Saturday, 29 November 2008

More tales from the Road

Can you tell me some prices?

I do, and at each price he winces. Superstar.

Do you do any antique fairs in Italy?

The die was cast.

Why would I want to do that? I can stay right here and hear 'bellissima' all day long. And, in case you didn't know, 'bellissima' doesn't pay the rent.

Now playing: Nat King Cole - Arrivederci Roma
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 28 November 2008

On London and beyond

On the corner of Londres and Allende, in Mexico City's Coyoacan neighbourhood, one can find the Casa Azul. It was built in 1907 by Frida Kahlo's father, Guillermo Kahlo. This is where Frida Kahlo grew up, and where she returned to in her final years.

The house was not only home to the Kahlo family, it also served as a refuge for Leon Trotsky when he first arrived in Mexico in 1937.

Casa Azul was converted into a museum in 1958, four years after the death of Frida Kahlo. Decorated with mainly Mexican folk art, it contains the personal belongings from the time she and her husband, Diego Rivera, lived there.

Now playing: Chavela Vargas - Piensa en mi
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Retro chic

The Riverboat Song - Ocean Colour Scene


Wild Turkey, 1830 by John James Audubon

Con Mole Poblano

Now playing: Dire Straits - Going Home
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Preview of NW3

One year on, and everything is finally in place. Now, just need to get it photographed. Properly.

Now playing: Lizz Wright - A Taste of Honey
via FoxyTunes

More ways to waste time

Federico Fellini's 1983 film, And the Ship Sails On.

Simply put, a moving film, in part, about the loss of one's place in a changing world. Though the loss is mourned, it is accepted and adapted to without sentimentality.

Artist in residence

Los Angeles based artist Scott Waterman very kindly sent a link to his work, here and here. I was captivated by the spaces, both past and present, in which he creates his work.

Studio, Los Angeles

Studio, Oakland

At one time I covered the windows in my Oakland studio with large paper cutouts. Actually, the window shades are muslin and paper. As this was a ground floor storefront, in what was a rough neighborhood when we first moved there, it was necessary to obscure the view.

San Francisco


The very last issue of the San Francisco weekend magazine, Image, featured my place as the cover story. Inside included this photograph of my workroom. This was the second bedroom of our Sunset flat, which functioned as office and guestroom. This room was thoroughly rearranged and published in other shelter magazines including Casa Vogue and House & Garden.

Our bath with slightly better than average painting on the walls and a gunnera leaf from our cutting garden (a.k.a. Golden Gate Park).

Now playing: Soft Cell - Bedsitter [Extended Version]
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Sri Lanka's answer to Barragan

Geoffrey Bawa, FRIBA (1919–2003).

Highly personal in his approach, evoking the pleasures of the senses that go hand in hand with the climate, landscape, and culture of ancient Ceylon, Geoffrey Bawa brought together an appreciation of the Western humanist tradition in architecture with needs and lifestyles of his own country. Bawa has exerted a defining influence on the emerging architecture of independent Sri Lanka and on successive generations of younger architects. His ideas have spread across the island, providing a bridge between the past and the future, a mirror in which ordinary people can obtain a clearer image of their own evolving culture. In 2001, Geoffrey Bawa recieved the prestigious Chairmans Award from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for his lifetime achievement... - David Robson

Residence, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Jayakody House, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Exterior detail of inset carved wooden door frame.

The hall.

Interior view from back room to main living area.

View from courtyard through to living area.
Photographs by Christian Richters.

A.S.H. De Silva House, Galle, Sri Lanka.

Bawa's estate, Lunuganga.

Exterior view from garden, taken by Helene Binet.

One of the most exciting moments was the opening up of vistas..not based on prearranged formality..the garden planned itself... - Geoffrey Bawa

Geoffrey Bawa: The Complete Works by David Robson

Now playing: Ravi Shankar - Offering
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

The celebrated French designer and sculptor, Line Vautrin, that's who.

LOT 76

LOT 72

LOT 68

LOT 67

LOT 70

Sotheby's, Paris
Art Deco, Art Nouveau and 20th Century Design
Session 1: Wed, 26 Nov 08, 2:30 PM, Lots 1 - 83

Now playing: Simply Red - Your Mirror
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 23 November 2008

When artists meet craftsmen

Art and Print: The Curwen Story by Alan Powers charts the history of the Curwen Press and its impact on art and design in Britain.

A specimen book of pattern papers designed for and in use at the Curwen Press, 1928

Sunrise at 36,000 ft print by Michael Rothenstein, 1973

Arch print by Howard Hodgkin, 1970-71

Now playing: Johann Strauss II - Artist's Life, Op. 316
via FoxyTunes

Caught in time

New York based photographer Robert Polidori has spent the past twenty-five years chronicling the preservation of Versailles. Preservation against the onslaught of some 3 million yearly visitors.

Versailles, Appartement of Madame Adélaïde, Painting of Marie Clotilde Xavière de France, by François Hubert Drouais

Versailles, 1er Étage, Corps Central, Chambre à Coucher de la Reine, Wall Detail

Versailles, Dorures et Boiseries

Polidori’s pictures are as much an exercise in still life photography as a comment on the notion of restoration. Exquisite and opulent subject matter, photographed in painstaking detail, makes you wonder if restoration is anything more than maquillage of a contemporary culture, rather than the preservation of the past: ‘historical revisionism and present society’s superego’ as Polidori suggests. - Wallpaper*

Robert Polidori is represented by Flowers Gallery.

Now playing: Al Stewart - The Palace of Versailles
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 21 November 2008

67 days and counting

Grace Jones and the mother of all comebacks, from The Times.

Now playing: Grace Jones - Hurricane
via FoxyTunes

Heart of stone

Fossilised wood and scagliola table top.

Specimen mineral and scagliola table top.

Scagliola (from the Italian scaglia meaning chips) is the technique for giving architectural elements the finish of marble. Pigmented plaster, ground alabaster or gypsum, is modified with animal glue and applied to moulds or surfaces to mimic natural stone or marble.

As in the two examples above, it has been used to bind smaller natural inclusions into larger, uaseable, surfaces.

Now playing: Gregory Isaacs - Bits And Pieces
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Truth beyond the real

Self-Portrait, 1906
Coloured pencil and pencil on notebook paper

Girl with a Bow, 1920s
Watercolour on paper

Sisters, 1928
Gouache on paper

Portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel, 1923
Oil on canvas
Interestingly, Mlle Chanel declined this portrait as she felt it looked nothing like her.

Marie Laurencin (1883-1956) the French painter, stage designer and illustrator was a regular associate of the painters and poets of the Bateau-Lavoir. Influenced by the fauvist and cubist movements, Mlle Laurencin developed an elegant and highly personal style. Which, is characterised by an extreme simplification of form and a soft dream like palette.

Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew. - Guillaume Apollinaire

Now playing: Fleetwood Mac - Dreams
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The beautiful room is empty

Mrs. John C. Wilson (Princess Natalie Paley) wearing Mainbocher

The legendary beauty Natalia Pavlovna Paley (1905-1981) was the daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovitch of Russia and his morganatic wife Olga Valerianovna Karnovitch, who was created Countess von Hohenfelsen. She worked as a model in the 1920s and as an actress in the 30s. She became the second wife of the French couturier Lucien Lelong in 1927. And, for a brief time was Jean Cocteau's lover.

In 1935 Natalie Paley appeared in George Cukor's Sylvia Scarlett. In 1937 she divorced Lelong and moved to New York, where she started working for the couturier Mainbocher. That same year she met and married the theatre producer John Chapman Wilson.

When her husband died in 1961, Mrs. Wilson withdrew from the world. She refused to see even her sister and only spoke with her on the telephone. Several months after a fall in 1981 in which she broke her hip, she died at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. As she lay dying, she whispered, I want to die with dignity.

Now playing: Van Morrison - Too Long in Exile
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Last of the Stuarts

Anne, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland

A Queen Anne red lacquered Japanned looking glass, 18th Century, arched crest, molded scalloped frame, divided beveled mirror plate, the whole with later landscape and floral gilt and lacquer decoration.

From Neal Auction Company

A Queen Anne mahogany wing armchair, English 18th Century. Chairs such as these were often covered in crewelwork or needlepoint. A heavy velvet is an inapropriate fabric choice that does nothing for the lines of the chair.

A Queen Anne walnut bureau cabinet in three stages, the upper stage with moulded cornice and cushion- moulded frieze drawer above a pair of crossbanded panelled doors, enclosing shelves, pigeon-holes and small drawers, the lower stage with conforming fall-front enclosing a stepped arrangement of small drawers and pigeon- holes around an arched central cupboard and stationery well, raised on a stand with one short and two deep drawers raised above an arched apron on turned supports conjoined by a shaped flat stretcher, circa 1700-10.

A Queen Anne walnut tallboy, English early 18th Century.

A Queen Anne walnut lowboy, English, circa 1710.

Yew wood and walnut serpentine- fronted sideboard in the Queen Anne manner, 20th Century. Though usually well made, the fussier 20th Century interpretations of the style always manage to look cheap. Painted, it would undoubtedly look cheap and hideous.

Queen Anne (1665 -1714) was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. The style, 1702 - 1714, is a refinement of the previous style of William and Mary. Cabinetmakers replaced the straight, turned leg with the more graceful cabriole leg - which terminated in a simple pad foot, or occasionally the drake foot, which has three carved toes. Walnut became the preferred wood. As did the art of veneering using rare woods. Another Queen Anne innovation was individual pieces being designed for a specific purpose (such as gaming tables, tea tables and writing tables).

A good reference book, Queen Anne Furniture: History, Design and Construction

Now playing: Eurythmics - I Could Give You (a Mirror)
via FoxyTunes