February 21, 2018

Art Institute of Chicago exhibit: Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test

There is a most unusual and fascinating exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago right now, Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test.

This large installation in Regenstein Hall illustrates the dramatic shift from Imperial Russian design to that of the Soviets after 1917. Literally everything was impacted by this cultural tsunami. Graphic design on posters, art direction in theaters and in film, fabric, dishes, furniture, mobiles and paintings all reflected this new vision.


Some of my favorite things in the exhibit include a replica of Rodchenko’s Workers Club including a black and red chess set, a 2 1/2 minute recording of Lenin giving a speech, a space that resembles an agitprop train compartment that features Soviet cartoons and documentaries as well as a 1926 exhibition room that features paintings by Piet Mondrian, Francis Picabia and El Lissitzky.

If you choose to be immersed in this stark and geometric world that has style implications in the present day, you have until January 15, 2018 to catch Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test.

Dior Exhibit in Paris

If you are interested in fashion and happen to be in Paris before January 7, 2018, run, do not walk to the Dior exhibit at the Louvre’s side museum, Les Arts Décoratifs.

If you don’t buy a ticket in advance, bring an umbrella and a friend or a book because you will most likely wait up to an hour outdoors for admittance. Le tout Paris and female tourists of all ages are flocking to this fantastic homage to the fashion house of Dior.

Not only are the gowns and accessories breath-taking, but the presentation of the fashions is innovative. One large glass panel has a pointillist photo that disappears when the lights are raised to expose the elegant dresses inside the vitrine. Another gigantic glass showcase features a profusion of single-color items such as hats, miniature dresses, jewelry, shoes and other accessories. One follows groupings of red, pink, yellow, green, blue, silver and white items that absolutely delight the eye.

Another stunning display has a ceiling of white leaves that drape above the stunning Dior dresses.

There was another room across the lobby which I did not get to see. Flut alors! The guards are quite firm about leaving the museum at closing time.

Sorry to say that very few men can be seen attending this exhibit. Their loss because the ingenuity of Christian Dior and the subsequent house designers along with the breathtaking museum displays make this a uni-sex crowd-pleaser.

Designs by Raf Simons, John Galliano, Christian Dior and Marc Bohan in a chromatic display in the Dior exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs.

For more information and ticket purchase:
https://www.dior.com/couture/en_us/the-house-of-dior/exhibitions

Terra Cotta Warriors and Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

I usually don’t write about exhibits that have just left Chicago, but I decided to write about two showings that are moving on to other cities.

It has long been my dream to see the famed Terra Cotta Warriors in their original excavation site in Xi’an, China. The Field Museum exhibit which ran from March 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017 seemed to be the next best thing.
My thumbnail review: admission and parking were expensive and the exhibit itself was rather small with very few artifacts that weren’t reproductions. If you never plan to visit China, you may want to make a spring visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors in Seattle, but I myself am holding out hope to see the real thing in Xi’an.

Terra Cotta Warriors Exhibit
Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA
April 8 to Sept 3, 2017

A much more satisfying exhibit was Moholy-Nagy: Future Present which ran from Oct. 2, 2016 to January 3, 2017 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy was a painter, photographer, film-maker, sculptor, advertising man, product designer and theater set designer. Happily, the exhibit gave us glimpses of every phase of his work. Room after room featured samples of his work from his lucite and metal chandeliers to his photos, films, paintings and graphic designs.

Moholy-Nagy holds a place of honor in Chicago history having been instrumental in creating the New Bauhaus here which morphed into the Institute of Design on the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) campus.

The Moholy-Nagy exhibit was previously at the Guggenheim Museum in New York city and now moves to Los Angeles. West coasters who admire early 20th century art and design are strongly urged to attend this fine show.

Moholy-Nagy Future Present
Feb. 12 to June 18, 2017
Los Angeles County Museum

Google Arts and Culture site

google-arts-and-culture-logoWhen traveling, I love visiting museums, gardens and venues of visual beauty. Unfortunately, my wish list of places to visit continues to grow, while my time to travel remains relatively small.

Google Arts and Culture comes to the rescue with a comprehensive web site that allows the viewer to virtually visit a host of cultural and natural sites all across the world. biodivwand_c_carola-radke-mfnBio Diversity Wall at the Natural History Museum in Berlin

Some of the web site headings include Your Daily Digest, Stories of the Day, Zoom in and Explore by time and color. A seemingly endless number of virtual tours are available including Ford’s Theater in Washington,  10 Downing Street in London and the Taj Mahal in India. One can do searches by art movements, artists, historical events or places along with a host of other topics. Every visit to Google Culture and Art home page could be a different, enlightening experience.

I see from the internet address that Google Arts and Culture is still in beta-testing mode, but the site looks quite polished and professional in its current state.
On my next Google Arts and Culture experience, I plan to make virtual visits to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and to the Great Barrier Reef. Excuse me while I pack my virtual suitcase.

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/

The First Monday in May doc on Netflix

My hairdresser recommended The First Monday In May,  a wonderful documentary by Andrew Rossi on Netflix that mixes art, fashion and a bit of world politics.

Film footage shows astoundingly beautiful clothing in inventive gallery settings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but we also get to see the backstage mechanics of creating this annual fashion fantasy.

Design powerhouse, Anna Wintour is shown in action as she determines what is tasteful. Interviews with clothing designers Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano are sprinkled throughout the film.

The real star of the costume exhibit is the Met’s Costume Curator, Andrew Bolton, a shy Brit who quietly works his magic behind the scenes.

The doc builds to the opening of China: Through the Looking Glass, the Met’s costume exhibit of 2014. Chinese government entities, Film director Wong Kar Wai and the Met staff reach a middle ground showing older Chinese fashions as well as current designs by Asian and Western clothing designers.

Those not mad about fashion might be titillated by the kick-off dinner’s celebrity red carpet arrivals including George and Amal Clooney and Rihanna, garbed in a most dramatic brilliant yellow gown with the longest train of recent memory.

Attending this annual summer-long costume exhibit at Metropolitan Museum of Art now goes on my “to do in life” list.  Anybody for a trip to New York next May?

Painting and Photography Exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago

America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s  and Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem at the Art Institute of Chicago

One of the joys of having a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago is the ability to visit briefly and often, especially when there are intriguing current exhibits.

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s is a small, but powerful exhibit of work done in the U. S. after the Great Crash of 1929. The fifty canvases include Grant Wood paintings including his iconic American Gothic, along with works by Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Evergood, Ben Shahn, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and Charles Sheeler. Some of my favorite paintings are by African-American artists such as Joe Jones, Reginal Marsh, William H. Johnson, and Aaron Douglas.  The collection offers thought-provoking art from many different schools such as that of Regionalism, Social Realism and Abstraction.

It is interesting to note that the main funder of the exhibit is the Terra Foundation for American Art, a name many Chicagoans will recognize.

The exhibit runs at AIC until September 18, 2016.
It goes next to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and to London’s Royal Academy.

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/america-after-fall-painting-1930s

Just across the lobby is a photo/prose exhibit entitled Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem. Author Ellison and photographer/filmmaker Parks collaborated on two projects: Harlem is Nowhere in 1948 and A Man Becomes Invisible in 1952 featuring images that matched Ellison’s iconic book Invisible Man.

The AIC’s one room exhibit contains images from the 1952 collaboration as well as printed and hand-written selections from Ellison’s landmark book. The photos taken in Harlem are not only art, but emotionally gripping depictions of racially-divided life in the Harlem of post World War II America. My favorite image is that of an African-American man raising a manhole cover as he looks out from his subterranean den.  Seen from the perspective of today’s headlines, the photos and quotes are particularly inpactful.

The Invisible Man exhibit is showing through August 28, 2016.

http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/invisible-man-gordon-parks-and-ralph-ellison-harlem

Here’s a small tip for AIC visitors:  avoid the milling crowds at the Michigan Avenue entrance, and opt for entry on Monroe Street. You will be closer to the recommended exhibits and with a member pass, you will breeze right into the museum.