The Pink Agendist

by E.B. de Mas, reachable at:

Tag: culture

Excuse me, China, that’s kind of ‘my’ property.

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:

fineartchinaIn reality this is a small painting!!!

zmurkoThe 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.


Apollo Magazine: ‘Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937′, Neue Galerie, New York

“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

Do I have anything to say on the new Holy Grail claims?

The goblet in the Basilica of San Isidoro in León, northern Spain

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.

The Paradise State Bed of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York (has been found- in a car park!)

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.

It’s going to be displayed by The Langley Collection, and BBC4 is doing a documentary to be shown later this year. But if you can’t make it/see it, the Daily Mail has some great pictures.

Some have speculated it could be worth up to 20 million GBP!!!

Have you heard of Cazuza?

He was one of the great Latin American stars of  the 80′s. He died a long time ago, 1990. I was 12, and young and scared of the life that was to come.

The music begins at 0:23 in the video.

Paco de Lucia 1947-2014

Well he’s dead, which is sad. I grew up entranced by his music. He’s from here. I don’t mean Spain in general, I mean from here, 15 minutes away from my house, here. In the first video he’s playing whilst Farru does an extraordinary “taconeo”. A very quick sort of Flamenco tap dancing (generally improvised). Farru is rather extreme in his version, a heel actually falls off his shoe. In the second video you can watch Rafael Campallo (one of my favourite flamenco dancers) doing a more classical version. When I was younger I used to be brave enough to do this! Not as well, obviously!!! But I could get away with it.

One of the first times Mike and I went to a club, just the two of us, I was pulled up on a stage by a flamenco singing drag queen. I couldn’t resist doing a little demonstration (Mike being British and all). It must have worked :)

BOZAR EXPO in Brussels: Zurbarán | 29.01 to 25.05.2014


Master of Spain’s Golden Age

“Francisco de Zurbarán was one of the most important painters of the Spanish Baroque, alongside Velázquez and Murillo. For the first time, an overview of his artistic work is being presented in Belgium. His oeuvre (whose subject matter is primarily religious) is striking for its combination of pure naturalism and a modern poetic sensitivity. As a “painter of the Counter-Reformation”, he created works that expressed the new attitudes that became dominant after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and led to a cultural revival in Spain in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not only in the visual arts but also in theatre, literature, and music. You can discover those parallel developments in a series of concerts and other events that will take place in connection with the Zurbarán retrospective. Don’t miss the first major exhibition to be devoted to this painter in Belgium!”Under the High Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Paola

Curator: Ignacio Cano
Advisor: Gabriele Finaldi

Thursday 30.01.14 – 10:00 > 21:00
Rue Ravenstein
Price at the ticketingoffice 
€ 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

BOZAR EXPO – Zurbarán | 29.01 > 25.05.2014.

Real Style: Maison Jansen

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.

jansentableThe 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…




New Exhibition at the Prado Museum: Las Furias (The Furies)

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.”

Museo Nacional del Prado: Exhibition.

It’s about time!!! It’s Dame Gillian Lynne now!!! My gayest post of all time (or at least of the past 24 hours).

Gillie and her Olivier award

“Gillian Lynne CBE, 87, has had the title of Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) conferred upon her in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List for her services to Dance and Musical Theatre.”

Lord Lloyd-Webber said: “I am thrilled that the grand lady of British musical theatre has got the recognition she deserves. Gillie was already a legend when I was at school! Without Gillie my Cats would never have seen the stage. “

Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: “Gillian Lynne is both a living legend and an inspiration to everyone in the theatre for her passionate commitment to talent and her outstanding work ethic so I know I speak for all her friends and colleagues in both delighting at the news and congratulating her on the Damehood which her extraordinary career and achievements thoroughly deserve.”

Arlene Phillips CBE said: “I am thrilled that Gillian has received this honour. She is a creative icon in the dance and musical theatre world and no one deserves it more.”

Dame Monica Mason said: “For me, Gillie has always been one of the brightest stars in British Theatre and this honour is hugely deserved.”

I say: Gillie is a wonderfully kind and warm person with a huge heart and an open mind. She was one of the first people to be ‘accepting’ of my relationship with Mike, and that was when most of my friends and most of his friends were against the idea. Gillie is currently recovering from pneumonia in the south of France, and unfortunately it’s been raining non-stop there. Maybe she’ll take us up on our invitation and come down here where the sun always shines…

It’s Dame Gillian! Lynne Receives DBE In New Year’s Honours.

In other news… if you happen to be in or around Nottingham (UK, evidently), there’s going to be a production of My Judy Garland Life starting on the 31st of this month!!! I know this because the director is Kath Rogers, who happens to be my sister in law (via Mike’s brother). I got to see some previews of what they’re going to be doing and I can assure you it’s going to be great! The play is based on Susie Boyt’s memoirs. Susie is painter Lucien Freud’s daughter, hence Sigmund Freud was her great-grandfather. She tells the story of a lifelong obsession with Judy Garland, as the Guardian puts it: “Susie Boyt has adored Judy Garland since her first visit to the cinema, where she heard Dorothy singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. As a lonely and sensitive child, every word Garland sang spoke directly to her. She took the singer to heart, wanting to love her and somehow become her. Now an adult, ‘the imperative intimacy I feel with Judy Garland is similar to that which I feel for my mother and my children’. This is partly playful, partly deadly serious. Boyt truly believes in the moral dimension to her relationship with Judy Garland. It represents a belief in life and a belief in a better self, which can drag you out of the hellish bits of the everyday.”

If you’re gay you must see it. If you’re not gay, go see it too!



And now for personal news. Last night we finally went to dinner at La Cabaña, invited by our Hamburg friends. Well worth the visit, the food was excellent! This afternoon we’re going to a children’s birthday party- of all places. I had imagined that one of the great advantages of being gay and childless was that I’d never have to attend such events. Obviously, I was wrong.

Music you might not know- but may be worth knowing.

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)

Happy New Year!

Lightening the mood: Extraordinary Music

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:

To all of you!

holidaycard2013This was our Christmas card this year- so as not to miss the opportunity… Consider yourselves as having received it!


Magnificent: Andy Scott’s ‘Kelpies’ Towering Over the Forth & Clyde Canal in Scotland

Christie’s Paris: The Personal Collection of ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

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.”

Press Release

Dalí & Lorca. Dear Salvador, Dear Lorquito

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


Ditty of First Desire

Federico García-Lorca

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
A heart.

And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale.
A nightingale.

turn orange-colored.
turn the colour of love.)

In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself.
A heart.

And at the evening’s end
I wanted to be my voice.
A nightingale.

turn orange-coloured.
turn the colour of love.

Yes, but no, but yes, but no. In which one seems prone to thinking no but saying yes.

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 :)

Nothing interesting to say, except I’m going to be fatherly(ish)

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):

bottgerhexagonalThe 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.

I’m Always Surprised at How Much I Can Drink


Sotogrande Street

Dinner was amazing yesterday. The club/restaurant was overflowing with people. It’s funny because you drive down the streets of Sotogrande and never see a soul. There’s the occasional jogger or Filipino maid walking to the gates, but not much else. I had tuna tataki (again) as a starter, and then the rib eye, which was wonderful. Then an Irish coffee. Then we had a night-cap at the neighbour’s house which lasted ’til 3am (Mike came home about 2 hours earlier- lightweight!). I think I drank half a bottle of brandy. It was Orleans Borbón and went down like velvet. A friend stayed over here afterwards as to not drive home drunk. I hope the people from last night weren’t horribly bored by me. I talked much too much about antique yixing ceramics (which I’m currently researching). I discovered somewhere in adolescence that people in society generally prefer lighthearted, meaningless conversation and that seeming intellectual is uncool- so I learnt to disguise it well. Sometimes I forget and it bubbles up to the surface. Isn’t it absurd that playing dumb and pretty makes someone more popular than discussing things one actually knows about?

I don’t have a hangover, but I think I might still be feeling a slight buzz. Sometimes I wonder if my body is just going to shut down one night, give up. Sorry, Sir, you’ve done enough. I can’t take it anymore. Then again, Winston Churchill lived until he was 90 and he always had a cigar in his mouth and a whiskey in his hand. Three of my grandparents are still alive and one died in his mid-eighties, so I guess genetically speaking I might do just fine. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? A lifetime of drinking and smoking and good food? My epitaph could be He never did what they said was good for him.

Some renters arrived this morning at the Laing house next door. They’re listening to some very questionable music of the rap variety. Maybe it’s hip-hop, I’m not sure which is which, but I find the sound unpleasant. There’s something aggressive about it. I’ve never understood the appeal. Isn’t the world sufficiently dire? Do people really need to go around saying ho and bitch and talking about violence- there’s not even a melody to soften the blow. Fortunately I can only hear it from my bathroom. Mike was right about how to place the house on the plot, we can’t hear any noise at all in any of the living-areas, bedrooms or garden. The weather is glorious and the garden looks fantastic. I think I’m not going to do anything of any importance at all today.


The Glory of Encaustic Tiles


19th Century French Encaustic Tiles

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.

Of Work Related Matters: Would you pay US$549,231.71 for a teapot?

Bonhams 1793 : A fine square Yixing stoneware teapot and cover Qing dynasty, signed Chen Mingyuan.

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.


In My Skin

In My Skin by Michelle Sank

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.

In My Skin.

Nube Gris- because it’s cloudy today, and I’m home alone

A stunning rendition of Nube Gris

A lovely gift or two

Cousins arrived last night. We ate, we drank- ’til late. I got a stunning pair of 19th century plates with our family crest on them. I also got a hardback copy of Les Ligneaux. Our mutual cousin, the baroness’, fictionalized account of the family’s last summer at Migneaux before the death of her grand-mother (my great-great grandmother). The house once belonged to Marie Louise O’Murphy (mistress of Louis XV)- it was later bought by our family. Now it’s been turned into apartments. I’m going to hang the plates in the dining room.


Exhausted and it’s only January. Sod’s Law

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.



Glorious beading


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?