Carving Gods and Nobles

In noble materials
Marble head of Athena
Greek, Hellenistic, ca. 200 b.c. 

The goddess originally wore a helmet of marble or bronze, added separately. The ears are pierced for metal earrings. The head comes from an over-life-sized statue that possibly represented the goddess striding forward. The statue may have stood outdoors, as a monumental votive image of the warrior goddess in her role as protectress of a city rather than within a temple as a cult statue.

Bronze portrait of a man
Roman, Late Republican or Early Imperial, ca. 1st century b.c.

In the early first century b.c. Greek artists were fashioning portraits of Roman patrons that presented a straightforward image of their subjects in a veristic style. This phenomenon existed across the ever-expanding Roman world, but the finest and largest group of such portraits in marble survives on the Cycladic island of Delos, which was an important commercial centre in the Late Republican period and home to numerous Roman merchants. 

The portrait exhibited here is a good example of the veristic style, which appealed to Roman citizens who valued individuality. Bronze was the preferred medium for Roman honorific statues because of its ability to achieve the closest possible fidelity to nature. 

Mosaic floor panel
Roman, Imperial, 2nd century a.d.
Stone, tile and glass
Excavated from a villa at Daphne near Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey), the metropolis of Roman Syria

The rectangular panel represents the entire decorated area of a floor and was found together with another mosaic (now in the Baltimore Museum of Art) in an olive grove at Daphne-Harbiye in 1937. In Roman times, Daphne was a popular holiday resort, used by the wealthy citizens and residents of Antioch as a place of rest and refuge from the heat and noise of the city. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

August 19th, 2018


The Angels wear tiaras.

Fragment of a floor mosaic with a personification of Ktisis [Greek for foundation (of a  city or colony)]
Marble and Glass
Byzantine, made 500-550

House of Lanvin (Jeanne Lanvin)
”Incertitude” evening dress, 1936

And a closer look at Goossens’ tiara and accessories over the statuary vestment for the Virgin of El Rocio, by Yves Saint Laurent.

From the Heavenly Bodies exhibiton, held @The Met in 2018

July 14th, 2018

Chicago || The Art Deco City

There are so many buildings of architectural interest in the Financial District of Chicago, you’d probably need to join a guided tour to visit them all and learn about their history. But if you are a casual visitor – and a first-time one at that, just walk around, spot an interesting-looking building and then step inside its lobby. You’ll soon find out that these lobbies are not simply entrances to commercial or office spaces; they are, in reality, stunningly beautiful Art Deco treasure troves; and they provide excellent shelter from the rain, too.

Walk, for instance, inside the Field Building, built in 1934 by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White; another wonderful example of the Art Deco style:

Or enter the Marquette Building’s hexagonal lobby and be captivated by the exquisite mosaic panels depicting the journey of Father Marquette, a French missionary and explorer, first settler in the area we know today as Chicago,  in whose honour the building has been named.

The mosaics are designed by Louis Tiffany, son of Charles Tiffany, the famous jeweler; and Jacob Adolph Holzer, a Swiss artist who worked for Tiffany as their chief designer and art director.

November 2nd, 2017

Now on for some real Subway Art

Honouring the past. Living in the present. Connecting with the future.

”During her research, Shin found old photographs in the Transit Museum and the New York Historical Society Archives that documented the dismantling of the El trains on 2nd Ave in the 1940s and of the 3rd Ave El in the 1950s, which became the primary sources of inspiration for the work. The artist decided to transform the 63rd Street Station into a time machine of sorts, surrounding today’s commuters with images of New Yorkers who once commuted on the El that stood in the same spot nearly 7 decades ago. “I wanted the new permanent work to connect to this landmark moment in New York City’s history and bring this story to public life, what was lost and gained in the making of the 2nd Ave Subway,” she said.”

From an interview on Art Zealous, by Katita Miller

Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street
Elevated, 2017

Laminated glass, glass mosaic, and ceramic tile

February 11th, 2017

Talking about subway art

Granted, beautiful artwork adorns many of New York’s subway stations, but the works featured at the newly opened Second Avenue Subway are our current darlings – and with very good reason!

Just look at these fabulous life-size mosaics at the Second Avenue-72nd Street by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. Based on staged photographs of people he knows, some ordinary, some made-up, others well-known Muniz named this series “Perfect Strangers” because that’s what people waiting for the train are: perfect strangers getting together for a brief moment before going about their separate ways.

wp20170108_151001 wp20170108_151025 wp20170108_151059 wp20170108_151132 wp20170108_151201 wp20170108_151237 wp20170108_151302 wp20170108_151318 wp20170108_151407 wp20170108_151420wp20170108_151617On to Second Avenue-86th Street station, where the walls are adorned with Chuck Close’s ”Subway Portraits”, 12 large works based on his photo-realistic portrait paintings, transposed into mosaics or tiles.

Here are the portraits of the artist himself, artist Sienna Shields (whose identity it took me some digging to discover being unfamiliar with the local artistic milieu) and Lou Reed:

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January 08th, 2017