Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Lick it and see

Whilst one is happy enough to give a definition of an abstract concept such as elegance, it becomes trickier with something so personal as taste. Especially without sounding cunty. Everyone, rightly or wrongly, likes to believe that they have good taste and are tasteful. In fact, most people are. They are too afraid not to be. Afraid of what or whom I am not entirely sure.

Good taste is nothing more than an accepted paradigm. No one is born with it; it is something that is learnt.

In spite of all that I know, I neither have good taste nor am I elegant. It simply is not in my nature. For me, either something is fabulous or it is not. There is no in between. As Nietzsche said, The grand style follows suit with all great passion. It disdains to please, it forgets to persuade. It commands. It wills.

Here is an overview of what could be described as my paradigm as prescribed by the previous generations.

First there was the thesis: Classic French furniture and decoration.

Elsie de Wolf's Villa Trianon

Then there was the antithesis: Sparse modernity.

Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion

And Finally the synthesis: An informed eclecticism.

The living room of Henri Samuel

Donna Marella Agnelli, nee Caracciolo di Castegneto, the epitome of patrician beauty.
Of her endeavors, Agnelli was to say in an interview with Joan Juliet Buck for Vogue in 1971: One applies a certain technical know-how, some culture, and a certain amount of taste—which I hope I have. It is my little soufflé.

Marella Agnelli by Avedon

Expressionist painting by the likes of Emil Nolde,

I had an infinite number of visions at this time, for wherever I turned my eyes nature, the sky, the clouds were alive, in each stone and in the branches of each tree, everywhere, my figures stirred and lived their still or wildly animated life, and they aroused my enthusiasm as well as tormented me with demands that I paint them.

Autumn Sea VII by Emil Nolde

Sculpture for some unknown reason was deemed important. Perhaps it harks back to some reminiscence of, or desire to recreate, the Grand Tour. To this day I have an affinity to the work of Aristide Maillol.

The Mediterranean by Aristide Maillol

Music consisted of singers such as The Divine One, classical, or opera.

Sarah Vaughan in Berlin 1969

This film, Diva, changed everything. It opened my mind to the possibilities of a world outside of what were very clearly defined boundaries. It is still one of my favourites.

Now playing: A Taste of Honey - Boogie Oogie Oogie
via FoxyTunes


Pigtown-Design said...

Marella Agnelli looks incredible.

Seraph + Splendor said...

In our humble opinion, great art and design provokes a visceral and organic reaction. It is above simple taste or elegance (notions that often can change from day to day or person to person). We could not agree more with your statement “for me, either something is fabulous or it is not”. Thank you for eloquent and refreshing thoughts.

Mrs. Blandings said...

I have been thinking about this since yesterday and must disagree. You do have wonderful taste. It may be unconventional, but still fabulous. And while I wish nearly everyone had good taste because they were trend lemmings, frankly, they are not. I can tell you so for a fact because I have seen it up close. For some folks Pottery Barn would be miraculous make-over. So, don't try an slip that nonsense by us again. Are you checking to see if we are reading? Paying attention? We are, darling HOBAC, and we applaud you.

katiedid said...

I am sorry...I just cannot imagine that you have neither taste nor elegance. I just can't. But I will concede that perhaps you are a tastemaker....ahead/in front of what becomes that accepted paradigm.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

HOBAC, leave it to you to ask the big questions... my tastes are my own.... And one of my pleasures is reading your musings as often as possible.

Of course you have taste and elegance... especially evident in your thoughts and your essays.

Cote de Texas said...

I love these pictures you've chosen, especially the you tube- I learned something from it tonight. I never knew the B.P. had walls made out of stone or marble, not sure which stone, but now I know where Kelly Wearstler stole that idea for her house from. Thanks for the history less, Mr. no taste W.