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3form, Varia, 2006 (detail)

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Contemporary Design
May 17-30, 2006

New York overflows with beautiful objects as Design Week descends on the city, triggering more furniture fairs, gallery shows, and store launches than any one person can catch. Besides the main attraction — the International Contemporary Furniture Fair — exhibitions of mobile living units, environmentally friendly designs, and homegrown Brooklyn treats all compete for attention. We give you a rundown of the coming attractions, and zero in on "it boy" Tobias Wong, known for his bulletproof rose corsage and rubber-dipped chandelier. We also interview Cecilia Dean, co-founder and editor of the impeccably designed quarterly Visionaire, and spotlight Phaidon's compilation of the best of industrial design. In Reviews, we return to the fine arts, surveying the latest shows from Laura Owens, Ashley Bickerton, and Tacita Dean.

  Diane von Furstenberg's May delivery is full of '70s beach-glam treasures. Tropical greens, corals, and blues are printed on gauzy, lightweight fabrics like crinkle chiffon, cotton gauze, and cotton batiste — perfect for the island climate. Pair a silk chiffon blouse with boy shorts for a sporty look. Sleeveless eyelet babydoll dresses and lace blouses add a touch of feminine sophistication. Countless summer combos are just a click away.

Picasso Bidder Intrigues Art World
(Times, May 7)
A mystery man had the art-world intelligentsia scratching their heads after spending $102.7 million at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art sale on May 3. The bidder, who may have been working on behalf of a client, has not been identified — the auction house has refused comment — though some have speculated that he may be a Russian billionaire. The bidder paid $95.2 million for a 1941 Picasso portrait, Dora Maar with Cat. The amount was the second-highest price ever paid for an auctioned artwork; however, the question remains whether Sotheby's has actually received payment for the painting.

Pinault Opens His Palazzo
(International Herald Tribune, May 2)
Luxury goods billionaire François Pinault — owner of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christie's — opened the doors of his Tadao Ando-renovated, 18th-century Palazzo Grassi to the public. The building houses a portion of Pinault's world-class contemporary art collection. About 200 of the approximately 2,000 works are currently on display, including pieces by Donald Judd, Mark Rothko, and Gerhard Richter. The palazzo was the businessman's fallback location, after plans to construct a $195 million museum on an island in the Seine near Paris fell through last year.

Rogers Designs Ground Zero Tower
(Independent, May 4)
British architect Richard Rogers has been chosen to design a tower that will stand at the former World Trade Center site. The building, Tower 3, will be located at 175 Greenwich Street and will house two million square feet of office space. The project constitutes Rogers' fourth New York work, in addition to the new Javits Center, a waterfront development plan in lower Manhattan, and his Silvercup Studios expansion in Queens. Rogers is the latest prominent architect to work on the site, joining the company of, among others, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Daniel Libeskind, and Fumihiko Maki.

Chicago Fair Bought by Wholesaler
(Art Newspaper, May 8)
Once America's premier contemporary art fair, Art Chicago has been purchased by Merchandise Mart, a wholesale showroom for apparel and furniture. Following a labor dispute and financial problems, event organizer Thomas Blackman Associates made the sale in late April, just days before the festival was supposed to open. While only three exhibitors pulled out of the event, sales were reported to be slow; buyers were thought to have stayed away due to the uncertainty surrounding the fair.

Matt Stokes wins Beck's Futures prize more »

Louis Vuitton opens gallery to circumvent trade laws more »

Warhol Soup Can highlights Christie's $143 million night more »

Austrian artist serves up conceptual dinner parties more »

Dia's chairman steps down more »

Canadian architects prep giant sweater for Venice Biennale more »

Bloomberg's anti-graffiti legislation stumbles on First Amendment grounds more »

Art from apartheid era returns to South Africa more »

Sotheby's has best contemporary art sale in its history more »

Convictions and acquittals handed down in Munch theft more »

Cartoonist Chris Ware receives first solo museum show more »

Phillips' auction sets record prices for young artists more »

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ International Contemporary Furniture Fair ]


Jean-Marie Massaud / Teresa Moorhouse / Philippe Starck / Karim Rashid

For those who lust after molded plywood and die-cast aluminum, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is a 145,000-square-foot paradise. The centerpiece for New York Design Week, the fair is a platform for 600 exhibitors from 31 countries to launch their latest creations. Previewing new directions in design, this year's offerings reveal the continuing popularity of high-tech materials and mid-century-inspired minimalism, alongside a postmodern taste for puns and playful flourishes.

The classic designs of Charles and Ray Eames and Jean Prouvé — on display through Herman Miller and Vitra — offer reference points for the new sleek products from Derin, Blu Dot, and Arper Spa. But minimalism does not reign supreme here: embellishments of curvaceous forms, bright colors, and elaborate patterns are creeping in. Of the more whimsical designs, Philippe Starck's goth-baroque chandelier for Baccarat and Tobias Wong's rubber-dipped chandelier for Citizen:Citizen stand out as works that combine kitsch and high design. Studiomold, Soop Design, and Lite Brite Neon also toy with convention by injecting humor into everyday objects. The textile creations of Jocelyn Warner, loophouse, and Erica Wakerly extend intricate decoration to walls, floors, and even bodies.

Four special exhibitions complement the display booths, including the new ICFF Studio program, for which designers with prototypes competed to be matched with manufacturers; Material ConneXion, which uses materials from the Philippines; and ICFF Design Schools, which features work from six leading international design schools. The web presence is significant again this year, with the webzine designboom hosting its second "mart" of curated, affordable products. Editors of the design magazine Metropolis will hold a conference on the design field, and other panels explore green design, the Asian market, and Spanish innovation.

While ICFF commands Hell's Kitchen, the Mobile Living exhibition and conference camps out in Tribeca, showcasing the modular housing and portable technology of the 21st century. Brooklyn is also abuzz with its own set of fairs, launches, and exhibitions, including blockparty, which showcases work from 66 Brooklyn-based designers and artists in tandem with ICFF. In Williamsburg, the HauteGREEN show boasts environmentally friendly home products, organized in part by a founder of Treehugger, and the Altoids Living Spaces show spotlights young designers. In addition to these events, a dozen galleries and design stores open their doors. So toss out those broken chairs and get ready to sweet-talk a taxi driver into transporting your oh-so-innovative new recycled-paper coffee table. (BR)

ICFF takes place at the Jacob Javits Center May 20-23, Mobile Living, blockparty, and Altoids Living Spaces are open May 20-23, and HauteGREEN runs May 20-22.

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Tacita Dean: Human Treasure
Kitakyushu, Japan

CCA Kitakyushu
Now through June 2

  For her new 16mm film, Human Treasure, British multimedia artist Tacita Dean continues her interest in issues of time, memory, and identity in an exploration of a specifically Japanese subject. A "human treasure" is a person elevated by the government to revered status for talent in a traditional craft. Maintaining the camera at a distance, Dean films human treasure Sensaku Shigeyama, an octogenarian performer of Japan's traditional comedy, Kyogen, in everyday life — having breakfast and entertaining his family — thus providing a counterpoint to his public, mythical status. Simple, minimalist, and polished, Human Treasure is a foreign artist's tender response to another culture. (AP)

Jill Greenberg: End Times
Los Angeles

Paul Kopeikin Gallery
Now through July 8

  Jill Greenberg culls visual cues from commercial photography and hieratic propaganda for her photographic portraits of toddlers in various states of distress. Using titles such as Grand Old Party, Four More Years, and Misinformation, Greenberg bluntly expresses her anger with the current geopolitical situation. The Truth depicts a child's face as an exaggerated mask of misery. Its large scale, theatrical lighting, and classically stylized composition lend the image a monumental gravitas befitting the portrait of a boy-king. Faith? depicts another child with her hand on her heart and yearning, tear-swollen eyes, though it remains unclear whether the titular faith eludes or comforts her. Overall, End Times succeeds at turning propagandistic strategies against themselves, creating incisive political commentary. (SND)

Ashley Bickerton
New York

Lehmann Maupin
Now through May 27

  Two New York galleries combine for a jam-packed tour of Ashley Bickerton's oeuvre. At Lehmann Maupin, a group of monotype prints done recently at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute pop with saturated color and technical virtuosity. Green Reflected Heads No. 1 takes on multidimensional qualities, featuring signature bogeyman heads emerging from a thick printed-paper background. They are held in place, like insect specimens, by metal pins. In paintings on wood panel, Bickerton reinvents Indonesian ghost stories through contemporary backpacking culture, imagining zombie ex-pats cavorting with vampire beach babes. At Sonnabend, mixed-media constructions from the late '80s look like detritus from deep-sea expeditions, while a transparent silicone shark hangs impressively amid a cascade of coconuts. (AM)

Laura Owens

Sadie Coles HQ
Now through May 27

  Laura Owens strikes a cheeky tone for her latest London show. The centerpiece in the exhibition is a massive oil and acrylic reworking of the infamous Norman invasion of Britain depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Owens' version, on linen, amps up the color and chaos of the original, portraying bright orange horses and soldiers in purple chain mail in a purposely naive, childlike style. Other medieval motifs appearing in smaller paintings include classical symbols such as deer and goats, though the artist's wide-ranging interpretation also draws from Hindu relief, art nouveau naturalism, and modernist swaths of color. Ultimately, Owens veers between chaos and coherence, fluid abandon and tighter decorative elements, finding visual riches in her own unique adventure. (FG)


Arndt & Partner
Now through June 3

  Artist couple Muntean/Rosenblum's impressive show includes new works in their signature style, with portraits of teenagers embodying social stereotypes from mass media — all languid poses and bored expressions. Accompanying subtitles hint at deeper consciousness: a nude evokes Boticelli's Venus as she touches her golden locks, paired with the line, "Life is simply an external picture that includes me and that I look at." In a large ensemble painting, one teenager swings wildly from a branch while another sits pretty in a sexy dress. The versatile artists also present drawings on cardboard, as well as Disco, a video in which youths stage an updated tableau vivant of Géricault's Raft of the Medusa. (MS)

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[ Tobias Wong ]

Ju$t Another Rich Kid and Tobias Wong

Tobias Wong is one of design's merry pranksters with a social conscience. His work stirs up ideas about consumer culture and desire, exposing both the glamorous allure of conspicuous consumption as well as its superfluous decadence. His collaboration with fellow designer Ken Courtney, of Ju$t Another Rich Kid fame, combines well-recognized signifiers of consumption with qualities associated with wealth, luxury, and excess. The duo took McDonald's classic coffee stirrer of the '70s — more notoriously used as drug paraphernalia — and cast it in gold, making its second calling more obvious and confrontational. Other products include a Murdered Skull Pendant with diamond teeth, and capsules of gold flakes that when ingested turn shit into gold.

Born in Vancouver and schooled at the Cooper Union in New York City, Wong blurs the line between art and design. His projects are intelligent and conceptual, while remaining aesthetically beautiful. Working within the paradigm of Marcel Duchamp's readymades, Wong takes an identifiable object, such as Philippe Starck's Bubble Club chair, and empties it of its original purpose by turning it into a translucent lamp. This appropriation and clouding of clear authorship and ownership has made him an enfant terrible of design. His Diamond Ring challenges the notion that a diamond is a trophy of consumption to be shown off: Wong inlays the stone on the inside of the band, suggesting that nobody but the wearer (and the giver) should care about its value. Wong's designs are desirable, but they come with a smirking price. (JC)

Tobias Wong's designs will be on display at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in the Citizen:Citizen booth.

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[ Cecilia Dean ]


Tim Noble & Sue Webster / Spike Jonze / Solve Sundsbo / Lisa Yuskavage

Paul Laster talks to Cecilia Dean, co-founder and editor of Visionaire, about recent issues of the elegant, limited-edition publication.
AK: Visionaire 47 Taste presented a collaboration between the innovative flavorists of International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. (IFF) and a stellar mix of contemporary artists and photographers, including Thomas Demand, Karen Kilimnik, Vik Muniz, Richard Phillips, and Bruce Weber, master chefs Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal, and surfer Laird Hamilton. What was the point of departure for Taste, and how did you integrate the art and flavors into the design of the publication?

CD: Point of departure: we wanted to hit all five senses. We do sight naturally with each issue. We did an issue about touch (Visionaire 33 Touch) with illustrator François Berthoud, where all of the images were textured. We did Visionaire 42 Scent with IFF, the predecessor of Taste. It contained a book of 21 images corresponding to 21 glass vials of smell. Taste was the next logical sense to attack, and we had the great fortune of working again with IFF, but this time with their flavor division. You can safely assume that a sound issue is in development, as it is the last remaining sense we've yet to tackle. Unless, of course, you count the sixth sense — that would be an interesting point of departure!

AK: The flavors in Taste are truly amazing. Yoko Ono's Mommy — represented by the image of a breast — produces the taste of condensed milk. David Sims' Feast re-creates the flavor of eggs and chips from a greasy grill. And Nobuyoshi Araki's Exotic mixes the spicy hints of mango, orange blossom, and pepper. What do you hope readers will experience with this publication, and what are some of the stories people have shared about it?

CD: People do not think of taste outside of food and drink. It is a sense we totally take for granted. We want to "introduce" people to the idea of taste minus food (the smell, sight, and texture) . . . to taste things one would not normally think of tasting, and to taste things that are real but are experienced on a taste strip. Having met hundreds of people at our presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach, I got to see firsthand the amazement on people's faces as they tried Gary Hume's Life (the taste of fertile soil) and Jenny Holzer's Adrenaline (the taste of jet fuel and metal). Even the IFF flavorists said it was the most exciting creative project to work on.

AK: The Taste issue complements the Scent issue. The scent names are clever and well matched to the artists: Success by David Bowie, Space by Zaha Hadid, Fear by Stephen King, Drunk by Gus Van Zant, and Wet by Terry Richardson. How would you describe these fragrances, and how challenging was it to make this issue?

keep reading the interview »

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  Phaidon Design Classics
Editors of Phaidon Press
Phaidon Press

The mother of all industrial-design books, this three-volume set is an addictive read from the very first object, a simple pair of scissors from 1663 that are still manufactured in China, to the last, an innovative collection of bathroom accessories designed by Barber Osgerby in 2004. Presenting 999 classic design objects on 3,300 pages, the compilation is organized in a clear, concise, and stylish manner that stimulates both the mind and the eye. Practical products, including the safety pin and paper clip, and quirky ones such as the yo-yo and disco ball share space with home furnishings by modernist masters Josef Hoffmann, Eileen Gray, and Alvar Aalto and contemporary stars Marc Newson, Jasper Morrison, and Philippe Starck. From cars and planes to pots and pans, the best designs of the past and present are dynamically compiled to inform and inspire. (PL)

The Conran Shop in New York will host a Phaidon Design Classics exhibition and launch party during ICFF on May 19.

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Cover Art
Varia, 2006
Courtesy ICFF, New York
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Bryony Roberts
Andrew Maerkle
Greg Zinman
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Marlyne Sahakian
Sarah Kessler
Laura Moser

Naomi Beckwith
Justin Conner
Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Annette Ferrara
Francesca Gavin
Cole Godvin
Leigh Goldstein
Katherine Gunderson
Jessica Kraft
Catherine Krudy
Katie Kurtz
Melissa Lo
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Audrey M. Mast
Antonio Pasolini
Shiraz Randeria
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Claire Trancons
Hannah Vaughan
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney
Jules Gaffney

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

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