America Is Hard to See

I was back in New York for a few days at the beginning of this month, and fortunately, my time in the city happened to coincide with the reopening of the Whitney Museum of American Art. I, somewhat ashamedly, had never been to the Whitney before, and made it a priority to withstand the long lines and ‘blistering heat’ to get inside.

DSC00417DSC00421

Right off the bat: I cannot recommend this exhibition enough! The building is a masterpiece, and it’s opening is a true moment in New York history. Given such a momentous occasion, the curators at the Whitney could not have done a better job at offering an all-encompassing view into the progression of 21st century American art, or better yet, visual history.

DSC00432

Organized chronologically with different floors representing different intervals of time, the gallery spaces are then subdivided thematically, offering viewers an extremely concise and logical understanding of the contexts surrounding each work’s creation. Covering themes like turn of the century industrialization, civil rights, mid-century commercialization, the Vietnam war and the AIDS epidemic, the exhibition truly does become a historical experience, with the energy of being there for the opening weekend truly playing into that.

DSC00467

My only criticism would be a slight lack of thematic sophistication, but given the fact that such a large time period is being covered, and again, that this is a focus on history, it quickly becomes clear that this was not intended to be a highly sophisticated exhibition. While the pieces may sometimes read as selections from an Art History textbook, that ends up becoming the beauty of the experience, and for that, it’s extremely successful.

DSC00444

All photos by me.

x Syd

Artchitecture

Architecture is such an interesting field to me. I definitely consider it an art form – albeit an extremely mathematical one – but it’s the practicality aspect that really intrigues me. It’s the art form that can’t be opted out of; we’re constantly and unavoidably bombarded by architecture, so I really admire people who take advantage of that to communicate some sort of aesthetic message.

One architect I really resonate with aesthetically is Luis Barragan. His use of completely reduced form and saturated colour have such a uniquely ethereal effect, like an grown-up playhouse of sorts. I tend to find super-minimal architecture very cold and uninviting, but the subtle Mexican influence maintains such a warmth that really differentiates Barragan’s style.

It’s hard not to respect the immensity that is Ricardo Bofill‘s work, but I definitely think that his best work was his own house and studio space. The converted cement factory is unique not only in its immaculate interior design and dystopian-brutalist leanings, but in it’s redefinition of the home. Bofill defies the traditional ‘rules’ of residential architecture by incorporating numerous independent spaces in a very disjointed way – a labyrinth, as he calls it. He also doesn’t shy away from grandiosity, but embraces it in the most understated way, with the incredibly high ceilings, abundance of landscaping, and high contrast between natural light and darkness.

Lastly – just wanted to give a quick shoutout to James Turell, who definitely leans more artist than architect, but is also using space in such a cool way. I’ve yet to catch any of his installations first hand, so I can only imagine the intensity associated with such an immersive, anti-naturalistic, highly abstract and aestheticized experience.

Enjoy

x Syd

The Heart is not a Metaphor

Way back when I was in New York over the holidays, I shockingly managed to drag myself to midtown and take a trip to MoMA for the first time in almost a year. I’ve seen the permanent collection about a million times, so I expected it to be a semi-redundant venture, but the specialized exhibitions ended up being absolutely spectacular. I expected the Matisse Cutouts to leave me totally spellbound – they did – but the big shocker was definitely the Robert Gober exhibit in the bottom floor contemporary gallery.

114551

From the ‘Mature Subject Matter’ sign outside the space doors to the virtually empty front room, I was immediately put on edge. The erie imagery and super redacted gallery space created such a surreal experience, not unlike a haunted house, albeit with more subtle, psychological scares.

114611

Visually, my favourite spaces were easily the series of wallpapered rooms. Being surrounded by such symbolically heavy imagery created such a beautifully encompassing effect, transforming the room itself into the work of art, and the viewer into an involved subject.

114476

Gober’s choice of including a small section of thematically similar works by different artists was one that I personally really enjoyed and respected, although it did seem slightly disjointed as I was experiencing it in person. The sudden shift from such strong and consistent imagery was slightly disconcerting, but in hindsight, the decision to elevate the act of curation to an art form in itself was one that I found very intriguing and in line with my own perspective of art.

114431

Ultimately I found the solo exhibition to be a huge success, especially seeing as Gober’s art lends itself incredibly well to being shown in a continual context. Robert Gober has never been an artist I’ve lent towards for inspiration, primarily because his I feel his pieces fail to truly inspire understanding when shown alone. As an immersive experience, however, they create a moving and thought-provoking representation of humanity.

Enjoy

x Syd

Images from MoMA.

Instant Language → MFW Highlights

Being the elitist asshole that I am, I’ve generally had a tendency to disregard all of the international fashion weeks as secondary to Paris Fashion Week. It’s pretty evident that the commercially overrun NYFW and neophytic (but still super interesting and innovative – not an insult) LFW don’t really stand a chance against the home of the classic couturier, but I never really had a characteristic to attach to Milan…

Shockingly, although it may solely be due to my lack of exposure/interest in past seasons, almost all of my favourite collections came from designers who showed at MFW.

Jil Sander

Such a stunning, wearable collection. The use of colour and beautifully conceptualized patterns definitely evoke a sense of ~fashion as art~, but the characteristically minimal silhouettes and insanely clean construction keep the looks incredibly refined. If I ever get commissioned to solve an art theft or jewel heist, this is the go-to look. My only criticism is that some of the looks show little innovation, but they’re still in such incredible taste, I can easily look past that.

Missoni

Maybe a surprising pick, but I had to give a lil shoutout to Missoni for their solid combination of innovation and quintessence. I’ve given Missoni soooo much grief over the years for leaning on that goddamn chevron print, and while I still feel that a lot of this collection was in bad taste, a few of the looks really blew me away. The unique and experimental colour and pattern combinations still heavily reference the classic Missoni aesthetic, but in a way that doesn’t read too literal. The cuts still read a bit geriatric, but you can’t win em all…

Prada

The one, the only… Aesthetically, everything about this collection took my breath away. From the immense set designed by legendary architecture and design firm OMA, to the range of sunglasses, gloves, brooches, and bags included with each look, no detail was overlooked. Once again, the combination of colour is something I personally find super inspiring, and the circular, geometric print repeated on coats, skirts, and bags is so perfectly juxtaposed with the vintage silhouettes. Other than the beautiful coats and accessories, this isn’t a collection I’d really wear, but definitely epitomizes my idea of ~fashion as art~, and I’d love to have one of the bejewelled neoprene dresses framed and hung on my wall.

What a bittersweet end to fashion month! This is essentially the first time I’ve made the attempt to keep up to date on shows, and while it’s essentially been a hobby in itself, I’ll definitely miss not having a crazy-stocked instagram feed.

Enjoy

x Syd

Venus in Furs

By some act of God, my “Spring Break” happened to coincide with New York Fashion Week, and by some larger act of God, I was given the opportunity to attend a couple of shows. I had my lil MBFW experiences with Vivienne Tam and Zang Toi at the Lincoln Centre tents, and while it was definitely cool to see how everything went down, they were obsolete in comparison to my third show: the one & only, Calvin Klein.

My wonderful father connected me with CFDA instagrammer of the year, A Guy Named Patrick, and although he had no incentive to do so, Patrick was incredible enough to sneak me into the show as his assistant.

Although I was only in the space for about an hour, it was easily the most emotional and exciting thing I’ve ever experienced. Grace Coddington waltzed in amongst the early crowd and I swear to god I’ve never felt my knees feel so weak.

The collection was absolutely stunning, but perhaps even more exciting was the fact that I was in the presence of so many of my fashion idols, experiencing the same event as them (albeit a few rows back…). In addition to the Cods, I saw Anna Wintour, Bill Cunningham, Caroline de Maigret, Leandra Medine, Harley V Newton, Giovanna Battaglia, Hanneli Mustaparta, and of course, my all-time favourite couple, Veronika Heilbrunner & Justin O’Shea. Unfortunately, I was too breathless to mingle (or say anything to anyone, really…), but I did manage to get out an embarassing “I love your book!” to Mme de Maigret. She was completely lovely, of course.

My fourth-row spot, in conjunction with the shitty zoom on my last-generation iPhone, yielded only mediocre photos, but you can check out the collection here. I’ve also been scouring instagram to see if I snuck into anyone’s pics, and I did find myself in one of Justin O’Shea’s! Check out the blonde in the clear glasses and grey coat to the right of the model 😉 heh.

photo (5)

Enjoy!

x Syd

The Art of the Advertisement

I’ve always had kind of a tricky relationship with advertising. My father’s in marketing, so I understand and appreciate the work that goes into branding and selling a product, but the idea of trying to trick some poor idiot into buying something they don’t need so somebody else can get rich? Not down.

That being said, I’m a huge proponent of imaging. If you believe whole-heartedly in a brand/product/concept, and can create an advertisement that best represents its aesthetic message, then hell yeah, share the shit out of it!! It comes down to intention: are you trying to make money by following culture, or are you going to define your own culture, and if you do it well enough, have people follow you?

Luckily, pretty much any brand you’re gonna wanna buy into has accomplished this already. Here are a few ads I’ve come across recently that do a really good job at blurring the line between art and commerce…