According to Vogue Style Editor at Large Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, the best way to learn a city is through its artists. Not long after moving to New York, she published a Vogue slideshow about her studio visits with five women based in NYC: Ellen Berkenblit, Haley Mellin, Olympia Scarry, Lola Montes Schnabel, and Ena Swansea. That article has now become an exhibition at the French Institute Alliance Francaise. Thurn und Taxis (who is also known as TNT and happens to be a German princess) co-curated the show – Manifesto, on view through April 20 – with Antoine Guerrero, who recently joined FIAF as Director of Visual Arts following a long tenure at MoMA PS1.
While this is TNT’s first time curating, Manifesto came together quite organically in a way that seems emblematic of New York. She grew up surrounded by art (her mother, Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, kept works by contemporary artists like the Chapman Brothers and Cindy Sherman hanging at home), and she has long loved NYC: “Every time I cross the bridge arriving from the airport, I get a tingle in my tummy. The hustle and bustle, that very particularly crisp lighting in early morning and the never-ending opportunity to explore culture, art."
Each of the artists has a personal connection to TNT: Schnabel and Scarry are close friends. Swansea is a neighbor in her building and friend of her family’s. Mellin and Berkenblit were friends of friends and fit the group well. “Each one admits to drawing an abundance of inspiration and drive from living in New York City—it is their home, their muse, and their creative laboratory,” TNT wrote in the Vogue piece.
Guerrero’s varied background includes nearly 20 years at MoMa PS1 and time at agnès b.’s Galerie du Jour in Paris. In his new role at FIAF, Guerro looks forward to “exploring how nationality and internationality are continually redefined.” With its range of artists, Manifesto seems to do just that. It also fits well with the institute’s recent fashion focus, which includes programing that ranges from a Pierre Cardin film series to a discussion with Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim.
The March 8 opening reception of Manifesto coincided with International Women’s Day and the beginning of the Institute’s films series My Beautiful Women, celebrating Brigitte Cornand’s films on influential women artists.