SYD MEAD (Future Perfect) May 11 – June 30th, 2012
BravinLee programs is very pleased to present “Future (Perfect),” gouaches on board by the legendary conceptual designer Syd Mead. This exhibition at BravinLee programs represents an almost unprecedented appearance of Syd Mead’s work in a commercial art gallery. Previously to this it has been almost impossible to acquire one of his highly sought after gouaches, this exhibition will include available work.
Syd Mead is one of the most celebrated concept designers of our time, having been responsible for many memorable designs from feature films to interiors and even toys. His most well-known works include production designs for Blade Runner, TRON, Aliens, Johnny Mnemonic and 2010.
In 1983, Mead was commission to design the interior of King Fah’d’s 747 jet. Mead states, “That was an enormous challenge. I had to fit a very complex geometry and furnishings into a 747 hull, and the first thing you have to think about is everything has to come through that door because the plane is [already] made. I designed some of these spaces with a geometric precision, linked all the spaces together by vector points. The [engineers] tried to change them and they couldn’t, everything came apart.” Included in the exhibition is Mead’s yacht design commissioned by Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi.
The account of the techno-future seen in Mead’s gouaches is generally sleek, impeccable and populated by glamorously dressed trim and tanned, attractive movers and shakers. Often Mead portrays them getting in and out of a fantastic vehicle; they are in the act of goodbyes and hellos, departures and arrivals. Mead’s mostly utopian and idealized concept of the future, free from many of the problems facing the present such as war, famine, litter, snarling airport security lines, overweight badly dressed tourists, and late arriving trains, planes and automobiles is that Mead is a commercial artist who is paid upfront to give the client a positive context for whatever it is that is being marketed or merchandized. Mead conceptualizes and visualizes the effect that the client wants and needs. In the late 20th Century “kowtowing” to the client is a terrible no-no for serious high-minded art-makers or so it seems. But, during hundreds of years of art making by Renaissance Masters like Leonardo De Vinci or Michelangelo Buonarroti or Court Painters like Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez or Peter Paul Rubens, there were demanding clients (The Vatican, The Medicis and The Royals) who paid up in advance and ordered exactly what they wanted. Having a client with a point of view didn’t hurt the esteem of Old Master art anymore or less than it should the work of Syd Mead. That said, like in the art of great Masters, Mead’s richly detailed images contain many complex signifiers that reflect the artist’s own humor, social, personal and political point of view.
In 2006, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum recognized Mead’s singular career at the National design Awards, selecting him as the recipient of its Special Jury Commendation. Also in this same year, filmmaker Joaquin Motalvan made an independent film documentary of him called “Visual Futurist”, which premiered on July 23rd, 2006 at the Dances with Films Festival in Los Angeles, CA.
“The future starts one second from now; you must prepare for the future and believe that it will happen in a nice way.” Syd Mead, 2005