Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Watteau to Degas: French Drawings at the Frick Museum

Jean-Honore Fragonard  Le Calendrier des vieillards, c. 1780
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over black chalk underdrawing
Frits Lugt Collection

Sometimes I wonder if I might have previously lived in 18th Century France because my fascination for that time period seems to know no bounds. Although I have a deep appreciation of contemporary art, my heart still skips a beat when I stand in front of artwork by the masters of the 18th century like Boucher and Fragonard.  And while the exhibition of drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection currently on at the Frick Museum in New York is not confined to artists from the 18th century, it was those images that made me swoon. The skill with which Fragonard and Boucher exhibit in these small drawings is extraordinary. A few simple lines can express so much life! And while it may appear on the surface just to be a pretty picture, a closer look often reveals the beginning of a narrative (something that I'm trying to incorporate into my own work). This show of exquisite drawings also includes works by Watteau, Degas, Morisot, and Ingres among others continues through to January 10, 2010.

Frick Museum
1 East 70th Street, New York

Monday, December 14, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe Abstracts at the Whitney Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe will never be considered a fashion icon but she was a woman who knew her mind and had a distinctive sense of style. Looking at photographs of her in her minimalist black clothing, her sense of independence and vitality is evident. She was ahead of her time, both in her style of dress and her artwork.

In 1915, Georgia O'Keeffe leaped into abstraction using charcoal as the medium for her first experiments. These drawings are the best place to begin your tour of the 125 abstract paintings, drawings, watercolours and sculptures by Georgia O'Keeffe now on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Music in Pink and Blue Number 2, Georgia O'Keeffe
I've always admired the sensual forms and deft handling of colour that defines much of O'Keeffe's work, but hearing the artist's voice on the audio guide accompanying the exhibition added much to the experience. She said that she used abstraction to explore her thoughts and emotions and asserted that her work was not sexual imagery but about feelings. This is a must see show before it closes on January 17, 2010.

Georgia O'Keeffe Abstractions
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York
September 17, 2009 - January 17, 2010

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Contemporary Drawing at the MOMA New York

Amelie Von Wulffen copyright 2009

To better understand the state of contemporary drawing practice, I visited the show "Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection" now on at the MOMA. Curator Christian Rattemeyer selected from this collection of 2500 drawings to present several hundred works. Contemporary artists from around the world are represented but are mostly clustered from New York, LA, UK, and Germany. Divided into abstraction and figuration, the work illustrates the fact that artists have stepped outside the traditional definition of drawing on paper to include the use of unconventional media, with many incorporating collage and appropriated images into their work. Really, anything goes these days!!

My favourite pair of images were by Elizabeth Peyton and David Hockney. Although somewhat traditional in style compared to what was on display elsewhere, the simplicity and elegance of their line was captivating to me. Another image that still haunts me is an emaciated horse and rider created out of cigarettes, although I cannot recall the name of the artist.

This exhibition is beautifully hung and there is lots of space to stand back and appreciate the work. If you are interested in contemporary drawing practice, this show is well worth a visit. And if you cannot make it to the MOMA before the show closes on January 4, 2009, the MOMA website includes an enlightening video with the curator.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tim Burton Show at the MOMA

I went to the Tim Burton show at the MOMA hoping that I'd be inspired by the dark and quirky elements of his work. Sadly, this show has been squeezed into one of the smallest galleries in the museum and it was difficult to get close enough or to linger long enough to appreciate much of his work. Although the entrance was supposed to be time-ticketed, the attendants at the entrance were not checking tickets. As a result,  the gallery was packed to the rafters with people, many of whom had children in tow. I had my sketchbook with me but there was no chance to pull it out, because it was a battle to get near the work as it was.

With 700 examples of Burtons drawings, paintings, photographs, storyboards, puppets, macquettes, costumes, film clips and other material, I did gain a new appreciation for Tim Burton's skill as a multi-talented artist. I exited the gallery hoping that my favourite illustrations would be contained in the accompanying exhibition catalogue but they were not and I left empty-handed. If you go to the Tim Burton show, it is probably best to go as early in the day as possible so you can actually see and enjoy the work on display.

Tim Burton

MOMA New York, 11 West 53rd Street
November 22, 2009 - April 26, 2010

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Retrospective Bust of a Woman by Salvador Dali at the MOMA

Tucked away in a corner on the fourth floor of the MOMA (in the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Painting and Sculpture Gallery) is this delightful sculpture called Retrospective Bust of a Woman by Salvador Dali. The accompanying exhibition tag describes the sculpture as follows: [It] "not only presents a woman as an object but explicitly as one to be consumed. A long phallic baguette crowns her head, cobs of corn dangle round her neck, and ants swarm along her forehead as if getting crumbs." Maybe it is just me, but I see Marie Antoinette during the Flour Wars.

This is one of a small grouping of surrealist sculptures on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until January 4, 2010 in an exhibition entitled "The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection" curated by Anne Amland assisted by Veronica Roberts.

I lingered over these sculptures drinking in their quirky and often humourous point of view. Also on display is the infamous fur-lined tea cup by Meret Oppenheim and Taglioni's Jewel Casket by Joseph Cornell.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Last Week to See enveloppes du corps by Lorene Bourgeois

Before I begin my posts about my art and fashion adventures in New York, I'd like to highlight a must-see show of exquisitely rendered drawings by Lorene Bourgeois that will be closing at the Glendon Gallery in Toronto on Saturday, December 12.

In her show enveloppes du corps, Lorene Bourgeois explores cloth as a second skin in that it "accompanies us from birth to death; we are surrounded in it and we are shrouded in it." To read more, check out Yael Brotman's review on the Loop Gallery Blog here

 Glendon Gallery Installation by Lorene Bourgeois, 2009

 Glendon Gallery Installation by Lorene Bourgeois 2009

Glendon Gallery is part of the bilingual Glendon College campus of York University and is located at 2775 Bayview Avenue (Lawrence and Avenue) in Toronto. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday from 12 to 3 pm, and on the closing day Saturday, December 12th, the gallery will be open from 11 am to 5 pm with the artist in attendance. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend in New York

I am just back from a long weekend in New York.  I attended the American Style Symposium at FIT where I also viewed the American Beauty and the Day to Night exhibitions. Plus I managed to squeeze in visits to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for the Tim Burton show and the Contemporary Drawing show, the Whitney Museum of American Art to see the Georgia O'Keefe abstracts, and the Frick Museum to see the drawings by Watteau, Degas and Boucher. It was four days filled with art and fashion and I'll be posting about these exhibitions in the coming weeks (in between catching up on my regular life, striking my show at Launch Projects, birthday celebrations and Christmas shopping). Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Profile of an Artist: Noel Palomo-Lovinski

Noel Palomo-Lovinski is the artist behind Confessions and the Sense of Self at Kent State University Museum.  In this question and answer format post, I have interviewed Noel about her work.

1. What is your background and education?

I have a BFA in fashion design from Parsons the New School for Design, an MA in Visual Culture from New York University and an MFA in Textiles from Kent State University. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Kent State Fashion and Merchandising department. I have done a lot of freelance work and worked at places like DKNY, Episode and Anne Crimmins.

2. Are textiles your primary form of artwork or do you do other forms of art as well?

My background is in fashion design so drawing and illustration are major parts of my design process. They do not result in a final art piece though. I am not currently represented by a gallery.

3. How long were you working on the Confessions project?

I have been working on this subject area since 2003.

4.  What did you find most surprising about the confessions that you read?

The most surprising aspect was how universal so many of them were and how different image can be from reality.

5.  What is your next project?

I haven't gotten there yet but I would like to perhaps explore more sculptural aspects in connection to fabric and, of course, confessions.

6.  Where do you find in inspiration for your work?

I read a lot. I hear a lot of issues brought up with other women I know that mirror my own concerns and I start to see patterns.

7.  Who is your favourite fashion desginer?

I have many but I greatly admire the work of Hussein Chalayan, Rei Kawakubo, and Alexander McQueen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Confessions and the Sense of Self: Works by Noel Palomo-Lovinski


In the exhibition Confessions and the Sense of Self at Kent State University Museum, Noel Palomo-Lovinski has explored the themes of women's roles and self image. She has designed and created clothing  layered with meaning through shape, texture, fabric and embellishment that as a whole functions as sculpture. Anonymous confessions by women were obtained through public websites and used as design elements in portraying the "tension that exists between the enduring archetype of the caring female and the nature of such contradictory confessions".

Using dress as a visual metaphor for identity, the exhibitions include:
I Feel Great!
All Tied Up in Knots
Hold It In
Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
Twisted Sister
Levels of Confession
Mother Love
Camouflaged Confessions
Suck Punch
Family and Friends

I was particularly taken with I Feel Great! and Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and Noel kindly gave me permission to show images of these works. 
I Feel Great! by Noel Palomo-Lovinski 

I Feel Great! (Detail Shot) 

Noel wrote that "Polite conversation often includes the rhetorical question 'How are you doing?' The expected response is 'Fine; great, how are you?' The under-layer of the dress is candid confessions in red; the top layer exhibits expected responses. The muzzle signifies a suppression of blunt or truthful thoughts."

Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Noel Palomo-Lovinski

Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety (Detail Shot)

About this work, Noel wrote "In our current society women are often expected to be a type of superwoman, ambitiously working in a career, be a loving and patient mother, expert housekeeper and true partner in her marital relationship. There are several websites that are devoted to confessions from women who are not able to cope with the demands that they feel from society, their families, their partners and employers. They seek advice, comfort or just use the websites as a sounding board for their anxieties."

I encourage you to check out the entire exhibition here. Noel Palomo-Lovinski's hauntingly beautiful work is a fusion of fashion, art and sculpture.

Confessions and the Sense of Self: Works by Noel Palomo-Lovinski
Kent State University Museum
Rockwell Hall
Kent Ohio
Phone: 330-672-3450

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What's on My Fashion Calendar for December

I never thought I'd want to go to Ohio but December is the last chance to see Confessions and the Sense of Self: Works by Noel Palmomo-Lovinski at Kent State University Museum. In this provocative exhibition, Noel Palomo-Lovinski has used dress as a medium for expressing the tension that many women feel in their roles as wives, mothers, sisters, friends. Taking quotes from several confessional websites and applying them to clothing in a variety of decorative embellishments, texture and pattern, the artist has translated women's internal conflicts in striking visual forms. I'll be posting works from this exhibition and an artist profile of Noel Palmomo-Lovinski later this week.

Opening December 3, 2009 is the exhibition Night and Day at FIT in New York. Curated by Molly Sorkin, associate curator of Costume, this show examines how the rules that dictate appropriate dress for women have changed over the past 250 years. Featuring over 100 day and evening garments displayed in chronological order to illustrate how conventions for appropriate dress have changed, the exhibition includes the work of Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and other designers.

December 4th and 5th will be full days at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I'll be participating in the American Style symposium. Featuring speakers such as Dr. Valerie Steele, Nina Garcia, Patrician Mears (curator of the American Beauty exhibition at FIT), Dr. Alexandra Palmer (curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum) and other fashion scholars, this two-day symposium should be a promising source of material for future posts.

I was too busy to attend the November 19th opening of the new show at the Bata Shoe Museum From Renaissance: Chopines to Baroque Heels. This exhibition features rare and extreme forms of footwear including a pair of Venetian chopines from the 16th century that have pedestals over 50 cm (about 25 inches) in height. These towering chopines from the Fondazione Musei Civici de Venezia will never again be displayed after the September 2010 closing of the show.

Sunday, December 6th is the last day to see my work at the Stepping Stones show at the Launch Projects Gallery in Toronto. 

December is always a hectic month for me - with my birthday and preparations for the holidays all crammed into a few short weeks. But I won't complain, because I love being busy!