Invoking the spirit of window dressers of the early 20th century, the Steinhardt School will present Window Dressing, a site-specific installation by Chicago-based artist Diane Simpson. The installation will be on view from January 26 through March 12, 2014 at 80WSE Gallery’s satellite space, Broadway Windows, at the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street. A reception for the artist will be held at 80WSE Gallery’s main space at 80 Washington Square East, on Sunday January 26, from 1-3pm.
Diane Simpson is best known for her preparatory drawings and sculptures, which combine unconventional materials including fiberboard, perforated metals, faux fur, linoleum, and corrugated cardboard. Window Dressing pays homage to the “window dressers” of the 1920s and 1930s through the creation of a sprawling installation that is designed to exist in a series of inaccessible storefront windows and be viewed entirely by pedestrian traffic.
Simpson’s conception of the project stemmed from her discovery of a bound collection of monthly trade journals for window designers entitled MERCHANTS RECORD AND SHOW WINDOW from 1928 –the heyday of the Wanamakers department store in whose former windows the exhibition is staged. This publication, itself a manual containing how-to articles on designing merchandise display windows, advertisements for fixtures, mannequins, and artificial foliage, became repurposed as a sourcebook for her contemporary practice.
“Simpson finds endless possibility and inspiration in the window display format, which allows her to seamlessly integrate her sculptural works that are suggestive of clothing with backgrounds that evoke design of the deco period,” said Jonathan Glaser, director of NYU Steinhardt’s 80WSE Gallery. “The layering of these many components, comprising the complete installation, reflect the artist’s continued interest in blurring the distinctions between architecture, clothing, and design of various cultures and historical periods.”
80WSE’s presentation of Window Dressing will be the second incarnation of the project, which was originally commissioned and installed in the six street-level windows of Wisonsin’s Racine Art Museum in 2008. For this version, Simpson has substantially reconfigured the installation. As was the case with the window spaces in which Window Dressing was first shown, the original life of 80WSE’s window spaces was amidst a bustling department store district on lower Broadway in the late 1920’s. With each presentation of this project, Simpson seeks to transcend common notions of site specificity, instead facilitating a homecoming in which her work and the space collapse the past and the present.
Diane Simpson received an MFA in 1978 and a BFA in 1971 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include JTT, New York and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago. In 2010, a 30-year retrospective exhibition of her sculpture and drawings was held at the Chicago Cultural Center.
80WSE Gallery is located at 80 Washington Square East, between West 4th Street and Washington Street. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30AM-6PM. For more information about the exhibition, please contact the gallery at 212-998-5751 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.