Friday, March 11, 2011

Image of the Day

Glenn Ligon: Rückenfigur, 2009. (Neon and paint, 24 × 145 inches) from Ligon's solo show of the same name at the Whitney through June 5th. Holland Cotter's review in this morning's New York Times was scintillating. Here's an excerpt:
The shift back and forth between reading and looking, object and idea, is the basic dynamic emphasized by the show.... And it represents an effort, very much of the current, formalist, post-'90s moment, to position Mr. Ligon as being as much a craft-conscious painter as a social commentator.
In several paintings beginning in 1990 Mr. Ligon covered wooden doors or door-shaped canvases with stenciled sentences pulled from different sources: an autobiographical essay by Zora Neale Hurston (“I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background”); Genet’s play “The Blacks” (“I’m Turning Into a Specter Before Your Very Eyes and I’m Going to Haunt You”); a poem by Jesse Jackson (“I Am Somebody”). In each painting the single line is repeated over and over, continuously, in black letters on a gessoed background, with a few paintings white on white, or ivory on ivory. As the words wind down from the top, the stencil becomes increasingly clogged with pigment so that individual characters turn smudgy, and words grow progressively less legible and the bottom of the painting is a kind of miasma.
Cotter later connects Ligon's use of stencils to Jasper Johns, and it strikes me that these paintings also have something in common with Richard Prince's typographical paintings of a jokes – this one for example – which evoke a certain era and archetype of American male. I'm not a knowledgeable critic, it's just a thought, but it seems like Ligon's repeated words could be read as a response or added perspective to the America of Richard Prince and Jasper Johns (his distressed flags as much as his stencils); I'd like to see paintings by all three side by side. More Cotter:
The effect is most extreme in pictures that quote from James Baldwin’s 1953 essay “Stranger in the Village,” an account of his stay in a tiny Alpine hamlet where, he claimed, no one had ever seen a person with black skin. His tale of enforced visibility and vulnerability ends with a vision of social transformation, specifically in America: “The world is white no longer, and will never be white again.” But Mr. Ligon makes Baldwin’s words all but unreadably dark, by stenciling them with a mixture of black paint and coal dust that cakes and clots on the canvas surfaces like epidermal growth and gives off a spooky sheen.
Head over to to read the rest and watch an audio slideshow with curator Scott Rothkopf; visit for more info on the exhibition.

Image credit: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Paint and Sculpture Committee T.2010.71


Three new ones:

A. Emanuelle Alt's first cover as Editor of French Vogue, succeeding Editrix Carine Roitfeld. Gisele by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin.

B. The third issue of The Gentlewoman – Adele shot by Alasdair McLellan. I'm not really on board with this whole Adele thing (so much singing...) but it's a good photo and the minty color is winning. Seven women I would have rather seen on the cover:
1. Emily Shepard Smith
2. An editor from another magazine, someone like Giovanna Battaglia or Cecilia Dean or Suzy Menkes. There are certain editors at fashion magazines who are more complex than you'd expect, and make for interesting interviews. Maybe it's kind of weird to put someone from another magazine on your own cover but who cares.
3. PJ Harvey? New album, and seems cool.
4. Sarah from Colette in Paris. Possibly too obscure but I guarantee she would be a great interview.
5. Sofia Coppola. Maybe too obvious, but the truth is, she always has interesting things to say.
6. Miranda July.
7. Lauren Hutton or someone else who has been chic since before I was born.

Feel free to chime in with your own suggestions, all 11 of you, if you feel like it.

C. Self Service no.34. Just a great cover shot (also by Alasdair McLellan), and gold foil to boot. Still my favorite magazine, maybe of all time.

Things That We Need


M.O.P. [Mash Out Posse] "Ante Up"
from Warriorz (2000, Loud Records)

Pacific Standard is having a hard time focusing today.

In the Studio

Kyle Johnson, photographer

Leave the Light On

MOTEL is a new purveyor of vintage home furnishings in Ballard, celebrating its opening with a party this Saturday evening. Stop by and browse what appears to be a phenomenal collection of mid-century furniture, lighting, and curiosities – and stay up-to-date at

Motel is located at 5009 Northwest 20th Avenue in beautiful Ballard Washington.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best Foot Forward

Ugh, I love these. I need these. (Well, not really, but I want them so much I might as well need them.) Limited quantities available.

Stella McCartney slingback (satin and elastic),
$428 at YOOX (incidentally, one of my long-time, go-to sites
– ya gotta dig, but you'll be rewarded).

City Planning

International Fountain at Seattle Center, 1962 World's Fair, by photographer Max R. Jensen – via Vintage Seattle

Not to get all smug and Portlandic on everyone, but this article on the New York Times' Economix blog – "How Seattle Transformed Itself," by Harvard economics professor Edward L. Glaeser – caught my eye. His basic points:
Seattle is one of the few large cities outside the Sun Belt that is growing more quickly than the country as a whole.
A great paradox of our age is that despite the declining cost of connecting across space, more people are clustering together in cities. The explanation of that strange fact is that globalization and technological change have increased the returns on being smart, and humans get smart by being around other smart people. Dense, smart cities like Seattle succeed by attracting smart people who educate and employ one another.
The Seattle model is particularly important, because the ideas created in skilled cities are likely to be the economic mainstay of America in the next century.
It has to be said that a lot of what Glaeser discusses (density, a great transportation system) feels more like Seattle's aspiration than its present-day reality, but this is a relatively new city, and now is the time for goals. It's good to know that someone thinks we're on the right track. Click here to read the whole post.

Image of the Day

Ryan Molenkamp: The Visitor, 2009. (30 x 33 inches) from his show opening tonight at Vermillion. Also showing is Amanda Manitach, who has one of the greatest website names ever made.


Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Image of the Day

Cool-looking advertisement for Spoonbill Books, in the forthcoming 30th anniversary issue of BOMB Magazine. Spoonbill Books' website doesn't really match the ad but you can visit them in person at 218 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn NY.



Behind the scenes of Givenchy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2011. Rumors are flying that Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci has been picked to replace John Galliano at Dior but apparently no final decisions have been made.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Circle Game


Philip Glass "Geometry of Circles" (1979) for Sesame Street

(hat-tip to Christa H.)

Guilty Pleasure

It goes over the top and lands too far on the other side of the costume-y line – but it's fun and it fits with the glammy 70s moment I've been feeling lately. I can't lie, I love it.

Isabel Marant Fall 2011 [click to enlarge]

More at

Ego Trïp

Covers of the Paris-based fashion magazine Egoïste – published intermittently since 1977 by founder and editor Nicole Wisniak.

Back issues, with photography by Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Paolo Roversi, to name a few, go for hundreds on eBay.

The first issue since 2007 is due out next month and I'm sure it will go quickly – I will definitely be on the hunt.

Read more about Egoïste in a recent article at

Monday, March 7, 2011

Open Country

Hussein Chalayan Fall 2011 [click to enlarge]

Lie On the Ground


Memoryhouse "Heirloom" video, by Jamie Harley. From the "Caregiver" single (2010, Suicide Squeeze). The Toronto-based duo recently signed to Sub Pop. More Memoryhouse here.

Image of the Day

Robert Sperry: Spirit of '76 (Ceramic, 1975) from the Henry's long-running show Vortexhibition Polyphonica, which (believe it or not) closes in one week (it seemed so far in the future when the show opened). Definitely check it out if you haven't seen this installment – info at