Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to give permission for anything I own to be photographed, written about, examined or even copied by enthusiasts. (In fact I hope to leave all the better pieces to organizations that will make them available to be seen by the public). The thing is taking an image works best if the owner knows about it. We can usually add important information.
I was mildly annoyed yesterday when someone pointed out that a company in China that sells ‘high quality reproductions’ is offering copies of my Zmurko. They’ve used a cropped version they got somewhere that completely changes the artist’s composition and vision.
They’re presenting it like this:
The exposed shoulder, the flowing fabric, the hint of breast- those are all part of what the artist wanted to express. It’s his point of view. A Berliner showgirl with an attitude. You can’t just cut it down like that.
“This is an exhibition about an exhibition: the famously – and conspicuously – ‘badly curated’ exhibition of Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst), opened in Munich, in 1937, by Adolf Ziegler, the National Socialist president of the Reich Chamber for the Visual Arts.
It was organised in parallel with the ‘Great German Art Exhibition’, also in Munich, where the art on show – sanctioned and selected by the National Socialists – was displayed coherently on otherwise clean walls. The so-called degenerates were, by contrast, hung crassly, jostling wonkily for space on crowded walls, misattributed and incorrectly labeled.”
Full text here
Yes. The two ‘historians’ in question are trying to sell a book they co-wrote. Even they admit that there’s no evidence of the existence of this particular item during the first 400 years of its alleged existence. What they also don’t address is that commerce in fake relics was a booming industry throughout most of Christianity’s history- particularly between 500 and 1500.
I find this sort of thing terribly annoying and borderline depressing. Maybe I should come up with some sort of ridiculous and badly researched, Dan Brown style, conspiracy theory- and write a book about it.
I imagine they’re educated enough to know this sort of speculation is entirely un-serious.
If you’re interested in art, antiques and the history surrounding them, I’ve decided to create a little corner where I’ll be writing about them regularly. I know most people who follow me here are more interested in politics/activism/current events. There I’ll be writing about my ‘real work‘. This will include pictures, things I find, see, buy and sell. A whole range of beautiful things for the home. I’ve just finished my first post on a Louis XVth commode that’s returning to France after having disappeared in the revolutionary sales. The link is below in case anyone is interested :)
I just LOVE these stories! This is what I do, or try to do, anyway. Ian Coulson, a restorer, bought the bed at auction for 2,200 GBP in Chester. It had been rescued from a car park. Builders had dismantled it and dumped it outside.
The auction house (mis) labelled it as Victorian. Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of World Monuments Fund Britain, helped Coulson authenticate it and trace the provenance.
Some have speculated it could be worth up to 20 million GBP!!!
Curator: Ignacio Cano
Advisor: Gabriele Finaldi
Thursday 30.01.14 – 10:00 > 21:00
€ 12,00: full price
€ 10,00: discount rate (BOZARfriends, 18 > 25 y, +67, groups, …)
€ 6,00: 12 > 18 y / teachers / jobseekers
€ 2,00: 6>12 y
€ 1,25: article 27
Free access: person in wheelchair and companion / children under 6
Maison Jansen was a French interior decoration office founded in the late 19th century by Jean-Henri Jansen. It’s considered the first global design firm, serving clients all over the world. They decorated the White House for Jackie Kennedy, they did the drawings for the Shah’s great pavilions etc… I’ve been semi-obsessed with their work for years, particularly the furniture they made. The quality is just extraordinary. If you’ve followed me long enough, you might remember when I had the unbelievable stroke of luck of finding a Jansen table in a JUNK SHOP. These pieces are rare enough that you might see a half a dozen go through the major auction houses in a year- so finding one that’s a ‘bargain’ is like winning a mini-lottery.
The top and the bottom shelf are single pieces, but each leg and each foot are cast individually (in solid brass). A bit like Ikea furniture, but for rich people (and I’m pretty sure all furniture was delivered already put together :) ) I’d love to, one day, once we’ve finally sold and are settled in France, to produce Jansen style furniture on a small scale. Maison Baguès still makes certain things in the same style, but a much more limited selection.
Now have a look at some of their more interesting creations. Notice how they incorporate classical themes and actual antiques into some of their pieces. The tray tables, for example, have 19th century cloisonné tops and custom made brass/ormolu legs. The sofas pictured last have medallions made from antique tapestry…
Taken from the catalogue of the new Furias exhibition at the Prado National Museum (Madrid):
“The “Furias” first appeared as a group in art in 1548 when Mary of Hungary commissioned Titian to paint four canvases for her palace at Binche (on the outskirts of Brussels) depicting Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus and Ixion, figures whom she associated with the German princes who had rebelled against her brother, the Emperor Charles V, and whom he had defeated the year before at Mühlberg.
In Spain, the name the “Furias” was applied to four figures who dwelled in the Graeco-Roman Hades as a punishment for defying the gods: Tityus, whose liver was constantly pecked at by a vulture for attempting to rape one of Zeus’s lovers; Tantalus, condemned to vainly try to obtain food and drink for serving up his son at a banquet of the gods; Sisyphus, who had to endlessly roll an enormous rock for revealing Zeus’s infidelities; and Ixion, obliged to turn forever on a wheel for attempting to seduce Hera. Strictly speaking, the Furies were female figures who personified punishment and vengeance and were responsible for ensuring that those in Hades underwent their punishments. In Spain, however, and from the 16th century onwards the name was used for Titian’s canvases of Tityus, Ixion, Tantalus and Sisyphus, and the term thus became used for the subject in general.
The “Furias” became a popular iconography in the 120 years after their first appearance, taking on further meanings in addition to their original, political one. From the late 16th century onwards the subject was considered highly appropriate for illustrating supreme mastery in art, given that they are monumental, nude figures in complex foreshortenings and also represent extreme suffering, which appealed to the Baroque sensibility. They were thus used by leading artists such as Rubens, Goltzius and Van Haarlem to demonstrate their skills, and by Ribera and Rombouts to give visual form to the aesthetic of horror in vogue in Europe at the time. However, after a peak of interest in Naples with Ribera and in Venice with Langetti, from around 1680 artists began to make less use of this subject, which was replaced around 1700 by others that allowed similar concepts to be expressed.”
Brazil: Gal Costa singing Força Estranha (glorious lyrics)
Spain: Maria Dolores Pradera singing Veinte Años. (Mike and I used to joke this was our song). La Pradera was born not far from where we live, here in southern Spain.
USA: Vicki Carr singing It Must Be Him (1967). Aaaahhh, the many nights I felt like this!
Maria Bethânia singing As Flores do Jardim da Nossa Casa (gloriously haunting lyrics!)
Mexico: Hermanas Padilla singing Escoria Humana (A bolero sung so softly you’d never guess the lyrics are quite mean)
Renato Russo singing an amazing version of Old Friend (Love this as being gay he doesn’t change the genders in the lyrics to seem straight)
I’ve spent the last few hours putting a playlist together for a dinner we’re going to this evening (and as a gift in the form of cd’s to the other guests). I wanted something different and interesting. I decided to go with a selection of Vals Peruano (Vals Criollo) mixed with old, lesser known classics. The complexity of these Peruvian songs is absolutely incredible, particularly when juxtaposed with something like Nancy Wilson singing How Glad I am.
Here’s Lucha Reyes doing a glorious version of Jamas Impediras:
AT CHRISTIE’S PARIS on 23 January, 2014
“Madame Elsa Schiaparelli was incomparable. There is no equivalent to be found. Her imagination knew no bounds.”
“She would have transformed you in less time than it takes to tell – and saved you. She was a bouquet of spells. She was a
constellation of the stars, a fireworks display. Watch out! Or be hypnotized.”
YVES SAINT LAURENT
Today there’s an article in El País about a new book by journalist Victor Fernandez called Querido Salvador, Querido Lorquito (Elba). It’s about the letters between Dalí and Lorca. Forty or so survive. Apparently Gala destroyed some in jealous fits.
“Tú eres una borrasca cristiana y necesitas de mi paganismo (…) yo iré a buscarte para hacerte una cura de mar. Será invierno y encenderemos lumbre. Las pobres bestias estarán ateridas. Tú te acordarás que eres inventor de cosas maravillosas y viviremos juntos con una máquina de retratar (…)”. Salvador Dalí
In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale.
turn the colour of love.)
In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself.
And at the evening’s end
I wanted to be my voice.
turn the colour of love.
The television adventure returns for round two. After being granted a reprieve I wanted to be helpful (that’s sort of a chronic disease for me), so I thought I’d offer up my friend’s house to be on the show. It’s a multi (many-many-multi) million euro home and she’s exceptionally charming and talented, so really, she’s the one who should’ve been on television in the first place. The producers saw the pictures and loved it. My friend said yes to them. Suddenly I get a call today and I’m getting roped in to be on the program with her showing the house because I speak better French… And for some absurd reason I said yes.
So in the event you pick up French Channel 5, you may have the misfortune to see me, and even worse, hear me, in July. Before then, have a glimpse at her rather glorious home, and in the event you want to be my neighbour, and one-up me by living in a house that’s double the size of mine, and have a heated indoor pool (apart from the outdoor one), and have between 10 and 20 million euro to spend on a house (I’m not giving the exact price because it seems crass), drop me a line and I’ll help you arrange it :)
I’ve been through so many auction catalogue pages this weekend, when I close my eyes I’m still seeing red stoneware. There are a couple of good Bottger pieces going up for auction at Bonham’s in London in June, so fortunately that doesn’t clash with any of the sales I’m organizing. One of the pieces is quite nice (as far as these things go):
The estimate is 40,000 to 60,000 GBP (US$60,000 to 91,000). I think it’ll lean towards the high end of the estimate (if not more). One of the Bottger items I’m researching is also extraordinarily early and rare, so I’m hoping it reaches a good price level when it goes up for sale later this year. One could always do with a nice cash injection.
Our friend who’s divorcing is arriving from Britain tonight with his two daughters in tow. I’m not sure how long they’re staying, but I think they all need a break. I’ve never particularly liked children- which makes it unusual that children seem drawn to me. The two arrivals are girls. One is nearly five and the other nearly three. I guess the house seems a bit like an adventure to children. The dogs, the woods, the stream. At night they can hear frogs and owls. I’ve told them that the girls need to learn how to swim during this trip. Our pool is right outside the living areas, we can’t have children who don’t know how to swim here. When Mike’s niece and nephew were little, I used to have the energy to play games with them. Jenga and trivial pursuit etc. Now one works at the International Criminal Court in the Hague and the other is at university in Britain. Time goes by so quickly.
The more houses we look at in France, the more I love these tiles. It’s an easy way to make a big statement. They can really transform a bland space into something very special. Unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to use them here in larger rooms, but we have them in some of the bathrooms. Next house I’ll go for something more dramatic somewhere. I’ve been trying to get a client to put them in her kitchen, but she’s not yet convinced. They’re heavy and thick and made of cement. The pattern isn’t the result of glazing but of different colours of clay. There are printed versions that are cheaper and also have a similar effect. Modern designs are also available.
In one of our guest bathrooms they look like this:
In related news I recently found an interesting fellow designer on wordpress. You should have a look at his work. His name is Orlando Soria. I love his sort of very American approach to design. Everything looks very sleek and new. I’m used to dealing with art and antiques and clients who more or less want their homes worked around things they already own. Except, obviously, for that project I’ve been posting about recently. The one I’m still not entirely comfortable with, precisely because I’m not used to this style. He’s also quite good looking, but I swear that didn’t influence my opinion.
I’m still working on organizing the sale of two Yixing teapots and a Bottger coffee-pot. This involves quite a lot of research, which fortunately, I enjoy. The majority of the Yixing pieces I’ve looked at are (loosely speaking) in the 4k to 10k range, but some sell for an absolute fortune, as the one sold by Bonhams in the link. Interestingly the value isn’t necessarily connected to the beauty of the object. If I’d seen the teapot pictured right in a shop, I would probably not have given it a second glance. That’s an interesting reminder that one can never know enough. In fact, when the three pots were first brought to me, I was thoroughly unimpressed. They seemed good quality, but nothing special or extraordinary to my untrained eye. I withheld my opinion, as one should when one doesn’t know, and hit the books. As hitting the books wasn’t enough I’ve enlisted the assistance of some very helpful specialists in London. The most exhilarating part of this sort of work, is that you never know what’s going to be around the corner. In the back of every dealer’s mind is the notion that the next item could be the one. I don’t think the pieces we’ve got will make a fortune, but I have the impression they’ll do alright.
I’m also working on identifying the author of a bronze sculpture. The signature is illegible, but the date is very clear: 1927. It’s quite attractive and reminds me of the work of Maillol. Particularly the very evenly round shape of the breasts. Unfortunately I’m confident it’s not a Maillol… but it may have been by an assistant/student etc.
These images are from a project called In My Skin about young people under 25 in the UK who are challenging their body image. I am looking at those who have had or are considering having cosmetic surgery in order to become more acceptable to themselves and achieve their ideal of being ‘beautiful’. Social consensus in Western society today is particularly focussed on physical beauty and achieving and maintaining the “perfect” face and body. Intertwined with this I am also documenting body dysmorphia as young people try and conform to this social expectation resulting in eating disorders and body transformation. Lastly I am documenting transgenderism and the struggle young people have to live within a body they were born into but have no affiliation with.
We tested everything in the guest wing for my cousin’s arrival on Wednesday. Wouldn’t you know… the water heater wasn’t working and something was wrong with the central heating. Now we’re scrambling to get everything fixed in time. I also have an appointment with the dentist on Monday, something I avoid like the plague- but I have a crown that’s loose.
I’m a bit exhausted by work. Mentally and physically. It’s very hard to keep everything in order in my head and still drink the amount I drink. I found someone who makes some rather beautiful tapestries from antique saris. We’re going to have one mounted on wood to hang over the sofa in the house I’m working on.
I’m also working on a Yixing tea-pot. It belongs to the same person who brought me the Böttger coffee pot that I mentioned a little while back. Both will probably be going to auction in London. It’s also worth quite a bit for such a little thing.
Yesterday we put the big mirror up in the larger living room. If you look at it from one sofa it reflects the big painting. From the other it reflects the pool- quite nice. I think we might keep it after all. I know when I say ‘I just want to see how it looks in the house’, Mike thinks I do it as a ploy to bring more stuff into the house (which he thinks is already over-furnished)- but it genuinely wasn’t- at least not consciously. I’ll put some pictures up later. We’re going out to lunch at a friend’s place. An apartment in the marina. Yesterday we were discussing communal living again. Our friend who was going to come live here for a while last year, but then didn’t because their place didn’t get rented, might be coming if they get renters this year. I’m feeling positive about it. There are parts of the house we never use. Some I honestly only see once or twice a year and even then it’s just to clean. What’s the point of all this empty space when it could be helpful to someone?
It arrived. When I bought it I’d just seen pictures and hadn’t looked closely at the design. As I sat in front of it yesterday (looking at the carving rather than at myself), the penny dropped. It’s a French ‘marriage mirror’. Something given to a bride on the day of her wedding. There’s a symbolic message in the pediment. Can you guess what it is? It’s quite romantic- I’m tempted to keep it!
The quality of the gilding is outstanding. It has a few points of missing decoration. Fortunately, very easy to repair (circled in red below) and I can do it myself. Having things this size and this delicate transported makes my stomach turn. Literally. I sometimes get so anxious I throw-up during the process (sorry for the visual). So taking it to a restorer would be unnecessary turmoil and I’m pretty good at moulding plaster on wire. Yesterday I did the wire and first layers of plaster. Today I’ll continue building up the plaster and when it’s dry I’ll sand it, apply clay and gild it. It ends up being much more stable (and secure) than carving and attaching wood. We’ll hang it once I’m finished with the restoration, meanwhile, here we are in the entrance hall.
Exhibition of Northern European painting of the 19th and 20th centuries.
From 9 December 2012 to 5 May 2013, the Groninger Museum will present the exhibition entitled Nordic Art 1880 – 1920. This exhibition is a tribute to the peoples and cultures of the Nordic countries, and provides an overview of 19th and 20th-century North European painting. The splendid landscapes, portraits and scenes from everyday rural life display both the similarities and the differences between the Nordic countries. The exhibition focuses on the time when movements such as Realism, Naturalism and more divergent styles such as Symbolism and upcoming Modernism existed side by side.
This is going into the Sabine Medina online shop too. I-LOVE-IT! The tortoise-shell lacquer is stunning.
Sorry comments have gone unanswered lately… There’s a general strike today but I honestly cannot afford to participate- besides, I work from home so I doubt my working will be noticed :D
It’s been a rather busy few days. I was asked to start/manage an online shop for Sabine Medina Interior Design. It’s slightly different to what I normally do as she wants a very specific style (more rustic than me) and the focus is more on the style than the rarity. I suppose I’d call it decorative antiques. Popular 19th century chairs rather than signed 18th century Louis XV chairs. She also wants items that are priced within reach of the average person. I like the idea and Sabine is an amazing designer. She’s done things like the clubhouse at Valderrama Golf-Course and hotels and some really stunning homes. It’ll take very little time out of my week as it blends into my regular work and I admire her work so I’ve accepted the challenge. I’ve contacted a few people and I’ve started trying to put the whole thing together. You can see it here. In the next few days I’ll be adding tableware because she particularly likes my table settings and asked me to include a section of flatware/crystal/porcelain similar to what I use at home. I have a passion for old Christofle, so I’ll be including a good few sets by them. They’ve got the largest and heaviest cutlery on the market and the older sets are absolutely amazing in detail and quality.
I’ve also been asked for a polychrome secretaire in light colours for a study. So I’m hunting. It’s a rather plain study, so it really needs something showy.
They want something like this, but that has a pull-out desk fitting.