The Los Angeles Philharmonic has a thing for star architects. As part of a trilogy of Mozart operas directed by Gustavo Dudamel (himself a global celebrity), in 2012 Frank Gehry designed the set for Don Giovanni, in 2013 Jean Nouvel designed one for The Marriage of Figaro, and this month Zaha Hadid Architects has designed the backdrop for Così fan tutee, the trilogy’s finale.
Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema
Museum of Modern Art
The Roy and Niuta Titus Galleries and the Film Lobby
Dante Ferretti: Designing for the Big Screen
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
Through February 9, 2014
When you enter the Film Entrance to the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street, you are greeted by two large lions. No, you are not 11 blocks south at the New York Public LIbrary, nor are you in Venice, Italy. You are entering the world of Dante Ferretti, the 70-year old multi–Academy Award–winning art director of films, opera, exhibitions, and even two New York City restaurants, Salumeria Rosi (design inspired by a scene in Federico Fellini’s Satyricon). Large, muscular, physically confident objects dot the floor—the clock-face from Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011), Art Deco chandeliers from Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975), and Arcimboldo figures comprised of vegetables, fruits and flowers (Milan World Expo, 2015). But these are actually lightweight, ephemeral objects made of fiberglass and not meant to last beyond the creation of the film or duration of the event. The clock and chandeliers were on the cusp of being tossed when curators Jytte Jensen and Ron Magliozzi salvaged them.
Charles Dickens would have been 200 today. Among the bicentennial celebrations of the noted Victorian writer, the Museum of London has been hosting an elaborate Dickens and London exhibition including a Dickensian street scene designed and built by set designer Simon Costin for its City Gallery. The “fantastical wintry vision of 19th century London” made entirely of cardboard and lit with hundreds of LED lights includes quite an array of Victorian buildings and winding alleyways. According to Costin, “My intention is to create a fantasy vision of London as it would have been glimpsed by Dickens on his nocturnal wanderings through the city. His essays are extremely evocative and I am using the text as my starting point and things will grow and develop from there. He has said that he felt like a child in a dream, ‘staring at the marvellousness of everything’. It is that marvellousness that I want to recreate.” The window display closes this month, but if you’re in London, the MoL’s Dickens show keeps going through June. (Via Creative Review.)
But it turns out Dickens had his own eye for design as well. Hilary Macaskill recently wrote in the Guardian that the Victorian author had quite the penchant for interior design. She cites a 6,000 word article (you can become amazingly descriptive when paid by the word) he wrote about wallpaper and other decorations, where he remarks on the design of American wallcoverings from his recent visit in 1842 along with his own designs for wallpaper. Even in his home at 48 Doughty Street, Dickens enjoyed crafting the interior spaces down to the shade of pink trim and a set of decanters he picked up for “slight bargains.” Read the entire article here and check out a slideshow of his home here.
Aging is a universal theme. ANCHISES, a new performance premiering at the Abrons Arts Center in New York tonight, explores that amid a striking set from design firm Harrison Atelier (HAt), who are also billed as co-collaborators with choreographer Jonah Bokaer. Central to this latest version of the Greek myth is Anchises’ struggle to salvage memories from the burning city of Troy. This is reflected in the set design, where, according to HAt’s website, “the set creates an environment that scripts the dance.” Blocks, representing both the old and new city, are a central part of this multi-generational performance, and a recent New York Times review championed their use of medical tubing to subtly hint at the struggle of growing old.
David Rockwell’s star turn at the Oscars last year won the designer considerable plaudits, so he’s been asked to reprise his role, according to UPI. “We loved the look and feel that David created for the Oscar show last year,” one of the producers said. “David is so creative and has such a great big-picture approach to set design,” said another. The well-known interiors ace has done considerable amount of work on Broadway as well as the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are taped, so really, it’s like a homecoming.