Twiggy by Terence Donovan

Swinging London Keeps Swinging

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

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May 25, 2015 12:30:00
Alexander McQueen, actor Stephen Wight

McQueen, the Play, Opens in London

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

May 08, 2015 01:57:00
Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans (detail), 1962

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans Go Back on the Shelf

Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans series first exhibited in 1962. Originally, there were 32 paintings, representing the number of varieties of soup sold at the time. They rested on a shelf, to mimic a grocery store aisle, on the walls of Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.

Warhol once said of his choice of Campbell’s soup cans, “A group or painters have come to the common conclusion that the most banal and even vulgar trappings of modern civilization can, when transposed to canvas, become art.” Taste was another reason he tapped the mundane object to immortalize. “I used to have the same lunch every day for 20 years, the same thing over and over again," he said. "I used to drink it.” Although the Campbell’s company is said to have considered legal action at the time, legal action was not pursued, opening the door for many more portrayals of the unsung icon by the master of pop art.

MoMA calls the cans "the signature work in the artist’s career," a "landmark" in its permanent collection. Thus the original 32 paintings are the centerpiece of a new exhibition of the artist's work from 1953 to 1967. For the first time at MoMA, they're shown in their original grocery-store line, rather than a grid. The exhibition also includes early drawings and illustrated books Warhol made, as well as other paintings, prints, and sculptures from the time.

Andy Warhol: Campbell's Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967, April 25 – October 12, 2015, MoMA, NY

Apr 23, 2015 12:21:00
Aerosmith by Al Hirschfeld

Al Hirschfeld, the Line King, at the New York Historical Society

He lived 99 years, 1903 - 2003, and was drawing Hollywood and Broadway stars until the very end, along the way elevating caricature to an artform. Now the celebrated illustrator Al Hirschfeld, known as the Line King, is getting an exhibit at the New York Historical Society.

In The Hirschfeld Century, a tidy 100 of his greatest works, including both black-and-white and the rare color piece, will be displayed at the New York Historical Society, in addition to paintings, studies, video, and ephemera. 

The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, May 22 - October 12, 2015, New York Historical Society

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Apr 21, 2015 15:05:00
Still from the film Le P’tit Parigot (1926), costume by Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay, Mother of Abstract Art, Gets a Well-Deserved Retrospective

In 1964 at the Louvre in Paris, Sonia Delaunay became the first female artist to be granted a retrospective during her lifetime. Now, just over 50 years later, another retrospective has just opened at the Tate Modern in London. It examines the full breadth of the avant-gardist's output, as well as her enormous influence on the development of the male-dominated arena of early 20th-century art.

As a cofounder (along with her husband, Robert Delaunay) of the Orphism movement, which introduced vivid geometries of color into the collective practice of abstract art, the Russian-French artist acted as the nexus between a variety of disciplines, particularly painting and textile design.

The exhibition samples Delaunay's entire 60-year oeuvre, including her large-scale paintings and clothing, as well as her friendships and collaborations with poets, choreographers, and manufacturers ranging from the Ballets Russes and the Bauhaus Ballet to the furrier Jacques Heim and Liberty of London.

Sonia Delaunay, April 15 – August 9, 2015, Tate Modern, London

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Apr 19, 2015 14:19:00
Xiang Jing

Juergen Teller & Xiang Jing: A Case For and Against Desire

In a dual exhibit, Juergen Teller and Xiang Jing explore the notion of desire, but in very different ways. In Teller’s photographs of chef Antonio Guida’s extravagant menu at Hotel Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, Italy, the glistening dishes take on a lurid, fetishized decadence. Conversely, in Xiang Jing’s hyper-realistic sculptures of nude and mostly hairless female figures, rendered in fiberglass or marble, the Chinese artist strips away desire, thereby averting the male gaze.

Juergen Teller & Xiang Jing, May 21 - June 27, 2015, Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong

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Apr 16, 2015 19:03:00
Elton John's Ferradini platforms (1972-75)

Men in High Heels

"Never before have a few inches mattered so much," reads the cheeky synopsis of an upcoming exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. The provocative exhibit, Standing Tall, will explore the history of men in heels from the early 1600s to today, from kings to rock stars, promising to challenge preconceived notions about who wore high heels and why.

“When heels were introduced into fashion at the turn of the 17th century, men were the first to adopt them, and they continued wearing heels as expressions of power and prestige for over 130 years,” said Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at the museum. “Even after they fell from men’s fashion in the 1730s, there were pockets of time when heels were [worn] not as a way of challenging masculinity but rather as a means of proclaiming it.”

On view will be rare examples of men's heeled shoes from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as 19th-century military boots, 1930s cowboy boots, and 1940s biker boots. John Lennon's 'Beatle boot' from the 1960s and Elton John's platform shoes from the 1970s will also be on display, as well as couture examples.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, May 8, 2015 – June 2016, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

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Apr 12, 2015 11:24:00

Yoshitomo Nara's Bad Girls

Japanese Neo-Pop artist Yoshitomo Nara, he of wicked little girl paintings, is back with more girlish wickedness. A churlish cross between Eloise and Wednesday Addams, his petulant protagonists sneer and glare from their canvas frames, often wielding lit cigarettes, sporting bandages, or outfitted in devilish costumes. In the new exhibit, however, the little girls' bad-girl props are replaced by four-pointed stars, suggesting a slightly more innocent future outlook.

Stars, Mar 13 - Apr 25, 2015, Pace, 15C Entertainment Building, Hong Kong

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Apr 10, 2015 18:52:00
Andy Warhol, Fashion 10 (1950s)

Andy Warhol, the Bookworm

Believe it or not, Andy Warhol was a bookworm. In fact, according to a new exhibit, Andy Warhol by the Book, he was a something of a bibliophile, filling his New York apartment with books on a range of subjects, as well as textbooks in which he scribbled caricatures of teachers and classmates, foretelling his pop-art tendencies.

The exhibit, the first to focus on the artist's book work and organized by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, explains how Warhol's particular fascination with books was in making them. He put together nearly 100 books, both hardcover and paperback, during his career. His literary opus, Andy Warhol’s Index — containing a medley of non-textual objects, from holograms and paper pop-ups to sound recordings and a profile of Bob Dylan’s nose — is the highlight of the show.

Andy Warhol by the Book, March 7 - August 16, 2015, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA

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Apr 07, 2015 10:54:00

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