A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Thursday, January 10

Provoking Magic: Lighting of Ingo Maurer at the Cooper-Hewitt

Just in case you woke up this morning panicking "Holy Smokes that lamp show at the Cooper-Hewitt closes in two weeks I've gotta go today!", well.... relax. You really don't.

I mean, Ingo Maurer definitely has a lot of interesting ideas about lighting, and Provoking Magic does feature some attention-getting objects, but like many exhibitions at this museum, there's also a definite air of seen-it-before, especially if you've visited a design blog more than twice this past year. Another flaw in the show, and a common one at the Copper-Hewitt: few, if any, curator's "liner" notes accompany the pieces, so nothing comes with any context, unless you do the free audio tour, which Debbie and I did not.

Anyway, the exhibit showcases more than 50 of Maurer's creations, spread out through all the exhibit rooms on Andrew Carnegie's one-time mansion's second floor. Highlights for us included "Porca Miseria!", a chandelier made from shattered white porcelain dinner plates, as well as the odd fork and knife; the spooky-blue installation featuring "Wo bist do Edison....?", a hanging lamp with a hologram bulb; and the Golden Ribbon, a huge, undulating, surprisingly elegant ceiling piece that looks exactly like it sounds like it would look.

There are plenty of lowlights here, as well, especially the overly kitschy stuff (lamps made from Astroboy and the like), the ho-hum LED clothing, and the chandelier infested with rats. And the fluorescent playground pictured below would probably be really cool if it was actually built and you could wander through it, but it's not.

Provoking Magic: Lighting of Ingo Maurer will be at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum through January 27. Admission to the museum is a painful $15. Fortunately for me, Debbie had two free passes, so we left feeling only disappointed, rather than disappointed and ripped off.

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