Portable, revolving book stands, like this one made of ebonized cherry and paper, (1875) allowed owners to have books, perhaps even the latest home decorating manuals, easily accessible in the parlor or drawing room. The paper panels that enrich these stands — with pointed quatrefoils on one and a variety of medieval-style musicians on the other — are based on ceramic tiles designed by the prominent British firm Minton and Company.
Over the course of their nearly twenty-year partnership, Anton Kimbel (1822–1895) and Joseph Cabus (1824–1898) developed one of New York City’s leading furniture and decorating firms. Sons of German and French cabinetmaking families, they defined a new take on Modern Gothic design, a style that originated in Britain and was embraced by a growing middle class in the post–Civil War United States.
This visually arresting, deep-teal hued Gothic sofa by Kimbel and Cabus (circa 1875) presents a paradox. The angled arms and legs meet to suggest adjustability or flexibility, but the strong mortise-and-tenon joints that secure the legs and rails render motion impossible.
Kei Kagami is a Japanese architect and designer living in London whose conceptual, avant-garde designs have been referred to as Torture Couture for their integration of mechanical elements and contraptions. What’s closer to the truth is that they are, like the haute couture of a designer like Alexander McQueen, wearable works of art.
Anatomy, biology, ecology and futurism combine in his more surreal designs in which glass tubes, vials and magnifying glasses are used to break the traditional boundaries and tackle themes of transformation, and a garment’s interaction with the wearer. Using an eclectic mix of materials such as silk, lether, metaol, plastic an glass, Kagami’s conceptual pieces are always informed by his study of architecture.
The Anatomy1 Ensemble (2007) was originally featured in the Museum at FIT’s 2008 show, Gothic: Dark Glamour, but it can also currently be seen as part of Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT, on view through April 20th, 2019.
If there were ever an art gallery that offered a fully immersive sensory experience reflective of the art it most expertly represents, that would be Last Rites Gallery. Hitting its stride as the perfect comforting /disquieting mutation of a Victorian Gothic sitting room and an abattoir, Last Rites showcases the best of contemporary Dark Pop, Surrealism and Horror Art like nobody’s business. Brooklyn’s Stephen Romano Gallery certainly mines a similar vein (and we are, of course, huge fans), but there is only one Last Rites. Also: there’s a tattoo parlor in the basement.