Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A little understanding

“Everyone wants to understand art. Why don’t we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world though we can’t explain them; people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.” Picasso


There seems to be a gremlin in the blog works these days. I haven't been able to post much recently and so somehow it seems that things are getting published or sent out to subscribers of their own accord. I'm not in complete control here ! Soon I will be posting more often again and maybe the spirits of the blogosphere will be appeased.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Après la pluie, le beau temps

A storm came cracking down during the night. Its violence in this region that rarely gets searing lightning and roaring thunder was welcome. Though we pass through some difficult moments, they can't be prolonged eternally.

Après la pluie, le beau temps is the title of a book by the Comtesse de Ségur. It's also a proverb that promises the inevitable turnaround of events and brighter days ahead.

photos: popoF, kleun, forum.doctissimo

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pieces of a puzzle

Another find at Nobody & Co, Missing chairs. I love the dynamic of these chairs and could easily imagine having all 7 to group and rearrange following the moods and needs of the moment.

Even one isolated chair makes a strong sculptural statement.
This white version is almost phantomatic, very striking.

would you, could you ?

When I first saw this bibliochaise I found it ingenious but a little on the messy side. It is difficult to have enough room for books at home and there is something cozy about literally being surrounded by them, but those uneven bindings that poke over the top made me uncomfortable. Am I being silly? Yet there's something fun going on here and I can imagine this chair in an Arts and Crafts type study or a snug-rugged corner in an open loft space. It can be completed with a matching footstool, bibliopouf, that provides even more book space. The Italian editor, Nobody and Co. , delivers your choice of colors for the chair and upholstery which you used to be able to click through and try out on their on their site. I just saw the revamped site and it is much warmer and appealing even if it provides less information. So, book lovers, what's the verdict? Would this make you claustrophobic or cozy?

Cléo, Charlotte and the others

Little scratches left from promenades long ago

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pleasantly different

Elizabeth Delacarte left her older Haussmannian apartment in Paris for a building from the 1930s with cleaner lines, more open volumes. With the ornate style of furnishing she favors, she felt too many moldings and decorative details would be, well , too much. It's nice to have your own gallery of contemporary limited edition furnishings to choose from when you furnish your home. Most of us would settle for just a piece or two from her palette of modern baroque designers and some might say that anything more would be overdone.

The console, clock, and fish candlestick above are by Mark Brezier-Jones. Painting signed by
Francois-Marie Antonioz.

The Turkish red entrance sets the stage for the apartment's most dramatic piece, a Hubert Le Gall cabinet studded with carved panels of varying sizes that give its surface a heaving rhythm from top to bottom. Table by Hervé van der Staeten, mirror Hubert LeGall, rug Robert Le Héros.

Details of the precious and imposing cabinet-bar by Hubert Le Gall: the exterior is composed of a set of boxwood stamps from the 19th century destined to illustrate a history book ordered by Louis-Philippe - historic scenes, architectural elements, battles, etc are encased in bronze. Sheathed with poirier noirci, the inside of the cabinet evokes a tabernacle but a closer look shows its contents to be a conglomerate of pretzels and salty crackers molded in bronze. C'est l'heure de l'apéro ! If I were to choose one piece for my own home, this one would do. I might just settle for the clock in the first picture.

Bookcase-sideboard of dark stained oak and bronze specially designed for the space
by Frank Evennou Tables "Marguerite" of bronze and resin by Hubert Le Gall, sofas by Alexis de la Falaise, mirror and sconces by Mark Brezier-Jones, fauteuils "Trevise" of painted steel by André Dubreuil. I would have prefered the Dubreuil chairs near the windows; the sofa doesn't sit well with me in that position. Of course, we can't see the whole room.
Commode by Mino
Rug by André Dubreuil, oak and bronze desk and lamp by Frank Evennou, S-chair by Tom Dixon, miniature desk by Laurence Picot, painting Bruno Dufourmantel

See many more examples of these designer's numbered series at Avant-scène

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

un, deux, trois, cat

Hail Bastet, goddess of house and hearth ! A few weeks ago I came across these pictures that I can't seem to forget. Just whose identity comes into play here? What Kate Potter has captured
is more than her subject's deadpan calm.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More than architecture

photos Le style et la matière
Paintings by Elie Lascaux (1888-1968) now on exhibit at the Musée des Années 30 de Boulogne-Billancourt. Though a friend of Cocteau, Salmon, Malraux, Artaud, Léonardi, Dubuffet, Limbour, Picasso, et Radiguet... this little known painter is in a class of his own. His particular style of naive representations depicts a precise, if dreamy world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On holiday by mistake

It all sounds so idyllic doesn't it, a weekend escape to the country? For two out-of-work actors in one of the most hilarious films I know, a trip to country is  a way of avoiding their squalid flat and the nasty questioning that too much idle time brings. Withnail and I's two central characters, played by Richard E. Grant (Withnail) and Paul McGann (I), are in desperate need of a break from the grim life of waiting for a role in 1969 London. Of course, being down and out, the only solution is to approach Withnail's fabulous uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) to persuade him to loan the keys to his country home. Seeing the amber comfort of his London home, their prospects for a comfortable stay seem excellent. From a decorating point of view, this is the story of three homes, of which Monty's is the first.

Next is the aspiring actors shared grey Camden flat - a wreck steeped in personal memorabilia, but not completely devoid of charm, or wouldn't be if Withnail were not such an impractical slob. Their kitchen is the worst of it with unwashed dishes that have stacked up to a scary state with suspected rodent life crawling beneath it. And then there's Danny the dealer friend who has a way of showing up all the time.

So off to the country it is. Only, it would be better not to arrive completely unprepared at night in the pouring rain with Withnail in a railing state of drunkenness.
 This third home is not exactly the idyllic escape they had imagined.  I've rented enough country houses through the years to know they are not always easy to settle in and planning is important in places you go to get away from it all if you want to do simple things like eat.

Things look pretty grim. Simple things like heat, food, and adequate booze are not easy to come by. The country folk are less than welcoming and take them for extraterrestrials. And they might as well be for all they understand of how to do things for themselves where they have landed. "We've gone on holiday by mistake!" they explain, begging for help finding food in the drenched countryside.
But when Monty shows up by surprise, his talent makes all those mundane worries disappear. Suddenly we don't recognize the house. Cold, creaky, and uninhabitable become cottage-y, cozy and warm. The gramophone is cranked up. Food becomes cuisine; thirst is more than quenched with fine wines -but some appetites cannot be satisfied. Withnail has encouraged certain misunderstandings in lovesick Monty.... And as for their acting careers, Monty, too, had once had theatrical aspirations, but he sighs, there's always ''that morning when you wake up and say, 'Alas, I shall never play the Dane.' "

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

romantic hideaway

A moonlit bedroom in Provence, the window is open to let the warm air flow through. A homey image to stir the romantic memories of times shared there. This illustration was part of a letter, but the text supposed "compromising" has been erased.

I came across these pictures in the American edition of House and Garden from October 1987. I was struck by the lengthy articles and in depth information to be found. American and British magazines are always more ambitiously expansive than their French counterparts, but in these days, it was even more the case. The article by John Richardson that accompanies the pictures carries the titillating title Picasso's Secret Love and it tells the story of the lost year in Picasso's liaisons amoureuses, 1915-16. Decidedly, there could have been no respite in this domain for Picasso; there had to be a woman on the scene and at that moment, it was Gabrielle (Depeyre)Lespinasse. Wedged between Eva Gouel and Olga Kokhlova, she was never heard of until the 1950s when she sold some of the artwork he had given her. Not much of her relationship with Picasso is known even today.
The letters and paintings are touching, naive. In our world where everything becomes more clever and sophisticated just to survive, these gentle, almost childish declarations from the great and godly Picasso astonish. "Don't be sad," he scratches in blue ink and encourages her "to take your mind off things by looking at the little dining room. I will be so happy with you."

Je t'aime de toutes les couleurs. The simple surroundings must have been their haven of love.
JE T'AIME JE T'AIME JE T'AIME... in six different colors.

The belle Gaby shown in profile.

A collage commemorating their love. The inscription shows how serious Picasso was about Gaby. "I have asked the good lord for your hand." At 35 Picasso had never expressed faith in God nor a desire to be married. Their interlacing names, a calligraphic embrace. Did Picasso ever have anyone who called him by his first name?

Gaby Depeyre was promised to another and went on her own way to marry him. Lespinasse was an American painter-engraver. The lack of details known about Gaby and Picasso's affair speaks well of the discretion of all those concerned.

A country hide away belonging to my friend Catherine.

A place to escape the driving city beat and to get back in touch with the earth. Especially important for Catherine, who gave up a beautiful apartment to live with her amoureux in a peniche (houseboat) on the Seine.

This house in Normandy has since been renovated, but all the poetic simplicity is still intact. It's a matter of understanding a place. Everything doesn't have to be sophisticated. We need contrasts in this life.