Alma W. Thomas derived her vibrant color palette and lyrical brush work from the shapes and movement of foliage, flowers, and other natural forms. The stripes of bright pigment in Wind, Sunshine and Flowers (1968) create an engrossing effect that recalls feelings of awe inspired by nature
For Thomas, the visual realm of natural phenomena offered a way to transcend the racial biases she experienced as a black painter and educator in the early to mid -20th century. In 1972 she wrote, “man’s highest aspirations come from nature. A world without color would seem dead. Color is life. Light is the mother of color. Light reveals to us the spirit and the living soul of the world through colors.”
Liberated from its stretcher, Carousel State (1968) explores the material and chromatic possibilities of canvas, a traditional painting support. Gilliam developed his unique approach in the 1960s while working with the Washington Color School, whose compositions emphasized the flatness of the picture plane. This is an early example of the artist’s signature ‘Drape Paintings,” made through a novel process of dripping, smearing, staining, and splashing paint onto raw canvas.
Colors often spread and merged as Gilliam pressed and folded the fabric. He has described this as a kind of equilibrium: “This liquidity of the colors is reinforced by the fluidity of the canvas.” The final step in the creation of Carousel State is its installation, suspended and extending into space.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
“When you’re working, there’s a communion between the object-maker and the material, [and] it transcends into something much greater,” said furniture designer and woodworker Sam Maloof. “When you make something and someone likes it, enjoys it and all, you’re paid tenfold.”
Cradle Cabinet, Detail
Maloof was one of the United States’ preeminent woodworkers during the second half of the twentieth century. In 1966, Paul J. Smith, Director of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), invited Maloof to show his Cradle Cabinet in a thematic exhibition, The Bed. A masterpiece of woodworking skill and sensitivity, the cabinet is also innovative in its design, combining all of the functional needs of a newborn’s nursery into a single piece of furniture.
Photographed in The Museum of Arts and Design in NYC.
It may be difficult to discern in the dim museum lighting, but the front of this bright Pink Dress features the scene of a rocket launch, and was created in 1968 by American graphic artist Harry Gordon at the height of the international space race.
An identical rocket image adorns the dress’ back. This and other screen-printed paper dress designs by Gordon were manufactured by UK-based company Poster Dress, Ltd. Selling for about $3.00 each and fabricated from tissue, wood pulp and rayon mesh, the dress came with the proclamation: ‘Toughness is woven into the non-woven fabric for long, l-o-n-g wear, and should you tire (which is doubtful), just cut open all the seams and hang it on your wall as a mammoth poster.’
Over the course of a seven-decade career in design, Pierre Cardin has released collections that have rocketed so far into the future they were once emblematic of the Space Age. For an example of Cardin’s influence in popular culture, look no further than the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons, where Jane Jetson’s styles look as though they could have been lifted from the designer’s showroom.
Installation View Alongside the Porthole Dress (1968), Made from Wool Crepe and Silver Leather
But perhaps it is the Jetson’s teenage daughter Judy who would have been more inclined to fancy this vibrant and fun two-piece red suit consisting of a Bandeau Top and Miniskirt made of vinyl and plastic. The top’s circular breast rings remind me very fondly of costumes worn by Jane Fonda in the 1968 film Barbarella.
Mannequin Also Wears the Wool Envelope Hat (1979)
This Out-Of-This World Design was Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum as Part of the 2019 – 2020 Exhibit, Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion.
122 Rue Du Temple is the Paris address from which artist Jacques Villegle detached many of the movie posters and political notices that he used to make this work in 1968. After tearing fragments of the original images, he pasted these passages of color, text, and image into a chance composition. Many of the fliers used here announced the city’s May 1968 student and worker demonstrations, and the artist considered the people who had posted them to be his collaborators, understanding their use of advertising billboards as a precursor for his process.
Garments such as this A-line Baby Ruth Paper Dress (circa 1968) by Mars of Ashville (marketed under the name Wastebasket Boutique) became popular marketing tools for brands during the 1960s. The work of Pop artists like Andy Warhol was similarly turning everyday products into works of art. “Paper is the clue to the future,” declared Women’s Wear Daily in 1966.
Installation View with Michael Mott Target Minidress (1968)
See more examples of paper dresses from the sixties Here and Here!
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Minimalism/Maximalism, On View at the Museum at FIT Through November 16th, 2019.