His evolving resume: newspaper clippings and his own, oft-edited penmanship piled one on top of another until the document wears out.

Eero Saarinen
The most affecting lists may come from Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen, who designed the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

One ticks off his wife Aline Bernstein's finer qualities, one by one, around the time of their wedding. Bernstein, then an art editor and critic at the New York Times, is both "handsome" and "beautiful," not to mention "perceptive" and "terribly well organized."

A Saarinen to-do list that includes a host of projects, "done" and "half-done" — one of them the renovation of his own home — was written just 16 days before he died.

The lists' emotional register is a reminder that even our most mechanical tools cannot blot out the human impulse.

Modernist painter Hans Hoffman ran the Hans Hoffman School of Art in New York City and a summer school in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He was a strong-willed teacher who trained some of the greatest painters of the 20th century: Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Mark Rothko among them.

But his list, "About the relations of students and teachers," suggests he could not always bend his students to his will: "1) What a teacher should know from the beginning: there is always an apostle who would deny his master."

'Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion,' April 28-August 18

Kate Irvin and Laurie Brewer, co-curators of "Artist/Rebel/Dandy," say they are not out to rescue the dandy, but to present a fuller picture of him. We'll take them at their word. But it's hard not to see something redemptive in their project.

The dandy — a self-conscious, well-dressed man who first appeared in late 18th-century England — is often dismissed as a shallow and self-absorbed figure of little consequence.

And that caricature will be represented in the exhibit; indeed, the curators tell the Phoenix the exaggerated image of the dandy — and the dandy's reaction to that image — is an integral part of the story. "Is the dandy a real person?" asks Irvin, or "is the dandy more of a fantasy?"

Still, if that's an open question for Irvin and Brewer, the dandy's significance is not. They see a person of real intelligence and real rebellion — right up to the present-day hipster, who wears his grandfather's wool, bespoke suit in opposition to our disposable culture.

This focus on the actual men who wear the clothes sets "Artist/Rebel/Dandy" apart from other shows on men's fashion.

Here is a banyan the Prince Regent wore before he ascended to the throne as King George IV. Here is a shirt that Oscar Wilde sent out for cleaning just before he died. Here is a suit worn by author Tom Wolfe.

But the two central characters in the show — which will incorporate prints, photographs, and fashion blogs alongside the clothing — are Beau Brummell and Richard Merkin.

Guy Hills (by Geordie)
Brummell, a late-18th-century and early-19th-century figure who was a friend of the future King George IV, was the prototypical dandy — a free spender and arbiter of men's fashion who claimed to take five hours to dress each day.

But Brummell, if lavish in personality, did not dress flamboyantly. He tended, instead, to the reserved and perfectly tailored; his clothing a challenge to our narrow conception of the dandy.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |   next >
Related: Review: 'European Drawings' at the Portland Museum of Art, RISD's 'Cocktail Culture' offers an intoxicating history of 20th-century fashion, Slideshow: Alexander McQueen's ''Savage Beauty'' exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , History, Museums, Fashion,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIBERAL WARRIOR  |  April 10, 2013
    When it comes to his signature issues — climate change, campaign finance reform, tax fairness — Whitehouse makes little secret of his approach: marshal the facts, hammer the Republicans, and embarrass them into action.
    A key Brown University oversight committee has voted to recommend the school divest from coal, delivering a significant victory to student climate change activists.
  •   HACKING POLITICS: A GUIDE  |  April 03, 2013
    Last year, the Internet briefly upended everything we know about American politics.
  •   BREAK ON THROUGH  |  March 28, 2013
    When I spoke with Treasurer Gina Raimondo this week, I opened with the obligatory question about whether she'll run for governor. "I'm seriously considering it," she said. "But I think as you know — we've talked about it before — I have little kids: a six-year-old, an eight-year-old. I'm a mother. It's a big deal."
  •   THE LIBERAL CASE FOR GUNS  |  March 27, 2013
    The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope not just for sensible gun regulation, but for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture. Neither wish has been realized.

 See all articles by: DAVID SCHARFENBERG