Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eero Saarinen

"Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future" — is the first major retrospective of one of the most prolific, unorthodox, and controversial masters of 20th-century architecture, on view February 19-May 2, divided between the School of Architecture Gallery and the Yale University Art Gallery.

I love (and covet) his 'womb chair.' Perfectly balanced, sensual, a work of art. And oh, so comfortable!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Clutch Cargo speaks clearly

Molecular transport


James Cameron's film, Avatar, opened in December and as of today has earned a staggering worldwide box office gross of $2,466,701,910.

It is big, the technology is dazzling, and there's no arguing that those effects raise the bar for filmmaking. That is, the handful of filmmakers that are granted a $300 million+ budget.

Recently, I came across Batman Begins on cable. Although I saw the blockbuster film during its 2005 opening weekend, I was surprised how little I remembered. The scene in play had Tom Wilkinson (portraying a gangster) threatening the villain, Scarecrow, played by Cillian Murphy. Tom Wilkinson---what? I always enjoy his work but this performance slipped through my memory completely. Later, Rutger Hauer appeared---zip, zilch, no memory of him either. What I do recall: a fast car, a girl held captive, a few chase scenes and lots of explosions. Omit the rubber costume and you have the template for most contemporary action films. Add a villain attempting to take over the world, or a setting in the distant future or alternate universe and the story becomes secondary to how convincing the fantasy has been presented.

The technology of Avatar is so exciting that it easily overshadows and distracts the viewer from noticing the thinly written characters and their stock dialogue. There are better stories with more complex characters and far superior writing than what is delivered in Avatar, but according to the growing box office, it really doesn't matter.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Land of tears

It is such a secret place, the land of tears.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

In her 2004 solo exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in London, Sam Taylor-Wood included a series of poignant photographs of actors (mostly A-list, and nearly all, the rugged, masculine variety) awash in tears. Those photographs evolved into an art book with the title, Crying Men. Photography and film are rooted in physical reality and more than other art forms, document the specifics of a time, a place or even an emotion. Sadness and suffering are uniquely private; we can sympathize or empathize, but we can't know another persons pain. Although men are generally conditioned to hide their grief, the gifted actors photographed can emote without any self-consciousness. Are their tears real? Maybe not, but it's okay to stare.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making a list

From the ever creative, kooky and delightful illustrator/author, Keri Smith.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lolita Haze

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning,
standing four feet ten in one sock.

Three examples from Dieter E. Zimmer's exceptionally interesting collection; 150 book and media covers of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. It's fascinating to see the design treatment for this often banned title, spanning 54 years. Visit the exhibition here.

Think out loud

Ed Ruscha, A Particular Kind of Heaven

Jenny Holzer, Truisms

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Monuments Men

National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD

In the fall of 1997, Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art held an impressive exhibition which included more than 150 works of the Austrian Expressionist artist Egon Schiele, on loan from the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria. At the close of the show in January 1998, mere hours before the work was to be prepared to return to Vienna, the museum received a subpoena that stated two paintings (Portrait of Wally, 1912, and Dead City III, 1911) were stolen by the Nazi's in the 1930's, and that a criminal investigation would determine rightful claim to the art. Eventually, Dead City III was returned to the Leopold because its former owner had no heirs, but Portrait of Wally, was stored in a warehouse in Queens, New York where it awaits a pending trial and ruling.

The destruction of WWII included the massive looting of art, antiques and cultural artifacts. Allied forces created a task force comprised of a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations to find, and ultimately preserve the stolen great art of Europe. The Monuments Men, by Robert M. Edsel, explores this unusual but significant WWII history.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Building in nature

The great indoors!

The images are of a building referred to as, 'The Brain', one of the many beautiful projects of Olson Kundig Architects. From their website, "... Olson started the firm based on some simple ideas: that buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture and people, and that inspiring surroundings have a positive effect on people’s lives."

I take a long walk every day in my neighborhood. As you walk north, the apartment buildings disappear, and the yards and homes increase in size. There are many grand homes, but only a handful stand out (for me) that are the pulse racing stuff of dreams. It's not the expanse or the material or color that draws the eye; it's an assured elegance that integrates the building perfectly with its setting.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Evelyn Nesbit

Evelyn Nesbit by Rudolf Eickemeyer
Charles Dana Gibson, The Eternal Question

Evelyn Nesbit by Rudolf Eickemeyer

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness...

John Keats

Evelyn Nesbit was sixteen years old in 1901, the year that renowned architect Stanford White hired Rudolf Eickemeyer Jr. to photograph the aspiring model and performer. Her astonishing beauty had made Evelyn one of the most in-demand artists' models in New York, including a turn as a 'Gibson Girl', the idealized young women of the pen and ink illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. White designed regal institutional buildings, and stately mansions for wealthy patrons including the Astors and the Vanderbilts. During his brief affair with Evelyn, he was helpful in introducing her to New York society.

After an erratic courtship, Evelyn married Harry Thaw, heir to a considerable fortune. In 1906, the obsessively jealous and compulsive Thaw, approached Stanford White at a Madison Square Garden theater and murdered him with a pistol shot at point blank range. Thaw was later acquitted and he and Nesbit divorced. Her later years had none of the excitement or drama of her youth, although there were suicide attempts, alcoholism, and an addiction to morphine. She wrote two memoirs, taught classes in ceramics and lived her final years in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California.

Shortly before his death in 1932, Eickemeyer donated a large portion of his personal collection of photographs to the Smithsonian Museum, including the infamous images of Nesbit. The artifacts in the museum provide a distinct and often complex narrative record of our American past. Her beauty, something bigger than she could ever inhabit or control, is her legacy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Chefchaouen, a dreamy city in northern Morocco, is noted for its buildings painted in multiple shades of blue. I want to take a long walk down a periwinkle street and rest a spell in a turquoise doorway.

Friday, February 19, 2010


From the gorgeous De Clercq & De Clercq store in Rome, Italy. The vintage artist palettes, with their patina of colorful stains and smudges are a fantastic backdrop for the designer knitwear.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


For a couple years, when L. was small, we'd walk to school. On the way, she'd point out the birds, worry about squirrels running across the street, and shriek, "Chickenmobile!" whenever we'd see the handcrafted clunker pictured above. I suppose every neighborhood has a car or house or tree or store that stands out.

In Los Angeles, there's no shortage of unusual, rare vintage or custom made vehicles. I can say this with confidence, but I'm not a car enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination.

There's no reason to get wistful over a rusty beater like the Chickenmobile. But I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Net worth

In 1992, without reservation, I placed my vote, adamant that my choice was the right choice. Young Elvis.

In the spirit of democracy, and unprecedented in stamp history, the Postmaster General took two images of Elvis Presley and allowed the public to vote which version, young or old, would grace the commemorative stamp. Note that both renderings depict Elvis slim, tan and attractive. More than 75 percent of the 1.2 million ballots posted, determined that young Elvis was indeed King.

Recently, I read an interesting article that delineated the prices paid at auction for paintings by Pablo Picasso and Paul Cézanne with the respective ages at which they created those works. The calculations indicated that a painting done by young Picasso, was worth an average of four times as much as a painting done in his autumn years (he lived to be 91 years old). With regard to Cézanne, the opposite was true. His paintings created after mid-life, were more than fifteen times the price of the paintings he created as a young man.

Greatness is a rare jewel. A time of greatness is rarer still.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vanilla valentine

A perfect cupcake from Vanilla Bake Shop.



Living in the city

"It's never too late, if whoever faces catastrophe takes a deep breath and makes up his mind to have a really determined go at beating the odds." Anthony Greenbank

There are plenty of survival guides available for any number of situations: first time parenting, disasters, retirement, operating a business as well as traditional preparedness for camping and trekking. Anthony Greenbank's survival guide is in its third printing and has been updated since it was first published. The images shown are from a 1974 copy of Survival in the City.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Behind the lens

Richard Avedon with Sophia Loren

Norman Parkinson with the Dave Clark Five

Cecil Beaton with Audrey Hepburn

I love to find photos of artists at work. It's especially rare to come across images of photographers (hunching, directing, scrutinizing), who are usually behind the lens.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A kiss to you

Georgia O'Keefe's short note to her husband, Alfred Steiglitz.

A moment of being happy together.

The way he photographed her, the way he saw her: unique, powerful, magnificent, sublime.

There's such a lovely stillness in her paintings.

(painting: Georgia O'Keeffe - East River from Hotel Shelton, 1928)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Essential simplicity

Founded in 1935, the UK publisher, Penguin Books transformed the world of publishing by printing and distributing paperback copies of serious literature.

To establish their brand, the look and design of their books was essential. Early on, the covers were limited to three horizontal bands, and later, with considerable restraint, the occasional illustration.

Friday, February 12, 2010

10 List: And the winner is...

Ten curious Academy Award recipients.

Around the World in Eighty Days Days (1956)
Meanwhile, The Searchers, the greatest western ever made, wasn't among the nominees. Oscar also snubbed director John Ford and actor John Wayne in his finest performance.

Gigi (1958)
I have nothing against musicals but this film won over Vertigo and the classic, Touch of Evil, released the same year, wasn't even nominated.

Elizabeth Taylor Butterfield 8 (1960)
High camp and a strange win.

Helen Hayes Airport (1970)
A disaster movie that took itself seriously.

Art Carney Harry and Tonto (1974)
A man, his cat and their journey. Carney won over Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part II.

Paul Newman The Color of Money (1986)
Great in so many films, especially Cool Hand Luke and The Verdict, wins for a sequel to The Hustler.

Kevin Costner, director of Dances with Wolves (1990)
Trumped Scorcese for Goodfellas, which also lost to 'Wolves' for best film.

Al Pacino Scent of a Woman (1992)
Intense in Dog Day Afternoon, nuanced in The Godfather, wins for his Hoo-hah! portrayal of a blind retiree who likes to tango.

Angelina Jolie Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Dared to play against type as a crazy beauty in a psychiatric hospital.

American Beauty (1999)
Supposedly edgy, who can forget the scene in which Ricky begins to cry as he describes the painful beauty of a plastic bag caught in the wind.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The world at your door

For several million dollars, one can purchase a lavish apartment on a residential cruise ship. The elite residents, a mix from many different countries, live on board with all the amenities one can imagine on a luxury liner, as the ship slowly circumnavigates the globe, staying in most ports from 2 to 5 days. I looked at the May 2010 ports of call for one liner, the itinerary includes Portugal, Spain, France, Monaco and Italy. I suppose if Spain is exhausting, you can sleep in until you're refreshed for Monaco. In Chicago there's a saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." That idea has all sorts of applications when money and time are no object.

Single panel

Last night I went to the Hammer Museum's 'Conversations' series to see/hear Bruce Eric Kaplan. I'm a big fan of his New Yorker cartoons; all the wide eyed denizens of his universe are acutely conscious...even the dust.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More than a veal-ing

Vintage valentines. Imagine the writers and artists slaving away for their February finale. It is no small task to find love in everything...particularly veal.