Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Memories in technicolour

I'm in the mood for summer - for the sight of grass, the lack of grey, a tan, shorts, running outdoors, sandals... you get my drift. However, winter is not ready to cede it's grip on Kingston and so ice still causes slippage, salt still clings to your boots and the wind still sucks the moisture from your body. 

Here's to hoping that the Magdalena and her pastel ensembles from the February issue of Vogue Japan can inspire warmer weather to get here faster. Wearing an array of feminine skirts and dresses from the Spring collections she makes all of us who didn't go on some sort of spring break wish we did. There's something about this spread that recalls fond, yet vague, memories of my childhood and I've decided that this has to be because of the colours: the pastels give it a dreamlike quality, like a memory you fish for in the back of your brain and is slightly hazy and incomplete. Interspersed alongside this editorial are images that I feel encapsulate it's pastelly, beachy, summertime mood.

I remember thinking those candy necklaces and SweeTarts were God's gift to children across the globe. I survived many a summer pretty much solely on them & then there's Paul Signac and his pointillist, pastel Venetian landscape.

I totally can see Magdalena in one of those 'fashion shots' eating a dripping ice cream cone, but it doesn't get any better than Mulberry's Spring campaign.

Maybe I was an overly creative kid, but the pastels in the spread remind me of marbling paper and sidewalk chalk. Remember those buckets just brimming with thousands of different colours... at least it seemed like thousands when you were little. I'm pretty sure my family kept Crayola in business.

Rothko isn't known for his pastels, but the colours of this painting were very reminiscent of the Rodarte sweater and skirt combination above, albeit a tad more richly saturated.

Sunset and Monet: the perfect inspiration for a spring fashion spread.

The balloons in UP! and another memory of a distant trip to the Netherlands to visit the famed tulip fields

Time to face the reality that spring/shorts weather is still over a month away and in order to get there I'll have to face the horrors that the month of March is going to bring. As I sit in the Art Collection in Stauffer I realize that this is going to be home for a while.

- Life is good

Listening to: "Dreaming in Red" - the Calling
Observations: The flesh from my face is falling off
Craving: My first roll up the rim win

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fancy Dress

My ears are bleeding and I have consequently tuned out of my hated Renaissance class, turned my computer to record and gone on an adventure to a land of where Billy Crystal reigns, where there are always sequinned dresses and naked gold statuettes for all... but not really.

I only really care about the Oscars for the red carpet. The day after I may check over the winners maybe have a little discussion with myself about who should have won, but thats about it. This year seemed pretty safe. No swan dresses (Bjork and Cate Blanchett), no Haider Ackermann (Tilda), no... surprises. But anyway here are some of the night's best:

Trend: Whiteout
Rooney Mara continued her streak of edgy red carpet dresses in this stunning Givenchy Couture. Shailene Woodley looked grand in her Valentino Couture sheath, I like that she covered up and left a little to the imagination! Gwyneth Paltrow's cape didn't win her many fans but she looked statuesque in this Tom Ford gown from his recent collection. And Mila Jovovich surprised me yet again (I thought she was only good at killing zombies or whatnot) in her sequinned Elie Saab Couture confection.

Trend: Sing to me of Black and Gold, Sam Sparro
Anna Faris just looks adorable with her blonde bowl cut and DVF sequinned sheath. Jessica Chastain wins look of the night for me in her amazing gold embroidered Alexander McQueen gown. Despite thinking she has no talent, Angelina Jolie looked great in a sexy Atelier Versace creation. And Meryl Streep managed to match her Oscar in this lovely draped, lame Lanvin.

Mini Trend: Make mine Mint
I'm really in the mood to see The Artist and it's female lead Berenice Bejo nailed this Elie Saab dress in a faint mint along with Maria Menounos who looked very old Hollywood in her dusty mint Maria Lucia Hoha chiffon dress. 

And all those other winners
 Kristen Wigg was nice in her neutral J. Mendel while Emma Stone's crimson Giambattista Valli Couture dress dulled the redness of the red carpet.

Leslie Mann looked great in her royal blue Roberto Cavalli gown with light sequinned detail and then Elizabeth Banks stole the show at the Vanity Fair after party in an odd spotty green dress with strange feathered detail, but I loved it.

Oh and voila, class is over. Score!

- Life is good

Listening to: the dullest lecturer on the planet destroying my love for the Renaissance
Observations: I hate this class
Craving: Anywhere but here and some moisturizer

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Heritage, Hockney and Halcyon

Where did Reading week go?! This week that has centred around visiting an array of galleries, creeping Fashion Week, eating ridiculous amounts of food and most important of all, having a grand 'ole time with the best family ever, has just flown by.

I refused to allow jet lag to find me (it did) but we still managed to fit in some brilliant excursions. Last Sunday we ventured into London and visited three standout exhibitions:

1. Picasso and Modern British Art at the Tate Britain 
          It's not surprising when an artist cites Picasso as an influence, after all the man was one of the most avant garde painters of the past century and his name remains one of the most recognized in the art world to date. This exhibition brought together many well known Picasso paintings and juxtaposed them with works by seven major British artists like Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and David Hockney. I'm not a great connoisseur of British art and to be truthful I'm not always the most receptive to modernity, but seeing as Picasso is my homeboy and it's a great year to celebrate British art, with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics coming to town, I thought I could suck it up for one show. 

          ... And I'm so glad I did. Let's pretend for a second what I say here has any weight in the art world... I thought it was a giant success. It was well hung, with just the amount of work to keep you interested, not bored. The best part was that it included over 60 Picasso masterpieces, like Weeping Woman, Three Dancers, Child with a Dove, Nude Green Leaves & a Bust and many many more. These are all paintings you'd be lucky to see individually, yet here they were all together.

         I was overcome when I peeped around a corner and saw what I thought to be Guernica on the wall in a room up ahead. I've waited years to see it in person and got it in my head that I was about to have a life changing epiphany in front of it...However upon closer inspection I discovered that it was a photo reproduction. I guess you could say that disappointed was an understatement, but I should have been more realistic. I'm going to have to make the pilgrimage to the Museo Renia Sofia in Madrid to see it in person. Instead of hanging out at the Tate, the historic painting is undergoing a medical 'check up' as it turns 75 this year and it is probably a good time to give the old fellow a healthy dose of TLC. 

          Oh right the British fellows. Well I'd heard the names of several of the gentlemen covered in the show: Hockney, Bacon and Moore are all British heroes, but the other four: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson and Graham Sutherland were unknown to me. The problem with this exhibition is it's star, I can't really tell you anything standout about the supporting actors because Picasso stuns. Of course they do provide excellent artwork to support the concept of Picasso's excellence and influence, but there is no real standout piece or epiphany. They all exhibit elements of the revolutionary artist, but apart from that the big three (Hockney, Bacon and Moore) do most of the talking. There was one painting that I remember perfectly and that was Wyndham Lewis's Smiling Woman Ascending a Staircase (below left). The blatant similarities to Cubism (though Lewis pioneered Vorticism) and subject matter ingrained itself in my mind. Her face leers at you eerily, like the mask from V for Vendetta and it seems to be a play on Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase (centre). This also reminded me of the Gerhard Richter show I saw at the Tate Modern this summer where Richter also had a piece that hailed after Duchamp, Ema (Nude Descending a Staircase) (right). As I've said before I love drawing parallels in art.


          Here's some evidence of Picasso's influence:
 Picasso and Bacon (left) , Picasso and Duncan Grant (right)

Picasso and Moore (left) , Picasso and Nicholson (right)

2. David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy
          I’d heard Hockney’s name before, but had you asked me to name or describe one of his paintings for you I would have failed miserably. What I saw at the Tate was both promising and yet made me nervous. His work ranged from brilliant Cubist-styled photo collages to comical garish paintings. I was perplexed. Nevertheless my mom assured me that this exhibition, based around landscape, had garnered rave reviews from critics and her friends so I bounced along blindly.

          We met my travel weary dad there and you should know straight off the bat that my father is a brilliant, warm and hilarious individual with an enthusiasm for art that is applaudable and often roused to please me. Dad represents the average-Joe who goes to an exhibition without much prior knowledge of the artist and usually breezes through while art snobs like my mom and I take several useless hours. I’ve already professed my hatred for art snobbery, but I feel like such a brat around my dad; vaulting facts off him, talking about ‘this amazing painting I studied’ blah blah blah. Case in point when we were offered audio guides I initially balked at the suggestion.

Sarcastic me in my head: Me? Want an audio guide? Madam, I’ll have you know I’m in art history, I think I’ll be fine thank you very much.
Out loud: Oh, I’m fine thanks.
Dad: YEAH, we’ll take three.

          So this exhibition was a period of Hockney’s recent work: from around 2006 to the present and all the paintings were inspired by his home county: the East Yorkshire countryside. It was all so beautiful and rich that I couldn’t possibly do it justice here. Hockney took the tradition of landscape painting and made it relevant again (something I learned from the 70+ artist himself on my audioguide.) He spent many a season in the woods and fields painting what he saw over and over again, marking the changes in his spectrum of oils and brushstrokes. He works on an exceptionally grand scale and in multiple canvases per painting so that it comes together like a puzzle. It was marvellous. His use of colour is fantastic, sometimes almost garish; there were some unatural pinks in his trees that warranted sunglasses. There was a gigantic panorama of the Grand Canyon that was absolutely breathtaking. Over 60 canvases set side by side and in a rainbow of reds, ochres and oranges it captures the majesty of the landscape perfectly. Then there was the cavernous room devoted entirely to iPad drawings. Yes, iPad drawings. This wonderfully aged man (he sounds incredibly spry on the guide) had gotten ahold of an iPad earlier than anyone else in Britain and has created a massive series of 40+ coloured drawings on East Yorkshire scenery. Looking at them you couldn’t ever tell they were created on an iPad until told and then you had to wonder at his dexterity with the tablet computer and tools.

          Dad and I bounced through the exhibition together listening to the audio guide, chattering nonsense, giggling and generally being a nuisance while mom glided coolly though the galleries. It was simply unbelievable and though landscape is not usually my cup of tea (I am such a snob) it is really worth seeing, or even looking Hockney up. It was great, really worth it.

3. Dale Chihuly at the Halcyon Gallery
          Chihuly is a name I’m familiar with, oddly through my 9th grade biology class. When went to Kew Gardens for a field trip we discovered his work littered throughout the grounds. He’s an exceptional glass worker who creates the most fantastic, Seussical plant forms you’ll ever find. Well known for his magnificent chandeliers, Chihuly has a world-wide following and had a commerical show at a new gallery on Bond St., the Halcyon. It was a quick detour on our way home as mom wanted to show me, knowing my love for his sculptures and we were royally rewarded.
          Walking in the doorway we were met with one of his famous boats, filled with fiery orbs in reds, oranges and yellows that spilled over the sides. There were several chandeliers that would look amazing in the foyer of some house in the Hamptons and a dusting of gigantic glass earns textured with paint that looked very Pollock-esque. Making the descent into the lower level of the space I was fortunate to overhear one of the salesmen having a discussion with a non-descript gentleman and his gorgeous wife.

Salesman: ‘That one there is about twenty thousand there.’
Man: ‘And how about those…’ gesturing vaguely down the room
Salesman: “Well I believe those range from twenty to sixty thousand sir”
Man: Muffled sentences to his wife who is obviously the deciding factor vote
My head voice: I just witnessed my first potential art sale… I’m going to hyperventilate. Seconds later TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS?

            I guess you could say I was a bit overwhelmed. Part of me wishes I had the money to blow a cool twenty thou on a sculpture, but then I snap back to reality and think of all the other worthwhile things you could do with that and then I snap back to the other reality where with my degree I'll never see twenty thousand pounds. 

I was pretty pleased with the day’s events and at this point dad and I were both exhausted and disheveled next to my perfect mother so we concluded our epic gallery mission and went back to Suburbia. Boss. 

- Life is good

** Reading over this post I feel the need to do damage control or at least acknowledge my pompous ass-ness, but, after all I’m in art history. It's to be expected.

Listening to: 'Mausam and Escape' - A.R.Rahman from Slumdog Millionaire
Observations: Kingston sweet Kingston (for the next five months mind you)
Craving: N/A

Monday, February 6, 2012


I enjoy drawing parallels between similar works of art and fashion...

Ladies and their pets: Leonardo Da Vinci's Woman with an Ermine, c. 1489 - 1490 VS. Lady Gaga in Alexander McQueen at the Bambi Awards, 2011

Casual conversations in your birthday suit: Marcantonia Raimondi's Judgement of Paris, 1510 - 1520 VS. Manet's Le dejeuner sur l'herbe, 1862 - 1863.
* Look at the figures in the far right of the Raimondi engraving and then compare them to Manet's group.

Ladies with a penchant for jewels: Jan Van Eyck's Virgin Enthroned (From the Ghent Altarpiece), 1432 VS. Anna Della Russo at the Menswear shows in Milan, 2012

 Moments of rapture: Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, 1647 - 1652 VS. Prabal Gurung's Spring Campaign, 2012

 The Apocalypse: Albrecht Durer's VS. John Scott's Trans-Am Apocalypse No. 2, 1993
* Durer's woodcut shows a scene from the Book of Revelations, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse whereas Scott's Trans-Am is slightly more figurative in it's interpretation of the Bible, it too deals with the Book of Revelations. Instead  it is carved over the entire car.

Clear blue skies: Rene Magritte's The Beautiful World, 1962 VS. Diane Von Furstenburg's Spring Campaign 2012

 Colour Blocking: Piet Mondrian's Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow, 1930 VS. Yves Saint Laurent dress, 1965

I'll leave you with those today, but expect more soon.

- Life is good

Listening to: Track 17 of my OUA CD - Artist unknown
Observations: Tons to do before OUAs
Craving: Naps