The Barbizon [Hotel for Women]

A hotel dedicated entirely to the well-being and protection of women? I knew there was something special about the building just by looking up to its tree-lined roof matching the colours of the street below. Perfection!… I thought.

Even more so, after reading about its role as a sanctuary for women moving to New York for work in the ’20s. Smart girls who knew how to stay out of trouble – or so their parents hoped – came to live in its rooms, minuscule to accommodate as many as possible. The hotel also offered a swimming pool (still in use today), a library, recital rooms, a sundeck, a solarium, squash and badminton courts, and a formal dining room.

Then came the ’60s and smart girls sought different kinds of adventures; the kind that didn’t include chaperoning and living in a sanctuary where no men were allowed beyond the first floor. The Barbizon changed hands many times until 2002, when it was renovated and became The Melrose Hotel; only to be purchased by developers three years later and converted into a luxury condominium building.

Interestingly, a few women, long-term tenants from the old Barbizon era still live in the building, protected by the rental laws of New York. wp20160924_134903 wp20160924_135008 wp20160924_135030

You can read more about it here & here.

Barbizon 63
140 E 63rd St.

September 24th, 2016

Porky Pies and other Lies

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The Police
1983
Pen, brush mouth atomiser and ink on paper

On 14 January 1983, 26-year old film editor Stephen Waldorf was mistakenly shot five times in the head and body by the Metropolitan Police in Earls Court, West London. The police thought he was an escaped prisoner, David Martin. In 1983 two officers were put on trial for attempted murder; they were both acquitted.wp20160924_143010

Margaret Thatcher. The Last Supposition, 1985
Leonardo da Vinci after Ralph Steadman has had a go at it..
New Statesman, 11 October 1985
Pen and ink on paperwp20160924_142932
Reagan’s Latest Close-Up
New Statesman, 7 March 1980
Pen and Indian ink on paper

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”The Peacekeepers Are Coming!
The Peacekeepers Are Coming!”
1983
Pen, mouth atomiser and ink on paper

In October 1983 thousands of US troops and helicopter gunships invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada after a left-wing coup. Reagan’s incursion into Grenada, a Commonwealth country, was the only occasion on which Margaret Thatcher and the US president had a serious fallout.

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Donald Trump – Porky Pie!!!
New Statesman, 17 December 2015
Pen, brush, mouth atomiser, acrylic and gesso on paper

This porcine portrait of the real estate billionaire, reality TV game-show host and presidential hopeful [and, by now, President] Donald J. Trump accompanied an article by Laurie Penny, ”There is nothing funny about a Donald Trump rally”. ”By lying through his teeth”, she writes, ”he has managed to persuade thousands of people that he is the one truth-teller in American politics… Trump is selling fascism with a cartoon face”.

In November 2015, the mayor of Jersey City accused Trump of ”shameful politicizing” after the Republican made unsubstantiated claims that in 2001 the watched on TV ”thousands and thousands” of Arab Americans in New Jersey cheering the attacks on the World Trade Center.

”Porkie pie”, or ”porky”, is Cockney rhyming slang for ”lie”.

From A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman exhibition, held at The Society of Illustrators between September-October 2016.

September 24th, 2016

Alice and other darling scented rushes

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Wool and Water from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll,
MacGibbon & Kee, 1972
Pen, brush and ink, poster white on paper
”So the boat was left to drift down the stream as it would, till it glided gently in among the waving rushes. And then the little sleeves were carefully rolled up, and the little arms were plunged in elbow-deep, to get hold of the rushes a good long way down before breaking them off – and for a while Alice forgot all about the Sheep and the knitting, as she bent over the side of the boat, with just the ends of her tangled hair dipping into the water – while the bright eyes she caught at one bunch after another of the darling scented rushes.”wp20160924_141730 wp20160924_140104Hogarth ’65: Marriage à la Mode: Breakfast Scene
Private Eye, 30 April 1965
Pen and ink, poster white on paper
Hogarth ’65: Taste in High Life 2
Private Eye, 6 April 1965
Pen and Indian ink and collage on paper
wp20160924_140908Weekend at West Wittering
‘Our visual reporter captures the dramatic moment when our gallant men in blue leap into the room and apprehend the miscreants’.
Private Eye, 21 July 1967
Pen and ink, poster white on paper

On 12 February 1967 police raided a house-party at Redlands, Keith Richard’s manor hourse at West Wittering, near Chichester, on a tip-off from the News of the World. The police took away some Ambre Solaire suntan lotion, a quantity of Earl Grey tea, joss sticks and a minute amount of cannabis resin. […] Also present at Steadman’s soirée is Jagger’s girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull (the girl in the fur rug). George Harrison and Pattie Boyd can be spied in the mirror: the West Sussex constabulary discreetly waited for the Beatle to leave before they pounced.

wp20160924_141429Breaking Bad: Walter White
2015
Ink and acrylic on paper

The multi-award-winning, darkly comic TV drama ran on AMC for six seasons from 2008 to 2013. In 2014, Steadman was asked to create images of six main characters for the covers of limited-edition Blu-ray Steelbooks. […] Steadman says of Walt and the other characters, ”I printed out photographs of them and then watched all the series and some of it stayed in my head. Walt has a certain look to him. I realized that you can draw the top of his head with a compass. It’s perfect… Walt says he’s only doing it for his family, but one thing leads to another and he gets deeper and deeper and there’s no going back”.

wp20160924_135917It’s a Free Country (detail)
Private Eye No. 30, 18 February 1963
Pen and ink on pieces of paper
wp20160924_141229 wp20160924_135450Bureau of Missing Persons
Rough drawing for cartoon published in Punch, 24 August 1960.
Pen and ink and blue pencil on paper

From A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman exhibition, held at The Society of Illustrators, September-October 2016

September 24th, 2016

The Society of Illustrators

September was a month of transition: just moved in from Brussels, apartment hunting, new office, new life. It was also the busiest month at work, I was quick to find out. Looking for a cool distraction amid the frenzy, I somehow happened upon an ad promoting Museum Day Live! hosted by Smithsonian magazine, which offered free entry to a number of participating museums.

One of these was the Society of Illustrators which, at the time, was hosting a major retrospective to celebrate the work of the rather wonderful Mr. Ralph Steadman.

Mr. Steadman’s drawings had taken over almost the entire museum, its galleries, corridors and even part of the charming café on the top floor.

I could not have asked for a better free gift – nor a cooler distraction for that matter!

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Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005. Rolling Stone, 24 March 2015.
Collage, Conté chalk and ink on board. Illustration by Ralph Steadman.

[It was February 2005 and to Hunter’s great dismay, George W. Bush had just been inaugurated for a second term. Now in his late sixties, Thompson was suffering from many ailments. There were the after-effects of hip replacements and other surgery. He had to have daily physiotherapy and was in significant pain. On 20 February 2005 he took his Magnum .44 and shot himself in the head. A month later Rolling Stone marked the passing of the one of their greatest contributors with s special memorial issue.]

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The Society of Illustrators
128 East 63rd Street

September 24th, 2016

Window shop art

In the glorious Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo House, a French Renaissance revival mansion located at 867 Madison Avenue.

It is home to the Ralph Lauren Men’s Flagship store and had me wondering whether it looks as glorious on the inside. Could I just step in to have a look? Although, who am I kidding, I’d probably spend hours browsing through the apparel; I usually find their Men’s collections much more interesting than the Women’s, anyway.

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September 17th, 2016