Welcome to Mad for Mod!


Welcome to Mad for Mod!

My blog highlights trends in jazzy modernist design -- from soap to sofas, buildings to bags -- and is my way of staying in touch with the worldwide community of 20th century design aficionados. Notes about museum exhibitions and design festivals, book reviews, remembrances, features on objects of desire, and occasional oddball items will appear on no set schedule. Please visit often to find new surprises!
Enjoy  ~ ° ° ° ~  Judy

Saturday, November 18, 2017

GOING ONCE ... Iconic planet lights from the Castle St. Café on auction

If you've ever explored the side streets of trendy
Great Barrington, Massachusetts, you can't have missed the
mesmerizing planet lamps that fill the interior of the
luxe but gregarious Celestial Bar at the Castle St. Café.

From now through New Year's Eve, these ethereal lights will be silently auctioned off to benefit the historic Mahaiwe Perming Arts Center right next door.
Three dramatic planets, eight whimsical wall sconces, and 
three glamorous blue drop lights will be sold.

I'm sure the new interior will be striking, but I'll miss
these lights, under which I've spent many an hour
celebrating happy occasion, sipping wine, eating locally sourced 
foods, and enjoying lively jazz. 

Cheers to newly retired Chef/Proprietor Michael Ballon, 
and to new owner Vern Kennedy!
And yes, I'm going to bid. 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: Stunning new show at Neue Galerie NY: "Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty"

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I'm a big fan
of both the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) artists and the 
Neue Gallerie NY. So I'm very excited about NGNY's recently-opened 
exhibition "Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty".

                                      Welcome to the Neue Galerie

The Neue Galerie NY, arguably the toniest museum in the city, is highlighting some of the most luxe decorative arts produced by the Wiener Werkstätte in its current special exhibition. "Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty" runs from October 26, 2017 through January 29, 2018; it showcases 400 pieces of functional artwork by Josef Hoffmann, Kolomon Moser,  Dagobert Pesche and other icons of Art Nouveau design.

 Josef  Hoffmann brooch, 1904
acquired by arts patron Fritz Waerndorfer for Lili Waerndorfer
Silver, gilt, diamond, moonstone, opal, lapis lazuli, coral, leopardite

Above: Josef Hoffman tobacco case for Otto Primavesi, 1912

Hoffmann's brooches and boxes, encrusted with semiprecious stones,
  exemplify the Wiener Werkstätte’s luxurious aesthetic.
To read more about Josef Hoffmann, a co-founder of the
Wiener Werkstätte, please check out my article for 
Style 1900 magazine Josef Hoffmann Interiors

 The show will explore the workshop’s extensive output in a variety of media, including ceramics, drawings, fashion, furniture, glass, graphic design, jewelry, 
metalwork, textiles and wallpaper.

Josef Hoffmann, Brass centerpiece, 1924

Jewel box by Dagobert Peche, 1920
Gilt silver
Metropolitan Museum on Art

Josef Hoffmann teapot, 1904
Silver, ebony, raffia
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Josef Hoffmann coffeepot, 1906, private collection
Silver and snakewood

To read a recent NY Times article about this exhibition,
link here.

 The Neue Galerie was established in 2001
by businessman/philanthropist Ronald Lauder
For more information about the notable history of this venue,
its permanent collection (which includes Gustav Klimt's
splendid Adele Bloch-Bauer I) and special exhibitions
visit neuegalerie.org 

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907

The movie Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren,
tells the story of how this painting was stolen by the Nazis, but 
eventually returned to its rightful owner, Maria Altmann,
  Bloch-Bauer's niece. It was purchased by the Galerie at auction 
in 2006 for $135 million, and is now on permanent display there.

Above: The Galerie's elegant, Viennese-style Café Sabarsky
It is outfitted with period objects, including lighting fixtures by Josef Hoffmann, furniture by Adolf Loos, and banquettes upholstered with a 
1912 Otto Wagner fabric. 
A stop-off here for coffee and pastries never goes amiss!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: Glamorous paper dresses

Whether or not this story about a 4-year-old fashionista who
calls herself "Mayhem" is true, the dresses themselves are really fab!
They are created from paper, inspired by classic films and
red carpet fashion that she sees on television.

A slinky little number from the flapper era,
with "feather" fascinator

Mayhem is prone to floating over rainbows,
and coming back with ideas.

Lupita Nyong’o's dress for the Golden Globes
A gown for the modern bride

Link here to read about the design prodigy who calls herself "Mayhem".


Originally posted on Valentine's Day, 2014

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DESTINATIONS: "Blossoms of Light " at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Lighting extravaganzas set in gracious gardens seem to
be all the rage these days. The spectacular glass
exhibition Chihuly Nights, set on the grounds of the New York
 Botanic Gardens, drew nearly a million awestruck 
visitors during its recent six-month run.

Coming up next month, the Denver Botanic Gardens
will pull out all the stops for its much-anticipated annual holiday 
lights show. The show, which is set on a 23-acre landscape,
 will run from Nov. 24-Jan. 1, 2018 (open Dec. 24, 25 & 31), 
and will include
  • An interactive light display, featuring a large field of 
  • sound-reactive, animated LED lights
  • Holiday treats (warm drinks and a souvenir mug)
  • Professional carolers
Below are some pics from past Denver celebrations,
for your viewing pleasure.
As the Rain Man would say, "Sparkly (yeah)!"

Note: admission is timed, and a limited number of visitors
are allowed in per day, to prevent overcrowding.
Advance tickets are highly recommended!

For more info, link here

Friday, October 20, 2017

WHIRLYGIGS: Calder's "Hypermobility" at Whitney in NYC closes on Monday, Oct. 23

"Rare and slightly wobbly motorized works form an exhibition at the 
Whitney Museum of American Art that recaptures 
Calder’s guile and joy."
                                                                                              ... NY Times review

Above: Hanging Spider

There are still three more days to see the whimsical mobiles of Alexander Calder, whirling to specially composed music, on the top floor of the Whitney Museum in NYC. This exhibition focuses on the striking richness of movement and sound in Calder's work. It brings together a wide-ranging sampling of key sculptures, and provides a rare opportunity to experience the works as the artist intended—in motion.

"Capturing motion in art was a Modernist obsession. Yet by treating dynamics itself as a means of expression, whether with a motor or by suspending elements in space, Calder negated the possibility of perceiving these sculptures in a single fashion. Where sculpture had once aspired to monumentality, 
Calder proposed an art in three dimensions that took infinite forms."  

...New York Times
Aluminum Leaves, Red Post, Calder, 1941

A selection of mobiles is activated regularly for visitors. There will also
be one-time displays of rarely seen works, as well as motorized sculptures 
that haven’t been viewed in motion for decades. 

Sea Scape,1947

This mobile reminds me of glass artist Dale Chihuly's 
Persian Ceiling at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, FL.
See "Jewel Boxes" feature here

untitled, Calder, 1947

See a bit of the exhibition, with motion and music, here.
The song "Turn, Turn, Turn" was written by Pete Seeger. 

~ oOo ~

EXHIBITION: Great women of 20th century design at MOMA

I've been thinking a lot about the fascinating MOMA/NY exhibition I saw two years ago: "Designing Modern Women 1890-1990". I was quite smitten with nearly everything I saw, and thought it would be fun to repost about it. Hurray for unsung design hero Margaret Knight, who came up with the idea of the flat-bottomed paper bag! 

Other special favorites were Art Nouveau designs by Margaret MacDonald (more on her later), silver work by Marianne Brandt, Eva Zeisel's elegant white ceramic bowls and whimsical tableware, Greta Von Nessen's "Anywhere Lamp", Eileen Gray's high gloss black lacquer room screen and round occasional table, and the whole section called "Kitchen Transformation". The latter demonstrated how sensible it was that women -- who were always concerned with esthetics, efficiency, and hygiene -- would rise to the forefront of design in this area. Charlotte Perriand's pod-like Unité kitchen is a standout in this department.

            Marianne Brandt coffee and tea service

     Eileen Gray screen and famed E1027 table

Von Nessen's "Anywhere Lamp"

Eva Zeisel's "Shmoo" salt & pepper shaker

A slightly puzzling feature of the show was its first item, a chair 
by iconic British designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
CRM was the husband of artist Margaret Macdonald; 
the two collaborated closely through the course of their careers.
He famously said of her "I have talent, but she has genius."

Margaret MacDonald's gesso
"The White Rose and the Red"

(To read an excellent BBC article entitled
Margaret MacDonald: the talented other half 
of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, link here .)

       Unité kitchen,  designed by Charlotte Perriand           Unité kitchen seen from the living room
with Le Corbusier 

A group of four humble paper bags was included in the show, because ...

... the flat-bottomed paper bag was Invented in 1871 by Margaret Knight,
one of the first female inventors ever to receive a US patent.
It replaced the flimsy envelope-style type and 
revolutionized grocery shopping forever. 

I was baffled by the omission of Art Deco ceramics maven Clarice Cliff. A phenomenally successful designer, entrepreneur and all around Zelda-esque bon vivant, she was best known for her Bizarreware line. Here's a touch of Clarice for you.


See my article "Clarice Cliff: Jazz Hot Baby
of Art Deco Ceramics" (Modernism magazine, Spring 2007)

CC Bizarreware, Branch and Square pattern.

~ oOo ~
This posting was originally published on Mad for Mod on 8/8/15

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ODD BITS: Pop-up shop offers felt veggies, newspapers, canned goods and just about everything else

British artist Lucy Sparrow, who handcrafts objects of all sorts from felt,
paint, yarn and thread, recently had a big success when a playful pop-up "convenience store" she set up near Manhattan's High Line last June sold out completely within a month. The shelves at "8 'Til Late" were quickly 
emptied of felt taco chips, snack cakes, assorted produce, laundry 
detergent, peanut butter, Heinz baked beans, pudding and cheese.

Left: The artist in her Manhattan pop-up shop/art installation before items started
flying off the shelves.

"The world of Feltism doesn’t assault one’s senses but instead it gently caresses them before making its point felt."

An array of awfully cute vegetables

                                                  Of course -- spam!

While the installation is about “fun and creating approachable art”, Sparrow said, "the works have a wider comment to make" about the loss of local shops in the face of superstores that have consumed 
high streets globally.

“I want the work to make people think about the loss of community spaces when these small corner shops disappear,” said Sparrow. “To remind them how valuable these corner shops really are and the colour they bring to our lives.”
Youthful candy memories ...
Bit-O-Honey, Jujyfruits, Sugar Babies and Reese's Pieces

"Lurking under the surface of Lucy’s art there is often a darker side. Whether 
it’s her felt AK-47s automatic weapons or her googly-eyed Prozac pills, her work offers commentary on the consumer world and the politics of modern life. Where others might see the harsh and ugly side of an object, Lucy will take the same thing and disarms its negative aspects with her mastery of felting 
technique and the juxtaposition of other quirky creations."
                                                           from http://www.sewyoursoul.co.uk/

Sparrow's other solo shows include ‘The Warmongery’, 2015, Boxpark, London and ‘Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium’, 2015, Soho, London. Her work has been shown alongside great street artists at the ‘Urban Take-Over’, the V&A’s touring Street Art exhibition and in the ‘Urban Art Show’ at the Louise T Blouin Foundation in London. Pieces of her art are held in both private and corporate collections throughout the EU and the US.

Made for each other

To see a brief video of the artist discussing her work, link here.

This posting is in fond remembrance of
Chris Cavallari, whose grandfather Joseph established 
Serio's Market in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1950.