VK

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

Category: ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN

‘preserving currant tanks for human rest’ at ‘Dexamenes’

‘Dexamenes’, (Kourouta, Peloponese), Greece A postwar winery, has been transformed into a conscious-travel resort  (by Venetia Kapernekas, July 2020)

 

 all photos unless noted otherwise ©Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Bauman  

 

“There is design in everything … in a cloud, in a wall, in a chair, in the sea, in the sand, in a pot.”
                                                              Clara Porset,Mexico City, 1952

 

Nikos Karaflos, the visionary entrepreneur-turned-hotelier, originally contacted k-studio www.k-studio.gr  several years ago with an idea to transform an abandoned wine factory on the west coast of mainland Greece, into a hotel.  Nikos ‘s family is from that part of Peloponese (municipality of Helias )  and his  memories as a child were around that area of ‘kourouta’ and love for his childhood family summers filtered his long dream to create/revive something special.

“Trying to raise awareness to save an old factory of currants from demolishing can be a horribly disheartening process” Nikos told me; with family help the  purchase through an auction to save that old factory and its history became a reality.

The history of Dexamenes°° dates back to the ‘Era of Currants‘.  Since the liberation of Greece in 1830, the cultivation of currants took on impressive dimensions and currants were the main export product of the Greek Kingdom. But when the ‘Currants’ Crisis broke out in 1910 in Greece, the trade of currants collapsed and there was a need to convert the unsold stock of currants into alternative products, such as wine. This was when the first wineries and distilleries were created. Dexamenes°° was built on the sea so that ships could be loaded with wine directly from the tanks, before setting sail for the major overseas markets. The derelict, industrial structures that characterize the site were left relatively untouched since the 1920’s, sitting quietly on one of the most unspoiled and beautiful stretches of coastline in the western Peloponnese. 

After a long process of design, development and incredible bureaucracy,  Nikos ‘s  dedication to the management of the project had been completed and the Dexamenes°° Seaside Hotel www.dexamenes.com opened June 2019.

Those  difficult last months for the whole planet as of Covid19, the  decisions and planning have become the most difficult task.  I was informed about the Dexamenes°° while in New York last fall, after a direct phone call  I made the  decision  to visit the spring 2020 with my daughter. The lockdown permitted us to visit end of June. My early childhood memories (my mother comes from that region) and the summers in that nearby seaside,  connected me  to a short pilgrimage trip and indeed became our destination travel.  We both immersed ourselves in this fabulous natural landscape of the Dexamenes°° for 12 unforgettable days.

While I am editing and writing on my desk today, a very unusual hot afternoon  in Munich, I recollect my memories of our arrival the  hot afternoon June 20th, arriving after a 3 hour drive from Athens, indeed the feeling was similar maybe going to an Arizona dessert.  Nikos Karaflos was waiting for us with the lovely consierge Georgia Koutsioubi behind their protective covid-19  masks with refreshing glasses of fresh lime & cucumber juice; walking thru the old factory Nikos shares with us the inside story of his dedication and dream. The landscape was welcoming us with a splendid embrace heat while walking around the factory and the breeze was traversing  through.

Constantly one is drawn to the abundant growths of the regional plants, where very carefully have been selected by the architects and Nikos Karaflos, from the yellow mexican feather grass  (nasella tenuissima ) and along the border fence by the sea the leymus arenarius. Recollections of my last spring trip in Tulum in Yacatan, feeling of disorientation being  in this magical place in the western Peloponese, just across from the Ionian islands.

I was  drawn to the details within this stark landscape. What a  natural splendour. (midday photos @venetiakapernekas)

                                                                           photo @venetiakapernekas

From the outset it was clear that the strong history and raw beauty of the existing buildings should not only be preserved, but be showcased in a design that would breathe new life into their walls. Here the architects plans compliment their brutality with elegant interventions and transform their austere functionality into a place of calm, comfort and relaxation. This last february, Dexamenes was one of the 3 projects by the K-Studio included in the beautiful edition, New Perspectives, The Design Hotel Book, Edition 2020 

I recollected memories while a Berkeley  University student in the mid 80s, an invitation brought me south to Palm Springs. Palm Springs made Desert Modernism, not the other way around.  The house of Frank Sinatra completed in 1948, architected by Stewart Williams, unleashed a new architectural frontier, Desert Modernism – a regional take on Midcentury Modernism – which has been bubbling away in Palm Springs for around two decades already, led by visionary architects like Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, and William F Cody. (Lucy Brook, on her article ‘Desert Modernism’ at Cereal, 2016)

photos  ©Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Bauman  

 

 Inside, a narrow black steel framework collects together the various beautifully detailed elements within the 30sqm space, organizing them with Zen-like precision. Textured glass brings light through from the bedroom and dressing areas into the bathroom. Generous proportions in the shower and WC bring a sense of luxury to the warmly toned and textured surfaces and polished terrazzo is a visual link to the colourful texture of beach-pebble aggregates revealed wherever the old walls have been sliced through to create new openings…The courtyard tank rooms are identical in their ergonomic layout. Original features such as the manholes and pipes in the façade of each tank and the patina of the internal wall surfaces have been preserved.

                                                photos  ©Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Bauman  

The factory as was made with hard concrete  walls to house the currants in old days, had a very simple philosophical eco statement; at that time no air-condition or any technology would ‘save ‘ from the heat so the wise old greeks at the time to create a ‘shelter for their crop, their currants, they had to create the coolest rooms ever..  Nature, ‘preserving the currants’ will be the mode to create a small oasis for our visitors to ‘rest’ and cool down where the team of K-Studio architects and Nikos were based.  Indeed, they succeed on that ! and ‘Dexamenes’ won the best New Architecture in an Existing Bldg Awards at the Domes 10yr awards, 2019 and Winner of Best Suite in the Ahead Europe Awards, 2019.

Local grape and currant varieties are becoming well established along the edges of the garden and will gradually make their contribution to the microclimate and productivity of the hotel.

                                                   photos @venetiakapernekas

                                                    photo  ©Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Bauman  
                                                                                                   

                                                    photos @venetiakapernekas

In addition to the tank rooms, their pavilions and the courtyard garden, the 2 original stone out-buildings have been carefully converted to provide the hotel with in-house dining and event facilities with a focus on communicating the culture of the area and the history of the building through art and cuisine. Reclaimed bricks found inside the original structures line the floors and terrace, and the pitched roofs have been restructured with bespoke ceramic tiles made locally and crafted to blend with the originals.

The old factory’s engineer room features an open kitchen with a communal dining table for wine tastings and cooking workshops, and an external dining terrace. Precautions had to be taken this year as the C19 so quite the arrangements had to be changed.  

                                                   photos  ©Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Bauman  
 photos below @venetiakapernekas  

 

For Chef Spyros Drakoulis modern cooking has become a serious art, but for him also is something instinctive. His search for fresh produce starts very early in the morning in the local market in Amaliada  and early visits to see the fishermen or to contact the best regional honey producers or the best extra virgin oil of the area. Chef Drakoulis ‘ cooking mirrors his love for his region, his family secret receipts, honest , fresh food.  Some afternoons I would come from the sea and say hello and he would be working  his mask, making new fresh bread, ‘zea’  for next morning. The ‘glue’  that cements the team of his kitchen together is his command in the most amazing way as he educates, explains to his staff every little detail of his cooking, all behind the ‘difficult mask’. One afternoon I met the beautiful Chryssa Giatra Batzi , consultant and aenologist who visits Dexamenes to train the  team for the best greek wines to accompany the delicacies of this magical kitchen.

 

 

 

 

photos ©Spyros Drakoulis & Venetia Kapernekas

Foloi Oak Forest, Ilias, Peloponese,  fall 2019, photo©Spyros Drakoulis

 

Ancient Olympia, (the eternal flame of the Olympic sprit ) is 25 km away. The Olympic Games—the most famous and important sporting event in the ancient world—paid homage to the finest athletes. That tradition continues to this day, nearly 3,000 years later.  It was a place where remarkable works of art and culture were created and shared to worship the Greek god Zeus.

The interior of the workshop of Pheidias, where the great sculptor crafted the gigantic chryselephantine statue of Zeus. In the early Byzantine era, it was converted to a Christian basilica.

 

                                 photos  ©Claus Brechenmacher & Reiner Bauman  

 

Nikos Karaflos  is managing his  small paradise with an extraordinary  team; as the C19 did not allow the ‘Dexamenes ‘ to open as scheduled in April, the hard working team meeting  all the needs for their  guests_ opened first week of June, with all precautions and masks always in place, (quite miraculous with the heat). Our stay was the most beautiful and memorable and we will come back soon. Thank you Dexamenes  

Venetia Kapernekas, Munich, July 31st, 2020

……………………………………………………………………………………..

Nikos Karaflos, is the imagineer and CEO of Dexamenes Seaside Hotel, a place of meaningful luxury that changes the way we experience hospitality. With a strong background in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, as well in Lighting and Multimedia, he believes in devising powerful ideas with cultural and social impact.

 K-STUDIO is a design practice rooted in Architecture.n”Our home is Greece, a country of incredible natural beauty and resources, where the cultural identity is founded upon being outside and making good, economic use of local skills, materials and agriculture to provide nourishing hospitality to visitors from near or far.”

K-Studio Design Team: Dimitris Karampatakis, Giorgos Mitrogiorgis, Dimitris Sotiropoulos, Marivenia Chiotopoulou, Giorgos Dimitrakopoulos, Christina Stamouli, Thomai Christopoulou. Structural Engineer:Panagiotis Zoumtos

Clara Porset,(1985-1981)  (whose headnotes marks the beginning of the article), a political exile from Cuba who became one of Mexico’s most prominent modern furniture designers. Influenced by Bauhaus ideas, she believed that design could reshape cities, elevate the quality of life, and solve large-scale social problems. (exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sept 6, 2019-Jan 12,2020) 

Foloi Oak Forest (photo of mushroom by Chef Spyros Drakoulis): According to mythology, the forest was named after the Centaur Pholus, who gave roof to his friend, Hercules, on his way to locate the Erymanthian Boar. Pholus offered Hercules a divine wine which excited the rest of the Centaurs who attacked the two friends. During the battle, Pholus was injured by mistake from one of Hercules’ arrows. The hero decided then to name the forest Foloi after his friend.

 

Hans Abrahamsen’s ‘Snow Queen’ at Bavarian State Opera premiere, December 21, 2019

Rachael Wilson (Kay ) Thomas Grässle (Kay double), Kinderstatisterie der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Hans Abrahamsen: THE SNOW QUEEN | Premiere: 21. Dezember 2019 | Musikalische Leitung: Cornelius Meister | Inszenierung: Andreas Kriegerburg,photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

Snow Queen (premiere, Dec 21, 2019 at Bayerische Staatsoper)
musical direction……………..Cornelius Meister
stage design……………………Andreas Kriegneburg
stage………………………………Harald B.Thor
costumes………………………..Andrea Scharaad
light………………………………..Michael Bauer
choreography…………………..Zenta Haerter
Choir……………………………….Stellario Fagone
dramaturgy………………………Malte Krasting

 

A musical triumph Hans Abrahamsen’s The Snow Queen,  was celebrated its Danish-language world premiere,  October 2019, at the Royal Danish Opera , directed by Francisco Negrin. The Bavarian State Opera produced its own version in english-language premiere, Dec 20th, 2019.  So very fortunate indeed I was while landed in Munich that rainy morning on December 21st,2019 to attend an evening invitation for the premiere of this new fabulous contemporary performance, with a new star, Barbara Hanningan, a reigning soprano of contemporary music, for which the opera was originally written.

From fairy-tale to trauma drama; In the literary original, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy-tale Die Schneekönigin, little Kai loses all emotion with a diabolical troll-mirror shard in the eye and heart, and is kidnapped by the Snow Queen. But his friend Gerda begins an arduous journey to rescue Kai. Andreas Kriegenburg places Gerda’s unconditional devotion to her friendship with Kai at the centre. With this story he is interested in the notion that, “someone in society becomes so cold that they withdraw into their very own inner snow-covered landscape.”

Joshua Baron writes at the New York Times, during the rehearsal previews, “And there is no metaphor more apt to describe Mr. Abrahamsen’s music than a snowflake: pleasantly soft and simple from a distance, mathematically precise and complex under a microscope.”He continues.. His song cycle “let me tell you” evokes a landscape as wintry as one in a Bruegel painting. And there is no metaphor more apt to describe Mr. Abrahamsen’s music than a snowflake: pleasantly soft and simple from a distance, mathematically precise and complex under a microscope.(New York times,review rehearsal, dec, 2019)

The Snow Queen: Peter Rose (Snow Queen), Rachael Wilson (Kay), Statisterie de Bayerischen Staatsoper,photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

The Snow Queen: Peter Rose (Reindeer),photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

The role of Kai, conceived as a breeches role, is embodied by mezzo-soprano Rachael Wilson. The Snow Queen is interpreted by Peter Rose. (bass baritone). Hans Abrahamsen does not only see the Snow Queen as a negative force’s or in his case him has also a good side. The idea of choosing a bass baritone for the role of the Snow Queen came from one of the leading role of Greta, Barbara Hannigan, “a bass baritone can be very seductive.. or even moving and comforting” (Mr Abrahamsen’s interview at the Bayerischen Staatsoper magazine, 2019)

The Snow Queen: Barbara Hannigan (Gerda), Thomas Grässle (Kay double), Chor de Bayrischen Staatsoper,photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

In the Munich production Gerda and Kai are a grown-up pair. Possibly traumatised, Kai has withdrawn into a silence similar to the phenomenon of mutism and refuses all communication..The Snow Queen is staged by Andreas Kriegenburg, who has already brought Der Ring des Nibelungen, Wozzeckand Die Soldaten to the stage at the Bayerische Staatsoper turns the fairy tale into a psychological drama, that oscillated between dream and reality. Gerda and Kay, in Mr. Kriegenburg’s production, are a middle-aged couple. The mirror splinters have always suggested psychological trauma; Kay’s condition is an actual mental illness.  The mental institution, takes place in different way in both acts (the opera is a two act opera ); the adventure of the tale is choreographed between the large rooms of the institution and the intense lab factotum of the surgery room; Fantasy blurs with reality under Gerda’s hopes and fears.

The Snow Queen: Barbara Hannigan (Gerda), Kevin Conners (Waldkrähe), Statisterie de Bayrischen Staatsoper,photos ©Wilfried Hösl

 

The Snow Queen: Barbara Hannigan (Gerda), Ensemble der Bayerischen Staatsoper,photo ©Wilfried Hösl

The Snow Queen: Peter Rose (Snow Queen), Kinderstatisterie der Bayerischen Staatsoper,photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

The Snow Queen: Rachael Wilson (Kay), Thomas Gräßle (Kay Double), Statisterie der Bayerischen Staatsoper,photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

Mr. Abrahamsen said he had wanted to write an opera since the 1980s. But it was only after “let me tell you” that he felt ready to fulfill a commission from Royal Danish Opera. Although “The Snow Queen” was written with Ms. Hannigan in mind — and although Mr. Abrahamsen had wanted the libretto to be in English — that company insisted on it being in Danish. But the language, Mr. Abrahamsen said, is difficult to sing, with “words in the back of the mouth, and the vowels very near each other.(Joshua Baron, New York Times, Dec 2019)

 

The Snow Queen: Dean Power (Prince), Barbara Hannigan (Gerda),photo ©Wilfried Hösl

 

Shirley Apthrop writes for the Copenhagen premier, (Det Kongelike Teater, (the Royal Danish Opera) “…Abrahamsen’s score is a work of obsessively fine detail, of immense complexity calibrated to sound beguilingly simple, of silvery, perfumed lyricism overlaid with hallucinatory effects. Everything sounds both familiar and strangely warped. There are delicate references to familiar works — Strauss, Mahler, Bach, Wagner — more like snatches of memory than quotes; but just when things seem about to become recognisable, Abrahamsen will bend away from pure tonality to warp a note or twist an interval, to stab or spike through an arpeggio, to hurt us just enough to make us come back wanting more.” (Financial Times, October 14, 2019)

The Snow Queen: Ensemble und Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, photos ©Wilfried Hösl

I  treasure the beautiful book “Hans Abrahamsen_The Snow Queen”published by Bayerische Staatsoper Spielzeit 2019-2020 (Bureau Mirko Borsche) and to a wonderful surprise with photos by Mark Mahaney, and his fabulous project, ‘Polar Night’ who travelled to Utqiagvik last January, during the final days of the season’s polar night. “Landing, it looked like we were dropping down onto the moon,” he said to Coralie Craft (photo editor, contributor to the New Yorker)

Life in Alaska in the Round-the-Clock Darkness of Polar Night,published at Photo Booth/The New Yorker  by Coralie Craft,Sept 29, 2019, photo ©Mark Mahaney

Mark Mahaney’s Polar Night is a passage through a rapidly changing landscape in Alaska’s northernmost town of Utqiagvik. It’s an exploration of prolonged darkness, told through the strange beauty of a snowscape cast in a two month shadow. The unnatural lights that flare in the sun’s absence and the shapes that emerge from the landscape are unexpectedly beautiful in their softness and harshness. It’s hard to see past the heavy gaze of climate change in an arctic town, though Polar Night is a visual poem about endurance, isolation and survival.

Mark Mahoney’s fabulous photo book ‘Polar Night’ has been published by the Texas-based independent art book publisher TressPasser Publications  His work  is represented by Kominek Gallery, Berlin 

Life in Alaska in the Round-the-Clock Darkness of Polar Night,published at Photo Booth/The New Yorker  by Coralie Craft,Sept 29, 2019, photo ©Mark Mahaney

The Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen is one of the most original and independent voices in contemporary music. He started his career by studying horn and composition. This was followed by the first own works that already met with international resonance, such as winter night. During a creative break of several years, which he called “Fermate”, he orchestrated and edited pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, György Ligeti, Carl Nielsen, Robert Schumann, Arnold Schönberg and Claude Debussy, whose music also influenced his own compositions. His work Snow for Chamber Ensemble was premiered in 2008. A cycle of compositions that is connected in terms of content and motivation is constantly growing around this work. His piano concerto for the left hand (left, alone) and the monodrama let me tell you, which he wrote for Barbara Hannigan and with which his music finally became known worldwide, are just as much a part of it as his first opera The Snow Queen after Hans Christian Andersens eponymous fairy tale.

Andreas Kriegenburg became a director at the Volksbühne Berlin in 1991 after training as a craftsman at the Magdeburg Theater. In 1996 he moved to the Hanover State Theater and in 1999 to the Vienna Burgtheater. From 2001 to 2009 he was senior director at the Thalia Theater Hamburg and from 2009 to 2014 chief director at the Deutsches Theater Berlin. He directed and directed the Munich Kammerspiele. a. in The Trial and Maria Stuart. After his opera debut in Magdeburg in 2006, further work followed at the opera houses in Dresden, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Barcelona, Paris and Tokyo. At the Salzburg Festival he directed Lady Macbeth von Mzensk in 2017 and Simon Boccanegra in 2019. In 2014, his production of The Soldiers at the Bavarian State Opera was voted Production of the Year by the Opernwelt magazine. He also directed Wozzeck and The Ring of the Nibelung.

 

Thank you Christoph Koch (Head of Press & Editorial Content, Bayerische Staatsoper)for your invitation to the premier & cooperation for submitting  all photo  materials on my desk. (january 20, 2020)

 

 

 

Ruth Duckworth; monumental sculptures & murals & dramatic poetry in ceramics

“I think of life as a unity. This unity includes mountains, mice, rocks, trees, and women and men. It is all one lump of clay. ”   Ruth Duckworth (1919-2009)

 

….maybe the world’s foremost and influential ceramic sculptors? Yes, indeed..

One  of the galleries that leads a journey discovering significant women in Art history is Salon 94 /New York and presently affirms some of Ruth Duckworth’s brilliant pieces.

Ruth Duckworth,’Untitled’, 2003, porcelain (5 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.-14.6 x 14 x 8.9 cm) Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94/New York

 

Ruth Duckworth (1919-2009)  was born Ruth Windmüller in Hamburg, Germany. She began drawing at a young age and left Germany for England in the mid-1930s, fleeing the Nazi regime. She attended the Liverpool College of Art from 1936 to 1940, studying painting and drawing. She studied at the Liverpool School of Art, the Hammersmith School of Art and the prestigious Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, where she later taught.

Throughout the 1940s, she took various jobs as a puppeteer, tombstone carver, working in a munitions factory and spent some time working in Lucie Rie’s  ceramic studio. At the time, ceramics in England were still quite traditional in style and functional in form, and her organic, hand-shaped, surrealist works were misunderstood by audiences at-large, but celebrated by fellow artists and ceramicists.

Ruth Duckworth ‘Untitled’, 2002 Bronze, 19 x 8 x 9 inches (48.3 x 20.3 x 22.9 cm) Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94/New York

 

Duckworth’s early sculptural work was representational but she turned to abstraction and organic forms that were influenced by both prehistoric and modern imagery, as well as nature and human relationships.  Inspired by a museum exhibition she saw of Indian pottery, she continued her studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London from 1956 to 1958, turning more seriously to porcelain ceramics. …She started out by carving stone but moved quickly to clay.

She approached the medium as a sculptor rather than with the traditional methods of a potter and was influenced by such modernist sculptors as Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi, as well as primitive work and ancient carvings. (LA Times staff, sept 26, 2009)
Ruth Duckworth,’Untitled’,1989,Porcelain, 6 1/2 x 7 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches (16.5×18.7×5.4cm)  Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94 New York

 

Ruth Duckworth  characterized porcelain ceramic as ‘a very temperamental material’.

I’m constantly fighting it. It wants to lie down, you want it to stand up. I have to make it do what it doesn’t want to do. But there’s no other material that so effectively communicates both fragility and strength.” Ruth Duckworth

When the gallery sent me some visuals I could not stop thinking about some of the Cycladic Art and while deepening into my tiny research I am certain now that Ruth had deeply studied both the Grotta-Pelos (Early Cycladic I)  culture (c. 3200?-2700 BC) and the Keros-Syros (Early Cycladic II) culture (c. 2700-2400/2300 BC)

(images:source, The MET/Dept of Roman and Greek Art)

marble head from the figure of a woman, Early Cycladic II, 2700-2500 B.C. H.915/15 in (25.3 cm), Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Ruth Duckworth, (source of images: Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO, exhibition photo, “Modernist Sculptor” (July 30-October 23, 2005)

Ruth Duckworth, ‘Untitled’, 1986 (image source; auction house)

Ruth Duckworth, ‘Untitled, 1990, porcelain,Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94/New York

Duckworth’s work helped shape a new way of thinking about ceramics in the second half of the 20th century and created a place for clay as a sculptural medium at a time when it was not widely accepted.

In one body of work she sets smooth and open shapes against sharp taut lines, deriving a dramatic poetry from a confrontation of flux and substance. In another, she creates massive undulating vessels with rough textures and earthy tones whose delicate sensuality belies their size and strength. (exhibition writer ) 

“Her stoneware murals, notably “Earth, Water and Sky” (1967-68) and “Clouds Over Lake Michigan” (1976), incorporated topographical swirls and abstractly rendered cloud patterns. Her small works, by contrast, were often delicate and abstract, with surrealist overtones. The influences were varied. The stylized modernism of Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi and Isamu Noguchi competed for attention with Egyptian, Mexican and Cycladic art.”(William Grimes, NY Times, Oct 24th, 2009, ‘Ruth Duckworth, Sculptor & Muralist, dies at 90 )

During her twenty-three-year tenure teaching at University of Chicago), she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1964),Duckworth brought some excellent public art to the university and the city, most celebrated, the mural ‘Earth, Water and Sky’.  In the 1970s, she received a commission for “Clouds Over Lake Michigan,” a mural that was displayed first in a bank and later in the lobby of the Chicago Board of Trade building. It is a sweeping piece of relief that incorporates meteorological and geological themes.

Ruth Duckworth, Earth, Water, Sky, Geophysical Sciences Building at the University of Chicago, 1967–68…a ceramic mural featuring abstracted weather patterns, rock formations, and topographical views, lines the entryway to the Henry Hinds Laboratory for Geophysical Sciences.

For Earth, Water, and Sky, completed in 1968, Duckworth abstractly depicted aspects of the earth’s natural topography and environment, using clay glazed in earth tones, modeling “fins,” and carving concentric circles to represent the elevation rings of Mt. Fujiyama. (source:The Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

Alice Westphal, Duckworth’s dealer at the time, describes the mural as an “archaeological fantasy of Chicago as a site of an ancient civilization” centering around the dualities of life: “order and chaos, similarity and difference, the organic and the fabricated…creation and regeneration.”

 

That was really a breakthrough piece for her. She really found her voice and form in that piece,” said Michael Dunbar, her friend and a sculptor who is an art in architecture coordinator for the state of Illinois. (LA Times, October 26, 2009)

Upon retiring from the university in 1977, moved her studio space to a former pickle plant in Lakeview, Chicago. She lived on the second floor of the space which she renovated in the early 1980s.  A large opening in the floor allowed her to look down from her home to see her murals in progress and envision how they would look on a wall.

Clouds Over Lake Michigan‘ ‘(1976) at the Chicago Board Options Exchange Building, and large bronze works at various college campuses.  Duckworth here has invented a territory where rhythmic, unfurling nature collides with human history. The mural embodies the dualities in life: order and chaos, similarity and difference, the organic and the fabricated – the oppositional elements necessary to uphold balance and sustain harmony.

Ruth Duckworth in her studio, Chicago (image source:American Craft Council )

Her work is featured at such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Windsor Castle, England; Stuttgart Museum, Germany; National Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, The Netherlands, Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; National Museum of Scotland; Kestner Museum, Germany; Schleswig Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Germany; Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Germany; City Museum, Bassano Del Grappo, Italy; Buckingham County Museum, England; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah; American Craft Museum , New York; Los Angeles County Art Museum, California; Evanston Public Library, Illinois; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (source:The Venica Project)

Ruth Duckworth, Untitled (Archival Inventory), 2002, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, gift of an anonymous donor

She was a great original, pioneering her own path within ceramics, brilliantly exploring the idea of the figure, the vessel and the more abstract form,” said Emmanuel Cooper, a British ceramist and an editor of Ceramic Review. (NY Times, Oct 24th, 2009) 

 

 

 

Ruth Duckworth house in Chicago, ( a former pickle factory at earlier times a dowdy part of Lake View (along the Metra tracks on Ravenswood Avenue)

 

Nature remained her inspiration, and many of her ideas took root in a courtyard garden. Duckworth passed away in 2009 in her adopted home of Chicago.`

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam_Tess van Zalinge “Shades of White”

In  color theory, a shade is a pure color mixed with black (or having a lower lightness) Strictly speaking, a “shade of white” would be a neutral beige.

Nevertheless, in Tess van Zalinge ‘s  fabulous creations, the shades of white take a complete different direction;  ‘The designer label’s aesthetics contemporises the female form, combining modern Dutch silhouettes with traditional elements. The precise cut and fit of her collections take centre stage, an approach lending itself to bespoke tailoring. Influenced by her Dutch roots, Tess van Zalinge references in her work Dutch crafts, costume wear, design and typically Dutch techniques.

photo ©Wadim Petunin

Virgin white organza and frail corsets formed the basis for the enchanting show with folkloristic kraplap. With the title ‘Monday, Wash Day’, the young designer referred to nostalgic traditional Dutch sculptures of green meadows with clotheslines full of flowing white wax.

I met Tess van Zalinge  first time last July afternoon in Munich; Tess  was attenting a special event for a dress creation which would be part of the Alte Pinakothek for limited time ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’ by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675). Tess and her studio created  a dress for that occasion, as her studies on costume historical design.

Design: Tess van Zalinge, Photo©Peter Stigter

 

photo ©Tomek Dersu Aaron, model Suez

 

Her collection “De Porcelayne Fles” (“the Porcelain Bottle’), collection 2017/2018  was launched  in  collaboration with  Royal Delft.  The collection was a class  between functionality and sensuality, featuring oversized suits and lingerie. Due to the unique collaboration, between Tess and Royal Delft, prints were created honouring Dutch master painters like Johannes Vermeer.

The music of Alexander Desalt echoes beautifully during that collection. Young Tess, a very hard working young fashion designer based in Amsterdam has lots in her mind..

A long admired artist and writer,  Edmund de Waal in his magnificent book “The White Road”, he writes,

“Porcelain is made of two kins of mineral. The first element is ‘petunse’ or what is known as porcelain stone. In the vivid imagery used here in Jindgedezhen it provides the flesh of the porcelain.  It gives translucency and supplies the hardness of the body.  The second element is ‘kaolin’ or porcelain call and it is the bones.  It gives plasticity.  Together ‘petuntse’ and ‘kaolin’ fuse at great heat to create a form of glass that is vitrified: at a molecular level the spaces are filled up with glass, making the vessel non-porous. ” (Edmund de Wall,”The White Road”_ a pilgrimage of sorts, pp29)

 

  photo© Tomek Dersu Aaron

“…It is from ‘kaolin that porcelain draws its strength, just like tendons in the body.  Thus is that a soft earth strength to ‘petuntse’ which is the harder rock. A rich merchant told me that several years ago some Europeans purchased some petuntse, which they took back to their own country in order to make some porcelain, but not having any kaolin, their efforts failed … upon which the Chinese merchant told me laughing, ‘They wanted to have a body in which the flesh would be supported without bones.” (Edmund de Waal, ‘The White Road, pp.29

Tess’ love for crafts, nature and folklore is again central in her newest collection. Inspired by the nostalgic image of white laundry on the clothesline above the vast fields that Dutch nature has to offer. Tess takes you back to Monday Laundry, ‘I have been inspired by this typical Dutch image of peace and quietness and made a translation of it with the focus on traditional costume, craft and experiment’.

photo ©Tomek Dersu Aaron

In some of their creations, the fashion designers, not always referencing as specific building , often incorporate architectural elements, like elongated proportions and strong silhouettes in their fashions; architecture usually plays the influence pattern. Coco Chanel quoted  “Fashion is architecture: is a matter of proportions”

Tess van Zalinge’s studio was created in 2016, a small creative team of 1-5 young designers, usually some interns of fashion design and all the  fabrics are within the borders of Netherlands. Tess does not hold any rules concerning how often she will present collections, first year she held three and a capsule collection, for this year is to do one collection and simultaneously to work /collaborate on interesting projects on the site.

The unique folded apron from the Molensteenkraag was the inspiration for one of the signature looks from Tess Van Zalinge’s Porceleyne Fles’ collection back in 2017. For her partnership with the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Tess has re-invented the stand-out piece to be exhibited next to the artwork in the museum for the duration of six months commencing in January, 2019.

photo©Marieke Bosma, courtesy of Centraal Museum Utrecht

photo© Marieke Bosma,courtesy of Centraal Museum Utrecht

photo © Tomek Dersu Aaron, model Fien Kloos

You are by the sea at the turn of the tide.. The san is washed clean. You make the first mark in the white sand, that first contact of foot on the crust of the sand, not knowing how deep and how definite your step will be. You hesitate over the white paper like Bellini’s scribe with his brush. Eighty paris from the tail of an otter ends in a breath, a single hair steady in the still air. You are ready to start. The hesitation of a kiss on the nape of the neck like a lover. (Edmund de Waal, The White Road) 

 

From September 5, 2018 to March 31, 2019, the Costume Museum organizes the Contemporary Fashion exhibition.

The Dutch Costume Museum shows the craftsmanship, artistry, and passion that created the Dutch traditional costumes. The collection encompasses a cross-section of local traditional dresses and folk art from each region. Each region has its own garb, with variations from different villages or stages of life, such as marriage and mourning after a death. The museum houses seven rooms, and each room is decorated with motives and colours characteristics for each specific region…..The museum is housed in a 17th-century canal house at Herengracht, around the corner or Leidsestraat in the center of Amsterdam. In 1665, ropemaker Jan Jacobszn van Gelder bought the plot of land on which he built house numbers 427 and 429. The carpenter Cornelis de Roos had a facade with neck gables constructed in 1700, a feature that is still visible today. The interior contains an original Blue Delft toilet, which is still in use.

……

all photos credited by the photographers and courtesy of Tess van Zalinge Studio, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

 

 

 

“Stories and Reflections” Axel Vervoordt and Michael James Gardner

 

Last spring during a beautiful dinner given by Fergus McCaffrey gallery, New York, as of the historic exhibition Gutai (1953-1959)  I met the writer Michael  James Gardner.  Our evening conversation was on his new publication, a memoir co-written with Axel Vervoordt,  “Stories and Reflections”, published by Flammarion (p hardback, 312 pages).  Axel Vervoordt, Belgian designer and famous curator whose taste and knowledge for rare and beautiful antiques, in modern art, furnishings, and pottery is astonishing.  Michael James Gardner is an American writer and Axel’s son in law.   I was delighted when I received the following afternoon my own copy signed by both authors.

To make this book. we began with a list that Axel made that included one hundred moments from his fascinating life. During a period of time that lasted many weeks, we met as often as we could, Axel started to tell me his stories and I learned many things that I never knew.  In the months that followed, as I listened to the recordings of the time we spent together, it became clear that many of the one hundred moments were connected…One thing leads to another. One story contains many…(Acknowledgements, Stories, and Reflections)

 

Needless to say that ‘Stories and Reflections”  was my companion through the summer during quiet hot afternoons in the Mediterranean and busy travel time as  the stories  unveiled and weaved in an extraordinary way, from discovering Japanese Gutai art, the decades-long series of exhibitions at Palazzo Fortuny in Venice; the  wonderful insights gained from artists, such as Cy Twombly, Anish Capoor..   By permission from Michael James Gardner, I chose three stories and photos to share here.

Cy Twombly and a Change of Heart 

photo©Jan Liegeois, published in “Stories and Reflections”

 

One of the last times I saw Cy was at TEFAF. He was interested in an ancient artifact, a Mesopotamian duck weight, circa 1500 BCE. Made of marble, such weights were used for measuring commodities traded in local villages.  He wanted to buy it, and I wanted to deliver it to his house in Italy personally. It was always difficult to reach him to make the travel arrangements. He rarely used the phone. His home in Gaeta was in a remote, hillside village on the coast between Roma and Naples. The best way to contact him was to call a local café, which he went to at the same time every day. …..in 2011, the news arrived: he had died in a hospital in Rome. In remembrance of him, I didn’t want anyone else to have the marbled duck. Today, it has a special place in the library of the castle and I think of Cy wherever I see it. (Stories and Reflections,pp. 194)

 

Stones and Silence 

photo©Jan Liegeois, published in  “Stories and Reflections”

 

“I believe stones are created by time and carry the power of the earth. Stones are like silence, slow-living animals-they have a spirit that resonates for thousand and even millions of years. 
…I believe there is a distinctive spirit in different types of stones – my practice is a reminder of that.  It’s a way of giving nobility to an earthy object that looks humble but actually has weight and meaning.”
In our workshop, I have designed floating stone tables using black Belgian slate. The creative process includes simply running my hand over the stone, not to give it the shape that I want, but to respect the shape the stone has already – like its hidden soul – and to use this as a guide in the design. Creating a patina by rubbing our hands over stone objects can be a healing process.  (Stories and Reflections, pp. 202) 

 

The Story of the Parquet

photo©Jan Liegeois, published in “Stories and Reflections”
While renovating the castle in the mid-1980s. I dreamed of creating a study with a beautiful floor. .. Through a referral, I heard there was something special in the north of Paris 
…A few weeks late, the parquet was delivered to the castle. It was much more beautiful than I could have expected. The designs used a mixture of walnut, rosewood, and maple to make intricate and unique shapes inspired by geometry, with expert precision……
…During that time, the craftsmen in our workshop worked hard for man months to recreate each square. On the day that the parquet was removed from the castle, we replaced the entire floor with our version, The process of producing it was the excellent technical training of our craftsmen. I consider their work to be a masterpiece. (Stories and Reflections, pp145) 

 

Author’s note: In the process of creating this book. I relied upon my memory of many different experiences in my life. I recounted the stories to my son-in-law in English, which is not my native language. We consulted family members and others who appear in these stories to read drafts, provide edits, or offer their own accounts of the events as we lived them. We researched facts and details when we could. I have changed the names in some cases or omitted them altogether. I occasionally left out certain details, but only when that didn’t change the purpose or emotional truth of the story and why I wanted to share these memories with you. (Axel Vervoordt)

….. you learn also from the ugliness because you either want to make it better or try to accept it. There is no beauty without ugliness. Art made me look at things differently. It opened my mind. I went on my own to England when I was 14 to buy antiques, and then I sold to my parents’ friends. I went to big, beautiful houses, and they had the most amazing art and furniture with Wellington boots out front. They lived in a casual way with beautiful things. In France and other countries, people had expensive things, but you couldn’t touch them. It was only to show riches, and I never liked that. I like things that are close to you that give you spirit. (Axel Vervoordt ” the design is here’, conversation  with Kanye West, by Chris Gardner, April 13, 2018)

 

“I want to give a different dimension to what I do. I don’t like that word, decorating…Rick Owens speaks with Axel Vervoordt about living in the light and what it takes to make a village.” Interview magazine, July 16, 2014)

Author’s note: The first half of the book tells more of a chronological story of Axel’s life, and the second half he really wanted to add more “reflections” and little lessons that he learned. It is more about mentorship that he received as a child and trying to pay that forward. (Michael James Gardner, May 28th, private note/email to me)

all photos©Jan Liegeois published  by permission directly by the author Michael James Gardner

 

Munich;African Ceramics. Collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria donation and permanent loan to Die Neue Sammlung

Clive Sithole, Gefäße, 2014 (rechts) und 2015 (links), Südafrika / Zulu,
Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern. © Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

A warm July afternoon I attended a lovely event at the Rotunda of the Die Neue Sammlung at the Pinakothek der Moderne, as Franz Duke of Bavaria generously grants a gift from his important African ceramics collection.

“The donation and permanent loan of African ceramics form an important extension to our collection and a major addition to our non-European holdings. We are very grateful for the exceptionally generous gift,” comments Angelika Nollert, Director of Die Neue Sammlung.

The African Ceramics collection closes the unfortunate geographical gap in the holdings with an inventory that is as outstanding in terms of quality as it is in quantity.’

Over 1,300 items of African ceramics from the collection of Franz Duke of Bavaria are going to Die Neue Sammlung.

Gefäß, 2013, Jabu Nala, Südafrika / Zulu Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern © Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

Starting in the 1960s, His Royal Highness the Duke of Bavaria has established an important collection of African ceramics. The collection comprises examples from different African regions and focuses in particular on ceramic vessels from the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection is regarded as one of the most important collections of African ceramics worldwide; highly aesthetic objects are formally very diverse and include items of everyday use as well as ritually employed vessels. The range of designs oscillates between the abstract and the figurative.‘ (Die Neue Sammlung official press news)

Voania Muba, Gefäß, Ende 19. Jh. – Anfang 20. Jh., Demokratische Republik Kongo / Woyo Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern © Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

Figur, 19. – 20. Jh., Togo / Ewe oder Fon (Mono Fluß?) Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern
© Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

Vessel, beginning of 20th century, Democratic Republic of Congo / Teke (Utyo area), Collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria. © Die Neue Sammlung (Photo: A.Laurenzo)

 

My dear colleague and friend, Ashley Booth Klein, in her beautiful publication, “Obelisk” notes on ‘painting in ceramic art’…

….painting in ceramic art was being treated in two different ways in the 1950s: ceramic artists, including Voulkos, Mason, and Price, were treating painting as the end of multi-step individualized processes—to push of craft into the territory of fine art, while painters like Picasso and Joan Miro were learning craft in order to exploit ceramics as, simply, another medium employed in a broader art practice. All of these artists would continue in the 1960s to pursue and refine their different methodologies and define ceramic art as something exceeding craft to the end of the century.

Vessel, 19th – 20th century, Ghana / Ashanti, Collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria. © Die Neue Sammlung (Photo: A.Laurenzo)

 

‘Ceramic art, at times functional, at times purely decorative or symbolic, in its original capacity was used to tell myths and stories. In Ancient Greece, small figurines symbolized Gods and the human form, while vessels were etched and painted with a range of pictorial narratives from funeral scenes to sea battles, to dances and boxing matches. Ceramic art was essentially a type of visual history, and much of our understanding of the ancient world and the first civilizations has been discerned by the unearthing and analysis of its worn fragments. In my eyes, the medium, throughout centuries of adaptation and reinvention, has remained and will always remain, a vestige of its primary and vital function as an embodiment and conveyor of human life and its essence.’ (Ashley Booth Klein, on Origins andPhilosophy,boothceramics,com)

 

all photos above courtesy & by permission (press office, Die Neue Sammlung, 2018)Thank you Verena Sanladerer for providing me with these special photos.
installation view, Die Neue Sammlung, (rotunda, Pinakothek der Moderne), July 2018,photo©Venetia Kapernekas

 

Hamburg: Elbphilarmonie, June 20th,2018; Robert Schumann & Antonín Dvorák

“The Elbphilharmonie takes inspiration from three structures: the ancient theatre at Delphi, sport stadiums and tents”
                                          Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron, architects

 

Visiting the captivating city of Hamburg, ‘Venezia of the North’ and  thanks to a splendit invitation by Tom R. Shulz (pressesprecher), I had  a blissful evening attending  a concert on June 20th with my daughter Nefeli at the Grand Hall of the Elbphilarmonie, (Robert Schumann and Antonín Dvorák ) with Thomas Hengelbrock  principal conductor of the NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchestras, and lead violin Ms. Vilder Frang.

History meets modernity at the traditional port Sandtorhafen in the HafenCity in Hamburg.  Approximately up to 25 historical vessels can dock along th380-meter long pontoon area of Hamburg’s first artificially built port basin.  Somewhere here at the edge the ElbPhilarmonie stands spectacularly with its impressive glass facade and the wave-like rooftop rises up from the former Kaispeicher building on the western tip of the HafenCity.   It is been rated as one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.

Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Sophie Wolter

For the Elbphilharmonie, ( Herzog said in an interview),  “one influence was the Greek amphitheater—carved out of the ground, as much geology as it is architecture.  Another was the canopies used at festivals and outdoor theaters to protect people from the sun.”

Elbphilharmonie Cross-Section (unlabelled) © Herzog & de Meuron

The Theatre at Delphi, designed to stage lyrical and dramatic productions, was cut out of the hillside overlooking the temple of Apollo during the sixth century BC, probably to replace an earlier wooden theatre.

Ancient Theater at  Delphi in Greece

 

On 11 January 2017, Thomas Hengelbrock and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra have officially opened Hamburg’s newest concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie. That first concert marked the beginning of a new era in the life of the orchestra, which has moved into the Elbphilharmonie as its resident orchestra and finally gained a permanent musical home after seventy years without a base.

NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester (Grand Hall); June 20th,2018  conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock,photo© Daniel Dittus

NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester; June 20th, 2018; violin: Vilder Frang; conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock, photo© Daniel Dittus

 

The renowned Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota is responsible for the perfect acoustics in the Elbphilharmonie. His company, Nagata Acoustics, has a long list of satisfied clients, including Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Toyota’s goal for the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall (Grand Saal) was that the hall should assist the natural acoustics of the music but also be sensitive to electronic sound systems so the audience might enjoy rock concerts as well. ‘Designing the hall is something like making or creating an instrument, like a violin.‘ (interview of Yashuhisa Toyota to Aaron Gonsher, April 2017)

The auditorium, the Grand Hall (Grosser Saal) with the  ‘vineyard’ style seating places audience no further than 30 meters from the conductor, breaking down barriers bbetweenmusicians and audience.

Grand Hall at Elbphilarmonie, photo©Michael Zapf

This auditorium—the largest of three concert halls in the Elbphilharmonie—is a product of parametric design, a process by which designers use algorithms to develop an object’s form. Algorithms have helped design bridges, motorcycle parts….in the case of the Elbphilharmonie, Herzog and De Meuron used algorithms to generate a unique shape for each of the 10,000 gypsum fiber acoustic panels that line the auditorium’s walls like the interlocking pieces of a giant, undulating puzzle.(Wired, What happens when Algorithms design a concert hall?)

Grand Hall, white skin at Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Oliver Heissner

The described  “white skin” that covers the surface of the walls and ceilings in the Grand Hall is composed of approximately 10,000 sheets of gypsum fiber panels. With the help of an expansive reflector that is suspended from the middle of the vaulted ceiling, the panels project sound into every corner of the space.’ …The 10,000 panels coalesce into a billowy, off-white skin, punctuated only by 2,150 seats and 1,000 hand-blown glass light bulbs…. beauty was only part of the architects’ intention when they began designing the building more than 13 years ago. “Every panel has a function,” says Benjamin Koren, founder of One to One, the studio that worked with Herzog and De Meuron to design and fabricate the panels.’

NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester; June 20th, 2018 violin: Vilder Frang; conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock, photo© Daniel Dittus

 

The Elbphilharmonie is located in the historic Sandtorhafen, which was Hamburg’s old working harbor for centuries. The Kaiserspeicher, Hamburg’s biggest warehouse on the water, was built in 1875. Destroyed in the Second World War, it was then rebuilt and renamed Kaispeicher where cocoa, tobacco, and tea were stored until the 1990s.

der Kaispreicher (2003)l resource;bildarchive_Hamburg
Architects Pierre de Meuron, Jacques Herzog, and Ascan Mergenthaler have been working on the Elbphilharmonie since 2003. Herzog and de Meuron established their office in Basel in 1978 and have since then designed and completed major projects such as the Tate Modern in London, the Alliance Arena in Munich and the National Stadium in Peking for the 2008 Olympic Games

 

Elbphilharmonie Cross-Section (unlabelled) © Herzog & de Meuron

Concertgoers can access the Grand Hall and Recital Hall foyers via stairs and lifts from the Elbphilharmonie Plaza. The Grand Hall foyer clearly defines the character of the Elbphilharmonie architecture with stairs that extend over several floors; 1,000 curved window panels, tailor-made to capture and reflect the color of the sky, the sun’s rays, the water and the city, turn the concert hall into a gigantic crystal.

Grand Hall Foyer, Elbphilarmonie, photo © Iwan Baan

Elpphilarmonie, photo ©Maxim Schulz

Hamburg is called the city of Music. The cost of the ElbPhilarmonie has escalated to 789 million euro. The current music scene in Hamburg is highly diverse; the city is home to three professional orchestras, an opera house, notable soloists and ensembles, jazz, rock and pop musicians, composers, singer-songwriters, electronic experimenters and many renowned educational institutions.

Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Michael Zapf

Roof of Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Michael Zapf

 

Christoph Lieben-Seutter has been the General and Artistic Director of the historic Laeiszhalle and Hamburg’s new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg,since September 2007. His responsibilities include directing the artistic content of both venues with around 100 events of different genres annually. Lieben-Seutter is also a member of the board of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester…

Christoph Lieben-Seutter, photo © Michael Zapf

 

 a winter morning;  photo© Michael Zapf

all photos kindly have been released by the press office of Elbphilarmonie (all photographers accreditation have been noted). Thank you, dear Tom R. Schulz, for the invitation experiencing a magical evening.

New York_Andrew Ferentinos ‘The desk of an architect:objects of desire’

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” Charles Eames

During a beautiful warm fall afternoon in New York City, I visited  Andrew Ferentinos‘ studio.  The sun was gloriously bright and a beautiful object was calling my  attention on his desk.  Indeed, was an object  that was created on the architect’s desk. Seeing in very simpler essence the experience of everyday life, the need to reach for simple and  important moments that transcend a normal day experience. And there it was standing alone, beautiful and quiet on the desk, “Untitled, Box No,1”

Andrew Ferentinos, Untitled, Box No. 1, 2016, aluminum, brass, cork, photo©Andrew Ferentinos

The box is constructed from two solid blocks of aluminum measuring 18″ x 4.75″x 3.5″. Voids within the interior provide storage for business cards or small items. The cork lining provides soft contact when closing. Two brass rods are pinned to the underside and raise the box slightly off the table.

Andrew Ferentinos, Untitled, Box No. 1, 2016, aluminum, brass, cork, photo©Andrew Ferentinos

 

Andrew Ferentinos, “Untitled, Box No. 1″, 2016, aluminum, brass, cork,5.5″ x 4.25” x 18″(available in mirror polish or sandblasted with clear anodize), photo©Andrew Ferentinos

 

“I am interested in part-to-whole relationships and the repetition of units in series. The concept of the box is to function as a brick. A brick can stand alone or be one of many bricks in a larger assembly. The form of the box is a result of its potential to construct something larger than itself.  This is achieved by the coupling of flutes and rods that fit together, establishing not only a firm joint and locking mechanism but also a sliding mechanism.  Boxes stacked in series function as the stacked sliding drawers of a cabinet.  Like a brick, there is no prescribed way of joining them together. It is up to the builder to make an arrangement.” (Andrew Ferentinos)

Andrew Ferentinos, 11″ x 17″ graphite on paper, sketches for the ‘unitled Box no.1’

Andrew Ferentinos, 11″ x 17″ graphite on paper. sketches for the ‘untitled box no.1’

Farnsworth House, in Plano, Ilinois,  designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, completed 1951,now a modernist icon, was once a controversial home, photo©Arcaid images/Alamy

Villa Savoye, a modernist villa on the outskirts of Paris, designed by Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret (1928-1931)
Corbusier cited the 1912 book of the Austrian architect Adolf Loos “Ornament and crime”, and quoted Loos’s dictum, “The more a people are cultivated, the more decor disappears.”….He declared that in the future the decorative arts industry would produce only “objects which are perfectly useful, convenient, and have a true luxury which pleases our spirit by their elegance and the purity of their execution and the efficiency of their services.

 

Le Corbusier, Exterior of the Unité d’ Habitation, in Marseille (1947–1952)

The modular design of the apartments inserted into the building the Unité d’ Habitation, in Marseille (1947–1952)

Andrew Ferentinos has created another luxurious desirable object, which serves as a book stand or paper holder, the  ‘Barcelona Column’  

Andrew Ferentinos, ‘Barcelona Column’, a photo of the prototype,2016  ©Andrew Ferentinos

Barcelona Column is an exact replica of Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Barcelona Pavilion column, yet made of polished yellow brass and slightly scaled down to become an object rather than a building component.

Andrew Ferentinos, ‘Barcelona Column’, a photo of the prototype,2016  ©Andrew Ferentinos

The  Barcelona Pavilion, part of the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain,  designed by Mies van der Rohe, was the display of architecture’s modern movement to the world.  Originally named the German Pavilion, the pavilion was the face of Germany after WWI, emulating the nation’s progressively modern culture that was still rooted in its classical history. Its elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural material presented by Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion as a bridge into his future career, as well as architectural modernism.

the Barcelona Pavilion photo ©Gili Merin (resource, ARCDaily, Feb 2011 )

“..In 1930, the original Barcelona Pavilion was dismantled after the International Exposition was over;  in 1983 a group of Catalan architects began working on rebuilding the pavilion from photographs and what little salvaged drawings that remained.  The pavilion is furnished with only a few pieces of furniture and a sculpture by Georg Kolbe on the rear patio. On the occasion of Mies’ s 100th birthday, the pavilion was rebuilt in 1986 according to his original design. 

….the Barcelona Pavilion resides on a narrow site in a quiet tucked away corner secluded from the bustling city streets of Barcelona.  Raised on a plinth of travertine, the Barcelona Pavilion separates itself from its context create atmospheric and experiential effects that seem to occur in a vacuum that dissolves all consciousness of the surrounding city.”

the Barcelona Pavilion photo ©Gili Merin (resource, ARCDaily, Feb 2011 )

 

‘…..The interior of the pavilion consists of offset wall places that work with the low roof plane to encourage movement, as well as activate Mies’ architectural promenade where framed views would induce movement through the narrow passage that would open into a larger volume….’

Here Mies combined glass, steel, and stone into a reduced abstract composition with clear horizontal and vertical lines. The building’ load-bearing and space-forming elements ae strictly separated and allow for a free-plan interior. Eight chrome-plated steel supports (cruciform in cross section)carry the roof slab, but partitions have been inserted without any structural function. A large travertine plinth raises the pavilion above its surroundings. (Bauhaus, publ. by Prestel,2001,Hans Hengels, text Ulf Meyer, pp.72)

Based on the above detail text on the Barcelona Pavilion, I found proper to relate the fabulous ‘Barcelona Column’ by Andrew Ferentinos.

Andrew Ferentinos studied architecture and art at The Cooper Union in New York City and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Andrew Ferentinos received a BArch from Cooper Union and an advanced Masters degree from MIT.  Ferentinos opened his architecture office Ferentinos Architecture in 2012 after working in New York City for such prestigious architects as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Raimund Abraham, and Francois de Menil.  Currently, Andrew is working on the re-constructing ambitious revival (private client) of two houses by Peter Eisenman, on West Cornwall, Connecticut, and Hardwick, Vermont.

 

The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.
                                                                                                 Frank Lloyd Wright

Andrew Ferentinos has been one of my contributor writers with a beautiful piece in earlier times for my blog, on Eero Saarinen’s MIT Chapel 

 

…………………Thank you Andrew Ferentinos for your friendship and your story  on Eero Saarinen and your continuous educating me on fine architecture; and  photos and sketches by permission to be published in the VK Blog.(New York, May 2018 )

 

Munich “IL TRITTICO”, Giacomo Puccini at Bayerische Staatsoper_ a brilliant performance

IL TRITTICO: Il tabarro / Suor Angelica / Gianni Schicchi

Three operas in one act each: Composer: Giacomo Puccini ; Libretti by Giuseppe Adami and Giovacchino Forzano  (In Italian with German and English surtitles)

 IL TRITTICO (Suor Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica), Ensemble und Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper photo©Wilfried Hösl

 

musical direction: Kirill Petrenko  production: Lotte de Beer
Conceptual advice: Peter te Nuyl 
stage: Bernhard Hammer 
Costumes: Jorine van Beek 
light: Alex Brok 
dramaturgy: Malte Krasting 
choirs: Sören Eckhoff 

Last December, few days before Christmas, I had a lovely invitation for “Il Triticco, one of the most underrated opera by Giacomo Puccini, for the Bayerische Staatsoper_Munich,   one of the most triumphant opera houses of our contemporary time.

Three radically different sets being demanded for this 3-act opera and a balanced ‘marriage’ of Ms Lotte de Beer ( production /stage design), the music direction by Kirill Petrenko and the performers, principally Ermonela Jaho on the role of Suor Angelica emanated  to an astonishingly outstanding performance.

Simply stunning, simply gorgeous….And then something very rare happens: De Beer takes the stage, and instead of the usual boos the applause gets even louder. The spinning spaceship has done it to the audience. “(Sueddeutsche Zeitung”)

These three self-contained operas whose stories have nothing to do with each other  act as strange neighbors; First,  ‘Il Tabarro’ (The Cloak), a melodramatic slice of life and marital sleaze, a chill drama on the Seine; then follows the delicate tragedy of Suor Angelica, a religious tale set in a convent, (location:near Siena), featuring an entirely female cast; and the third act comes a devilish comedy of Gianni Schicchi (location; Florence) in which a family of hypocrites are duped out  of their inheritance by a perfect villain.

 Giacomo Puccini has summarized under the art historical term “triptych” – Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi  three one-act operas,  scenes of reality. Puccini ventures to narrate the world as a whole in a grand opera as in a great novel.  Puccini sets three historical highlights, bundled by a music that understands the human impulses of relentless coldness to glowing passion.

Ms. de Beer doesn’t think operas should abandon the audiences they already have in favor of new audiences, but “I think they should get a second brand, like a younger version run by young artists who get a chance to try and communicate with their contemporaries.(NY Times, 2014, Breaking the Rules of Opera for a New Generation)

Il trittico (Sour Angelica): Michaela Schuster (Die Fürstin), Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica) photo ©Wilfried Hösl

Around 1904, Puccini first began planning a set of one-act operas, largely because of the success of  Cavalleria Rusticana.  Originally, he planned to write each opera to reflect one of the parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy However, he eventually based only Gianni Schicchi on Dante’s epic poem; the link in the final work is that each opera deals with the concealment of a death. 

Il trittico (Sour Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica) photo©Wilfried Hösl

“Il Trittico is not only a showcase of some of Puccini’s best writing, but it can also be a showcase for a director who is unable to resist the temptation to try to link them at least thematically, since there is little common convergence of tone, period or character between the three short works. Lotte de Beer connects the three pieces in only the most abstract of ways for the new production in Munich. Each of the one-act operas remains in the period of its original setting, and plays out closely to the libretto, but each take place within the wide opening of what looks like a large tunnel. The concept behind this is something to do with time, connecting the past with the future, but it’s not something that makes a great impression or present the works in any new or revelatory way.” (Opera Journal, Puccini, Il Trittico, Munich 2017) 

Il trittico (Sour Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica) photo©Wilfried Hösl

After the extensive music dramas of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, the music world occupied itself with the question of what can follow those form-perfect opera dramas with leitmotif technique and a duration of many hours of performance; an increase no longer seemed possible. In Italy, therefore, people around the year 1880 recollected the short form of one-act play, which was not completely unknown. As early as the 16th century, it was customary to insert smaller and stand-alone “mini-comedies” as intermedia between the acts of tragedies, in order to make the evening evenings more varied. Over time, the comic intermezzi between soprano and bass buffo developed out of these, while in France they created variety through ballet inserts between the tragedy files. (Amelie Langermantel, Il Trittico-Die Kunst Des Einakters, 12.20.2017)

 IL TRITTICO (Il tabarro): Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Wolfgang Koch (Michele), Yonghoon Lee (Luigi); photo©Wilfried Hösl

 IL TRITTICO (Il tabarro): Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Wolfgang Koch (Michele), Yonghoon Lee (Luigi); photo©Wilfried Hösl

The idea of the one-acter Puccini did not seem to have let go since then. At the turn of the century, he focused more intensively on the idea of three co-ordinated short operas dedicated to various episodes of the Divine Comedy Dante, each depicting the areas of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso (Hell, Purification Mountain and Paradise). Both the unsatisfactory libretto search for three matching stories, and in crucial instance Puccini’s publisher Giulio Ricordi spoke against the implementation of this fabric idea. However, Puccini thus laid the foundation for his Trittico, which should unite as well as the Divine Comedy in three initially independent parts under a theme. Over the years, the composer tried repeatedly  to implement the idea of the three separate acts and thought, for example, in 1907 to set to music by Maxim Gorki. Again publisher Ricordi expressed his concerns that those topics would not be suitable for an opera and would never sell to the public.

 IL TRITTICO (Suor Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica), Ensemble und Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper photo©Wilfried Hösl

 

Many thanks to Christoph Koch (Head of Press & Editorial Content /STAATSOPER) for his invitation and  support  and patience to finalize this post.

 

 

‘Lightscape’ porcelain quietness creations of Ruth Gurvich

‘Lightscapes ‘: light and delicate as paper, precise as an origami object, and pure  and clean as freshly fallen snow.

all photos, courtesy of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg

When the days are heavy and stormy, as last days in New York, my luxury refuge memories is my passion for porcelain.  About a year ago, a very misty morning, while living in Munich, having an invitation to visit the Porzellan Manufacturer Nymphenburg, I drove to Nymphenburg Palace, where springtime I visited often the gardens, to experience the creations of Ruth Grulich.

Porcelain has been made for 1,000 years, traded for 1,000 years. And it has been in Europe for 800 of these.  You can trace a few shards earlier.  These broken fragments of Chinese for gleam provocatively alongside the heavy earthenware pitchers they were found with an no one can work out how they got to this Kentish cemetery, the Urbino hillside. There are scattering of porcelain across medieval Europe in inventories of Jean, doc de Berry, a couple of popes, the will of Piero de’Medici with his ulna copper di porcellana, a cup of porcelain. (Edmund de Waal, The White Road, a pilgrimage of sorts,

….Marco Polo reaches ‘a city called Tinju’.

Here, they make bowls of porcelain, large and small, of incompatible beauty. They are made nowhere else except in this city, and from here they are exported all over the world. In the city itself, they are so plentiful and cheap that for a Venetian groat you might buy their bowls of such beauty that nothing lovelier could be imagined.  These dishes are made of a crumbly earth or clay which is dug as though from a mine and stacked in huge mounds and then left for thirty or forty years exposed to wind, rain, and sun. By this time the earth is so refined that dishes made of it are of an azure tint with a very brilliant scene. You must understand that when a man makes a mound of this earth he does so for his children; the time of maturing is so long that he cannot hope to draw any profit from it himself or to put it to use, but the son who succeeds him will repay the fruit. (Edmund de Waal

.

Ruth Gurevich’s models have not created additively; she does a model with paper, she constructs, usually starting with a single sheet of paper.  She cuts, folds, and designs according to a precisely calculated plan.  Like a true architect, Gurvich leaves nothing to chance.  And this is true when it comes to choosing the paper as well; she uses silky soft, absorbent paper made from cotton fibers, like the packing paper used for rolls of film. To fix the models in place, she uses off-the-shelf paper glue.  This creates tensions, kinks, and seams that give the vessel support and structure. (Nymphenburg Manu Factum)

Ruth Gurvich to the question ‘how do you transform paper into porcelain’,  She says: …‘for the production, we had to take a completely fresh approach.  The idea was always to translate the paper character of the models as accurately as possible, even including to the feels of it, but I also wanted to expose the construction process and structure. The cuts and splices, the kinks and curves, even the measurements I had written in pencil on the model, which provides the idea for the decorative painting.’

Ruth Gurvich originally studied architecture before she turned to painting, and this is reflected in her creations. The major theme of her life’s work is the examination of spatiality and dimension, and the passion to captivate space in delicate porcelain vases.

all photos, courtesy of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg

‘Porcelain had interested me for a long time, so the idea was to translate the feel and character of the paper models, as accurately as possible, to porcelain,’ the Paris-based Argentine, who is known for her three-dimensional work with paper. A beautiful video, (Ruth Gurvich: An artist with scissors and paper): camera by Frank Becker.

Ruth Gurvich was born in Cordoba, Argentina in 1961. Initially, she studied architecture in her homeland, but in 1979 she switched to art, continuing her studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1987 to 1991. In her designs, Ruth Gurvich aims to show the shapes and structures of everyday things the way they are. Her ‘lightscape teapot 2011’, manufactured by Nymphenburg Porzellan, is part of the Product and Decorative Arts department at Cooper Hewitt, New York.  Ruth Gurvich lives and works in Paris.

 

 

 

 

ΑΡΧΑΙΩΝ ΤΟΠΟΣ

ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ-ΑΡΧΑΙΟΛΟΓΙΑ-ΤΕΧΝΗ- ΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΗ-ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΙΑ

Keith York City

History made interesting

VK

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

Eclectic Trends

Interior Design and Lifestyle Trends

Venetia Atelier

A notebook on art, architecture, film, theatre and nature.

maria sarri Art projects

#art_projects, #public_art, #site_specific, #post_colonial, #urban_art

Η καλύβα ψηλά στο βουνό

Σε κοίταζα μ' όλο το φως και το σκοτάδι που έχω

tangledjourneys

A personal perspective on human interest stories from an American journalist living abroad

An Englishman in Berlin

Blog about life and culture in Berlin, Germany

nefeliatelier

bits and pieces that interest me

A R T L▼R K

An Alternative Cultural Daybook

Venetian Red Art Blog

Art, the resplendent light that illuminates the world

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

IGNANT

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

βλέμμα

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

λεξήματα

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

flaneries

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

βλέμμα

gaze at Greece

SOUZY TROS

the new T.A.M.A platform