Piero Fornasetti

The Artwork of Piero Fornasetti

Born in Milan, Italy in November of 1913, Piero Fornasetti was an eclectic artist who was an important figure in the Italian design scene. A prolific creator of designs, he was involved in many aesthetic disciplines including painting, drawing, graphic design, and product design. In the course of his career, Fornasetti created over ten thousand works and was responsible for one of the largest outputs of diverse objects and furniture of the twentieth-century. 

The first child of a wealthy family, Fornasetti was already at the age of ten drawing and displaying an innate inclination towards art. In 1932, he enrolled at the Academia di Brera, Milan’s public academy of fine arts; however, two years later he was expelled for insubordination. Although he applied to Milan’s Superior School of Arts Applied to Industry, Fornasetti was unable to adhere to the schools dogma due to his rebellious nature. 

Beginning in the early 1930s, Piero Fornasetti began a individual and comprehensive study of  engraving and printing techniques. With this knowledge and his developed technical skill, he began to print artist books and lithographs for many of the great artists of the time, including composer and playwright Alberto Savinio, painter Fabrizio Clerici, and painter and writer Giorgio de Chirico. The Fornasetti Art Printshop became the source of quality printing for many artists of his generation. Fornasetti, through his constant experimentation, later developed a printing method for graphic effects on silk; this innovation brought him  to the attention of designer and publisher Gio Ponti, with whom Fornasetti would develop a close creative partnership. 

From the early 1940s and onward, Fornasetti produced a vast series of limited edition graphic works, which included calendars, holiday gifts, and images for advertising, theater, posters, and publications. He produced sketches and drawings for the Esino Lario School of Tapestry, whose fine silk tapestries were produced by local village girls. In 1940 Fornasetti began to publish his own work in the architectural design magazine Domus, and for two years designed a series of almanacs for Gio Ponti. Taking refuge in Switzerland in 1943 during the war, he continued his graphic work, expanding into watercolors, oil portraits, drawings in ink, and the creation of theatrical sets for Albert Camus’s 1938 “Caligula”.

Upon his return to Milan, Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti began a close creative partnership which centered on architectural concepts in design and decoration. With the beginning of the 1950s, they put their theories into practice developing new simple and functional designs for the interiors of homes, apartments, cinemas and even ship cabins. Their initial project, the “Architettura” trumeau, a furniture design concept seen in an image above, was exhibited at the 1951 Triennale IX in Milan. This piece of furniture became an icon of Italian design in the interwar years of economic growth. 

Fornasetti is best known for his designs using fanciful motifs such as the moon, sun, playing cards, animals, and other surrealist imagery; most of which were executed in black and white. In 1952, he began work on his iconic and best known series, “Tema a Variazioni (Theme and Variations)”, a facial portrait of opera singer Lina Cavalieri, who was renowned at the time as a true archetype of a classical beauty. This image continues to appear today on a series of everyday objects from porcelain and fabrics to furniture and wall coverings. This portrait series entered into the world of theater as set designs in  Fornasetti’s production of Mozart’s two-act opera, “Don Giovanni”. These designs were used in the December 2016 performances at Milan’s Teatro dell’ Arte and in the  January 2017 performances at Florence’s Teatro della Pergola.

In 1970, Piero Fornasetti, along with a group of friends, operated the Galleria dei Bibliofili, where he exhibited his own work and the work of other contemporary artists. His paintings at this time contained both layered abstractions, with interacting colors done in various techniques, and figurative works done in a new pictorial style, where bodies and faces were composed of fruits and bottles. After the death of Gio Ponti in 1979 and the opening of London’s “Themes and Variations” design gallery in 1980, Fornasetti’s work and his idealogical concepts of form/function gained new interest both at home and abroad. 

Piero Fornasetti died in October of 1988 during a minor operation in hospital. In 2013, Silvana Annicchiarico, the director of the Triennale Design Museum, dedicated a first retrospective of Fornasetti’s work at the museum; this exhibition later went on tour to Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza. A 1987 collaboration between Fornasetti and fashion writer and publisher Patrick Mauriés, which became a monograph entitled “Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams”, was published posthumously in 2015 with an introduction by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. Piero Fornasetti’s work can be seen in the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Note” An example of the range of Piero Fornasetti’s oeuvre can be found at the online Fornasetti website located at: https://www.fornasetti.com/bd/en/

Frank Steeley

 

Frank Steeley, “Lettering for Schools and Colleges”, 1902, G.W. Bacon and Company, Limited, London

Born in Birmingham in 1863, Frank Steeley was a draftsman and graphic designer. The son of a goldsmith who worked in the jewelry trade, he illustrated a set of thirty-six first grade drawing cards for the publisher G. W. Bacon and Company, Ltd, which was published circa 1893 as Bacon’s “Excelsior” Drawing Cards.

Steeley, in collaboration with Bernard H. Trotman, produced the 1901 design book “The New Art Geometry: or, Geometrical Drawing Applied to Design”, which was also published by Bacon and Company. The exercises in this book, which used common tools such as t-squares and protractors, formed a graduated syllabus for upper level elementary classes and for classes in schools of art.

In 1902, Frank Steeley produced the book “Lettering for Schools and Colleges”, a collection containing his designs for forty-two complete alphabets, with sets of numerals, initials, and monograms. Between 1903 and 1904, he published his two-volume series “Nature Drawing and Design”. These books, examples of early Art Nouveau design work, described the process of using the natural forms of flowers and leaves to create patterns and simple line drawings. Both the book and the two-volume series were published by G.W. Bacon and Company.

Frank Steeley passed away in 1951 at the age of eighty-eight. Due to the historical and artistic significance of the work, Steeley’s books have been reprinted frequently and are still used as a basis for design study.

Susi Leeton

Susi Leeton, The Birch Tree House

Susi Leeton graduated with honors in a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Melbourne University. After gaining international experience in Rome and Singapore, she returned to Melbourne and began working on a range of residential, retail and commercial projects. In 1997, Leeton established her office, Susi Leeton Architects and Interiors, where she has creatively explored both urban and rural settings. 

Susi Leeton Architects and Interiors is a small practice, located in the South Yarra area of Melbourne, Australia, which focuses on high-end residential projects. The practice encompasses all the disciplines of architecture and interior design: conceptual design, regulatory, town planning, engineering, documentation, and furnishing. Working with clients on a holistic level, the practice ensures design continuity within strict budget parameters throughout the project. 

The Birch Tree House is a sculptural, four bedroom, family home approached along a pathway aligned with a row of birch trees. The entry is sheltered within an arch containing an oversized door. The focus of the house is towards the northern wall of large steel sliding doors which open onto the yard with its large oval pool. The volumes of space are soft, sculptural forms that overlap and intersect creating workable family zones both inside and out. 

Natural light and soft materials, whose finishes were deliberately refined and tonal, were selected to create a chiaroscuro of light and shade. Texture was a main consideration in the design. Natural limestone, oak timber flooring, polished plaster walls, and linen curtains were the understated palette. The walls of polished concrete create a shimmering effect throughout every space. 

Birch Tree House was on the 2020 shortlist for the Australian Interior Design Awards. Construction was done by Visioneer Builders, an Australian award-winning construction group located in Richmond, Victoria Province, which is  focused on unique, highly-specified single residences, multi=residential developments and commercial structures. 

The photography was done by Felix Mooneeram, a freelance photographer from the United Kingdom with a focus on design, architecture and lifestyles, and Nicole England, a Melbourne-based architecture and interiors photographer who has worked with many of the industry’s top architects and designers worldwide. 

Robert Winthrop Chanler

Robert Winthrop Charler, “Leopard and Deer”, 1912, Gouache or Tempera on Canvas on Wood, Single Panel Screen, 194.3 x 133.4 cm, Rokeby Collection

Born in February of 1872 into the Astor family, one of America’s oldest and wealthiest, Robert Winthrop Chanler was a largely self-taught decorative artist, designer, and muralist. One of eleven children in the family, he and his siblings became orphans after the death of their mother, Margaret Astor War, in 1875 and their father, John Winthrop Chanler, in 1877, both of whom succumbed to pneumonia. They were raised at their parents’ Rokeby Estate in Barrytown, New York, and amply provided for by their father’s will with twenty-thousand dollars a year for each child, equivalent to approximately four hundred seventy thousand dollars today.

Coming of age, Chanler traveled to Europe, where he stayed in Paris in the 1890s and associated with the artists of the city. His formal training in the arts was done at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts, where he produced his best known work, the screen “Giraffes”, which was exhibited later at the 1905 Salon d’Autumne and  purchased by the French government. Returning to the United States in the early 1900s, he purchased a townhouse in New York City on East 19th Street. This townhouse, decorated with his own works, became a social center for the art community of the city. Whole living in the city, Chanler was a member of the New York State Assembly  in 1904 and the sheriff of Dutchess County from 1907 to 1910. 

Robert Chanler’s work involved the use of sculpted gesso, gilded finishes, and transparent glazes  to produce highly ornamental and decorative designs. His work included paintings, fresco murals, stained glass windows, and architectural interiors whose compositions featured fantastical avian, jungle, and aquatic creatures, many overlaid with iridescent metallic finishes. However, Chanler’s specialty was exotic and brilliantly colored, multi-paneled,  lacquered screens.

Chanler painted what interested and entertained him; his work attracted the wealthy Gilded Age patrons, which included Gertrude Vanderbilt and Mai Rogers Coe, and earned him both critical and popular acclaim at many exhibitions. He exhibited his works at the 1905 Salon d’Automne in Paris; his refined work, with its glazes and lacquered finishes, balanced the salon’s exhibition which was dominated by the  bold colors and aggressive brushwork of the Fauvist painters.  Chanler exhibited his painted screens, with great success, at the legendary “International Exhibition of Modern Art” in New York City, known as the 1913 Armory Show. 

His elaborately painted screens were placed in Gallery A near the entrance of the show, where they immediately captured the attention of the arriving public and critics. Chanler exhibited twenty-five screens during the three weeks of the Manhattan show and at least nine at the show when it relocated to Chicago. Two of these exhibited screens were his five-panel “Hopi Indian Snake Dance”, one of two works that focused on Native American subjects,  and  the single-panel, oil on wood  “Porcupines”, currently in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. 

Robert Winthrop Chanler was a member of the National Society of Mural Painters and a member of the New York Architectural League. Known for both his artistic prominence, bohemian lifestyle, and eccentricity, he was a close friend of novelist and poet Hervey White, who was one of the original founders of the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock, New York.  Founded in 1902, it is the oldest operating arts and crafts colony in America.  Chanler became a member of the colony in the early 1920s and, toward the end of his life, owned a house in Woodstock, where he participated in local exhibitions. Robert Winthrop Chanler died, after having lain in a coma for twelve hours, at the Byrdcliffe Colony on October 24th in 1930.

Top Insert Image: Robert Winthrop Chanler, “Before the Wind”, 1919, Painted Screen, Private Collection

Middle Insert Image: Whitney Cox, “Robert Winthrop Chanler”,  circa 1900, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Robert Winthrop Chanler and Hunt Diederich, “Mille Fleurs”, 1919, Painted Screen, Private Collection

Étienne-Louis Boullée

Architectural Design by Étienne-Louis Boullée

Born in Paris in February of 1728, Étienne-Louis Boullée was a architect, theorist, and teacher. Though regarded as one of the most visionary and influential architects in French neoclassicism, he saw none of his most extraordinary designs come to life. 

Throughout the late 1700s, Boullée taught, theorized, and practiced architecture in a characteristic style consisting of geometric forms on an enormous scale, an excision of unnecessary ornamentation, and the use of repetitive columns and other similar elements of regularity and symmetry. Boullée’s focus on polarity, offsetting opposite design elements, and his use of light and shadow were highly innovative for the period.

Boullée studied under architects Germain Boffrand of the Académie Royale d’Architecture, and Jacques-François Blondel of the Ecole des Arts, where he studied until 1746. He was immediately appointed a professor of architecture at the newly established Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, under its director, civil engineer Jean-Rodolphe Perronet, This professorship gave Boullée access to public commissions and an opportunity to engage his architectural vision within France’s social and economic progress.

Étienne-Louis Boullée was elected to the Académie Royale d’Architecture in 1762, and was appointed chief architect to Frederick II of Prussia. From 1762 to 1778, he designed a number of private houses, most of which no longer exist, and several grand Parisian hotels, which included the Hôtel de Brunoy, demolished in 1939, and the still-existing Hôtel Alexandre, on the Rue de la Ville-l’Évèque. 

Boullèe’s reputation and vision as an architect rests mainly on his teachings and his drawn designs which span the years from France’s Revolution in 1784 to Napoleon’s rise to power and Egyptian expedition in 1790. Boullée’s project drawings, as a collection, represented  the necessary institutions for an ideal city or state. They displayed no direct political affiliations with any of the reigning doctrines or parties during this span of time; rather they adopted a belief in scientific progress symbolized in monumental forms, a dedication to celebrate the grandeur of a Nation, and, more often than not, a meditation on the sublime sobriety of death.

During this period, Boullée produced a continuous series of elaborate architectural designs beginning with a metropolitan cathedral and a colosseum for Paris, both designed in 1782. He designed a monumental-sized museum in 1783, which was followed by a cenotaph, or memorial tomb, for Isaac Newton in 1784. The design for a new reading room at the Royal Library was finished in 1785; and in 1787, Boullée finished plans for a new bridge over the Seine River.

In the late 1780s after the Revolution, severe illness forced Boullée to retire to his country house outside of Paris, where he finished the final architectural designs of his career. These included design plans for: a monument in celebration of the “Féte Dieu”, one of the most popular of the Revolutionary festivals; a monument to ‘Public Recognition’; and plans, finished in 1792, for both a national and a municipal palace. In silent protest against the terror spread by  the Revolution, Boullée also designed a reconstruction of the Tower of Babel which took the from of a pure cone on a cubic base, with a trail of figures winding in a spiral, hand to hand to the top; this sturcture would by seen by the nation as a symbol of hope for a unified people with a common language.

Étienne-Louis Boullée died in Paris on February 4th of 1799, at the age of seventy. During his life, he taught some of the most prominent architects of his day including Jean Chalgrin the designer of Paris’s Arc de Tromphe, and Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, who anticipated the use of simple modular elements in construction,. Boullée’s book “Architecture, Essai sur l’Art”, a collection of papers, notes and letters arguing for an emotionally committed Neoclassicism, was posthumously published in 1953.

‘Yes, I believe that our buildings, above all our public buildings, should be in some sense poems. The images they offer our senses should arouse in us sentiments corresponding to the purpose for which these buildings are intended.” — Étienne-Louis  Boullèe

David Kindersky

The Lettering of David Kindersley

Born in Codicote in 1915, David Kindersley was a British typeface designer and stone letter-carver, the grandson of the Arts and Crafts potter Sir Edmund Elton. He was educated at St. Cyprian’s School, a preparatory school for boys in Eastbourne, and later, attended Marlborough College for three years, at which time he left due to rheumatoid arthritis. 

Kindersley traveled to Paris and enrolled at the Academie St. Julian where he studied French and sculpture; he continued his sculptural studies under the Induni brothers, Peter Guiseppe and Joseph Vincent, both of whom were marble carvers in London. In December of 1934, Kindersley became an apprentice to Arts and Crafts sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill at his workshop in the market town of High Wycombe. While at the workshop, he worked on several important commissions, including St. John’s College in Oxford, London’s Dorset House, and Bentalls, a department store designed by architect Maurice Webb and located in Kingston upon Thames. 

David Kindersley left Gill’s workshop in 1936 and opened his own shop on the River Arun, where he continued commission work sent by Gill. On the death of Eric Gill in 1940, he settled Gill’s affairs and continued work at his own shop until 1945, at which time he relocated to the county of Cambridgeshire. Here he developed his own style and methods, his decorative carving embellishments, his use of heraldic ornamentation, and his taste for carving lettering on slate.

In addition to teaching calligraphy at the Cambridge Art School in the late 1940s, Kindersley received a major commission for carved relief maps to be placed in the American War Cemetery. He also became a consultant for film titles, through the influence of his cousin Sir Arthur Elton, documentary filmmaker and head of film production at Shell Oil. A major commission under taken by Kindersley 

In 1946, Kindersley established his first completely equipped letter-cutting workshop at Dales Barn in the village of Barton. He was joined by his wife and stone-cutter, Lida Lopes Cardozo, in 1976. A major commission undertaken by Kindersley and his wife was the distinctive large metal gates of the British Library which transformed its artistic “British Library” metal letters into a functional use. This project was followed by the gates at Queens’ College’s porter lodge; inspired by the same principle, the gates are composed of the letters “Queens College” wrought out of metal. 

David Kindersley is known for his accurate letter-spacing system. He designed the “Mo T Serif” typeface in 1952, which was originally submitted for the British Ministry of Transport for road signs. Kindersley created the “Itek Bookface” and, in collaboration with Will Carter, designed the book typeface “Octavian” for the Monotype Corporation in 1961. The Cardozo Kindersley Workshop publishes a number of typefaces based on Kindersley’s work, including the 2005 “Kindersley Street”, also known as “Kindersley Grand Arcade”, which is based on his 1952 “Mo T Serif”. 

David Kindersley authored two major works on typeface, the 1976 “Optical Letter Spacing for New Printing Systems” and the “Computer-Aided Letter Design”. Very interested in Sufism, he also published a book “Graphic Sayings” which contains his typeface plates bearing sayings by the Sufi mystics taken from the writings of Sufi author Idries Shah. 

Note: Kindersley’s workshop, now known as The Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, relocated to Victoria Road, Cambridge, in 1977. Upon Kindersley’s death in 1995, Cardozo, along with Graham Beck and a crew of five, continued the design, carving, printing and gild work.

Illustrative Posters of Switzerland

Otto Baumberger, “PKZ (Coat)”, 1923, Lithograph, 90 x 128 cm, Private Collection

Situated in the middle of Europe with a culture having three national languages, Switzerland’s graphic arts, particularly in the illustrative poster field, was highly influenced by its neighbors. Two of its most celebrated Art Nouveau poster illustrators started their careers in the 1890s during the Belle Époque in France: Eugène Samuel Grasset, teacher at the École d’Art Graphique and designer of the Grasset typeface, and Théophile Alexandre Steinlen who became known for his bohemian cabaret posters and advertisements, with their black cat image, for the notorious Le Chat Noir Club.

The new century brought forward a first generation of sophisticated Swiss-born and based poster artists who, without exception, had studied abroad in Paris, Munich, and other European cities. Important figures of this generation whose later works would form a major portion of Swiss illustrative posters include: Emil Cardinaux, a painter, who devoted to the poster medium, produced luxury hotel and travel images with the qualities of Japanese woodcuts; Robert Mangold whose work was inspired by Greek mythology and classical allegorical figures; Otto Baumberger whose realistically rendered work formed a synthesis between typeface and image: and Niklaus Stoecklin who brought a clean, precisely detailed, and realistic style to commercial advertising. All of these artist later became leading members of the Early Modernist movement in Switzerland.

The Swiss Werkbund, an association of artists, architects, designers and industrialists, was established in 1913 and provided a major momentum to the development of the Swiss graphic and printing industry, including its design quality and product marketing. In the 1920s, the association promoted functional industrial design and, coordinated with the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts, made contributions to the development of modern Swiss graphic design.

Ernst Keller, one of the co-founders of the Swiss Werkbund, was a professor at the Zurich University of the Arts from 1918 to 1956. He initiated a graphic design and typography course which used simple geometric forms, vibrant colors, and evocative imagery to explain the meaning behind each typographic design. Many of his students gained international acclaim in the design field, including typeface designer Hans Eduard Meier, who designed the Syntax typeface, and the graphic designers Hermann Eidenbenz, who designed the Graphique and Clarendon typefaces, Lora Lamm, a major innovator of graphic fashion advertising. and Richard Paul Lohse, a pioneer in book design and one of the leading members of the Constructive Art movement.

Both Zurich and the city of Basel were the home bases for design schools, printers, and publishers in the 1930s. Switzerland became an important focus for graphic designers from many countries, due to imposed artistic restrictions and political pressures of the rising National Socialist Party. In the 1930s, a major breakthrough in posters occurred with the work of Swiss photographer Herbert Matter, who had studied and worked with French painters Fernand Léger and Adolphe Mouron Cassandre in Paris. He pioneered the use of photomontage combined with typeface in commercial art. Photomontage was an effect where multiple photo images would be edited into a seamless image for poster use. In 1932 Matter’s  series of posters for Swiss resorts and the Swiss National Tourist Office achieved international acclaim.

The “PKZ (Coat)” , one of the most famous Swiss illustrative object posters, is a testament to the graphic skill of Otto Baumberger as well as to the lithographic and publishing skills of J. E. Wolfsenberger, Zurich’s renowned art graphics company. This advertising poster for the clothing line, Paul Kehl of Zurich, was the first object poster by Otto Baumberger in which he omitted all unnecessary text from its design. The advertiser is identified solely through the label on the coat. This poster was also an advertising first in the dramatic use of hyper-realism, as seen in the highly detailed rendering of the coat’s wool fibers.

Insert Top Image: Artist Unknown, “Lotschberg Tunnel, Loetschberg Railway”, 1912, Lithograph, Hubacher and Company Publisher, Bern, Private Collection

Insert Bottom Image:  Burkhard Mangold, “Fabbrica di Automobili”, 1907, Lithograph, 84 x114 cm,  J. E. Wolfsenberger Publishers, Zurich, Private Collection

Yuri Georges Annenkov

Yuri Georges Annenkov, Theater and Film Costume Design

Besides his renown as a painter and illustrator, Yuri Georges Annenkov was one of the top costume designers in French cinema from 1926 until the end of the 1950s. Born into a family of Imperial Russia’s cultural elite that suffered through the changes in political power, he was able to overcome the accusations of political radicalism that surrounded his family. This enabled Annenkov to study at the Stieglitz School of Art in Saint Petersburg, where Marc Chagall became one of his classmates.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, Annenkov traveled to Paris for further study, and began illustrating books and designing for the stage. In the period immediately after the Russian Revolution, he returned to Russian and was active in the Soviet Theater and outdoor performance shows, and also worked as a portraitist. Annenkov emigrated to Paris in 1924 where he settled and began designing ballet sets for American ballet choreographer George Balanchine and Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine.

In 1926, Yuri Georges Annenkov began what was to become a two-decade long career in movies. He was first engaged in 1926 to design the costumes for German film director F. W. Murnau’s production “Faust”, which would be Murnau’s last German film. From 1945 to 1955, Annekov was the president of the French Syndicate of Cinema Technicians. 

Annenkov’s most important body of work in film were the costumes he designed for the post-war films of director Max Ophüls, which included “La Ronde”, a series of character vignettes with circular visual motifs, and the 1953 “The Earrings of Madame De. .”, a romantic drama for which Annenkov received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. 

The work Annenkov did as art director for Ophüls culminated with his brilliant costumes created for the director’s final film, the 1955 “Lola Montès”. The film is a deliberate exercise in overabundance and opulence, and here, guided by Ophüls, Annenkov’s use of the Baroque style is a subtle critique of excess. Filmed in Technicolor by cinematographer Christian Matras, “Lola Montès” had an important influence on the French New Wave cinema movement and has since become a cult classic.

The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony

The Darmstadt Artists’ Colony

Between 1899 and 1914, the Mathildenhöhe (Mathilda Heights) of Darmstadt, a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, was the site of the legendary Artists’ Colony. It was founded by the young and ambitious Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse, who was the grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and brother to Alexandra who married Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia. 

Grand Duke Ludwig was determined to turn his state into a cradle of modern design and art on the highest level. To attain this goal, he commissioned some of the most talented artists of the time to become members of the Colony, including Vienna’s distinguished architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, one of the Vienna Secession founders, and self-taught Peter Behrens, who would become Germany’s top architect in the decade to follow. 

Situated close to the city centre, the Artists’ Colony became a sensational experimental field for artistic innovations in which the sovereign and a group of young artists realized their vision of a fusion of art and life. Their intention was to revolutionize architecture and interior design in order to create a modern living culture with an integration of both housing and work space. The whole human life-style was to be reformed to gain in beauty and happiness as well as in simplicity and functionality.

Beginning during a period when art existed for the sake of its beauty alone, the progress of the Artists’ Colony was slow; however, after 1901, the program gradually became more rational and realistic. This change was evident, among other things, in the numerous buildings created on the Mathildenhöhe from 1900 to 1914. Though at first the artists concentrated on the construction of private villas, they later created apartment houses and workers’ homes in an effort to face the arising questions of their time’s life and housing.

The ensemble of the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony is considered today to be one of the most impressive records of the dawning of modern art. Its appearance is still marked primarily by the buildings of the architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, who notably created the remarkable silhouette of the Colony, facing the city of Darmstadt, with his Wedding Tower and the Exhibition Building, both completed in 1908. 

The Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt is basically an open-air museum where the artwork is present in the form of its buildings, fountains and sculptures. At the same time, Joseph  Olbrich’s 1901 Ernst-Ludwig House, the former studio house and spiritual centre of the artists’ colony, is now a museum that presents fine and decorative art from the members of the artists’ colony. The unique integrity of the building complex is today a first-class cultural attraction, and the lively. contemporary centre of the Darmstadt’s cultural landscape. 

Note: The original Artists’ Colony group, headed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, included painter, decorative artist, and architect Peter Behrens; decorator Hans Christiansen; decorator Patriz Huber; sculptor Ludwig Habich; visual artist Rudolf Bosselt; and decorative painter Paul Bürck. Between 1904 and 1907, the group was joined by ceramicist Jakob j Scharvogel, glass blower Josef Emil Schneckendorf, and book craftsman Friedrich W Kleukens. 

After Joseph Olbrich’s death in 1908, architect and designer Albin Müller led the group. Under Müller’s leadership, the group expanded with majolica craftsman Bernhard Hoetger, goldsmiths Ernst Riegel and Theodore Wende, and Emanuel Margold, a student of painter Hans Hoffman.

Claudio Massini

The Artwork of Claudio Massini

Born in Naples in 1955, Italian painter and photographer Claudio Massani spent his early years living in Trieste, a seaport on the Adriatic coast. At the beginning of the 1970’s, he obtained a diploma from Trieste’s art school and, following his family’s move to Naples, he attended Naples’s Academy of Fine Arts. During these years Massini’s works were based on performance actions with an urban and social context. 

Starting in 1975, Massini developed his personal style of extremely precise relief canvases constructed of multiple layers of both organic and inorganic pigments. These he exhibited in the 1975 Rome Quadriennale, as part of “The New Generation” exhibition promoting Italian contemporary art, and in the 1976 Venice Biennale.  After moving to Treviso in 1980, Massini focused his work on acrylic paintings, often with sculpture influences and bleak undertones.

An agreement with Naples’s contemporary art advocate and gallery owner Lucio Amelio  led to Massini’s constant participation in important exhibitions, including a solo show in 1989 at the Lucio Amelio gallery. In the 1990s Massini channeled his energies and time into the development of the Padiglione Arte Contemporanea in Milan, a venue for meetings and exhibitions of national and international artists.

Over the course of his career, Claudio Massini has developed, through the research of different materials, a glazing technique of color and effects to place his painted elements on a relief plane only a few millimeters in thickness. The different elements, either opaque, translucent or dusty in appearance, retain their recognizable forms, such as stars, tables or flowers, in a balanced organic or architectural form.  

Now living in Casier, Italy, Claudio Massini exhibited in 2003 at Bologna’s Gallery of Modern Art and at the Mücsarnok Kunsthalle in Budapest. In 2009, his solo show “Fili Fatali (Fatal Threads)” was exhibited at the Civic Museum Sartario in Trieste and six other galleries in the city. Massini’s exhibition “Lago Sacro (Sacred Logo)” was exhibited in 2010 at the San Zenone Civic Gallery in the city of Campione d’Italia. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Treviso, Casa Robegan, hosted Massini’s solo show “The Body of Painting”.

The artist: https://www.instagram.com/claudio_massini/?hl=en

Mary Fraser Tytler-Watts

Mary Fraser Tytler-Watts, The Watts Mortuary Chapel, Compton, Surrey, England

Born in November of 1849 in India, Mary Seton Fraser Tytler was a Symbolist craftswoman, designer, and social reformer. She spent her early years in Scotland, being raised by her grandparents, before moving to England in the 1860s. In 1870 Tytler studied at the South Kensington School of Art, and later studied sculpture at the Slade School of Art in 1872 and 1873. Initially a portrait painter, she associated with the Freshwater art community on the Isle of Wight, becoming friends with Julia Margaret Cameron, a British photographer known for her soft-focus portraits of Victorian men.

Mary Tytler met painter George Frederic Watts, who was thirty-three years her senior, and married him in November of 1886 in Epsom, Surrey. After her marriage, Mary Watts worked in the fields of Celtic and Art Nouveau, producing pottery, bas-reliefs, metalwork, and textiles. Watts exhibited her work in The Woman’s Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago, Illinois. Through the Home Arts and Industries Association, she created employment in the rural communities; she also trained workers in clay modeling, which led to the establishment of the Compton Potters’ Guild in 1899.

Mary Watts designed, built, and maintained the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton from 1895 to 1904. It is a chapel in an Art Nouveau version of the Celtic Revival style. The main structure is inspired by the 11th and 12th-century Romanesque architecture; but the terracotta relief carving and painting is Celtic Revival. Virtually every village resident was involved in the chapel’s construction, with local villagers, under Watt’s guidance decorating the interior with a fusion of art nouveau and Celtic influences. George Watts, Mary’s husband, paid for the entire project and painted the allegorical “The All-Prevading” for the altar just three months before he died in July of 1904. 

Mary Watts strongly supported the revival of the Celtic style, the indigenous artistic expression of Scotland and Ireland. In 1899, she began designing rugs in this style for the carpet company Alexander Morton & Company, which was Liberty & Company’s, the luxury department store, main producer of fabrics. Watts pioneered the department store’s Celtic style with designs for the Celtic Revival textiles, carpets, book-bindings, and metal work.

Mary Watts was President of the Godalming and District National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society and convened at least one women’s suffrage meeting in Compton, Surrey. A firm believer that everyone should have a craft with which they could express themselves, Mary Watts died at Limnerslease, her home in Compton, on the sixth of September in 1938. Her remains are buried in the Watts Mortuary Chapel.

Note: The Watts Mortuary Chapel at Compton, Surrey, is managed by the nearby Watts Gallery, dedicated to the paintings and sculptures of George Frederic Watts. The chapel is open Monday to Friday (8AM to 5PM) and Saturday to Sunday (10AM to 5:30PM). There is no entrance charge.

Conan Chadbourne

Digital Mathematical Images by Conan Chadbourne

Born in 1978, Conan Chadbourne received his BA in Mathematics and Physics from New York University in 2011. He has worked in the fields of experimental physics research, digital imaging and printing, graphic design, and documentary film production.. Chadbourne lives in San Antonio where he works as a freelance graphic designer and documentary film producer.

Chadbourne  draws inspiration for his work from his experience in mathematics and the sciences. He is motivated by his fascination with the occurrence of mathematical and scientific imagery in traditional art forms, and the mystical, spiritual, or cosmological significance that is often attached to such imagery. 

Mathematical themes both overt and subtle appear in a broad range of traditional art: Medieval illuminated manuscripts, Buddhist mandalas, intricate tilings in Islamic architecture, restrained temple geometry paintings in Japan, complex patterns in African textiles, and geometric ornament in archaic Greek ceramics. Often this imagery is deeply connected with the models and abstractions these cultures use to interpret and relate to the cosmos, in much the same way that modern scientific diagrams express a scientific worldview.

Conan Chadbourn’s works have been exhibited at the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas; The Art Center of Corpus Christi,;the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art in Dallas, Texas; and the Bridges Conference for Mathematics in the Arts.

“There are 212,987 distinct ways to partition a 4×4 grid of square tiles into component shapes composed of contiguous tiles, assuming any two such partitions are considered equivalent if they differ only by a symmetry transformation such as a rotation or reflection. There are exactly thirteen of these configurations which partition this grid of sixteen tiles into two component shapes of equal area, each composed of eight tiles. This image presents this set of thirteen equal divisions of this group of tiles.”

—Conan Chadbourne, Discussing his image “Concise Lesson in Uniform Partitions”

Koloman Moser

The Work of Koloman Moser

Born in Austria in 1868, Koloman Moser, instead of  applying his flair and art education to paintings, embodied the idea of “Gesamt Kunstwerk”, meaning all-embracing artwork, by designing architecture, furniture, jewelry, graphics, and tapestries meant to coordinate every detail of an environment. His work transcended the imitative decorative arts of earlier eras and helped to define Modernism for generations to come. Moser achieved a remarkable balance between intellectual structure, often geometric, and hedonistic luxury.

Collaborating with Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffmann, Moser was an editor and active contributor to “Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring)”, the journal of the Viennese Secession that was so prized for its aesthetics and high quality production that it was considered a work of art. The magazine featured drawings and designs in the artist movement “Jugendstil (Youth Style)”  along with literary contributions from distinguished writers from across Europe. It quickly disseminated both the spirit and the style of the Secession.

In 1903 Moser and Josef Hoffmann founded and led the “Wiener Werkstatte (Viennese Workshop)’, a collective of artisans that produced elegant decorative arts items, not as industrial prototypes but for the purpose of sale to the public. The plan, as idealistic then as now, was to elevate the lives of consumers by means of beautiful and useful interior surroundings.

Moser’s influence has endured throughout the century. His design sensibility is evident from the mid-century modern furniture of the 1950s and ‘60s to the psychedelic rock posters of the 1970s and remains a source of inspiration to those currently working within the field of applied arts.

For additional information and images, the Fine Arts Library of Harvard University has an online copy of the 1902 “Surface Decoration” by Koloman Moser. The portfolio of thirty lithographs can be seen at : https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/56214

René Lalique

René Lalique, Serpents Pectoral, 1899, Gold and Enamel, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal

The eccentricity and the fragility of René Lalique jewelry made it unwearable for most women of the Belle Époque, with the exception of some figures from the financial and artistic elite like the actress Sarah Bernhardt, the socialite and art patron Countess Greffulhe or the Folles Bergère vedette and dancer Liane Pougy. The British Armenian-born  financier and oil magnate, Calouste Gulbenkian, bought them however, to privately display in showcases in his mansion on Avenue d’Iéna in Paris.

These jewelry pieces dating from the early twentieth century perfectly illustrate the René Lalique’s uniqueness and sense of observation coupled with a highly fanciful imagination. Lalique is considered to be the inventor of modern jewelry, breaking away from the statuesque and soulless jewelry of the time. Bodice pieces, chokers and combs highlight the originality of materials, never or little used until then in jewelry, such as horn, ivory, translucent enamel, glass and ornamental stones. The delight in exploring the glassy depths of moonstone would later inspire Lalique’s research into glass. 

Before his turn to mass production of glass, Lalique’s unique serpents-motif objects were in the top tier of his jewelry creations. The Gulbenkian Serpents pectoral, made in 1899, is one of the great examples of René Lalique’s jewelry production, not only for the mastery of its execution, as for the theme chosen. Reptiles were a source of inspiration to which Lalique returned throughout his life not only for jewelry, but also for his glass, bronzes, and other creations.

Classified as a pectoral instead of a brooch due to its 21 cm. size, the serpents pectoral is made up of nine serpents entwined to form a knot from which the bodies of the other eight fall in a cascade, the ninth rising in the centre, at the top of the jewel. The reptiles, in the attack position, have their mouths open from which strings of pearls were hung as was apparently the case with a similar pectoral, whereabouts now unknown, which was highlighted at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900 and reproduced in a publication of the period.

This nine-serpents pectoral was acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian directly from Rene Lalique in 1908. It now resides in Lisbon’s Museu Calouste Gulbenkian with over 100 works of René Lalique collected by Gulbenkian in his lifetime.

Bob Cantrell

Bob Cantrell, “Les Paul Special”, (Telecaster Model), 1961, Serial Number 37330, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Steve Miller received this guitar from Leslie West of the ‘Vagrants’ and ‘Mountain’ in 1967 or 1968. The original cherry red finish of the guitar had been stripped and repainted with the pale yellow that Gibson developed to appear white on black-and-white television. Miller had the guitar again repainted with intricate psychedelic designs by surfboard artist Bob Cantrell and changed the pickup covers, tuners, and controls to match the new color scheme. He used it extensively in recordings and live performances through the 1970s, including on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in 1973 and The Midnight Special in 1974.

Technical Description:

Mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard; 24¾ in. scale; intricate psychedelic painting on front and back of body; set neck with dot inlays and off-white binding; inlaid mother-of-pearl Gibson logo on headstock, truss rod cover with Les Paul signature; two P-90 soapbar pickups, three-way selector switch, two volume and two tone controls; nickel wrap-around tailpiece and Kluson tuners, clear and gold plastic knobs; original mahogany or cherry red finish stripped and repainted with custom psychedelic design, pickup covers, tuners, and knobs replaced to match finish.

 

Japanese Tsuba

Japanese Tsuba, Edo Period

The Tsuba is usually a round, or occasionally squarei, guard at the end of the grip of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various variations, the tachi, wakizachi, tanto, and others. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent’s blade.

During the Muromachi period, 1333-1573, and the Momoyama period, 1573-1603, the tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. With the peace in Japan during the Edo period, 1603- 1868, the tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals.

Tsuba are usually finely decorated. Whole dynasties of craftsmen arose whose only craft was making the tsuba. These decorated fittings were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to another. Many Japanese families with samurai roots would have their family crests crafted onto a tsuba.

Vitaly Bulgarov

Vitaly Bulgarov, Cybernetic Body, “GHOST IN THE SHELL”, 2017

Vitaly Bulgarov has been working for fifteen years as a Concept Designer and a 3D Artist. Besides his two main contributions to the movie, “Ghost in the Shell”, that included designs of the Major’s cybernetic body and the Tank, Bulgarov worked on shelling sequence interiors, some weapons and medical props, security/tactical drones and other concepts.

Reblogged with thanks to http://rhubarbes.com