current exhibitions

Liberty cap

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England is currently exhibiting the shortlisted entries for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. This amazing picture of the Milky Way and orographic lenticular clouds hanging above Liberty Cap, a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, was taken by Rogelio Bernal Andreo.


Eileen Gray

#tbt to a retrospective of the work of the Anglo-Irish designer Eileen Gray, which opened in February 1980, four years after her death. Gray had often been left out of design histories in spite of her extraordinary career, which ranged from experiments in furniture to groundbreaking architecture. One of her greatest achievements in the latter field was E-1027, a late-1920s seaside house on the French Riviera that was, as the press release for the exhibition noted, “one of the first truly radical modern buildings in France.” Nevertheless, as the years passed, Gray’s contribution to the field was marginalized and her legacy minimized within the male-dominated world of architecture and design—something this exhibition sought to challenge. The installation comprised numerous examples of her furniture design, with photographs and drawings providing an overview of her work in architecture. (MoMA’s current exhibition How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modern Interior includes numerous examples of Gray’s furnishings.)

See installation views of the original 1980 retrospective, read the out-of-print catalogue, and more.  

Architecture’s impact in today’s refugee crisis

“There has been relatively little discussion as to how architecture engages with and responds to global refugee emergencies. Through art, architecture and design, we may begin to be able to identify effective ways in which to visualize ourselves as citizens.”

Associate curator Sean Anderson writes on about architecture’s impact in today’s refugee crisis, also the subject of our current exhibition, Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter. Read it here

Tuned-In Tuesday: What’s Happening Near YOU

Today, November 1, marks the beginning of Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead: a Mexican tradition of celebration to honor and commemorate deceased loved ones. The cultural traditions and style of Día de Muertos, often referred to as its Anglicized version of Día de los Muertos, has in recent decades become increasingly prevalent and celebrated in the U.S. as well. The Detroit Institute of Arts’s current temporary exhibit, Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos, displays traditional Mexican traditions to the public during the holiday. By titling the exhibit using the traditional Spanish name, as well as displaying exhibit information in both English and Spanish, Ofrendas relates the holiday’s traditions back to their origins and maximizes inclusivity of the Mexican and Mexican-American community.

The DIA’s exhibit, Ofrendas, displays fourteen ofrendas (offerings) created by local artists and community members, chosen by DIA staff and local community members of Mexican heritage. The DIA is also encouraging further community engagement by allowing the public to contribute through social media by submitting pictures of deceased loved ones, which are projected in the exhibit space. Many of the ofrendas consist of traditional altar displays, though local artists have explored other mediums as well. While ofrendas were originally displayed in the home, the displaying of the DIA’s ofrendas within an exhibition space places them within a grey area, hovering between the definitions of cultural tradition and visual art. The community artists, as well as exhibit visitors, are given agency within the space; it becomes a place for people within and outside of the culture to experience and honor the practices of Día de Muertos in celebrating passed loved ones.

photo courtesy of MetroParent / daily

Día de Muertos has become multicultural in recent generations as it is increasingly celebrated in the U.S. by Americans of Mexican heritage. Due to the holiday’s increasing prevalence, aspects of the culture have been often associated and appropriated within Halloween traditions due to their overlapping dates; the celebrations do not consist exclusively of the altars bearing food, sugar skulls, candles, and marigolds anymore. As the traditions of Día de Muertos have increasingly spread outside of Mexican culture, the Mexican folk art-style of Día de Muertos has become an artistic genre in itself, found in the art world unattached to cultural or religious background. The decorated skull (calaveras) associated with Día de Muertos has become a mainstream image in Western pop culture; people don the intricate and colorful image in the form of makeup, clothing, and tattoos. Originating as sugar art intended for religious and cultural traditions, it is now found in the form of painting, sculpture, and graphics. While in many instances, the utilization of the artistic influences of Día de Muertos is exclusively appropriation, aspects of the cultural style are also utilized in secular Mexican art.

Portion of Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central, Museo Mural Diego Rivera, Mexico City

The mural, Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central, was created by Diego Rivera, who also painted the DIA’s notable Detroit Industry frescoes. The central, skeletal figure is a representation of “La Calavera Catrina”, who is commonly associated with Día de Muertos imagery. The employment and representation of Día de Muertos iconography by Mexican artists outside of the holiday expands it from religious, folk art origins, coming to inhabit the world of “fine art” and secular culture as well. The setting of the DIA as an art museum highlights the question of whether the ofrendas represent art or represent culture; they hearken back to the origins of the tradition, yet they can also, especially the ones that utilize non-traditional mediums, be characterized as contemporary art. This interfacing allows for the ofrendas displayed in the DIA to merge the two spheres of art and culture in commonality, acting as both a part of the two-day Día de Muertos holiday celebration as well as year-round Día de Muertos cultural imagery.

Jackson Pollock was born on this day in 1912. See how he developed his signature style in a current exhibition featuring over 50 works from MoMA’s collection. 

[Jackson Pollock. Number 1A, 1948. 1948. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York]

The chambered nautilus is a common tropical Indo-West Pacific species, free-swimming from deep to shallow waters, feeding on fish and crustaceans. The shell is partitioned into chambers, with the animal occupying the outermost chamber. The other chambers are filled with gas and liquid, and connected by a hollow tube, the siphuncle, for regulating buoyancy. The nautilus shell nearly perfectly approximates the logarithmic spiral, which was first described mathematically in 1638 by French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes and half a century later by Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernulli, who referred to it as spira mirabilis, or miraculous spiral. The logarithmic spiral’s curve has the unique property of maintaining its shape as its size increases, a property that is elegantly manifested in the shape of the nautilus shell. This mathematical perfection made the nautilus shell the very emblem of natural beauty and harmony during the ages, hailed in poetry and fine arts alike.

Illustration: Nautilus pompilius (chambered nautilus); from Jean Charles Chenu, Illustrations conchyliologiques … , 1854.

See live nautilus in the current exhibition Life at the Limits, and learn more about shells in the new book, The Seashell Collector, a boxed set featuring a booklet by Ilya Temkin, a former postdoctoral researcher at the Museum.


Part gallery, part café, part art shop and part salon, Munhwa Sanghoe is a fixed-up hanok on Gyedong-gil that serves as a point of connection and communication between creators and consumers.

The space is currently hosting an exhibit of illustrations and handcrafted goods using recycled materials by artist Kim Geun-hui.

Photos by Robert Koehler of SEOUL.

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Refugee Architecture Gets Its First Major Museum Show

Co.Design spoke to MoMA curator Sean Anderson about architectural solutions to the refugee crisis, as explored in the current exhibition Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter.

“In this desire for maximum visibility, maximum rationality, and organization, there is a lack then of individuality,” Anderson says. “These individuals who are moving or are being forcibly moved from various countries literally lose their identity to go into places that are for their own safety and security and become a number in a system that they don’t necessarily recognize or understand. Shelter is not an end in itself; it actually requires a close observation of the client. What are the everyday needs of these individuals? I would suggest that it’s more than just access to food and water, but they deserve a bit of privacy and a bit of humanity.”

[Dunkirk, France. Henk Wildschut. 2010]

(via Refugee Architecture Gets Its First Major Museum Show)