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The Museum Of Arts And Design: A Showcase Of Craftsmanship

The Museum Of Arts And Design: A Showcase Of Craftsmanship

Picture of Yi Zhou
Updated: 12 December 2015
The Museum of Arts and Design, widely known as the MAD Museum, displays the best of contemporary art and design from its midtown Manhattan location in Columbus Circle. Founded in 1956 by Aileen Osborne Craft, this innovative museum showcases and emphasizes the materials and handiwork that goes into bringing design to life. We take a closer look at the MAD Museum’s history in New York City.

Formally known as the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Museum of Arts and Design has long celebrated the craftsmanship and materials that go into design of various mediums. Alongside expertly curated exhibitions, the museum holds workshops and seminars on a wide range of topics, including performance art, theater, and gender.

Current exhibitions explore The Art of the Mannequin, Women in Art, Craft and Design, and Richard Estes: Painting in New York City, which is inspired by New York City.

With a history of furniture showcases, the Museum of Arts and Design is the first to display Ralph Pucci’s work with mannequins in Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin. Taking inspiration from the hyper-realistic and finely detailed statues of Roman and Greek origin, this exhibition showcases 30 of Pucci’s mannequins. His collaborator and sculptor, Michael Evert, is present as an artist-in-residence to help guide viewers through the entire process of crafting the exhibition, as per the MAD Museum’s mission to emphasize the process of molding raw material into art.

Also on at the MAD Museum is Richard Estes: Painting New York City. The museum contains a collection of Estes’ works in various mediums, including photographs, silkscreens, wood work, and paintings. A forerunner in the photorealism style — a genre that came about in the 1970s as a counterargument to minimalism and abstraction — this exhibition is filled with paintings that are lovingly detailed and depict Estes’ muse, New York City.

Paying tribute to the works of female artists in post-war modernism is Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design. In an era when most credited artists were men, the Museum of Arts and Design’s third current show highlights the impacts and innovations made by woman within the fields of textiles, ceramics, and metals. The museum cites a multitude of contributors to its collection of over one hundred pieces, including Ruth Asawa, known largely for her wire sculptures and public fountains, Edith Heath who is remembered for her skill and respect for the ceramic craft, Lenore Tawney, an innovator in the field of fiber art, as well as many others. Not limiting itself solely to artists based in the United States, this exhibit reaches to European artists as well. Their works are placed side-by-side with their American counterparts, developing a sense of inclusion that allows viewers to appreciate the likenesses evident in works all over the world. Both contemporary and historical pieces will be shown to expand upon the legacy of the women who inspired artists of their future.

Future shows will span from futuristic designs to the art of watchmaking. Using a juxtaposition of the past and present day, the MAD Museum presents itself as an avenue for artists both emerging and experienced, placing as much emphasis on the materials and dedicated work as much as the finished piece itself.

By Yi Zhou

A student at Binghamton University, Yi Zou is a native to Beijing currently living in New York. As an aspiring writer she enjoys exploring various forms of story telling media. Along with continuing to polish her diction and language, she continues to hold interest in the art and history of the city around her.