Monday, 31 August 2009

Mise en scène

Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948)
Art Direction by Perry Ferguson
Set Decoration by Howard Bristol and Emile Kuri

The perfect setting for any of the little dramas that life may dictate. Despite some of the department store furnishings, the set decoration is seamless and subtle without any of the jarring pops of colour that have now become so unnecessarily commonplace.

Now playing: Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Murder on The Dancefloor
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 28 August 2009

Something for the weekend

Liquid Sky (1983)

In her book The Scandal of Pleasure: Art in an Age of Fundamentalism Wendy Steiner opines that Liquid Sky is a concise presentation of postmodern concerns. She writes: Here we have all the ingredients of the postmodern romance: parody; voyeurism; fetishism; a pastiche of modes, stylistic levels and esthetic allusions; simultaneous humor and insensitivity about serious issues like the Holocaust, rape, and feminism; the collapse of binary oppositions, as with identical male and female models; the equation of art with assault; the inclusion of the audience in the action and therefore in the ethical responsibility for what is represented; and the outrageous cost of ecstasy.

Now playing: S'Express - Theme From S-Express
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Bright young things

David Mlinaric (on the left) and Julian Ormsby-Gorge engaged in conversation while attending a party at Chrisopher Gibbs's place. Photographed by Terrence Spencer in May of 1966 for Life.

Now playing: Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun
via FoxyTunes

What to do, where to begin?

Take an ordinary London flat with good details and add:

A Billy Baldwin daybed done in antique Caucasian carpet fragments.

A very large convex mirror with a wide and deep gilded frame, 20th century.

A William IV rosewood folding card table, circa 1835.

A Regency rosewood and gilt metal mounted open bookcase, circa 1815.

A late Regency rosewood stool, early 19th Century.
Reworked into a rectangular form and recovered in antique needlepoint.

A George III mahogany armchair, late 18th Century.
The reeded oval back and open arms above a serpentine seat rail, the padded back, arms and seat with later upholstery, on flower-headed tapering reeded legs and turned feet recovered in Fortuny.

An early Victorian mahogany library bergere, circa 1850.
The scrolled, buttoned back and arms with reeded S-scroll frame, on turned tapering and faceted legs with brass caps and casters, recovered in hand-dyed lambskin.

Now playing: Nina Simone - The House of the Rising Sun
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Well-worn high-bohemian

Christopher Gibbs photographed by Victor Watts in his Albany set for Tattler. The day bed pictured belonged to Lord Tennyson.

The interior of Gibbs's now closed Pimlico shop.

Gibbs's Moroccan vision of 81 Powis Square, Notting Hill for the 1970s film Performance starring Mick Jagger.

I'm not interested in creating a dazzling impression of richness. We can make do with surprisingly little in life. It is best to have a few things which are really nice. I don't approve of the mean look, but I do approve of the spare look, where every little bit is telling. - Christopher Gibbs

At Home With: Christopher Gibbs; A Parting Embrace For a Lifetime's Quirks
By Christopher Mason for The New York Times
Thursday, September 21, 2000

Collecting: Lightly battered but in the best possible taste
By John Windsor for The Independent
Saturday, 3 October 1992

Now playing: Crosby, Stills & Nash - Marakesh Express
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Joyful modernist

Pierre Paulin (1927-2009) the imaginative French designer responsible for the creation of the Oyster, Mushroom, Tongue and Ribbon chairs.

Original examples can still be found, though the upholstery will undoubtedly need doing.

Now playing: Brian Eno - 2/1
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 24 August 2009


Carmen & Geoffrey (2005), by filmmakers Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob, chronicles the work of Geoffrey Holder and his wife and partner Carmen de Lavallade.

The film was shot in New York, Texas, Trinidad and Paris and contains rare dance footage featuring them from the 50’s and 60’s, both solo and together. It also includes their work with Ailey, Ross, Horton, Joe Layton, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker in Paris. There are scenes of their contemporary work, including Carmen’s on-going partnership with Gus Solomons jr and Dudley Williams and both Carmen’s and Geoffrey’s current choreography. - First Run Features

Now playing: The Andrews Sisters - Rum and Coca-Cola
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 22 August 2009


wishing to appear mawkish, thank you.

Now playing on iTunes: Foy Vance - Indiscriminate Act of Kindness
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 21 August 2009

Eye for the rich and the splendid

The Christie's catalogue for the Geoffrey Bennison sale.

Bennison's Malabar, and its companion Malabar Stripe, used fearlessly and lavishly just as Geoffrey Bennison had intended.

There, under low ceilings, he created rooms that felt more like an Irish-Georgian country house than Mayfair. Pictures were massed between groaning, untidy bookshelves. His own deliciously faded-looking fabrics and old crewelwork draperies were mixed with Moroccan textiles, and all these elements were held together by his favorite Red Riding Hood red, a beautifully subtle scarlet described by Bennison’s friend and fellow antiquarian Christopher Gibbs as the color that lines the insides of old Moroccan chests.

This interior, with its Caravaggesque light, its perfectly judged drama and easy comfort, was in many ways the culmination of the designer’s ideas concerning decoration. His sense of color was unfailingly sure: He would sit for hours in a room just watching the play of light, and he mixed his paints himself. “Never,” he said, “trust a painter or a color chart.” When it came to objects, his philosophy could be summed up in another of his memorable phrases: Always put “something mad on top of something very good, or something very good on top of something mad.” On Geoffrey Bennison’s death, as all dealers perhaps ultimately wish, his things—the very good and the very mad—were dispersed in a great sale

Stephen Calloway
Geoffrey Bennison: Extravagant Patterns and Remarkable Objects Define Exotic English Rooms
Architectural Digest, January 2000

Now playing: Paolo Nutini - New Shoes
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Speaking of Richardson

Richardson's library.

John Richardson interviewed in his New York loft by Charlie Rose.

Now playing: The Kinks - Art Lover (remix)
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The happy few

The late Bill Blass's New York dining room.

The late great Geoffrey Bennison once remarked to the art historian John Richardson regarding Bill Blass, Bill’s one of my favourite cobwebs on his cheque book.

Now playing: Carly Simon - Legend in Your Own Time
via FoxyTunes


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Iris doesn't live here anymore

The main gate of La Foce.

The gardens were done by Cecil Pinsent (1884 - 1963), the Edwardian garden designer who also created the gardens at Bernard Berenson's villa I Tatti.

La Foce: A Garden and Landscape in Tuscany by Benedetta Origo

La Foce, once the Tuscan estate of the elegant and intelligent Anglo-American writer Iris Origo (1902 - 1988) , Marchesa of Val d'Orcia.

Now playing: Antony and the Johnsons - Knockin' On Heaven's Door
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 17 August 2009

Summer addition

Aquilegia vulgaris - Black Barlow

Geraniun phaeum - Mourning Widow

Alcea rosea nigra - Black Hollyhock

Acanthus mollis - Bear's Breeches

Now playing: Bronski Beat - Heatwave
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 16 August 2009

King's colour

Orpiment crystals, the toxic mineral once used to produce Chinese Yellow.

The tiled roofs of the Forbidden City.

A large Chinese Imperial Yellow brushpot, c. 1900.

Homage to the Square: Departing in Yellow
Josef Albers, 1964

Now playing: David Byrne - The Last Emperor
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 11 August 2009



Youkali: Tango Habanera was composed in 1934 by Kurt Weill as incidental music for the play Marie Galante. In 1946, lyrics were added by Roger Fernay.

Youkali exists as a dreamscape, a wistful hope of happiness that can never be realised.

Now playing: Lucrecia - Youkali
via FoxyTunes