Setting thw Stage

April 1, 2003
Setting the Stage
Artistic applications from the movie theatre to the museum.
If your leisure time recently found you at the movie theatre—and if you happen to be an afficionado of action films—you may have wondered about the creation of the glittering Ice Palace in the recent James Bond film, "Die Another Day." Much of this film's action took place in an elaborate ice cavern that was constructed on the largest stage in Europe. Lighting the huge set were Schonbek's Jubilee crystal chandeliers, chosen for their resemblance to giant icicles."The movement and fire of crystal bought the set to life," describes Simon Wakefield, set designer. They were an ideal allusion to the villain's diamond mines, he added.Serious James Bond fans were able to purchase one or more of the chandeliers used on the movie set. Schonbek president Andrew Schonbek explained that the company purchased several of the chandeliers back from the producers and carefully reconstructed them. Five of them were auctioned off at Sotheby's with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. Each chandelier was accompanied with a letter of authenticity from the producers of "Die Another Day."If your interests lean more toward the arts instead of the cinema, you might enjoy an exhibit featuring the work of Juan Muñoz, a highly regarded contemporary Spanish artist who reinvigorated figurative sculpture in the late 1980s. As incongruous as it may seem, traditional linoleum floor covering is currently serving as an art form in this new contemporary exhibition. In fact, nearly 2,000 square feet of boldly patterned, custom designed Armstrong linoleum is included in the display.Muñoz, who died unexpectedly in August 2001 at the age of 48, often created room-size environments and stage-like setting populated by anonymous figures. Two of his works in this recent exhibit, The Wasteland and The Prompter, include sharply-patterned floors as an integral part of the artwork. The works illustrate the artist's propensity for creating complex settings for the viewer to traverse both mentally and physically.The exhibition has been on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA; and the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. It is currently on display through the end of March at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX. So that Muñoz's first American traveling show could include these pivotal works, the Hirshhorn approached Armstrong to custom create both exhibit floors. Armstrong executive sales representative Doug Schmauder worked with Waterjet Works! of Dallas, TX, to custom fabricate all of the piece required.

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