In the latest issue of Newsweek, I write about Justin Timberlake:
Justin Timberlake is our biggest male pop star… And yet for some reason we have been slow to acknowledge his place in the pop cosmos—not just me, but the culture at large. Most of the talk about Timberlake still centers on his improbable transformation from *NSYNC puff pastry—tight blond curls, paint-splattered jeans, matching diamond studs—to a credible, grown-up R&B artist. But the metamorphosis itself is old news. What hasn’t been adequately examined is the position he now occupies: our era’s equivalent of a Michael Jackson or an Elvis Presley, as strange as that sounds. I’m not just referring to the 17 million records Timberlake has sold, or the seven inventive, unshakable singles he’s released since the start of the 21st century. Every star reflects the generation that produces and sustains him: its character and its neuroses, its needs and its wants. So why have we settled on Justin Timberlake?
For all the futurism of Timbaland’s productions—the bleeps and blips, the percussive mouth noises, the zippery loops—Timberlake’s music… strives to keep it real, mainly by anchoring itself in the organic sounds of the past. As Simon Reynolds recently wrote in Retromania, pop culture is increasingly feeding on its own history. And so “Suit and Tie” borrows its gentle ninth chords and sparkling piano glissandos from the cosmopolitan soul that Marvin Gaye was putting out in the 1970s, and Timberlake acknowledges the debt by quoting the “hot just like an oven” line from Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” “Senorita,” the fourth single from Justified, is a direct descendent of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing,” from its spoken intro to its Latin beat. And the only thing more Jacksonesque than Timberlake’s debut release, “Like I Love You”—which he performed at the 2002 MTV Music Video Awards in black pants, a red shirt, and a fedora—was his third single, “Rock Your Body,” an actual rejected Jackson track. Fearing inauthenticity—the inevitable side effect of a dematerialized digital society—Millennials gravitate toward styles that have been authenticated by the passage of time. When Timberlake sings about getting “all pressed up in black and white,” then appears at the Grammys in a Tom Ford tuxedo—his hair neatly parted, his band arrayed behind Art Deco podiums, the screen tinted like an old sepia-tone photograph—he is satisfying this desire, both in himself and his audience.
Read the rest here.
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TONIGHT: The opening reception for Transparent Things, the debut solo show by Gabrielle Ferrer, my brilliant sister-in-law.
If you live in L.A., stop by, say hello, and have a look. Gabi’s work is stunning.
When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!*
Steve Turner Contemporary is pleased to present Transparent Things, a solo exhibition by Gabrielle Ferrer which will consist of three related series of work that result from the artist’s process of archiving objects as a method of investigating their history and essential character. In each series, she allows the subject to determine the medium.
The Navajo Blanket is made up of every black and white reproduction of blankets in The Navajo Blanket, a 1972 catalogue published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the exhibition of the same title. Ferrer removed and hand-colored in watercolor each page of the catalogue using the catalogue description and her imagination to determine the final design.
Prop Houses, Los Angeles consists of black and white photographs which the artist made during several trips to prop houses that rent every imaginable object to film crews. She then hand-tinted and framed each print.
Cones consists of medium format photographs of pyrometric ceramic cones that were used in the process of firing ceramic ware. Positioned within a kiln, cones serve as a visual indication that a work is ready to be removed. Once the work is removed from the kiln the cone is usually discarded.
Born in Los Angeles in 1983, Gabrielle Ferrer earned an MFA from University of Long Beach in 2010 and a BA from Amherst College in 2005. Her work is currently included in Made in Space at Night Gallery, Los Angeles.
*Nabokov, Vladimir. Transparent Things. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972. p. 1.
Transparent Things // Opening Reception: Friday, March 15, 7-9 // Runs March 15 through April 20, 2013 // Steve Turner Contemporary 6026 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 (across from BCAM at LACMA)
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Front door detail (handle, glass portholes) from Villa Maeria in Noormarkku, Finland by Alvar Aalto (1939)
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Unused poster for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point by Milton Glaser (1970)
R.M. Schindler’s Van Dekker House in Woodland Hills, Calif. I went exploring over the weekend. Built in 1940, this strange, beautiful residence deteriorated along with the health of its previous owner, noir screenwriter and novelist A.I. Bezzerides, who died at the age of 98 in 2007. A restoration began in 2009, but it *appears* to have stalled (or slowed to a crawl). If only I had a spare million lying around…
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Fluxus V Tre No. 8 by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, George Maciunas [designer], and Peter Moore [photographer] (1970)
Folio; twice-folded broadsheet, with b+w illustrations throughout, printed index sheet laid in.
Despite being labeled “No. 8” on the cover, this is actually the ninth issue of the Fluxus newspaper V Tre. It takes the form of a huge two-sided poster reproducing Peter Moore’s photographic documentation of New York Flux activities between New Year’s eve 1969 and May 1970 - primarily the numerous events and performances of works by John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged in the Big Apple that spring.
Via 6 Decades.
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Kings Road House by R.M. Schindler, West Hollywood, Calif. (1922)
Considered to be the first house built in the Modern style, the Schindler House was such a departure from existing residential architecture because of what it did not have; there is no conventional living room, dining room or bedrooms in the house. The residence was meant to be a cooperative live/work space for two young families. The concrete walls and sliding glass panels made novel use of industrial materials, while the open floor plan integrated the external environment into the residence, setting a precedent for California architecture in particular.
The Schindler House is laid out as two interlinking “L” shaped apartments (referred to as the Schindler and Chace apartments) using the basic design of the camp site that he had seen a year before. Each apartment was designed for a separate family, consisting of 2 studios, connected by a utility room. The utility room was meant to serve the functions of a kitchen, laundry, sewing room, and storage. The four studios were originally designated for the four members of the household (Rudolf & Pauline Schindler and Clyde & Marian Chace). The house also has a guest studio with its own kitchen and bathroom.
The house, at just under 3,500 square feet (330 m2), sits on a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) lot. Instead of bedrooms, there are 2 rooftop sleeping baskets. The baskets were redwood four post canopies with beams at mitered corners, protected from the rain by canvas sides.
Schindler’s friend, partner and rival, Richard Neutra, along with his wife Dione and son Frank, lived in the Chace apartment from March 1925 until the summer of 1930. Pauline Schindler left the house and her husband in August 1927; Rudolph remained at the house until his death in 1953.
The Chace apartment had a variety of famous and creative people live in it, including art dealer & collector Galka Scheyer, dancer John Bovingdon, novelist Theodore Dreiser, photographer Edward Weston and composer John Cage.
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“After Dark” by Shop Assistants (1986)
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In the dining room of a bungalow he remodeled about a decade ago in New Canaan, Conn., Danish furniture designer Jens Risom, 94, customized this bar. “There are a series of his honey-colored cabinets and each is outfitted for whatever he wanted,” Williamson says. “One is the coat closet, another houses the stereo system/TV. I especially love this bar because it just seemed wonderfully thorough. I don’t really need a bar but after I saw Jens’, I kind of wanted one.”
Photo by Leslie Williamson
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James Prestini (1908-1993):
James Prestini studied mechanical engineering at Yale, and then continued his study at the Institute for Design in Chicago. Prestini was a practitioner of the Bauhaus philosophy of art and craft, ideas that he expressed in the following quote from 1989: “Craft is the body of structure. Art is the soul of structure. Optimum creativity integrates both.” He worked as a wood-turner from 1933-1953. He used straight-grained woods to create thin bowls with an appearance similar to glass and ceramics. In 1950 Edgar Kauffman, Jr. of the Museum of Modern Art commented on Prestini’s contribution to modernism: “This feat has been Prestini’s, to suggest within the limits of simple craft the human pathos of art and the clean, bold certainties of science. He has made grand things that are not overwhelming, beautiful things that are not personal unveilings, and simple things that do not urge usefulness to excuse their simplicity… Art or not, craft or not, bowls or plain shapes, they speak directly and amply of our day to our day.” Prestini died in 1993 in Berkeley, CA where he had been a professor of fine arts at the University of California.
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Mr. and Mrs. Lee Blair were [artists] for the Walt Disney Studios who had been interested in a house by Harwell Harris since 1937. He had, in fact, designed a house at that time that was canceled due to an uncertainty in their work (of the five Disney clients Harwell had during these years only two would see their houses reach the construction stage). In 1939 they returned with a new lot and he started over again. This lot was extremely steep and Harris designed the tiny, one bedroom house with three stories sheathed in horizontal redwood siding. Each of the three blocks of the house rose another step up the hill. At its rear, each floor rested on the natural level of the ground and at its front it rested on the rear edge of the block below it. Thus, the second story used the roof of the first story for a roof terrace, and the third story used the roof of the second story for its roof terrace. So high, in fact, was the studio that the clients had a spectacular view of Los Angeles and even of the cowboy and indian movies being filmed at Fox Studios. The Blair house followed all the rules of Harris’ nine-point plan. The same finishes—grass matting, plywood walls and Celotex ceilings—were used throughout, and each room had one wall of glass opening into a garden or terrace. This allowed not only for a more generous display of the floor but also showed the Alvar Aalto chairs and Harris-designed couch and dressing table to their full advantage.
Harris, Aalto, Disney. Perfect.
If only I had been hunting for a house in 2011.
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Bronze “S” Arm Chaises by Walter Lamb for Brown Jordan (c. 1950)
Walter Lamb outdoor furniture for Brown Jordan is synonymous with California design. Originally conceived in the mid-1940s by using surplus bronze tubing from the U.S. Navy, Lamb’s classic outdoor designs have outstanding durability. Ideal for the North American landscape, the support material is made of cotton yacht cord that needs replacement about every 5-10 years, depending on its use. Upon release, the line was offered in several patinas – verdigris, brown bronze, or golden bronze – which over time take on an enhanced patina with weathering. Comprised of structural, bold lines made from industrial-strength materials, his chairs, ottomans, and tables remain as some of the most comfortable and iconic Mid-Century Modern outdoor furniture.
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