Join Our Bi-Monthly Mailer
My Account
Support Us
Exhibitions

New York State / June 2022

Two unmissable shows sensitively curated at two iconic venues - Formafantasma at Manitoga’s Dragon Rock and Object & Thing at Madoo Conservancy.

Formafantasma at Manitoga’s Dragon Rock: ‘Designing Nature’
13th May to 14th November

Object & Thing at Madoo: Megumi Shauna Arai and Frances Palmer
27th May to 25th June

By Adrian Madlener / 8th June 2022
Installation view, Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo COURTESY: Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Installation view, Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo
COURTESY: Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

BREAKING OUT OF the white cube are two distinct exhibitions currently on view within driving distance of New York City. It’s no secret that the Hudson Valley and The Hamptons have long been hotbeds of creative activity. Though the wider New York region has seen an uptick in new conventional and unconventional arts spaces over the past few years, certain mainstays, such as US National Historic Landmark Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison and the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, have offered rich programming since at least the 1990s.

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Both house-and-garden museums have built a tradition of honouring the legacies of their late owners – famous industrial designer Russel Wright and painter, writer, horticulturist Robert Dash – with cultural initiatives that support contemporary practice. Placing these historic sites, artistic statements in their own right, in direct dialogue with new approaches and ideas reveals fascinating contrasts and surprising points of comparison. In both cases, striking, meticulously groomed natural surroundings provide intriguing backdrops.

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

This early summer, both institutions have teamed up with new platforms Object & Thing and Magazzino Italian Art to mount dynamic exhibitions. Both are open to the public, require advanced reservations, and allow visitors a chance to engage with the history and the present.

Installation view, Megumi Shauna Arai, Frances Palmer, Robert Dash, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo COURTESY: Megumi Shauna Arai, Frances Palmer, Robert Dash & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Installation view, Megumi Shauna Arai, Frances Palmer, Robert Dash, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo
COURTESY: Megumi Shauna Arai, Frances Palmer, Robert Dash & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Formafantasma at Manitoga’s Dragon Rock: Designing Nature
Renowned Italian design duo Formafantasma has firmly established its practice around reevaluating our relationship with nature. Mounting numerous exhibitions such as the 2020 Cambio exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery, programmes such as the Prada Frames symposium held during Milan Design Week 2022, and seminal projects such as Ore Streams, the research-based studio explores the ecological, historical, political and social implications of design production.

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Harnessing the communicative power of aesthetics, material experimentation, high craftsmanship, cultural anthropology, environmental science and conceptual thinking, the duo seeks to inspire conversations and make us reconsider many of the common practices that are harmful to the planet and human survival.

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Presented in partnership with nearby museum Magazzino Italian Art, The Russel Wright Design Center recently opened the ‘Formafantasma at Manitoga’s Dragon Rock: Designing Nature’ exhibition, which places some of Formafantasma’s most iconic works in strategic locations throughout the Modernist Dragon Rock home.

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography

“Although separated by almost a century, Formafantasma and Russel Wright share a broad design reach …”

Allison Cross

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography

“ … from object to environment, with focused attention to form, materiality and method”

Allison Cross

Wright fashioned the Hudson Valley locale to perfectly coalesce architecture and nature into a single entity, a philosophy the design studio shares emphatically. The various vignettes incorporating works from past collections such as Botanica, Delta and Foundation illustrate this connection, the timeless yet timely theme of respecting and living more harmoniously with nature.

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

“Formafantasma and Russel Wright share a broad design reach, across medium and scale, from object to environment, with focused attention to form, materiality and method,” says Allison Cross, Executive Director of Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center. “Although separated by almost a century, the work of both addresses environmental concerns and asks if design can be a steward of nature and our future.”

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga's DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Installation view, ‘Formafantasma, Manitoga’s DragonRock: ‘Designing Nature’, Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
COURTESY: Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography / PHOTOGRAPH Michael Biondo

Object & Thing at Madoo: Megumi Shauna Arai and Frances Palmer
Founded in 2019 by Abby Bangser, former Artistic Director of Frieze Art Fairs for the Americas and Asia, Object & Thing is a new kind of nomadic fair concept. Originally staged in Brooklyn during Frieze New York, the new venture shifted gears during the pandemic and began hosting events in iconic homes throughout the New York region including the Gerald Luss House and the Eliot Noyes House. Bringing together a carefully curated selection of contemporary and historic wares from a variety of galleries and purveyors, Bangser and her team help enliven these historic locations.

Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo COURTESY: Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo
COURTESY: Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

For its latest venture, Object & Thing has set up shop in the Hamptons. The ‘Object & Thing at Madoo: Megumi Shauna Arai and Frances Palmer’ showcase seamlessly integrates new textile pieces by Megumi Shauna Arai and ceramic works by Frances Palmer within the already well decorated interiors of the Madoo Conservancy’s summer house studio.

Installation view Kami Chassé, Jeté Dōby, Megumi Shauna Arai & Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo COURTESY: Kami Chassé, Jeté Dōby, Megumi Shauna Arai, Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Installation view Kami Chassé, Jeté Dōby, Megumi Shauna Arai & Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo
COURTESY: Kami Chassé, Jeté Dōby, Megumi Shauna Arai, Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

The pieces were developed specifically for the premises and reflect the diversity of its plantings, evoking a sense of indoor/outdoor living.

Installation view, Frances Palmer & Megumi Shauna Arai, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo COURTESY: Frances Palmer, Megumi Shauna Arai & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Installation view, Frances Palmer & Megumi Shauna Arai, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo
COURTESY: Frances Palmer, Megumi Shauna Arai & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Arai forays into creating brightly-hued noren and framed wall pieces using natural dyes, while Palmer’s wood-fired vessels take on oribe and khaki-coloured glazes.

Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo COURTESY: Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

Frances Palmer, ‘Object & Thing’ at Madoo
COURTESY: Frances Palmer & Madoo / PHOTOGRAPH: Gary Mamay

The former’s pots are suspended as if in a salon and interact with the home’s custom furnishings. For a few of her works, Arai drew inspiration from Zen poet and calligrapher Mitsuo Aida. This connection alludes to Dash’s own literary output. A percentage of the profits from sales will benefit Madoo.

Formafantasma at Manitoga’s Dragon Rock: ‘Designing Nature’

Object & Thing at Madoo: Megumi Shauna Arai and Frances Palmer

Article by Adrian Madlener
Article by Adrian Madlener
Adrian Madlener is a Brussels-born, New York-based writer covering a wide range of design-related topics. View all articles by Adrian Madlener