The Great Hall Exhibition Essays

Students from Professor Edward Sullivan's course Curatorial Practice - Curatorial Study: A Crossdisciplinary Approach reviewed Graphic Objects: Elaine Lustig Cohen's Sculptural Works.

By Andrea Zambrano

November 2018

Graphic Objects: Elaine Lustig Cohen’s Sculptural Works offers an intimate look at a lesser known area of of the designer’s practice. Curated by M.A students Francesca Ferrari, Kolleen Ku, Emily Shoyer, and Chao Chi Chiu, the pieces are displayed on the landing of the grand staircase of the Duke House Lobby. The pieces stand on the slightly elevated plane of the white pristine marble floor, placed right in front of the structure of the House’s long, elegant curved stairs; almost looking as if the staircase wraps the exhibition in an embrace of sorts. The placement and composition of the exhibition layout next to the iconic staircase structure creates a contrasting relationship between the vibrant aesthetics of modernist design against the neoclassical interior of the historial Duke House.

Following on the designer’s practice of using bright bold colors, that is a major element in these sculptures. A collection of six wooden sculptures painted in planes of jewel tones and saturated hues such as purples, red, yellows, oranges, greens, and blues bring the wood to life. With three hung against colored panels, the remaining two are on white pedestals in front; which takes up any negative space. The panels and pedestals are tall and horizontal, giving the installation a clean and well thought out execution. Abstract wooden shapes painted in various colors on a flat wood canvas hang upon the colored panels,while boxes painted in various color planes sit atop the white pedestals.

The show is small, but its bold color scheme makes a big statement. The contrast against the more traditional interior of the Duke House makes it even more vibrant. Its overall an attractive, sleekly designed show that highlights a smaller part of the legendary designer’s portfolio.

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