Under Cover: J. C. Leyendecker and American Masculinity

J. C. Leyendecker was a gay illustrator and commercial artist who helped shape American visual culture in the first three decades of the 20th century. Almost from the start of his career in 1893, he specialized in depicting men in such printed media as advertisements, magazines, books, and college posters. In 1913 New York’s Sun newspaper declared him the “champion” of men in art. His illustrations often exhibited a range of masculine types—the soldier, the sailor, the athlete, and the aesthete—but were almost always white men. His diverse representations of male interactions and physicality sometimes had homoerotic undertones.

This exhibition features Leyendecker’s paintings, ephemera, and a multimedia presentation of queer New York culture during his heyday. It considers Leyendecker’s imagery as artistic manifestations of his era’s shifting definitions of masculinity. His illustrations both shaped and reflected the spirit of his time, especially its gender, sexual, and racial norms. Focusing on these facets of his vast body of work, the exhibition broadens our understanding of American popular culture.

Mr. Albrecht developed the show’s themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

More than 40 articles and mentions from an international array of media outlets, including the New York Times, Art News, Women’s Wear Daily, Gay & Lesbian Review, Time Out, Fast Company, El Pais, NBC News, CBS 2, and the Guardian. Social media coverage on sites such as Instagram and TikTok.

“a fascinating show”
Blake Gopnik, New York Times, June 29, 2023

Under Cover is organized by the New-York Historical Society from the collection of the National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, RI.
Coordinating curator: Rebecca Klassen, N-YHS curator of material culture
Content advisors: Elspeth Brown, Monica Miller, Michael Murphy
Exhibition designer: Sofia Lin
Graphic designer: Ivan Skrtic
Photographer: New-York Historical Society

Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster

Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster offered 165 examples of visually arresting and socially meaningful posters, taken from more than 8,000 held in the collection in the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation.

The posters, spanning the years from 1982 to the present, showed how social, religious, civic, and public health agencies have addressed the controversial, often contested terrain of the HIV/AIDS pandemic within the public realm. Organizations and creators tailored their messages to audiences, both broad and very specific, and used a wide array of strategies, employing humor, emotion, scare tactics, simple scientific explanations, sexual imagery, and many other methods to communicate powerfully and effectively. A timeline of AIDS history and newly commissioned video interviews with local residents discussing the disease’s impact on them and their community complemented the posters. Accompanied by a 232-page catalog.

Mr. Albrecht developed the show’s themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

>See exhibition catalog

Coverage on WXXI News and in Plus magazine.

Exhibition and graphic designer: Travis Johansen/Memorial Art Gallery
Photographer: Andy Olenek

Tidal Basin Ideas Lab

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins

This online exhibition showcased proposals from five landscape architecture firms – DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations, and Reed Hilderbrand – that reimagine the future of the iconic Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. Now endangered, the Basin is home to monuments including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, as well as 3,000 cherry trees that serve as the backdrop for a popular festival each spring. Comprised of newly commissioned films, digital animations, and photographs, the exhibition invited the public to explore the histories and challenges of the Tidal Basin and share feedback on ideas for the evolution of this important American landscape.


Coverage on National Public Radio, architecturalrecord.com, architecturaldigest.com, and fastcompany.com


Co-curator: Thomas Mellins
Web designer: MGMT.design
Web developer: Gordils & Willis

Cycling in the City

Co-curated with Evan Friss

Cycling in the City traced the bicycle’s transformation of urban transportation and explored the extraordinary diversity of cycling cultures in the city, past and present. Featuring more than 150 artifacts, including 14 bicycles and cycling apparel, films, and graphic displays, the exhibition revealed the complex, creative, and often contentious relationship between New York and the bicycle ever since the first “velocipede” appeared on the city’s streets in 1819, exactly two centuries ago. Today, the bicycle continues to play an increasingly important role in New York City life, shaping what it means to live in a modern metropolis. Bicycles affect how we work, how we spend our leisure time, even how we define ourselves. The complex dance of cars, pedestrians, and bicycles continues to evolve, as the city promotes ambitious visions for a sustainable city and New Yorkers continue to seek simple, speedy, healthy, and environmentally-friendly ways to move about.

Working with co-curator Evan Friss, Mr. Albrecht developed the show’s themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, identified and worked with the design team.


Coverage in the New York Times, Metropolis, Curbed, and featured as a segment of WNET/Channel 13’s “Sunday Arts” television program

“…an impressively comprehensive and exceptionally timely exploration of the bicycle’s impact on Gotham…” Dante A. Ciampaglia, Metropolis, March 21, 2019


Exhibition and graphic designer: Pure+Applied
Photographer: Rob Stephenson

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs

International tour launched in 2019 in Los Angeles, followed by Switzerland and Portugal.

Co-curated with Sean Corcoran.

Stanley Kubrick was just 17 years old when he sold his first photograph to the pictorial magazine Look in 1945. In his photographs, many unpublished, Kubrick trained his camera on his native city, drawing inspiration from the nightclubs, street scenes, and sporting events that made up his first assignments, and capturing the pathos of ordinary life with a sophistication that belied his young age. Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs featured some 130 photographs by Kubrick from the Museum’s Look Magazine archive, an unparalleled collection that includes 129 photography assignments and more than 12,000 negatives from his five years as a staff photographer. For any fan of Kubrick’s films, the exhibition explored a formative phase in the career of one of the 20th century’s most renowned motion picture directors. Accompanied by a 328-page book.

Working with co-curator Sean Corcoran, Mr. Albrecht conceived the idea for the show and developed its themes, selected all photographs, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

>See exhibition catalog

Coverage in numerous international print and digital sources, including the New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post, Independent (UK), and L’Oeil de la Photographie (France)

Through a Different Lens is an extraordinary chronicle of Kubrick’s evolving aesthetic…” Dante A. Ciampaglia, Daily Beast, May 9, 2018

Exhibition and graphic designer: Marissa Martonyi
Book design: Pure+Applied
Photographer: Brad Farwell and Filip Wolak (first image)

Toward a Livable City: New York and the Municipal Art Society

What makes a city livable? Is it public art, tree-shaded plazas, efficient street design, or the dynamic mix of old and new buildings? To the Municipal Art Society (MAS), the answer has been all of the above and more. This exhibition, presented at New York’s Center for Architecture, celebrated MAS’s 125th anniversary. Over its history, that organization has educated and inspired New Yorkers in all five boroughs to engage in the betterment of their city. It has addressed the vexing issues facing successive generations of New Yorkers, from transportation to historic preservation, and some of its efforts have had national ramifications.

All the while, MAS has advanced its mission through collaboration, a necessary mode of action to change any complex, modern city. Zelig-like, MAS has appeared in different guises throughout New York’s 20th- and 21st-century histories. It has conceived with, promoted alongside, and sometimes fought against the actors who shape the city: powerful government leaders, important institutions, and colorful individuals. Together, they have made New York New York, and MAS’s story is, in effect, the story of modern metropolitan life itself.

Mr. Albrecht conceived the concept of the show, developed its themes, and, working with MAS staff and consultants, selected images, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

Exhibition designer: Abbott Miller/Pentagram
Photographer: Brad Farwell

Mexico Modern: Art, Commerce, and Cultural Exchange

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins

Mexico Modern explored two decades of dynamic cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States. It began around 1920, when the armed phase of a long and bitter revolution in Mexico ushered in new cultural ideals and programs, and continued into the mid-1940s, when contemporary Mexican art entered the mainstream in the United States. The exhibition underscored that art movements rarely conform to national borders; nor do they result from the efforts of artists alone. Transnational networks of individuals and institutions that seek, champion, and interpret great—often radically new—works of art are essential. Never has this been more the case than during the early 20th-century’s “Mexican moment.”

Widely acknowledged as a critical chapter in the history of 20th-century art, the rise of modernism in Mexico was activated by artists, museum curators, gallery owners, journalists, and publishers both in Mexico and the United States. These figures created and promoted an art that pioneered a synthesis of indigenous traditions, both ancient and contemporary, and international, modernist aesthetics. Chief among the artists who contributed to the creation of the “Mexican moment” were “los tres grandes”: Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Other important artists were Frida Kahlo, Miguel Covarrubias, and Jean Charlot; American jeweler William Spratling; and photographers Edward Weston and Tina Modotti. Accompanied by a 176-page book.

Working with Thomas Mellins, Mr. Albrecht conceived the idea of the exhibition, developed its themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

>See exhibition catalog

“By examining Mexican modern art through the lens of transnational connections, Mexico Modern: Art, Commerce, and Cultural Exchange not only explores a conversation between two countries and their vibrant artistic scenes but also contributes to a complicated and refined narrative about the grandeur of Mexican art.”
Cristóbal Jácome-Moreno, College Art Association Reviews, December 22, 2017

Exhibition and graphic designer: Harry Ransom Center/University of Texas at Austin
Exhibition video producer: Harry Ransom Center/University of Texas at Austin
Catalog graphic design: WIGEL, Munich

Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York

Co-curated with Steven H. Jaffe

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, New York City’s artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort.  Many of them worked for the federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity. Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examined the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice.

From the outbreak of the European conflict in 1914, however, New York had also been a city at war with itself—a place where debates about ethnic and racial loyalty, pacifism, the right to side with France, Belgium, and England or Germany, and the very meaning of patriotism spawned impassioned art for a mass audience. In rediscovering a wartime dialogue between images of conformity and dissent, Posters and Patriotism showcased over 60 examples from the World War I poster collection donated to the Museum by railroad executive and financier John W. Campbell (1880-1957) in 1943, most being exhibited for the first time, as well as the work of defiant artists in such colorful publications as The Masses, The Fatherland, and Mother Earth.

Mr. Albrecht collaborated with co-curator Steven H. Jaffe to develop the show’s themes, select all artifacts, write exhibition text, and work with the exhibition and graphic designer.

Exhibition designer: Perrin Studio
Photographer: Rob Stephenson

Gay Gotham

Co-curated with Stephen Vider

New York has long been a beacon for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender artists seeking freedom, acceptance, and community. Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York brought to life the queer creative networks that sprang up in the city across the 20th century—a series of artistic subcultures whose radical ideas had lasting effects on the mainstream. Peeling back the layers of New York’s LGBT life that thrived even in the shadows, this groundbreaking exhibition revealed an often-hidden side of the history of New York City and celebrated the power of artistic collaboration to transcend oppression. Visitors encountered well-known figures, from Mae West to Leonard Bernstein to Andy Warhol, and discovered lesser-known ones, such as feminist artist Harmony Hammond, painter and writer Richard Bruce Nugent, and transgender artist Greer Lankton. Surprising relationships emerged: Warhol and Mercedes de Acosta; Robert Mapplethorpe and Cecil Beaton; George Platt Lynes and Gertrude Stein. The exhibition featured the work of these artists, including paintings and photographs, as well as letters, snapshots, and ephemera that illuminated their personal bonds and revealed secrets that were scandal-provoking in their time and remained largely unknown until today. Accompanied by a 304-page catalog.

Mr. Albrecht conceived the idea for the show and, working with co-curator Stephen Vider, developed its themes, selected all artifacts, wrote exhibition text, identified and worked with the design team.

>See exhibition catalog

Coverage on National Public Radio and in the New York Times, New Yorker, Daily Beast, Slate, Guardian, Gay and Lesbian Review, and many other digital and print publications

“brilliantly curated”
Tim Teeman, Daily Beast, October 6, 2016

“The objects and artifacts …are gorgeous and fascinating.”
Blake Gopnik, artnet.com, November 10, 2016

Exhibition designer: Joel Sanders Architect
Exhibition graphic designer: Pure+Applied
Catalogue design: Pure+Applied
Photographer: John Halpern

Designing Home

Designing Home was the first exhibition to look at the contribution of Jewish designers, architects, patrons, and merchants in the creation of a distinctly modern American domestic landscape. In the aftermath of World War II, the hub of world Jewry shifted from Europe to America. The exhibition examined the cultural context in which many Jewish émigré architects and designers from Europe in the 1930–40s were welcomed and embraced into the creative communities that sprang up around the US—including Black Mountain College, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, and even in the Bay Area at Pond Farm in Guerneville. The story told in this exhibition gave remarkable insight into Jewish assimilation into American society. At the same time, Designing Home went beyond a simple exploration of physical Jewish contributions to the history of modern architecture and design—an impact that continues today—to examine broader cultural and social themes. Accompanied by a 184-page catalog.

Mr. Albrecht developed the idea of the show, selected all artifacts, wrote exhibition text, assembled the design team, and wrote the catalog’s primary essay.

>See exhibition catalog


Articles in the New York Times, Architectural Record,
Jewish Daily Forward, San Francisco Chronicle

“…already an instant classic.”
Pierluigi Serraino, Architect’s Newspaper, July 10, 2014

Associate curator: Lily Siegel
Exhibition designers: Pure+Applied