John I. H. Bauer, head of the Brooklyn Museum‘s Department of painting and sculpture from 1936 to 1952, here appears seated in an interior space, perhaps his office. His body, cropped at the head and ankle, fills the frame. Painted in 1974, Alice Neel captured idiosyncrasies such as his slightly rumpled suit, wrinkled face, and veiny hands. One of her guiding principles as a portraitist was, in her words, that “every person is a new universe unique with its own laws.“
Although Angelo Donghia, was the first designer to put his name on furniture in 1973, Pierre Cardin’s venture in the field was far more successful. Cardin opened a custom furniture shop in Paris in 1975, and in 1977, he licensed his name for furniture, lighting and rugs that translated his fashion aesthetic into designs for the mass market., who didn’t design the pieces himself, felt that furnishings were a logical extension of his brand: and deferred to the pieces as his couture furniture.
Installation View from Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion
The red and black lacquer chest of drawers, titled Head of the Moon, was designed in 1978. While it was not designed alongside the looks on view behind it, Cardin’s tight visual language creates a natural link between the two.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion at The Brooklyn Museum.
Technically, a parabola is a symmetrically mirrored U-shape. Pierre Cardin began working with the parabola in the 1950s, particularly in the 1957 Lasso collection. With the introduction of stretch fabrics and hoops in the 1960s, those sweeping, graceful parabolic drapes became amplified, evolving into ellipses and cones.
Some of Cardin’s “Parabolic” fashions collapse flat, are easily packed, and emerge as before — like his earlier Cardine dresses, which could be twisted, rolled and stowed effortlessly into luggage. Developed alongside Cardin’s investigations into furniture sculpture, the big, sculptural shapes of the Parabolic dresses were likewise designed to be seen in 360 degrees. And since they were made of stretch fabric, they had a bounce reminiscent of his “Kinetic” dresses from 1972.
Referencing his earlier “Lasso” or “Eye of the Needle” designs done in wool and mohair, in 1990s’ Parabolic Evening Gown, Cardin creates the shape as a pink and green silk parabola.
Pierre Cardin’s Junior Unit Chest, Installation View (All Photos By Gail)
Pierre Cardin’s interest in geometry has extended throughout his career, beginning in his teens, when he was an apprentice tailor. Over the decades, his work has featured triangular lamps and square shoulders but it is the circle that predominates in his design. We featured a look at the circle motifs in his furniture design in This Post, and another terrific example of what the legendary designer refers to as his ‘couture furniture’ is the Junior Unit Chest of Drawers (1979–80).
Comprised of staggered, lacquered wood drawers which appear suspended inside a circular, chrome-plated metal frame, the Junior Unit is both modern and futuristic at the same time!
Photographed as part of the Exhibit Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion at The Brooklyn Museum.
What a treat it is to experience the Pierre Cardin exhibit Future Fashion, currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. I admit to being unaware that Cardin also made furniture until I saw a selection of his amazing woodwork staged amongst his retro-space-age fashions. This cabinet, which emulates a sunset above ocean waves, is from 2018.
Cardin’s passion for woodworking began as a child in central France. Later, he created furniture inspired by the skies, landscapes, and forms of nature, using traditional woodworking and lacquer techniques that correspond to the handiwork in haute couture fashion. For this reason, Cardin described his handmade cabinets, tables, dressers, and chairs as “couture furniture” and utilitarian sculptures. Cardin intends his furniture, like sculpture, to be place so that the viewer can see if from all sides and directions.
Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion Will be on View at The Brooklyn Museum Through January 5th, 2020.
Luigi Lucioni and Paul Cadmus probably met as students, and they doubtless shared acquaintances within New York’s circles of gay artists and writers. Lucioni’s likeness of Cadmus (1928) celebrated the shared passion of two young moderns for the ideal forms of Italian Renaissance art, particularly the paintings of Piero della Francesca. Within a modern close-up format, the artist captured a gaze that is at once tentative and mesmerizing.
The starting point for this lively patterned abstraction was an earlier canvas by Stuart Davis (1892 – 1964) entitled House and Street (1931). Treating each subsequent version as a riff on a jazz theme, Davis moved further and further away from his original composition to establish independent, rhythmic color patterns that retained only a few direct visual cues to the initial design. The Mellow Pad (1945 – 51) refers to the phrase “the mellow pad” — jazz lingo for the “cool” place to be. The pulsating colors and meandering forms seen here effectively mimic the dynamic rhythms of jazz. Davis developed his own style of Synthetic Cubism in which he dissolved figure and ground and referenced popular culture, adding a distinctly American sensibility to his abstractions
Although this abstract composition, Synchromy No. 3 (1917), bears many traces of European Cubism — angular shapes, fragmented forms, and multiple perspectives — it asserts the primacy of color as a key component of space and form. In 1912, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, together with the painter Morgan Russell, coined the term Synchromism to describe abstract compositions primarily concerned with the rhythmic use of color — a phenomenon they likened to a symphony’s use of sound. Synchromism was one of many diverse approaches to abstraction that flourished in the Americas and Europe on the 1910s, radically departing from traditional vocabularies of painting and sculpture
Since the 1980s, Deborah Kass has riffed on modern artworks by famous white men to reflect her experience as a Jewish lesbian. Here, Kass remakes Robert Indiana’s LOVE (itself a coded homage to queer male desire) with the twinned words Oy (a Yiddish exclamation of alarm or bother) and Yo.
The artist considers herself to be a “total, absolute, 100 percent provincial New Yorker.” This work uses the city’s culturally specific, yet universal lingo to communicate the collective pride and exasperation of living here. Originally conceived as a monumental sculpture, it was installed for limited time in Brooklyn Bridge Park. OY/YO (2017) became an instant New York icon and photo op for tourists and residents of al backgrounds, for whom the pluralist spirit of the double-sided interjection resonated deeply
Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan. Note that This Work is Currently On View In Front of The Brooklyn Museum (as of 10/1/18).
The dynamic, curvilinear design of the Current Chair (2004) by Vivian Beer seems to defy the strength and hardness of the steel from which it is made. Historically, few women have worked in metal other than to fashion jewelry, and fewer still have made metal furniture.
About her innovative design Beer remarked, “I wanted this chair to seem as if it had been cut and crushed out of a single sheet of metal. At the same time, I wanted it to feel as fast and clean as water its silhouette . . .The balance and the trickery are important.” The chair’s title suggests that the artist’s choice of the color blue alludes to swiftly moving water.