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

The Natural World According to Frida Kahlo

An upcoming exhibition at the Bronx Museum will be the first to examine Frida Kahlo’s deep appreciation for and fascination with the beauty of the natural world, as seen in the complex use of plant and animal imagery in her artwork. The unique exhibit will feature a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper.

Additionally, the adjacent Haupt Conservatory will recreate the iconic artist’s famed garden and studio at Casa Azul, her lifelong home in Mexico City. Passing through blue courtyard walls, visitors will stroll along lava-rock paths lined with a variety of important Mexican garden. A scale version of the artist’s pyramid — created to display pre-Hispanic art collected by her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera — will feature traditional terracotta pots containing desert plants found in her garden.

Friday: Art, Garden, Life, May 16 - November 1, 2015, New York Botanical Museum, Bronx, NYC

Mar 28, 2015 17:43:00
Carol Christian Poell

Exploring the Darker Side of Fashion

In Linz, Austria, a new exhibition explores the darker side of fashion since the 1980s, when the likes of Alexander McQueen, Martin Margiela, and Rei Kawakubo started following melancholic tendencies that had hitherto been reserved for the other visual arts and literature. It was an altogether new aesthetic that saw the rise of post-punk deconstruction and destruction, animalism and naturalism, aging and decay, and a morbid fascination with mortality. Continuing to this day, the look "emphasizes the traces of time, praises transience, and flirts with death," says curator Ursula Guttmann.

The show presents designers — who, in addition to the above, include Walter Van Beirendonck, Viktor & Rolf, Bless, Iris van Herpen, Bernhard Willhelm, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carol Christian Poell, and Barbara í Gongini — alongside photographers and other artists, totaling 160 works by over 50 creatives.

Love and Loss: Fashion and Mortality, March 13 - June 7, 2015, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria

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Mar 26, 2015 08:40:00

Extreme Historical Silhouettes and the Peculiar Undergarments that Produced Them

The extreme means in which women — and men — have shaped their bodies through undergarments in the last four centuries are examined at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery. The exhibition, which began at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, showcases the many curious intimate devices used to achieve seemingly impossible silhouettes, from the 17th century onward. Think panniers, corsets, bustles, stomach belts, girdles, and modern bras. One takeaway: Spanx, while popular, is certainly not a new idea.

Spread across three floors, the exhibit opens with the 17th-century silhouette, exemplified by a reinforced women’s vest. Garments of the 18th century, with their structured armatures and other mechanisms, went further in imposing an erect posture. The bustle and particularly the corset ruled undergarments of the 19th century, accentuated by abundant crinoline below the waist. The exhibition continues with the 20th-century bra and girdle, including those worn by men, as well as the push-up bras of today, reflecting a silhouette based more on diets and surgery than clothing.

In addition to complete outfits, the exhibition also features mechanized reconstructions of panniers, crinolines, and bustles, to show how involved they were. Visitors can also try on replicas of many items.

Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette, April 3 – July 26, 2015, Bard Graduate Center Gallery, 18 West 86th Street, NYC

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Mar 19, 2015 15:30:00
Jean-Michel Basquiat

What's in Jean-Michel Basquiat's Notebooks?

Much is known about Jean-Michel Basquiat, given his high-profile rise from the New York underground in the late '70s to a posthumous retrospective at the Whitney in 1992. But not many know that the autodidactic artist kept prodigious notebooks that, filled with poetry, sketches, and observations on race and class, were essentially studies for his large-scale paintings.

At the Brooklyn Museum, the first major exhibition of these notebooks showcases nearly 200 pages of these rarely seen documents, along with related works on paper and large-scale works. The pages on display contain early renderings of the crowns, stick figures, and skulls that appear throughout Basquiat's oeuvre, as well as the juxtaposition of words and images, stressing the importance of writing throughout his process.

The Unknown Notebooks, April 3 – August 23, 2015, Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NYC

Mar 16, 2015 19:06:00

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