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Toys for a Capitalist Tool
by Natalie Hegert


Forbes Galleries

62 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 12th Street, New York City.

http://www.forbesgalleries.com

 

 

 

For a surreal trip into the object obsessions of one of the world's biggest capitalists visit the Forbes Galleries on the ground level of Forbes Magazine headquarters.  The Galleries feature changing exhibits of painting, sculpture, photography and jewelry, but it's the permanent collection where the weirdness lies.  Malcolm Forbes was a fascinating character, if not for his closeted homosexuality, celebrity friends and opulent lifestyle, but also for his immense collection of toys.  Like a modern day Citizen Kane, Forbes apparently started amassing his collection to nostalgically replace a toy boat he had lost as a boy on a trans-Atlantic voyage.

Forbes' collection of toy boats, toy soldiers, original Monopoly boards and trophies are exhibited in a dark, maze-like gallery with dramatic lighting and piped in military music.  The most curious part of the exhibit consists of a plastic bubble projecting into one of the vitrines within which is arranged a replica of a little boy's bedroom, replete with toys, posters, a little bed, and a boy's body, sitting atop the bed with his skinny little legs sticking out.  You stick your head into the bubble where it takes the place of the boy's head, and you can view the room as if you were dropped into the little boy's consciousness, a la Being John Malkovich.  A photograph of Ronald Reagan assuming the same position in the plastic bubble is framed above you, multiplying the uncanniness exponentially.

The Times reported this weekend that the Forbes Galleries will be deaccessioning the massive permanent collection, selling off the toys at Sotheby's in December 2010.  Guess the Forbes' are feeling the crunch too.  Make sure to visit this bizarre and little-known collection before it gets packed up.  Admission is free.

--Natalie Hegert



Posted by Natalie Hegert on 9/26/10

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