Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
A book on art or decoration doesn't undergo such radical changes. There is the integrity of the work or artist to be taken into account, but choices are made. The results can be very different.The beauté above (top photo) is the cover of the French edition of the Robert Murphy/Ivan Terestchenko book on Yves St Laurent and Pierre Bergé. It is the purist of the three covers (see below and Little Augury).
For more of the stunning photography of Ivan Terestchenko, click*
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The other day I had the pleasure of discovering Mankiewicz' A Letter to Three Wives. The story was intriguing, the dialogues sharply chiseled, the filming original. It's the story of three women who are leaving for an outing when they receive a letter from their mutual friend, Addie Ross. The letter announces that she is about to leave and never return - with one of their husbands. Addie is a sort of Rebeca we never see but whose voice narrates the story, a powerful seductress as much envied by each of the women as she is admired by each of their husbands. The fact that each couple is living through some difficulties increases the women's feelings of insecurity. Whose husband is it?
We see the house that each woman lives in. Deborah lives with Brad in a big house with a colonnaded porch. Addie tells us that Brad, who gave her her first black eye and her first kiss, bought the house before going off to war.
Deborah on her way to pick up Rita for a picnic with the other wives, while the men...?
Rita Phipps ( Ann Sothern) has been waiting for Deborah in front of her home in a neighborhood shared by those on their way up and those on their way down. "Rita is on her way up and wouldn't have it any other way," says the voice of Addie. She rushes back in to say goodbye to the twins, oblivious of her husband, George (Kirk Douglas).
Rita Phipps is the working woman of the three. An ambitious soap opera writer for the radio, she invites her over-bearing employer for dinner trying to win her favor. Her attempts to put her best face forward naturally include sprucing up home and husband. They purchase expensive Scotch for the occasion, though "Bourbon is a better drink," because it's in fashion with "those showbiz types." Husband is expected to wear his tuxedo and the housekeeper has a new uniform complete with a saucy cap that she detests - all this is designed to impress. George, a school teacher, is indulgent but fairly put off by his wife's attempt at pretence.
There is tension in the air with such a cocktail of personalities. The guests bicker and the oafish boss and her submissive husband won't touch the Scotch though the others find it very necessary to partake. There is a clatter...
The cumbersome folding screen practically comes tumbling through the viewing screen,
a struggle ensues,
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I love all colors. I have definite leanings, but for me any color blooms in relation to other colors so I can't exclude a single one. Sometimes there's a color you just want to sink your teeth into. There's an immediate reaction. Is it emotional need?
magic made visible. There is nothing more miraculous, unexpected or wondrous than seeing a rainbow appear in the sky.
You are part of that rainbow of light and just as being born on a particular day under a particular sun sign offers insights into your personality and nature, there is also a
personal color that corresponds to the real you. It is the color that reflects the very
essence of your specific birth date."
Monday, October 5, 2009
Screens have divided and conquered Eastern and Western living spaces through the ages. With their distant origins in China dating to the 300B.C., their use became more widespread in the 7th century China. First heavy, lacquered, relatively stationary objects, they became truly mobile when made of beautiful papers and cloths later in 8th century Japan. Their easy transport made them ideal for tea ceremonies or as backdrops for religious ceremonies, dance and theatrical productions. The wild enthusiasm for all Oriental articles of luxury and refinement of the late 17th early 18th century naturally included not only porcelains, lacquer furniture and silks, but also screens. It seems to me their introduction into Western living spaces altered our relation to those spaces.
( European illustration for a fan, 1700,Victoria & Albert Museum)
This very simple screen made from a frame with dark green fabric nailed through a ribbon on to it seems to show that the utility of screens had been known for some time already; a screen wasn't only a highly ornamental piece from the Orient. Homemade would do. (Gérhard ter Borch 1665)Mme de Rambouillet (1588-1665) is thought to have first brought screens into fashion in France. Their introduction into living quarters coincides with the start of a new desire for privacy in a world where personal isolation was yet unheard of. Interiors were teaming with humanity. Aristocratic circles were surrounded by servants and constant social movement and in simpler home settings, one room served for everything and everybody; living was a collective venture. Folding screens could designate a more intimate space. Behind the protection of its shielding presence, one could listen and dream unseen. (Francois Boucher 1743)
Vast rooms would begin to be marked off with areas for particular domestic functions. The notion of comfort had started to make headway. Daybeds and low slung fauteuils encouraged a different kind of posture and less self-conscious behavior. One could set off precious chosen company as jewels in front of its richly decorated folds, the better to appreciate glittering banter or stylish readings. Luxury had met with a new sense of douceur de vivre, stiff etiquette could be relaxed here.
(Jean Francois de Troy 1679-1752)
With the progression of the home to a personal sanctuary, privacy became more and more natural to the point of being taken for granted. The 19th and 20th centuries saw homes become increasingly the expression of their owner's personalities and this as a prerogative for many.
The use of screens on the stage has long been known as a simple way to change scenery. To those who approach life as an art form, screens seem an especially fitting accessory for the home. You have only to provide the theatrics before the backdrop of your choice. Here's quite an example to follow with Dame Edith Sitwell in this famous photograph by Cecil Beaton.
Anna de Noailles, poetess with a flair for exotic costume. Many photographs show her with this screen positioned behind her daybed or her bed.
It's so much more effective to strike a pose against the vibrant color of a Chinese screen - a method tried and true for us in Western interiors for 400 years. Women's magazines throughout the 19th and beginning of the 20th century were filled with projects for homemade screens using postage stamps, wallpaper, or prints - just as today we may see similar projects using stencils, photographs or storage pockets.