Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty and much more in my weekly Datebook.
Veruschka, in a dress by Kimberly, as photographed by Richard Avedon in 1967. Part of the exhibit Avedon Fashion 1944-2000 at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which opens today. (Image courtesy of the Boston MFA and the Richard Avedon Foundation.)
Congrats to Marshall for winning the C-Mon Giveaway Extravaganza, Girls, Girls, Girls edition. These leggy ladies are all yours.
- Newport Beach, Calif.: Ed Templeton, in conversation with Greg Escalante and CR Stecyk III, at the Orange County Museum of Art, this Thursday, at 6pm. Free with museum admission.
- L.A.: Summer Drawing Show, with Geoff McFetridge, Meryl Smith, Ben Jones and many others, at Family’s Back Room Gallery, through Sept. 7.
- L.A.: John Divola at Laxart, through Aug. 21.
- L.A.: Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze at Family, on Fairfax, in celebration of the new McSweeney’s books, this Saturday, at 8:30pm.
- S.F.: From the Street to the Cube, with Above, Eine, Shepard Fairey, C215 and many others, at 941 Geary, through Aug. 28.
- Seattle: Orange Crush, PUNCH artists explore the most awesome color in the world, at the PUNCH Gallery, through Aug. 28. Criticisms of cutesy curatorial stunts be damned, I love orange. (Another Bouncing Ball.)
- Miami: ArtLab @ The Lowe: The Changing Face of Art and Politics, at the Lowe Museum of Art, through April 4
- Princeton, N.J.: Starburst, at the Princeton Museum, through Sept. 26.
- London: Joseph Cornell and Karen Kilimnik at Sprueth Magers, through Aug. 27.
- London: Gabriel Specter at the Pure Evil Gallery, through Aug. 24.
- Antwerp: American Documents, at the Fotomuseum, through Sept. 5. (This looks amazing.)
- Berlin: Unbuilt Berlin, at the Café Moskau, through Aug. 15.
Oh Those Sleeves! A 1969 evening dress by Madame Alix Grès, made from taupe silk paper taffeta. (Photos by C-M.)
I’m not someone who is known for her fashion sense (my entire closet is one long, jazz-like riff on jeans and sneakers). But that doesn’t mean I can’t drool over a beautifully-constructed frock when I see one. And the American High Style exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, dedicated to chronicling the museum’s costume holdings, offered plenty to salivate over: Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga, to name but a few. Of particular interest is the extensive collection of pieces by master cutter Charles James (1906-1978), whose Diamond Evening Dress (shown after the jump), made for heiress/philanthropist Dominique De Menil, is truly a wonder to behold.
Overall, this show is a winner — beautifully and cleanly presented (unlike its sister show at the Met, which is supposed to be a hot mess). The only bummer is that the curators decided to pipe in a lite music soundtrack of operatic ahhhhhs that seem to have been taken from a Disney musical (from the part of the film where the princess wakes up). It not only made me grit my teeth, it made me want to commit random acts of violence on small animals. My advice: if you truly want to enjoy this exhibit: pack an iPod.
The show is up at the Brooklyn Museum through Aug. 1.
Butterfly Dress, 1955, by Charles James. Part of the exhibit American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection at the Brooklyn Museum, opens tomorrow. (Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.)
- Seattle: Erin Morrison, Patterns of Impermanence: An Exhibition of Landscape Works, at Monarch Contemporary, opens today at 6pm.
- Seattle: Blake Haygood’s open studio, at the Publix Hotel, all day today until about 8:30pm.
- Chicago: The Seductiveness of the Interval, at the Renaissance Society, through June 27.
- Washington, D.C.: One Hour Photo, a group show, at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, opens Saturday.
- Washington, D.C.: Beat Memories, the Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, at the National Gallery, through Sept. 6.
- NYC: Edward Kienholz, Roxys, at David Zwirner Gallery, opens today.
- NYC: The Affordable Art Fair, opens today.
- NYC: JMR, Of Clouds and Something, at Mighty Tanaka in Brooklyn, opens today. (Part of DUMBO Gallery Walk.)
- NYC: American ReConstruction: An exhibition of new photography, at Edward Winkleman Gallery, opens Friday at 6pm.
- NYC: Single Fare, art of the MetroCard, at 224 Grand Street in Williamsburg, open Saturday at 6pm.
- NYC: Roxy Paine, China Blue, David Opdyke and many others, Nature of the Beast, at HP Garcia Gallery, through May 29.
- NYC: David Barnett, Sacred Creatures, at Denise Bibro, opens today at 6pm.
- Newburyport, Mass.: Craig Colorusso, Sun Boxes, at Important Records, this Saturday, from noon to sunset.
- S.F.: Matthew Paladino, Wonder Box, at Baer Ridgeway, opens Saturday at 4pm.
- S.F.: Alex Lukas and Matt Leines at Guerrero Gallery, opens Saturday at 7pm.
- L.A.: Lisi Raskin, Mt. Disappointment, at The Company, opens Saturday at 7pm.
- L.A.: Keith Haring, Urban Legend, at Carmichael Gallery, opens Saturday at 7pm.
- L.A.: Marc Johns and Steven Weissman, Butter and Blood, at Giant Robot, opens Saturday at 6:30 pm.
- Milan: TVBoy, Mash Up, at Art Kitchen, through May. (Thank you, *fab*.)
Cunningham gets his shot. (Image courtesy of New Directors/New Films.)
BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK
Directed by Richard Presse
Screening Wed., March 24 and Thurs., March 25.
In recent years, American documentaries seem to have become distilled versions of the Maysles Brothers’ infamous 1975 expose, Grey Gardens. Every film student with a camera has, at one point or another, obsessed over someone living on the fringes of society. While some directors excel at these creations (Werner Herzog), what we’re often left with is a lot of middling fare that would be better suited to a fluff segment on a prime-time news program. (Wordplay, we’re talking to you.) In this regard, Richard Presse’s Bill Cunningham New York isn’t exactly mining new cinematic territory. But it does provide a wonderful glimpse into the life of one of New York City’s most beloved icons: New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, a figure who has long lived on the fringes of high society.
For fans of the Grey Lady, Cunningham’s name is synonymous with style. In his weekly columns, On the Street and Evening Hours, he chronicles the latest street fashion and the doings of the champagne-and-caviar elite as they flit from ball to charitable ball. (His columns are benchmarks — to be caught on film by Cunningham is akin to winning the fashion lottery.) Cunningham is also renowned for maintaining his privacy. He may cover bold-face names, but he himself is rarely one. But the filmmakers nonetheless managed to record his daily whereabouts for a period of more than two years, from which they have composed a meticulously edited, briskly paced bio that benefits greatly from its subject’s ebullient charm.
The film is centered primarily on Cunningham’s day-to-day life. There is the Spartan studio apartment, furnished with rows of filing cabinets and a prison cot-style bed. There are the daily peregrinations around Gotham on his trusty bicycle, outfitted in a blue workman’s jacket, and juggling a camera with a dexterity that belies his octogenarian status. And we see plenty of layout sessions at the New York Times. There is also lots of effusive praise from the lions of the fashion industry. (The frosty high priestess herself comes on to exclaim: “We all dress for Bill.”) One of the more memorable moments shows Cunningham at home with his neighbors. He and a fellow photographer — the Norma Desmond-lite Editta Sherman — reminisce about the early years, when Cunningham was a young hat designer and Sherman would entertain her salon of chums with impromptu ballet recitals. The tenderness expressed between these two outsiders is utterly captivating. It is in one of these unguarded moments when Cunningham best sums up his passion for fashion: “Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe…I had no interest because they weren’t stylish!”
And this is what ultimately makes the film special. For Cunningham is not your standard paparazzo. He is not concerned with the identity of his subjects or the larger celebrity culture — he simply wants to capture the beauty of clothes. (This clarity of purpose is reinforced during a jaunt to Paris, where he turns his back on the legendary Catherine Deneuve, unimpressed with her ensemble. Quelle nerve!) At one point in the film, the photographer appears to dodge the filmmaker’s query about his lack of companionship. But the question appears somewhat irrelevant. Cunningham is a modern-day ascetic — and fashion is his religion. His humble apartment, spendthrift wardrobe and disdain for the spotlight have practically defined his existence. Towards the end of the film, we see him in Paris, being honored with the title chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. His French is fractured, but his joy shines through as he chokes back the tears while exclaiming: “He who seeks beauty will find it!”
2 Evacuation Dresses (2006), by Yael Mer. (Image courtesy of the Katonah Museum of Art.)
- In Katonah, NY: Dress Codes: Clothing at Metaphor at the Katonah Museum of Art, through Oct. 4.
- In NYC: PRDream’s Summer Film Fest at the 103rd Street Community Garden, begins tonight at sunset, with a screening of the 1974 crime drama, La Venganza de Correa Cotto.
- In NYC: The Female Gaze: Women Look at Women at Cheim & Read, including Diane Arbus, Louise Bourgeois, Vanessa Beecroft and many others, through Sept. 19.
- In NYC: John Currin: Works on Paper — A Fifteen Year Survey of Women, at Andrea Rosen, through Aug. 21.
- In Washington, D.C.: William Eggleston, Democratic Camera, at the Corcoran Gallery, through Sept. 20. (There’s a wonderful audio slideshow at this link.)
- In Minneapolis: The Night Sky in the Age of Vermeer: The Astronomer in Context at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, through Jan. 10. (The Art Newspaper.)
- In Seattle: Holly Farrell at Garde Rail, through Aug. 29.
- In London: David Byrne: Playing the Building at Roundhouse, through Aug. 31.
- In Edinburgh: Eva Hesse: Studiowork at Fruitmarket Gallery, through Oct. 25.
Celso and C-Monster arrive at the opening of the Stephen Sprouse show at Deitch. (Photos by C-M.)
For anyone wanting to short circuit their eyesight on the visual wonders of ’80s excess, look no further than Stephen Sprouse: Rock on Mars at Deitch — a throwback to the days when everyone was having a good old time amid the crack vials and the dog poo in SoHo. This fashion retrospective, by the designer known for channeling Day-Glo and punk to a high-end crowd, is relentless. Crayola colors are stirred in with velvety textures, vaguely reminding me of the outfits donned by Locomía, a high-camp fan-dancing Spanish pop group from the early ’90s. (Yes, fan-dancing!)
The best part of the show, however, has nothing to do with the fashion. It’s an upstairs wall that has been covered, top to bottom, in the designer’s personal Polaroids. Expect to see the likes of Debbie Harry, Francesco Clemente and the rest of the ’80s Interview Magazine set mugging for the camera.
The show is up until Feb. 28.
Click on images to supersize. Polaroids after the jump.
To psychologically prepare for my upcoming fellowship at USC, I attended this past weekend’s university tailgate festivities prior to watching the Trojans give the Oregon State Ducks a one-handed ass-whooping. There were countless parties all over campus (and in the campus parking lots), but I spent this particular tailgate drinking Bud in the company of a couple hundred future moguls at the business school’s well-stocked gathering. In addition to the copious supply of domestic beer, the party was a visual feast of maroon and gold in every polyester iteration you could imagine — and then some.
Herewith, a look at tailgate fashion…
Click on images to supersize. More after the jump.