Saturday, October 26, 2013


THE FASHION WORLD of JEAN PAUL GAULTIER FROM the SIDEWALK to the CATWALK: This theatrical spectacle, the first international exhibition celebrating the career of the legendary French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier, who has shaped the look of contemporary fashion with his avant-garde designs, makes its only east coast stop on an international tour, organized by the MMFA, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, Paris. Where? At the Brooklyn Museum on view through February 23, 2014.  “I am proud and honored that this exhibition is presented here, where the true spirit of New York lives on. I was always fascinated by New York, its energy, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, that special view of the sky between the tall buildings,” said Gautier of the Brooklyn presentation where some mannequins seemingly come alive, their eyes blink, the lips move and the words uttered grip the viewer with uncanny realism.
THE COLLECTION This breath-taking overview of Gautier’s extensive oeuvre includes exclusive material not exhibited in previous venues of the tour, such as pieces from his recent haute couture and ready-to-wear collections and stage costumes worn by Beyonce.  The 150-piece lineup, curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, MMFA, includes some of Gaultier’s most iconic pieces, like Madonna’s original cone-bra bustiers and bare-breast suspenders, and looks from his collection inspired by Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. There are several pieces that have never been exhibited before, including a glittery jumpsuit worn by Beyonce.
AVANT-GARDE DESGINS Distinctively different from traditional couture, Gaultier’savant-garde designs demonstrate a deep understand of the issues And preoccupations of today’s multicultural society. For inspiration he has turned to a variety of cultures and countercultures.  The show is organized into seven thematic sections: The Odyssey, The Boudoir, Muses, Punk Cancan, Skin Deep, Metropolis, and Urban Jungle. Accompanying the designs are sketches, excerpts from films, concerts, and dance performances, and photographs by Richard Avedon, Any Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and others---all testifying to the daring genius of Jean Paul Gaultier.
AMAZING LIFE-LIKE MANNEQUINS You will need to take a second look as the fascinating mannequins seemingly talk the talk and flirt with you. Many of the mannequins used to display Gaultier’s designs revolve to reveal all angles of an ensemble.  Some circulate on a continuously moving catwalk and many wear remarkable wigs and headdresses created by renowned hairstylist Odile Gilbert and her Atelier 68 team.  Throughout the galleries, thirty-two of the mannequins come alive with interactive faces created by technologically ingenious high-definition audiovisual projections. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, model Eve Salvail, and bass player Melissa Auf de Maur, have lent their faces and their voices to this project. The production and staging of this dynamic audio-visual element is the work of Denis Marleau and Stephanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de creation of Montreal. Jolicoeur International of Quebec realized all the custom-made mannequins with different skin tones and positions.
ORIGINS OF DESIGNAs for inspiration Gaultier admits, “If I do fashion, it’s because of “Falbalas,” a movie from the 1940s, before I was born. It was about a couturier at a Paris couture house, inspired by a woman to give him the idea for a collection. He made a beautiful collection because he was in love with her. It was so explicit, so perfect in the description of the workings that when I started to work at Cardin and Jean Patou, I thought, ‘Oh, but I am in Falbalas.”’ One of the most adorable items in the show is Nana, Gaultier’s childhood teddy bear that, at age six, he customized with a cone-like bra made from newspaper pinned onto the stuffed animal. "It was before Madonna,” he said.
For his part, Gaultier hopes visitors will “not be bored but surprised and amused, and have a good time and fun.” 

Polly Guerin, author, COOPER-HEWITT DYNASTY OF NEW YORK (History Press, 2012)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

INTERROBANG ?! Puntuation Remembered (c) By Polly Guerin

Saturday, October 19, 2013

INTERROBANG ?! Punctuation Remembered (c) By Polly Guerin

With the popularity of personal shorthand text messages and tweets with as many abbreviations that the human mind can think up, could the Interrobang punctuation have a new place in today’s culture?

Also known as the quesclamation mark, it sometimes appeared as ?!” A stylish fusion of a question mark superimposed on an exclamation point the mark was used at the end of a rhetorical question for use in sentences like, “You did that?!” At first Interrobang was not available in type and the combined symbols were hand drawn by lettering artists. However, the Interrobang deserves its due recognition as it is the only punctuation mark invented by an American and was also featured in Americana (font). To this end we owe a note of gratitude to Martin Speckter, one of the original “Mad” men in advertising’s hall of fame.

INTERROBANG'S ORIGIN It was introduced in 1962 by Martin Speckter, president of the New York advertising and public relations agency, Martin K. Speckter Associates, Inc. In addition to running the agency with his wife, Penny Speckter. Martin was editor of the magazine, Type Talks, a trade publication put out by The Advertising Typographers Association of America. Speckter invited readers of the magazine to coin a name for the new mark and of all the names submitted Interrobang was chosen. It is a blend of interrogation and bang, an old printer's term for the exclamation mark. It is significant to note that Interrobang is the only punctuation invented in the 20th century. The mark was eventually made available on some typewriters and recognized by several dictionaries. Interrobang continued to be popular much of the 1960s during the time that the television series “Mad Men” is set.

Pictured Left; MARTIN SPECKTER with early interrobang designs. Image from the World-Herald, June 1967.

INTERPRETING INTERROBANG The mark is said to be the typographical equivalent of a grimace or a shrug of the shoulders. For example, the Interrobang could be used in expressions like this “You call that a hat ?!” Most significantly from a business point of view Speckter believed that advertising copywriters needed a new mark to punctuate exclamatory rhetorical questions common in advertising headlines. For example: “What ?! Whiter than White?!” In Allan Haley’s feature “The Interrobang is Back?! he wrote: “In this type of copy, neither an exclamation point nor a question mark (used alone) could fully convey the writer’s intent. Speckter’s solution was to combine the two into a single symbol.”

Penny Speckter, Martin’s widow keeps the Interrobang flame still burning brightly in her memories about the mark’s creator and his passion for typography. Well into her 90s, Penny still fulfills her role as the quintessential “Mad Woman.” Today she is editor of GSMT NEWS, the newsletter for The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, whose motto is “By Hammer and Hand All Arts Do Stand. Penny also serves on the organization’s Board of Governors.

GSMT is located at 20 West 44th Street, New York 10036.

Friday, October 4, 2013

LINOSSIER, CLAUDIUS Art Deco Master Metal Smith By Polly Guerin

There are some artists who were stars in their time and glittered on the stage of celebrity, but are unfairly forgotten today. However, in the treasures of French applied arts I am referring to the renowned Art Deco Metal Smith: CLAUDIUS LINOSSIER (1893-1953).  Linossier’s work was unique, and full of subtle beauty.   He was a craftsman who is considered as the greatest purist of the Art Deco period for his incredible creation of works on metal and favored geometric patterns, but created figurative designs as well. He was drawn to the technique referred to as dinanderie, which took its name from the Flemish town of Dinant, a center for brass works during the Middle Ages.  Today galleries and collectors are rediscovering the exceptional artist from Lyon. Claudius Linossier’s work comes full circle in the art world on view at the Primavera Gallery, in New York City and at the Galerie Michel Giraud in Paris.

 MASTERY OF METAL Linossier was an admirer of Etruscan pottery, and used this as inspiration for many of his forms. For those unfamiliar with the work, metal incrustation is a painstaking and demanding technique.  He began with silver and copper, hand-raising each piece, and adorning it with silver and inlay, but soon he wanted more color, and began developing his own alloys.  During Linossier’s lifetime his work was represented by the greatest galleries and respected and admired. Today his oeuvre has been sustained by the most important art lovers, collectors and patrons around the world and his art works are commanding soaring prices at auction houses.

STUDY WITH DUNAND The artist started working metal very young, first in a goldsmith shop in Lyon, his home town, and later in two Parisian workshops. Then it came a time to work for the Master Dinandier Jean Dunand. In the opposite of Jean Dunand, who finally devoted himself only to his famous lacquer, Claudius Linossier was faithful to the dinanderie tradition during all of his production, creating cubist decors, through an exceptional hand-made process. His decorations, geometric or in stylized archaism, were composed of metal encrustations.  The bodies of the pieces were brightened either by the shaded grey of silver, by the pale gold of yellow copper or by the dark purple of red copper, magnified by the violent action of fire.  Part of Galerie Michel Giraud’s booth at the Paris Biennale des Antiquaries 2012 was dedicated to works of Linossier and drew record visitors. If you want to see some of Linossier’s magnificent vases visit Primavera Gallery at 210 11th Avenue at 25th Street,, Floor 8, New York. Tel 212.924.6600.
Linoissier’s work was featured in several stands at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decorarifs et Industriels Modernes,, Paris, Salon of  Societe des Artistes Francaise and Salon d’Automme. In 1932, Linossier was elected to the Legion d'Honneur.
Polly Guerin Author: The Cooper-Hewitt Dynasty of New York (History Press 2012) Go to

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