Go See The First Major Retrospective dedicated to Marie Antoinette's Royal Portraitist —Who Happened To Be A Woman

If you think that 18th Century painting is something that will make your eyes glaze over, then think again. If you haven't been to the Metropolitan Museum in a while, then it's time to stop by to discover one of the period's finest portrait painters. Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France is the first major retrospective exhibition devoted to Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (pictured in a self-portrait above) who made her reputation in the court of Louis XVI with her vibrant likenesses of Marie Antoinette and other members of the aristocracy. It's hard to imagine anything other than institutional art-world sexism that might have kept Vigée Le Brun out of the spotlight for a couple of centuries or so. Self-trained and excluded from Fench art institutions because of her gender, she found favor with the French royal family not just because of her talent and skill, but also because of her personal charm and ability to entertain her subjects throughout what would otherwise be tedious posing sessions. This also resulted in representations that were particularly lively for the period, showing dimensions of humanity not always evident in portraiture of the time. Forced to flee because of her associations with royalty during the French Revolution, Vigée Le Brun made her way to Florence, Naples, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, painting her way through a good portion of Europe and leaving remarkable portraits of each region's aristocracy in her wake before ultimately making her way to back to Paris as the revolutionary climate cooled. The 80-piece Exhibition includes major works from private collectors including Queen Elizabeth II well as from the Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Musée du Louvre that are rarely if ever lent to other museums. It's an illuminating look into not only the art of one of the French royal court's most lavish eras but also one woman's very real story of surviving turbulent, even life threatening times. 
If you go this weekend, you will also get an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the life of one of France's modern aristocrats. The Costume Institute's Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style closes on Sunday at the Anna Wintour Costume Center, so it's your last chance to peek into the estimable wardrobe of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, one of the world's most stylish women, so think of it as a multi-era French art and fashion doubleheader.

Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France through May 15th and Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style through February 21st at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side


See The Dazzling Jewels Of
Treasures From India At The Met

  • 4-TurbanOrnament
  • 2-PunchDagger
  • 3-Finial
  • 5-DiamondNecklace

To be perfectly honest, The Shophound doesn't need much of any kind of excuse to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the museum has been particularly generous in inviting us to preview its upcoming exhibits this month. This week's visit concerned Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection the small but remarkable exhibition of Imperial Indian jewels from the collection originally formed by Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani of Quatar. The exhibition features a carefully curated selection of pieces from the Mughal period in the 17th Century to contemporary pieces. More than just a collection of brooches and necklaces, it is a fascinating look into the lavish ornamentation of Indian court life, where it was the men rather than the women who were festooned with gemstones including daggers and swords, turban ornaments, anklets, nose rings and  basically any other possible vehicle for wearing jewels. There are items passed down through generations of emperors as well as newer pieces, but take it as an opportunity to Marvel over some of the mind boggling treasures that can be produced from vast, dynastic wealth from a bygone era. After all, where else are you going to see a headpiece made from enormous diamonds linked together with hand wrought golden bands decorated with huge ruby drops for good measure? (Have a look at a few of the pieces in the gallery above) Put it on your list of things to catch at the Met. This month we have already been treated to the Leonard A. Lauder collection of Cubist masterpieces, Death Becomes Her at the Costume Institute and now this lavish display of Imperial Indian splendor. Block out an afternoon and head up to the Met. It will be time well spent.

Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection through January 25th, 2015 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side


What Lipstick Can Buy
—Go See Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection At The Metropolitan Museum

It is pretty well known that the cosmetics department is the foundation (no pun intended) for nearly every major department store in both volume and profits, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art is about to demonstrate just what some of those profits can do for one of the world's greatest museums and New York City itself. Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection opens Monday at the Met (currently in Members Previews) and is an extraordinary collection of artworks by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger that became a promised gift to the museum last year. Mr. Lauder's art holdings have long been known to be among the world's finest, and at yesterday's press preview the cosmetics scion was on hand himself to explain how he started the collection in the mid-1970s specifically to fill a gap in the Met's modern art collection and also to give something monumental not only to what he feels is the greatest museum in the world and but also to the city that has given so much to his family.

Mr. Lauder's family is nearly as well known for its philanthropy as it is for the beauty brand that bears its name, but this may be the greatest example yet of his support for the arts in part because of the incredible quality of the works, all of which are being displayed together for the first time even as he continues to add to them. Picasso, Braque, Gris and Léger made Cubism the most influential art movement of the 20th Century, freeing artists from traditional representation in paintings and sowing the seeds for the profusion of modernist styles that followed including pure abstraction and pop. Lauder revealed that his criteria for creating the collection was only to include works that were so important that the museum would want to keep them on prominent display at all times, using masterpieces like the Louvre's Winged Victory of Samothrace or Van Gogh's The Starry Night at the MoMA as examples, and it looks like he has succeeded. While Cubism as an art movement has been around for over a century, it can still be challenging and often inscrutable to viewers who sometimes still struggle to find images in cubist paintings that their titles tell them are there. The exhibition is beautifully composed to also be an incredible educational experience, illuminating the sometimes mysterious paintings and demonstrating how the style developed through key examples of Picasso's and Braque's collaborations and was further refined by Gris and finally ending with the  glorious Composition (The Typographer) by Léger. If you walk in thinking that Cubism can be a cold and overly intellectual style of art, you will walk out of the exhibition with a completely different view, and it may even make you think for an extra minute about which brand of lipstick to buy when you are in the makeup department.

Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection from October 20th, 2014 to Feruary 16th, 2015 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side


Art Market Edition

14zCRITICAL2-superJumboThis week's Thursday Styles features Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica tackling a topic that the long running column has yet to cover: Art, in the form of British artist Damien Hirst's new SoHo store Other Criteria, clearly named for celebrated critic Leo Steinberg's famous 1972 collection of essays on modern art (how did you miss that reference, Caramanica?).
It has been many years since SoHo has been the center of New York's art world, and yet it seems that Hirst pointedly chose not to open his business in West Chelsea's gallery district, but in the shopping mecca that neighborhood south of Houston Street. Other Criteria (Hirst's first store in the U.S. and third overall) is very much a store, not a gallery, representing Hirst's statement about how art has become commodified not only by him but other artists as well along with deep pocketed, investment-minded collectors. " shouldn’t feel shocking that he has effectively opened a gift shop, right? Other Criteria, which recently arrived in SoHo, is in essence just that, with items at several pricing levels for several levels of buyer, our shopper writes, finding a mix of some things that delight and provoke as well as others that exploit the desire to own something of vague importance and even may mock the very people who are willing to make a purchase.

Other Criteria forces a consideration of the distinction between art as a thing you can be only a temporary caretaker of and art as a thing you can fully possess. Turns out it is merely a difference in philosophy, not actuality: you can possess it all.

But should you? Our shopper fells confident that he can discern the items offered with artistic value from the the ones born of hollow exploitation. Can you? Are you the connoisseur or the sucker? How can you tell the difference?

Critical Shopper: Art That’s in the Hands of the Buyer By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Other Criteria 458 Broome Street between Greene & Mercer Streets, SoHo


Goodbye Pearl Paint

Even with the unpredictable shuffling of real estate that characterizes modern Manhattan, there are still some stores and institution that seem like permanent installations. Could we imagine New York without Bloomingdale's? Saks Fifth Avenue? Macy's? Pearl Paint?

Ok, you may not think of Pearl Paint in the same breath as New York's great department stores, but to the city's artists, even the ones who grumbled about its shortcomings, it has been the reliable resource for pretty much any type of equipment or supply one could possibly need for any sort of artwork. Well, it was. It shut the doors of its renowned five level Canal Street flagship permanently last night after only a few weeks of rumors and the closings of other chain branches. As recently as last week, the store's employees reportedly seemed unsure of exactly what was going on with the company, until they were all given pink slips themselves which took effect at the close of business yesterday (Yes, their union is has filed suit with the National Labor Relations Board). The distinctive red and white façade has been a neighborhood landmark at the foot of Mercer Street since well before the rezoning of the once run-down SoHo area became an urban art colony during the 60s and 70s. Aside from supplying the city's artists, it also provided employment for many of them either as students or as artists who may have had to struggle a little less desperately with a regular paycheck and a discount on their own supplies. Of course, there are still many art supply stores in the city, including highly specialized purveyors offering rarefied pigments and other materials, but Pearl Paint was the huge yet humble (and even creaky) mainstay that welcomed beginners, casual hobbyists and celebrated professionals alike. It's gone now. The main building has reportedly been listed for $15 million and described as perfect for a "developer, investor and/or user." Aside from a storewide sale, Pearl Paint closed with relatively little notice. Even as The Shophound stopped for a few minutes this afternoon to photograph the store one last time, potential customers were bewildered to discover the doors locked, and another passerby stopped to exclaim his surprise and disappointment as he snapped his own souvenir photo.

The Pearl Paint website appears to still be operating, though it continues to list the Canal Street store and its nearby frame shop on Lispenard street as open for business, as well as three other stores in Paramus NJ, South Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, FL so there's no knowing exactly what will be left of the rapidly shrinking company when all is said and done. What we do know is that the vast array of art supplies and equipment will be missed, and there doesn't seem to be anything around that comes close to replacing it.


Jewels By JAR At The Met Is Jewelry Like You Have Never Seen Before

7. JAR Tulip Brooch 2008
As humans, we are often given to hyperbole when describing shiny things, or things that give us pleasure in general. How many times have we seen the "best movie ever" or eaten the "best ice cream in the world" or had People Magazine tell us that someone is the "Sexiest Man Alive" with a definitiveness that is really questionable at best? Well, The Shophound spent quite a bit of time yesterday morning looking over The Metropolitan Museum of Art's newest exhibition, Jewels by JAR, and we are comfortable saying without overstatement that we have never seen jewelry like this before, and we have seen a decent amount of jewelry in our time.

You may wonder if, after seeing this display of artistry and craftsmanship, your own jewelry might start to look a little crappy?
It probably will, at least for a little while. Don't let that keep you away.
On our way home from the Museum, we passed by a jeweler renowned for creativity and finely detailed work, and everything we saw in the window suddenly looked a little bit crude by comparison. We expect to get over this, but it just serves to point out how the jewels on display at the Met are simply on another level from most anything you can buy in even the finest store.

You may also wonder why a jewelry exhibition at the museum is not being staged by the Costume Institute, but due to the Met's particular curatorial guidelines, precious jewels fall under the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. Perhaps this is why exhibition curator Jane Adlin, an Assistant Curator in the department, approached the material as sculpture in the form of jewelry, rather than as a collection of accessories. It works because JAR, also known as Bronx born Joel A. Rosenthal, approaches his work the same way, applying the same kind of detail to a jeweled tulip brooch like the one pictured above that a Dutch master would to a painting of the very same flower. While a world renowned jeweler on the Place Vendôme in Paris might make a perfectly lovely flower brooch out of rubies, diamonds and platinum to justify a stratospheric luxury price. A few doors down, in his own exclusive atelier, Rosenthal might use those same materials, but also add aluminum, lowly zircons or garnets, titanium, enamel or any other seemingly random ingredient that will achieve the kind of visual effect he is after. The value in his work is not only in precious materials, but more so in his artistic rendering. This is why we can look at a case full of his flower brooches and earrings and marvel at how each one is unique as he uses different techniques to create a geranium, a spray of fern leaves, or a camellia, or any number of other flora. There are fauna, too. A wall festooned with glittering butterfly and dragonfly brooches proved a magnet for viewers at the preview. We can't tell you of they were based on actual insects or were fantasy designs, but it hardly mattered. Lightning, mushrooms, owls and even a scoop of melting ice cream are among the many things rendered by Rosenthal in the exhibition. Because of the way the more than 400 objects are presented, you don't have to be a jewelry lover or imagine how one would wear them to appreciate them as art. In fact, they are presented very much apart from the presumed wearers, most of whom maintained their anonymity in lending pieces to the show. There are no photos of people wearing any of the items, and even the displays avoid any illusion to the body. Like any other piece of fine art, the jewels' practical uses are beside the point.

The show is a big deal for the notoriously press-shy Rosenthal. It is the first major exhibition of his work in the U.S., covering the entirety of his career including pieces he hand delivered himself direct from his atelier. It is also the first retrospective at the Met of a living, still working jeweler. Rosenthal works exclusively by appointment. He doesn't sell to other retailers. He doesn't send pieces to magazines or lend them to actresses for red carpet events. In fact, if someone wears one of his pieces, you can bet it is because it has been bought and paid for and probably made exclusively for them. Unless you run in the same circles as JAR clients, this show may be one of the few opportunities you will ever have to see his work in person. In a rare move, he has created a small line of earrings and watches to be sold exclusively at the Museum through the duration of the show. The watches are $600 each, and the earring start at $2000 for styles in resin and go to $7,500 for a pair in gold covered aluminum (pictured in the gallery below). These are truly below-entry level prices for JAR jewels, and are likely to sell quickly to jewelry fans. During a brief Q & A with Adlin during the preview, she was asked about the price range of the pieces in the exhibition. Bristling a bit at the thought, she eventually explained that the museum never comments on the value of anything it displays, which led us to the old adage, "If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it."
See our gallery below for pictures from the Met's press office, some photos of our own and a few of the JAR pieces available exclusively at the museum store.

Jewels By JAR at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 20, 2013 - March 9 2013

  • 1. JAR Poppy Brooch 1982
  • 2. JAR Zebra Brooch 1987
  • 3. JAR Butterfly Brooch 1994
  • 4. JAR Colored Balls Necklace 1999
  • 5. JAR Lilac Brooches 2001
  • 8. JAR Hoop Earrings 2008 2010
  • 9. JAR Bracelet 2010
  • 10. JAR Camellia Brooch 2010
  • 11. JAR Multicolored Handkerchief Earrings 2011
  • 12. JAR Earrings 2011
  • 13. JAR Cameo and Rose Petal Brooch 2011
  • 14. JAR Raspberry Brooch 2011
  • JewelsbyJAR-B
  • JewelsbyJAR-A
  • JewelsbyJAR-C
  • JewelsbyJAR-D
  • JAR Carnaval a Venise
  • JAR La Dame Aux Gardenias
  • JAR Tickle Me Feather
JAR Tickle Me Feather


Is Banksy's Next Pop-Up Shop On HauteLook?

All month, New Yorkers have been hearing about Banksy, the anonymous graffiti artist who has descended upon New York City for a monthlong "residency" that has his followers scrambling all over the city to see his latest works, announced on a special photoblog, for as long as they might last wherever he chooses to paint them. A couple of weeks ago, he quietly arranged, with no advance notice, a table in Central Park to sell small signed canvases for the bargain price of $60 each (portable pieces regularly go for thousands in more rarefied galleries) which was gone by the time most people heard about it having only sold a few pieces to savvy passersby. This week, buried in the listings for upcoming flash sales on, we discovered one sale titled Banksy: The Elusive Street Artist which starts today at 1 PM Pacific Time (that's 4 PM on the East Coast). HauteLook's description reads:

Who is Banksy? While the elusive street artist may never reveal the answer, we get more than a glimpse of the man behind the graffiti through his art. The pseudonymous artist offers his take on myriad topics—from politics to pop culture—through bold stencil-style works charged with dark wit. This array features some of his most thought-provoking pieces, all turned into ready-to-hang canvas prints.

Are these more official Banksy works for sale in an unlikely place? HauteLook is more known for off-price fashion than underground street art, and the preview photos (pictured above) remove the artist's designs from their gritty settings and place them in tidy bourgeois interiors. Is this one more piece of the artist's residency as it reaches its final days, or has the sale site found a way to jump on the Banksy publicity bandwagon that has been rolling through the month of October, or both? We may find out more later today. Stay tuned...

HauteLook (Official Site)
Better Out Than In (Official Banksy Photoblog) 


Uniqlo Meets Warhol
With A Free Trip To The MoMA
+ Lulu Guinness
& More UU Uniqlo Undercover

It struck The Shophound this week that it has been weeks, weeks since our last visit to Uniqlo, that seemed impossible, so yesterday, we found ourselves at the 34th Street where we found:

A new delivery from the chain's latest ongoing collaboration, UU Uniqlo Undercover by Jun Takahashi. This round brings more Summer-y shorts, striped tees along with loose, printed dresses for women and camp shirts and carpenter's shorts with cunning hidden pockets for men. We would suggest the Fifth Avenue store for the best selection if you are a UU fan, and, once again, no fatties. Sizes still top out at a pretty skimpily cut Large.

Since this year's Summertime seems to feel free to barge its way through the Spring months (with no complaints from us), it's good that Uniqlo's popular UT t-shirt line has arrived in force. They are still $19.90, so you can't go too far wrong, although the women's selections have gotten heavy on the cutesy side with an excess of designs from Hello Kitty and Barbie. Though the kawaii overload could give anyone a toothache, shoppers looking for something more grown-up will be happy top find a new collaboration with designer Lulu Guinness. Sadly, it only t-shirts, not accessories, but there are 12 styles printed with the designer's distinctive, hand drawn designs.

Over on the men's side, the chain's latest dead-artist collab (after several seasons of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat) is none other than the Godfather of Pop Art himself, Andy Warhol offering clever silk screened tees featuring his most famous images (pictured above). You'll find the Campbell's Soup can and Brillo box as well as a few more obscure images. There are even a couple of the artist's earlier pre-Pop fashion illustrations on women's tops. The Warhol group coordinates well with a group designed in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art, and this month, Uniqlo will be giving away one free admission to the museum with the purchase of any two UT products (a $25 value). 4,000 tickets will be distributed through all three Uniqlo stores until supplies last, so go get little culture with your t-shirt.

UNIQLO (Official Site)


Right Now It Is Practically Impossible
To Get Inside
The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

The Costume Institute exhibition "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" is now the Metropolitan Museum of Art's most popular costume show ever, and headed to its all time top ten before it closes after this weekend. It'll be right up there with Van Gogh and King Tut. Yesterday, we recounted our experience getting into the show early on a Sunday morning, and our friends at RACKED made a sojourn uptown to see how things were going. As you can see from their photos above and below, the lines just to get into the museum are INSANE. They estimate that the two lines on either side of the museum's main entrance are the equivalent of six to eight blocks long and, as they put it, "each packed three or four or five sweating jerks deep".

This, of course, is just to enter the building itself. Racked's correspondents obviously couldn't get inside to see how long the other line to get into the exhibition itself was, but we can safely assume that it's long, really, really long.

So, that long lunch you were planning to hop over to the museum and catch the show before it closed? Consider it cancelled.

Going to Savage Beauty This Week? Good Luck With That. (RACKED)
Crowd Control: A Word About The Crowds At The Alexander McQueen Exhibition



A Word About The Crowds At The Alexander McQueen Exhibition

Yesterday, The Shophound finally made it to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We're not going to go on and on about it other than to say it is one of the best fashion exhibitions in recent memory, and worth seeing even if you aren't all that into clothes. It will close after this weekend, so this is your last chance to see it.

One would have thought we would have been first in line when it opened so many months ago, but we have a strong aversion to crowds and waiting in line, so we were trying to find a time to go to the museum when we could avoid those things. Eventually we realized that the show had become so popular that no such time existed, and when we stopped by a few times at what we thought would be odd hours, we were informed of two hours or more in wait times. Finally, we decided to go at the opening hour on Sunday morning, and though we didn't breeze through, here's some tips for those of you who will want to catch the exhibition in its last week.

GO EARLY, but not too early. We arrive at the museum at 9:30 when it opens its doors, a bit later than we had planned. To our growing horror, there was a line out the front door, down the steps, all the way to 84th Street. We were almost about to turn and go when when museum guards had formed a second line at the entrance that barely made it down the steps. Did we feel a bit like we were cutting? We felt more like we dodged a bullet, and much better than if we had arrived a hour earlier to wait outside in the hot sun. One obstacle averted.

BUY A MEMBERSHIP. It's $100, but you can cut the lines. Even though we arrived at the moment the museum opened, there was already an hour-long wait inside the museum to enter the exhibition. We did have the advantage of being able to look at European Paintings and Sculpture and Central Asian Art while we waited which was some consolation, but know that there is a special membership table set up at the entrance to the show for anyone feeling overwhelmed with more waiting. Also know that by 11:30, when we exited the exhibition, the line had nearly quadrupled in length, winding around the entire second floor balcony.

LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME. The museum is a wonderful place for children, but not this show. Forget about some of the disturbing themes of McQueen's work, the first three rooms of the show are so crowded that they won't be able to see anything. The scene looks something like the picture above. Never mind how delightful kids can be when waiting in a slow-moving line.

GET THE RECORDED TOUR. You might think you know everything there is to know about Alexander McQueen, but the tour not only contains important commentary from curator Andrew Bolton, but also from Sarah Burton, Philip Treacy and several other people with insightful, often surprising things to say about the designer. Besides, the item descriptions in the exhibition are at about mid-shin level, and even the introductory comments on the walls are difficult to read through the crowds.

HAVE PATIENCE. As we mentioned, the first rooms of the show are so crowded and bottlenecked that you might feel on the edge of a claustrophobic fit. if you persevere, however, the congestion seems to ease up after that, and you can more fully appreciate the show.

It takes an extra effort to see this show, for sure, but it is well worth the trouble. It turns out that MCQueen was an even more thoughtful and creative designer then he was given considerable credit for being during his short career. The exhibition shows him to have been the rare decorative artist who was able to transcend his chosen discipline. See it while you can.