It’s not often that one can step into a real-life dollhouse, but Blow Up, the recent exhibition at Friedman Benda, curated by New York-based curator and PIN-UP founder Felix Burrichter and designed by Charlap Hyman & Herrero, offers just that, transforming the gallery into an exercise in feeling out of scale. After spending time in the exhibition (which closed February 16, 2019), you may not only question your own spatial reality, but also your temporal one. The curation of furniture and objects in the exhibition—complemented by its design, which transforms the white box gallery into four rooms arranged in enfilade with walls made out of cardboard panels—will make visitors rightfully question whether it is a scaled-up version of an imaginary world or whether the real world is a scaled-down version of our imagination. In the show’s accompanying publication, Blow Up Diary, edited by Drew Zeiba, exhibition designer Adam Charlap Hyman describes a childhood fascination with miniatures and dollhouses, and explains his attraction to the way “the disconnect between representation, reality, and scale, was confused” in them. This is an obsession in the work of Charlap Hyman and his partner, Andre Herrero, most clearly demonstrated in their contribution to the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, in which they presented three small shoebox-size models of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s Paris apartment at three different stages of packing their art collection for auction at Christie’s. By representing the same space at different points in time, the models foreground the passage of time as another way of understanding an interior space. Ghosted outlines of picture frames taken off the walls accentuate the dust and debris that accumulate around the paintings once they are removed, leaving us with Charlap Hyman’s gouache illustrations of the interior walls of Bergé’s Paris apartment. Blow Up’s conceptual conceit—the collapse and confusion of scale by blowing up a dollhouse interior to life-size in the gallery—is perfectly coherent as a curatorial gesture. But where the exhibition really becomes memorable is in its anachronistic approach to time rather than scale. The exhibition begs the viewer to ask: “Wait, what century are we in?” This chronological dysphoria creates strange combinations of objects, as if each room is host to a tableau of a multigenerational family conversation; these strange adjacencies of time and form produce the most jarring and exciting moments in the show. In the “living room” of the installation we find Leon Ransmeier’s Two Step (2018), a rolled-aluminum lounger that sits directly on the floor, flanked on one side by a pair of Shiro Kuramata’s iconic 1986 steel mesh couches, titled How High the Moon, and Odd Matter’s saccharine pink and purple, amoeba-shaped Guise 5 Spray Coffee Table, the Netherlands, and on the other by Wendell Castle’s bulbous Cloud Form Desk from 1979 and a pair of checkered Sarah Ortmeyer paintings, GRANDMASTER III and GRANDMASTER V, both from 2018, which give the whole thing a slightly Beetlejuice feel. Another subtle hint of time-flattening dysphoria are the gouache “paintings” on the wall, drawn by Charlap Hyman with the same fervent handmade style as his 2017 Chicago Biennial illustrations, but in the style of different artists of the 20th century, from Henri Matisse to Wassily Kandinsky to Paul Klee. If one looks carefully, one also notices the bookshelf in the “living room,” with titles like Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and a canon of queer literature for the imagined prepubescent doll-house owner. Continuing the contrast in color are Don’t Fold Young Boy, by young designer Dozie Kanu, a piece somewhere between a stepladder and a bookshelf constructed from Rimowa Aluminum sheet and steel, and artist Misha Kahn’s Saturday Morning Series: Tumbling in Turmoil (2018), a silver mirror cast in urethane resin from tensile fabric forms. Artist Camille Henrot’s piece Maso Meet Maso consists of a bulbous purple phone resting on a side table, while in the bedroom another wall-mounted custom telephone piece by Henrot, Dawg Shaming, invites the visitor to pick up the handset and eavesdrop on a conversation between the two phones. The bedroom conjures a Dr. Seuss–like vibe, with the delightfully strange combination of a loopy pink tube bed frame and light, Fruiting Habits, by Jonathan Trayte, covered in a textile piece by Oona Brangam-Snell, titled Grand Baby Bedding Set, which mixes childlike drawings with a repeated pattern reminiscent of a family crest. The bed is accentuated by Gaetano Pesce’s Felt Cabinet lurking in the corner, which faces an understated Ultrasuede bench by Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large called Untitled (ba ba ba) (2018), a piece that rounds out the generational conversation in the bedroom with its cool, calm poise. Further mash-ups of scale are presented in the “dining room,” with designer Katie Stout’s Tinder Chair and German-Moroccan design duo BNAG’s Toilet Chair and Tubbie Chair—the latter is a scaled-up version of a wooden chair from the 1990s children’s television show Teletubbies, which can be seen as a naive, happy-go-lucky children’s education show or, as in this case, a source of psychedelic inspiration. Milanese architect Luca Cipelletti’s no-nonsense XYZ table anchors the room. Overall, the show illustrates a stark contrast between flamboyant designs from the gallery’s collection and the specially commissioned contemporary pieces, which are relatively restrained and exude a humble quality rather than shouting for attention. While this sounds like a throwback to the stripped-down ethos of the Arte Povera movement, the actual effect is one of newfound sobriety, a coolness that avoids looking sleek and loud in favor of simply fulfilling a function beautifully.
Posts tagged with "Miniatures":
Instead of staring out the window into the gloomy morass of this weekend's unrelenting rain, head over to downtown Brooklyn tomorrow for the opening of a real—and really small—public forest. Artist Spencer Finch has set up a 4,000-tree glen in MetroTech Commons for his latest solo exhibition, Lost Man Creek. In partnership with Save the Redwoods League, Finch has recreated a 790-acre chunk of California's Redwood National Park at 1:100 scale. The height and placement of the thousands of scaled-down redwoods, ranging from one to four feet tall, mimic the topography of the real redwood forest (although the trees there reach heights close to 400 feet). “Through both a scientific approach to gathering data—including precise measurements and record keeping—and a poetic sensibility, Finch’s works often inhabit the area between objective investigations of science and the subjectivity of lived experience,” said exhibition organizer and Public Art Fund associate curator Emma Enderby, in a statement. “In a world where climate change is at the core of societal debates, Finch’s installation in the heart of one of the most urbanized neighborhoods of the city presents us with the universal reality of nature’s power to awe and inspire, and the importance to remember and protect such wonders.” Visitors will be able to view the triangular patch of nature from a platform or at ground level. A custom-rigged irrigation system will keep the redwoods alive (although they'll probably get more water here than in their native, water-deficient California). Like the old-growth redwoods, Lost Man Creek will be around for awhile: The exhibition opens tomorrow and remains on view through March 11, 2018. The work is reminiscent of Michael Neff's suspended forest at the Knockdown Center, although Neff prefers his conifers dead.
This miniature Italian Gothic cathedral by Pratt alum Ryan McAmis gets every teeny tiny detail right
The devil is in the microscopic details in this miniature model of an Italian gothic cathedral by illustrator and graphic designer Ryan McAmis. The Pratt Institute alum has built the Renaissance interior and exterior from scratch with arresting realism, right down to the furnishings, wall tombs, and iconic paintings. The Brooklyn-based artist used materials from hand-scribed brickwork on treated paper, to clay and wood for the most true-to-life effect. He then combines all the materials and creates a silicon mold to strengthen it and casts the pieces in white plastic, which he then hand paints. To achieve the correct scale, the artist mapped out the structure using computer vector modeling. He reverts again to the computer to render the stained-glass windows, which he lays out on Photoshop and then prints on a transparency. He then uses a small clay tool to burnish every little piece and give it the appearance of regular panes of 600-year-old leaded glass. The granite flooring, too, is designed on Photoshop and printed on archival paper. The paper is then glued to the floor, varnished, and sanded several times, while the clay tool is again enlisted to scribe the tiles. Most enrapturing of all is the apse – the very back of the cathedral beneath which the high altar sits – clad in ultramarine blue and gold stars inspired by the ceiling in the Scrovegni Chapel in Veneto, Italy, painted by Giotto Bondone. “Blue was the most expensive color in the late medieval period. It was made from Lapiz Lazuli imported from Afghanistan,” McAmis writes on his website. Meanwhile, the wall tomb in the apse is inspired by Renaissance funerary monuments, such as Bernardo Rossellino’s design for the tomb of Leonardo Bruni in the church of Santa Croce in Florence. The top of McAmis' wall tomb bears the bust of St. Mark’s, flanked by busts of Putto at the corners. Inside the church are fixtures such as the Savonarola, a Renaissance folding chair, and a miniature framed painting of the Madonna and child. In an interview with Daily Mini, McAmis revealed that while he would love to install an operative secret passage or gargoyle fountain, inside the funerary wall monuments are hidden mementos of his recently deceased cat, Leo – a fang, a bundle of whiskers and a lock of fur.
It could happen to you: Scultpor Thomas Doyle contemplates domestic life through miniature scenes of destruction
Sculptor Thomas Doyle offers a profound, if morose, take on domestic life and interpersonal relationships by repurposing playthings into artwork that speaks. Using materials and miniatures originally used for the backdrop of model train sets, Doyle creates miniature dioramas enclosed eerily in airless bell jars. Otherwise soothing scenes of suburbia are rendered in seemingly post-apocalyptic states, with clapboard houses smashed, missing walls, or semi-consumed by a sinkhole no developer could have anticipated. Faceless, stone-like figures half-buried in foliage are juxtaposed with the frontlines of military conflicts enacted by toy soldiers whom, despite their plastic countenances, look convincingly world-weary. “My works aren’t post-apocalyptic, but there’s an anxiety triggered by that unrealized desire to transcend reality and enter those worlds,” Doyle told the Wall Street Journal. One poignant scene shows a home surrounded by a circle of destruction – shards of wood and presumably, the detritus of other eviscerated homes – with one lone survivor, a half-inch tall, lingering in the garden. Another shows the cross section of a living room torn asunder, a man standing before the fireplace with a dish towel over his shoulder as his wife turns away from him, suitcases in hand. Each enclosed art piece, measuring just 7 by 12 inches, must be viewed through a 2-inch piece of concave glass, which turns the diminutive scenes into endless vistas with no way out. The tiny scenes are wrought from wood, wire, foam, styrene and papier-mache, and some critics have inferred references to America’s housing crisis, but Doyle insists on a muse much closer to home – frayed relationships, debt, anxiety. “I don’t have a very rosy view of the future and I suppose that telegraphs quite clearly through my work,” Doyle told Fast Company in an interview. The dioramas were displayed recently in the Dream No Small Dream exhibition at London’s Ronchini Gallery as part of a group show of miniature art. His work also appeared in a Thames & Hudson book titled Big Art/Small Art, published in late 2014.
The semi-dilapidated Eastern-bloc buildings of Warsaw may seem like unlikely candidates to be immortalized in paper miniature. Nonetheless that was the task undertaken by Hispano-Polish design studio ZUPAGRAFIKA, which has devised a series of intricate paper models that can be cut and folded into small-scale models of a number of the Modernist structures dispersed through the city. Each hand-drawn design constitutes a testament to the range of the color grey and is remarkable in its attention to detail. Black bleeds from balconies and stains concrete facades while graffiti peppers the structure's bases. Occasional satellite dishes emerge from apartment units. All but one of the collection appears devoted to residential towers, with the lone outlier being the circular model of the PKO Rotunda. The latter calls for a slightly more elaborate origami effort in executing the structure's zig-zag crown. Each building can be purchased online, though a working knowledge of Polish appears to be required in order to complete such a task. In rendering Warsaw's Modernist legacy with such precision, ZUPAGRAFIKA's project draws a stark contrast between the city's not-so-distant architectural past, and the glossier designs destined to populate its future.
The Dutch are known to love their flowers. They're even building an entire city dedicated to them for a horticultural expo in 2022. On a smaller scale, the Bloemencorso flower parade covers imaginative and incredibly detailed floats in thousands of colorful blooms, and this year it featured a miniature flower city of its own.
German photographer Frank Kunert is out to challenge your sense of perception and expectation with his meticulously crafted and hilariously absurd miniature scenes. His series "Photographs of Small Worlds" presents glimpses into mundane vignettes gone awry, where doors don't meet balconies, diving boards lead to giant toilets, or an office is eerily underwater. Each model takes weeks—and sometimes months—to build, and Kunert is a perfectionist who won't stop until every detail is just right. The end result is well worth the wait. Kunert prefers the "analog" nature of hand-built models to their digitally rendered counterparts. He believes the tangibility of his miniature worlds adds to their visual effect. Individual model's meaning is left up to the viewer, each evoking a sense of fear, the grotesque, unease, or pure absurdity. What do you you see in Kunert's Small Worlds? Be sure to check out more miniatures on Frank Kunert's web site. All images used with permission. [ Via Trend Land. ]
Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities Museum of Arts and Design 2 Columbus Circle Opening June 7 Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities showcases the construction of small hand-built artificial environments and alternative realities as sculpture and for film. It explores the increasing interest in creating things by hand, as digital technology becomes a bigger part of our lives. The exhibit, which features models, snow globes, photographs, and video, seeks to reflect a meaningful engagement with materials and attention to detail. Works include the Chadwicks’ diorama of a microbrewery and Alan Wolfson’s recreation of a tri-level cross-section of Canal Street, above.
Many museums have of period rooms in their holdings, but the Art Institute of Chicago also has an impressive collection of 68 miniature period spaces. Rather than treat these dollhouse-sized objects as sacred or static, the museum has decorated six of them for the holidays with historically and culturally appropriate trimmings. The English Victorian drawing room is the only one that includes a Christmas tree. Take a look at some of the rooms and details from Tudor to Modern spaces. Alongside wood panneled walls and suits of armour, the English Tudor Hall has a wassailing bowl, a yule log, and a mummer's mask, which was used for during holiday festivities and pantomimes of the era. The French Provincial Bedroom has shoes in front of the fireplace, a creche, and a puzzle. The Modern California hallway has a replica of a mid-century Otto Natzler menorah and a box with a dreidel (along with a Picasso?). The Thorne Miniature Rooms are on view in Gallery 11.
Whether you are buying gifts this weekend or merely window-shopping, New Yorkers willing to brave the crowds on upper Madison Avenue can also see cutting edge architecture, albeit in miniature form. REX has designed a doll house for the Calvin Klein Collection, on view now through January 5, 2009 at their store on Madison at 60th Street. But this doll house isn’t child’s play. The structure, which looks like a large origami birdhouse suspended from diagonal braces, was built with the help of Magnusson Klemencic engineers and the fabricators at Situ Studio. While this rendering makes the piece look like it’s suspended between buildings on one of New York’s canyon-like streets, it is, in reality, hung in the window. Go see it for yourself. UPDATE: Here are some photographs of the doll house, for comparison with the rendering. It's pretty impressive. The interiors feature tiny versions of Calvin Klein's apparel, furniture, and home accessories lines.