Curator's Corner, December 2019 and yearly wrap-up

Makeup Museum ideas for now and the future

As I did back in January of 2016, I feel the need to discuss some ideas I've had rattling about in my head for quite some time.  I could basically copy and paste from that post since I didn't make any progress, but perhaps 2020 is the year I actually start tackling some of the bigger Museum projects I've wanted to pursue for so long.  Or not.  I'm not putting pressure on myself, especially since, as I've noted countless times, the necessary resources - research materials, time and money - are lacking.  The point of this post is to simply get down some ideas so that they can temporarily stop taking up so much room in my head and to possibly start prioritizing them. 

First, let's talk exhibitions. Four years ago I had ideas for 15 of them.  The number hasn't changed, although the topics for some of them have.  Here's what I'm thinking about, along with working titles.  I'll reiterate the disclaimer I had with the Stila girls exhibition:  if/when these are completed, they won't be executed anywhere near how I envisioned, but they will be something to start with.

  1. "Black and Blue:  A History of Punk Makeup" - A subject so near and dear to my heart deserves a solo show.
  2. "Catch the Light:  A History of Glitter Makeup and Beauty" - I think this would be perfect for a holiday exhibition.
  3. "The Medium is the Message:  Makeup as Art" - This will trace how makeup is marketed and conceived of as literal art.  Consider it a comprehensive discussion of this post.
  4. "Wanderlust:  Travel-Inspired Beauty" -  I cannot for the life of me believe how many travel-inspired makeup collections there are.  This exhibition would examine those and discuss the idea of makeup intended for travel.  Who wants to see some vintage train cases?
  5. "Design is a Good Idea:  Innovations in Cosmetics Design and Packaging" -  I'm hoping this would be co-curated with two fashion/design scholars that I met on Instagram.
  6. "Taking Flight:  Makeup as Metamorphosis" -  I'm still a little fuzzy on the details, but I know I want to have a whole section of makeup packaging featuring winged creatures (butterflies, fairies, etc.) and makeup looks inspired by them.  Anchoring the exhibition would be an emphasis on the transformative nature of makeup.
  7. "Gilded Splendor:  A History of Gold Makeup" - Another good holiday exhibition topic. 
  8. "Ancient Allure: Egypt-Inspired Makeup and Beauty" -  While I like this topic, it's necessary to be mindful of the rampant cultural appropriation.
  9. "Just Desserts:  Sweet Tooth Revisited" - Like a rich dessert, this topic is too good not to have another bite of.  I might also expand it to include non-dessert food-themed beauty, and maybe this very talented writer could co-curate with me.
  10. "Aliengelic:  Pat McGrath Retrospective" - Oh, how I'd love to do an exhibition devoted to Pat McGrath, with a stunning catalogue that would double as a coffee table book.  Alternate title instead of Aliengelic:  "The Mother of Modern Makeup".
  11. "By Any Other Name:  The Rose in Makeup and Beauty" - I pitched this idea to the FIT Museum as a small add-on to their upcoming "Ravishing" exhibition.  They weren't interested but I might just do it anyway. 
  12. "From Male Polish to Guyliner:  A History of Men's Makeup" - this will be huge.  Various writers have discussed it previously, but I want to go really in-depth with it.
  13. "She's All That:  Beauty in the '90s" - This is also the subject of the book on '90s beauty I've been wanting to write since at least 2014.  Not a great message in the film She's All That, but I would hope the premise of the exhibition/book will explain why I chose it as a title.  Or I might rework it to something totally different, I don't know.  And while I know I'll run into the same problems I did with trying to launch this exhibition previously, I figured I need to start somewhere.
  14. "From Mods and Hippies to Supervixens and Grrrls:  '60s and '90s Makeup in Dialogue" - In my opinion, cultural developments in both the late '60s and mid-1990s radically changed the beauty industry and gave birth to new ideas about how people view and wear makeup. 
  15. The last one is rather interesting in that it's the first exhibition topic suggested to me by an independent curator.  I don't want to reveal too much since we haven't really talked through it, but I can say it would be incredibly out of the box and involve '80s makeup. 

The husband made a super duper handy graphic of my exhibition ideas. 

Makeup Museum upcoming exhibitions

And now for all the other ideas that I'm going to try to get through on the website in 2020.  Here's another graphic to help wrap my head around what topics I want to tackle this year.  As you can see it gives the general categories and the number of articles in each category.

Makeup Museum upcoming topics list

Some details:

MM Musings (3):  Several huge topics, including the definition of a museum, inclusive museums, and an exploration of the process of a private collection going public.

Makeup as Muse (3):  the next artists on my list are Sylvie Fleury, Rachel Lachowitz and Gina Beavers.

MM Mailbag (2-3):  Too many inquiries to list!  I'm still only at about 50% "solved" rate...good thing I'm not a real detective.  But there were some really interesting questions in the past year or so, including ones about the history of Corn Silk powder and a travel set by Madam C.J. Walker.

Brief histories (4): zodiac-themed beauty, crystal-inspired beauty, makeup setting sprays, and how drag makeup techniques became mainstream and/or co-opted.  Possibly something on colored mascara.

Trends (1):  Makeup brand merchandise and swag.

Topics to revisit (3):  faux freckles, non-traditional lipstick shades, cultural appropriation in cosmetics advertising.

Vintage (5):  Feature on Revlon Futurama lipstick cases, research on a series of Dorothy Gray ads featuring portraits of well-to-do "society" ladies, a roundup of ads depicting women looking at their reflections (sort of a follow-up to my lipstick mirror post), a comparison of Benefit's Glamourette and Platé's Trio-ette compacts, and a history of face powder applicators.

Artist collabs (5):  Only 5 so far but I'm sure there will be more!  Currently I'm trying to catch up on some of last year's releases, including Brecht Evens for Mikimoto, Connor Tingley for NARS, Yoon Hyup for Bobbi Brown, and a staggering amount of Shiseido Gallery compacts and lip balms (there are 12, yes, 12 artists in all so I will have to combine several of them in one post.)  Oh, and I want to start a series on the artists whose work appears on Pat McGrath's packaging.

Book reviews (3):  I want to do at least 3, hopefully more.  On my short list: Red Lipstick:  Ode to a Beauty IconStyle and Status:  Selling Beauty to African-American Women, Viva MAC, and Sacred Luxuries:  Fragrance, Aromatherapy and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt.  I also have two more tomes that have been sitting on my bookshelf for several years. 

New series (3):  I've been thinking about this for years, ever since I did my fantasy Broad City makeup collection.  This would be a series discussing artists whose work I want to see on makeup packaging, complete with mock-ups.  The reason I haven't done it yet is because I lack the technical skills to make said mock-ups, but hopefully I'll figure out a work-around.

Color Connections (?): I'd love to return to Color Connections.  It's such a fun, albeit time-consuming series.

I'm sure there will be some surprises along the way - I think some guest posts and interviews will make an appearance here.

Finally, my book ideas.  These are not new...I do hope to find some time to start writing all three.  I have outlines and chapters for each but that's about it.  The first one is an alternate title for the '90s exhibition.  The second one you can find a description of in this post.  And the last one, well, I still want to do the damn coffee table book of pretty makeup.  We're going on 14 years that I've been wanting to publish it!

Makeup Museum upcoming book list

So those are all the ideas I have swirling about in my brain at the moment.  They are subject to change as I'm sure I'll think of more but at least I've laid out the current ones.  Please let me know in the comments which exhibitions and topics you want to see first!  And if you'd like to help with any definitely let me know.  Book-writing tips are especially needed. ;)

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