Monday, July 16, 2012

Disneyland-Hejduk-de la Renta (16-22 July)

Disneyland, theme park, anniversary of opening 18 July 1955
John Hejduk, American architect, artist & educator, birthday 19 July 1929
Oscar de la Renta, Dominican-born fashion designer, birthday 22 July 1932

Hooray!  Disneyland!  This may seem a trite addition this week but it is without question that Walt Disney was a pioneer in the family entertainment industry.  With the opening of Disneyland in California he transformed the amusement park from a low-brow experience to a childhood staple while simultaneously promoting the brand of Disney.  I know of no child in the U.S. that does not want to visit a Disney park nor one that has never heard of Mickey Mouse.  Say what you will about the over commercialization of childhood or the total dominance of Disney in the industry that boarders on monopoly or the insidious nature of the company’s lobbyists who viciously pursue legislation to expand copyright laws which highjack our collective culture.  Ultimately, Walt Disney saw the opportunity that a park of this nature could provide for cross-promotion and it is a formula that has been and will continue to be mimicked in perpetuity. 

Perhaps the least known of the New York Five, John Hejduk did more for the educational community than the others.  His work was heavily theoretical which lent itself very well to studio instruction.  Hejduk developed exercises which explored shapes, both rigid and freeform within the confines of a grid.  What made it so attractive to the educational community was that the almost elementary correlation between cause and effect: if an object is of this shape and is placed here, what are the repercussions to the environment and its inhabitants?  Furthermore, what determines that shape?  This is something that linked him figuratively to the other four but ultimately set him apart as his work grew more and more theoretical.  As the dean of the Cooper Union’s School of Architecture for nearly 30 years Hejduk looked after and help launch multitudes of architects and theoreticians into the design world.  I personally recall very well studying Wall House #2 which, although was designed for Connecticut, was not built until after his death in homage in the Netherlands.       

Oh (sigh) Oscar.  One cannot help but have a wispy contented smile when uttering the name de la Renta.  When he came to Spain from the Dominican Republic it was to study painting but he soon discovered a passion for not just art but Spanish culture from bullfighting, music, flamenco and fashion.  Of course the influence of his Balenciaga training is plainly evident but de la Renta was able to then to develop his own distinct and iconic style. His ground-breaking entrance into French haute-couture helped elevate  
an already phenomenal designer.  But then he bravely ventured into the ready-to-wear market and other fashion houses soon followed his lead.  Even his everyday pieces exude glamour and elegance which epitomizes the belief that one should start at the top and then scale down.  Everyone could use a bright spot in one’s day and Oscar is able to deliver it in fashion.  No wonder Jackie Kennedy-Onassis was one of the first that gravitated to his studio.    

No comments:

Post a Comment