Sunday, 17 October 2010

A Man with a Blue Scarf…and an Enthralling Book

I’ve just finished reading Martin Gayford’s Man with a Blue Scarf. On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud. A book which is part memoir, part biography and part art history. Gayford, an established art critic, has known Freud for several years and was surprised, but also thrilled, when the artist agreed to paint a portrait of him. Over the eight months of endless sittings Gayford studied and conversed with Freud, discovering from a unique perspective the working methods and artistic beliefs of unarguably one of our greatest living painters.

Freud is notorious for taking months, sometimes years, to complete a picture. A constant niggle in Gayford’s mind is that he might suddenly abandon the portrait, an occurrence which is not unknown with Freud. The gradual development of the picture, from a simple charcoal outline to the layered and complex oil of the finished work, is a fascinating process and highlights the artist’s working practices. The exact shade of the blue scarf is agonised over; blue is a strong colour for Freud and mustn’t upset the balance of the picture. The pink shirt is repeatedly repainted. The face is reshaped and slimmed down so it resonates perfectly with the ground. Freud’s absorbing attention to his sitter, both physically and mentally, is a timely lesson to us all of the value of close study and understanding of the people and objects which surround us.

Skewbald Mare, by Lucian Freud, 2004 (Chatsworth House Trust, LFA/John Riddy)

Slowly the painting is completed. All the while, through Freud and Gayford’s lively conversations and the writer’s reflections, we learn about Freud (he doesn’t like Leonardo and Vermeer, but he greatly admires Titian and Chardin), about his work (Freud allows very little distinction between the portrait of Gayford and an oil of a Skewbald Mare done at the same time – both are portraits in the true sense of the word), about portraiture (‘What, then, is a portrait painter painting? An individual who persists through time, or merely the way a ceaselessly mutating human organism appears in a particular time and place?’) and about the artist’s place in the historical canon (Gayford places Freud firmly, alongside Francis Bacon, in the Western tradition of art, inheritor of Van Gogh and Gaugin, Picasso and Matisse, and before that El Greco and Rembrandt).

 Lucian Freud, Man with a Blue Scarf and Martin Gayford, 14 June 2004 (Photo: David Dawson)

 The reader is carried through the portrait process towards the enthralling denouement when the picture is finished and the work passes from the private studio space into the public realm. And whilst Freud has created his oil painting, Gayford has created something just as valuable – a portrait in words of a great artist.

(Man with a Blue Scarf. On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud, by Martin Gayford, Thames & Hudson, London, 2010)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Pucci Post

Just published is Taschen's new book Emilio Pucci. There's been nothing significant in print on Pucci for some time so this new luxury tome measuring 36 x 36 cm, with 416 pages and bearing the hefty price tag of £135 is sure to be greeted with joy by Italian style aficionados. The illustrations (including photos, drawings and snapshots) are sumptuous and generous, spanning the breath of the brand's sixty year history.

The cover or, more accurately, covers are cloth-bound with a selection of recent Pucci fabrics. A devise borrowed from Pucci. A Renaissance in Fashion (Shirley Kennedy & Emilio Pucci, Abbeville Press, New York, 1991) - a wonderfully rich and insightful survey co-written by Emilio Pucci himself, just before his death.

This book is certainly one for the coffee table but with Taschen's statement that it is a 'Limited edition of 10,000 copies; each unique copy is bound with one of a selection of recent print fabrics from the Pucci collection.' you have to wonder how 'unique' it is.

(Emilio Pucci, by Vanessa Friedman, Taschen, 2010)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Darling Grace

Grace and glamour come to the Victoria and Albert Museum this weekend with the opening of their latest fashion exhibiton ‘Grace Kelly. Style Icon’.

From the V&A’s website – ‘This exhibition explores, through her surviving clothes, the story of her transformation from Hollywood actress to a princess of one of Europe's oldest royal families. Examining her enduring appeal as a style icon, it features her film costumes, the much-publicised dresses made for her trousseau and wedding, and the French haute couture - a different kind of costume - that she required for her subsequent role as Princess of Monaco.’

An accompanying book has been published entitled Grace Kelly Style. Fashion for Hollywood’s Princess. “Style”, “Fashion”, “Hollywood”, “Princess” – all words that sum up this twentieth century icon. It is not strictly a catalogue of the exhibition and does not contain a listing of the exhibits. A foreword by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, is followed by three chapters on ‘The Actress’, ‘The Bride’ and ‘The Princess’, with mini biographies of the key couture designers interspersed. The text is accompanied by archive photographs and modern shots of the dresses and their details (although there don’t seem enough of these). A great structure and typically informative but with only 112 pages this book feels slightly meagre and the closeness and busyness of images and text fails to deliver the feeling of rich glamour that a book on Princess Grace deserves.

(Grace Kelly Style. Fashion for Hollywood’s Princess, by Kristina Haugland with Jenny Lister and Samantha Erin Safer, V&A Publications, London, 2010)

Another book on the Princess that has been sitting on my shelves for a couple of years is Grace. Princess of Monaco. A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Grace Kelly. Published by the Consulate General of Monaco in New York in conjunction with Sotheby’s it is also linked to an exhibition. Compared with the V&A book there are a lot more photos, a lot more jewellery and the layout is clean and stylish. The beauty of the illustrations speak for themselves. The text is mainly confined to captions but once again there is a foreword by Prince Albert. However this isn’t the only familiar aspect. The dresses exhibited are uncunningly similar to those examples featured in ‘Grace Kelly Style’. I’m not aware of the history of the V&A exhibition and where the collection comes from but it appears that New York’s exhibition has come across the pond in a familiar guise.

(Grace. Princess of Monaco. A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Grace Kelly, Consulate General of Monaco, New York, 2007)

For a truly indulgent Grace fix I would turn to The Grace Kelly Years. Princess of Monaco. This is yet another exhibition book but is almost double in size compared to the first two titles. The exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco in 2007 was not confined to Grace’s wardrobe, although it did feature heavily – of course! Childhood, family and personal snapshots, official photographs, clothes, jewellery, letters and archival media were all on display. This is reflected in the content of the book which is essentially a rich visual scrapbook of Grace’s life and style. We see the dress, then we see Grace wearing the dress, then we see the magazine showing the picture of Grace wearing the dress.

(The Grace Kelly Years. Princess of Monaco, by Frédéric Mitterrand and Bertrand Meyer-Stabley, Skira Editore, 2007)

But certainly the prize for the best cover does go to the V&A. Erwin Blumenfeld’s portrait of 1955 is exquisite.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A Maastricht Wish List

I’m just back from a few fun Flemish days in Maastricht, visiting The European Fine Art Fair or TEFAF 2010.

Gilt and Gold and Jewels and Rarities and Masterpieces. The treasures combine into a wondrous pop-up museum, the best part being that all these wonders are for sale.

Every year I put together my wish list and every year the sums just don’t add up. So if I can’t afford the real thing I’ll have to make do with the book.

Coupelle a l’Oiseau by Diego Giacometti - On the stand of L’Arc en Seine, a gallery in New York and Paris specialising in decorative arts of the 20th century, there was a charming bronze by Diego Giacometti. A delightful bird perches on a simple tea-bowl shaped vessel. Is it about to take flight? Is it searching for water? At just a few inches high it is an object of exquisite beauty and desirability; a miniature masterpiece of ironwork.

The bird graces the cover of one of the definitive monographs on the artist, Diego Giacometti by Christian Boutonnet and Rafael Ortiz (Editions de l’Amateur, Paris, 2003). This book was actually co-published with L’Arc en Seine, clearly your first port of call for a Giacometti sculpture.

You can take a virtual tour of the gallery’s stand on the Maastricht website. Scroll to the right and the little bird sits patiently in the second niche from the bottom.

Photo - Pelham Galleries

La Visite de Louis XIV au Château de Juvisy by Pierre-Denis Martin – One of the most exciting exhibits on display graced the walls of antique-dealer Pelham Galleries. Thought lost and not exhibited for over 60 years this remarkable topographical landscape measuring 165 x 265cm was painted by Pierre-Dennis Martin in circa 1700. Martin was a peintre du roi and painted many of the great palaces of France during his life-time, including Trianon and Fontainebleau. The painting shows the visit of Louis XIV to the Château du Juvisy, a vast house and garden a short distance from Paris (the capital is just visible in the far distance).

Pelhams have produced a fascinating and well-researched pamphlet to document the history of the painting and the subject it depicts. Sadly the chateau was destroyed by bombs in the Second World War and the gardens have been subsumed by the Parisian suburbs. Only the curving sweep of the once magnificent fountain remains. There is no firm evidence as to whom the architects of the palace and grounds were, but the painting does offer some clues to back-up established theories. Jean Thiriot built the chateau, André Le Nôtre planned the formal gardens and Nicolas-François Blondel designed the Fer à Cheval fountain and exquisite Pavilion.

(A la Recherche d’un Paysage Perdu. La Visite de Louis XIV au Château de Juvisy. A painting by Pierre-Denis Martin, by Alan Rubin & Dennis Harrington, Pelham, London, 2010)

Photo - Leslie Smith Gallery

Roses in a Glass by Henri Fantin-Latour (1872) – This is a painting I would never tire of. It’s not bold, it doesn’t challenge but it does have a serenity that reaches into you and calms the soul. Its simplicity of colour and subject belies a complexity of texture, composition and tonal resonance.

Fantin-Latour’s floral still-lifes, in the realist tradition of the Old Masters, were hugely admired by the artistic circles of the 19th century. This led me to search inside Paintings of Proust by Eric Karpeles (Thames & Hudson, London, 2008). Subtitled A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time this delightful book illustrates and references every work of art alluded to by the author. Proust was a fan of Fantin-Latour and in the Guermantes Way he ridicules the upper-class socialites for their ‘negation of true taste’ – ‘And he asked her whether she had seen the flower paintings by Fantin-Latour which had recently been exhibited.
“They are first class, the work, as they say nowadays, of a fine painter, one of the masters of the palette,” declared M. de Norpois. “Nevertheless, in my opinion, they cannot stand comparison with those of Mme de Villeparisis, which give a better idea of the colour of the flower.”’ (pages 158-9).

Now I suspect that Mme de Villeparisis flower studies weren’t a patch on Roses in a Glass!

The painting can be seen at the Leslie Smith Gallery in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sneaky Peak: John Stefanidis. An Island Sanctuary

In John Stefanidis’ fourth book we finally get that personal tour around his Greek retreat which we’ve all been waiting for. This book does for his Patmos house what Living by Design (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1997) did for his Dorset home, Cock Crow.

Fabulous photographs explore each room and then lead the reader out onto the terrace, through the olive groves and into the deep blue Aegean Sea. Stefanidis’ decorative hand is evident on every surface and multi-cultural objects from across the globe have been lovingly assembled to create the most wonderful interiors.

At the heart of the design is a deep-set love of the island. It is a space that has been moulded over time by its milieu, with the gentle genius touch of John Stefanidis.

The book is due out next month

(An Island Sanctuary. A House in Greece, by John Stefanidis, text by Susanna Moore, photographs by Fritz von der Schulenberg, Rizzoli, New York, 2010)

Friday, 12 February 2010

Lobster Sallad & Champagne

 Portrait of Lord Byron in the dress of an Albanian, 1814, Thomas Phillips.

‘a woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster sallad & Champagne, the only truly feminine & becoming viands.’

So said Lord Byron in a letter addressed to Lady Melbourne in reference to his fastidious dislike of seeing the fairer sex eating. One of the marvellous snippets of Byron’s psychology examined in Fiona MacCarthy’s definitive biography Byron. Life and Legend.
(Fiona MacCarthy, John Murray, London, 2002)

He wasn’t alone. Madame de Pompadour is reported to have exclaimed ‘The wine of Champagne is the only one that makes women beautiful after drinking.’. This quote is one of many touched upon in Steidl’s sparkling tome I am Drinking Stars! A History of a Champagne, an artistic, social and literary history of over 400 years of Dom Pérignon. As well as providing a history of the revered fizz, the book references personalities, artists and writers affected by its charms – Louis XV, Boucher, Swift, Marilyn Monroe, Karl Lagerfeld and many more.
(edited by Gerhard Steidl, Steidl, Göttingen, 2009)

Portrait of Samuel Johnson, 1873, Johnson, Wilson & Company, New York

But my favourite champagne quote comes from the prolific man-of-letters Samuel Johnson - ‘The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne.’

No more persuasion is needed. This weekend I will be consuming Champagne for breakfast, lunch and tea.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

L'Homme qui marche

L'Homme qui marche I - photo Sothebys

The record-breaking sale of Alberto Giacometti’s L’Homme qui marche I (1961) for £65,001,250 at Sotheby’s has put the spring back into the step of those auctioneers on Bond Street. It is the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. In the immediate aftermath of the sale there has been the inevitable slew of column-inches devoted to the question of “is it worth it?”. The rarity of a large, life-time cast, Giacometti sculpture on the market does push the price up, but the artistic value and importance of this work in the history of twentieth-century art is undeniable.

Made at the peak of Giacometti’s career the life-size figure is a perfect example of the artist’s existential interest in the human form captured in motion - a being frozen in time – humanity pared down to its essentials. It poses questions that are perpetually relevant.

I had my Giacometti moment last Summer in Venice at the richly curated exhibition In-finitum. Held in the Palazzo Fortuny (home and studio, and now museum of Mariano Fortuny) In-Finitum was the last in a trilogy of exhibitions put together by the Vervoordt Foundation, an art foundation formed by the great Belgian decorator Axel Vervoordt. The show had as its theme the question of the infinite and hosted 300 objects including incomplete antiquities, unfinished old masters and contemporary works that capture infinity. The Palazzo, with its faded grandeur and echoes of the textile machines, was the perfect location for the show, housing its own ghosts and hints of past, unknown lives. Vervoordt lent his interior design expertise to the show, playing with the exposed surfaces of the decaying building and the complicated mixture of light and shadow within the space. An intelligent reply to the white cube of contemporary galleries.

After the first floor display of contemporary exhibits that confounded and surprised I climbed the wooden staircase to the second floor and emerged into a small room. The room had bare brick walls, exposed floor boards and a heavily leaded window. Through the window streamed a watery Venetian sun. It lit, in silhouette, a Giacometti standing figure. Thrown back against the wall was the shadow of the statue, creating a double image of a man. It was haunting and beautiful and has stayed with me ever since.

The catalogue In-Finitum (Axel Vervoordt, MER Paper Kunsthalle, Ghent, 2009) has been put together with the same attention to detail as the show. Printed on soft matt paper with exquisite shots of exhibits it is a cut above the average exhibition catalogue. It features essays by Giandomenico Romanelli, artistic director of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia; Francesco Poli, professor at the University of Turin and Milan, art critic and specialist of Arte Povera; Eddi De Wolf, physicist, researcher at the CERN in Geneva and professor at the University of Antwerp; Nico Van Hout, Doctor in art history who did research on the non-finito in art; Norbert Jocks, art critic and writer for Kunstforum and a conversation between Axel Vervoordt, president of the Vervoordt Foundation and the Japanese architect Tatsuro Miki. A weighty selection of writings that attempt to get to grips with the meaty question of infinity.

The benefit of having such a universal topic means that the breadth of works included and illustrated is unlimited. So there is art from Bonnard, Canova, Cezanne, de Chirico, Delacroix, Fontana, Fortuny, Judd, Kapoor, Miro, Picasso, Piranesi, Romney, Rothko, Sugimoto, Twombly and many more artists from antiquity to the present day.

And because the exhibition is one of a trilogy there are two previous catalogues that complete the set.

Artempo. Where Time becomes Art – an exhibition also held at the Palazzo Fortuny in 2007, which looked at the relationship between art and time.
(Axel Vervoordt, MER Paper Kunsthalle, Ghent, 2007)

Academia. Qui es-tu? – the middle show was held at the La Chapelle de l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris the following year and posed the question “who are you?”
(Axel Vervoordt, MER Paper Kunsthalle, Ghent, 2008)

The three books together offer a unique perspective on the world’s art. And with their tri-colour cloth spines they make a dashing addition to the discerning art library.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


‘There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend… One day the black will swallow the red.’
 So says Mark Rothko in John Logan’s absorbing new play Red at the Donmar Warehouse, London. After seeing the play last night my head has been filled today with thoughts on the power and significance of red. It is a colour that holds different connotations for each of us. For me, it is strength, decisiveness and confidence.
 Inspired by the power of red I give you some red reading:

Diana Vreeland, Living Room - Jeremiah Goodman

Jeremiah. A Romantic Vision begins and ends with a riot of red in the guise of endpapers featuring Jeremiah’s painting of Diana Vreeland’s Living Room (or 'Garden in Hell'). The room in Vreeland’s Park Avenue apartment was designed by Billy Baldwin and is red, red and red. A furnace of power, style and passion.
(Jeremiah Goodman, Powerhouse, New York, 2007)

Of course, the kings of red interiors were the Pompeians. Pompeii and the Roman Villa is a comprehensive account of the art and culture of the buried city, and includes many illustrations of the vermilion and ochre saturated frescoes which signified the power and importance of their owners.
(Carol C. Mattusch, Thames & Hudson, London, 2008)

Red was the political colour of Russia in the 20th century, but a more benign use of the colour was in many of the textiles manufactured in Russia and exported to Central Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Russian Textiles. Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia reproduces many of these rich textiles, used for clothing and homeware. Anyone draped in these boldly patterned, frequently red textiles would have surely stood out in the crowd.
(Susan Meller, Abrams, New York, 2007)

For a historical and topographical overview of red and rest of the palette Colour. Travels through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 2002) is highly recommended.
 Now I think it’s time for that Bloody Mary, with lashings of bright red tomato juice!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Always Judge a Book by its Cover: I Love Pictures! Tim Walker

We’re deep into the recesses of a bleak and very cold January but luckily the cover for Hatje Cantz’s book I Love Pictures! Tim Walker is the perfect antidote for the all-pervasive grey of the sky.

Published in 2007 to accompany an exhibition in Hanover, Germany at the kestnergesellschaft this is a monograph on the fashion photographer’s work, created a year before teNeue's larger and more commercial book (with not such a fun cover!).

The cover image is half of Beds on Cars (Northumberland, England, 2004) shot by Walker for Italian Vogue. The other half of the image appears on the back cover. One can guess that the shoot was to advertise fabrics but, as with so many of Walker’s magazine photographs, the product is secondary to his own fantastical world. English eccentricity, faded grandeur and surreal composition combine to make this delightful and witty image. It’s typical of the rest of the images that make up this smile-inducing book.

Beds on Cars, Northumberland, England, Italian Vogue - Photo © Tim Walker, 2004

I dream of living in a wooded glade, camping out under the stars à la Famous Five, the Princess and the Pea on her quilted bed.

“I Love Pictures!”, especially if they’re by Tim Walker.

(I Love Pictures! Tim Walker, edited by Veit Görner & Caroline Käding, Hatje Cantz & kestnergesellschaft, 2007)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Mrs. xxx

I stumbled across this wonderful auction catalogue the other day. Une Américaine à Paris. Un Pied-à-Terre par François Catroux was a sale held by Christie’s in Paris on 11th October 2006. Catroux is a leading French decorator and he has created interiors for the former Shah of Iran, King Hussein of Jordan and various Rothschilds. He also created the wonderful Parisian apartment for the mysterious Mrs. xxx, the contents of which form this sale. Does anyone know who Mrs. xxx is? I do have one clue to set me on the trial – she has exquisite taste and bags of style!

‘From the five houses I helped Mrs. xxx to decorate, it is her Paris apartment which appears to me to best reflect her eclectic taste.
In this apartment, 18th century French and 19th century Russian furniture work in harmony with furniture by Jean-Michel Frank, Giacometti, Arbus and great contemporary art.’ (François Catroux, from the Introduction, September 2006).

The catalogue is a wonderful blend of the individual lots and photographs of the pieces in-situ in Catroux’s elegant interiors.

If I could go back in time, these are the lots I would have raised my paddle for:

© David Douglas Duncan, Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas, Austin

Picasso in Underwear, inscribed, black and white photograph by David Douglas Duncan, 1957, made €6,000.

The drawing room by Catroux in which it hung.

A rock crystal celestial globe, made in Milan or Prague, diameter 6cm, circa 1600, made €120,000.

Starlet, a gilt patinated tubular metal bed by Jean Royere, circa 1956, made €42,000.

(Une Américaine à Paris. Un Pied-à-Terre par François Catroux, Christie’s, Paris, 2006; photos – Christie’s France SNC)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

NEW! Getting the Point of Ponti.

Rizzoli have just published Gio Ponti, edited by Ugo La Pietra. I say just published but this is actually a ‘revised edition’ of a book first published in 1988 and then again in 1995. Now, I haven’t actually read either of the early editions, but from reading this latest one I get the impression that the any revision has been minimal. Spelling mistakes are still there, the layout of the images and their captions is very clunky and there is nothing in the text that brings Ponti’s work and influence into the 21st century. However the previous editions of the book are increasingly scarce so “thank you” Rizzoli for bringing it back on the market and allowing me to read it for the first time…

Gio Ponti, Caracas, 1954 – photo G. Ponti Archives / S Licitra

Gio Ponti (1891-1979) was one of Italy’s most prolific designers of the 20th century. He designed buildings, interiors, furniture, lights, ceramics, textiles, cars, costumes and much more. The book is split into decades, and although his hey-day was in the 1950s and 1960s, it is fascinating to see that he started out in the full glare of the Art Deco movement (he was awarded a Grand Prix at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris.). Because of the sheer breadth and length of his output it is difficult to read a definitive style or movement in his work. This ambiguity is one of the book’s key threads – Neo-Classicism versus Rationalism; Decoration versus True Form; Artisan versus Industrial.

The outcome is that is impossible to label Ponti with words or images. The only way to do justice to his prolific creativity is to illustrate a vast quantity of his oeuvre and let the reader decide for themselves. And this is what this book does so well. There are over 800 photographs and drawings reproduced (largely thanks to Ponti’s own magazine Domus, which acted as a mouth-piece for his ideas and work throughout his career). Immerse yourself in them and you’ll understand Ponti so much better.

Below are my favourite things about Ponti:

Decorated Window – photo Archivio Fotografico Casali

The Furnished Window – in Ponti’s interiors a large window would become a fourth wall. Furnishings, such as a desk, a bookcase, a picture and a lamp, are placed against it creating a play of shadows when lit from both inside and out. The idea was apparently inspired by a visit to Philip Johnson’s Glass House.

Swimming Pool, Parco dei Principi, Sorrento, 1960 – photo Eugenio Bersani

Ceramics – Ponti loved to put ceramic tiles everywhere – whole floors and walls (external and internal) were covered with them. He loved the way the light bounced off the surfaces. Nowhere is this more evident than in the blue-and-white heaven which is the Parco dei Principi Hotel, Sorrento, 1960.

Desk, Casa Ceccato, Milan, 1950 – photo Domus

Decoration – During the 50s Ponti produced furniture that was lighter, more linear and simpler in form; what he called ‘true form’. The Superleggera chair epitomises this ethos. But ‘true form’ did not eliminate the extensive use of surface decoration and material finishes. I adore this desk, papered with a floral print and with the chic finish of the brass ferrules.

Open-Plan – Even in his own house, Ponti was an early exponent for open-plan living. Folding and multi-purpose walls made it possible for the inhabitants to dictate how they wished to interact with each other and the house. Sight-lines were opened up and free circulation made for a relaxed mode of living.

This book does have it drawbacks. Although it is invaluable with its extensive library of images of Ponti’s work it fails to contextualise the designer and his output. A biography of his life (as well as his work) and a new essay on where his work figures in the 21st century would have been a wonderful addition to this new edition. La Pietra’s introductory essay is a tough opener; the writer’s architectural leanings are very evident. What saves the day are the words of the designer himself. The sheer passion, humour and belief in Ponti’s own writing bring the reader close to what drove this man to produce and achieve so much.

And so I leave you with words from the man himself:

‘Love architecture for the joys and sorrow to which its walls, sacred to love and grief, have given protection; for all that they have heard (if the walls could speak!) and kept secret. Love it for the life that is lived in it, for the joys, the dramas, the tragedies, the follies, the hopes (one kind of folly), the prayers, the moments of desperation (one kind of lucidity), even the crimes that make all walls sacred…’ (Gio Ponti, Love Architecture, extract published in Domus 330, 1957).

(Gio Ponti, edited by Ugo La Pietra, Rizzoli, New York, 2009)

Bookshelf Neighbours:

Gio Ponti. Le navi. Il progetto degli interni navali. 1948-1953.
By Paolo Piccione, Idea Books, Milan, 2007

Domus 1928-1999: The Very Best from the Seminal Architecture and Design Journal.
Edited by Charlotte & Peter Fiell, Taschen, Germany, 2007

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Wrap Up In Style!

Baby, it’s cold outside…and I don’t advise stepping outside without your hat, scarf and gloves. To make sure you look good on those mean streets get some inspiration for your essential accessories:

Hats. Status, Style and Glamour. A bishop’s mitre? Fred Astaire’s top hat? A Givenchy boater? A Lilly Daché creation? This comprehensive history of hats and their social meaning is one of the best books available on the subject. There is a wealth of images and chapters such as “Etiquette and Status” and “The Heyday of the Hat” make this an entertaining read.
(Thames & Hudson, London, 1992, by Colin McDowell)

The Hermès Scarf. History & Mystique. Oh, those beautiful squares of shimmering silk. They might not keep you warm, but you will look stylish! Over 2,500 designs have been produced by Hermès since 1937 and this book reproduces over 250 of them. The weighty square format of the book illustrates perfectly its four-sided subject-matter.
(Thames & Hudson, London, 2009, by Nadine Coleno)

Gants. A pictorial album of gloves, this book is a visual scrapbook of hand-coverings. It is predominantly composed of full-page photos of each item; there isn’t much text, although Christian Lacroix has written the preface;  Gloves throughout the centuries are featured from medieval to Dior. What amazes me is the use of different materials – leather, lace, chain mail, fur, feathers, sequins, rubber and metal.
(Ramsay, Paris, 2007, by Nicolas Descottes, preface by Christian Lacroix)