Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Because Broward County's architectural gems are spread around -- unlike Miami's famous Art Deco neighborhoods, where they tend to show up in clusters -- visitors rarely get a sense of the scope of Broward's midcentury modern designs. "Going, Going, Gone? Mid-Century Modern Architecture in South Florida," now at the Museum of Art, seeks to rectify this situation, albeit in the two-dimensional medium of photography. Broward's best are at least the equal of those in Miami. On one wall of the museum, 27 photographs by Robin Hill offer dramatic glimpses of buildings, hotels, and inns that appear both retro and new age. Shot from close and unusual angles, the energy-packed images are gripping. The icing on the cake is a 16-foot "Gold Coast" sign salvaged from the roof of the 1949 beachfront hotel of the same name. Its turquoise metal lettering with gold trim matches the hyper-bright colors in Hill's pictures. Also in the exhibit are Hill's 16 photographs of Miami-Dade County landmarks, including the Fontainebleau Hotel and Giller Building. The structures' carefree colors and swirling arches recall a time of child-like exuberance. Fort Lauderdale's Hyatt Regency Pier 66, with its glass-enclosed lounge topped with a crown of lit columns, seems ideal for a visit from the Jetsons. The Jolly Roger and Yankee Clipper look more like blown-up toys than buildings, remnants of an era whose motto was "Because We Can" instead of "The Bottom Line." Best of all, visitors can leave the museum and see almost all of the structures for themselves. (Through November 6 at the Museum of Art, Museum of Art, One E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500.)

Now on Display

As Rick and Ilsa moonily agreed at the end of Casablanca, "We'll always have Paris." The rest of us will as well, as long as there are exhibitions like "Brassaï's Paris" and "Robert Doisneau's Paris," a pair of evocative photography shows running concurrently at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The two men were contemporaries -- Brassaï lived from 1899 to 1984, Doisneau from 1912 to 1984 -- and both became known for chronicling street life in the City of Lights. Brassaï, born Gyula Halász in Brassó, Hungary, trained as a painter and sculptor and took up photography only after moving to Paris in the mid-'20s. His place in the history of the medium was secured, however, with the 1933 publication of his first book, Paris de nuit (Paris by Night). Nocturnal and gregarious (his wide circle of friends included Pablo Picasso, Henry Miller, and André Kertész), he plumbed the city for prostitutes, drug addicts, and transvestites, among others. This small show of 28 gelatin silver prints includes such material but also subjects like a bridge bathed in night fog and a little dog on a vast stretch of stone steps. The Paris of Doisneau encompasses an even broader spectrum of French life. The 117 black-and-white images are grouped loosely by subject, from schoolboys and laborers to nudes and artists and their models. Like Brassaï, Doisneau knew many cultural figures of the time, and included here is his famous 1952 shot of Picasso with fat-fingered bread rolls for hands; there are also portraits of such writers as Colette and Jacques Prévert. Doisneau's sly humor is also much in evidence. He uses the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop for a clothesline of underwear, for instance, and shoots the tower from Notre Dame so that a gargoyle appears poised to bite off the top. Taken together, these two exhibitions remind us how strongly our impressions of Paris have been shaped by the many ways it has been photographed. (Through August 28 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton. Call 561-392-2500.)

Imagine the best vintage clothing store on the planet, filled with the top gets on any thrift-store connoisseur's list -- Pucci, Chanel, and Blass. At the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Delray Beach, you can't buy or touch any of the many outfits currently on display from the permanent collection. While vintage clothes horses might experience a painful envy, the museum's mix of cool clothes from the late 19th Century to the mod '60s is a great attraction. Accompanying the clothes are several time lines and essays that fit fashion into historical context. Who knew (or knew they wanted to know) that the right to wear red sparked a 16th-century peasant revolt in Germany? Or that Nancy Reagan's fondness for the color coined a new shade -- Reagan Red? (Eeeew. Yuck.) Or that World War II sparked a move toward casual clothes for men and the ultrafeminine "New Look" for women as a reaction to wartime severity? There is an almost too-obvious tribute to the fashions of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, though it would be nearly impossible to have even the most cursory reviews of American fashion without her. Also, in the '50s section, there's an unfortunate choice of kitsch over clothes, with a full-skirted, June Cleaver-esque dress displayed alongside a kitchen set. A small exhibit in the corner does the most to bring the show's point down like a hammer -- a display of what tragedy does to fashion. In two small glass cases are purses inspired by 9/11, one by Charleston, South Carolina, artist Mary Norton titled After the Tragedy and one bedazzled in the ubiquitous red, white, and blue that emerged right after the attacks. It's good stuff, and did we mention the Pucci shift dresses? (Through summer at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History, 322 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-2662.)

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