with the museum’s courtyard in the summer. This year’s winner is Interboro, a firm consisting of partners Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca and Georgeen Theodore. Their winning concept is called “Holding Pattern” and plays off the original plans for the building itself, utilizing spaces that had been encroached upon the nearly 100-year old structure over its decades. Their plan involves a number of ropes strung above the courtyard, while also trying to invite the essence of the neighborhood in. Here’s a bit from their description of the plan:

“Holding Pattern” reveals this situation by stringing ropes from holes in MoMA PS1′s concrete wall to the parapet across the courtyard. In the same way that Hugh Ferris reveals the potential of New York City’s 1916 zoning code by drawing the theoretical building envelope, we reveal the very odd, idiosyncratic space of the courtyard and simultaneously create an inexpensive and column-free space for the activity below. From the ground, the experience is of a soaring hyperboloid surface.

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