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NYC’s MAD Museum celebrates 5 years, new exhibitions
Feb 7, 2013

This year, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) celebrates its five-year anniversary with a diverse roster of exhibitions and programs that focus on materials, process and contemporary creation.

MAD will inaugurate its anniversary year with Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design, as part of MAD’s ‘Materials and Process’ series, which will examine how artists and craftspeople are using and reinterpreting wood in their work.

This year, MAD will also expand its annual public program series investigating the current state of American Design into its very first physical exhibition; After The Museum: The Home Front 2013. The exhibition and associated programs will explore the role of the 21st century art and design museum in shaping and echoing contemporary design practices.
Here’s a closer look at each of the scheduled MAD exhibitions:
Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design—March 19 – July 7
Featuring nearly 90 installations, sculptures, furniture, and vessels, Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design explores the latest conceptual and technical trends in woodworking today. The exhibition, which focuses on works created since 2000, examines the ways in which artists, craftspeople and designers have incorporated modernist approaches and strategies into woodworking, including the deconstruction of vessel forms, interplay between function and form, and co-opting of woodturning and furniture techniques into sculpture.
Loosely organized around the themes of mimicry, assemblage, virtuosity and whimsy with a purpose, Against the Grain includes works by sculptors Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtney Smith, Betye Saar, Laurel Roth, Marc Andre Robinson and William Pope.L; installation artists Gary Carsley, Sarah Oppenheimer and Alison Elizabeth Taylor; designers Maarten Baas, Sebastian Erraruziz, Elisa Strozyk and Piet Hein Eek; and studio wood artists Bud Latven, Andrew Early, Thomas Loeser and Hunt Clark.
Against the Grain is organized by Lowery Stokes Sims, Charles Bronfman International Curator and Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane, Assistant Curator and Exhibition Project Manager. The accompanying 160-page catalogue includes essays by Sims on the conceptual framework of the exhibition; by Kirrane who chronicles how history, environmental issues and politics have predicated the use of various woods; and by Suzanne Ramljak, editor and noted expert on craft, who examines the enduring preoccupation with wood in human cultures.
After The Museum: The Home Front 2013—March 12 – June 2
Featuring more than 30 individuals and collaboratives, the exhibition will explore the role of the 21st century art and design museum in shaping and echoing contemporary design practices. After The Museum will stage and present a series of installations and more than 40 public programs—master classes, lectures, and special projects— that will examine the full breadth of the oscillating relationship between designers and cultural institutions.
Participants include AIGA/NY, Aaron Anderson and Eric Timothy Carlson, Alexandra Lange, American Design Club, Are.na, BOFFO, CLOG, D-Crit at SVA, Dexter Sinister with Erik Wyoscan, Fredericks & Mae, Garmento, JF & SON, Keetra Dean Dixon + JK Keller, The LAB at Rockwell Group, Leon Ransmeier, MatterMade, Murray Moss, Charlie O’Geen, Other Means, Pratt, Project Projects, REPLY, Rich Brilliant Willing, ROLU, Snarkitecture, Stefan Sagmeister, Superscript, Type@Cooper, Various Projects, Volume Gallery, Wanted Design, and W/–– Projects. After the Museum: The Home Front 2013 is organized by Jake Yuzna, Manager of Public Programs and guest curator Dan Rubinstein.
Wear It or Not: Recent Jewelry Acquisitions—March 12 – June 2
Over the past five years, MAD has collected nearly 200 exceptional pieces of art jewelry. From iconic mid-twentieth-century works to computer-designed musical jewelry, Wear It or Not: Recent Jewelry Acquisitions showcases the depth and variety of the new additions to the museum’s renowned permanent collection.
The exhibition will feature nearly 130 works from around the world, with objects by artists such as Claire Falkenstein, Olaf Skoogfors and Art Smith from the studio jewelry movement of the 1950s and 60s; several silver neckpieces and cuffs from India; alongside more recent works by emerging, mid-career and established jewelry artists such as Melanie Bilenker, Kat Cole, Mari Ishikawa, Keith Lewis, Jeremy May, Edward Lane McCartney, Iris Nieuwenburg, Arjen Noordeman and Christie Wright, Beverley Price, Axel Russmeyer, Sakurako Shimizu, Verena Sieber-Fuchs and Kiff Slemmons. The exhibition will explore a range of jewelry making techniques, including computer design and digital fabrication, as well as the use of uncommon and unexpected materials to carry contemporary art jewelry beyond its decorative function into new creative realms of conceptual, social and political resonance. Wear It or Not: Recent Jewelry Acquisitions is organized by Ursula Ilse-Neuman, Curator of Jewelry at the Museum of Arts and Design.
Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger—June 25 – Sept. 22
Featuring over 450 pieces of fashion jewelry by designers such as Miriam Haskell, Marcel Boucher, Balenciaga, Kenneth Jay Lane, and Gripoix, this exhibition will be an eye-opening display of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, many of them one-of-a-kind, drawn from the world-renowned collection of Barbara Berger. The daughter of an American diamond merchant, Berger began her collection of some 3,000 bijoux de couture when she purchased a pair of Chanel earrings at a French flea market as a teenager and went on to assemble one of the largest and finest collections of couture jewelry in the world.
Many of the works were expressly made to be worn with haute couture clothing by fashion designers that range from Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent, and Dior to Dolce & Gabbana. The Berger collection and this exhibition are virtual encyclopedias of this exciting and provocative era of fashion history. The exhibition also underscores the continuing popularity of couture jewelry today through stellar contemporary works.
The exhibition is accompanied by a major publication on the Berger collection published by Assouline, with essays by fashion guru Iris Apfel, and by jewelry historian Harrice Simons Miller. The publication will be available at The Store at MAD. A wide range of educational programs will accompany the exhibition, including lectures and panel discussions, designer-led exhibition tours, and hands-on jewelry workshops and demonstrations in MAD’s 6th floor Open Studios. The exhibition was organized by David McFadden, William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, in collaboration with jewelry historian Harrice Simons Miller.
Tapestry Redefined: International Contemporary Tapestries—July 30 – Oct. 20
For over 500 years, artists have created designs to be hand-woven into magnificent and imposing tapestries for elite and aristocratic clients ranging from kings to popes. In the 20th century, tapestry revivals took place in the 1930s in France under the inspiration of visual artist Jean Lurçat, and in the 1970s, guided by American tapestry maker Gloria Ross. Ross paired major artists, such as Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, and Frank Stella, with expert weavers to create tapestry editions.
In the last decade, tapestries have once again been at the center of an artistic renaissance. Tapestry Redefined: International Contemporary Tapestries examines tapestry as a format used by contemporary artists from around the world such as Azra Aksamija, Chuck Close, Marc Quinn, Grayson Perry, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, Fred Tomaselli and Kara Walker among others.
Tapestry Redefined: International Contemporary Tapestries is the first major New York museum exhibition of contemporary art made in this historic and demanding technique and it will showcase example of works realized through both artisanal and cutting-edge digital loom weaving techniques, under the sponsorship of design studios in Europe and in the U.S. The exhibition was organized by David McFadden, William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design and will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, studio demonstrations, master classes and other educational programs.
Body & Soul: Contemporary International Ceramics—Sept. 24, 2013 – March 3, 2014
In recent years, the human figure has returned to center stage in the work of artists around the world. Body & Soul: Contemporary International Ceramics underscores the power of the figure to convey strong emotions, and also to the accessibility of the ceramic medium. Through clay, the figure becomes the catalyst for addressing the emotional impact of contemporary pressures that confront our society today. Each work, inspired by a personal incident or symbolic tale, expresses a deep emotional identity, contrasting societal, political and personal views on themes such as anxiety, mortality, memory and hope.
The exhibition will highlight approximately 25 international artists who came to clay as painters, draughtsmen or sculptors. Many are being shown for the first time in the United States. The range and quality of the works will make this exhibition significant, engaging and provocative, and bring this area of creativity into much-deserved focus.
This exhibition is organized and curated by Wendy Tarlow Kaplan with the advisement of Laurent de Verneuil, Martin S. Kaplan, and by David McFadden, William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design.
Major support for Body & Soul: New International Ceramics is provided by the Martin and Wendy Kaplan Fund, Lisbeth Tarlow, the Glassman Family Fund, two anonymous donors, and a group of private donors.
LOOT: MAD About Jewelry—Oct. 1 – 5
Now, in its 13th year, LOOT: MAD About Jewelry, MAD’s juried selling exhibition of artist-made jewelry, has earned the reputation of being the ultimate pop-up shop for contemporary art and studio jewelry by both artists and collectors alike. LOOT will feature a range of work, including inventively modern pieces in gold, sterling silver and semiprecious stones alongside jewelry made of unexpected materials such as titanium, stainless steel, glass, wood, rubber, fabric, and found objects. Unlike any other jewelry event in the country, LOOT gives jewelry lovers the opportunity to meet some of the most innovative creators in the field and acquire work directly from them.
Last year, MAD honored renowned jewelry artist Axel Russmeyer with the first LOOT Award for Contemporary Art Jewelry. This annual prize is in keeping with the long-standing commitment of the Museum of Arts and Design to present jewelry as an art form. MAD is the only American museum to possess a gallery dedicated to the display of both temporary jewelry exhibits and its own collection of contemporary and modern studio and art jewelry, which it began assembling soon after its founding in 1956.
To date, LOOT has showcased famous jewelry artists like Eva Eisler, Robert Lee Morris and Kara Ross along with newer names—thus becoming an important platform to launch the careers of many young, cutting-edge creators from around the globe. In 2012, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Japan, and Tasmania were just some of the countries represented in the diverse roster of featured artists. This year’s participating LOOT artists and LOOT Award recipient will be announced in the spring. Proceeds from the selling show benefit the Museum's exhibition and its education programs.
Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital—Nov. 12, 2013 – March 30, 2014
This exhibition explores the many areas of 21st-century creativity made possible by advanced methods of computer-assisted production known as digital fabrication. In today’s postdigital world, artists are using these means to achieve levels of expression never before possible – an explosive, unprecedented scope of artistic expression that extends from sculptural fantasy to functional beauty. Out of Hand will be the first major museum exhibition to examine this interdisciplinary trend through the pioneering works of more than 80 international artists, architects, and designers, including Ron Arad, Barry X Ball, Zaha Hadid, Stephen Jones, Anish Kapoor, Allan McCollum, Marc Newson, and Roxy Paine. Represented will be some of the most compelling creations from the past decade ranging from sculpture and furniture to fashion and transport.
It will be the first museum show to consider the impact of these new, revolutionary methods of computer-assisted manufacture on fine art, design, and architecture, and will introduce the public to the imaginative expression that these emerging processes enable. Through this exhibition, MAD will explore a monumental transition in the way human beings define creation through these individual makers who utilize the tools of technological innovation. Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital is organized by Ronald T. Labaco, Marcia Docter Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design.
The Art of Scent, 1889-2012, which opened last fall runs through March 3, 2013. Playing with Fire: 50 Years of Contemporary Glass, which also opened in 2012 will run through April 7, 2013.
For more information on any of these exhibits, visit MAD’s website.
Photo Credits: 1.Gary Carsley—Courtesy of Thatcher Projects, New York Photo: Courtesy of Thatcher Projects, New York 2. Kent Pell, Courtesy of Phillips de Pury and Company

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