Lauren Kalman | But if the Crime is Beautiful…
October 19 – March 15, 2017
Museum of Arts And Design, New York
Taking up the subject of gold (specifically jewelry and adornment) as representative of power, wealth, love, and sex, Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful…, created by visual artist and metalsmith Lauren Kalman, is MAD’s second POV exhibition in the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Jewelry Gallery. This exhibition is organized by Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford.
In reference to Austrian architect Adolf Loos’ 1910 lecture “Ornament and Crime,” in which he declared decoration regressive and fit only for degenerates and criminals (this included women and minorities), Kalman commits a “crime” by covering the inside and outside of MAD’s jewelry cases with 2,000 gold-plated brass leaves. Loos’ theories laid the groundwork for modernism, known for its spareness, rectilinearity, and rationality. In this installation, the upright white cases in the jewelry gallery stand in for Loos’ modernism.
Kalman employs her gold-plated brass leaves as representative of the leaves of kudzu, an invasive vine species that engulfs, spreads, and creates new decorative forms wherever it thrives. Furthermore, similar to invasive kudzu, as guest curator and installation designer Kalman recontextualizes the jewelry gallery, MAD’s historic collection, and other artists’ practices in an act both beautiful and suffocating. The organic, gilded foliage overtakes the pristine gallery space and weaves in and around gold jewelry from MAD’s collection, upending minimalism and austerity. Kalman highlights the relationship between decoration (gold) and female sexuality (another “crime”) in her video work made specifically for the exhibition. Though decoration and femininity are still often marginalized in society, Kalman uses them as opportunities for deviance and protest.
MAD’s POV series invites guests’ perspectives on the Museum’s Permanent Collection through the lens of their own practices. Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful… is organized by Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford.
Support for Lauren Kalman: But if the Crime Is Beautiful… is generously provided by Michele and Marty Cohen.