I traveled to New York largely to see the costume exhibits. My trip was actually fairly short: I was gone for 7 days, but two of those days were mostly travel. I worked for two days, which left three days to squeeze in everything else. I set one of day aside to see both the Manus X Machina exhibit (at the Met), and the Isaac Mizrahi exhibit (at the Jewish Museum). The Whitney Museum is near the New York office, so I also ran over one day at lunch to check it out. The Whitney has been at their new location for just over a year now.
That means I did not have time to see the Uniformity exhibit at the FIT Museum. I will make sure to stop by on my next trip, though it won't be the same exhibit. I didn't mind missing this one, too much.
I also had no time to visit Philadelphia for the Vlisco exhibit of African wax prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I would have loved to see that exhibit, but it ends on January 22nd, and it's unlikely that I can get there before then.
This is another long, picture-laden post, so buckle up!
- Manus X Machina Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Isaac Mizrahi Exhibit at the Jewish Museum
- Whitney Museum of American Art
Photo credit: Mary Glenn
This exhibit motivated me to schedule the trip to NYC. I've been wanting to see some of the costume exhibits mounted annually at the Met, and when I saw The First Monday in May movie, I decided it was time. I just couldn't stand missing another of these fabulous exhibits!
Mary Glenn of Inspired Sewing joined Robin and I. Mary Glenn is one of Diane Ericson's "angel assistants" at Design Outside the Lines. She lives in Philadelphia and was willing to take the train to the city for the day. It was great to meet her in person!
Manus x Machina has been well documented in the media, on blogs, and in a companion book. The point of the exhibit is to examine how designers fuse handwork (Manus) with machines, be it sewing machines, pleating machines, 3D printers, or other forms of technology (Machina).
It's a brilliant concept and the garments ranged widely. The exhibit was somewhat overwhelming—it's spread over 2 floors of the museum. The main floor contains the garments that seem to be the most often blogged, and there were gorgeous and classic garments there, but I was more intrigued by the garments on the basement level, which were often less wearable and more avant garde, more conceptual.
I will mostly describe those garments, with a few exceptions.
This garment is the centerpiece of the entire exhibit. We start with a wedding dress, which is rather backwards in a fashion show!
The museum also showed a video of the dress in action, and I found the same video on Youtube:
Mary McFadden's pleated dresses were displayed near Issey Miyake's Pleats Please garments. I didn't include McFadden's pieces here, but here are some Miyake pieces:
And here are a few more classic pieces of couture, a bit more wearable than the more avant garde pieces.
There are more garments in the exhibit than I've shown here. If you want to see more, either travel to New York (the exhibit has been extended to September 5th, 2016), or you can buy the companion catalog.
Which are my favorite pieces? It would have to be Iris van Herpen's work. She has such an artistic vision and her work is so varied. I mean, how did she think up making a dress out of iron filings using magnets and glue?!?!?! I bow down before her genius!
At this point, we broke for lunch at the Met cafe, as a mental palate cleanser. Well, to be honest, I first did a little shopping in the Met store, using my 10% discount...
After the Met, my head was buzzing, and I was at risk of mental shutdown, but I was determined to see Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History at the Jewish Museum, not far from the Met on the Museum Mile. Robin begged out of this exhibit, but Mary Glenn and I soldiered on.
I'm so glad we did—I loved it! It's much smaller than Manus X Machina at the Met (thank goodness!), so it's much easier to digest. In addition to three rooms of his clothing, costumes, sketches, and fabric swatches, there's a short film about Isaac's career. I like Isaac Mizrahi and his designs, which often have a very whimsical quality, and this exhibit was delightful.
Here are some of the highlights of the exhibit, which ends on August 7th, in just two days.
"Mizrahi worked with the charity We Can, which employed homeless New Yorkers to gather and flatten Coke cans. These were then shipped to the luxury Parisian sequin maker Langlois-Martin, who cut the aluminum into paillettes. The paillettes were sent to India along with the dress patterns, where they were hand-embroidered onto silk before finally being returned to Mizrahi's New York workshop."
I'd wear this, too, with leggings!
It doesn't seem to be widely known, but Isaac Mizrahi loves to design costumes, particularly for ballet. I knew this because I sometimes have his QVC shows on in the background while sewing. He recently talked about designing costumes for the 2015 production of Mark Morris's Acis and Galatea. The exhibit featured his costumes in their own room and included a video showing some of them in action on stage.
That dress is pretty much to die for.
"Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Magic Flute Opera Theater of Saint Louis.
Directed and with costume design by Isaac Mizrahi."
Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Direction, costume and set design, and narration by Isaac Mizrahi
"Annually since 2007, Mizrahi has narrated Prokofiev's 1936 musical fable at the Guggenheim Museum. In 2013 he directed and designed a production, which he set in Central Park. The artist Maira Kalman was cast in the role of Duckie. Mizrahi imagined the character as an 'NPR-listening, PBS-watching school-teachery kind of duck,' and fashioned her costume with the lights and most symbolic of means. It consisted of a tutu, black-and-white striped tights, a canvas tote bag, swimmer's flippers, and a bill made of felt affixed to her eyeglasses."
Platée: "Hand-painted Lycra spandex and hand-painted stretch georgette, 1997"
Frog attendants: "Hand-painted Lycra spandex bodysuits, molded rubber heads, 1997."
Jean-Philippe Rameau, Platée, Royal Opera, Edinburgh Festival Theater
Directed and choreographed by Mark Morris, costume design by Isaac Mizrahi
"Rameau's 1745 satiric opera tells the story of Platée, an amphibian creature tricked by Jupiter into thinking she is to be his new wife. Mizrahi imagines her as a bumbling matron, like the eternally deluded dowager in Marx Brothers movies. 'I have this fantasy that she's the Margaret Dumont of eighteenth-century swamp creatures.'"
I love Isaac Mizrahi's sense of whimsy and his wild and fanciful imagination! If you want more, check out this companion book to the exhibition.
I probably would not have made it to the Whitney, if it weren't near the Google NYC office, where I worked for two days of my trip. The Whitney has been open at this location for a little over a year. The views from the museum are wonderful, overlooking the Hudson River on one side, and the trendy meatpacking district, and the High Line, on the other. When the museum opened at its new location in 2015, it was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning, so I knew a little about it.
I was advised to start on the 8th floor and work my way down. The Whitney has a lot of outdoor space, as well as indoor space. The first several floors can be accessed through outside staircases, providing wonderful views, worthwhile even on a hot day.
I'm going to start with probably my favorite exhibit in the museum! (Though I loved a lot of the exhibits!) This statue, many feet taller than I am, stands in an 8th floor gallery, facing a mirrored wall. His head was damaged and it was curious to see him face the mirror, as if studying his injuries. He also had a drippy looking material on his coat, landing on the floor. I was perplexed by this, and captivated, when I suddenly realized that it was wax, and he's a giant candle!!! The flame was lit and a bit hard to see, down in his brain stem.
He is watching himself melt!!!!
b. 1973; Zurich, Switzerland
Standing Julian, 2015
Wax, pigment, steel, and wicks
"Standing Julian is a portrait of Urs Fischer's friend and fellow artist Julian Schnabel. The massive sculpture is also a wax candle: lit every morning and extinguished each night, Standing Julian will slowly melt over the course of the exhibition. Although this candle will eventually burn down and be discarded—a process that evokes the inevitable transience of life—the sculpture can also be recast and lit anew. As Fischer explained, his waxworks allow 'materials and images take on their own life.' "
b. 1925, Bronx, NY
Double Portrait of Berdie, 1955
Oil, fabricated chalk, and charcoal on linen
"The woman depicted here is Larry Rivers's mother-in-law, Berdie Burger, who was the artist's primary model in the early 1950s, when she lived with Rivers and her daughter in Southampton, NY. Seen by critics as heralding Rivers's mature style, the painting registers a range of influences, from the detailed interiors of Impressionism to the expressive brushwork and ambitious scale of the New York School. By depicting the figure simultaneously in two poses—suggesting a time lapse—Rivers emphasizes the process of creation and the active role of both artist and model in creating a fictive scene."
Barkley L. Hendricks
b. 1945, Philadelphia, PA
Acrylic and oil on linen
Barkley L. Hendricks began making full-size portraits of his friends and neighbors in the late 1960s. Steve depicts a young man he met on the street. Sharply dressed and striking a pose at once commanding and detached, the figure emerges from a flat white ground. Steve is the first of several portraits in which Hendricks used what he has described as a "limited palette" to purposefully contrast with the complexity of an individual sitter's personality. Within the reflection of Steve's sunglasses the viewer can discern the glass windows of Hendricks's studio and the artist's face, making this work a double portrait."
They had a lot of space dedicated to Liz Craft, who creates fascinating multimedia projects, using paper mache, clothing, and knotted yarn. Unfortunately, I did not photograph all of the placards, so I don't have complete information on these pieces.
b. 1970; Los Angeles, CA
Spider Woman 1 (Stripes), 2014
Papier-maché, yarn, and mixed media
There were many more wonderful works of art at the Whitney, and I took many more photos, but this is a sampling. You can watch a video of this museum, released when it opened at its new location in 2015, on the CBS News Sunday Morning website. (One of my favorite TV shows ever!)
I have sooo much more to post about my trip to NYC, but this has taken me hours and hours, and it's time for work, so stay tuned for more later!
Have a great day!