TitleStudio Job: MAD HOUSE
Duration22 March 2016 to 21 August 2016
VenueMuseum of Arts and Design (MAD)
Opening HoursTuesday to Sunday 10.00 - 18.00 / Thursday and Friday 10.00 - 21.00 / Monday Closed
Telephone+1 212 299 7777
|Title||Studio Job: MAD HOUSE||Posted In||Art, Exhibition||Duration||22 March 2016 to 21 August 2016|
|Venue||Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)||Opening Hours||Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 - 18.00 / Thursday and Friday 10.00 - 21.00 / Monday Closed||Location||
2 Columbus Circle
New York City, NY 10019United States
|Telephone||+1 212 299 7777||[email protected]||Visit Website||madmuseum.org|
Organized by the Museum of Art & Design (MAD) in New York, Studio Job MAD HOUSE is the first American solo exhibition of Studio Job, designers Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel’s Antwerp & Amsterdam-based atelier. Taking up two floors of the Museum, the design duo have delved into their studio’s 16 year history to populate the spaces with a wide selection of their work ranging from sculpture and drawings to furniture and lamps. Characterized by rich ornamentation, exquisite materials and exacting hand-craftsmanship, and laden with cultural and historical references, the exhibition feels like a fictional art patron’s eclectic collection which, despite its flamboyance, doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Modeled on the paradigm of an Old Master artist studio and inspired by the decorative arts of the 15th to 18th centuries, the studio’s works are comprised of a wide range of media like bronze casting, gilding, marquetry, stained glass and tin-glazed pottery. By using such traditional applied-art practices both in unexpected combinations and for unconventional forms, Studio Job has developed a highly distinctive body of work characterized by opulence, provocation and humor. Smeets calls their style “New Gothic” and defines it as antithetical to modern designers’ obsession with minimalism which he considers “the worst kitsch you can get”. Their work, predominantly produced in limited edition pieces—neither succumbing to the mass production demands of modern design, nor disavowing their product design nature for one-off pieces—intentionally defies the modernist mantra of “form follows function”, instead preferring decorative excess, visual turmoil and elaborate symbolism thereby blurring the lines between fine art and design.
The designers’ emotional rather than utilitarian approach to design is also apparent in the exhibition’s set up. Eschewing chronological order, they have arranged their work in fluid, sometimes contradictory groupings around themes such as ‘love/lust,’ ‘agrarian/preindustrial’, and ‘church/religion’ that suggest narratives the visitors can pick upon to construct their own interpretations. Furthermore, by covering the floors and walls throughout the spaces in their own designs—weathered oak parquet harking back to the residences of the haute bourgeoisie and a wallpaper inspired by typical castle interiors—they have managed to conceptually transform the galleries into the private treasure chambers of a fantastical collector of yore.
One of the first and most spectacular pieces visitors encounter is “Burj Khalifa” (2013-14), a 3.5 meter silver-leafed depiction of the famous Dubai skyscraper standing atop a cast-bronze model of Al Khazneh, the Greek-style temple at Petra in Jordan, which features a functioning mechanical clock, while a cast-bronze King Kong, covered with 120,000 Swarovski crystals, attempts to reach the top. The piece encapsulates Studio Job’s distinctive attributes, i.e. over-the-top design, an extravagance of materials and conceptual playfulness while also exemplifying the designers’ clever use of iconography, in this case by juxtaposing Middle Eastern old and new symbols and raising questions about who the beast represents—Terrorism? The Arab Spring? Our collective id?
Similarly laden with a suggestive narrative as well as visual panache, “Train Crash” (2015) depicts two cast-bronze locomotives colliding head-on, producing gilded clouds of billowing smoke that create a tabletop. The unveiling of the piece in June of 2015 was followed by Smeets and Tynagel’s announcement that their romantic relationship had come to an end. Thankfully the creative partnership was unaffected and the sculpture is a fitting tribute to their complementing creative energies underpinning the design process.
Other pieces eschew the monumental for the playful: “Chair” (2004) is a fossilized take on a Louis XV side chair, “Tour Eiffel” (2012) is a desk lamp depicting a droopy version of the famous landmark—both made out of polished and patinated bronze—and “Banana” (2015) features a series of cheeky light fixtures (featuring peeled skin made out of polished bronze while their illuminated flesh is created out of hand-blown glass) that pays homage to Andy Warhol. Studio Job’s tribute to artists they admire also includes Jeff Koons, incorporating a working vacuum cleaner in “Horse Bust (Chest Piece)” (2014) as a nod to Koons' frequent use of the appliance in the 80s, and René Magritte, whereby they have rendered his iconic pipe into a sculptural table, “Pipe” (2015).
To celebrate the exhibition, a new monograph, “Studio Job: Monkey Business”, will be published by Rizzoli and Carpenters Workshop Gallery, showcasing the studio’s work over the past five years through numerous photographs, renderings and sketches.