It’s hard to believe that it’s been 75 years since twelve little girls in two straight lines were introduced to the world. This Friday, The New York Historical Society Museum & Library is opening their newest exhibit, Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans, in celebration of the beloved children’s literature and media franchise Madeline, and in honor of the life and work of her creator, writer and artist Ludwig Bemelmans. The retrospective of Bemelmans work (the first in 50 years) features over 100 classic and recently discovered drawings, paintings, sketches, photos, memorabilia and commissioned works of art. While the character Bemelmans created 75 years ago is known to countless children and adults worldwide as Parisian; President of the NYHS Dr. Lousie Mirrer made it clear that Madeline’s “biography is a New York story,” with much of Bemelmans’ inspiration coming from the city where he made his home.
Since Madeline’s introduction in 1939, she has graced everything from books, to toys, to video games, to live action cinema to children’s cartoons. What started out as a story about a girl living in an old house in Paris has become a media empire. But her success wasn’t always so clear. Despite its eventual fan base, when Bemelmans first showed May Massee–an editor working for Viking Press in NYC who told him specifically when they first met that he “must write children’s book’s!–the first Madeline book, she refused to publish it. Massee felt that the book was too complicated for younger reader, which turned out to be the greatest mistake of her career.
In the book New York City in the Gilded Age, Esther Crain, founder of the website Ephemeral New York, supported by the New York Historical Society, explores how New Yorkers’ lifestyle and the architecture of the time influenced each other. From the late 1860s up until the beginning of the 1900s, Crain delves into the expansion of the city, the construction of monuments, and common street scenes. Her details range from the popularity of brownstone houses in the 1860s and 1870s to the creation of the Broadway theater district that New Yorkers are familiar with. (more…)
Even now, more than twenty years after his death, Keith Haring remains a symbol of New York City’s street art scene. Haring came to New York to study at the School of Visual Arts in 1978 and quickly immersed himself in the city’s alternative art scene, befriending Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf and Andy Warhol. While he experimented with video, installation, collage and performance art, his true talent lay in his line paintings.
Over time, he came to be known for his distinctive style using bold, heavy lines, simple shapes and figures, and bright colors. In the ’80s, Haring gained international recognition, but he never stopped giving back to the community, creating many public murals around the world. Since Sunday, May 4 is his birthday, we’re looking at the work Haring left behind for New Yorkers to enjoy. Had he lived, he would have been turning 56 years old.
Editta Sherman on the Train to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, ca 1972.
Bill Cunningham is a beloved icon of New York. With little more than a bicycle and his camera, he’s been photographing fashion for the New York Times for over 35 years, taking pictures of every-day people, and discovering the “fashion show on the street.”
His love of fashion is a widely known obsession. At a young age, his family was already aware of his focus: ”I think they were worried I was becoming too interested in women’s dresses… I could never concentrate on Sunday church services because I’d be concentrating on women’s hats.” (more…)
The New-York Historical Society’s summer-long Swing Time exhibition has stirred up such excitement that even Caffè Storico, Stephen Starr’s Italian restaurant within the museum, has taken part in the hype. Caffè Storico, inspired by the exhibit, concocted a refreshing cocktail, known as the Juniper Julep. The exhibit (and the drink) are only available until September 1st, so catch it before it closes.
A 34-star American flag made to celebrate Kansas’ entrance to the Union.
After over one million casualties, over 600,000 deaths, hundreds of battles and 4 years, any attempt to capture the Civil War in numbers is an ambitious one. The New-York Historical Society’s “The Civil War in 50 Objects” exhibit narrows the impossibly large war down to just 50 artifacts, on public display until September 1. Through the years, the Society has collected around one million Civil War items, from which it chose 50 to display. The exhibit, inspired by the Historical Society fellow Harold Holzer’s book of the same name, sends visitors on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum to relive one of America’s most defining wars.