Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive

In 2017, MoMA – jointly with Columbia University – acquired the vast archives of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most prolific architects of the 20th century. To mark that acquisition, as well as the 150th anniversary of his birth on June 8, 1867, MoMA presented Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, an exhibition that comprised some 450 works made from the 1890s through the 1950s and included architectural drawings, models, building fragments, films, print media, furniture, tableware, textiles, paintings, photographs, and scrapbooks. According to its curator, Barry Bergdoll, the show was meant “to announce that Frank Lloyd Wright is open to new interpretations” and that “the archive is here and it’s open.”

Having had a closer look on Mr. Wright’s incredibly detailed, delicate, at once artistically accomplished and architecturally precise designs, I can attest to the show’s success in opening the work of one of America’s – and the world’s – greatest architects, to new interpretations. At least to my, not-so-expert, eyes.  Goron Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium, Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland
Project, 1924-25 // Pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper

This project is often seen as a forerunner of the Guggenheim Museum, built two decades later.


Fallingwater (Kaufmann House), Mill Run, Pennsylvania 1934-37
Pencil and coloured pencil on paper

The bold design of a house over a waterfall for Pittsburgh department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann put Wright back in the public eye at a moment when he was increasingly anxious that his fame had faded. This drawing landed Wright on the cover of Time magazine in 1938 – he was only the third architect ever to receive that honour – and was also displayed that same year in an exhibition at MoMA devoted solely to his unprecedented house design.


Moore House, Oak Park, Illinois, 1895
Ink on paper


Madison Civic Center (Monona Terrace), Madison, Wisconsin
Project, 1938-59 // Ink and pencil on paper mounted on plywood

Even  as Wright reimagined Chicago as a city dominated by a few super-tall skyscrapers but otherwise given over to a prairie landscape, he also designed urban projects – many of the megastructures, such as this one for Monona Terrace, which integrated transportation and infrastructure with public and commercial programmes – with the intention of revitalizing urban cores and engaging the preexisting city and its surroundings. This project was realized decades after Wright’s death.


The Mile-High Illinois, Chicago
Project, 1956 // Pencil, coloured pencil and gold ink on tracing paper

In this perspective drawing, Wright inserts his imagined mile-high skyscraper into the lakefront area of Chicago, which he transforms into a green landscape, rendering obsolete many of the city’s older, densely packed towers. The Mile-High becomes a singular object, in dialogue only with another Wright proposal: a tower called the Golden Beacon, visible in the background.


Plan for Greater Baghdad
Project, 1957 // Ink, pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper

In 1957, Wright, along with a number of ”starchitects” including Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, was commissioned to design a signature building in Baghdad as part of an Iraqi government programme to bring Western architecture to the capital city. Although asked only to design an opera house, Wright expanded the programme into an entire cultural centre – including a university, two museums, a zoo and various recreational facilities – and moved the site to an island in the Tigris River. Wright’s project, like most of the others, was cancelled after the revolution of 1958.


Butterfly Wing Bridge, San Francisco
Project, 1949-53 // Ink, pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper


Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 1943-59
Gouache on paper mounted on board


American System-Built Houses for the Richards Company
Project 1915-17


Bogk House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 1916-17
Watercolour, gouache, gold paint and graphite on paper mounted on Japanese paper

The two winged figures depicted in this sculptural frieze for the Bogk House recall, in their blocky, geometric forms, Mayan and Aztec motifs, while their wings resemble the eagle imagery prominent in the Pueblo Eagle Dance. The Eagle Dance was one of the most popular ceremonial dances performed at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, which Wright attended and where he encountered theories positing that contemporary American Indians were descendants of a venerable, ancient American civilization.


Lake Tahoe Resort, Lake Tahoe, California
Project, 1923-24 // Pencil and coloured pencil on tracing paper


Eugene Masselink (1910-1962)
Pattern studies // Pencil and coloured pencil on paper

Various cacti, rock formations and lichen are distilled into their essential organizing forms in these applied pattern studies, demonstrating the generative relationship between nature and architecture in Wright’s practice. According to Wright, the cellular structure of desert plants, for example, offered lessons in economical construction. Believing the artist should approximate nature through a process of conventionalization or abstraction – seeking underlying geometries rather than outward forms – Wright incorporated such pattern studies into his educational approach at the Taliesin Fellowship. Eugene Masselink, one of Wright’s most talented apprentices, drew these examples.

Frank Lloyd Wright and his assistant Eugene Masselink installing the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: American Architect at The Museum of Modern Art, November 13, 1940-January 5, 1941. Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York
Photo: Soichi Sunami


Preliminary scheme for Imperial Hotel, Tokyo 1913-23
Ink and pencil on drafting cloth

The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo took over a decade to build and exerted a profound influence on both Wright’s designs and the architecture of a modernizing Japan.

Having survived the Great Kantō Earthquake in 1923 and the American bombing of the city during World War II, it was finally demolished in 1968 to be replaced with a modern hotel tower.

Portions of the Imperial Hotel, including the grand entrance/lobby and the reflecting pool, were saved and painstakingly relocated to the Meiji Mura Museum, an open-air architectural theme park in Inuyama that contains more than 60 historic, culturally significant buildings from Japan and beyond. [source]


March Balloons, 1955
Drawing based on a cover design for Liberty magazine, c. 1926


From Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, an exhibition that ran through October 1st, 2017 at MoMA.

September 25th, 2017

The Idiosyncratic Eyes of Mme Bourgeois

Staring into your soul.

House 1994
Marble


the puritan 1990-97 (text: 1947)
Folio set no. 3: engravings with selective wiping, gouache and watercolour additions


Lullaby 2006
Series of twenty-five screenprints on fabric: title sheet and twenty-four compositions

Bourgeois created shapes by turning and tracing common household objects – scissors, a knife and a candy dish, among them. She published this set herself, under the imprint Lison Editions. Lison, Lise, Lisette, Louison and Louisette were among her childhood nicknames.


Ode à l’Oubli 2004
Fabric illustrated book with thirty fabric collages and four lithographs

The pages of this book are composed of linen hand towels saved from her trousseau. Many contain the embroidered monogram LBG (Louise Bourgeois Goldwater). Bourgeois later issued and editioned version of this book in twenty-five examples. In that version, the pages are tied together through buttonholes instead of bound so all of the pages can be displayed simultaneously, as seen on this wall.


Untitled 1998
Fabric and stainless steel


Stamp of Memories I 1993
Drypoint with metal stamp additions


Sainte Sébastienne 1992
Drypoint


Triptych for the Red Room 1994
Aquatint, drypoint and engraving

The subject of pain is the business I am in.“ – LB


Self Portrait 2007
Gouache on paper


Self Portrait 1990
Drypoint, etching and aquatint


I Redo (interior element) from the installation
I Do, I Undo, I Redo 1999-2000
Steel, glass wood and tapestry


Untitled 1940
Oil and pencil on board


Lacs de Montagne (Mountain Lakes), 1996 & 1997
Engraving and aquatint with watercolour, gouache and ink additions


Arch of Hysteria 1993
Bronze, polished patina


Spider 1997


Note from Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, an exhibition that ran at the MoMA, until end January 2018: ”[…] explores the prints, books, and creative process of the celebrated sculptor Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010). Bourgeois’s printed oeuvre, a little-known aspect of her work, is vast in scope and comprises some 1,200 printed compositions, created primarily in the last two decades of her life but also at the beginning of her career, in the 1940s. The Museum of Modern Art has a prized archive of this material, and the exhibition will highlight works from the collection along with rarely seen loans […].”

September 25th, 2017

Eloise at the Museum

So what if I haven’t read any of her stories? Who wouldn’t want to meet Eloise, a mischievous, annoying, adorable little girl, a native New Yawker, and one who lives in the “room on the tippy-top floor” of the Plaza with her Nanny, her dog Weenie and her turtle Skipperdee, at that. So, put on your comfy slacks and your fancy pink flats, and let’s go see what she has in store for us, shall we? Hilary Knight
Study for ”I have a dog that looks like a cat”, 1955
Pen and ink on paper


Hilary Knight
After Clayton Knight (1891-1969) and Katharine Sturges Knight (1890-1979)
Cover of The New Yorker, April 17, 1926, 1996
Gouache

Knight’s father, Clayton, specialised in aviation art. A pilot with the British Royal Air Force in World War I, he survived a crash landing in 1918 and went on to illustrate and write numerous books on the history of aviation. Clayton often collaborated with his wife, as in their cover for The New Yorker. Years later, Knight’s colour scheme for Eloise echoed its palette. His hand-painted copy of the cover is an homage to his parents’ work.


Hilary Knight
Eloise, 1956
Tempera on paper

A mystery surrounds this Eloise portrait. Painted in 1956 as a birthday gift for Kay Thompson, it vanished from the Plaza Hotel on November 23, 1960, the night of a Junior League debutante ball. ”Eloise kidnapped!” announced Walter Cronkite on CBS Evening News. In spite of Thompson’s offer of a reward, the painted failed to surface.

Two years later, Hilary Knight received a call. A muffled voice told him where his artwork was: in a dumpster, ripped to pieces. Devastated, he retrieved the ruined work and put in a closet.

But the puzzle remained. Who stole Eloise? In retrospect, Thompson herself was the only person who benefited from its disappearance. This may have been the stunt of her career, giving her ample press and a dramatic exit for the character she was done with. Staging a media moment and destroying Knight’s work underlined the primacy of the author’s voice. A final clue came when Thompson confessed in a 1993 interview that she had found the portrait ”on Eight-something Street… torn up.” There’s so much we’ll never know about Kay Thompson – and that’s just how she liked it.


Richard Avedon
Kay Thompson, 1951
Photograph

For her session with Richard Avedon, Thompson held a sequinned fan made by Knight. But the had not met yet! D.D. Dixon, Avedon’s assistant for the shoot, had borrowed the prop from Knight, her across-the-hall neighbour. Four years later, Dixon suggested to Thompson that her Eloise voice might make a good book, if she could find the right illustrator. She introduced Knight to Thompson at the Plaza’s Persian Room, in December 1954.


Kay Thompson and Evelyn Rudie, publicity still from the Playhouse 90 movie Eloise, 1956


Hilary Knight
Final illustration for ”I always stay at the National whenever I am in Moscow”, 1959
Pen &brush and ink & graphite on paper


Hilary Knight
Final illustration for ”Here’s what we did a lot of”, 1959
Graphite & pen and brush & ink with gouache on paper


rawther fluzzery picture, don’t you see?


Hilary Knight
Cover illustration for Truman Capote’s manuscript Can a Pig Fly?, 1958
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper

A curious project that never saw publication was Knight’s collaboration with the Truman Capote. The success of Dr. Seuss’ easy reader The Cat in the Hat in 1957 prompted the editors at Random House, its publisher, to ask their entire author list to try this popular new form. None made it to completion, but Knight and Capote enjoyed working together on sketches and notes.


Don Freeman
Kay Thompson, 1951
Lithograph on paper


Unidentified photographer
Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers, ca. 1948

Eight songs, forty minutes and no encore. Thompson’s athletic act with the Williams Brothers was innovative, witty, and a smash success. Taking the concept of the overhead boom mike used on movie sets, Thompson had microphones strung all over the ceiling to allow the five performers to move freely about the stage. ”There’d never been an act like it”, Andy Williams said.


Edith Head
Kay Thompson’s office costume for Funny Face, 1956
Pen, ink and watercolour on paper

This meticulously detailed working drawing from Edith Head’s studio documents the cost of Thompson’s office outfit: $480 and another $65 for accessories.


Hilary Knight
Sketch for ”I AM ELOISE”, 1996
Watercolour, brush and ink, crayon and graphite on Bristol board


Eloise is the alter ego of cabaret star Kay Thompson (1909–1998), best known for her role as fashion magazine editor in Funny Face (1957), and her collaboration with writer and illustrator Hilary Knight (b. 1926), best known as the Man who Drew Eloise.

These and many more objects, manuscript pages, sketchbooks, portraits, photographs and vintage dolls were on view at the New-York Historical Society, back in 2017. If you missed it fret not. Think Pink and head over to the Plaza. You may just catch a glimpse of the elusive enfant terrible skibbling down the hallway. 

New-York Historical Society

September 23rd, 2017

Art of War

There is a sad beauty in these artworks drawing the tragedy of war.

Harry R. Hopps (1869-1937)
Destroy This Mad Brute-Enlist, 1917
Colour lithograph


French, early 20th century
The Great Nave: Wounded Soldiers Performing Arms Drill at the End of Their Medical Treatment, 1916
Gelatin silver print

During WWI, Paris’ magnificent Grand Palais, a Beaux-Arts structure that opened in 1900 as an exhibition hall, was repurposed as a temporary military hospital that served injured French soldiers. It held one thousand beds and had two operating rooms, as well as an extensive physical rehabilitation centre where soldiers could recover from their injuries, exercise and practice military drills before returning to the front. 


John Copley (1875-1950)
Recruits, 1915
Lithograph


Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946)
Rockets, 1917
Watercolour, gouache, graphite

Spilliaert served briefly in the Belgian civil guard after the German invasion. A pacifist by nature, he was greatly affected by the violence of war. Here, he depicts a deep blue sky illuminated by the flare of rockets, an image witnessed by both soldiers and civilians in occupied territories. The artist concentrated not on the rockets’ violent potential but on the graceful forms they generate and their resemblance to stars and comets


French, 20th century
After the Victory (Au Lendemain de la Victoire), 1918
Printed by Imprimerie Kapp
Published by Librairie Hachette & Co.
Colour lithograph

Many children lost loved ones to the war and were traumatized by the sounds and sights of combat. Ostensibly, celebrating victory, this book, like much wartime propaganda for children, reflects these dark events. Its interior presents images of rebuilding: each page shows a scene of destruction, but when a flap is raised, it shows the same site restored. 


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
The Parents (Die Eltern), from War (Krieg), 1921-22
Printed by Fritz Voigt, Berlin
Woodcut

Pain,” Kollwitz noted, ”is totally dark.” This raw images portrays the profound grief of parents who, like the artist, lost a child to war. Kollwitz began working in this medium after seeing an exhibition of woodcuts by Ernst Barlach and being inspired by their graphic power; the War series is considered her most important in the technique. Kollwitz spent fifteen years working on a sculpture based on this print. The Grieving Parents, located in the cemetery for German soldiers in western Belgium where her son Peter is buried, is composed of two separate sculptures, showing the parents isolated in their despair.


George Grosz (1893-1959)
Background (Hintergrund), 1928
3 out of 17 photolithographs with printed portfolio


Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
Mothers (Muetter), from War (Krieg), 1919
Lithograph

In Mothers, women and children huddle together, their linked bodies forming a solid structure that fills the composition. Kollwitz drew herself in the centre, eyes closed and arms wrapped protectively around her two sons: Hans, the elder, and Peter, who was killed in combat at eighteen.


Images from ”World War I and the Visual Arts”, an exhibition exploring ”the myriad and often contradictory ways in which artists responded to the first modern war”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

August 6th, 2017

All that Jazz

Delectable, capricious and very very Stylish. American taste with a strong European touch. Flapperdom reigning supreme.

Muse With Violin Screen, 1930. Designed by Paul Fehér. Manufactured by Rose Iron Works Collections, LLC. Wrought iron, brass; silver and gold plating, featuring a stylized figure of entertainer Josephine Baker
_
Daybed (USA), 1933–1935. Designed by Frederick Kiesler, commissioned for a domestic interior by textile designer Marguerita Mergentime. Birch-faced plywood, tulip poplar, nickel-plated steel
Peacock Side Chair, 1921–22. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Oak, leatherette upholstery
Gift Kodak Camera And Box. Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague. Manufactured by Eastman Kodak Company. Leather-covered metal, chrome-plated and enameled metal, glass (camera); lacquered cedar, chrome-plated and enameled metal (case)
Chanin Building Pair Of Gates (detail). Designed by René Paul Chambellan. Wrought iron, bronze
Skyscraper Bookcase Desk, ca. 1928. Designed by Paul T. Frankl. California redwood and black laquer || Armchair from the International Exposition of Art and Industry 1928. Designed by Walter von Nessen. Aluminium, brass, leather
Evening Dress And Underslip, 1926. Designed by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Blue silk chiffon with applied blue ombré silk fringe
Boucheron Brooch, 1925. Diamonds, platinum, carved lapis, onyx, coral, jade
Cocktail Bar Perfume Presentation. Designed by Jean Patou. Manufactured by Brosse Glassworks. Presentation case: burlwood; four larger flacons: molded glass; seven smaller flacons: molded glass, metal.  This bar-form set held a selection of liquor bottle–like perfume bottles entitled “Bittersweet,” “Sweet,” “Dry” and “Angostura no. 1” through “Angostura no. 7” that equated the sensuality of perfume with drinking in a not-so-subtle reference to the illicit cocktail culture during American prohibition. The empty bottle entitled “My Own” was provided to encourage the owner to mix and match her own scent. In 1928 Patou installed a women-only cocktail bar in his Paris boutique for clients, many American, to enjoy while making final decisions on garments and waiting for fittings and alterations.
Actaeon, 1925. Designed by Paul Manship. Gilt bronze. This work captures a climactic moment of transformation, as Actaeon has just been hit by Diana’s arrow, which is turning him into a stag.
Chandelier, ca. 1925. Designed by William Hunt Diederich. Cut steel and wrought iron

Canapé Gondole, ca. 1925. Designed by Marcel Coard. Carved indian rosewood, indian rosewood-veneered wood, brass, and linen velvet
Temple Dress, Mer Ka Ba Collection, 2013. Designed by threeASFOUR in collaboration with Bradley Rothenberg. Laser-cut bonded silk organza, nylon power mesh underdress
_
Trans… Armchair, 2007. Designed by Fernando Campana. Wicker, iron, found objects (plastic, rubber) Commissioned from the designers by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum The designers created this chair from a collection of discarded objects
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From  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, April through August 2017.

Paired with contemporary objects of laser-cut technology: modern, streamlined and still very stylish. I just wish we had a little bit more of that Jazz in our lives.

July 30th, 2017

Infinite Blue

Intercontinental, Intercultural, Intemporal, Infinite Blue. My favourite colour.

Bodice, ca. 1840-60
Tailleur Filles & Cie, France
Silk, linen, metal


William Merritt Chase
Girl in a Japanese Costume, ca. 1890
Oil on canvas


Wedding Dress, ca. 1860
United States
Silk, cotton

Sarah Elizabeth Fish (1824-1901) of Waldoboro, Maine, wore this elegant full-skirted dress, with stylish pagoda sleeves and a blue and silver jacquard pattern, as her wedding dress. The blue colour was probably achieved using an early synthetic organic dye. It was not uncommon for women in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century America and Europe to wear wedding dresses in colours other than the white that is now customary, and to wear them again after the wedding for other special occasions. Blue was a popular wedding dress colour for its strong association with loyalty, purity and virtue; this is echoed today in the traditional ”something blue” that brides may wear.


Booties, 1898
Probably France
Leather, silk, linen

Embellished infant’s booties of this type would have been worn at a christening or some other important event. The same baby girl who wore this pale blue kid leather pair also wore a matching pair in pink (not shown), suggesting that the code of blue for boys and pink for girls was not yet firmly established at the turn of the twentieth century. Historically, pink had been favoured as a more vigorous and thus ”masculine” colour, suitable for boys and blue as a passive and thus ”feminine” colour, suitable for girls.


Portrait of a Child of the Harmon Family, ca. 1840s
United States
Oil on canvas


Boot, ca. 1795-1810
Europe
Leather


”Current” Chair, 2004
Vivian Beer
Steel, automotive paint


Nun Vessel, ca. 1539-1493 BC
Egypt
Blue faience with black-painted details

In ancient Egyptian origin myths, dark blue and black were colours of the primordial waters that the Egyptians called ”nun”, or nonexistence.


Day Dress 1915. Blue dress with printed fabric
Fashion sketch, Henri Bendel, Inc.


Helen Cookman for Reeves Brothers Inc.
Maintenance Worker’s Uniform and Cap, 1948
United States


Kuosi Society Elephant Mask, early 20th century
Bamileke artist
Grassfields region, Cameroon
Textile, glass beads, plant fiber

Elephants are often associated with political power in the highly stratified kingdoms of the Cameroon grasslands. Because imported beads were historically rare and costly, beadwork is also associated with high social rank, making this mask a potent symbol of power.


The O’Keeffe exhibition was only one of the wonders waiting to be discovered in the various galleries of the Brooklyn Museum.

Infinite Blue, was an array of objects and works of art featuring blue in every possible shade, size and texture, a visual narrative that would expand over the following months, eventually filling the Museum’s first floor.

Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Georgia before O’Keeffe

An icon in the making. Georgia O’Keeffe 
Woman with blue hat, 1916-1917
Watercolour, gouache and graphite on paper

O’Keeffe may have created this watercolour for classroom use. The work demonstrates the application of flat, stylized designs of fashion illustration. In this same period, the magazine Vanity Fair published similar stylized illustrations by O’Keeffe, who was searching for additional ways to turn her art skills into income. 


Hilda Belcher
The Checkered Dress (Portrait of O’Keeffe), 1907
Watercolour and gouache on cream laid paper, with JW watermark, mounted on paperboard

To pose for Hilda Belcher, who had also studied at the Art Students League of New York, O’Keeffe wore a stylish checkered dress that she most likely made for herself, in the black and white palette she would favour throughout her life. This watercolour, with its tour-de-force detailing of the dress, won Belcher membership in the male-dominated New York Water Colour Club. Several years later, a female writer composed a love poem to the then unknown sitter shown in the image; it reads in part:

”Could you know, did you guess/Such a daring rhythmic dress/Gleaming here, darkening there,/Would but render you more rare?”


Eugene E. Speicher
Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe, 1908
Oil on canvas

When Eugene Speicher, an older student at the Art Students League, asked O’Keeffe to model for him, she wore a three-piece outfit associated with the so-called New Woman: a white shirtwaist, black skirt and jacket, and black bow at her neck. This combination allowed women to move with greater ease than in conventional Victorian dresses and was a style of reform dress widely endorsed by budding women artists and professionals. In 1948, Life magazine ran an image of the sixty-one-old O’Keeffe posed next to the portrait (in a different frame), noting, ”she has changed from an unknown youngster to one of the foremost painters in the U.S.” Her personal style, however, had remained the same. 


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, Brooklyn Museum

July 22nd, 2017

Meanwhile, New York was doing ‘OK

Thanks to Brooklyn Museum at its curators who had organised an extraordinary exhibition about the work and lifestyle of Georgia O’Keeffe. It was truly extraordinary because, refreshingly and for the first time ever, it focused on her wardrobe, showing some of her signature garments alongside her paintings and photographs. In doing so, the show was successful in capturing the spirit of the woman behind the artist, her steely determination to be in charge of her own life and work, the reinvention of herself as a style icon. I went into the exhibition an avid admirer of the work by one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. I came out full of new images, knowledge and a better understanding of her intriguing personality. Coming back from Los Angeles, I couldn’t have asked for a smoother landing into the frenzy of New York City. 

Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe at 291, 1917
Platinum print


Georgia O’Keeffe
Shell and Old Shingle VI, 1926
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
Black Pansy & Forget-Me-Nots (Pansy), 1926
Oil on canvas


Cecil Beaton
Portrait of Painter Georgia O’Keeffe, 1946
Gelatin silver print

Black remained her favourite colour throughout O’Keeffe’s life. Her reason was described in one article in 1929: ”She wears black almost invariably – not, she says, because she prefers it, but because, if she started picking out colours for dresses, she would have no time for painting.”


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1932
Gelatin silver print

A modernist in dress as well as art, O’Keeffe liked to wear white blouses partially covered with a black sweater to create defined blocks of light and dark. 


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, probably 1919
Gelatin silver print

O’Keeffe considered her neck and head as integral shapes in arranging her dress. She frequently used the necklines of her blouses as visual framing devices for her long neck, and headdresses or her neatly wound hair to bring closure to her sartorial composition.


Georgia O’Keeffe
Manhattan, 1932
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
Brooklyn Bridge, 1949
Oil on masonite

Just before moving to New Mexico permanently in 1949, O’Keeffe painted this farewell salute to New York, her home for thirty years.


Arnold Newman
Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch, N.M., 1968
Dye transfer on paper


Apron, 20th century
Denim

This apron was probably bought off-the-rack, but O’Keeffe added the lower section using her own scraps of denim. Though she had kitchen help much of the time, she was a good cook. She used fruits and vegetables from her own gardens and prepared food as she dressed, simply with few adornments.


Claudius Lafond jacket & red and purple cotton madras dress, 1950s

O’Keeffe rejected the synthetic fibers that were popular during and after WWII, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester. When traveling in the 1950s and 1960s, she continued to seek out natural cottons and silks in either a single colour of sometimes with stripes, checks or plaids. She may have bought this heavyweight cotton-work jacket when she went to Franc for the first time, in 1953. She most likely designed the plaid Madras dress for herself. 


Don Worth
Georgia O’Keeffe with Chair, 1958 (printed 1968)
Gelatin silver print

Customarily, O’Keeffe wore black and white when photographers came to visit, but in 1958, she made an exception for Don Worth. She wore her white French work jacket over the red plaid dress, we saw above.


Armi Ratia for Marimekko
”Mother’s Coat” Dress with matching belt, designed mid-1950s.


Annika Rimala for Marimekko
”Varjo” Dress, ca. 1963


Georgia O’Keeffe
Ram’s head, White Hollyhock-Hills (Ram’s Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico), 1935
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
In the Patio IX, ca. 1964
Oil on canvas mounted on panel


Emilio Pucci
”Chute” Dress, ca. 1954

This was one of the first Pucci dresses to be sold in the American market, testifying to O’Keeffe’s interest in and awareness of contemporary fashion.


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918
Gelatin silver print


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918
Gelatin silver print


Paul Strand
Georgia O’Keeffe, Texas, 1918
Platinum print

Paul Strand, a young photographer supported and mentored by Stieglitz, was the first to capture O’Keeffe sleepy-eyed and slightly disheveled, wearing a kimono. The fact that kimonos were sleep and bath wear for her gives this photography its frisson; her letters to Strand show that the two were briefly attracted to one another and may have had a short-lived dalliance.


Georgia O’Keeffe
Green, Yellow and Orange, 1960
Oil on canvas


Philippe Halsman
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1967


Philippe Halsman
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1967


Tony Vaccaro
Georgia O’Keeffe with the Cheese, 1960
Gelatin silver print


Ansel Adams
Georgia O’Keeffe, Carmel Highlands, California, 1981 – printed 1982
Gelatin silver print

In 1981, O’Keeffe visited Ansel Adams in California for the last time. They were very dear friends and had known one another for over fifty years. He unfailingly got her to look directly at him and his camera for portraits that characteristically are straightforward and natural, without the mythos that attended photographs of her as a solitary and remote figure of the desert.


Alexander Calder
Pin, ca 1938
Brass

Sculptor Alexander Calder, who also made hand-wrought metal jewelry, created this brass pin for O’Keeffe. It first appears in a 1938 photograph and, from then on, O’Keeffe wore it often for photo shoots. When her hair turned grey, she found the pin’s copper colour less flattering and, on a trip to India in 1959, she found a craftsman to make her a silver version, which she wore for the rest of her life. She was known to boast that the copy cost her only five dollars.


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern was running in Brooklyn Museum until July 23rd, 2017. I caught it one day before closing.

July 22nd, 2017

San Francisco is… ”Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle”

You may not know the name Eyvind Earle but you certainly know his work, if Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan or Lady and the Tramp sound at all familiar. A visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum was firmly on our map, but Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle, a retrospective about the life and work of the artist behind some of Disney’s timeless stories that marked the childhood of kids all over the world -myself included- was a double win.

The exhibition featured more than 250 works, including concept paintings for Lady and the Tramp and artworks for Sleeping Beauty. But, more importantly, it included an extensive collection of Earle’s lush landscapes in the artist’s very distinctive style, as well as serigraphs, watercolours, sculpture, commercial illustrations (two examples of which we saw in the teaser, yesterday) – the extend of Earle’s work seems limitless.  Self Portrait Sketch, 1925 (age 9-10)


Botticelli Woman, 1936
Graphite on paper


Scratchboards created for
Horizon Bound on a Bicycle:
The Autobiography of Eyvind Earle (1991)
Ink on scratchboard


[In 1937, at the age of 21, Eyvind Earle bicycled across the country from Hollywood, California, to Monroe, New York, on a 45 day trip. He painted 42 water colors and wrote a 10,000 page diary along the way. At the conclusion of the expedition, Charles Morgan Gallery in New York exhibited all the watercolors.

Eyvind created many water colors during his life; during certain time periods they were his primary focus.  Occasionally he had shows which solely exhibited his watercolors, some of which have been declared to be his finest work.] (source) New York, 1939
Watercolour on paper


Little Girl, 1939
Watercolour on paper


Winter Oak, 1997
Oil on Masonite


Face 2, 1981
Ink on scratchboard


Bearded Man, 1980
Ink and varnish on scratchboard


Portrait of a Woman, 1981
Ink on paper


Portrait of a Woman, 1975
Ink on paper


[The sleek glow of his acrylics and oils is the result of a custom-made formula Earle created himself for the varnishes he used, often tinting them with glues. He also experimented with marine varnishes which were impervious to water and did not require the addition of glue. Because he needed to wait for the layers to dry, Earle often worked on up to thirty paintings at the same time.] (source)

”In nature when I look I see trees, some of them are such that they thrill me with their perfection and their sweeping lines and certain mood they seem to have. Windswept plains give me something that can’t be seen. In every tree I feel as though I could see the soul of that tree. It is alive. It is a person. And if beauty be related to the truth, harmony and balance must be there, and there must be movement because in nature all things move. And there are certain laws such as the law of duality. Everything has its opposite. Nothing is without its opposite. If I want a bright light in a painting, I must have a dark shadow. If I want a color to look very warm, I must have also a very cold color, and so on and on forever. But when I paint, I forget the things I know. I just sit there painting away, trying to get the feeling into my painting that I feel inside. Whatever beauty is, I feel it, and as long as I can I shall try to find more and more beauty, and to put it down so that others can see what I have seen.” – Eyvind Earle

Blue Tree, 1994
Oil on masonite


Tall Tree and Barn, 1969
Oil on canvas on wood


Green Forest, 1970
Acrylic on Masonite


Pastures in Early Spring, 1996
Oil on masonite


Mustard Field, 1974
Oil on masonite


Coastal Paradise, 1995
Oil on masonite


Where Eagles Fly, 1993
Oil on masonite


Giant Oak, 1996
Oil on masonite


Flower Fantasy, 1980
Watercolour on paper


Three Noble Horses, 1993
Oil on masonite


Hillside Magic, 1976
Oil on masonite


Orchard, 1984
Oil on canvas


Three Live Oaks, 1983
Oil on canvas


Concept paintings, c. 1959
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Gouache on paperboard


Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle was on show at The Walt Disney Family Museum, until beginning of January 2018.

July 8th, 2017

San Francisco is… keeping its hats on

[In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, hats were a social obsession, subjects of acclaim and critique. The Paris millinery industry was at its financial and creative peak between the mid-1870s and 1914, the period between the Franco-Prussian War and the outbreak of the World War I, decades that coincided with the ear of French Impressionism. The women who made and sold hats – milliners, or modistes in French – as well as those who purchased them, fascinated Edgar Degas and other artists in his circle.] Bonnets of the 1880s by Mangin Maurice (left) & Cordeau et Laugaudin (right)


Bonnet, ca. 1894 by an unknown designer, France


Jean Béraud, 1849-1935
Fashionable Woman on the Champs-Élysées, n.d.
Oil on canvas


Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Woman Adjusting Her Hair, ca. 1884
Oil on canvas


Hat by Maison Virot, ca. 1900 (with alterations)


Hat by Camille Marchais, ca. 1895


Bonnet by Mesdemoiselles Cotel, ca. 1885 (left) & Capote by E. Gauthier, ca. 1890


Hat by Caroline Reboux, ca. 1904-1905 (left) & by Au Bon Marché, retailer, ca. 1884


Capote by Auguste Poussineau, known as A. Félix, ca. 1880-1885 (front) & Hat by Monsieur Heitz-Boyer, 1898 (back)


Hat by an unknown designer, ca. 1890


Édouard Manet (1832-1883)
Berthe Morisot, ca. 1869-1873
Oil on canvas


Louise Catherine Breslau (1856-1927)
The Milliners, 1899
Pastel on paper mounted on board


Paul-César Helleu (1859-1927)
The Final Touch, ca 1885
Pastel on paper


Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade exhibition ran until September 2017 @ the Legion of Honor*

July 07th, 2017

*If, by any chance, September 2018 finds you in San Francisco, please do make me jealous and go see the current exhibition, Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters!