Sculptor Duane Hanson (1925 – 1996) often identified the figures in his artworks by their occupation or social roles, rather than their names. His photorealistic sculptural portraits — cast from life, painted and dressed in clothes corresponding to their roles — are thus transformed into ethnographic types. Their positions subtly critique their social realities as well as the context of their display. Hanson’s typically lower-and-middle class characters are empathetically portrayed in private or mundane moments, and their appearance is at once startlingly present, yet distinctly at odds in a gallery setting, where they are encountered almost voyeuristically, thus amplifying their isolation.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body, at The Met Breuer, NYC.
In 1970, Life magazine invited Rudi Gernreich (1922 – 1985) to envision what people would wear a decade in the future made from Janome. He extended his prediction to the year 2000, illustrating men and women in matching ensembles with heads either shaved or wigged. Unlike other contemporaneous unisex styles, Gernreich’s designs did not use menswear as a baseline for women’s garments. “Women will wear pants and men will wear skits interchangeably,” he predicted. “The aesthetics of fashion are going to involve the body itself. We will train the body to grown beautifully rather than cover it to produce beauty.”
Gernreich brought his concept to life for the U.S. Pavillion’s Art and Technology Program at Expo ’70, a memorable World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. He eliminated stylistic markers of gender on his models. “Our notion of masculine and feminine are being challenged as never before.” he asserted. “The basic masculine – feminine appeal is in people, not in clothes.” These sentiments are echoed today, as fashion continues to shift its understanding of gender as fluid.
Unisex Jumpsuits with White Boots, Installation View
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Donald Judd (1928 – 1994) created his first vertical Stack Sculpture in 1965. Coincidentally, this was just one year before furniture designer Ettore Sottsass designed his Superebox cabinet series. At the time, Sottsass claimed to have been inspired from the radical materials and construction of Parisian fashion, but he late wrote about Judd and even named a table in homage to him.
Untitled Stack Sculpture (1970) Detail
Sottsass and Judd each explored Minimalism and the effect of objects on their environment, but from strikingly different vantage points
Judd’s sculptures use the language and materials of serial production and functionalist design, while Sottsass created functional objects with the aspiration of minimalist sculpture.
A cacophonous summary of the grand aspirations and unrest of the late 196os, Robert Rauschenberg’s Signs (1970) was originally commissioned as a cover for Time Magazine. When the collage was rejected by the publication, Rauschenberg turned it into a print “conceived to remind us of the love, terror, and violence of the last 10 years. Danger lies in forgetting.” United States soldiers in Vietnam, peace protestors and the anonymous victim of an urban riot are combined with the images of five public figures, three of them recently murdered: President John F. Kennedy, presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. They are joined by Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, and the singer Janis Joplin, who died from a drug overdose a few months after Signs was made.
Photographed as part of the exhibit Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, at the Museum of Modern Art Through September 17th, 2017.
For years I’ve walked by this sculpture installation at the corner of Water Street and Old Slip, and assumed it was one of John Chamberlain’s crushed car works. But recently I was compelled to snap a few photographs and do a bit of Googling. What I found out is that back in 1970, artist William Tarr made this sculpture from aluminum panels meant for the facade of 77 Water Street (the building on whose plaza it sits) that were rejected due to their imperfections. Thus, the sculpture’s name, Rejected Skin.
George Segal (1924 – 2000) was an innovator in sculpture known for his installations of white plaster figures with ghostly appearances. He depicted the dignity in everyday life, showing people poised at a bus stop, paused before a Traffic Intersection, or conversing on a park bench. Segal’s work also took on political themes such as the Holocaust and gay pride. At the time the Girl On a Chair (1970) sculpture was created, the artist discussed its art historical references:
“The chair is like a ladder with steps, the box is like a house, the girl is like a Greek caryatid holding up the roof…I’ve always liked the hardness and softness combined, this wedding of organic and geometric.”
This interesting sculpture is called Blossom and it was created by the artist Sanford Biggers in 1970. Blossom is on exhibit (apparently on its own as opposed to being part of a particular show) at the Brooklyn Museum.