Out of Art Museums and Into the Streets

If museums seem like dreary places, too dreary for art to be hanging out in perpetuity, fear not. The brainchild of French artist and filmmaker Julien de Casabianca, Outings Project brings great works of art into the light, into the street, into public awareness. It's as if the people in these portraits are out stretching their legs and taking in the sights of Paris, Riga, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Asunción, or wherever de Casabianca happens to be. The public, too, is invited to photograph artworks in their local museum and set them free.

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Jun 30, 2015 10:40:00

Cats that Look Like Male Models

Obviously this is click-bait, pure and simple. But who can blame us? We're only human. These frisky side-by-sides come from the Tumblr Des Hommes et des Chatons (loosely translated as Men and Kittens). It's what the internet was made for; don't fight it. It's the zoo in Zoolander. Meow, you're welcome...

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Jan 04, 2015 08:25:00
Lisa Fonssagrives in Chicken Hat (1948), Irving Penn

Where Else Could Irving Penn's Photos Go But the Met Museum?

Fashion classicists and Irvin Penn fans will have to wait around two years for the Metropolitan Museum's major survey of the master photographer — with good reason. The museum announced today that it will present an extraordinary Irving Penn retrospective to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the artist’s birth in 1917. The Met, which began acquiring Irving Penn in 1959, has presented two prior shows on the artist — 1977 and 2002 — but nothing on the scale of the centennial exhibition.

To mark the occasion, the Irving Penn Foundation has promised a landmark gift of more than 150 photographs, representing every period of the Penn's 70-year career, forming the core of the exhibition. In all, more than 200 photos will go on view, including fashion studies of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, the artist's wife; Quechua children in Cuzco, Peru; New Guinea tribesmen; color flower studies; nudes; portraits of laborers; and still lifes, as well as his studio portraits of cultural figures. It's thought to be the largest collection of Penn's work in the world.

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Jun 12, 2015 12:51:00

Fashion's Hidden Horrors Revealed

"I was getting my coffee one morning when I saw a photograph on the cover of a newspaper that instantly broke my heart," says director Andrew Morgan about the impetus for making the gut-wrenching documentary The True Cost, executive produced by Livia Firth. "The image was of two boys walking past a giant wall of missing-persons signs. Picking it up, I read the story of the clothing factory collapse outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, taking the lives of more than 1,000 people and severely injuring thousands more. At the time of the collapse, the factory was making clothes for major Western brands. I soon learned that this was not an isolated tragedy."

Morgan was stunned and sickened to realize that his own clothes could be a product of an inhumane fashion system. He set out to document its hidden horrors, while offering zero reverence to the major houses and chains that have built billion-dollar fortunes on the backs of desperately poor Bangladeshis, Cambodians, Haitians, and so on, most of them women. Fashion is the most labor-dependent industry on the planet, a situation exploited on every level. Plus, in addition to its appalling human-rights record, fashion is now the second most polluting industry on earth, after oil.

"The movie that's going to shock the fashion world,” said Harvey Weinstein, The True Cost is a fashion documentary that unravels and reveals the grim global supply chain of fast fashion and beyond, a phenomenon too recent, too secretive to have its dark side exposed to worldwide scrutiny and outcry. Globalization, trade deals, and outsourcing have delivered the speed, disposability, and price deflation that have led to some of the worst manmade disasters of the modern age — all in the name of cheap fashion.

Visit The True Cost

Jun 09, 2015 17:41:00
John Waters, RISD Commencement

John Waters Inspires and Entertains in His RISD Commencement

Commencement speeches are intended to inspire college graduates, which is exactly what John Waters did — in his own twisted wickedness — when he addressed the 2015 graduating class of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). A career in art is a tough road, yet the Prince of Puke has a way of turning grit into gold. Here's the full transcript...

Welcome and good afternoon, President Somerson, Chairman Spalter, honoured guests, parents, faculty, staff, and – mostly! – the 183 graduates and 486 undergraduates here today.

I should say right off that I am really qualified to be your commencement speaker. I was suspended from high school, then kicked out of college in the first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus. I’ve been arrested several times. I’ve been known to dress in ludicrous fashions. I’ve also built a career out of negative reviews, and have been called “the prince of puke” by the press. And most recently a title I’m really proud of: “the people’s pervert.” I am honored to be here today with my people.

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Jun 08, 2015 12:27:00
Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, Carnegie Hall, New York (1965)

Yoko Ono Returns to MoMA

In 1971, Yoko Ono conceived a one-woman show at MoMA in which the artist released flies and, as they buzzed about, asked the public to follow them throughout the city. They didn't, but that wasn't the point. This was a guerrilla piece of performance art, very much unsanctioned by the institution.

But now Yoko Ono finally has her one-woman show at MoMA, called One Woman Show — what else? It's the museum's first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the Japanese conceptualist. A survey of her formative years, 1960 to 1971, the exhibition brings together roughly 125 of her early performances, installations, audio recordings, films, and objects.

A number of these re-examined early works were self-explanatory, for example Painting to Be Stepped On (1960). Others invited public participation, such as Cut Piece, in which viewers were asked to cut away bits of fabric from Ono's clothing as she sat silently on a stage. This was a statement on gender roles and culture-based domesticity.

The exhibit ends with Bed-In (1969) and WAR IS OVER! if you want it (1969), around the time Ono met John Lennon and embarked on the next chapter of her career as a uber-famous artist, musician, and collaborator.

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971, through September 7, 2015, MoMA, NYC

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Jun 03, 2015 20:39:00
Origin Passion & Beliefs

Reinventing the Fashion Trade Show

Fashion trade shows are often dry, dreary affairs devoid of innovation and excitement. But they don't have to be. Case in point, last week we visited Origin Passion & Beliefs in Vicenza, in the heart of Italy's manufacturing base in the north, where thousands of family-owned mills, factories and workshops have called home for centuries. Conceived by Stefan Siegel of the online network powerhouse Not Just a Label (NJAL), in association with Fiera di Vicenza, the event — nay, "concept fair" — eschews the traditional trade show by doing something quietly revolutionary: bringing suppliers to the table as exhibitors.

Pairing NJAL's global roster of independent designers with the finest manufacturers in Italy, those that give meaning to the Made In Italy tag, is both novel and ambitious. "This has been an extraordinary experiment in cross-fertilization," said Matteo Marzotto, the effervescent chief of Fiera di Vicenza. "We're bringing together new talents in international design with the most prestigious super-suppliers in the fashion system, representing all the regions in the country."

Out of NJAL's 18,000 indie labels, a cross-section of one hundred were handpicked to attend Origin, now in its second edition, representing 37 countries on the home turf of some 70 Italian suppliers. The fact that this was even a possibility, to connect mostly underground and unknown designers with the cream of Italy’s manufacturers, those usually reserved for the black book of the fashion elite, is a feat worth applauding. But the four-day event wasn’t just a fierce networking opportunity; there were seminars, workshops, and a unique take on speed-dating that saw designers and suppliers thrust together on an hourly basis.

We were given a guided tour of the event, which, although it could only scratch the surface, nonetheless revealed some of the innovation on display: seventh-generation weavers; the silk-production process, from tree to worm and back again; shoes that could be worn multiple ways; bespoke techno fabrics; and wood that was so finely sliced it could be curved into handbags. It was a feast for the creative mind, and many of the designers were taking full advantage of the business advice on offer.

Indeed this was an inventive, progressive approach to the fashion trade show, blurring the line between professional and non-professional, designer and supplier, public and private, and generally abandoning all rules in favor of new, more egalitarian production models. The new generation of global tastemakers has a lot to learn from old-school artisanal Italian luxury — and vice versa.

May 28, 2015 12:37:00
Backstage at Martin Margiela (1990), photo Ronald Stoops

A New Fashion Exhibit Explores the Mysterious Belgian DNA

Expect the unexpected in an upcoming fashion exhibit in Brussels. It says so right in the show's title, The Belgians: An Unexpected Fashion Story. Nor should you expect the scope to be limited on the famed Antwerp Six, the group of Antwerp fashion students — Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dirk Van Saene, Marina Yee — who rocked and continue to rock the establishment, even if some of them are now, 30 years later, retiring.

Curator Didier Vervaeren has assembled a roster of roughly one hundred designers, ranging from established rule-breakers Martin Margiela and Raf Simons to wunderkinds Christophe Coppens, Eric Baudouin, Bruno Pieters, Katrien Van Hecke, and KRJST. He's also found room for Haider Ackermann, Olivier Theyskens, AF Vandevorst, and Jan-Jan Van Essche. Honorable mention goes to Norine De Schrijver, who, founding her maison in the 1920s, was the first modern Belgian designer with a taste for the haute surreal.

The Belgians: An Unexpected Fashion Story, June 5 – September 13, 2015, Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium

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May 27, 2015 12:08:00
Tom of Finland

Tom of Finland Is Big in New York

It's been a long time coming, but the artist Tom of Finland — master of the bulge — is finally getting his first major survey. At Artists Space in NYC, the exhibition will include more than 140 drawings, rarely-seen watercolors from the 1940s, over 600 collages, and his early childhood drawings. 'Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play' is the first exhibition to analyze the historic role that his art has played in addressing and transgressing stereotypes of gender, sexuality, race, and class.

It may look playful — if graphic — now, but his work hasn't always been seen as such. Back when simply being gay was criminal, Tom of Finland (aka Touko Laaksonen) was exploring the outer, and inner, reaches of male-on-male art. As Billy Miller, editor of the hardcore gay-erotica magazine Straight to Hell, told us upon the opening of Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland at MOCA last year, "In the 1950s, naked male bodies with only an outline of a cock seen through a posing strap were just as explicit [as gay porn]…probably more so."

Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play, June 14 - August 23, 2015, Artists Space, 38 Greene Street, NYC

May 11, 2015 18:16:00

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