The Magnificent Seven @ The Art Institute of Chicago

|1|- 1875/1900, gilt bronze – by Antonin Mercié (1845-1916)

|2|- 1895/1902 – designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)

|3|- 1902 – designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)

|4|- Day (Truth), 1896/98, oil on canvas – by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

|5|- 1894, oil on canvas – by József Rippl-Rónai (1861–1927)

|6|- Figure with Meat, 1954, oil on canvas – by Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

|7|- Nude with a Pitcher, 1906, oil on canvas – by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Art and objects from the Art Institute of Chicago permanent collection.

November 4th, 2017

A Night at the Opera

I would have spared you of yet more photos of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center had it not been for this exquisite costume designed for Birgit Nilsson, for the 1961 production of Turandot, by the multi talented Mr. Cecil Beaton.

I had ample time to be bedazzled as I used the intermission to join that familiar long line to the Ladies Room. Gazing at her headpiece, it thought it was matched only by the Sputnik chandeliers in sparkle.

But, while Turandot is my favourite opera (and Nessun Dorma my favourite aria of all times), that evening we were there to enjoy the ever so charming Die Zauberflöte. It was as grand as a Metropolitan Opera production was expected to be.  Birgit Nilsson in Turandot, 1961. Photo from the Metropolitan Opera Archives

September 30th, 2017

The Scintillating Gardens of Tiffany Studios

These Tiffany artifacts don’t necessarily involve breakfast. Equally brilliant, precious and a tad more colourful, they are at their best and brightest at dinner. They are also part of the New-York Historical Society’s permanent collection and light up an entire – recently renovated – floor. 

The New-York Historical Society’s extensive collection of Tiffany Studios lamps was the gift of pioneering collector Dr. Egon Neustadt (1898-1984), an Austrian immigrant an orthodontist. Along with his wife, Hildegard Steininger (1911-1961), Neustadt began buying Tiffany lamps at a time when Americans scorned them as passé. Shortly after their marriage in 1935, the couple, looking for affordable furnishings for their Queens home, found a ”strange, old-fashioned” Daffodil lamp in  Greenwich Village antique shop and purchased it for $12.50. That modest discovery sparked a decades-long quest in which the Neustadts amassed more than 200 Tiffany lamps, perhaps the largest and most encyclopedic collection in the world. 

September 23rd, 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

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

Nun Vessel, ca. 1539-1493 BC
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