Proving that early photography was not the exclusive reserve of the West, a new show at the Met displays 100 years (1870s - 1970s) of portrait photography made by and for Africans — particularly West Africa, countries like Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, and Nigeria.
These 80 works, many of which are being shown for the first time, were taken both inside and outside of the studio, by amateurs and professionals alike, including Seydou Keïta, Samuel Fosso, and J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, as well as lesser-known artists. Together they explored the unique African potential of the medium that swept the continent as soon as it arrived in the 1840s and 50s. Present in almost all of the work is a certain self-possessed dignity of the sitter, in spite of, or perhaps in response to, the ravages of colonialism.
Photographic Portraits from West Africa, August 31, 2015 – January 3, 2016, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Swiss photographer Edo Bertoglio became involved in the downtown scene right as the crazy, colorful, frenetic, plastic 80s era was picking up steam.
His new book, New York Polaroids 1976-1989 (Yard Press), shows a candid side to the likes of Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Madonna, and his good friend Maripol during the endlessly alluring time.
Wes Anderson's vast, zany fan club seems almost as ubiquitous and rabid as Taylor Swift's. You've seen them; think ennui-stricken, fur-clad Margot Tenenbaum wannabes and mopey, beanie-wearing Steve Zissou doppelgangers. And like any good cult, they wield fan art, loads of it, equally schlocky, meticulous, horrifying, and genius. Now they’re having their self-styled kitsch featured in an exhibit in an actual New York gallery — 100 unframed pieces by 70 artists in homage to the filmmaker's eight films.
Well, not so much an exhibit as a two-day pop-up. Titled 'Bad Dads,' the idea sprang from San Francisco art writer Ken Harman's imagination in 2010 as a Halloween masquerade party. That first show was such a hit that it inspired Harman to open his first gallery, Spoke Art, and continue his yearly tribute to the cinematic auteur, this year making its New York debut — for better or worse, the worse the better.
Elio Fiorucci — who died this week, aged 80, of unknown causes — championed a neo-glamour with a wink and a nudge throughout the 70s and 80s. Not only was he an early pioneer of the cheeky, bold, bright style that came to define the over-the-top 80s look, but he transformed his stores in Milan, London, Beverly Hills, and especially New York into creative hotspots, where celebrities and the demimondaine would collide in performances and happenings. The NY outlet became known as the 'daytime Studio 54,' where the likes of Andy Warhol, Cher, Jackie Onassis, Liza Minnelli, Keith Haring, Grace Jones, and Klaus Nomi mingled.
The mild-mannered Italian became such a sensation that he was namechecked in a Sister Sledge song and in Mark Leckey’s cult 1999 club-culture film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (which coincidentally was the inspiration for Raf Simons' spring 2016 collection). From signature stretch jeans to campy ad campaigns, here are some of Fiorucci's choice moments...
The designer of museum-worthy pieces now has his designs in an art museum. Not just any art museum, but the Galleria Borghese in Rome, one of the great institutions of the world. Which makes its exhibition to the couturier Azzedine Alaïa a big deal. The exhibition casts a light on the designer’s works that are as much sculpture as they are fashion. And there is the fact that Alaïa studied sculpture when he was a teenager at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tunisia, before decamping to Paris.
Couture-Sculpture: Azzedine Alaïa in the History of Fashion, July 11 - October 25, 2015, Galleria Borghese, Piazzale del Museo Borghese 5, Rome
The genre-defying, boundary-busting, expectation-slaying Danish designer and artist Henrik Vibskov is bringing his delightfully perverse, deliciously puerile vision to Daelim Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea (July 9 - December 31, 2015). In typical Vibskov form, what exactly will be shown is entirely a mystery, but we do know 300 or so pieces by the Nordic Fellini will go on view, arranged in an elaborate display utilizing installation and performance. It may (or may not!) resemble his greatest collections...
Next week the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, the only French museum dedicated to a couturier, will present an exhibition examining his optimistic, elegant, shapely vision of post-war women, which mirrored the reconstruction of the country at large. Before February 12, 1947, the day Dior's so-called New Look couture collection was shown, Dior was unknown. Thereafter he was one the world's most famous men and exalted artists.
That show catapulted the New Look — in particular the curvy Bar jacket — into a phenomenon. But not everyone was enamored. Dior’s designs were denounced in Britain, where fabric rationing remained in effect. Meanwhile, those who had heeded generations of calls to abandon the corset were rather opposed to the reintroduction of tiny wasp waists and other forms of restrictive femininity. But by the spring of 1948, the New Look had charmed its way into wardrobes everywhere and Paris had reclaimed its status as the center of fashion and style.
The exhibition will focus on 80 couture garments, ranging from that first 1947 collection through Raf Simons' tenure at the house today, as well as roughly a hundred photographs, documents, manuscripts, and original sketches.
Dior: the Revolution of the New Look, June 6 - November 1, 2015, Christian Dior Museum, Granville
Few would argue London was the center of swing throughout the Swinging Sixties. It was ground central for a potent convergence of fashion, music, film, technological innovation, and, perhaps most importantly, social revolution. The era also launched the notion of photographer as artist and celebrity. These bold-faced lensmen will be the subject of an exhibition this summer at Foam Museum in Amsterdam, including Terence Donovan, Brian Duffy, John French, Norman Parkinson, John Hopkins, John Cowan, Eric Swayne, and Philip Townsend — the gamut of known and unknown yet influential names.
Swinging Sixties London: Photography in the Capital of Cool, June 12 - September 2, 2015, Foam, Amsterdam
Like so many hard-to-imagine aspects of Alexander McQueen's life, and death, a play about the designer has been made and it's opening soon.
Playwright James Phillips began work in 2012, the year of McQueen's exhibition at the Met. That the blockbuster is now on view at the V&A, causing heightened McQueen frenzy across the UK, is a stroke of luck. He's also fortunate that, after sending the manuscript to McQueen's family, he received enthusiastic approval.
Nonetheless, Phillips says he's been cautious in his portrayal of the sensitive subject matter. “I was really clear I didn’t want to write a documentary-style bio-play," he told the Independent, "because I don’t think bio-plays work. And there’s a tabloid version of this story, which I had no interest in at all.”
Thus, the play takes the shape of a fairy tale. Based on the theme of one of McQueen's own collections, The Girl Who Lived in a Tree, the story begins with an obsessed fan named Dahlia, who breaks into McQueen's studio and befriends him. The two then go on a magical journey across London, through Savile Row workshops, glamourous fashion parties, and rough East End. This hopscotch structure allows Phillips to address the darker parts of McQueen's story, including his rocky relationship with Isabella Blow, and his eventual suicide.
McQueen is played by Stephen Wight, a fellow East Ender whose resemblance to the designer is uncannily, while Dahlia is played by Diana Agron (Glee). There is also a fair amount of choreography, video projections, and bits of soundtrack from McQueen’s shows, from Mozart to Nirvana. The costumes, too, will nod to McQueen's work, acting as interpretations rather than reproductions.
McQueen, May 12 - June 27, 2015, St James Theatre, London