Monday, July 18, 2011

MAD at the world

This weekend I saw the coolest exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design. Dare I say even cooler than the Met's Alexander McQueen exhibit that everyone is raving about? Well okay, that's not really fair because it's like comparing apples and oranges (or rather apples...and some fruit no one's ever heard of before). But yes, my one quibble with the Alexander McQueen exhibit was the huge crowd. Not so at the MAD's Otherworldly exhibit, as this museum, perhaps by virtue of being off the museum mile, gets a fraction of the Met's traffic. This is a particular blessing for this exhibit because the entire thing is composed of miniatures, which naturally require the viewer to hog each piece for some time while they marvel at the amazing and minute details of every work.

I've always had a soft spot for miniatures. The ability to capture all the details of the world in diminutive form never ceases to amaze me. There are clearly some very talented people in the world who possess patience and hand dexterity that I could only dream of. I remember one of my favorite things in Prague was the Museum of Miniatures. It may seem kind of ridiculous in a city as gorgeous as Prague to fixate on the place where you can see tiny gold keys welded onto each leg of a flea, but I was also there in January so any heated room was going to catch my fancy. Alternatively, any place that served mulled wine. But I digress.

combines the real with the surreal in a fascinating way. From a cross section of Canal Street in the 197os showing the subway (complete with posters and graffiti) running beneath to a seemingly endless field of flowers that is actually only 4 or 5 inches long, all of the pieces play with our sense of perspective on a tiny scale. I snatched some pictures from the website, which I'm insisting on putting on here, but it's all a little silly because you can't really appreciate the detail or scale in a 2-d image. While it may pale in comparison to the real thing, I'm posting these in the vain hope it will help you understand why I'm going apeshit over miniatures.

This is the Canal Street Cross Section mentioned above. Each one of these layers is maybe 7 inches tall.

Here's a close up of the subway interior detail. All it needs are a few drug dealers and pimps and it would a dead ringer for a 1970s New York City subway!

This one isn't a miniature, but it's still pretty cool, so I'm willing to forgive it that.

This one is good to get a sense of scale since you can see the cord. It's a 4-room doctor's office.

This is only 1 of the 4 rooms (!!) in the above model. It's actually a painting that the artist did of the model, but trust me, every one of those details appears in the real thing.

This one was my personal favorite. It's not from the museum site, but rather something my friend got on her cell phone. It's the artist's tribute to Ionesco's Rinoceros. What I think is so cool about it is that in real life the bevilled glass totally looks like a mirror until you notice that the reflection of the rhino is facing the wrong way. Whoa.

Okay, if you aren't of the opinion that miniatures are one of the coolest things ever, then I probably should have made some sort of disclaimer at the beginning of this post to spare you from my gushing. However, if you are in the New York City area (before September 18) and you DO appreciate the wonder that is amazing things in tiny packages, then you owe yourself a trip to MAD.


  1. I will definitely plan to see it! Looks like great fun.

  2. Good! Then i won't need another excuse to go again.