Go, Do, Be.


08/22/2014  — 

OMG Even More Artwork From Mad Men, Season 7 (The Art Department)

I've been posting a bit (ok, a lot) about the artwork in some of this season's Mad Men episodes. This post focuses on the artwork in the Art Department. These guys are the worker-bees in the ad agency. Their space is more cluttered than the rest of the office. Most of the wall-space seems covered with work-related junk but the artwork on the walls in the Artist spaces show some bold political leanings.

The Artists Stuff
The visual artists working with Peggy have more David Wiedman hanging in their office, but these pieces are more political than the other abstract forms. "Work Smarter" (buy this one btw) and "Generals for Piece" leap out of the background.

Oh hey, get that "Scandinavian Design Black and White Star" on Zazzle or Etsy too.

Stan Rizzo
Stan's bleak apartment features big Moshe Dyan poster as the only decoration. This seems like a pretty big deal to me: Moshe Dyan is a complicated and powerful reference. I can't imagine a set decorator would choose this image without a lot of thought. The series has carefully made reference to historical events (e.g. assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK). It's completely omitted the 6-day war in 1967. In some ways, if Don Draper could get his act together he could pull his own pre-emptive strikes against the folks surrounding him (Ted, Lou, Jim, clients? Betty? his liver?).

What do you think this brings to Stew's character or the series in general?

Oh and here's one of those posters that appeared on ebay a while back.

Next, Roger Sterling's office...

08/21/2014  — 

Holy Crap Even More Artwork From Mad Men, Season 7 (Peggy Olson)

You might be sick of this after a few days of relentless posting about the artwork in Mad Men, Series 7. There's a lot more to cover though, so get ready. While everyone was mourning the loss of Robin Williams we missed the passing of David Wiedman whose prints were all over the Sterling Cooper Draper Yadda Yadda office.

Peggy's floral prints
Peggy has plenty of screen time this season and her office seems to be a place that the set decorators chose to showcase several pieces from David Weidman. These prints and the story behind them are pretty well-known having been featured in a few LA Times articles.

I love the color and forms in these prints -- so much fun. Once I tuned-in to the artist and his catalog, I started seeing them all over the place. You'll see them in the Artists Office and outside Roger Sterling's office.

Peggy was sporting a Saul Bass poster from the Second NY Film Festival at Lincoln Center (September 14-26, 1964). If you dig around, you can probably find one for sale.

Peggy redecorates her office at some point in the season and the emphasis seems to shift toward these smaller prints. Some still from David Wiedman.

Peggy's apartment like most of the living spaces is pretty drab. She has more of these sunflower shapes and other floral forms at home.

Next, the rest of the Art Department.

08/20/2014  — 

Even More Artwork From Mad Men, Season 7 (Ted Chaough, Pete Best)

Here's another set of pics from Mad Men, Season 7. We've gone through just a few of the characters and their sets. There's plenty more to cover.

Ted's office in California
Ted and Pete are setting up the west coast business from this office which has a few neat pieces. There's a funky print on two of his walls which make me think about the dueling perspectives within Ted.

It's not all black & white though. What's this red thing behind his desk?

There's a (possibly?) noteworthy change in the painting that sits behind his desk too. Not sure what if anything this means for the character, maybe an emotional cooling-off? In any case it's neat to see these subtle changes.

Pete's Pad in California
This is the second piece of art that really jumped out of the background for me. I thought the colors and the form were a perfect match for Pete's energy and his role in California.

A little poking around online brought me to this painting for sale on etsy at one point. Linda Monfort, the artist has a bunch of similar large-ish abstract paintings in her store. I suspect she knows that her painting was in a few scenes, but I wonder what that's like... I'll send her a note and find out.

Next, the hero of this season (and probably the whole series) Peggy.

08/19/2014  — 

More Artwork From Mad Men, Season 7 (Don Draper, Jim Cutler)

Here's the second set of pieces or artwork from Mad Men, Season 7. Last time I mentioned Lou's office, this week it's Don & Jim. I grouped these two characters together because they're somewhat marginalized this season.

Don Draper's office
The main piece of art that we see in Don Draper's office is an inscrutable abstract mess. This rainy day Miro-like thing doesn't offer much. I wasn't able to find anything about it online. What do you see here?

Over Don's couch is another abstract form with some bold, firey colors. I guess this is really a temporary space for Don since Lou is in his office. Maybe all these pieces were chosen by Lane Pryce when he used this office in previous seasons?

Don finds one more piece that he could hang on his wall, but instead tosses in the garbage. Lane Pryce hung this when he used the office. It kind of makes sense that the Creative Director (in absentia) has the most childish piece of art tucked away in his office. There's an incredible write-up on this piece on another site. This is just one of the period details that keeps this show so much fun.

Jim Cutler's office
This is a funny one. I this this character is a bit of an oddball in that he's often bouncing between clueless & tasteless. Nobody seems to like him much and he doesn't seem to be doing much for the organization. His dialog is usually flat, practical, and he's usually "right" from a business- perspective.

Jim has a few pieces of art in his office that are worth noting. This big black & white print dominates the background in most of the scenes here.

There are a few shots that reveal these animal prints on another wall. I should have collected a few more shots to back this up, but it seems that these kind of old-fashioned animal prints show up in scenes with people who don't have good taste in art... Betty's house and many of the suburban scenes are dotted with these plates.

When I saw these prints in Jim's office, it made me wonder whether the big print behind his desk was chosen by his assistant or some office decorator. Maybe Don's office too?

We'll go to California next time to see what's going on with Ted & Pete.

08/18/2014  — 

Artwork Seen In Mad Men, Season 7

Heart It

So there's a point in the course of a binge-viewing of a series when you've probably lost your place. You were trucking-along, right there with the drama and the action at 2 or 3 in the morning when your insomniac monkey-brain wake-up-call ends abruptly and lets you drop back into the REM sleep where you belong. It was after this experience where I found myself fast-forwarding through a few episodes of the most recent season of AMC's Mad Men looking for the point where I dozed- off.

It was during one of these fast-forward sessions that I started to see the scenes differently. Items in the background seemed to pop forward. Whether it was the lack of sound, the rapid movements of the people (in scenes where the camera doesn't even pan), or the late hour, something drew my attention toward the artwork hanging on the walls.

This article collects some of these observations. I hope the DMCA overlords who own the images/characters/likenesses attached to the program see that this is a small attempt to make sense of (just) one level of the visuals in Mad Men. I'm a fan and this is a work of appreciation. It's also in this spirit of "trying to understand" that led me to seek background info on some of the pieces and artists featured in this season's episodes. I'll try to focus on the art without dropping any spoilers, but holler if I mess anything up and I'll redact.

Most of the Mad Men action consists of interior shots, so there's plenty of opportunity to drop paintings and prints into the background. It was a scene in Lou Avery's office that caught my attention. The way the scene was framed, the painting appeared as important as the actors; it seemed like the blue abstract oil painting in the background was a third role in the scene.

This particular painting was pretty important to feeding my interest (read: obsession) with this topic because of what I found when I tossed it into Google Image Search. It looks like this painting which got a heck-of-a-lotta airtime was purchased on Etsy from an artist named Pamela Munger. I bet she knows that her work has been featured this way, but I haven't heard back from her yet. Her paintings are still available, handsome, and decently priced! Go buy one.

Lou has another abstract painting on an adjacent office wall and some print outside his door. I wasn't able to find any info on these pieces.

Over the next few days, I'll post a few notes about each of the offices (and a few other spots) and the artwork that seems worth our attention.

More soon!