Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ELIZABETH PEYTON .... live forever!

My favourite contemporary artist is without doubt the American painter, Elizabeth Peyton. Perhaps because as far as age goes, we are almost exact contemporaries.

I first saw Peyton's work many years ago at Sadie Coles, and of course I wish I had bought a piece then! These days her pint sized paintings come at a price approaching the $800,000, a small but exquisite etching that I enquired about recently is listed at $10,000. I have however bought myself a copy of her book and a copy of the illustrated programme of the 'Live Forever' exhibition with text by Laura Hoptman. I have included these books in the Amazon selection that you can access through the right hand side bar 'Empire Bookshop.' Just click on the image of the great stack of collapsing books .

The London showing of 'Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton' opened this week and runs until the 20th of September 09 at the Whitechapel. The exhibition is a 25 year retrospective and is far more comprehensive than the smattering of images posted here. I am recommending it to my friends over there, perhaps it will come down here one day, but in the meantime the books and these images will have to suffice:

I have read scathing British reviews, don't believe a bit of it! The works are luminous and intoxicating, printed or electronic images don't really do the work justice. As for the subjects (the source of much of the aforementioned criticism) yes they are celebrities, you'll find Kurt Cobain, Johny Rotten, Liam Gallagher, Marc Jacobs etc, etc ... but rendered as they are, celebrity is almost irrelevant. The work has been criticized as lacking emotion, perhaps the truth is that the images capture thought .... the act of thinking rather than feeling; introspection rather than the emotion laden communication that the populous applauds when focusing on celebrity.

Peyton's history is absolutely fascinating, you'll have to read the book .... but the influences are clear, Courbet and Hockney come running right at you. I struggled trying to narrow down a selection of images to post, then gave up and posted everything I had.

Elizabeth Peyton ..... live forever!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Chair for EmpireLady?

Sitting comfortably?

EmpireLady is flapping through some old magazines and thinks that she might like a new chair or perhaps two, the old deckchair having suddenly lost its appeal. Some years ago EmpireLady very deliberately stole a little something from the striking individual pictured above, justifying her actions on the basis that Wallis, in her time, had stolen something rather important herself .... the King. EmpireLady's theft was of just a little bit of style ... namely Wallis' curious and terribly elegant way of sitting. An examination of old photographs will reveal that Wallis' perceived beauty is largely as a consequence of the way that she held herself (in addition to keeping herself trim on an excellent diet of lettuce and vodka). To sit properly, one needs a proper chair:

Jansen Chairs are of course absolute favourites. EmpireLady who adores the faded grandeur of original upholstery is very taken with this mid century pair, beautiful, well formed and capacious with strong neoclassical lines - from Greenwich Living

If proportion is everything, then the chair below, sold by Meirelles, has it all. It's not Jansen by any means and it really does need work on the upholstery, but at 820mm wide and 880mm high and with a similar depth (imperial 32" by 34") it is capacious without having the height that might otherwise break up a room intrusively. The dimensions, the depth in particular indicate that it is by no means a banquette. Chairs with these proportions seem to come up at auction described as 'an old chair from a photographic studio' and it would not be a surprise if this were the case here.

Of almost identical proportions are the mid century pair from Jansen below offered by Blend Interiors. Regrettably, EmpireLady's penchant for 'living in collapse' seems to have extended to her budget in so far as it extends to their five figure price tag:Back to the deckchair ....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Captivated by: Light and Proportion .... Soane

Queen's House, Greenwich: the Tulip Staircase, Inigo Jones (courtesy of RIBA Library Photographs Collection)

EmpireLady has been rather taken aback by descriptions of Palladian architecture that she keeps coming across, descriptions that fail to draw any distinction between Palladian and British Palladian architecture. Not to put too fine a point on it, this morning she was threatening to post a savage review on the subject, but was dissuaded and has retired to her deckchair.
She does have a valid point as, in addition to being separated by centuries, the distinct qualities of the two styles are largely a response to latitude itself, to the qualities of natural light.

The attraction of the true Palladian villa is to found in the cool airy interiors and shady loggias that are a necessity in the glorious Italian summers. Whereas in Britain, where the sun sits far lower in the sky, a sky that is overcast for three quarters of the year, the first devotees of Palladio might have felt dismay when it was observed that this transplanted style, with its mouldings and pilasters, designed to catch the sunlight and cast sharp shadows, faded into blandness and that the small windows and blank walls created interiors that were dark and depressing.

The architectural response to climate came in the form of large vertical, sliding sash windows designed to assist in the regulation of temperature. In addition arcades and loggias were glazed and fireplaces and chimneys quickly became architectural features of the new hybrid style. Further to this the damp weather led to the walled dusty Italian courtyard being replaced by seamless rolling acres of park as at Chatsworth in Derbyshire.

Chatsworth House
basking in the last rays of the sun (courtesy of 'The Age')
is absolutely not a feature of the Devonshire countryside.

EmpireLady's apparently unabashed enthusiasm for the qualities of natural light and her obsession for classical proportion are such that it appears that she has come to believe that the Soane might be her spiritual home, could she perhaps be just quietly moved in to some sort of accommodation there? Not that anyone would consider offloading her, or even suggesting such a thing. In her defence, it must be said that Soane’s Museum really is a joy to behold; a wellspring of inspiration, in that there is always something new to discover in its labyrinth stashed full of archaic fragments. This quality is perhaps best described by the artist Cerith Wyn Evans whose words were published in a leaflet produced on the occasion of the exhibition 'Retrace your steps' at the Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 1999:

"I was always very stimulated and inspired by the relationships, the interstices in the Soane Museum, the conversations that are happening between various narratives, various objects and these extraordinary vistas that you come upon by accident and then you catch a reflection of yourself ....... It is an incredibly complex, stimulating place and no one visit is ever the same as the next ......... The Museum reveals various superimposed and merging states of light constructed by Soane. Visitors encounter direct, indirect, reflected, broken, dispersed or refracted light."

image courtesy of www.soane.org

The Soane is also a testament to the fact that classical proportion can be applied the smallest of spaces and objects. The lessons that are learned from the most beautiful architectural creations can be applied to the smallest vignette, it is really a state of mind. There is a link to an interesting site on classical proportion in the text of an earlier post on Miles Redd (besotted). EmpireLady would of course just love to rattle on in a review of the museum, but that's what books are for! Click through into the Museum site which contains its own labyrinth of resources that are regularly updated. One can now be delighted by the possibilities afforded to the imagination by the information and image that have been posted below: dinner at the museum

at a fee commensurate with the possibilities offered by the experience, the offer states:
The Museum's reception rooms, domestic in scale, are particularly suitable for small or medium sized dinners and receptions. Pre-dinner drinks are served in the elegant double Drawing Room on the first floor, recently restored to its original 'Patent Yellow' colour with yellow silk curtains and authentic carpet. An optional pre-dinner short guided tour of ground floor rooms can be given by a member of the curatorial staff. Dinner is served in the 19th century candlelit setting of the ground floor Library-Dining Room where diners are surrounded by mirrors reflecting the Pompeian red decoration, the Greek cases and other works of art.

Anyone for dinner?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Treasure Hunt: Mirror Mirror on the Wall

or....the one that got away!

I feel cross with myself! I love venetian mirrors, in particular the plainer variety. Recently I had considered buying one just for myself. Of course, it was the one that got away! If I had been buying for a client I would not have hesitated, but because I was intending to buy for myself, I procrastinated and waited and waited (largely out of guilt .... as I don't often buy things for myself, its now a very long time since I have bought another mirror) and now I am telling myself off, because I really did love it.

In Australia mirrors, like the pieces pictured below, are more difficult to come by than the more elaborate variety which are so much easier to obtain. Anyway, I am now sending out the word and I will email this post out to the relevant parties. This is what I'm after, the larger the better. I am cautious about importing because of the fragile nature of the article, so this time I am looking closer to home.

I collect mirrors (and this, of course, is why I was feeling guilty about buying another one) and not because I am in love with my own reflection but rather because of the wonderful prismatic glamour that they lend to an interior. I love the different kinds of glass and silvering and I can pick in an instant exactly whether I am looking at mercury or silver or something else entirely. In my living room I have a very large french Directoire mirror, darkened with age, and I can not imagine the room without it

The reason that I adore these mirrors in particular is that they are great mixers. I have approached two people who are in the business of bringing in the ornate crowned reproduction mirrors that seem to abound, and I have been told on both occasions that plainer mirrors would not sell ....well for the record, I disagree. ( I think that you might be able to tell that that this post is going to be emailed to the aforementioned individuals as well).

If you don't believe me, about just how beautiful these mirrors are, check Jan Shower's site as pictures really do speak a thousand words!

Here is Miguel, whose lovely French accent always charms me,
capturing himself in the one that got away!
Of course, I am not at all cross with Miguel, who is blameless in this situation.
In any event, it is impossible for a lady to be cross with a Frenchman for any length of time!
Note the 'subtle' charm .... could I be on a winner here?

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