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    The newly released The Bearden Project is the capstone of the Studio Museum’s exhibition by the same name—celebrating the centennial of Romare Bearden’s birth. It includes all 100 works inspired, informed, and influenced by Bearden, as well as artist statements detailing exactly how the iconic pioneer affected their work. The intergenerational group of artists, working with an array of mediums, includes some privileged to have known Bearden personally and others who encountered his work through later exhibitions. As museum director Thelma Golden points out, “What these artists share… is an awareness of the crucial importance of Bearden’s contributions to their development, both institutionally and creatively, as visual artists.”

    The colorful 286 page book includes a removable cover which doubles as a poster featuring each of the 100 works from the exhibition. The catalogue is available now online and in the Studio Museum Store for $40.00.


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    Lorna Simpson
    Untitled (Ebony and Jet), 2012 and details
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    Chris Ofili
    Golden Angel One, 2012 and Golden Angel Three, 2012
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    Chris Ofili
    Ovid-Callisto, 2011-12 and Untitled, 1998-99
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    Isaac Julien
    Yishan Island, Voyage (Ten Thousand Waves), 2011
    Photo: Katherine Finerty

    Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
    [L-R]: Clarity in Waiting, 2012, Songs in the Head, 2012 and Oyster, 2012
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    Theaster Gates
    Horizon, 2012 and Urban Particulate, 2012
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    Julie Mehretu
    [L-R]: Untitled, 2002, Untitled, 2002 and Untitled, 2002
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    Mark Bradford
    Spiders Feet, 2012 and detail
    Photo: Katherine Finerty

    This past month London was bustling with art openings, projects, and performances, all a part of a phenomenon known as “Frieze.” From October 11–14, Regent’s Park played host to the Frieze art fair, presenting over 170 international contemporary galleries as well as a prestigious program of artist commissions and talks. Now in its tenth edition, Frieze London continues to be one of the art highlights of the year, generating a week filled with not only lucrative transactions, but also creative expression and critical awareness.

    Notably, works by many Studio Museum in Harlem artists were prominently featured throughout the fair grounds. Here are some highlights of pieces by artists involved at the Museum, either through being represented in our Permanent Collection or having participated in our acclaimed Artist-in-Residence program. Enjoy!


    Mickalene Thomas
    Interior: Zebra with Two Chairs and Funky Fur, 2012 and detail
    Photo: Katherine Finerty

    It was also an especially exciting moment for artist Theaster Gates, who kick-started the Frieze week with soulful music performances accompanied by the Black Monks of Mississippi. During their visit to London, Studio Museum in Harlem Director Thelma Golden, past curator Naomi Beckwith, and artist Glenn Ligon were all front and center to experience and relish Gates’s powerful musical offerings. Gates is an artist and cultural planner whose practice ranges from sculpture to installation and performance to urban uplift. Through the re-purposing of historical objects and archives in activated contemporary sites, Gates leverages our past to generate a provoking yet poetic understanding of cultural moments and spaces today.


    [L]: Thelma Golden and Glenn Ligon enjoy Theaster Gates’s performance at White Cube
    [R]: Gates performs at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London
    Photos: Katherine Finerty

    The vibrant diversity of works by artists of African descent at the Frieze fair and events this past week in London reflects the increasingly global and culturally nuanced dialogue activated by the contemporary art world. Congratulations to all of the artists featured for putting forth such beautiful, inspiring, and successful works, enabling all exhibitors and visitors involved to partake in an evolving transnational art experience.


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  • 11/14/12--12:45: Fore Caitlin Cherry
  • Videography and Score by Kevin Brisco


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    Robert S. Duncanson
    Landscape Mural (depicting a wilderness scene with twisting, rotting tree trunks and a swiftly flowing river), ca. 1850-52
    Courtesy Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati
     

    Robert S. Duncanson
    Landscape Mural (with gently flowing river flanked by two trees), ca. 1850-52
    Courtesy Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati

    Robert S. Duncanson
    Land of the Lotus Eaters, 1861
    Courtesy Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati

    Foyer of the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio
    Courtesy Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati

    There are only two weeks left to see a fantastic exhibition here in New York City: Robert S. Duncanson: An Antebellum African-American Artist, on view at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery through December 8.

    Robert S. Duncanson (1821–1872) was a painter of lush Midwestern landscapes, and one of the most prominent African-American artists working in the antebellum era. A “free colored person,” he was born in Seneca County, New York to an African-American mother and a Scottish Canadian father, but made his name in Cincinnati, Ohio (Author’s note: as a ‘Nati native, I am particularly psyched about this!) where he later moved with his family.  Cincinnati was at that time a major economic and cultural center in the developing western United States, based on its proximity to the Ohio River, and its convenient location between the North and South. In addition to its industrial prosperity, the city was a beacon for the arts, with many venues and exhibition sites. Though technically part of the North, Cincinnati was caught squarely between both worlds and was a stronghold for both pro- and anti-slavery movements: Ohio had abolished slavery, while Kentucky had not. Being on the border of the two states, Cincinnati was the home of many stops on the Underground Railroad and often the first sight of freed land for escaped slaves. Duncanson himself supported the abolitionist movement, involving himself in abolitionist societies and donating paintings to help raise money for the cause.


    Part of an established group of Ohio River Valley landscape painters, Duncanson worked in the vein of the Hudson River School artists, including Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. Like these artists, he portrayed an idyllic and romantic vision of an American countryside untainted by industry or social realities. These paintings symbolize the growing nationalist pride as the country acquired more territory out west, and the importance of landscape painting in molding a national identity. Inspired by Thomas Cole in particular, and the moral imperative to preserve the natural beauty of the United States, Duncanson often used allegory in his paintings.  For instance, Land of the Lotus Eaters (1861) was his largest and most celebrated easel painting up to that point. It portrays a group of indigenous peoples presenting a lotus blossom to white men, who resemble soldiers. Possibly an allusion to the Civil War or the strained race relations of the time period, Land of the Lotus Eaters was based on a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who Duncanson visited with his painting in tow in the 1860s. 

    Duncanson’s tranquil, light-filled landscape paintings do not reveal their complicated social and political context upon first glance, but one of the best parts of this exhibition, curated by Joseph D. Ketner II, is its attention to the times in which Duncanson lived. In addition to the stunning paintings on view, made between the 1840s and 1870s, the exhibition includes didactic maps, helpful reminders of Civil War-era geography and history.

    The Wallach exhibition includes reproductions of Duncanson’s famous Belmont Murals, permanently installed at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati. Full disclosure: seeing these gave me great pleasure and even made me a little nostalgic, as I remember them fondly from when I was growing up there. Commissioned by patron Nicholas Longworth for his home, the murals are a gorgeous example of trompe l’oeil (as a kid I recall loving the painted scrolls that border the landscape imagery).

    Though it is rare for the Studio Museum to show artwork made before the mid twentieth-century, we are excited to support exhibitions that enrich our knowledge of artists of African descent working in earlier time periods. Breathtaking and historically fascinating, Robert S. Duncanson: An Antebellum African-American is a must-see, and an amazing reminder of how landscape can so strongly reflect the social and political values of our time.


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    Kwanzaa Community Quilt Project 2011–12
    Photo: Sophia Bruneau

    Visit the Museum Store now through December 31, 2012 to view the culmination of the 2011 Kwanzaa Community Quilt Project. Members and visitors to the Studio Museum began constructing the quilt December 2011 during Target Free Sunday workshops to celebrate the core Kwanzaa values of Culture, Creativity, and Unity. Interest grew and the project continued until August 2012 under the volunteer leadership of Ife Felix, founding member of the Harlem Girls Quilt Circle. We hope all will enjoy this labor of love and community.


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    Jennie C. Jones
    Soft Gray Tone with Reverberation, 2013
    Acoustic sound absorbing panel and acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches
    Courtesy the artist


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    Studio Winter/Spring 2013 covers

    (left): Kianja Strobert, Untitled (detail), 2012. Courtesy the artist and Zach Feuer, New York

    (right): David Hartt, Lounge, 2011. Courtesy the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago

    The latest issue of Studio is now available at the Museum, as a viewable e-book here or as a downloadable PDF here!

    This issue includes covers by artists Kianja Strobert and David Hartt; a conversation between David Hartt, Thelma Golden and Thomas J. Lax about his upcoming Spring 2013 exhibition at Studio Museum; an introduction to our 2012-13 Artists in Residence; a report from dOCUMENTA (13); and commentaries on inspiration from the artists featured in Fore.

     


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    Studio Museum in Harlem Proposal Booklet, 1968

    Exhibition announcement with checklist for Elizabeth Catlett: Prints and Sculpture, 1972

    Exhibition announcement for Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual, 1972

    Press release for Beauford Delaney: A Retrospective, 1978

    Artists in Residence brochure, 1979

    Exhibition announcement for I Remember Norman: A Memorial Exhibition for Norman Lewis, 1980

    Exhibition announcement for The Sound I Saw: The Jazz Photographs of Roy DeCarava, 1983

    Exhibition announcement for Tradition and Conflict: Images of a Turbulent Decade (1963-1973), 1985

    Artists in Residence brochure, 1992-93

    Education brochure for Afro-Caribbean Culture: The World of Wifredo Lam, 1992-93

    As a Curatorial Intern at the Studio Museum in Harlem, it has been exciting to work behind the scenes as part of the planning process of exhibitions supporting the Museum’s mission as a site for the dynamic exchange of ideas about art and society. One of my favorite moments during my internship happened when I first glimpsed into the archives of earlier exhibitions that have happened here. Brochures, pamphlets, and other didactic materials used in promoting the exhibitions on view are meant to be taken by visitors for additional information, but are not necessarily made to be kept. The ephemeral nature of these materials, often printed on paper and easily recyclable, means that they are not often saved long enough to be able to review at a later period.

    The flyer for The Sound I Saw: The Jazz Photographs of Roy DeCarava (1919-2009) has a simple layout that frames DeCarava’s photograph with a deep wine color and the title of the exhibition. As an Undergraduate student in the Art Department at Hunter College, where I was a student of DeCarava's, I was fascinated with his stories of Harlem and his early love for jazz. The flyer is successful in its simplicity that also has an ability to unwrap memories from different moments in time.

    Examining the physical material available in the archives is a reminder of the shift in information sharing from analog to digital over the past several years at art institutions and more broadly. Looking back at the way these informative materials were designed using bold colors and a singular image of either an artist or their artwork, I felt like I was transported to a different moment in time, with the lasting historical importance and influence of the Studio Museum as an institution becoming blazingly clear.

    Click through the slideshow above to check out some of the goodies I came across.

     


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    Leslie Hewitt (b. 1977), in collaboration with Bradford Young (b. 1970)
    Untitled (Structures), 2012
    Courtesy the artists and Lucien Terras, Inc.

    Former Studio Museum artist-in-residence and 2010 recipient of the Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, Leslie Hewitt (b. 1977) brings a fresh and dynamic perspective into how we visually experience our history in her new film installation, Untitled (Structures) (2012), at the Menil Collection in Houston.

    Inspired, partly, by an array of Civil Rights era photographs in the Menil Collection, Hewitt revisits a visual historical narrative through a new lens. Composed with footage shot in primarily in Memphis and Chicago, the film references locations strongly connected to the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Migration. Clayborn Temple AME Church in Memphis, recognized for the civil right photograph by Ernest Withers of the protestor with the “I Am A Man” sign, signifies some of the historic and narrative roles the locations take in the realization of the project.  Hewitt partners again with artist Bradford Young (b.1970) for this 16-minute dual-projection film installation, with whom she collaborated on Untitled (Level) in 2010.


    Presented as a series of silent stills, the nonlinear film draws attention to historical spaces and landscapes, giving a sense of spatial awareness, historical context and the passage of time. The visual references to these spaces are unique in that Hewitt addresses their place in history, while visually re-contextualizing them with pacing and figurative counterpoints. In an interview with Menil Collection Curator Michelle White, Hewitt explains her aim “to slow the viewer’s perception of time and encourage reflection on architectural spaces and landscapes”, thus creating depth in the viewer’s perception of the passage of time, history and contemporary life. Drawing from iconic photographs by artists such as Bob Adelman (b. 1931), Dan Budnik (b. 1933), Bruce Davidson (b. 1953) and Danny Lyon (b. 1942) in the collection, White adds that Hewitt commands and directs, “their power [to] provide a provocative basis to the contemporary relevance of such events and images from past decades.”

    Untitled  (Structures)  is a commissioned work by the Menil Collection, Houston, with the support of Jerean and Holland Chaney, in collaboration with the Des Moines Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Untitled (Structures) is on view January 26 – May 5, 2013 at the Menil Collection.


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    Valerie Piraino
    By Proxy, 2012
    Courtesy the artist
    Photo: Adam Reich

    Artist Valerie Piraino

    On February 12, 2009-2010 artist-in-residence Valerie Piraino, whose work is currently on view in Fore, discussed her artistic practice and led a hands-on demonstration as part of our Teaching and Learning Workshop series. They are are exhibition-specific workshops and seminars designed for teachers in core curriculum areas that focus on creative methods for using and integrating art in the classroom. Educators left with an experimental technique that connected to Common Core standards in English and Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies as well as a lesson plan and model for their classrooms.

    Valerie explained how memory and personal narrative inspire her artistic practice, which led into a discussion of how educators can incorporate personal stories and storytelling in their classroom curriculum. Using black-and-white as well as color images a variety of artists in the exhibition, educators, led by Valerie, used a photo transfer technique to transform images into new compositions.


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    Beauford Delaney and Julie Mehretu, Brothers and Sisters

    Richard Mayhew and a recent Delaney acquisition, Brothers and Sisters

    Kori Newkirk, Brothers and Sisters

     

    Aerial view of the Main Gallery during Assembly Required installation

    Dave McKenzie (foreground), Adia Millett and Hew Locke (background), Assembly Required

    Clifford Owens (background) and Demetrius Oliver (foreground), Assembly Required

    Ben Jones, Assembly Required

    Malvin Gray Johnson, our collection highlight for Spring 2013

    Installation of our upcoming Spring 2013 exhibitions and projects is underway in the galleries— Assembly Required in the Main Gallery and Brothers and Sisters in Mezzanine East. These exhibitions (and more) open next Thursday, March 28! 

     


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    David Hartt: Stray Light

    David Hartt: Stray Light

    Mendi + Keith Obadike: American Cypher

    Fred Wilson: Local Color

    Fred Wilson: Local Color

    Another day of installation of our upcoming Spring 2013 exhibitions and projects is underway in the galleries for David Hartt: Stray Light, Fred Wilson: Local Color, Ayé A. Aton: Space Time Continuum and Mendi + Keith Obadike: American Cypher


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    Houston Conwill
    The Joyful Mysteries (1984–2034 A.D.), 1984
    The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of the artist 91.6a–g

     

    Also pictured (on wall):
    Tom Lloyd
    Narokan, 1965
    The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Darwin K. Davidson 88.3

    Photo: Adam Reich

    Houston Conwill
    The Joyful Mysteries (1984–2034 A.D.), 1984
    The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of the artist 91.6a–g

    The Joyful Mysteries (1984–2034 A.D.) (1984) are seven bronze time capsules created by Houston Conwill (b. 1947) and contain confidential testaments by seven distinguished black Americans: visual artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988); historian Lerone Bennett, Jr. (b. 1928); the first African-American mayor of Gary, Indiana, Richard Gordon Hatcher (b. 1933); attorney, activist and current United States Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (b. 1937); writer Toni Morrison (b. 1931); and opera singer Leontyne Price (b. 1927). The capsules will be opened in September 2034, fifty years after their creation. The time capsules were originally buried in the Studio Museum’s sculpture garden on August 12, 1984 with the assistance of ten New York City school children and were moved to their current location on the Museum's lower level in March 2013.

    Houston Conwill was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He received a BFA from Howard University in 1973 and an MFA from the University of Southern California in 1976. He is the recipient of various commissions and awards, including the 1984 Prix de Rome and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 1987. He is best known for large-scale sculptures and installations that he created in collaboration with poet Estella Conwill Majozo (b. 1949) and architect Joseph DePace (b. 1954), including Rivers (1991), the Langston Hughes Memorial at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


    Overall, Conwill’s artistic practice is concerned with notions of African-American space. In his words, he was “especially drawn to myth, ritual and the transmission of wisdom and culture across continents and generations.”


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    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Photo: Scott Rudd

    On Wednesday, March 27, guests were invited to preview the Studio Museum's Spring 2013 Exhibitions and Projects: David Hartt: Stray Light, Fred Wilson: Local Color, Ayé A. Aton: Space-Time Continuum, Mendi + Keith Obadike: American Cypher, Assembly Required: Selections From the Permanent Collection, Brothers and Sisters, and Harlem Postcards: Spring 2013


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    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Photo: Erin Hylton

    Students at the Children’s Storefront School, an independent, tuition-free school in Harlem, are exploring the many applications of photography this semester. The Studio Museum in Harlem’s ongoing exhibitions serve as the starting point for our inquiries. After looking closely and discussing works on display, the students develop their own images in response. Beginning with portrait photography, students learn to compose a strong image that visually communicates some aspect of their own identity or those of their subjects. Their first portraits were straightforward and candid. The images they made for the second portrait evolved into imaginative expressions of their creative selves.

    In our screen printing project, students used imagery from iconic photographs to develop collages and prints. They incorporated photographic elements with drawing, stenciling, and vibrant color choices.  In true collaborative spirit, the lead teacher, Matthais Leutrum, and I communicate about which approaches work and strategize ways to expand the students’ view of themselves in the world. 

    I enjoy developing curriculum and watching it come to life through the students’ enthusiasm for the materials, the originality of their ideas and the way they work together. It is exciting to see them learn that they are capable of more than they knew before, and decide to push themselves even further.

    Monique Schubert is an artist and arts educator based in New York. She has been working with The Studio Museum in Harlem's Education department since 2006.


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    ETW students experimenting with the mirrored set built by Simpson Photo: Wesley Coram

    ETW students experimenting with the mirrored set built by Simpson Photo: Gerald Leavell

    ETW students experimenting with the mirrored set built by Simpson
    Photo: Kelvin Hady

    Lorna Simpson (center) with ETW students
    Photo: Gerald Leavell

    Lorna Simpson with ETW students
    Photo: Gerald Leavell

    The ETW group with program leader Gerald Leavell and Lorna Simpson

    On March 30th, artist Lorna Simpson (b. 1960) welcomed the Expanding the Walls (ETW) artists to her Fort Greene, Brooklyn studio for a day of experimentation. As we’re halfway through the 2013 program, the young artists have encountered many points of inspiration generated from countless sources. This particular interaction provided fascinating results that reflected the diverse perspectives of this ETW group.

    “…it’s more about [my] experience and the process of making things.”—Lorna Simpson

    For the day, our "lab" was a mirrored set intended to create duplicated images of a subject—like a hall of mirrors, an exaggerated vanity room or a surreal environment that allows for an interaction with five reflections of oneself. This intricate set was used in producing Simpson’s latest body of work. Instead of destroying the set immediately after its initial purpose, Simpson thought it would be wonderful to share with Expanding the Walls.

    And what a magical experience it was—the students paired up and took turns making portraits of each other in the mirrored set, under Simpson’s guidance.  Through the process of working with Simpson, the artists developed skills for directing a portrait session with live models. This activity also touched upon some of what has been discussed during our sessions, such as Surrealist photography and the manipulation of images without digital editing.

    You can follow this year's Expanding the Walls class as they prepare for their Summer 2013 exhibition on Tumblr at expandingthewalls2013.tumblr.com


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    Curatorial Fellow Monique Long

    Elan Ferguson, Studio Museum Family Programs Coordinator, at our Summer 2013 opening
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Style conscious visitors reflecting on the work featured in Robert Pruitt: Women.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Colorful prints were ubiquitous at our Summer 2013 opening.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Menswear is in the midst of a renaissance at the moment. Three gentlemen enjoy the work of Robert Pruitt in the main galleries.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Artist Jacolby Satterwhite
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Singer Solange Knowles snaps a photo in VideoStudio: Long Takes
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    White is a summer staple.
    Photo: Scott Rudd

    Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of Cool (installation view)
    The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2008–09
    Photo: Adam Reich

    In the glossary that accompanied Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Story in Harlem Slang,” (1942) there are five different terms listed for someone fashionable. Invariably, iconic photographs of Harlemites include those dressed in blindingly fashionable clothes. There’s a rich history and tradition in Harlem that defines the neighborhood not only as the cornerstone of African-American culture but style as well. Visitors and residents alike assimilate to the expectation that you must express yourself fashionably here, demonstrated beautifully by the attendees at our summer opening in July and the monumental drawings by Rob Pruitt of fashionable women that hang in the main gallery.

    I will be writing a series of blog posts about fashion. Fashion History is a focus within my interest in art history and scholarship. Although there have been many well regarded exhibitions about fashion, the intersection between fashion and art is often overlooked or dismissed. Though artists often incorporate references to or explore fashion in their work (some examples that come to mind are Barkley Hendricks and Mickalene Thomas), less often is there an engagement with how designers are informed by art—not just simply for inspiration, but for direct references as part of their aesthetics. I will discuss the interplay between the two.

    I will also be writing about the artistic process of New York designers whose studios I visit. The visits will be an insider look at their work spaces, what they use as primary resources (philosophical and otherwise) and of course their ideas and background. The blog will also include posts about fashion exhibitions, coverage of Harlem Fashion Week, selections from the Studio Museum’s permanent collection, and short features of glamorous Harlemites.

    Stay tuned...

    About the title of this series:

    ‘Draped down’ was a term Hurston documented in the glossary for "Story in Harlem Slang". It meant to be dressed in the height of Harlem fashion.


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    radicalpresenceny.org, the website accompanying the forthcoming Studio Museum exhibition (co-presented with the Grey Art Gallery at NYU), Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art has launched today!

    There, you will find out information on the exhibition's 36 artists; a schedule of upcoming performances, lectures and readings; and a host of multimedia resources, including short audio interviews with some of the exhibition's participants. The exhibition is divided between the two hosting institutions and the schedule of public programming is co-presented with a number of organizations, including Performa, Third Streaming, New York University, the Goethe-Institut, the Artist's Institute and Roulette. Radical Presence originated at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, where it was curated by CAMH's Senior Curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver. On the website, Oliver introduces the show in a short video on the homepage. 

    The first part of Radical Presence opens on September 10 at the Grey Art Gallery; the second part opens at Studio Museum on November 14. For up-to-the-minute information, please visit radicalpresenceny.org; to be apart of the conversation on social media, use #radicalpresenceny! 


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    Installation view of Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced
    Museum of the City of New York
    March 22, 2013—July 28, 2013

    Photo: Monique Long

    Installation view of Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced
    Museum of the City of New York
    March 22, 2013—July 28, 2013
    White lettuce edged chiffon billowed over the exhibition.Photo: Monique Long

    Wrap Top Pants Suit, 1970s
    Jasco matte jersey, lettuce edge
    Label: Stephen Burrows’ WorldPhoto: Monique Long

    Coat, 1977
    Merrow-edged wool melton
    Label: Stephen Burrows’ World

    Tunic Dress, 1977
    Natural chamois banded in gilt metallic snakeskin
    Label: Stephen Burrows’ WorldPhoto: Monique Long

    Burrows was a master draper who made sexy, fluid, body conscious ensembles that permitted no underpinnings whatsoever.Photo: Monique Long

    A Stephen Burrows sketch with his signature lettuce edge.

    Pat Cleveland, the designer's muse

    A career retrospective of the fashion designer Stephen Burrows opened at the Museum of the City of New York this spring and has been the most current highlight in the over 40-year career of a designer who has seen many highlights.


    The exhibit, curated by Phyllis Magidson, was entitled Stephen Burrows: Clothes that Danced. The scope of the show included Burrows' sketches, archival footage, a documentary film and, of course, the clothes. The clothes exhibited ranged the arc of his career from 1968 to 1983, demonstrating his innovation and technical skill; the lettuce edge—a sewing room mishap that turned into an a major aesthetic treatment of the period; his use of color (particularly color blocking, which he is credited with inventing); and his status as a master draper who made sexy, fluid, body conscious ensembles that permitted no underpinnings whatsoever.  Burrows’ garments clothed the glitterati of the disco era; habitué of clubs like Studio 54, Le Jardin and The Garage. He loved to work with skins, fringe, vibrant color, and play with androgyny. The clothes were perfect silhouette for the body type of the day—hippy-thin and the attenuated figures of the models, actresses and drag queens who lived for his clothes.


    Burrows guided Studio Museum staff through a tour as he interspersed his personal narrative with the timeline of the exhibition: Both his parents were sample makers for the Hattie Carnegie label in the Garment District. He made his first pair of pants out of the leather of a trench coat that belonged to his grandmother. In the late 1960s, he was part of a commune of his friends and fellow FIT classmates who bonded together creatively to make clothes that incorporated his signature whimsy and flourish. The structure complemented the lifestyle they led of working all day and partying all night. The collaboration with his FIT cohorts drew in other creative types: actors, artists, other designers and their models to which they sold their designs at the avant-garde O Boutique, a gallery sat right across from the Warhol haunt and legendary downtown hipster club, Max’s Kansas City. Burrows said his friends would freely raid his studio for outfits for their club adventures on a daily basis. In 1970, Burrows became the designer-in-residence at the department store Henri Bendel, a post that lasted through the early 1980s. By 1973, he had established himself as major voice in American fashion and joined Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Halston, and Anne Klein to represent American fashion at a legendary fashion show The 1973 Grand Divertissment at Versailles. The American presentation distinguished black models and Burrows with the other designers as the new school of fashion. Since the 1970s, Burrows has made clothes for a number of celebrity clientele including Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Cher and Naomi Campbell.

    The installation included special details such as custom lettuce-edged over-hangings which billowed from the gallery ceiling, an upbeat soundtrack curated by Burrows of disco-era music, and archival footage of the New York nightlife, and his muse, the statuesque Pat Cleveland dancing in her numerous appearances on his catwalk. The full documentary about the fashion show in Versailles called Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution was also on view.


    The book accompanying the show includes essays by Magidson, Daniela Morera, Glenn O’Brien and Laird Persson. The documentary film is also available. Although nothing has been confirmed, the designer has been thinking about a revival of his label for New York Fashion Week.

    Suggested Reading
    Museum of the City of New York, Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced, Rizzoli, New York, 2013
    Robin Givhan, One Night at Versailles: The Fashion Showdown that Changed Everything, Penguin Press, New York, (forthcoming)

    Suggested Viewing
    Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution, Coffee Bluff Pictures, 2012
    About Face: Supermodels Then and Now, Home Box Office, 2012
    “The Models of Versailles 1973 Tribute Luncheon” (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1aUlUTciuo

    Monique Long is Curatorial Fellow at The Studio Museum in Harlem.


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