Drawing the line ~ from forgettable to memorable

I’m going back in time. I have to, for if this blog is to continue doubling up as my journal, I can’t be skipping events. Even the not so memorable ones like those two, almost back-to-back performances at BAM.

First, the utterly forgettable performance by Doug Varone and Dancers, emphatically described as: ”Doug Varone and Dancers celebrate 30 years of impassioned choreography with three works representing the past, present, and future of this peerless company.” By the third work I was convinced I’m never watching another Doug Varone performance again. Art is subjective and a matter of chemistry, and unfortunately it didn’t work for me this time.

Next, ”A Nonesuch Celebration, a stellar lineup of musical luminaries” that came together ‘‘for one night only to pay tribute to Bob Hurwitz, who for the past three decades has served as the visionary architect of Nonesuch Records”. I had not heard of Mr Hurwitz before, but the idea of watching live performances by (among others) Pat Metheny, Kronos Quartet, k.d. lang and Mandy Patinkin all in one evening, seemed very appealing. I did enjoy myself but it seemed like the hosts were enjoying themselves much more which made me feel a bit awkward, like crashing a private party.

But then, on 1-2 April, it was time for the annual MoCCA Arts Festival. A multimedia event organised by the Society of Illustrators with workshops, film screenings, exhibitions and panels, MoCCA is Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon and animation festival and my first chance to meet two rather brilliant gentlemen, artists and friends: Blutch in Conversation with David Mazzucchelli – and the weekend couldn’t get any better.

But wait… there’s more! Here come the real superheroes, those early comic book creators from the industry’s early years  (1935-1955), lovingly depicted by their colleague, American cartoonist Drew Friedman in his two recent books Heroes of the Comics and More Heroes of the Comics. 

The Society of Illustrators presented 100 original colour illustrations by the artist, who was also featured as a guest of honour at the MoCCA 2017.

Bernard Krigstein, 1919-1990
He approached comics as a serious art form and his innovative, beautifully composed, almost cinematic use of panels have never been equaled in comics. Following Harvey Kurtzman’s invitation to illustrate one of his EC war stories, Krigstein became a regular contributor to EC, illustrating a total of 47 stories for them, including several pieces for MAD, highlighting his brilliant gift for caricature. 1955’s ”Master Race”, appeared in the debut issue of EC’s ”New Direction” comic Impact and was his masterpiece, a groundbreaking triumph of sequential storytelling.


Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993)
Cartoonist, writer, editor, satirist and teacher, he was the founder and creator of MAD – as well as Trump, Humbug, Help, etc. Along with his long-time partner, cartoonist Will Elder, he spent almost 30 years producing the lushly painted comic strip ”Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy. Kurtzman has had a huge, almost unmeasurable influence on several generations of cartoonists and humorists, among them Robert Crumb and the (Monty) Pythons.


Norman Maurer (1926-1986)
Born in Brooklyn, he started working in comic books while still a teenager. His marriage to Joan Howard, daughter of Moe Howard of the Three Stooges, in 1947 kicked-off his lifelong association with the comedy team.


Carl Barks (1901-2000)
His cartoon adventures of Donald Duck were published anonymously for decades. Barks drew the Donald Duck story for the front of Walt Disney’s Comics, the most popular post-War II comic book being published. In 1935 he has hired as a full-time writer at the Disney film studios only to quit in 1942 and become a full-time artist for their comic book line – which included the bimonthly Donald Duck. In his later years, Barks would recreate in oil large paintings of his beloved ducks, some of them now fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars.


William Erwin ”Will” Eisner (1917-2005)
Eisner grew up in the Bronx dreaming of someday becoming a successful cartoonist. In 1936, Eisner’s friend from Dewitt Clinton high school, Bob Kane, suggested he sell some of his cartoons to a new tabloid-sized magazine called WOW, What a Magazine!, edited by cartoonist and letterer Jerry Iger. Although Iger was 12 years older than the 19-year old Eisner, they both clicked. They opened together the Eisner-Iger studio in New York, a mass production comic book factory in 1937. It was a great financial success but Eisner, who was more interested in concentrating on his writing and drawing, would sell his interest in the shop in 1939 to pursue an offer to create a syndicated newspaper comics section of his own. His first 16-page The Spirit insert episode ran in 1940.


William Moulton Marston (1893-1947)
Marston’s relatively short life was filled with fascinating, seemingly at first, unrelated accomplishments. He attended Harvard and received a Ph.D in Psychology, became a teacher and briefly, in 1929, the director of public services for Universal Studios in Hollywood. Marston was also a lawyer and inventor, and is credited as the creator of the Systolic Blood Pressure Test, which would help lead to the invention of the modern Polygraph machine. He also authored several self-help books and was a champion of women’s causes, writing that he was convinced that women were ”more honest and reliable than men, and could work faster and more accurately.” He also recognized and wrote of the ”great educational potential” of the new medium of comic books and in the early forties he was hired by publisher Max Gaines to be an ”educational consultant” for National Periodicals and All-American Publications which would soon merge into DC comics. Marston’s wife Elizabeth gave him the idea to create a female superhero in the then male dominated world of comics; he developed the character ”Suprema” soon called ”Wonder Woman” basing her to an extend on his own wife and her appearance on his polyamorous partner, a former student of his who now lived with the couple in an open marriage, named Olive Byrne.


Whitney Ellsworth (1908-1980)
Writer and artist for DC comics, he became their Hollywood liaison. He had a hands-on role in script and production for the 1951 feature Superman and the Mole Men which led directly to 1952’s The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves.


Joe Shuster (1914-1992) & Jerry Siegel (1914-1996)
They met at 16 at Glendale high school in Cleveland, Ohio. The two young, shy Jewish teenagers discovered they shared much in common, Siegel dreaming of writing science fiction stories for Pulp magazines and the shy, bespectacled Shuster also sharing a love for science fiction and dreaming of working as a Pulp artist. Siegel conceived a superhero character he called ”The Superman” and together with Shuster’s art, began a frustrating four-year quest to get it published as a comic. Another of their characters, Slam Bradley, debuted in National’s Detective Comics #1 in 1937. In 1938 Max Gaines urged National’s new publishers, Harry Donefeld and Jack Liebowitz to publish Superman, and after four years of submissions and rejections, the character finally debuted as the cover feature for National’s Action Comics #1 in June 1938. It was an instant sensation. By endorsing a check for $130 (the total amount of the check was for more than $400, other monies owed to the team was padded on to no doubt make the signing more enticing), assuring them that they would be the primary artist and writer for Superman and the upcoming syndicated Superman newspaper comic, and without any advice from a lawyer, Siegel & Shuster forever signed away all their rights to a character that would soon become one of the most commercially successful and iconic characters of the 20th century.


Bill Finger (1914-1974)


Bob Kane (1915-1988)
He was the controversial artist who posed for almost half a century as the sole creator of Batman. In 1938, after the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster named Superman caused a sensation in Action Comics #1, National sought more super-heroes to add to their roster and Kane soon conceived a character he called ”The Batman”. He showed his flimsy conception drawings to his writer Bill Finger, who he had hired to work for him and Finger suggested specific changes to redesign the character into the now familiar Dark Knight persona. The completed Batman debut finally appeared in Detective Comics #27, in May 1939. It became a hit and was soon starring in his own series, featuring his sidekick ”Robin”, conceived by Finger and artist Jerry Robinson. Kane worked out a cozy deal with National where he would receive sole credit as the writer and artist behind Batman, even though the character was essentially created by Bill Finger


Wally Wood (1927-1981)
“Wally may have been our most troubled artist, but he may have been our most brilliant” – William M. Gaines


Marie Severin (b. 1929)
As EC’s colorist and the only creative woman on staff, and a very moral catholic, she was known for often colouring a particularly gruesome panel dark blue to help tone down the gore. Marie Severin’s older brother John first invited her to work as his colourist at EC in 1949 and soon she was colouring all of their comics, including the notorious horror titles.


Doug  Varone and Dancers, BAM
March 30th, 2017

A Nonesuch Celebration, BAM
April 1st, 2017

MoCCA Arts Festival
April 1st, 2017

Infinity.dot.Mirror.dot.Rooms@David_Zwirner

The exhibition in Chelsea featured two new Infinity Mirror Rooms, one which could be seen through a peephole (below) and another, where the viewers could walk in (from which yesterday’s ”teaser” photos). There was also a red and white polka-dotted space and a larger one featuring sixty-six paintings from the artist’s iconic My Eternal Soul series and three large-scale flower sculptures.

Immerse into Yayoi Kusama’s mesmerizing, beautiful chaos. You may even discover a kind of order behind this explosion of colour, this pandemonium of patterns and shapes, this sensory overload.

After a while, it all starts to make sense. 

Festival of Life ran through a limited time only, in David Zwirner Chelsea concurrently with an exhibition of Kusama’s new Infinity Nets paintings, in their uptown location. We never made it to the latter.

December, 6th 2017

LV Loves America

And the feeling is mutual. Hat trunk in leather, once belonging to Marjorie Merriweather Post


Nicolas Ghesquière embroidered dress worn by Emma Stone at the 2017 British Film Institute Festival


Marc Jacobs feathers headpiece


With this last, highly instagrammable chapter, we end our walk through the history of a House whose name became synonymous with travel. Have you packed your wardrobe/hat/shoe steamer trunks yet? Me too! The question now is… where do we go next?

Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

LV & friends

Yayoi Kusama


Robert Wilson


The Music Room

Since the founding of the House of Louis Vuitton, exacting customers have been able to place unique special orders to fulfill their private purposes and dreams. There is no fantasy or extravagance that cannot be packed. Shower, trunk, altar trunk, bed trunk or cigar trunk – in every situation, Louis Vuitton matched the traveler’s ambition and unique needs with equal expertise. Musical instruments, fragile and delicate, are probably the most vulnerable items to pack. Whether a violin, a guitar or the conductor’s baton, cases were designed by the trunk-maker as protection and enhancement. 


Supreme
Skateboard trunk


Cindy Sherman
Studio in a trunk


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

L’eau de Voyage

Because no voyage is complete unless accompanied by fond memories.
And nothing evokes fond memories faster than an exquisite fragrance in an elegant glass bottle.
As delicate as our very existence. As enduring as the spirit of a true traveller.

***

Louis Vuitton perfume bottles designed by Camille Cless-Brothier in early 1920s.

L’Arbre pleureur, enameled crystal perfume bottle; design by Camille Cless-Brothier, 1922.


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

LVoyage – Voyage

In the nineteenth century, the evolution of transportation reduced distances. Steam vessels were put into service in the 1830s, linking Europe to the Americas. Railways in 1848, the invention of the automobile in the 1890s, and the advent of commercial airlines in the 1900s ushered the world towards new habits and life experiences.

Travelling by train meant that one could relax in their sleeping car, socialize over a cocktail in the restaurant, daydream, work, test the latest fashion trends on their fellow passengers. And, more importantly, one did not have to travel light. Desk trunks, library trunks, whole wardrobe trunks, designed to make travelers feel at home away from home, were considered an integral part of an experienced, sophisticated traveler’s baggage. Portable chest (hasami-bako) in black lacquered wood with gold lacquer patterned using the hiramaki-e technique, Edo period, late 18th and 19th century


Ideale Library trunk in monogram canvas, 1927


Desk trunk in natural cowhide, once belonging to Frank J. Gould, 1928


Jenner & Knewstub Berry’s fitted travel bag in leather, ca. 1864


Client records. For each client the house creates a record detailing special orders and customization requests, 19th to 20th century


Milo Anderson, silk satin nightdress worn by Lauren Bacall in ”Young man with a horn”, 1950


Brettes hat/shoe trunk, vanity case in monogram canvas
Alzer suitcase and Stratos case, all once belonging to Lauren Bacall


Satellite suitcases, vanity case, Deauville bag in monogram canvas once belonging to Elizabeth Taylor


Jeanne Lanvin hostess dress, worn by Mary Pickford, Winter 1948-49


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

LVolez – The art of traveling light

In the early twentieth century, Louis Vuitton closely followed innovators who, from the airship to the airplane, blazed new trails in the air. To equip aviators and then passengers, the Aéro trunk could hold ”2 pieces of clothing, 1 overcoat, 10 shirts, 3 nightgowns, 3 pairs of underwear, 3 waistcoats, 6 pairs of socks, 12 handkerchiefs, 1 pair of shoes, 18 detachable collars, gloves, ties and hats” all weighing less than 57 pounds. Its dimensions were identical to the Aviette, a more feminine version. 

The dimensions of the Aéro trunk were:
H12.99in x W32.28in x D18.11in
H33 cm x W82 cm x D46 cm

All things considering, an early twentieth century Aéro trunk would still be every airline’s darling, even in today’s ever restrictive rules and shrinking space.

Louis Vuitton by Marc Jacobs long dress and cropped jacket with long skirt, S/S 2013
Marceau travel bag in cotton canvas, attributed to Dora Maar, c. 1950
Champs-Élysées travel bag in cotton canvas, once belonging to Madame Henry-Louis Vuitton, ca. 1950


Louis Vuitton by Sofia Coppola, SC Bag in monogram canvas, 2009


Boris Lipnitzki
Outfits by Paul Caret, next to a Nieuport airplane equipped with a Delage motor, Le Bourget (Seine-Saint-Denis), 1929


Model of the Blériot XI airplane, 20th century


Heures d’absence perfume, 1927


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

LVoyagez – A Roadtrip

Organized between 1924 and 1925 by André Citroën, the Croisière Noire was primarily an ambitions anthropological and technological mission. Traveling through Algeria, Mali and the Congo aboard vehicles (such as the Gold Scarab and Silver Crescent half-track) developed especially for this excursion, the crossing was marked by physical and technical achievements, as well as scientific, ethnographic and geographic accomplishments. The House of Louis Vuitton accompanied the expedition at the request of Mr. Citroën. Special orders [for photos, see first post of this series] were made so as to offer trunks that were suited to climate, modes of transport and the practicalities of daily life for the explorers (tea sets, toiletry kits, etc.). The second expedition organized by André Citroën, the Croisière Jaune, took place a few weeks before the official opening of the Colonial Exposition of 1931, with the objective of crossing the legendary Silk Road through Asia. 

Chauffeur’s kit in vuittonite canvas, 1910


Dornac, 100 à l’heure travelling coat in Scottish wool twill, ca. 1923


Ladies’ flat hand bags in Morocco leather, ca. 1910


Driving googles, ca. 1900


Louis Vuitton by Marc Jacobs coated cotton coat, F/W 1998-99


Special car trunk for motobloc vehicles in vuittonite canvas, ca. 1908


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

Louis Vuitton – In the beginning

Yan Pei-Ming
Louis Vuitton as a young man, 2015


In 1906, a reference catalogue precisely inventoried items and luggage from Louis Vuitton. The trunks that would make the House a success were already there. 


Louis, Georges and Gaston-Louis Vuitton posing with craftsmen in the courtyard of the Asnières-sur-Seine workshops, ca. 1888


Collage workshop at Asnières-sur-Seine, ca. 1903


Ideale trunk in natural cowhide, ca. 1903 with accessories from the 1900s


Paris suitcase in natural cowhide leather, 1914


Restrictive trunk in monogram canvas, once belonging to Gaston-Louis Vuitton, ca. 1925


Shoe trunk for thirty pairs of shoes in monogram canvas, once belonging to Yvonne Printemps, 1926


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017