Tag Archive | Brooklyn Museum

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty at The Brooklyn Museum

Still from Smash 2014
Still from Smash, 2014 (All Photos By Gail)

Marilyn Minter’s sensual paintings, photographs, and videos vividly explore complex and contradictory emotions around beauty and the feminine body in American culture. She trains a critical eye on the power of desire, questioning the fashion industry’s commercialization of sex and the body. Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty, now on view at the Brooklyn Museum, is the first retrospective of her work.
Little Girls #1
Little Girls #1

Big Girls
Big Girls

Spanning more than four decades, the exhibition begins with the artist’s earliest artworks, from 1969 through 1986, including rarely exhibited photographs as well as paintings incorporating photorealist and Pop art techniques.

Sink Study
Sink Study

Marbles
Marbles

Minter Exhibit Disclaimer

The show continues with works from the late 1980s and 1990s that examine visual pleasure in visceral depictions of food and sex. I didn’t take any photos of the “Junk Shots,” as I like to call them, because that doesn’t really do much for me: I find it boring and it detracts from the other works, in my opinion. But if pictures of penises are your thing, them come on down!

Puff
Puff

The exhibition culminates in Minter’s ongoing investigation of how the beauty industry expertly creates and manipulates desire through images.

Installation View
Installation View

These fashion / beauty shots, which are all so elegantly manipulated and transformed, were my favorite pieces in the show.

Pop Rocks
Pop Rocks

Glazed
Glazed

This one is so beautiful. For some reason, it reminds me of an old photo I’ve seen of Peter Gabriel,when he was still fronting Genesis. It’s surprising to me that more Rock Stars don’t commission Minter to shoot their portraits and album covers. Maybe that is because there are no real Rock Stars anymore. Sad.

Black Orchid
Black Orchid

Still from Smash 2014

The exhibit also features a short, silent film called Smash, which I liked very much. In Smash, a pair of metallic-toned manicured feet wearing bejeweled high-heeled sandals kick and shatter glass, in the middle of a rain storm, or something. Smash reminded me of when I used to go clubbing back in the late eighties and early nineties. Good times.

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty will be on Exhibit Through April 2nd, 2017 in the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 5th Floor at the Brooklyn Museum.

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Eye On Design: Stylaire Kitchen Stepladder

Stylaire Kitchen Stepladder
All Photos By Gail

Utility meets design is this Stylaire Kitchen Stepladder (circa 1950) designed and manufactured by Cosco Home and Office Products. I photographed this piece in the visible storage rooms at the Brooklyn Museum because t reminded me of one just like this that we had in our house when I was growing up (60s – 70s). Nostalgia! Part chair, part step stool, this design was inspired midcentury by the traditional library step-chair, and is still manufactured by Cosco today.

Stylaire Kitchen Stepladder

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Water) at the Brooklyn Museum

Water
All Photos By Gail

Felix Gonzales-Torres (1957 – 1996) ever-generous artworks invite viewers to participate in them — by eating candy from a gleaming pile of sweets making up one of his works, for example, or removing a poster from an endlessly replaceable stack of paper. Yet despite their decisive ephemerality, these works are imbued with both personal and political undertones. While invoking the allegedly content-free vocabulary of minimalism, Gonzalez-Torres nonetheless subtly hints at possible meanings through parenthetical subtitles he assigned to each untitled work.

Water

The luminous, blue-beaded curtain Untitled (Water) evokes images of an aquatic landscape but also dreams of travel and escape. The strings of faceted, blue plastic beads have as their source the humble curtains often found in bodegas, but when stretched across the expanse of the entranceway, the shimmering strands resemble a waterfall. Installed in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum, Untitled (Water), 1995, serves as a threshold, a place of passage, marking off the activity of the street from the theater of the exhibition.

Water Detail
Water, Detail

Water

Eye On Design: Benjamin J. Bowden’s Spacelander Bicycle

Spacelander Bicycle 2
All Photos By Gail

Designed by Benjamin Bowden (1907 – 1998) the aluminum prototype for this futuristic Spacelander bicycle was handmade by the MG Auto Company in England in 1946.  The original design incorporated an ingenious dynamo that stored the downhill energy  and released it on uphill runs.

Spacelander Bicycle

Manufacturing the bike to-spec for consumer use turned out be prohibitively expensive, but in 1960, Bowden contracted with Bomard Industries in Michigan to produce this more mechanically conventional, one-speed version of the dynamic, organic design fiberglass, a new design material.

Spacelander Bicycle Rear View

Ultimately the endeavor was too costly for Bomard Industies, as well, and the firm went out of business after manufacturing only 522 examples.

Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum’s Visible Storage Archive.

Spacelander Bicycle 3

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Eye On Design: Meat Slicer By Egmont Arens

Meat Slicer
All Photos By Gail

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.

Meat Slicer

Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.

Eye On Design: RCA Victor Special Model K Portable Electric Phonograph

Portable Electric Phonograph
All Photos By Gail

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.

Portable Electric Phonograph

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.

Portable Electric Phonograph

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.

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Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument 2.0

Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument 2.0
All Photos By Gail

Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument 2.0 (2015) was a guerilla action intended to refocus the national conversation on civil liberties and privacy two years after Edward Snowden’s highly politicized leaking of classified National Security Administration documents. In an act of solidarity with Snowden, artists Jeff Greenspan and Andrew Tider covertly installed this nameplate and hundred-pound bust (sculpted by Doyle Trankina) of the controversial figure at the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park. Drawing on the significance of the monument as a memorial to more than 11,500 prisoners of war who died during the American Revolution, the work valorizes Snowden as a patriot among patriots.

Though the sculpture was removed within hours by police, its documentation circulated widely, and by the next evening the artists collective The Illuminator had replaced the bust with a projection in light.

Snowden Projection
Image Source

Snowden Bust Detail
Edward Snowden Bust Detail

Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum.