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October 2017

Quick post: Halloween beauty roundup

I've noticed that many indie brands are really pulling out all the stops for Halloween in recent years.  Forget special holiday packaging - these companies put their energy into crafting some spooktacular design for Halloween items.  Here are my picks for 2017.

Halloween 2017 makeup

1.  I'm still waiting with bated breath for Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set, but in the meantime they released a pretty awesome set for Halloween.  Not only do these brushes come in a coffin-shaped pouch with bone-shaped zippers, their handles change color.

2.  L.A. Splash has all your favorite classic horror ghouls in their Halloween liquid lipstick collection.

3.  These American Horror Story-inspired palettes aren't new - they were originally released last year, I believe - but they are new to me so I had to give them a shout-out.  (As of today, however, it looks like they're sold out).

4.  The remarkably simple design of Makeup Revolution's Ghost Powder works for both adults and kids...and at that price you can get one for you and another for the little Halloween'ers in your life.  I bet my niece would love this!

5.  With the name Pretty Zombie Cosmetics, makeup inspired by all things spooky isn't just for Halloween, it's the brand's entire raison d'etre.  This year they introduced new colors and packaging for their liquid lipsticks, which appear to be a nod to Beetlejuice.

6.  This one was also released last year, but once again I only found about it now.  In honor of Elvira's 35th anniversary, Lunatick Cosmetics released a coffin-shaped palette complete with pop-up spiderweb and candelabra.  Perfect for any Mistress of the Dark fan.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!  Which one of these was your favorite?

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Curator's Corner, 10/29/2017

CC logoIt's the final Curator's Corner of October, which means soon the Museum will be in holiday makeup mode - so much good stuff this year!  In the meantime enjoy these links.  

- Bust had a nice little history of lipstick, while Bustle discussed how war shaped makeup usage and trends.  Speaking of trends, there was also a piece on the return of the full-coverage foundation, which I really liked since I'm definitely a full-coverage gal - none of that tinted moisturizer/BB cream BS for me.

- The woman who coined "on fleek" not only had the phrase recognized by Merriam-Webster (online, anyway), she's starting her own beauty line.

- You would think after the most recent Dove advertising disaster other big companies would be more mindful of race, but no.  And they're still oblivious to the fact that women, you know, get older, which you can read more about in a two-part post by Caroline Hirons.

- Is anyone really surprised that this product was a total fraud?  Meanwhile, Allure reveals how fake beauty products make their way to mainstream retailers.

The random:

- As soon as I saw this shirt come down the Dior spring 2018 runway, I knew I had to get my hands on it no matter how ridiculously overpriced because it's the title of my all-time favorite art history essay and I was positively delighted to see it recognized in the world of fashion.  The pioneering feminist art historian who wrote it had an unbelievably powerful influence on the entire discipline.  On a personal note, she was partially responsible for my feminist awakening and completely re-shaped how I look at art.  All of this is a long-winded way of saying, goodbye and thank you, Linda Nochlin.

- On a lighter note, I can't stop laughing at this Instagram account celebrating the most hideous design you can imagine. 

- In '90s nostalgia, a slew of movies ranging from the great to not-so-great turned 20, along with Natalie Imbruglia's hit "Torn".  And after 25 years, are you still "master of your domain?"

- In addition to holiday makeup releases, there's a lot of good TV to binge on.  Besides a new show from the ever-wacky Amy Sedaris, obviously I'll be devouring Season 2 of Stranger Things.  Pop culture junkie that I am, I've been greatly enjoying the roundups of all the '80s references in both the first and second season.  I'm also looking forward to the second season of another great Netflix show the husband discovered about a month ago.  If the trailer doesn't look interesting to you, I have two words to get you to watch:  Talking. Pugs.

How are you?  Any fun Halloween plans?

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Who let the dogs out? Pai Pai!

Let me start off by saying that I am not a dog person.  It might have something to do with having a truly nice cat for 18 years (always wanted to cuddle and never hissed once!), or regularly being exposed to my aunt's slobbering, hyper, incredibly smelly canines, or the fact that I was bit by a black Labrador when I was a teenager...there's nothing like a trip to the ER for stitches and a tetanus shot after some off-leash beast sinks its teeth into your leg at the exact moment the idiot owner is saying "Don't worry, he won't bite!"  (Insert eyeroll emoji here).  Whatever it is, I've always gravitated towards felines.  Having said all that, Pai Pai's latest collection, created by Pinut Brein, proved too cute for me to pass up. 

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai

I love that they all have names and in some cases have little descriptions and/or are based on real dogs.  Miau is the chihuahua, but I don't seem to have any other info on him.  The bichon frise is named Tiara, and she's adamant about making people know she's NOT a poodle.  Djoko, the Pomeranian, is actually a dog belonging to a Mexico City fashion and lifestyle blogger

Djoko
The French bulldog is a princess named Petunia.  She enjoys walks in the park, regardless of the fact that she doesn't have a boyfriend to stroll with.  :D

Petunia

Bono (a.k.a. La Corga) is the corgi. 

Bono

Rocco, the pug, is my favorite. 

Rocco(images from instagram)

Despite not liking dogs I've taken quite a shine to pugs over the past couple of years.  I think it's not only because of their adorable smooshed faces, floppy ears and little curly tails, but also because I suspect they're essentially Babos in dog form - I hear they're not very bright, but one of the sweetest and most loving breeds.  And they're lazy too, which describes most of our plushies to a T.  I don't think I've formally introduced Barney here at the blog or assigned him any Museum work, but he joined us last year.  I managed to get him to pose with the Pai Pai lipsticks, which he then tried to eat.  He definitely fits in with the rest of Museum staff, right?

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai

Now for some information on the artist.  Pinut Brein is a brand created by Mexico City based artist Maria...well, I'm not sure of her last name.*  So I'll just refer to her first name.   Inspired by the work of her architect parents, Maria always enjoyed sketching and doodling.  She kept her passion for drawing under wraps while studying audio engineering and working briefly as a sound/video editor.  But after meeting several other illustrators in her native town of Xalapa in 2012 and participating in their artist collaborative Malacara, Maria decided to strike out on her own and establish Pinut Brein in 2015.  (It's a play on "peanut brain" [cerebro de cacahuate"], a nickname teasingly bestowed upon Maria by her older sister).  I find her style utterly charming without being saccharine.  The illustrations work equally well as prints for one's living room as they would for nursery walls, i.e., not too mature for children but not too juvenile for adults.  And though they're stylistically pretty different, the ability of Pinut Brein's drawings to work on a range of items intended for different audiences is similar to that of Poni Lab

Pinut Brein

Pinut Brein

Pinut Brein

Pinut Brein

Her favorite animals are dogs and horses, and she dreams of owning a pony some day. 

Pinut Brein(images from facebook and kichink)

As for her artistic process, Maria tries to infuse each animal she creates with their own personality and assign human characteristics, such as a cat leading a punk band or a bear who's also a sailor.  At least, that's what I gathered from this quote:  "Desde hace mucho me ha gustado dibujar y crear personajes, la temática principal es el reflejo de distintas personalidades humanas en animales; por ejemplo, un gato y su banda de punk, o un oso marinero." Some are her own unique creation, while some are based on people she knows, hence the dogs of the Pai Pai collection having names or borrowed from real people.  I absolutely love this concept, as our plushies, though generally lazy and not very smart, each have their own distinct personalities.  The idea of giving animals individual character traits demonstrates the artist's genuine fondness for animals; you can tell there's a real love for creatures great and small, they're not just cute motifs to her.  I also admire the fact that Maria sketches with an actual pencil and paper first, then transfers the concept to a digital format and adds color and other finishing touches that way.  Don't get me wrong, digital illustration requires just as much skill, but I'm old-school and will always appreciate paper more than screens.  ;)

Here's one of her illustrations for Nylon Español.  I love the name of this cat-unicorn in Spanish: un "gaticornio".  So precious!!

Pinut Brein
(image from nylon.com)

In addition to the Pai Pai lipstick cases, the recent earthquake in Mexico spurred Pinut Brein to create illustrations of some of the rescue dogs who saved dozens of people trapped in the rubble:  Frida, Eco, Akasha and Titan

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pinut Brein - rescue dogs

Pai Pai chose Frida and Eco to appear on some cosmetic bags, with all of the bags' sale proceeds being donated to earthquake relief. 

Pinut Brein for Pai Pai - rescue dogs cosmetic bags

Unfortunately with all the holiday releases I haven't gotten around to order these and it looks like Frida is sold out, but perhaps I will treat myself to Eco.  :)  And I can always buy this wonderful kit with stickers of all four doggies, since the proceeds from this also go to earthquake recovery efforts.

Pinut Brein - rescue dog stickers

So, despite my general preference for cats, this latest collection was definitely irresistible.  Pinut Brein must be very talented to make a non-dog person like me become smitten with these canines.  Which perrito was your favorite?

 

*The site I linked to lists "Maria del Mar Flores Ibarra"...but it seems kind of long to me, so I don't know whether it's just Del Mar or the whole thing. 

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Fall 2017 exhibition followup

Hopefully you're not forest-ed out since I have many more woodsy things I'd like to share as a follow up to the fall exhibition. This was a very rich theme and I had so much fun exploring it.  Here are a few more things that were running through my head while planning the exhibition. 

I.  Inspiration

Between Jennifer Lawrence's amazing flower-filled updo at the Mother! premiere to my long-standing infatuation with The Blair Witch Project (I watch it every fall and it still scares the hell out of me!), there was plenty of pop culture inspiration.  But since I follow so many blogs, I also came across photos, paintings and other art that helped shape my vision for the exhibition.  In addition to the fabulous illustrations by Alexandra Dvornikova and the beautiful forest paintings of Tyrus Wong, here are a few more I had rattling around in my brain.

I so wish I had any photography skills, because these images by Dave Pluimer and Kilian Schönberger blew me away.  I found both of these photographers via Abduzeedo, an excellent design and art blog.

Part of the Autumn Splendor series by Dave Pluimer

Kilian Schonberger

I loved this little leaf lady created by Nele Maas for the #FacetheFoliage project.

Nele Maas - Face the Foliage project

These posters by Andy Kehoe could not be more aptly titled: "Forest Sentinel".  I love the idea of the animals literally overseeing the forest and guarding it...and possibly protecting any humans that wander in. 

Andy Kehoe, Forest Sentinel

Finally, I can't believe these oil paintings by Janek Sedlar - I thought they were photos!  Hauntingly pretty.

Janek sedlar

II.  Other Items

There were tons of vintage and contemporary items I debated putting into the exhibition, but decided not to include due to their lack of seasonal appropriateness, or they weren't actually available for sale.  Still, I wanted to show some of the other things I was mulling over. 

Leaves 

You might remember the Museums' fall 2015 smackdown featuring some very pretty leafy makeup items.  Even though they're not that old, I had too hard of a time tracking down Catrice's Fallosophy collection and Laura Geller's Italian Garden set - some of the Catrice items were for sale on Ebay but the exact shades I wanted, plus it would have taken weeks to get here, and I searched for the Laura Geller set but had no luck finding it until well after I had finalized all the exhibition items.  There was also Essence's 2014 Hello Autumn collection, but I couldn't find any pieces from that either.  Fortunately there were plenty of vintage leaf-adorned items that I came across.  These are the ones that I was going to buy but they either were too pricey, not in the best shape or not available for sale so I ended up skipping them.

Rex leaf compacts
(images from ebay)

This one had such a unique design - too bad it sold long before I could pounce.

Pilcher leaf compact
(image from ebay)

This one from Volupté was a contender, but I decided it was looking too Canadian flag to me.  Not that there's anything wrong with their flag, but I wanted cascading leaves rather than a single one.

Volupté leaf compact(image from ebay)

Very nearly bought this since the ad is also available.  However, once I looked closer at the ad I realized it was a holiday one, so I figured it would be too Christmas-y for a fall exhibition.

Wadsworth compact with leaves

The ad shows many other pretty compacts in addition to the leaf one.  The "Whimsey" one would have been so cute for the fall exhibition - love that the little lady has a bird's nest for hair!  And obviously I'd give my eye teeth for the pineapple-adorned "Tropicana" compact.

1952 Wadsworth compact ad(image from ebay)

Deer

The other super popular woodland/forest motif for vintage items was deer.  So many fawns and bucks and does!  But I ended up skipping most of them as they were more gazelle-like, such as this compact by Evans.

Evans compact with gazelles
(image from ebay)

And these looked like reindeer, which, again, I felt was too holiday-ish.

Pilcher and Wadsworth deer compacts
(images from ebay)

Elgin offered a slew of deer compacts in addition to the ones featured in the exhibition.  But I was partial to the "Woodland Fawn" design since the others were really gazelles and simply not forest-y enough for what I had envisioned.  Still, they're pretty cute and also plentiful. 

Elgin gazelle compact ca. 1950(image from rubylane.com)

Elgin compact ad, November 1950

This design also came in white or red enamel.  It's very striking but looked more like the jungle than forest.

Elgin enamel compact with gazelles, ca. 1950
(image from ebay)

Dec. 15 1950-elgin-enamel-gazelle

This Elgin design was by far the most popular of all the deer...or at least, the company advertised it a ton starting around 1947.  The last mention I saw was in 1951.

Elgin gazelle compact

Elgin compact ad, 1947(image from periodpaper.com)

Elgin compact ad, November 1948

Elgin compact ads, December 1948

Elgin compact ad, December 1948

Elgin compact ad, February 1949

1951 Elgin compact ad(image from ebay)

What's interesting about all these is that even though they're post-war, they resemble Art Deco designs.  I wasn't alone in this observation either.  As Laura Mueller, author of The Collector's Encyclopedia of Compacts, Carryalls and Face Powder Boxes notes, "The 'Leaping Gazelles,' competing in the thirties with the Borzoi and Scotty dog animal motifs, for some reason became a very popular motif again after WWII.  The Post Deco flavor of these cases is obvious.  The sharp angles are softer and the fauna is more realistic.  However, art deco in feeling, these later cases must not be confused nor valued with true Art Deco.  A leaping gazelle does not always an Art Deco case make" (p. 149).

Anyway, these last two were so cute, but the Kigu one on the left was nowhere to be found for sale, while the Honeywell on the right was available but pretty scratched.  I've been wanting a Honeywell in the Museum's collection ever since I saw their adorable mermaid compact, but the scuff marks on this one almost make it look like the poor deer have been shot through the head with arrows.  Maybe that's just me though.  In any case, it didn't make the exhibition cut.

Kigu and Honeywell deer compacts(images from pinterest and ebay)

Other critters and general forest scenes

Now for some of the harder-t0-find forest residents and other woodland goodness.  In terms of contemporary items, the animals in the holiday 2013 Cosme Decorte set would have been a great addition to a woodland-themed exhibition if it wasn't for the red and white color scheme and unmistakable Christmas tree.  Another Cosme Decorte item, the Wandering Grace compact by Marcel Wanders, was another possibility I mulled over, but ultimately decided against including it since it just didn't look forest-like enough to me.

This fox compact by Estee Lauder was gorgeous, but also expensive

Estée Lauder fox compact

Bunnies were a bit easier to find, but so many of them screamed Easter to me, so I really had to dig for ones that were either more fall-like (such as the Folklore design) or basically season-less (the Shiseido figurine).  I think this vintage powder box would have been perfect though - definitely more forest rabbit than Easter bunny.

Vintage powder boxes(image from pinterest) 

These squirrel compacts definitely would have made it into the exhibition, if they didn't cost a whopping $876 and $1,436, respectively.

Vintage squirrel compacts
(images from ebay)

I also looked for trees and general forest scenes.  I didn't turn up much that reminded me of a forest in autumn - most of what I was seeing looked like tropical landscapes - but this vintage compact definitely would have made the cut if it hadn't already sold.  It's pretty unique.

Vintage Fisher compact(image from vanitytreasures.com) 

And that about sums it up!  I hope you're not sick of the forest now!  Any favorite pieces here?

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MM fall 2017 exhibition

Fall.2017.poster.1pp

Welcome to the fall exhibition, finally!  I know you're probably more excited about holiday releases at this point, but I still wanted to do a proper fall exhibition, late though it is.  I had originally planned a very different exhibition - a retrospective devoted to an extremely talented and successful makeup artist who has become my obsession over the past few years - but ultimately decided that, much like my failed '90s makeup exhibition, I just couldn't do it the way I envisioned.  I was also concerned that in the unlikely event of "Mother" herself catching wind of it, she might be a bit peeved that I staged an exhibition dedicated to her work in my bedroom, as I think it would be rather insulting to someone of her renown.  I'm not letting go of the concept, of course, but it will have to wait until I can use a proper gallery or museum space for it*.  So in lieu of that, I thought this fall I'd do another exhibition I've been wanting to do for a couple years now.  Every autumn I seem to be more entranced by the magic and mystery of the forest. Perhaps it's my 11 year long status as a city dweller, or my love of woodland critters, but lately I've been loving the idea of relaxing in front of a roaring fire in a beautiful rustic cabin somewhere in the forest...or since I'm not really the outdoors/camping type, maybe a short evening hike in the woods surrounded by moonlight and the sounds of the animals would be more my speed.  In any case, the vibe I was going for was about 20% enchanted, 1% scary (hey, the forest at night can be a little unnerving), but 79% peaceful and calm.

I thought this wonderful illustration by Alexandra Dvornikova perfectly represented the particular forest mood I was trying to capture.  It's even better in its original animated version.

Tumblr_or5ftagFgO1tqlr5ro1_1280

I'll be doing a follow-up post on why I chose the objects I did, the ones that didn't make it in and some other things that inspired me.  In the meantime, welcome to fall 2017 at the Museum!

(Click to enlarge.)

MM fall 2017 exhibition

MM fall 2017 exhibition

MM fall 2017 exhibition

Top row, left to right.

Revlon Petite compact ad

You would not believe (or be-leaf? haha!) how many vintage compacts I found with leaf patterns.

Revlon Petite compact

Revlon Petite compact

Revlon Petite compact ad

Fall exhibition label

Okay, okay, I KNOW the Moschino seems out of place as it's technically a teddy bear and not one you'd find in the forest.  But a certain little Museum intern begged me to include it, since there are so few bear-shaped makeup items.  The Lamis King lipstick case is the only other one I can think of and that one is definitely more of a wild forest mama bear, what with being perched on a tree stump cuddling her cub.

Sephora x Moschino

Lamis King bear lipstick

Fall 2017 exhibition label

Oils from Shu x OB and Mika Ninagawa collections:

Shu Uemura cleansing oils

Fall 2017 exhibition label

I was positively elated to find not only these two compacts but also the original ad, as it contains the name and date of the design.  I have no idea why that little dude is standing next to it though.  I mean obviously it's part of an article, but it's just...weird.  I'm guessing he was a jockey?

Elgin compacts and ad

Elgin Woodland Fawn compact, ca. 1955

Elgin Woodland Fawn carry-all, ca. 1955

1955 Elgin compact ad

1955 Elgin compact ad

Second row, left to right.

Remember these?

Paul & Joe lipstick cases

Paul & Joe lipstick cases

This little sparrow is actually from the fall 2015 collection and not 2014, which means the label is wrong.  Whoops.

Paul & Joe lipstick cases

Fall 2017 exhibition label

So pleased to come across this compact and in such good condition.  I was determined to find an ad for it and I did!  Not a magazine ad but there was a newspaper one, so I "clipped" it online and printed it out.

Volupte compact, ca. 1942

Volupté compact ad, June 1942

Volupté compact ad, June 1942

Isa x Bambi:

Isa x Bambi

Isa x Bambi

I realize the ad is for a completely different product than the compact, but they're both full of appley goodness.  :)

1952 Lentheric ad

Wadsworth compact, ca. late 1940s/early 50s

Third row, left to right.

I feel like indie companies are really leading the way in terms of creating some new and innovative brush designs.  These flower-filled ones seemed a little spring to me at first, but then I read they're filled with seasonal dried flowers so I figured they were appropriate for fall.  And the deep green of the pouch is very autumnal as well. 

Storybook cosmetics brush set

Storybook cosmetics brush set

Fall 2017 exhibition label

These items were also quite a find!  I literally typed "fox lip balm" into Google and landed on this site, which sells a line called Folklore.  And fortunately they ship to the U.S.  I was also so happy to see this vintage squirrel compact - felt like I just had to buy it since it's the husband's spirit animal.  It's not in quite as good shape as this one, but all the marcasite was still intact so I went for it.

Folklore lip balms and vintage Stratton compact

Folklore lip balm and nail files

Stratton squirrel compact, ca. 1940s

Fall 2017 exhibition label

So sad that the label for this is basically blank, but I still never uncovered any more information about these mysterious Shiseido Chinese zodiac figurines.

Shiseido Year of the Rabbit figurine

Last but not least in this row, the owl shelf.  This one's for my mom since she loves owls.  :)

Owl makeup

The eyeshadow on the left is another piece from Paul & Joe's fall 2015 collection and the highlighting powder is from the holiday 2014 collection. The eyeshadow with the two owls is from fall 2005, and I remember being dismayed that I couldn't find their fall 2005 runway collection anywhere online so I could see if it had the owls.  Then a few years ago I was flipping through an issue of Lucky magazine (I still miss it) and lo and behold, spotted the owls in action - not on clothing but on a pillow in some rich hipster chick's living room.  How serendipitous!  Of course I tore it out and saved it in case I ever exhibited the eyeshadow (and also because I'm a hoarder.)

Owl makeup

Lucky magazine page

Lucky magazine page

Fall 2017 exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

Laneige x Lucky Chouette:

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Fall 2017 exhibition label

Chantecaille Save the Forest and Protect the Wolves palettes:

Chantecaille Save the Forest and Protect the Wolves palettes

Chantecaille Save the Forest and Protect the Wolves palettes

Fall 2017 exhibition label

This one is another mystery.  I've seen this shape of Helena Rubinstein compact before and the date was listed as 1962, but have been unable to find it in any ads.  I'm wondering if these were only distributed in countries outside the U.S.  since they're relatively hard to find and don't appear in any American newspapers.  Obviously the Heaven Sent compacts with the angel date sometime after 1941 since that's when the fragrance was released, but this one with the deer on it is strange - I have no idea why it would be connected to the Heaven Sent fragrance.  My hunch is that it's actually related to their Moonlight Mist scent.  Still, the compact's shape and style look way earlier than 1962 or even 1956 when Moonlight Mist was released. 

vintage Helena Rubinstein

vintage Helena Rubinstein deer compact

Speaking of Helena Rubinstein, an exhibition devoted to her just opened at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, so if you're able I highly suggest visiting.  :)

vintage Helena Rubinstein deer compact

Fall 2017 exhibition label

And finally, Stila fall 2006 blush and eyeshadow trios:

Stila fall 2006

And that concludes the fall 2017 exhibition!  Did you feel as though you were deep in an enchanted forest, hearing squirrels romping and leaves crunching under your feet?  I hope so!  And let me know what your favorite item in the exhibition was. :) 

 

*I missed the deadline for MICA's call for proposals for their annual Curator's Incubator show, but I plan on submitting one next year.

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Curator's Corner, 10/15/2017

CC logoEven later than usual, but here are some links.

- I'm starting the Halloween spookiness early by including this roundup of terrifying beauty treatments.  I had heard of some but not all (lard hair pomade, anyone?)

- We might have scoffed and ridiculed the downright dangerous beauty fads of yore, but this photography series points out the absurdity of some of the devices we use today.  At least they're not toxic/deadly...that we know of.

- Silly brow trends continue to dominate the beauty sphere, including brows in the shape of lightning bolts, ponytails and Nike swooshes.  I believe the craziness has now inspired even more facial hair wackiness like these nostril hair extensions

- Despite the glory that is Fenty makeup, there still aren't many foundation shades readily accessible and affordable for women of color.  And don't get me started on yet another shameful Dove ad.  I'm glad the model in the commercial didn't feel victimized, but changing black skin to white skin via soap is a racist advertising technique that literally dates back to the late 1800s.

- Glad someone finally said it.

- Brilliant!

The random:

- There is much '90s nostalgia to be had.  Belly announces a crowdfunding campaign for a new album, a reunion of the ever-hilarious Kids in the Hall might be in store, and L.A. Confidential celebrated its 20th anniversary.  Meanwhile, an article at the Guardian reflects on why the '90s was the best decade for movies.  But I saved the best milestone for last:  Bikini Kill's self-titled debut album was released 25 years ago on October 9.  I didn't know about them or Riot Grrrl back then, but discovering their music years later was life-changing for me.

- I swear I'm completely in sync with Scandinavian home trends.  I was doing hygge long before I even knew the word for it when the trend exploded last year, and for the past couple of years I've been desperately trying to keep the Museum's collection neat and just try to declutter more generally.  This is not because I'm bothered by my crap sitting around but because I don't want anyone to have to deal with it if I get hit by a bus.  It's less of a fear of death and more of a fear of being a burden on people once I'm gone; I'm enough of a nuisance alive, and I figure trying to clear out all my stuff after I'm dead would be even annoying, so I've been forever trying to come up with a firm plan for the Museum's collection (which would be in addition to my will and 5-page accompanying memo - yes, I am a chronic worrier) but also get rid of as much stuff as possible while I can.  Turns out, pre-death tidying is known as "dostadning" (literally "death cleaning").  KonMari never worked for me, so I'm definitely buying the death cleaning book when it comes out in January...if I'm still alive, of course.

- On a less morbid note, I'm hoping to get up to NYC in December to see this new MoMA show.  Even though I haven't seen it, I can tell you that one of the featured items is considered a makeup classic...but I will save how I know that until my exhibition review.  ;)

What's going on with you?  Are you enjoying fall thus far?

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Quick post: freeing the beast with Burberry

Apologies in advance for this short and rather sloppy post on Burberry's latest palette...the Curator is both generally exhausted and busy as a little bee working on more exciting things like the fall exhibition and some truly amazing holiday collections.  This is not to say that Burberry's fall blush is subpar; as a matter of fact, I think it may be the most intricate one they've released to date.  The detail on the leaves is beautiful, but I think my favorite part is that they're raised slightly above the background - it really allows the interplay of matte and shimmer textures to shine.

Burberry fall 2017 blush palette

Burberry fall 2017 blush palette

Burberry fall 2017 blush palette

As with previous seasonal palettes, the print is a reproduction of one that appeared on some of the pieces from the fall 2017 fashion collection.  In particular, the fall palette borrows one of Burberry's "beasts" prints, which were inspired by the fanciful mythical creatures lining the pages of medieval English manuscripts.  This particular print surfaced on much of Burberry's line: womenswear, menswear, accessories and kids' clothes.  (There was another beast print that was used on this lovely beauty box but I skipped it as I didn't think it was that special, plus I need to budget for many holiday items!)

Burberry fall 2017

Burberry fall 2017

Burberry fall 2017

Burberry fall 2017
(images from us.burberry.com)

For the life of me though, I couldn't find an exact match for the pattern on the palette, so I think it may have been modified slightly to fit better.  More specifically, I'm noticing two key differences on the right side of the palette.  It looks like the beast's profile has been erased and replaced with some leaves, and another four-petaled flower has been added in place of his paws/hooves.

Burberry fall 2017 beast print and palette comparison

I also went slightly insane trying to distort the print in Photoshop so that it matched the exact angle of the palette's print.  In the end I couldn't figure it out and gave up before I threw my computer out the window.  I can rotate images just fine but couldn't seem to do any fancy stuff (distort, warp, skew, perspective, etc.)

Burberry fall 2017 beast print and palette comparison

It would have been great if Burberry had kept the print exactly as it was - wouldn't you have liked to see a little medieval beast peeking out from your blush?  I also would have appreciated it if they would have been a little more specific in their references so I could have found the original images.  For example, even though the spring 2017 blush's design wasn't my favorite, I was overjoyed when I found the exact wallpaper print they used, and all they needed to divulge was that the wallpaper was at the V & A.  This time it would have been useful to know the specific medieval manuscripts they were looking at so I could have done some digging.  (I did do a cursory search for medieval manuscript illustrations but didn't see anything strikingly similar).

Anyway, despite these slight missteps this was one of Burberry's prettiest offerings and certainly Museum-worthy.  What do you think?  Oh, and if you crave a daily dose of medieval manuscript illustrations chock full of mythical creatures and other assorted weirdness found in the margins of these tomes, this is the Tumblr for you. ;)


Oh deer! Isa x Bambi

I have no idea how I missed this adorable collection when it was released last fall, but I'm glad I managed to track it down.  Since there are so many Disney collaborations I tend to be fairly selective as to which ones to purchase for the Museum, but I thought this Bambi collection from Korean brand Isa Knox was special enough to be worthy.  :)

Isa Knox Bambi

The outer packaging alone is lovely.  The sides of the boxes have delightful floral prints and Bambi illustrations.

Isa Knox Bambi

Isa Knox Bambi

More pretty floral patterns abound on the compacts themselves, and Bambi's brown fur gets a vibrant, overlapping watercolor makeover.

Isa Knox Bambi

Butterfly!!

Isa Knox Bambi

Isa Knox Bambi

I'm not much of a Disney buff, but I do follow a lot of art blogs, which is how I came across the story of artist Tyrus Wong (1910-2016).   Wong went largely unrecognized for his groundbreaking work on Disney's Bambi until the early aughts, but I'm glad he finally got his due, since his style was instrumental in setting the film's tone and atmosphere and also created an entirely new direction for Disney.  I thought it would be fun to look at the Isa collection within the context of the original Bambi art.

Wong was born in China and came to the U.S. when he was nine (Tyrus is an Americanized version of "Tai Yow" that a teacher assigned him in elementary school).  His father, taking note of his son's interest in drawing, taught him calligraphy every night using a brush dipped in water and "painting" characters on newspapers, as they couldn't afford ink or drawing paper. A junior high teacher noticed Wong's artistic skill and arranged a scholarship for him to attend the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where he studied both Western art and the landscape paintings of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).  Wong graduated in the early '30s and showed his work in exhibitions throughout the country.  In 1938 he got a job at Disney as an “in-betweener" drawing the thousands of frames that occur in between the main animation sequences.  I didn't know this, but "in-between" animation is incredibly dull and repetitive - it's basically assembly-line production.  When Wong found out Disney would be adapting Felix Salten's 1923 book into a film, he jumped at the opportunity to showcase his work. 

Tyrus Wong

"I said, 'Gee, this is all outdoor scenery...I said, gee, I'm a landscape painter. This will be great!'" Wong recalled in a video used in a 2013 exhibition of his work at San Francisco's Walt Disney Family Museum.  Using pastels and watercolors as well as inspiration from the Song dynasty landscape paintings, Wong sketched out a few samples with emphasis on the play between light and shadow rather than meticulously drawing each leaf and branch.  As you can see, it's more of a pared-down, Impressionist approach that evokes the forest rather than being a literal representation. "I tried to keep it very, very simple and create the atmosphere, the feeling of the forest,” Wong said.  Adds Michael Labrie, director of collections and exhibitions at the Disney Family Museum, "He visualized the forest as being ethereal...the sketches were more of an impression of the forest."

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Wong was definitely in the right place at the right time:  Disney realized that the ornate style used for the forest scenes in their 1937 feature Snow White, despite the success of the film, could not be carried over to Bambi.  The highly detailed leaves and trees were overwhelming, basically camouflaging Bambi and the other animals.  Wong's approach not only was perfect for the film's subject matter, but also presented a strikingly different direction for animated films.  “Walt Disney went crazy over them,” notes John Canemaker, who wrote about Wong in his 1996 book. “He said, ‘I love this indefinite quality, the mysterious quality of the forest.’”  Adds chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter, "This sophistication of expression was a gigantic leap forward for the medium."

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concept art for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concepts for Bambi

Tyrus Wong - concepts for Bambi

Here's short video with a few more paintings and commentary both from Wong himself and other people who worked on the film.  (There's another video here but I couldn't figure out how to embed it into this post. Sigh.)

After his time at Disney, Wong produced illustrations for live-action movies at Warner Brothers.  In his later years he continued painting and also branched out into kite-making.  His story is very inspirational, as he was a poor immigrant who worked incredibly hard to overcome not only poverty, but also endured the rampant racism against Chinese people to become an acclaimed artist.

Tyrus Wong(images from cartoonbrew.com and thisiscolossal.com)

Getting back to the Isa collection, I still think it's a solid addition to the Museum (and will look excellent in the fall 2017 exhibition so keep your eyes peeled!), but now a part of me wishes they had used Wong's paintings for the packaging.  As a matter of fact, I'd love to see more companies use original sketches rather than the finished Disney designs.  The only time we've seen the preliminary artwork for a Disney collaboration, at least to my knowledge, is with MAC's Venemous Villains.  

Anyway, what do you think?

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Makeup as Muse: Michelle Murphy's out of this world makeup photography

Michelle MurphyA few months ago I was watching the Instagram stories of one of the many beauty bloggers I follow, and she was at an exhibition full of stunning macro photos of makeup.  I knew immediately the artist behind them would be the next Makeup as Muse installment.  Michelle Murphy received a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  She spent over a decade working as a photographer for NASA, and it's this experience that influenced a series of beauty and makeup-related photographs that she began in 2011.  Since I am both bad explaining another artist's work and rather tired today, I figured I'd let an excerpt from Murphy's artist statement provide an overview of the themes in this series:  "Working in a culture where the attainment of beauty is paramount and science strives to engineer the ultimate look, my photography explores the relationship between consumption and rebellion of these ideals. What contemporary advertising and media culture continue to broadcast as expected in female appearances provides my motivation to examine beauty products.  Inspired by Op Art, scientific imaging, and third-wave feminism, I produce slick macro close-ups of the adorned, treated body and beauty 'tools'. Through my processes of creating still life and tactile experiments in my studio, I playfully use beauty products as art materials changing their purpose away from concealing or accentuating my face. In the more formal images I repeat and magnify the subject creating optical plays within two-dimensional space. My lighting, studio props, and color palettes provide an aesthetic mimicking modern advertising and scientific imaging...Beauty in its contemporary context is my discourse. I desire to shift 'the gaze' away from the female as a subject (or myself) to the over-the-counter beauty maintenance products themselves. The resulting images blend perceptual space and our cultural space…revealing the subject as abstraction, as metaphor, and again as consumable object."

We've seen macro images of makeup before, but it's Murphy's unique perspective that sets these apart from other close-ups.  Weaving together her background in science-based photos, third-wave feminism (yay!), and art history, these aren't simply pretty pictures; they're a statement about consumerism and how we perceive and approach the notion of beauty.  However, while the photos hold a deeper meaning, there's nothing wrong with appreciating their aesthetic qualities.  As the artist notes, "When you stare at something closely for a long time, it dematerializes, losing its original significance and gaining significance in new ways. If we surrender to the images as only formalist works of art, we become lost in the lines, the texture, its metallic luster, and its play with scale. The makeup is no longer the subject; the viewer can escape into stardust or can simply scan back and forth over a flattened space eliciting nothing more than shapes, grids, or metallic gradients."  I'm in full agreement on this - I can absolutely see myself getting lost in these images if I were able to see them in person.  The macro scale also calls attention to how makeup is designed for the utmost visual appeal.  It's an age-old advertising tactic, but one that still works hook, line and sinker today:  if we own this beautiful object then we too can be beautiful.  "I am using photography to reveal how an $8 manufactured palette of eye shadow entices a consumer. Its design and beauty works as a signifier of modernity, a utopic belief that you will become better by owning and using such a small thing. Because we already have years of advertising literacy embedded in our memory, buying this particular object becomes 2nd nature. Buying/consuming a product in this Western world is too easy when we think it is formally beautiful, and if we believe it’s necessary for personal improvement," Murphy states.  Indeed, by focusing on makeup's texture, shapes and colors, Murphy captures what makes cosmetics so enjoyable and, for makeup enthusiasts, irresistible. 

Let's get to the photos!  Here are some from the first Perceptual Beauty series.

Michelle Murphy, Purple Rain Palette Maze

Michelle Murphy, Bronzer Sunscape

Michelle Murphy, 100 lipstick gradient 1 lipstick color

Michelle Murphy, Eyeshadow: out n back again

Michelle Murphy, Split Shadow Chevron

Michelle Murphy, Viscosity Test

Michelle Murphy, Amorphous

Michelle Murphy, Turbulence

These last two directly reference two Op-Art artists: Bridget Riley and Josef Albers, respectively.  I've provided examples of their work.

Michelle Murphy, OP Lipstick (after Bridget Riley)

 
Bridget Riley - Britannia, 1961
(image from missomnimedia.com)
 
Michelle Murphy, Foundation to the Square: Chosen, after Albers
 
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: With Rays, 1959
(image from metmuseum.org)
 
Here is the second installment of Perpetual Beauty, which is heavily influenced by Murphy's work for NASA and resembles otherworldly landscapes.  Once again, it's the artist's background in scientific photography that allows her to see makeup very differently than most of us do.  I can't say I've ever been to a drugstore and noticed the visual similarity between an eyeshadow and the surface of another planet!  "I am shopping at CVS for a depleted daily item that brought me into the store on my lunch break…10 minutes, 20 minutes slip away from me...I am thrilled to find an eye shadow that looks like Mars! NASA just announced the Curiosity rover landed successfully on Mars, and this product looks just like the fish-eye view from photos taken on the surface."  Having looked at these, I'd be so curious to see Murphy's take on makeup products that intentionally attempt to look like galaxies and other outer space phenomena.  I also imagine her photos of holographic/duochrome products would be exquisite. 
 
Michelle Murphy, Curiosity Rover's View
 
Michelle Murphy, Fake Eyelash Refraction
 
 
Michelle Murphy, The Origin of Pigment
 
Michelle Murphy, Lotion Landscape
 
Michelle Murphy, Foundation: with less control
 
The final installment of the Perceptual Beauty series depicts transgender individuals applying makeup.  I'm afraid I don't have much insight into the meaning of these.  Perhaps it's a commentary on how rarely the beauty industry uses close-up photos of transgender people applying makeup in their advertising.  While we're seeing more of it, along with cis-gendered men who simply enjoy wearing makeup, the transgender models in these campaigns still adhere to more feminized notions of beauty.  These photos, on the other hand, make us question conventional beauty standards and also represent an attempt to normalize non-traditional beauty ideals.  As Murphy says, “My photographic and video art explores the opposing positions in the relationship – between consumption that objectifies the expression of idealized beauty – and rebellion against what our consumer culture deems as ideal.  My work shifts the 'gaze'  from the female as a subject (and often an object) to explore the purpose and role of beauty products.  With my work, I am essentially questioning the nature of beauty ideals in today’s society and asking whether these ideals are driven from a personal perspective, or artificially created by consumer culture.”
 
I think the series could also be viewed as a reminder of the greater societal marginalization of transgender people.  Sadly, the transgender community still faces much discrimination and violence on account of some not being to handle seeing those who perform gender differently than the norm, i.e. people who wear "traditional" visual markers of masculinity (facial hair, short men's haircut, etc.) but who also apply visible makeup.  Whatever the significance of this series, Murphy is staying true to her mission of shifting the focus away from the standard female subject.
 
Michelle Murphy, Trans Shadow
 
Michelle Murphy, Lip Gloss, Applied
 
Michelle Murphy, Zir Eye
 
Michelle Murphy, Blushing
 
Following Perceptual Beauty, Murphy embarked upon another series entitled Nature's Beauty Tools:  "I am replacing synthetically produced and manufactured beauty products (fake eyelashes, lipstick and silicone implants) with nature-sourced materials that serve as compelling stand-ins.  Temporary sculptural props of twigs, mushrooms, slate, tree-bark, leaves, etc. are physically manipulated into tiny sculptures which are then temporarily attached to the model and photographed in studio environments. These materials are organic and often disintegrate quickly, so the photographs are orchestrated within a day of finding the source material. The dramatic artificial lighting, high depth-of-field focus, along with the large-scale presentation of the finished framed work sets the overall tone for the viewer, referencing both the fine art photographic history and contemporary advertising."  Again, I'm not really sure what these are about...perhaps a critique of the beauty industry's use of "natural" in advertising their products, a term that has no real meaning.
 
I wonder if the lashes below were the inspiration behind these.

Michelle Murphy, Nature Modification

Michelle Murphy, Pinecone Brow

Michelle Murphy, Slate Manicure

Michelle Murphy

Michelle Murphy, Icicles Beard(images from michellemariemurphy.com unless otherwise noted)

You might be wondering why no companies have tapped Murphy to collaborate or use her work for advertising purposes.  Turns out a company actually did use her work, but I'm not sure which one as my internet searches proved fruitless.  The artist explains:  "In the process of creating this body of work, the PR Director of a well-known makeup brand called me through my website.  They saw the artwork I was creating with their products and wanted to co-opt my work into their social media outlets and in return to provide lots of their product as an in-kind donation to my art practice.  At first reluctant to join forces with the industry, I saw an opportunity to show my work to their consumer audience.  The success of this relationship was two-fold, I was no longer a customer of their make-up and I was offered several spin-off opportunities to beauty websites to share my work.  My favorite moment was an interview with a beauty culture news website. The writer asked me a lot about my opinions and relationship to makeup and most importantly my responses were not edited.  I had this moment to speak honestly to consumers about the difficulties with body politics related to the beauty industry."  Unfortunately, the interview she mentioned doesn't seem to be available, and I was too chicken to email her to both conduct my own interview and clarify the brand that contacted her, but I suspect it may have been Maybelline based on this post.  I would absolutely love to see more brands using her work.  And one of my burning questions is what she thinks of space-inspired beauty, given her NASA background.  ;)

Overall I'm quite smitten with these photos.  They make us consider the deeper issues involving beauty standards and consumerism, but also represent a clear appreciation for makeup design and a desire to capture the beauty of makeup as object.  I just wish that 1. more prints of her work were available and 2. I was close to Chicago so I could see the Responsive Beauty exhibition, which closes on October 21st.  If you're in the area please check it out for me!

What do you think?

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