On the Street: Vince Boutique, Madison Avenue

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 7.41.22 PM

I may be reading too much into the holiday-season windows of this Vince boutique on Madison Avenue when I say that they immediately remind me of Minimalist artist Dan Flavin’s series Monument for V. Tatlin (1969-70).

Flavin’s sculptures in this series were made entirely from prefabricated fluorescent lighting tubes.


The series was a (semi-humorous) homage to Vladimir Tatlin’s design for an impossibly high and complex tower that would serve as a monument to the Communist International organization (1919-20). Some of Flavin’s neon arrangements referred to the shapes of that never-built monument, and others were simply abstract shapes.

Were Vince’s visual merchandising experts aware of Flavin’s work and its implications about art and history? Were they trying to suggest an abstract menorah? Or did they just want to come up with a window display that was illuminated and modern (and not too expensive to execute)? Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve never even been inside a Vince shop.

Images: Vince photo by Tinsel Creation; Dan Flavin photos/works courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art and Phillips.

On the Street: York Beads and Manhattan History


I don’t normally slow down when I pass the various bead and trimming stores in west Midtown, but this sign made me laugh. I can never resist a reference to New York City history.

I’m sure the real story is more complicated, but still — very clever.

Purchase-of-Manhattan(This post goes out to my friend Leslie—New Yorker, historian, and craftsperson extraordinaire.)

Images: photo by Tinsel Creation; detail of postcard (1909) from the Museum of the City of New York archives, reproduced here.

On the Street: Hermes on Madison Avenue

hermes window

I passed the Hermès flagship boutique on Madison Avenue one day last week and paused to take this photograph. I wasn’t impressed by the overall window display—I don’t really understand the connection between the stacks of books, the geological print on the seated mannequin’s dress, and the arrow—but I recognized the small sculpture perched on one of the teetering book piles.

Continue reading “On the Street: Hermes on Madison Avenue”

On the Street: The Plaza Hotel in Self-Camouflage

plaza hotel

A few days ago, I passed the Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue. I did a double-take and then I took this picture. Look closely: on its front facade, the Plaza is wearing a cleverly fitted covering, designed and detailed to look like the building itself. Apparently the hotel is under construction; the side facing Central Park, visible at the right in this photo, has its own mesh-like cover to protect passersby from falling debris.

I don’t know what the view from inside the Plaza must be these days, with all this work going on, but the trompe l’oeil tarp is a nifty way to deal with the exterior.

On the Street: Midtown West

poets security

I was on my way to dinner with friends in Midtown when I saw this sign posted in the doorway of an office building. I laughed as I took the picture. What on earth is a “Poets’ Security Force”? Is this force composed of moonlighting poets? Or is it a team of security officers working to keep poets safe? Does the entrance exam require all applicants to compose or recite verse? Is there a uniform, perhaps something incorporating black turtlenecks?

So many questions.

Image: photo by Tinsel Creation, somewhere in the West Forties.