JACK, LARGER THAN LIFE
JUNE 26 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2021
WORK AND PERSONAL COLLECTIONS
OF THE NOTED TEXTILE DESIGNER
My acquisitions seemed to reinforce my own personal identity… In collecting I found a quiet means of sharing enthusiasms
—Jack Lenor Larsen
On view June 26 – September 5, 2021 in the LongHouse Pavilion, Jack, Larger Than Life, is an intimate portrait of creator-collector Jack Lenor Larsen (1927–2020). His innovative textiles are presented side by side with his various “enthusiasms,” the objects of craft and art he assiduously gathered, as well as the clothing he collected and wore. Over 100 objects from the several thousand in LongHouse Reserve’s collection are juxtaposed with Jack’s pronouncements and videotapes of his interviews.
In a period of increasing automation, Jack Lenor Larsen reintroduced handweaving techniques to the textile industry. Established in the 1950’s, his eponymous brand presented a series of innovations, making Larsen one of the most prolific and respected American designers of his time. A proponent of craft before it was trendy, Larsen’s appetite for the handmade took him across the globe seeking both traditional techniques and modern interpretations. Jack had an insatiable hunger and curiosity for other cultures.
Said Kate Irwin, Curator of Costume and Textiles at the RISD Museum, “From the beginning of his career to his last collection for Cowtan & Tout in 2019, Jack’s approach to textile design was innovative and technical, while steeped in hand-craftsmanship and global practices of making. Many of his early designs combined natural fibers with synthetic materials of varying textures, transforming age-old textile techniques into contemporary designs that softened the transparent glass and dense steel of modernist International Style buildings.”
“Don’t be reverent. Be relevant. Keep on changing.
Perceiving lies in comprehending the whole, the essence of an object, not just its outline or another superficial aspect.”
—Jack Lenor Larsen
Nearly fifty iconic Larsen textile lengths fill the gallery with color, texture, and pattern, including major commissions such as Leverlin for Lever House, New York’s first International Style high rise; Swazi Drapery for the Wolf Trap Theater; and Magnum, with light-reflecting mirror Mylar, for the Phoenix Opera House.
Magnum 1970, Layered mylar, cotton flannel, sheer polyester, organza and wool, cotton and synthetic threads; machine embroidered. Photograph by R. H. Hensleigh and Tim Thayer.
Organized according to the color stories Jack favored in his textile designs, exhibition groupings weave together a spectrum of Larsen textiles with garments from Jack’s wardrobe, furniture and art from his home, and sculptural objects from around the globe. Atop an angular Wharton Esherick table sits a Dale Chihuly silvered glass cylinder. The table was Jack’s first important purchase and started his extensive Esherick collection (the largest outside the artist’s own house museum). The Chihuly was the last of several gifts from the artist to his friend and mentor on the occasion of a milestone birthday. A graphic Japanese kimono rubs elbows with a Marc Leuthold-carved ceramic and Stephen Proctor mid-century table; metalwork vessels by Chunghi Choo mingle with a Japanese indigo patched boro and West African resist-dyed textiles; Dawn MacNutt’s fiber sculpture keeps watch over a Sheila Hicks miniature and Toradja armor made of horn (a gift to LongHouse from playwright Edward Albee). As backdrop to these groupings, an entire wall is covered in a sensuous array of Larsen’s printed cotton velvets.
LongHouse provided a home and a stage on which Jack shared various passions. Honoring Jack’s generous, generative spirit, this exhibition is an invitation to “open eyes to alternatives.”
Jack, Larger than Life is curated by Wendy van Deusen and Sherri Donghia; Kate Irwin, Exhibition Writer, and additional support from Caroline Bauman, Alexandra Munroe, and Lee Skolnick.
The exhibition is designed by Lee Skolnick, and his firm, SKOLNICK Architecture + Design Partnership. Design team members included Jo Ann Secor, Director of Interpretive Services, Scott Briggs, Associate Principal and Project Manager, Katie Ahern, Senior Manager, Content and Visitor Experience Design, and Vonn Weisenberger, Exhibit Designer.
This exhibition was made possible in part by the generous support of Cowtan & Tout / Larsen, Amita Chatterjee, and Nina Gilman. Public Programs are funded in part by Suffolk County and LongHouse Reserve Members and Supporters.
Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12:30 until 5:00. Visits to LongHouse are by timed-ticket reservations. Go to: https://longhouse.org/products/open-days.
LongHouse Reserve is located on 16 acres in East Hampton. Through its art collections, sculpture gardens, and educational programs, LongHouse Reserve brings together art and nature, aesthetics and spirit with the strong conviction that living with art in all its forms is central to living fully and living creatively. Currently, there are more than 60 sculptures in the gardens, including works of glass by Dale Chihuly, ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu, bronzes by Daniel Arsham, Eric Fischl, Willem de Kooning, and Beverly Pepper. Works by John Giorno, Alfonso Ossorio, Yoko Ono, Pavel Opocensky, Will Ryman, and Takashi Soga are also on view, while the installation of a “Fly’s Eye Dome” designed by Buckminster Fuller and a site-specific Sol LeWitt piece add interesting scale and dimension.
THE CURATORIAL TEAM
Wendy Van Deusen is the Curator of Longhouse Reserve. Chosen by Jack Lenor Larsen, her nearly 20-year-tenure has included supervision of all exhibitions as well as oversight of the sculpture installations on the grounds. She has catalogued and continues to oversee the LongHouse art collection. She has also managed and designed installations of Larsen’s work at the Museum of Arts and Design (2004) and SOFA (2002).
Wendy is also a weaver and textile artist, with works in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum and LongHouse Reserve and shows in numerous galleries. Her work was included in the national traveling exhibition Contemporaneous Interpretations of Craft Traditions.
For 25 years she was the owner and chef of East Hampton’s 1770 House, receiving a James Beard Award in 1980. She was also President of the Board of Education for the Springs School District from 1990 to 1995. Wendy holds a BFA in Textile Arts from the Moore College of Art.
Sherri Donghia, the CEO of SD International, is an award-winning designer and creative director working with home furnishings, textiles, fashion apparel, and accessories. For 15 years she has served as the Chair of the Color Association of the US (CAUS), she is also a board member of the Fashion Group International, Rhode Island School of Design, Aid to Artisans, and LongHouse Reserve.
Her career began at Bloomingdales in the 1970’s, where she traveled the world to develop exclusive merchandise, followed by five years at Federated Department Stores. She next launched her own design/marketing company, where clients included Laurence Rockefeller’s Rockresorts and the British Design Council. For 20 years she was VP of Design and Marketing at Donghia Furniture / Textiles, building an international lifestyle brand through furniture, fabric and lighting. In 2006, she published a book on fashion and interiors, The Artistry of Luxury of Style (Little Brown & Company).
Sherri is the recipient of the Masters of Linen Award, Elle Decor International Fabric Design Award, RISD Athena Award, IFDA Circle of Excellence, Aid to Artisans Lifetime Visionary Award, and the Fashion Group International Star Gazer Home Furnishings Award. Sherri graduated from Penn State University and received an honorary doctorate from NY School of Interior Design.
Kate Irvin is the Curator of Costume and Textiles at the RISD Museum. Recent projects include: Repair and Design Futures (2019), a multidisciplinary exhibition and programming initiative investigating mending as material intervention, metaphor, and call to action; From the Loom of a Goddess: Reverberations of Guatemalan Maya Weaving (2018); Designing Traditions: Student Explorations in the Asian Textile Collections (2017); All of Everything: Todd Oldham Fashion (2016); and, with Laurie Brewer, Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion with an accompanying catalog.
SKOLNICK ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN PARTNERSHIP
Based in New York City, SKOLNICK Architecture + Design Partnership is an award- winning, multidisciplinary design studio specializing in architecture, exhibit design, and planning. Founded in 1980, SKOLNICK Architecture + Design Partnership’s broad and very diverse portfolio includes projects ranging from intimate spaces to international destinations.
Founding Principal and Lead Designer of the firm, Lee H. Skolnick, has lived part-time in Sag Harbor since 1978 and has designed numerous residences on the East End, as well as civic and cultural projects for The East Hampton Library, The Children’s Museum of the East End, Guild Hall, LongHouse Reserve, Montauk Playhouse, many of the local historical societies, and most recently, The Church, an adaptive reuse project, founded by artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik, which transformed an historic local church into a community arts center in Sag Harbor.
Mr. Skolnick has served as Vice President of the LongHouse Reserve’s Board of Directors since 2011 and worked closely with its founder, Jack Lenor Larsen, on the planned conversion of the house into a museum. This fall, he is being honored as the 2021 HC&G “Design Innovator” for the Hamptons.
LongHouse Reserve | 133 Hands Creek Road | East Hampton, New York 11937
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