Have you heard of Beach Pajamas? I never had until I visited The Met this past weekend and found myself in This Exhibit, which explores the influence of the Japanese Kimono on modern fashion.
At the end of the 1920s, the prior emphasis on lavish surface embellishment transferred to printed textiles, which were fashioned into a variety of romantic permutations. The elegant ombre-dyed silk chiffon of this evening dress was likely created for Gabrielle Chanel at her own Tissus Chanel factory in Asnières-sur-Seine, France. The delicate manipulation of the textile in this Floral Appliquéd Evening Dress (spring/summer 1935) is evidence of the superior capabilities of the Chanel couture workrooms
The gown’s bias-cut fabric drapes and clings to the figure, gathering into delicately ruched straps at the shoulders and swelling into soft folds around the hem. Individual picot-edged florets are backed with net to create volume and strategically appliquéd throughout the garment to further enhance the printed motifs, resulting in tactile bouquets that gently flutter when the wearer moves.
Photographed as part of the exhibit In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection, on view through May 17th, 2020 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Over the course of a career that stretched from the 1920s to the 1980s, Alice Neel painted portraits of hundreds of friends, family members, lovers, artists art historians, writers, and political activists, believing that “people are the greatest and profoundest key to an era.” Seeking to express psychology above absolute physical likeness, she often used exaggerated colors and expressive brushstrokes and eliminated extraneous details in order to capture the inner lives of her subjects.
Neel was a longtime supporter of leftist causes. In the painting of Pat Whalen (1935), she depicts the Communist activist and union organizer for the longshoremen of Baltimore as a paragon of social justice. Whalen’s creased face and expression — along with a copy of the Daily Worker, the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA, resting beneath his large, clenched — suggest both a noble archetype of the blue-collar worker and an all-consuming commitment to the working man’s cause.
Photographed in the Whitney Museum in NYC.
The shift in our perception of objects when they are displayed as part of a museum collection can sometimes elevate a practical piece into an art object. On deli counters in the 1940s, this commercial meat slicer designed by Egmont Arens (circa 1935) would have evoked cleanliness, efficiency and modernity. In an exhibition, it becomes an abstract pieceof streamlined design.
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.
New Photo Added October 1st, 2021:
Designed by John Vassos for RCA (Radio Corporation of America) circa 1935 the Model K was relatively lightweight, being made out of aluminum, and the suitcase-style design featured its own speaker, a classy and reflective protective plate, and pockets inside the lid to carry records.
Note the little design touches such as the tabs for the record slots, and the rounded cutouts (behind the metal plate) so you could easily get to the records themselves. The semi-domed, built-in speaker at the front of the case is a nice design touch.
Today, aluminum is taken for granted as a lightweight, inexpensive material that has many applications However, is was only in 1886 that an American, Charles Martin Halm discovered the process that made commercial production possible. Over the next forty years, aluminum evolved from a laboratory curiosity to an industrial staple
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.