February 23, 2011
Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognized names in art history, but it wasn't always so. In 1900, the then-unknown 19-year-old Picasso moved to Paris and discovered the works of Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh. He would spend the next seven years there, coming into his own as an artist. That period of his life and work is the focus of "Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907," on view at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam through May 29. Guest-curated by art historian (and Picasso expert) Marilyn McCully and organized jointly with the Museu Picasso in Barcelona—with loans from Paris's Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim in New York—the show demonstrates how the artist's style was influenced by his time in the City of Light, from the death of his good friend Carles Casagemas in 1901 (which marked the start of his Blue Period) to his friendship with writers Max Jacobs and Guillaume Apollinaire, who piqued his interest in harlequins. Every Friday evening during the exhibition's run, dancers from the company Dansgroep Amsterdam perform Nomade, a site-specific work that celebrates Picasso's love of the circus, alongside his paintings. Picasso is also the topic of a lecture series taking place the first Sunday of each month. On March 6, literary historian Peter Read will examine the artistic relationship between Picasso and the poets in his circle of friends. At 7 Paulus Potterstraat; 31-20/570-5200; vangoghmuseum.nl.
Photo Self-portrait with a palette, 1906 , Philadelphia Museum of Art. A. E. Gallatin Collection, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2011 Pablo Picasso
March 24, 2011
Attending TEFAF Maastricht is like going to a museum where everything can be taken home. Collectors, curators, interior designers, creative consultants and art lovers visit the Netherlands city every March for the event, in which MECC (the town's 101,700-square-foot convention center) becomes home to 260 elegantly designed booths for ten days. Each stall brims with paintings, sculpture, furniture and jewelry spanning 7,000 years, including works by Renoir, Rembrandt, Picasso, Dalí, Miró and Klimt. The quality of every piece is guaranteed: The day before the fair opened, 29 vetting committees comprised of 168 international experts assessed each and every item, assuring its authenticity and condition. (And it's not all centuries-old: A Jeff Koons-designed BMW is also on view this year.) Visitors can take a break from gazing at one of the two sit-down restaurants, a casual café, an oyster bar or a sushi spot. TEFAF runs through March 27; tefaf.com.
Photo Loraine Bodewes
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.
November 08, 2012
Courtesy of Simone Handbag Museum
Occupying a prime position in Gangnam, one of the most fashion-forward neighborhoods in Seoul, South Korea, the Simone Handbag Museum is a shrine to the everyday (and often coveted) accessory. The collection, devised by fashion curator Judith Clark, is comprised of more than 300 items dating from the 15th century to today’s trendiest It bags. Most of these are European, including exquisitely crafted reticules and “sweetmeat” bags, gunmetal mesh purses from the late 19th century and recent creations like an Alexander McQueen clutch printed with the Union Jack.
“Handbags are a very interesting subject in both a fashion and women’s sociology context,” says Dawn Jung, senior curator at the museum. “The path of design as it changed through history tells many stories in terms of material, shape and size.”
The museum, which opened its doors in July to great fanfare, is the pet project of Kenny Park, CEO of Simone Acc. Collection Ltd., a producer of handbags for some of the world’s largest fashion houses. The eye-catching building, shaped like a handbag complete with a handle, houses temporary exhibitions and international loans that will rotate through the museum’s top-floor space. “Carosello Italiano,” the current exhibit (through November 18), displays Italian handbags and landmark pieces from the likes of Fendi, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.
A DIY workshop occupies the museum’s basement, allowing visitors to indulge their dreams of becoming the next Kate Spade. For a fee, a master craftsman assists guests in designing and constructing a handbag, from cutting the leather to sewing the creation into its final shape. 17 Dosan-daero 13gil (Sinsa-dong), Gangnam-gu; 82-2/3444-0912; simonehandbagmuseum.co.kr.
November 22, 2012
Hugh Talman, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Opened earlier this week, “Food: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000”—a new permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History—is expected to be a tasty hit, chronicling the evolution of what postwar America eats. “It’s a complicated show, but it’s also very accessible,” says museum curator Paula Johnson. “People are going to see objects that relate to things they know.”
Who better to demonstrate the changing nature of American appetites than Julia Child, America’s most-beloved chef. Child’s kitchen, which she donated to the museum in 2001, served as inspiration for the larger exhibit and features hundreds of items, including her diploma from Le Cordon Bleu and props from her award-winning television show, The French Chef.
The rest of the exhibit, a blend of artifacts, graphics and video, is divided into four sections. “Resetting the Table” highlights the influx of new foods and flavors into America’s culinary fabric—a phenomenon attributed to immigration and the back-to-the-land movements of the ’60s and ’70s that spurred the popularity of local and organic cuisine. “Wine for the Table” examines the rise of American vineyards after 1950, from their origins in California to today, and “New and Improved” covers science and technology, from increased food production and distribution to the modern-day prominence of on-the-go eating.
“Open Table” closes the show. More a forum than an exhibit, visitors are encouraged to engage in spirited discourse around a 22-foot-long communal table. The topic? Food, of course. 1400 Constitution Ave. NW; 202-633-3129; americanhistory.si.edu.
December 06, 2012
© Luke Abiol, 2012 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
After successful runs in New York and Berlin, the BMW Guggenheim Lab moves to India on December 9 for a six-week stay in Mumbai. A combination of an urban think tank, a community center and a public gathering space, the program brings together international experts and innovators with the Mumbai community to address issues of urban living. “Mumbai is one of the biggest and most rapidly changing cities in the world,” says curator David van der Leer. “It made sense to go there.”
Unlike the New York and Berlin labs, Mumbai’s operates on a pop-up model, with satellite locations throughout the city in addition to a central site at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. Van der Leer sees this multisite model as an important way to engage the public in a city of more than 20 million. “We can go into different neighborhoods where normally we might not be able to reach people too easily,” he explains.
The primary topics of discussion will be related to transportation, housing, water, governance and public space, including an open competition to redesign the traffic junction of Kala Nagar, a five-lane nightmare that sees nearly 50,000 people and 20,000 vehicles per peak hour.
In addition to policy and urban-planning talks, film screenings, storytellers and chefs round out the family-friendly roster, creating a model of public participation at its very best. Through January 20; bmwguggenheimlab.org.
February 21, 2013
Courtesy of Kunsthal Rotterdam
From February 23 through June 2, Kunsthal Rotterdam will host a retrospective to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Utrecht-based Dutch furniture brand Pastoe. “Like Pastoe” —curated by Anne van der Zwaag, who has worked with many of the country’s premier art institutions, including the Nederlands Fotomuseum and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen—showcases the company’s long-standing tradition of starkly simple yet high-quality design and craftsmanship.
Visitors will be treated to some of the brand’s most iconic achievements—birch-wood furniture from the ’50s by Cees Braakman, Aldo van den Nieuwelaar’s Amsterdammer cabinets, the architectural leather lounge chair by Belgian designer Maarten Van Severen—and explore some of the brand’s numerous partnerships with creatives such as Shigeru Uchida and Scholten & Baijings. “Pastoe fits perfectly into the Dutch tradition of minimalism and reflects a sobriety that is characteristic for the Dutch’s Calvinistic mentality,” explains van der Zwaag. “This makes it a landmark in the Dutch design field.”
Photographs and advertisements (posters by illustrator Dick Bruna, photography by Cas Oorthuys) give context to Pastoe’s legacy. A jubilee publication, written by van der Zwaag and Gert Staal and designed by Dirk Laucke, provides more information with interviews and analysis. But the ultimate goal is to ensure that the project underlines the brand’s true legacy—an indelible mark on Dutch design. February 23 through June 2; Westzeedijk 341; kunsthal.nl.
March 13, 2013
Courtesy of National WWII Museum
Constructed of glass and steel and rising 96 feet out of the Louisiana earth, the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, is a study in evolution. The building, which took 21 months to complete and opened officially in January, embodies a significant milestone in the growth of a museum that takes its educational and historical responsibilities to heart.
“The pavilion…[enables] us to present stories in ways far different from what you find in our other galleries,” says Gordon H. Mueller, president and CEO of the museum. “It provides dramatic spaces and the latest audio-visual technology to support education programs and conferences. Also, the pavilion is especially well suited for military ceremonies and other community events.”
Exhibits and special presentations—author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman leads the lecture “Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II” on March 14—abound. “Vehicles of War” explores tanks, ambulances and other equipment. Service members receive due respects in “Service and Sacrifice,” and an exhibit of restored iconic airplanes, such as the North American P-51 Mustang and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, tells the stories behind “warbirds.” And “Final Mission: The USS Tang Submarine Experience” recounts the adventures of the most successful submarine in the war (it sank 33 Japanese ships) and its demise in 1944.
It is an impressive display made all the more notable by its continuing growth, thanks to a $300 million capital expansion plan. Approved nine years ago and set for completion in 2015, it will ultimately increase the size of the museum fourfold, adding additional exhibit spaces, libraries and archives. At 945 Magazine St., New Orleans; 504-528-1944; nationalww2museum.org.
March 13, 2013
© Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
After remaining closed for nearly a decade, the Kunstkammer at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum—a wing of the building that holds the oldest selection of treasures and artworks collected and commissioned by the royal Habsburg family—re-opened on March 1. Spread across 20 new galleries, the 2,200 pieces include everything from bronze statuettes to spellbinding automatons to intricately designed game boards to scientific tools.
Overall, the wing boasts an impressive range that exposes the remarkable reach and resources of the storied imperial clan. Lesser-known, never-before-seen items reside in the Exotica gallery, which displays ceramics, ivory and mother-of-pearl creations. But the star object of the Kunstkammer (or “art room” in English) is Benvenuto Cellini’s Saliera—a 10-foot-by-13-foot sculpture from the 16th century. It is the only surviving work by the Italian goldsmith and had been stolen from the museum in 2003, when the wing was undergoing construction. It was eventually found in 2006, buried in a forest about 60 miles north of Vienna. Burgring 5; 43-1/525-240; khm.at.
March 20, 2013
Teresita Fernandez, Night Writing
Opening on March 22 at the four-month-old Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, the exhibit “Pattern: Follow the Rules” riffs on a theme that is close to home—its host building’s exterior. The museum, designed by architect Zaha Hadid and located on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, features steel pleats that envelop it in a light-reflecting skin. Essentially, pattern at its best.
“The architectural element referred to… as a ‘feat of digital engineering’ echoes elements of the paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations that make up ‘Pattern: Follow the Rules,’” says Alison Gass, curator of contemporary art.
One of those pieces, a string drawing called White Wave (2013) by Alyson Shotz, is comprised of thread strung in a pattern around nail heads pounded into the wall, the string and its shadows forming a surprisingly complex viewing experience. Developing her vision via computer, Shotz and her work illustrate another aspect of the exhibit: how the digital world—in particular the repetition and proliferation of pictures, according to Gass—is changing how we interact with and experience art and life in general.
“The rules and systems the artists have engaged embrace the conditions of contemporary visual culture,” says Gass. “Images are everywhere, and they can go on and on and on and on…” March 22 through June 23; E. Circle Dr., East Lansing, MI; 517-353-9836; broadmuseum.msu.edu.