Thankful

November 26, 2008

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving; a day we give thanks for everything we have and for the people we have in our lives to share it with.

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I have been extremely thankful, gracious and lucky for the last umpteen years while creating Artistic Luxury. Here are some of the things I’m thankful for:

  • Gracious lenders for lending me so many wonderful objects to the exhibition.
  • The staff at the Cleveland Museum of Art for believing in Artistic Luxury as much as I do and helping to make this exhibition a success.
  • My amazing assistant who keeps me on task and in line.
  • Visitors who have come to the museum from all over to see Artistic Luxury – you make everything I’ve done worthwhile.
  • My family and friends for putting up with me while I worked on this exhibition. As sweet as I look, I have my moments.

What are you, my readers, thankful for? I’d love to know; and remember to give your thanks tomorrow and every day throughout the year. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Stephen

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The 1900 World’s Fair in Paris joined scads of awe-inspiring and often bedazzled innovations. Now you can see them once again at the Cleveland Museum of Art, as Fabergé, Tiffany and Lalique come together once more.

Last week marked the 108th anniversary of the closing of the fair. Although infamous for introducing several revoluationary techniques, including talking films and escalators, perhaps the most influential unveiling was that of the Art Noveau style.

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Through the seven-month exposition that was the World’s Fair, the highly-stylized, organic motifs that distinguish Art Noveau were all apparent. One of the fair’s exhibiting artistis, who helped inspire a worldwide craze, was jewelry Rene Lalique, featured prominently in CMA’s exhibition, Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique.

Today, you and your family can take a trip back to Paris 1900 right here in Cleveland present day. No passport or French phrasebook required. CMA welcomes families of all ages to “Bask in the Luxury,” a hands-on family workshop on Sunday, November 30.

Get inspired, create your own modern day bling, and take a tour of Artistic Luxury to see the very same pieces that inspired more than 50 million World’s fair visitors.

It’s a roundtrip that you won’t feel in your wallet. Go ahead, tell your friends you’re spending the holidays in Paris. So chic.

Stephen

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This show is not just for women, contrary to popular belief.

I give you the Top 10 Reasons for Men to see Artistic Luxury:

10. Really, it’s just a rock collection.

9. Most everything is in a case, meaning you more than likely can’t break anything.

8. You’ll score points with the ladies.

7. It’s cheaper than taking your wife or girlfriend to a fancy dinner.

6. The exhibition highlights the rivalry between designers – pretend the designers are sports teams and root for your favorite.

5. LeBron, Jay-Z, Kanye…they all wear bling.

4. Impress a date – come by yourself and do the audio tour, then come back with a date and impress the heck out of her.

3. Take solace in the fact that your wife/girlfriend can’t ask for these items for Christmas, they’re one-of-a-kind. But do be prepared to shop for knock-offs – visit the CMA store.

2. Take your wife/girlfriend to Artistic Luxury on Saturday and maybe she’ll let you watch the Browns on Sunday, undisturbed.

1. You can put that “I’m so bored and was dragged here by my wife/girlfriend look” on your face and I won’t be offended, I know you secretly love it.

Stephen

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It takes a village…

November 11, 2008

It takes a village to make an exhibition possible, this I know. All departments at the Cleveland Museum of Art band together and expand the exhibition to include lectures, concerts, films, you name it. And I thank them all for it.

One example is the upcoming concert, Artistic Luxury: Music of Opulence and Decadence around 1900, with Antonio Pompa-Baldi on piano, Wednesday, November 12 at Severance Hall. I recently sat down with Antonio and Tom Welsh, CMA’s associate director of music, and discussed Artistic Luxury  – go ahead and listen, then go to order your tickets.

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Stephen

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My take home pieces

October 28, 2008

Artistic Luxury is open, the exhibition is full of people, and as I’ve wandered through the galleries evesdropping, listening to how much everyone loves my exhibition, I’ve noticed a growing trend. Patrons are picking their favorite “take home piece.” In other words, a hypothetical piece they fall in love with and would take home if they could, without security and the law in tow.

Joining in the fun, I’ve picked three take home pieces. Hey, I’m the curator, I can do what I want.

Take home piece #1 – The Adam’s Vase.

Adam's Vase, c. 1893-95, Tiffany & Co., The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Adam's Vase, c. 1893-95, Tiffany & Co., The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Adam’s Vase (c. 1893-95) was designed by Paulding Farnham of Tiffany & Co. and created from American gold (nearly 23 pounds), gemstones (pearls, amethysts, garnets and tourmalines) and mineral specimens (gold-bearing quartz, rock crystal and petrified wood). The vase was displayed at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair as the crowning achievement of Tiffany & Co.

Take home piece #2 – Kelch Rocaille Egg.

The Kelch Eggs, done by the House of Fabergé for heiress Barbara Kelch, were Easter eggs meant to compete with the Imperial eggs (also done by Fabergé) for the Russian Tsar. Said to be gifts of Alexander Kelch (Barbara’s husband), Barbara Kelch actually purchased her own Easter eggs from the House of Fabergé each year for seven years.

Take home piece #3 – Jester Hand Mirror.

The Jester Hand Mirror (c. 1898-1900) by René Lalique shows a mocking jester confronting the user of the hand mirror, while stag beetles proclaim the true beauty of the beholder on the reverse. Lalique’s repertoire of subject matter ran the gammet from flora and fauna to the human form.

For more on why these pieces are my take homes and visuals, watch my video blogs for more curatorial insight.

Now what are you waiting for? Come to Artistic Luxury and pick your own take home piece, just don’t actually take it home of course.

Stephen