ABOUT THE WOLFSONIAN
The Wolfsonian–Florida International University uses objects to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design, to explore what it means to be modern, and to tell the story of social, historical, and technological changes that have transformed our world. It encourages people to see the world in new ways, and to learn from the past as they shape the present and influence the future.
Don't Miss Art for All:
It's for Everyone
Mark your calendars to come by and view or revisit Art for All: British Posters for Transport in the coming weeks, before it closes on August 14. The eighty-plus British transport posters on view from the second decade of the twentieth century through the 1970s not only trace the evolution of transport posters in twentieth-century Britain and reflect significant developments in changing graphic styles in those decades, but they also transport viewers to a different time and place, offering the perfect summer respite. The exhibition title, which echoes the title of a 1949 exhibition of the posters at the Victoria and Albert Museum, derives from the fact that the posters were intended for and promoted as "art for all." Created by many different hands, they were deliberately wide-ranging in terms of theme and artistic styles. They were seen by all—at least, all who rode the Underground and the railways—and they were meant to be enjoyed.
The exhibition, organized by the Yale Center for British Art with many of the posters donated to the Yale Center by Henry S. Hacker, includes posters produced for both the London Underground (later, London Transport) and the British railways, which were inspired by the positive feedback generated by the Underground posters. The London Underground's poster campaign was launched in 1908 by Frank Pick, who believed that good art was good business. The poster campaign sought both to engender good will and encourage ridership by urging people to get out and about via the Underground; the resulting posters accomplished both ends and also helped foster a civic identity for the city of London.
Modern posters, which emerged in the late nineteenth century, increasingly were viewed as an important vehicle by which to bring art to the public, after years of controversy regarding the artistic value of posters. Exhibition curator Teri Edelstein notes in her introduction to the exhibition catalog that art traditionally spoke of authority and religion, in contrast to posters' often persuasive messages. Initially the modern poster was greeted with skepticism, if not denigration—French critic Maurice Talmeyer, writing in the 1890s, called the poster an "agent of perversion" that "speaks to us only of ourselves, our pleasures, our tastes, our interests, our food, our health, our life." However by 1928, posters-—often called the "poor man's picture gallery"—were viewed much more favorably by many. Pick's poster campaign and the way he ran it—seeking out a wide range of artists and encouraging many different visual styles—was widely praised. Pick was lauded as someone "who has provided the people of London with a picture gallery as fine in some ways…as the Tate or the National and with a much more imposing number of visitors, and who…has made possible by enlightened patronage the admirable work of the modernist advertising designers," wrote architectural critic Sir Laurence Weaver in the Design and Industries Association Year-Book in 1928.
Take a trip to The Wolfsonian and see for yourself!
Miami Beach Nurseries, photo from Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden
People Who Make the Place: Michele Oka Doner
For over ten years, acclaimed artist Michele Oka Doner and Wolfsonian founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. met about three times a year to work on a book about what it was like for each of them to grow up on Miami Beach in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. The result, Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden, Lives Seen through the Prism of Family and Place (Feierabend Unique Books, 2005 and HarperCollins, 2007, available through The Wolfsonian's Dynamo Museum Shop), is presented through the rich stories of their two families—interestingly, both of their fathers were mayors of Miami Beach, Wolfson's in the 1940s and Oka Doner's in the '50s and early '60s. Oka Doner has donated a selection of the resource materials used for the book to The Wolfsonian's library, including photographs, blueprints, letters, and scrapbooks that enrich the museum's holdings of materials related to Miami Beach's history, according to Francis X. Luca, the museum's chief librarian. The materials used in researching the book, many of which are reproduced in the final work, were all drawn from the two family's archives. "We had an unwritten rule to use only what we had in our archives—that's part of what makes the book so unique," says Oka Doner. She points out that because both fathers were mayors of Miami Beach, "more than a personal history, this book is a social history, and one that was part of the public record at one time. This was in many ways an act of preservation, and of using our families as prisms to reflect the times." The book, which was described in a New York TimesMagazine article written by the late Herbert Muschamp as, "history as scrapbook, a social chronicle by collage," includes reproductions of letters, sheet music, newspaper clippings, many snapshots, and even recipes. Muschamp compared looking through the book to "sifting through the results of an archaeological dig of contemporary imagination."
The New York City–based Oka Doner, a founding board member of The Wolfsonian, is perhaps best known in Miami for her widely praised public art installation in the Miami International Airport, a two-and-a-half-mile-long terrazzo floor inlaid with marine-inspired imagery in bronze and scattered with mother of pearl, "A Walk on the Beach" (1995-2009). She is also the creator of a Sargasso seaweed–inspired canopy at the forthcoming Miami Intermodal Center, the ground transportation hub located next to Miami International Airport that is scheduled to open in 2013. Her work, which in addition to public art includes sculpture, jewelry, and drawings, is largely inspired by nature and heavily influenced by Miami Beach, which Oka Doner says is "primal in my work. It was a place that fascinated and nurtured me, with the forces of nature, the dramatic thunderstorms, the extraordinary light." Her work is in the collections of many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée des Arts décoratifs, and The Wolfsonian, where her art is underfoot, in the terrazzo floor in the Dynamo Museum Shop and Café, which she donated to the museum; she also donated a sculptural plaque located in the museum's library that commemorates the life of Stephen Neil Greengard, a curatorial consultant to the Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Collection of Decorative and Propaganda Arts prior to the establishment of The Wolfsonian.
Working on Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden over so many years "made us really appreciate again how hard our parents had worked to make the community come to life," Oka Doner says. In some ways, she says, the book is a counter not only to stereotypes of Miami Beach as "Miami Vice, Scarface, as a gaudy and drug-ridden place," she says, but it is also a counter to the "age of irony" that Oka Doner feels we now inhabit. "We were tired of the winks and the snickers. We set down something that has a completely different flavor. There is a sweetness to the story, and a wonderful energy," she says.
Postcard, "L'Impero é la nostra méta - fondare città, fondare colonie" [Empire Is Our Destination - To Erect Cities, to Erect Colonies], c. 1925
Illustrated by Amaldi (dates unknown)
Published by Mattino d'Italia, Bueno Aires, Argentina
5.91 x 4.33 inches (15 x 11 centimeters)
The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection
Grants Awarded to Foster Use of Collection by FIU Audience
The Wolfsonian has awarded nine grants for the 2011-12 academic year to an intriguing line-up of FIU-related projects that promote use of the museum's collection in research, teaching, and exhibition activities by faculty and students. These projects, which range from curatorial initiatives to curriculum development to dissertation research, are funded by a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This is the third year of a three-year grant that enables The Wolfsonian to support a select group of scholars and students whose work encourages intensive use of the museum's resources by the FIU community. "We are extremely pleased with the range and quality of the proposals we've received from faculty members. To date, this grant has fostered a substantial increase in the use of Wolfsonian resources in scholarship by FIU faculty and students. The results so far have been extremely impressive, and the line-up for next year is very exciting," says Jon Mogul, Mellon academic programs coordinator.
The projects funded by the Mellon Foundation grant include exhibitions in the Wolfsonian Teaching Gallery at FIU's Frost Art Museum, curriculum development grants, curriculum infusion grants, support for a visiting scholar to teach at FIU, and fellowships for history graduate students. David Rifkind, assistant professor at the Department of Architecture, received a grant to curate Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy, a Spring 2012 exhibition in the Teaching Gallery that will explore the central role African colonization played in shaping Italian national identity during the Fascist era (1922-1943). The exhibition grew out of research he undertook as a research fellow at The Wolfsonian in 2008. "The material I examined at The Wolfsonian demonstrated how closely cultural developments in the colonies and the metropole (the Italian homeland) were tied to each other, and sparked the idea for this exhibition, which will offer a side-by-side comparison of colonial and metropolitan artifacts," he says. The grant enabled him to spend time at archives in Italy, including a trip to the Wolfsoniana in Genoa. Rifkind's students will be integrally involved with the exhibition; graduate students in his fall seminar in pedagogy will help write the wall text, and students in his spring historiography seminar will write assessments of the show.
In addition to Rifkind, grants have been awarded to:
• April Merleaux, assistant professor, Department of History, for a Fall 2011 exhibition in the Teaching Gallery, Modern Meals: Remaking American Foods from Field to Family. The exhibition will explore how technology and design have reshaped the places where food is produced, sold, cooked, and eaten in the twentieth-century United States.
• Tori Arpad-Cotta, associate professor, Department of Art And Art History, Curriculum Development Grant, Fall 2011, Beginning Ceramics.
• Ebru Özer, assistant professor, Department of Architecture, Curriculum Development Grant, Spring 2012, Computer Practices in Landscape Architecture III.
• Gail Hollander, associate professor, Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Curriculum Infusion Grant, Spring 2012, Theory in Geography.
• Carmela Pinto McIntire, associate professor, Department of English, Curriculum Infusion Grant, Spring 2012, The Great Depression in America.
• Marta Zarzycka, Wolfsonian Visiting Scholar, Fall 2012, assistant professor, Gender Studies, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She will co-teach the FIU History course Images at War and conduct research at The Wolfsonian.
• Fellowships for Department of History doctoral candidates conducting dissertation research related to the museum's collection. MelissaArmitage's dissertation topic is Placing the Child: Children and the Transformation of Urban Space in Argentina, 1880-1955. Maria CarolinaZumaglini's dissertation topic is The House and the School: Policy-Making and Education in the Nineteenth-Century Americas.
Periodical cover, Physical Culture, August 1922
Cover illustration by Jay W. Weaver (dates unknown)
Published by Macfadden Publications, Inc., New York
11.81 x 9.05 inches (30 x 23 centimeters)
The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Robert J. Young
Wolfsonian Fellow Monica Obniski
Articles warning against being a "sun dodger" and advising readers to "bathe" their bodies in "Dr. Sun" were common in the 1920s in magazines such as Physical Culture. "These topics were recycled every few months and latched onto a larger zeitgeist spurred by the medical community about the health benefits of sun exposure," says Monica Obniski, who spent most of May at The Wolfsonian as a fellow in residence, studying the museum's holdings of materials related to the physical culture movement in America and the movement's approach to the consumption of sunlight. The museum has extensive holdings of this material, much of which was a recent gift from the late Robert J. Young, a longtime collector of publications by publisher and health advocate Bernarr Macfadden (1868-1955), whose more than fifty magazines included Physical Culture.
Obniski is a Ph.D. student in art history at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a research assistant/exhibition coordinator for American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. For her larger project, she is examining changing attitudes toward the sun in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and how those attitudes informed the medical and social body as they relate to domestic and institutional architecture. Obniski notes that her attraction to this topic is in part due to constantly changing ideas about the sun and its continuing relevance today. "The topic has a kind of cyclical nature. In the Victorian era houses had curtains and were shielded from the sun. But houses were also being built with porches to enable people to go outdoors," she explains. These changing views are quite evident in the materials in the museum's collection. Obniski began looking at issues of Physical Culture from 1912 and worked her way forward in time. "I didn't find anything about sunlight in the first several years I looked at. Then, in the issues from the 1920s, I hit the jackpot. Sunlight wasn't only emphasized in the editorial copy, but also in the advertising material. By the late 1920s, issues of the magazine were promoting the idea of being out in the sun for health benefits," she says. The articles tended to be "very propagandistic in nature, emphasizing the importance of getting back to a more natural way of living," she explains; people were told they were spending too much time indoors. Tuberculosis was a serious health concern and sunlight was regarded as a natural deterrent to disease. "The benefits of sun exposure was picked up by architects of the time as well and is evident in their work, particularly in the increasing use of glass to bring sun into buildings," Obniski says.
Her research fellowship was not the first time Obniski has worked extensively with the collection; in 2004 she spent the summer as a curatorial intern at The Wolfsonian, conducting research for the exhibition Evolution/Revolution: A Century of Modern Seating. The Wolfsonian's Fellowship Program, which began in 1995, has hosted more than seventy scholars to date. "This program is so valuable for scholars to be able to access a collection. There are some real treasures here," Obniski says. "I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity."
Wolfsonian Visionaries member Josh Oberhausen
Photo: Simon Hare
Talking with Visionaries Member Josh Oberhausen
Josh Oberhausen of Oberhausen Marketing & Public Relations describes his work as helping businesses position and market themselves, which he says in essence means that he's a problem solver. "People come to me when they want to develop their brand, publicize their great work, or reposition themselves," he explains. Oberhausen is a long-time Miami Beach resident and native Floridian (he hails from Pensacola) who has worked in the marketing and public relations field for almost fifteen years. His firm, located on Lincoln Road, has a broad focus with a concentration on the hospitality, design, architecture, and lifestyle industries. "Our clients count on us to perform a myriad of services," he explains, but he particularly enjoys working with companies in the process of reinventing themselves. Clients include the architecture and design firm ADD Inc Miami, the Greater Miami Beaches & Hotel Association, Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute, Chat Chow TV, and South Beach Hotels.
What role does design play in your everyday life?
Design touches almost every aspect of our work for our clients. It's important, in doing this work, to understand design as it relates to history. You need to understand what is impactful today and be at the forefront of what will inspire people in the future. You have to read and you have to keep your eyes open and be in touch with popular culture. You have to constantly take things in and assess them.
What attracted you to join the Visionaries?
I visited The Wolfsonian within the first month that it opened and I came back regularly. Joining the Visionaries was an opportunity to connect with the museum, a creative engine in my community, and to collaborate with my peers.
What are your goals for being a member of the Visionaries?
I see this as an opportunity to give back to the community and to help steer the direction of types of programs that might interest other like-minded people.
When in life are you most aware of design?
When I visit a new place is when I'm most stimulated and aware of design. I try to take everything in, all design platforms—landscape, architecture, interiors, lighting, the people, the apparel, the food. I try to be aware of everything.
Do you have a favorite or very meaningful object in your home?
My mother is an artist, a painter, and some of the things I own that have the most meaning to me are her paintings. For me, once a certain base level is reached, I'm most interested in having objects created by someone who has touched my life in some way. This means either someone I know personally, or have had the opportunity to meet, or who has affected me through their work. To me, that personal connection is what makes an object meaningful.
Why does design matter?
Design affects everything in our world and it has the power to make our lives better or worse. Everyone has different opinions about design, which is part of why it's interesting. I am always seeking to expand my horizons to achieve a better understanding and have design matter to me in new ways.
Wrestler bookend in action
Photo: Levenger Studios
Take the Wrestler Home: Your Books Will Thank You
In need of some serious muscle to hold up leaning rows of books? Has your search for the perfect bookends led you to dead ends and cul-de-sacs and down narrow alleys littered with the remains of flimsy, unsatisfactory bookends? The Dynamo Museum Shop has heard your pain, registered your frustration, and is pleased to offer you bookends fit for your books. The Wrestler bookends, based on the much-loved Wrestler statue standing sentinel in the museum's lobby, with its impressive muscles and solid bulk (he weighs in at 475 pounds) is fit for, well, just about anything, including the job of helping your books stand proudly on their shelves. The Wrestler was created in 1929 by American sculptor Dudley Vaill Talcott (1899-1986) from aluminum, the high-tech material of the day. The statue was originally on display at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, where it stood as a symbol of America's emergence as an industrial power and the country's twentieth century coming of age. The bookends were created in collaboration with Levenger, a national retailer that designs and sells high-quality tools for reading. The process of translating the Wrestler from sculpture to bookend was accomplished with the help of FIU assistant professor of architecture and coordinator of the school's digital design department Eric Goldemberg of MONAD Studio/Eric Goldemberg/Veronica Zalcberg and FIU graduate students, who spent about two months on the project. Goldemberg, an expert in 3D computer technology, digital design, and fabrication techniques, led students in the process of using a series of photographs as reference to create a full 3D drawing of the Wrestler. The drawing was created with a software system used in the movie industry for spatial special effects. An eleven-inch-high model was then generated using a 3D printer. From the model, a mold was then created. The bookends are available through The Dynamo Museum Shop. The bookends retail for $99; purchase two or more for $88 each.
While we're on the topic, mark your calendars for the Wrestler Bookend Launch Party! Join us for a high energy party as we officially welcome the Wrestler bookend to the world—(sports) drinks will flow and energy bars will abound on Friday, June 24, 6pm-9pm. For more information, contact The Dynamo Museum Shop at 305.535.2680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Wolfsonian is offering free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families throughout the summer as part of the Blue Star Museums program. We are one of more than 1,300 museums across America participating in the program, which began on Memorial Day and continues through Labor Day.
• Open studio time in the Digital Wolf Lab this summer for all Comic Kraze participants: come by and work in the lab on Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays, 9am-5pm, July 12 – August 18.
• London-themed poems from the first half of the twentieth century take center stage in Poems for All on June 17 at 7pm, organized to complement the current exhibition, Art for All. Join us and bring a poem (not your own) for reading and discussion.
• No plans for Friday night? Celebrate the end of the workweek at The Wolfsonian; gallery admission is free on Friday evenings from 6-9pm and free gallery tours are offered at 6pm.
The Wolfsonian–FIU gratefully acknowledges our current publication, program, and exhibition supporters:
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation; FIU Division of Information Technology: University Technology Services; James Woolems and Woolems, Inc.; National Endowment for the Arts; Institute for Museum and Library Services; Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation; Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz; The Batchelor Foundation; Frances L. Wolfson Fund at Dade Community Foundation; The Cowles Charitable Trust; Youth Arts Enrichment Program of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; FPL FiberNet, a leading provider of fiber-optic solutions; Tui Lifestyle; Carnival Foundation; Rene Gonzalez Architect; the South Florida Group of Northwestern Mutual; Funding Arts Network; The Wolfsonian–FIU Alliance; Wachovia-Wells Fargo Foundation; and SunTrust Bank.
The Wolfsonian–FIU is proud to receive ongoing support from:
The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council; the William J. and Tina Rosenberg Foundation; United Airlines, the Official Airline of The Wolfsonian–FIU; and Bacardi USA, Inc.