Category: Anniversary

Anniversary Alert: Jack Larsen at 90

We’ve been celebrating our 30th Anniversary by posting blogs commemorating other milestones in the art world (Frank Lloyd Wright after 150 years; 30 Years of Contemporary Japanese Basketmaking; 10 Years of Feminist Art in Brooklyn), next up we have Jack Larsen at 90. An international textile designer, author and collector, Larsen has long played an influential role in textile arts and has been an important mentor and supporter of browngrotta arts.

Jack Lenor Larsen by Shonna Valeska

Born and raised in Seattle, Larsen spent much of his childhood surrounded by nature of the Pacific North-West. In 1945, Larsen began studying at the School of Architecture at the  University of Washington, where he developed an interest in weaving. Larsen then focused his full attention on weaving, enveloping himself in the Los Angeles art and design scene. Larsen’s desire to work in textiles grew and he enrolled himself in the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In order to break into the design scene, Larsen and fellow Cranbrook students traveled to New York hoping to make some connections. “It was sort of a game—how many people would interview me,” he has written about this trip,”—but the only job I would have taken at the time, happily, was with Knoll. But “Shu” [Florence] Knoll said I was too much of an individual to fit into their mold, which was partly true. My colors were very different; my colors were earthy.” Instead of working for another company, Larsen started his own in 1951. “By the late 1950s, architects were buying my fabric for Knoll furniture in order to get something that wasn’t red, yellow, or electric blue.”

Jack Lenor Larsen at 90: Transformations by a Textile Innovator at The Goldstein Museum of Design. Photo: Taylor Barker

Jack Lenor Larsen at 90: Transformations by a Textile Innovator at The Goldstein Museum of Design. Photo: Taylor Barker

For over 60 years Larsen and his company Jack Lenor Larsen Inc. have designed fabrics for public buildings, corporate offices, Pan American and Braniff Airlines, the Phoenix Performing Arts Center, and Air Force One and collaborate with Frank Lloyd Wright, just to name a few. The “Larsen Look” characterized by Larsen’s award-winning hand-woven fabrics of natural yarn is synonymous with 20th-century design at its pinnacle. Larsen has spent much of his life traveling the world to unearth new patterns and techniques. His travels and passion for global design made him familiar with ikat and batik, two techniques which he introduced them to the American public. Larsen has won many awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Crafts Museum in 200and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Medal in 2009. Furthermore, Larsen is one of only four Americans to ever be honored with an exhibition in the Palais du Louvre in Paris.

You can see highlights of his remarkable career in Minneapolis through January 7th. The Goldstein Museum of Design opened Jack Lenor Larsen at 90: Transformations by a Textile Innovator,  an exhibition celebrating Larsen’s 90th Birthday through his many innovations. The 70 textiles in the exhibition exemplify Larsen’s mastery of craft techniques, technological innovation and inspiration drawn from global design. The exhibition also includes correspondence, drawing and production samples to give viewers a better understanding of Larsen’s creative processes. Jack Lenor Larsen at 90 can be viewed in Gallery 241 at The Goldstein Museum of Design for free. For more information about the exhibition click HERE.

Damask Waterfall, Ed Rossbach, cotton welting cord, commercial fabric, plastic, satin damask, wrapped, 36" x 36", 1977

Play It By Trust, Yoko Ono, 1999

In 1992, Larsen completed his East Hampton, NY estate “Longhouse Reserve.” Spanning 16 acres, the estate boasts an expansive sculpture garden with work by Yoko Ono, William de Kooning and Sol LeWitt, among others. While Larsen’s home on Longhouse Reserve remains private, his sculpture garden is open to the public throughout the summer months. “I built the LongHouse gardens to share. I think seeing in three dimensions is so contagious,” explains Larsen. This past summer, Larsen used his 90th birthday to acquire works for the Longhouse collection. The benefit attracted artists, architects, designers and politicians. Guests were treated to performances by multi-instrumentalist Gian Carlo Feleppa on sitar, Mohsen Namjoo, an Iranian singer and sitar player and the synchronized swimmers The Brooklyn Peaches.  

Damask Waterfall, Ed Rossbach, cotton welting cord, commercial fabric, plastic, satin damask, wrapped, 36" x 36", 1977

Damask Waterfall, Ed Rossbach, cotton welting cord, commercial fabric, plastic, satin damask, wrapped, 36″ x 36″, 1977

In addition to his design success, Larsen has authored an array of landmark publications including Elements of Weaving (1967), The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi (1971), Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric (1972), Fabric for Interiors (1975), The Art Fabric: Mainstream (1981), Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric (1986), Material Wealth: Living with Luxurious Fabrics (1989), The Tactile Vessel: New Basket Forms (1989), A Weaver’s Memoir (1998), Jack Lenor Larsen: Creator & Collector (2004) exhibition catalog and Learning from Longhouse (2010). 

Larsen has been a generous friend to browngrotta arts, selecting browngrotta as the Best Booth at SOFA, NY one year and Sue Lawty as Best Artist. Browngrotta arts also worked with Longhouse Reserve in collaboration with an Ed Rossbach Special Exhibition at SOFA Chicago years ago.Larsen wrote the introduction to our monograph: Ethel Stein: Weaver and contributed to 25 for the 25th.

 


Anniversary Alert: 10 Years of Feminist Art…

Anniversary Alert: 10 Years of Feminist Art in Brooklyn;
More Chances to Celebrate at MOMA, LongHouse Reserve and elsewhere

Faith Ringgold, Early Works #25: Self-Portrait, Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm), 1965. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Elizabeth A. Sackler, 2013.96. © artist or artist’s estate.
Photo: Jim Frank

Lots of opportunities to see work by women artists and consider their role in the canon. The centerpiece are the exhibitions and events that make up A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum which celebrates the10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. A Year of Yes recognizes feminism as a force for progressive change and takes the contributions of feminist art as its starting point. It reimagines next steps, expanding feminism from the struggle for gender parity to embrace broader social-justice issues of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity. Among the exhibitions on view is We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, through September 17th, which presents a large and diverse group of artists and activists who lived and worked at the intersections of avant-garde art worlds, radical political movements, and profound social change, the exhibition features a wide array of work, including conceptual, performance, film, and video art, as well as photography, painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Faith Ringgold, known for her quilts among other works, protested in the early 70s the Whitney Biennial’s prepondence of male artists. Ringgold also visited incarcerated women at Riker’s Island, and created a large painting there using their narratives, which is part of We Wanted a Revolution. Others artist included Alva Rogers, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Coreen Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems. Know before you go, with this primer from Artspace, 6 Black Radical Female Artists to Know Before You See We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85.” If you are tied up for the next month, you have a second chance to see the exhibition at the ICA in Boston when it opens there next June 26th.
Also upcoming at the Brooklyn Museum is Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making which opens October 20, 2017 and runs through March 2018. Since the 1970s, Judy Chicago has been a pioneer in the development of feminism as an artistic movement and an educational project that endeavors to restore women’s place in history. Her most influential and widely known work is the sweeping installation The Dinner Party (1974–79), on which Judy Mulford worked, celebrating women’s achievements in Western culture in the form of a meticulously executed banquet table set for 39 mythical and historical women and honoring 999 others.Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making is the first exhibition to examine Chicago’s evolving plans for The Dinner Party in depth, detailing its development as a multilayered artwork, a triumph of community art-making, and a testament to the power of historical revisionism. Chicago’s ambitious research project combatted the absence of women from mainstream historical narratives and blazed the trail for feminist art historical methodologies in an era of social change. It also validated mediums traditionally considered the domain of women and domestic labor, as the artist studied and experimented with China painting, porcelain and needlework.

Sheila Hicks, Prayer Rug, Hand-spun wool, 87 × 43″ (221
× 109.2 cm), 1965, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Dr. Mittelsten Schied, 1966

But that’s not all. You still have  four days to see the acclaimed MOMA exhibition, Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction which includes 100 works that “range from the boldly gestural canvases of Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell; the radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego; and the reductive abstractions of Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, and Jo Baer; to the fiber weavings of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney; and the process-oriented sculptures of Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse. The exhibition will also feature many little-known treasures such as collages by Anne Ryan, photographs by Gertrudes Altschul, and recent acquisitions on view for the first time at MoMA by Ruth Asawa, Carol Rama, and Alma Woodsey Thomas.” Again, you can become well-informed before your visit (or visit online in lieu of inperson) with online resources, YouTube presentations, one when the exhibition opened and another, a tour of the exhibition with a MOMA curator.

Beginning on September 13th, the ICA, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, will present Nathalie Du Pasquier: BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT, a retrospective exploring the prolific creative practice of artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier on view from September 13 through December 23, 2017. A founding member of the Italian design collective Memphis, Du Pasquier’s work across painting, sculpture, drawing, installation and design demonstrates a unique and considered interpretation of space and objects. A catalog will accompany the exhibition. A collection of graphic and whimsical textile designs by Nathalie Du Pasquier and George Sowden has been released by 4 Spaces and Zigzag Zurich.

Nathalie Du Pasquier, Still life on my bicycle, oil on canvas, 39 x 59 inches, 2005. Courtesy of Kunsthalle Wien and the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania

Must these artists be categorized as “women artists”? That’s just one of the questions that Hampton’s artist, Toni Ross hopes to explore ina  series of conversations at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, New York. “In my mind this is a complex issue,” she writes. “I do believe that there are forces that confront all non-white male artists and that that conversation is evolving and changing rapidly. The Hamptons, with its rich history of artists includes many important women who broke ground for us, many whom may have been overshadowed by their more recognized partners. I look forward to the conversations in all of their complexities.” The conversations, in WOMEN ARTISTS: Reshaping the Conversation, A series of panel discussions in the LongHouse Garden will unfold in three events, beginning this Saturday:

Saturday, August 12, 11:00 am
CHRISTOPHE DE MENIL
MICHELE OKE DONER
APRIL GORNIK
UZOAMAKA MADUKA
NEDA YOUNG

Saturday, August 26, 11:00 am
JOAN JULIET BUCK
ANDREA GROVER
BARBARA ROSE
MICHELLE STUART
TERRIE SULTAN

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 am
ALICE AYCOCK
PERNILLA HOLMES
BASTIENNE SCHMIDT
ALMOND ZIGMUND
additional panelists to be announced

Reservations to these events are required. RSVP to Mr. Jack Meyer at jack.meyer@gsmltd.net, 212.271.4283.


Anniversary Alert: Six Ways to Pay Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright Who Would be 150 this Year

This year Frank Lloyd Wright would have been 150 on June 8th. The iconic architect continues to influence artists and designers decades after his death (How Today’s Designers Are Influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Principles,” Design Milk, June 8, 2017). He is, rightly, lionized” as Curbed notes, “for launching a modern, multifaceted American architecture.” For us, the iconic Falling Water (1936-1939) in Pennsylvania, which we visited many years ago, remains unforgettable as was our rehearsal dinner at Wright’s Arizona Biltmore (1928)  in Phoenix and each visit we’ve made to the Guggenheim in New York (1959). 

Falling Water, Left to Right: Sandy Grotta, Lou Grotta, Tracy Grotta, Rhonda Brown

 

There are any number of ways to pay homage to Wright in his birthday year. Here are six ways you can Do the Wright Thing:

1) Cover a wall or upholster a chair with a Wright Design. The home design company Schumacher, in collaboration with the Wright Foundation, has revived a collection of geometric-print textiles that the world-famous architect designed in 1955.

Frank Lloyd Wright Design, Schumacher DESIGN 103, BLUE & RED, 176880

2) Visit one of his creations in person — Fodors has compiled 10 suggestions: “10 of the best places to see his spectacular creations.” 

3) Better yet, if you can swing it, take a vacation in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. The architect designed more than 1,000 innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers and museums and hundreds of houses, Afar has compiled seven houses in seven states that can be rented for a week at a time, “Where to vacation in a Frank Lloyd Wright home.” 

4) Can’t leave home? Use your down time to build your own Frank Lloyd Wright building as a Kirigami model with paper. 

 

Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models: 14 Kirigami Buildings to Cut and Fold: Available for purchase HERE

5) Another in place activity, examine the plans and an image of Falling Water — once you’ve completed the two-sided puzzle available from the Frank Lloyd Wright Organization shop. 

Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater 2-sided 500 Piece Puzzle: Available for purchase HERE

6) And online, immerse yourself in all things Wright –the general in Curbed’s comprehensive review, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150:  The Curbed guide to the most famous architect in U.S. history, and then highly specific, in Artsy’s “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Lloyd Wright.” Semi spoiler: like us, he was a Japanese art fan!  


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