Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum reopened yesterday after a major renovation and transformation. We were so happy to attend the (VERY CROWDED and VERY FESTIVE) opening reception on Thursday night — it was just great to be back in the mansion. And the space, by the way, looks amazing. I especially love that part of all of this renewal is a new typeface, Cooper Hewitt. Commissioned expressly for this occasion and designed by Chester Jenkins, it is the perfect way to honor this most significant and relevant institution. Take a look at this fascinating Design Talk about the creation of the new typeface.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris’s newest museum of contemporary art, finally opened yesterday to the public. Designed by Frank Gehry and over 12 years in the making, the Fondation Louis Vuitton resides at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne. Assuming the form of a massive vessel, the structure is made of 3,600 glass panels creating 12 sails. And although the design is fully of this century, the tremendous use of glass is a very intentional nod to late 19th-century garden architecture (think Grand Palais). The glass is also, quite clearly, in reverence for the natural beauty that surrounds it. Its inaugural event was rightly Nicolas Ghesquière’s presentation of the Louis Vuitton Spring 2015 collection during Paris Fashion Week. Opening programs include an exhibition of Gehry’s designs (sketches, models) for the Fondation and the construction of the building itself, a selection of works from the FLV collection, and a stellar series of concerts and live performance. Fingers crossed I’ll get there in 2015…
Looking ahead to next week, we are really excited about Dwell on Design New York. Hosted and curated by Dwell Magazine, Dwell on Design New York is not only the coolest trade show but three days of lectures, panel discussions, presentations and conversations about modern design. And on the final day, October 11, tours of modern residences in Manhattan. So great! This is the first year Dwell on Design will be in New York, joining the annual Dwell on Design Los Angeles, the largest design event in the country, happening in May. The good news is, you can still register!
This past weekend Yaddo, the hallowed and very private artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, opened its doors to the public for only the sixth time in its 114-year history. Situated on 400 acres of stunning wooded property, Yaddo has hosted (and continues to do so) well over 5,000 artists, across five disciplines, in stays that range from two to eight weeks. Yaddo’s roster of celebrated guests includes Leonard Bernstein, Louise Bourgeois, Truman Capote, Noah Baumbach, Sylvia Plath, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Langston Hughes and Aaron Copeland. There is something so tremendously inspiring about this place, we felt it all around us. Among the countless standouts we’re still thinking about are the lovely cocktail room, the communal dining room and the magnificent Tiffany & Company fireplace in the 19th-century art-filled mansion. A glass mosaic frontispiece depicting a phoenix rising out of fire and ember, illuminated by the glow of the actual fire behind it. We can only imagine how breathtaking it is when in use. We’re also still thinking about Katrina Trask, a poet in her own right and the founding patron of Yaddo, and a true romantic and visionary. It was she who envisioned this haven where artists could create freely and without interruption, this haven that has made such a profound impact on the development of the arts in this country. And no less important, we learned that white was her personal color, which she wore exclusively, and love was her chosen emotion. LOVE.
|Charles Eames (June 17, 1907 – August 21, 1978)
Charles Eames was certainly one of the most influential American designers of the twentieth century, and a particular favorite of mine. Trained as an architect, Eames and his wife Ray, an artist in her own right, ran the Eames Office in Venice, California for more than 30 years. Perhaps best known for their many iconic chair designs, they were indeed the most brilliant creatives and their vast and wide-ranging body of work is a testament to that. Charles would have been 107 years old today.
Be sure to check out the fantastic documentary Eames: The Architect and The Painter (2011)
|Mimmo Paladino, Sorgente, 2011, Vatican Museums
When I think about my first visit to the Vatican Museums, just two months ago, the word that immediately comes to mind is, in fact, MIND-BLOWING. Everything about it. The plethora of galleries and the vastness of space, the countless works of art and the massive scale of many of them, the history, the huge crowds, the gilt and marble. The very last galleries in the Vatican Museums that one encounters before entering the Sistene Chapel are those containing modern and contemporary religious art, a collection of some 800 works. In addition to numerous pieces by Henri Matisse, hundreds of artists are represented in these most serene spaces. They seemed to be the least considered by the throngs of visitors who passed them by, but for me, they were perfect and exactly what I was looking for in my cultural pilgrimage to Rome.
The most breathtaking mosaic floors that I encountered in Rome were at the Vatican Museums. Along with the remarkable artistry and handwork of the mosaics, I love the integrity of design and powerful means of storytelling within this ancient tradition.
But what I really treasured most, in my view from above, were the marble steps, once carved and now beautifully worn, by the countless visitors that have tread upon them. A mark of their own history.
I adore the stretch of avenue du Président Wilson between place d’Iéna and avenue Marceau in the 16th arrondisement, with the Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion and directly across the street, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Palais de Tokyo.
The latter are two of my favorite museums in Paris, both for their fantastic collections, exhibitions and programming, but also for the history of the structures that house them — built for the 1937 Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, one of the most important international expositions of the 20th century. The Musée d’Art Moderne owns countless masterpieces of modern art, including murals by Sonia and Robert Delaunay and Raoul Dufy. The Palais de Tokyo is simply one of the coolest art spaces in the city. It also houses a very inspired garden created by the visual artist Robert Milin. Located on rue de la Manutention along the side of the Palais de Tokyo, Le Jardin aux Habitants is divided into sixteen plots, each tended by a different urban gardener. I even spotted a chicken roaming around! I think the best time to visit this particular area is on Wednesdays and Saturdays when one of the biggest and best open air markets in Paris can be found right in the middle of the avenue.
Despite a fair amount of time spent in Paris over the last several years, I visited the Montparnasse Cemetary for the very first time last month. I can’t believe it has taken me this long! The art and architecture contained within this dense, peaceful 47-acre space (created from three separate farms in 1824) is very inspiring.
I must have spent at least two hours there, some of it just wandering aimlessly and some of it purposely seeking out my artistic and intellectual heroes of the last century. This venerable list included Constantin Brâncuși, Henri Laurens, Tristan Tzara, Brassaï, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire, and Jacques Demy, along with many others. I was particularly pleased to discover, by chance, the captivating marker of the celebrated French aviator, Maryse Bastié. And I was particularly grateful to the lovely gentleman, carefully tending to the grave of a family member, who offered to help me search for the rather hard to find grave of Man Ray and Juliet May Ray, simply in exchange for a tissue. There is indeed a wealth of kindness in this world.
|Brassaï, Couple d’amoureux dans un bistrot, rue Saint-Denis, c. 1932
© Estate Brassaï
Ah, Paris. My trip a few weeks ago really could not have been better, in fact, it was rather perfect. The weather was glorious, everything was in bloom, the city didn’t feel overly crowded — Paris was certainly at its best. There were so many fantastic exhibitions on last month with a particular focus on fashion and photography. One such is a major Henri Cartier-Bresson show at the Pompidou Centre running through June 9. Friends in Paris warned me that the lines for admission were still quite long (it opened just a few weeks before my arrival) so I decided to conserve my time and skip it altogether. Although, I understand it is most definitely worth seeing.
I did get to a tremendous exhibition at the Hotel de Ville, Brassaï: Pour l’Amour de Paris. The Hungarian-born Brassaï (1899-1984) was unquestionably one of the most important photographers to document Paris in the twentieth century. Not necessarily the obvious, but rather the less obvious, and perhaps the far more compelling and truthful — the city at night, nightlife, light and shadows and even the somewhat deviant — from his perspective within the artisic and intellectual avant-garde. This installation was significant, comprehensive and smart. I loved it. Brassaï: Pour l’Amour de Paris was set to close on March 29, however a beautiful catalog was produced, available here. And I had never actually been inside the Hotel de Ville, very nice!