1 December 2011

all things bright and beautiful

Thoughts of neon may evoke visions of shockingly lurid leg warmers from the 80s (one of those decades that should probably be left in the fashion graveyard) but there is a much more stylish vintage incarnation of neon. We’re talking electro neon lighting – a challenging artistic medium that when handled with care and creative flare can bear stark meaning and have strikingly beautiful results. Think visual references to seaside retro, the glamour of old Hollywood movies and vintage fairground rides – often with a subversive red light district undercurrent.

So, if you have a love of all things bright and beautiful, grab a pair of shades and say thank you to French inventor Georges Claude who, over 100 years ago this year, first put the gas in luminous tubing and there and then, neon lighting was officially born.  Take a peek below at our brightly lit world as we hunt out the best places to get an eye full of neon…

NEON MUSEUM, LAS VEGAS

It goes without saying ‘The Strip’ is the ultimate playground for any neon fan but don’t miss Sin City’s Neon Museum, a sort of tragic graveyard of old iconic neon pieces tellilng stories from days of old which the museum has been collecting since 1996 to preserve Las Vegas’ iconic art form.

Neon signs, Chris BraceyGOD’S OWN JUNKYARD EXHIBITION, LONDON

Londoner Chris Bracey has designed neon lighting for big Hollywood blockbuster movies such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman and Eyes Wide Shut. Having worked with neon for almost 40 years, Bracey has certainly mastered the art form and many of his major works are on display in London at The Old Hardware Store until January 12th 2012.

SKIES THE LIMIT, CHICAGO

No need to even step outside the airport in Chicago for a piece of neon beauty – Michael Hayden’s ‘skies the limit’ light sculpture stretches along a passenger concourse in terminal 1 of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and is made up of a staggering 466 neon tubes.

MUSEUM OF NEON ART, GLENDALE, LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles Museum of Neon Art is due to open in 2012 after relocation to a shiny new building in Glendale topped off with a rooftop diver in bright pink neon. The museum was founded in 1981 by artists Lili Lakich and Richard Jenkins and their collection includes vintage neon pieces as well as profiling exciting up-and-coming neon talent.

Love sign, Chris BraceyPROJECT NEON, NEW YORK

Project Neon is one woman campaign celebrating the best neon signage that Manhattan has to offer. Take a look at her blog for after dark inspiration for a brightly lit tour of the Big Apple.

MOBILE NEON WORKSHOPS, U.K.

Take it into your own hands and have a go at creating a piece of art for your home at a neon workshop. An Arts Collective based in the U.K. run mobile neon art workshops including demonstrations in cutting, blowing, stretching and bending glass. It’s a tricky medium to master but just think of the sense of satisfaction.

by Rebecca Shay

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