Museum Of Arts And Design Takes Stock In ‘Re: Collection’

Sebastian Brajkovic, Lathe V Chair, 2008, bronze and embroidered upholstery. Photo courtesy of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London.

NEW YORK CITY — Featuring 70 works of sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, furniture, textiles and other media, “Re: Collection,” on view at the Museum of Arts and Design through September 7, celebrates its five years at Columbus Circle and chief curator emeritus David McFadden’s 16 years at the museum through objects acquired during his tenure. During McFadden’s years here, the permanent collection has grown from 800 to more than 3,000 objects, approximately 730 of which have been added in the last five years.

The exhibition feature some of the most emblematic of these acquisitions and highlight the collection’s diversity — of materials and techniques, but also of makers — while revealing the multiple narratives at play behind each object.

“David’s curatorial vision has not only been defining for MAD over the last 16 years, but also groundbreaking in establishing process and materials as wellsprings for creativity across the arts,” says Glenn Adamson, the museum’s Nanette L. Laitman director. “‘Re: Collection’ highlights his positive impact on the museum’s collection and acquisitions, and provides an opportunity for the greater public to engage with his singular vision.”

Organized around several thematic threads, the exhibition examines McFadden’s curatorial methodology through personal recollections drawn from the permanent collection, and showcase acquisitions that embrace both MAD’s founding focus and McFadden’s farseeing vision of contemporary craftsmanship.

“Today, the MAD collection is international in scope and significance. I hope that this selection of works acquired from 1997 to today will engage people on many levels, revealing how and of what they were made, why there were made and who was the individual who created them,” said McFadden. “These works are personally very meaningful for me, and I trust that our visitors will share my enthusiasm for them.”

The exhibition explores the material and process-centered themes of McFadden’s exhibitions at MAD, such as “Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting,” “Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary,” “Dead or Alive: Nature Becomes Art,” “Slash: Paper Under the Knife,” “Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities” and “Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design.” These successful exhibitions reframed the narratives around the specific possibilities of materials by revealing the interplay of formal concerns with social, political, narrative and autobiographical content.

Highlights from the exhibition include Terese Agnew’s “Portrait of a Textile Worker,” 2005, sewn together out tens of thousands of donated designer labels, calling attention to the factory garment worker in Bangladesh, and Judy Chicago’s huge tapestry “The Fall,” 1993, a central work in Chicago’s landmark “The Holocaust Project,” addresses both the Holocaust and feminism through intertwined symbolism and imagery.

Also on view are Paddy Hartley’s “Lumley,” 2007, an embroidered World War I soldier’s uniform, incorporating medical and historical personal records; Kim Schmahmann’s “Apart-Hate,” 2005–10, a compelling document indicting apartheid as practiced in his native South Africa; and Paul Villinski’s “Pilot,” 1995, repurposing workman’s gloves found on the streets of New York to evoke memories of loss and transfiguration.

“Re: Collection” is organized by the Museum of Arts and Design and curated by Chief Curator Emeritus David Revere McFadden, in coordination with former exhibitions curator Dorothy Twining Globus.

The Museum of Arts and Design is at 2 Columbus Circle. For information, 212-299-7777 or

Photo: John Taylor
Mary Lee Hu, “Bracelet #62,” 2002, 18K and 22K gold; museum purchase with funds provided by Ann Kaplan, 2002. —John Bigelow Taylor photo


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