Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foot in the Door, Heads in the Museum

I finally made it to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see the Foot in the Door exhibit. This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for anyone to have a piece of art in Minnesota's largest art museum. (As long as it's not larger than 1 cubic foot.) This year, there are nearly 5,000 pieces in the show.

The museum curators hang the pieces in columns and rows at heights well above and below the viewer's head. Curiously, I found myself finding a lot of heads.

Multiple artworks hung on a wall, two of which depict heads
Two heads are better than one.

Pink gumball machine full of Barbie and Ken doll heads
Unless there's a whole gumball machine full of them.

Worn out a bit from the sheer number of objects, I wandered upstairs from Foot in the Door to the modernism area.

Stylized white marble head sculpture next to a monochrome black and gray painting of a man, head dominant
And found yet another room full of heads. ("Head of a Woman" by Modigliani at left; "Portrait of the Artist" by Derain at right.)

Modernism wasn't all about heads, though. I was interested in a collection of early Art Deco building designs by Robert Mallet-Stevens (1922). The drawings are all black and white with a single additional color. They were beautiful as illustrations, let alone as depictions of buildings imagined by an architect.

Drawing of a school that looks more like a gas station
I found this one mostly amusing, however. Called Ecole Primaire (Primary School), it made me think about the differences between the culture of 1920s France and present-day America:

  • Of course, there are separate wings (or classrooms) for boys and girls. Possibly separate entrances, as on Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Scotland Street School, but that's not visible in the drawing.
  • The scale of the building is tiny: it appears to have just two classrooms. So much for the vaunted economy of scale that makes schools so financially efficient these days.
  • Both classrooms are on the second floor, for no apparent reason except that it looks cool. ADA, anyone?
  • Unless it's built in a flood zone, I have no idea what the purpose of the open areas under the classrooms might be. Maybe the kids could have recess under there when it rained? Or maybe it was a school for teaching car repair, and the area below was to be used for the car lifts?
I almost might wonder out loud if Mallet-Stevens was using his head when he designed it... but I wouldn't want to put my foot in my mouth.

1 comment:

Carmella said...

I think they meant to leave room for a dog park. Great thinking!