September 27, 2012
Courtesy of Tom Ford
In 1926, Vogue published an illustration of a simple, long-sleeved black sheath designed by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. That single garment grew into the ubiquitous little black dress, and decades later every designer has his or her own variation.
This fall the fashion phenomenon and woman’s best friend makes its way to a museum in “Little Black Dress,” opening September 28 at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art. André Leon Talley, Vogue contributing editor and a SCAD trustee, curates the exhibit. “It’s a simplistic little thing, but it demands respect on its own,” he says. “The black dress can liberate one. It can set a new style standard or adhere to old standards. It can be rebellious, reckless, elegant or establishment.”
The exhibition includes about 80 dresses, ranging from a silk crêpe de chine number by Madame Grès from 1977 to a black silk faille dress that Carolina Herrera designed for herself this year. Other notable designers featured include Norma Kamali, Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs, many of whom are Talley’s friends and acquaintances. “Every single dress means something to me,” he says. “But it’s by no means an academic rendering. It’s an emotional narrative of my life through my friends—and the beauty of black dresses that I’ve seen.”
Talley, who took nearly a year to put together the collection, hopes guests will walk away realizing the democratic power the seemingly simple piece of clothing has. “It’s no longer a uniform or a restricted club,” he explains. “It used to be that you wore a single strand of pearls and you were in good taste. Now the interpretation is left to the designer and/or the wearer.” September 28 through January 27, 2013; 601 Turner Blvd.; 912-525-7191; scadmoa.org.
September 20, 2012
With a renewed interest in its artisan goods, traditional foods and down-home history, the South is having a moment. Providing an opportunity to get a taste of it—Charleston, South Carolina–style—is the Museum Mile Weekend (September 21 through 23), a presentation of 13 culturally significant sites along a city swath that stretches just over a mile.
Packed with history and the arts—including six museums, five historic houses, four scenic parks and The Powder Magazine (the oldest public building in the state)—the event offers a simple way to see and understand how Charleston got to where it is today. Highlights include the Old Slave Mart Museum (pictured above), built on a site that hosted hundreds of slave auctions between 1856 and 1863; the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, where Revolutionary War patriots were imprisoned and the U.S. Constitution was ratified by South Carolina; and the South Carolina Historical Society, housed in the historic Robert Mills Fireproof Building, and its current digital exhibit, “Eliza Lucas Pinckney: A Renaissance Woman in Colonial America,” which sheds light on influential colonial women. The Edmondston-Alston House was where General P.T. Beauregard watched the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861, which kicked off the Civil War.
Take full advantage of the mile’s lineup, and experience even more of Charleston with a stay at charming Planters Inn (112 N. Market St.; 843-722-2345; plantersinn.com), located near a surfeit of boutiques, restaurants and antiques shops. Wander a few additional blocks to Waterfront Park and the Old City’s famed antebellum mansions and consider a well-rounded survey of the city complete. September 21 to 23; 843-722-2996, ext. 235; charlestonsmuseummile.org.
September 06, 2012
Pigment prints of the sleepers and dreamers of Varanasi, India, line the walls of Pace/MacGill Gallery for the exhibit “Fazal Sheikh: Ether” (opening September 7). If a person dies on the Ganges River, his or her soul is believed to dissolve into the five elements (earth, air, water, fire, ether), freeing it from the eternal cycle of reincarnation. This is why Hindus pilgrimage to Varanasi, the sacred city also known as Banaras. Sheikh’s elusive images, soft in both color and calm, illuminate Varanasi’s nighttime peace—infants in maternity wards, a sleeper under a purple blanket (pictured above), the dead in the cremation ghats near the Ganges—as the lifecycles of its inhabitants pause. September 7 through October 20; 32 E. 57th St., #9; 212-759-7999; pacemacgill.com.
The stuff of those dreams—the abstract bending of nature—is on view downtown at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, where “Seven Americans” revisits Alfred Stieglitz’s landmark 1924 show at his Gallery 291 in New York. The original show sought to define a vision of what American art was, or could be, and exhibited the penetrating, abstract works of five painters and two photographers: Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Paul Strand and Stieglitz himself, who exhibited his photographs of clouds (Songs of the Sky). The most dreamlike images here, surprisingly, are the photographs: Strand’s eloquent still lifes of driftwood (pictured here) and Stieglitz’s brooding skies. The paintings—refracted, perceptual landscapes by Marin, for instance, and O’Keeffe’s dramatic leaf paintings—ground the photos. “Seven Americans” calls up the ghost of Stieglitz’s original show, but the entire effect ultimately constitutes an apparition of the American landscape. September 6 through October 20; 535 W. 24th St.; 212-627-3930; brucesilverstein.com.
September 06, 2012
Courtesy Eva Perón Museum
New York’s Consulate General of Argentina is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón (widely known by her nickname, Evita) with an exhibition comprising nearly 50 paintings, photographs and clothing items related to the life and legacy of the Argentinian first lady. “Evita: Passion and Action,” on loan from Museo Evita in Buenos Aires, opens September 7.
"We believe that this exhibition tries to show Evita the way we see her,” says curator Gabriel Miremont, who has been with the museum since it opened in 2002. “She was one of the most important characters in our history, and the exhibit shows not only the glamour surrounding her, but, more importantly, her political character. We want to tell that story with historical rigor, as we do at the museum.”
Evita has a legacy that reaches far beyond her glamorous exterior and fondness for Dior dresses. As the second wife of president Juan Perón, Evita (pictured above in a ball gown by Paula Naletoff with Philipe Etter in 1947) was vaulted into the public eye, where she championed women’s suffrage, fought for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised and captured the hearts and minds of the nation. She succumbed to cancer in 1952 at the age of 33. “We want to show the world that Evita is not a well-built myth,” says Miremont. “She’s real, she’s passionate and she’s always present.” September 7 through 28; 12 W. 56th St.; 212-603-0443; cnyor.mrecic.gov.ar.
August 29, 2012
Erwin Wurm "Big Kastenmann" (2012). Courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York. Photography by Adrian Gaut.
As part of The Standard, High Line NYC’s ongoing public-art program, The Standard commissioned Austrian installation artist Erwin Wurm to create something especially for the hotel. Wurm is known for his offbeat, at times humorous projects (his limited-edition Pee on Someone’s Rug prints are currently on sale at The Standard), and his latest project is anything but shy. Big Kastenmann (Big Box Man in English) weighs 1.6 tons and stands at a towering 18 feet tall. Moreover, the aluminum figure is headless, pantless and covered in pink enamel paint. We caught up with Wurm to get the scoop.
Q: What was your inspiration for Big Kastenmann?
A: I was actually combining a human form and a geometric form and it became this strange object in between. I added legs to make it a bit more figurative and also to relate it to The Standard’s architecture. The Standard is kind of block-shaped, or two blocks, in a way. So I wanted to add something with a similar language.
Photo by Christian Wind, courtesy the Artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
Q: We have to ask—why doesn’t the sculpture have a head?
A: I was more interested in having a picture of people—a personality of someone but not a singular person. In a way, it’s more an image of a human being and not a singular person that I’m interested in.
Q: What do you hope that New Yorkers get out of this piece?
A: Well, I don’t know. When you create a piece, you do it primarily for yourself, and then when you show it to the public they discuss it among themselves, and hopefully the reception is good and people are interested in it. But I’m not expecting that. I did something and put it out in the world.
Q: Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
A: Yes, yes, yes. I have a big show in Spain, one in Ghana and another show at my gallery in Paris. It’s great.
Sculpture on view through November 2; rooms, from $370; 848 Washington St.; 212-645-4646; standardhotels.com.
August 03, 2012
Marie Godeau and Alexandra Zelman-Doring. Photo by Adolfo Doring
The Flea Theater hosts a three-week run of Act Before You Speak, a new production of Hamlet by Throes Theater company (opening August 3). The 70-minute play, written for two women (who remain silent throughout) and a violin, distills the words of the original down to their composite emotions—grief, love, revenge, madness. (Hedvig Claesson directs the production, with an original score composed by Jirí Kaderábek and Mahir Çetiz.) Each scene wraps itself around a single quotation from Shakespeare’s work, seeking to crack open and expose the organs of the text, bending physics so socks become skulls and the entire story of Hamlet occurs in six distinct encounters with six different characters. We sat down with the stars of the play, author and actress Alexandra Zelman-Doring and actress Marie Godeau.
Q: What was the inspiration for the play?
Alexandra Zelman-Doring: It developed organically from work in the theater. Actions, encounters—we’re going for more universal elements. So we have Hamlet and his best friend, Hamlet and his mother. Today you find a lot of Shakespeare that’s all about the language, and you forget what’s physical.
Q: Would you be able to do this without music?
AZD: Well, I wouldn’t want to. Put it that way.
Marie Godeau: The music is so present, and the violinist [acclaimed composer and violinist Ana Milosavljevic] is constantly on stage. There are no blackouts, no curtains. There are some moments where she doesn’t play, but even in silence she’s present. And she scares people. She is the ghost, she is the narrator—perhaps the puppeteer.
Q: Shakespeare wrote his plays almost entirely as dialogue and speeches. Was there something about Hamlet in particular that called for silence?
AZD: Silence can be a way of speaking. He performs actions that speak as clearly as words, really. Because we’re going for clarity, it’s not supposed to be some super avant-garde you-don’t-know-what-the-fuck-is-going-on performance—it’s really not that. It’s very clear. It’s actually more simple even than the words. Actions can strike at the heart of something.
Q: Like music. Is it because actions don’t play games in the way that words can, through wordplay and double entendre?
MG: Of course there is double entendre and games with words. We do it every day with the way we carry ourselves and our bodies. There’s always duality in what we show and what’s really happening in the inner, inner self. But because that’s all we have onstage, because there are no words, it’s very bare. The audience sees everything.
AZD: We’re better at performing it than we are at speaking about it.
Through August 26; tickets, $20; The Flea Theater, 41 White St.; 212-226-2407; theflea.org.
July 12, 2012
Upholding 75 years of anything is an impressive feat, and this year the Tanglewood music festival in Lenox, Massachusetts, proves just how special it can be. What began in 1937 with a few thousand attendees listening to a Beethoven program under a tent has grown into a cultural phenomenon and an educational stalwart (the likes of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein have studied at its Music Center). “As the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood is hallowed ground,” says Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. “Not just for musicians, but for anyone who visits the festival to take in the fantastic music-making, exquisite surroundings of the Berkshire Hills and extraordinary sense of history that has brought Tanglewood to the pinnacle of music festivals worldwide.”
This year’s anniversary gala on July 14 (8:30 P.M.) features guests including James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops. (A second gala will be held on August 18.) More than 350,000 people descend on Tanglewood every summer. Chris Botti (August 5), Wynton Marsalis (August 20), an 80th birthday celebration for renowned composer John Williams featuring soprano Jessye Norman (August 18), a Boston Pops concert with Maureen McGovern (August 24) and the pop group Train (August 30) round out this season’s lineup. And if you can’t make it to the Berkshires, you can still (essentially) listen in: Daily streams of 75 remastered recordings from the Tanglewood archives are available on the festival’s website. Tanglewood continues through September 2; 297 West St.; 888-266-1200; tanglewood.org.
May 31, 2012
Alexandra Bircken, "Wärmegitter," 2011 / Courtesy the artist and Kimmerich, New York
Every summer the galleries of New York City invite the hippest art critics, artists and guest curators into their prime white-walled real estate to put on group shows, seeking to attract new audiences and play with fresh ideas. These shows vary in theme and scope, touching on the relationships between two or three artists or covering the aesthetic themes of a century in broad, daring strokes. They are litmus tests based on unexpected juxtapositions that are designed to entertain while blue-chip collectors summer in the Hamptons. The season’s docket is full, and we plan to see it all. (Check back here throughout the summer for updates.)
This week, “Everyday Abstract—Abstract Everyday” opens at James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea. Guest-curator Matthew Higgs, director of the implacable gallery White Columns, explores the intrusion of recognizable everyday objects into the abstract work of art. Repetition hums behind the creation of all the works on display. Judith Scott obscured an object by winding layers of colored string around it until it took on a new form. Walead Beshty shipped a polished copper box via FedEx from show to artist to show again, and it will continue to collect handprints and labels from its journeys. Bill Walton simply clipped a four-inch segment from a wisteria branch, creating a cross-section of the world’s own processes of growth and abstraction. Throughout the exhibit, the patterns—of actions or of objects—shift the focus from the quotidian to an abstract realm that touches something greater. Opens June 1 (6–8 p.m.) and continues through July 27. James Cohan Gallery, 533 W. 26th St.; 212-714-9500; jamescohan.com.
May 10, 2012
© Left: Portrait of Elsa Schiaparelli, 1932 / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hoyningen-Huené/Vogue; Condé Nast. Right: Portrait of Miuccia Prada, 1999 / Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guido Harari/Contrasto/Redux
“Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations,” which opens today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, explores the parallels between groundbreaking Italian designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, whose work bookends a century.
By contrasting garments, ideas and quotes, curators Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda created an imaginary conversation between the two women, framing it all with a stunning video directed by Baz Luhrmann, in which Schiaparelli (played by Judy Davis) and Prada chat over dinner. In each of the exhibit’s four rooms, the women discuss their careers and inspirations, occasionally differing in opinion (Schiaparelli proclaims, “Celebrate the bust!” while Prada insists that more happens from the waist down).
The exhibition is all screens and mirrors, and the dark profundity of last year’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” is nowhere to be found. But the reflections and visual effects in “Impossible Conversations” demonstrate its point: Like the femme fatales of film noir, the women who wear Prada’s mirrored skirts or Schiaparelli’s gold-embroidered jackets shine a little too brightly to be seen clearly.
Prada’s ensembles, which comprise the majority of the exhibit, are almost exclusively taken from the last ten years, and Schiaparelli’s nearly all hail from the 1930s. But the similarities are clear. In the first room, called Waist Up, Waist Down, Schiaparelli hats match Prada shoes precisely, and her jackets pair so perfectly with skirts from the early aughts that the temporal discrepancy doesn’t register—at least until a jacket embroidered with golden palms is paired with palm-printed silk short-shorts.
In the final installment, a shadowy hall of mirrors reflects ensembles (bug necklaces, feathered capes) floating in plexiglass boxes and black-and-white digital images of Schiaparelli blinking eerily. It’s a display of intellectual femininity, complete with tricks, puns and allusions. Consider a floor-length black Schiaparelli gown from the 1930s, spotted with pink velvet flowers and lovely in its simplicity. Two of the flowers have extra petals, and their placement highlights breasts beneath. It’s a cheeky nod and shows how these clothes embody the most fascinating aspect of a woman’s allure: Nothing is what it seems. On view May 10–August 19; 1000 Fifth Ave.; 212-535-7710; metmuseum.org.
May 07, 2012
Ladies in a Garden, John Singer Sargent, 1910 / Courtesy Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi
For more than 100 years, Americans have been drawn to Tuscany and its villas. Edith Wharton enthused about “Italian garden-magic”; historian Bernard Berenson created the ideal Renaissance garden at Villa I Tatti; and countless Americans rented or bought villas dotting the hills overlooking Florence. “Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists” at Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (through July 15) invites visitors to discover Florence through the eyes of the painters, like John Singer Sargent and James Abbot McNeill Whistler, who flocked to the city at the end of the 19th century. Not only does the exhibition show the impact of the landscape on the artists, it also reveals the lasting effect they had on Florence’s cosmopolitan cultural life. palazzostrozzi.org.
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