visits on art, design, architecture and literature


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


New York: Karin Waisman’s new piece “Stem 3” silence speaks

“Space is not merely given, it too  is produced; by analogy, we can evoke the space created by a musical chord, its wave-like expansion producing a tapestry of sound.”
                                                         (Olivier Berggruen on Karen Waisman’s work)


A short ride with the subway from Manhattan to Queens last week,  before the temperatures dropped dramatically in New York City on my way to visit my dear friend’s studio, Karin Waisman to see her new piece,  “Stem 3#”  a jewelry piece.  While reading a great book, Pascal Mercier ‘ s ‘Night Train to Lisboa” I was traveling through time since I met Karin and arrived early a sunny afternoon at Karin’s lovely small studio; our conversation unfolded slowly with green tea revealing the essential nature of her work.

Karin Waisman  studied architecture as an undergraduate in her native Buenos Aires and later earned an MFA in sculpture from Cornell.  She lives in New York with her family and goes uninterrupted to her studio every day. She is an accomplished artist with many exhibitions and site- specific installations to her credit.   Despite being trained as an architect, she prefers to work on her art full time.  A great writer, my dear friend, Olivier Berggruen, notes on  Karin’s work:

El Dorado, 2008-2014. Installation view;photo ©Karin Waisman

Karin Waisman creates haunting, ethereal works in which ornamentation acts as a founding principle.  Formal elements alternate between refined vegetal motifs and a proliferation of geometric patterns. These unfold effortlessly across a flat surface that is primarily dynamic rather than static. The expansion of geometric forms occurs in a spontaneous, organic fashion that undermines the Pythagorean ideal on which they seem to be based.

        Karin Waisman  Stem #3, 2017    Carved in wax and cast in  gold 1”D x 7/8”W x1-1/8”H; photo ©Karin Waisman


Karin Waisman, El Dorado, installation view, 2008-14. Wall 2, dimension variable;photo ©Karin Waisman


….the interlacing of lines is the foundation of the structure of the arabesque and its geometric complexity (much cultivated in late Antiquity) reveals repeated patterns, thus allowing the beholder to imagine the design extending beyond its actual limits. It also introduces the idea of infinite connection of correspondence. In one-way or another, everything is deduced and linked together.  The arabesque was not just exclusive to Islamic art. Rococo ornament, for example, introduced a fluid and whimsical style that has applied to a variety of media, from boiseries and mirrors to porcelain and silver. 

Karin Waisman’ work refers to 17th Century needlepoint, the craft involving lace making by embracing potentially infinite growth forms, ornamentation generated through a painstaking process.  (Olivier Berggruen essay  ‘Efflorescence & Evanescence’ at the book/ cataloge ‘Karin Waisman – The Garden of Eden’, New York, 2004)

( boiserie: finely-sculptured wood paneling or wainscoating, particularly  in 18th-century French architecture, source; Collins dictionary)

Karin Waisman, Evanescence I, 1998-1999. Pencil on velum, 68″h x 96″w;photo ©Karin Waisman


Karin Waisman, Tondo II, 2006. Cast Resin, 84″ diameter; photo ©Karin Waisman  

Karin Waisman -Puzzled, 1998-1999. Cast Aluminum 432″h X 24″w x 2″d. Permanent Collection Plattsburgh Sculpture Park. Myers Fine Arts Building;photo ©Karin Waisman

Karin Waisman -Puzzled, 1998-1999 (detail) Cast Aluminum 432″h X 24″w x 2″d. Permanent Collection Plattsburgh Sculpture Park. Myers Fine Arts Building;photo ©Karin Waisman

    Karin Waisman  Stem #3, 2017    Carved in wax and cast in  gold 1”D x 7/8”W x1-1/8”H;
photo ©Karin Waisman

Stem #3 is part of a new series of pieces that are to be worn on the hand. This new tactile element of the work explores how one perceives weight, temperature and different surfaces on our own body. My previous pieces for public places, explored the relationship of our body moving in front of the work or in an enclosed space, perceiving it as a field of vision. In these sculptures the relationship is changed; we hold, move and transport the piece with our own body. (Karin Waisman, 2017) 

In her work, ‘Evanescence I‘, Olivier Berggruen continues, ‘… The vegetal-inspired motifs that appear in this inner sanctum evoke growth and movement without falling into representation. In other words, the motif that pervades this work is inspired by vegetal forms but nowhere is there a fully formed, self-contained plant to be seen. The principle of vegetal, organic growth is used as a formal and metaphorical device to structure the work. Plants have the infinite potential for growth. Vegetal forms here are an evocation of life, of that very form that appears in movement.’ 

Karin Waisman, Evanescence I, 1998-1999. Pencil on velum, 68″h x 96″w, detail;photo ©Karin Waisman

see Karin Waisman   and more about her work  see here 

  Karin Waisman,  Stem #3, 2017  Carved in wax and cast in recycled silver  1”D x 7/8”W x1-1/8”H;photo ©Karin Waisman

Karin loves to be surrounded by nature; her second studio is two hours away from the city in Eastern Long Island where she escapes to work, a sanctuary, a place to work on her large pieces and preparation sketches on site-specific site-specific work that often incorporates architectural elements.  One of them is at Chihuahua Desert at the foothill of the 18th century silver mining town Real Catorce, the ‘Blue Oasis’, finalized in 2013.

Blue Oasis is a partially buried concrete structure, fifteen feet square and twelve feet high on the inside. We enter by descending a narrow and dark stair, a transitional space that leads to a large tiled cubic room. All the walls, floor, and ceiling are covered with a square encaustic tile that is patterned with concentric circles in blues and greens. A stainless steel tube penetrates some of these circles to the outside, allowing for natural light and ventilation as well as serving as a small oculus that allows the viewer to see the desert landscape beyond. Working within this extreme site, Blue Oasis exists for the viewer to establish a temporary dialog with Nature through the lens of the vibrant blue light that pulsates within. It transforms the landscape from within. On the outside it blends with the desert landscape, half- buried in the land. (Karin Waisman, April 2013)

‘Blue Oasis’, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, 2011. Permanent collection Sculpture Park San Luis Potosi.  Exterior view, reinforce concrete;photo ©Karin Waisman

‘Blue Oasis’, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, 2011. Permanent collection Sculpture Park San Luis Potosi. (Detail tiled main space with wall and ceiling perforations);photo ©Karin Waisman

‘Blue Oasis’, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, 2011. Permanent collection Sculpture Park San Luis Potosi. (Detail wall perforation looking to the desert from inside main space;photo ©Karin Waisman

This optic effect reinforces the idea of movement and transformation. The sound of our own bodies reflects on the tiled walls, floor and ceiling creating a continuous echo. Outside is the desert, harsh and sublime, tamed by this new oasis, a shelter, a second skin. The possibility of perceiving the walls as a limit that separates the inside space from the outside world and as an element that grants that space its symbolic quality is only possible because I, myself, inhabit my body within the limits of my own skin. (Karin Waisman, April 2013) 



Capri : ‘Via Camerelle’ of Carthusia’ luxury from nature

 photo@ Nefeli Brandhorst

“Via Camerelle” _ Note Room fragnance ; ‘Lemon, Seawater & Jasmin”_’the flavour of  a place enclosed in a trace of notes’

This fragrance signed “Via Camerelle”_ Note Room,  of Carthusia, a small niche perfume house from the italian island of Capri.  This scent shares its name with the most prestigious street of the island Capri; it holds the freshness of lemon and orange, mixed with the fragrant notes  of sea moss and cedar wood create a flavour amazingly akin to the natural yearning of the sea, flowers and genuine living. My lovely teenage daughter Ana Nefeli was for a day in Capri and she brought me this fabulous scent being aware of my love for those citrus cents.

There is a beautiful story behind “Cathusia” …in 1380, the father prior of the Carthusian Monastery of St. James, caught unawares by the news of the arrival of Queen Joan of Anjou on Capri, picked a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers of the island; these remained in the same water for three days and, as he went to throw them away, the prior noticed that it had acquired a mysterious fragrance unknown to him. So he turned to the friar versed in alchemy, who traced the origin of the scent to the “Garofilium Silvestre Caprese” … in 1948 the Prior of the Charterhouse found the old perfume formulae and, upon obtaining permission from the Pope, revealed them to a chemist from Piemonte in the North of Italy, and thus created the smallest perfume laboratory in the world, calling it “Carthusia”, i.e.”Charter house”

International distribution of Carthusia  began in the early 2000s, when perfumer Laura Tomato  reworked four fragrances — Mediterraneo, Fiori di Capri, Io Capri and Ligea La Sirena — reportedly based on old formulas developed by the Carthusian monks at the Certosa di San Giacomo.


The symbol of the firm,  was created in 1948 by the painter Mario Laboccetta.  It portrays a “flower siren” that brings to mind the surreal and mythological landscapes of Capri’s heritage. She appears to be in the midst of an evolution, blooming with myriad colorful flovers, from wich Carthusia perfumes flow, achieving a logo wich recalls both art and nature in all their forms.

Carthusia has put into practice its centuries-old knowledge in order to develop a culture of perfume unique in the world. Over the years, it has refined its mastery over the olfactory senses, perfecting and structuring its discernment of essences, in order to grant patrons the purest and most titillating emotions. Nowadays, as was done in the past, all stages of production are carried out by hand to guarantee accurate application of the natural methods involved, and the exquisite care of traditional craftsmanship.

Elegant packaging for conveying luxury; a beautiful box, high-quality paper with meticulously crafted details, the finest rice paper, hand wrapped and folded around it.

photo@ Nefeli Brandhorst

“Carthusia”  brings me a literary memory  of  ‘ The Charterhouse of Parma” the novel by Stendhal published in 1839, telling the story of an Italian Nobleman,  in the Napoleonic era; The Charterhouse of Parma chronicles the adventures of the young Italian nobleman Fabrice del Dongo from his birth in 1798 to his death.  Fabrice spends his early years in his family’s castle on Lake Como, while most of the rest of the novel is set in a fictionalised Parma.






Munich; “Thomas Gentille – An American Jeweller”at Die Neue Sammlung

A fabulous exhibition at the Die Neue Sammlung ( The Design Museum, Munich) opened few weeks ago “Untitled. Thomas Gentille. American Jeweler”.  American Thomas Gentile  a leading studio jewelery artist in his first comprehensive exhibition on his oeuvre.  Die Neue Sammlung is presenting  190 jewelery objects and over 90 sketches supplemented by a film on the second floor of the Rotunda in Pinakothek der Moderne. Conception and curation of the exhibition: Dr Petra Hölscher. The exhibition will run through June 5 and is accompanied by a beautiful book by Arnoldsche Art Publishers.


Thomas Gentille, Pin, 20th century
Cherry, maple
Back: Industrial pins (h. 16.2 cm, b. 4.3 cm, d. 0.6 cm)
Photo: Eva Jünger

It is a body of work to be conceived in its entirety, in which Gentille has developed over six decades without hierarchy or genealogy; he  refrains from providing any kind of information on dates.  Gentle  favors innovative plastics, solid aluminium  wide variety of woods, papier-mâché, sawdust, silk threads, old glass spheres hand blown in Bohemia and air – over gold, silver and precious stones.


Thomas Gentille, Armlet, 20th century
Acrylic, nodized aluminum, bronze bolts
ø 15.5 cm, d. 0.7 cm
Photo: Eva Jünger


Thomas Gentille, Pin, 20th century
Colorcone (plastic), steel
Back: Industrial pins
h. 6.5 – 8 cm, b. 4 – 7.5 cm, d. 1 – 2.5 cm
Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum. Permanent loan of the Danner Foundation, Munich, photo: A. Laurenzo

The pieces of jewelery created by Thomas Gentile possess their own unmistakable pictorial language. Their geometrical and polygonal forms play with surfaces that are combined with three-dimensional and sometimes architectural shapes. The surfaces are primarily monochrome or display the colors and internal structure of the material used…..

The jewelery objects by Thomas Gentille developed in the context of the international emergence of studio jewelery as a field in its own right, but also in light of an approach that bridged the ornament as an all over- structure.  This means the works also forge a lint to art, to representatives of Minimalism, such as Donald Judd or Robert Mangold, and to Hard Edge approaches, such as that of Frank Stella. Such ideas are as relevant as is Jackson Pollock as a campion of Abstract Expressionism.  (Dr. Angelika Nollert, at foreword of the Thomas Gentille publication)


Thomas Gentille, Pin, 20th century
Eggshell inlay (Emu)
Back: Industrial pins (h. 14.9 cm, b. 5.2 cm, d. 0.8 cm)
Photo: Eva Jünger


Thomas Gentille, Pin, 20th century
Eggshell- inlay
Back: Industrial pins (h. 7.2 cm, b. 13.8 cm, d. 0.8 cm)
Photo: Eva Jünger

His works with an eggshell overlay are famous. Using this mysterious method and even without employing the old Asian lacquer technique he produces a krakelée surface on his works. Gentille explains that it takes years of experimentation and practice with the technique until you finally grasp the “soul of the material”. (press)


Thomas Gentille, late 1980s
Photo: Bill Philipps
Archive: Thomas Gentille

Thomas Gentille is born 1936 in Mansfield, Ohio, and a resident of New York since 1960. With Gentille, Die Neue Sammlung is continuation its tradition of exhibiting international studio jewelery.  Following extensive monographs of the works by Hermann  Jünger, Gijs Bakker, Dorothea Prühl, Giampaolo Babette, Peter Skubic, Otto Künzli and Anton Cepka, with Thomas Gentille another broad oeuvre is acknowledged – one which is closely linked to Munich and its development as a centre for studio jewelry. It was back in 2001 that Thomas Gentile was awarded the Herbert Hofmann Award in the jewelry section of the Internationale Handwerksmesse, Munich’s annual exhibition of craftsmanship, and since the artist has exhibited regularly in the city. In 2004 he was presented with he Bavarian State Award, in Munich. (Dr Angelika Nollert, foreword of published book, ‘Untitled. Thomas Gentille. American Jeweller.’) 


Thomas Gentille, Bracelet, 20th century
h. 6.9 cm, b. 3.8 cm
Photo: Eva Jünger



                                                                  Thomas Gentille, feb 26th, 2016,  photo@Venetia Kapernekas
a film conceived and realized by the artist about the two most important cities in his life, namely New York and Munich is projected in the premised of the Rotunda at Pinakothek der Moderne.


A beautiful  230-page catalog  by Arnoldsche Publications on the life and work of the artist with a preface by Dr.Angelika Nollert, an essay by Andrea DiNoto and an interview with Thomas Gentille conducted by Bettina Dittlmann and Dr.Petra Hölscher.


Thomas Gentille, Pin, 21st century
Air, plywood, maple, paint
Back: Industrial pins
h. 22.3 cm, b. 2.2 cm, d. 1.2 cm
Photo: Eva Jünger

Gentille’s works are owned by leading museums worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Cleveland Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum, Munich.

Munich; Studio visit _ Thilo Westermann and ‘Vanitas’

An afternoon of incredible beauty and inspiration visiting  Thilo Westermann‘s studio last week.

Flowers of almost supernatural perfection, arranged in exquisite crystal vases, captured in classical black and white – timeless elegance….he has entitled the series Vanitas, and he uses this term with a very careful precision.


‘Lilies and card with putto, 2013. Reverse plexi painting, 11.7 x 8.3 ins (29,7 x 21 cm)


‘Vanitas (Paeonia lactiflora) 2, 2014. Reverse plexi painting, 8.3 x 5.8 ins (21 x 14,8 cm)

Westermann uses the old technique of reverse glass painting – a craft that in contrast to other ways of painting works in a negative process (as it were from back to front)…

He builds each image from tiny dots he scratches from his blackened surfaces. He makes a minute mark, he repeats the gesture again and again. He continues to do so in lengthy way… this is a weeks-long, detailed process.


Detail of the yet unfinished painting „Homage to Redouté“

He creates trompe-l’oeils, not just of photographic images, but of the entire technical process connected to them, and he correspondingly builds each image from tiny black dots in front of a white background….  (Martin Thierer)


Detail of the yet unfinished painting „Vanda Miss Joaquim 3“

 Martin Thierer has described, Westermann’s still lives persist in a tradition that reached its apogee hundreds of years ago in the Baroque period. It may not be entirely abandoned today, but when artists return to the still life it is always with a nod to its earlier heyday….Vanitas – the term was coined in Classical Antiquity and from early Christianity onwards characterized and defined man’s relation to his worldly existence in the philosophical-religious context. It was said that all man-made things by intrinsically being perishable, were doomed to failure, and first and foremost this meant art. The influence of the Vanitas idea was so far-reaching that in Renaissance Florence, thousands of art works suspected of being blasphemous in thrust were consumed by the flames of Savonarola’s infamous Bonfire of the Vanities. (Martin Thierer, published in: Thilo Westermann Vanitas. Nürnberg, Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2014


Bouquet with Prada card, Munich 2014. Print on paper, Diasec, 39.4 x 59 ins (100 x 150 cm)
IMG_8156Working tools


Detail of the painting „Chinese orchid (Homage to Ma Lin)




IMG_8155                                                                                                                               Detailed color pencil drawings on paper done in 2002

Thilo is  influenced by history and the „stories“ behind things.  “For example I am most intrigued by the fact that there are certain breeds of peony having been named after European celebrities. Peonies origin in Asian countries but Western explorers took the plant to their homecountries as a souvenir or as precious exotica hundreds of years ago. From here on the original peony has been transformed and redesigned according to Western aesthetics. Moreover the flower became even more westernized by being named the name of a (Western) movie star etc. It’s a way of dealing with colonial heritage and identity.” (Thilo Westerman, studio visit)


a beautiful book has been published by Verlag für moderne Kunst
Edited by Institut für moderne Kunst Nürnberg and Oechsner Galerie
Concept and layout by Thilo Westermann
Texts by Christin Müller, Aoife Rosenmeyer and Martin Thierer
Language: English/German
Edition: 1,500 copies
168 pages (you can buy the book here)


Kathja Fast,   a lovely & promising young filmmaker preparing for shooting a documentary on Thilos’s work


Kathja Fast and Thilo Westermann
….Thilo Westermann is attuned to the languages of attraction but resists the imperative to make evanescent images. And thus he is thoroughly contemporary, working in but at a remove from his time. If the great still lives of the Baroque period celebrated the perfection and the fleeting duration of all that is worldly, Westermann reconsiders that period as a means to hold fast to something lasting while all around him is fleeting.(Aoife Rosemeyer, published in: Thilo Westermann Vanitas. Nürnberg, Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2014, p. 136-143.)

Thilo Westermann is represented by Oechsner galerie in Nürnberg

In his collaboration with Daniel Wingate for the international luxury brand ESCADA Thilo transferred his concept of the self reflecting image from painting to the world of fashion. Transcience clashes with the approach to create something lasting. Excellent workmanship and the masterly depiction of all details form a new language oscillating between picture pane and three-dimensionality.


Installation view of „Vanda Miss Joaquim 2“ and visitor with the ESCADA meets THILO WESTERMANN blazer at Thilo’s solo show „Stilblüten“ at Institut für moderne Kunst Nürnberg



Window display at Saks Fifth Avenue New York: the cocktail dress of the ESCADA meets THILO WESTERMANN collection

Giorgio Agamben’s essay What Is the Contemporary was published in English in 2009.  For Agamben, the two kinds of seeing are inseparable; brightness harbours its own ‘intimate obscurity’. Darkness is also key in the tradition of still life; often flowers, fruits or foodstuffs seemed to emerge from the darkness of an interior, as if to emphasize their fleeting existence and their fate to return to dust like all mortal things. (Aoife Rosenmeyer on  The Contemporary Artist,Vanitas. Nürnberg, Verlag für moderne Kunst)


‘Vanitas (Vanda Miss Joaquim)’, 2013. Reverse plexi painting, 8.3 x 5.8 ins (21 x 14,8 cm)


… a new film about love “Carol” UK cinemas release on 27th November

……extraordinary performances we have come to expect from Cate Blanchett, who is paired with the no less impressive Rooney Mara as Therese in the director Todd Haynes and the writer ­Phyllis Nagy’s mesmerizing and moving film adaptation of  Patricia Highsmith’s anxiety-laced romance “Carol“. (Frank Rich,’Loving Carol‘) at  New York Magazine,  November 15, 2015) producer; Dorothy Berwin.

In early December 1948, Patricia Highsmith took a Christmas-season temp job as a shopgirl in the children’s toy department at Bloomingdale’s. Highsmith, a 27-year-old native of Fort Worth, Texas, and a 1942 Barnard graduate, was a budding novelist who had been supporting herself for five years as a freelance action-comic-book writer, concocting stories for lesser superheroes like Spy Smasher and Black Terror — a rare gig for a woman in the golden age of comics. 

Pathigh                                                                                           Patricia Smith, publicity photo, 1966

Patricia Highsmith (19 January 1921 – 4 February 1995) was an American novelist and short story writer, known for her psychological thrillers, which led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. In addition to her series with Tom Ripley as protagonist, she wrote many short stories. Michael Dirda observed, “Europeans honored her as a psychological novelist, part of an existentialist tradition represented by her own favorite writers, in particular Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Gide, and Camus.”[2]


The Price of Salt (later published under the title Carol) is a 1952 romance novel by Patricia Highsmith, first published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.


“Carol’  is certain to bring new readers to Highsmith, and once they dig in, they will be ravenous for more.

Highsmith was a lifelong diarist. She left behind eight thousand pages of handwritten notebooks and diaries.[6] After graduating from college, she started applying for work in various magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, The New Yorker, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping and others, carrying “impressive” recommendations from “highly placed” professionals, and was getting rejected.[4] Her short stories started appearing eventually in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, in the early 1950s.


The simple use of color for Blanchett and Mara’s clothing says plenty about the characters, especially in the silences the movie wanders into for extended periods. If there’s one complaint, and it’s just a personal preference, it’s the use of filters. (Lesley Coffin, movie Review, ‘Carol’ is a Beautiful, Composed Slow-Burn)

….But then you look at a film like Carol, and peer through the windows it opens onto both cultural history and actual history, and you realize how much we don’t know about a past that unfolded in the shadows until not very long ago. You also start to wonder how many cultural treasures and figures are buried in that antiquity, invisible to most of heterosexual America and perhaps to much of younger gay America, too. Highsmith’s “lesbian book,” its million paperback copies of six decades ago notwithstanding, is just such a case.(Frank Rich, ‘Loving Carol’at New York Magazine,  nov 15, 2015) 

…..Throughout, Haynes’s direction translates Highsmith’s hushed, spare, unnerving narrative voice into visual terms reminiscent of James Stewart’s feverish fixation on Kim Novak in Vertigo. (Frank Rich, ‘Loving Carol,at New York Magazine)


20-minute interview, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy talk about making the 1950s-set romantic drama Carol, adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith
Anatomy of a scene “Carol” at New York Times/Culture


What Haynes gets so perfectly right with this film really is the very specific sense of time and place, the urban life of those torn between domestic life and beat culture, before public and vocal feminist and LGBT activism. (Lesley Coffin, movie Review)

The greatest credit needs to be addressed to the producer of ‘Carol’, Dorothy Berwin, a dynamic London-born, New York based producer who as the Hollywood Reporter says, ‘has never been one to chase trends. She began developing the Cate Blanchett-Rooney Mara love story Carol, another TWC title, nearly two decades ago — long before there was a box-office appetite for such fare…

On the Q of Hollywood Reporter to Dorothy Berwin, “You spend 19 years developing the Patricia Highsmith novel ‘Carol’. Why did it take so long? Dorothy Berwick answers; ” I was working on it with (playwright) Phyllis Nagy, who wrote the script and kept refining it. And Todd Haynes worked to make it his own, though it was very much Phyllis ‘ script. I used to love pitching it as;  “It’s 1950s New York. Grace Kelly walks into department store and falls in love with Audrey Hepburn.”



Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Phyllis Nagy, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Todd Haynes and Kent Jones attends a Q&A for the film ‘Carol” during the 53rd New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on October 8, 2015 in New York City


IMG_9064 (1)


Rooney Mara, beautifully  photographed by Peter Lindberg at the recent (December 2015/Jan 2016) German  Interview

Director Todd Haynes on film Carol/BBC radio /Film Programme,’Radio in Four’, 6min




Athens; “BLESS” at Radio Athenes

A short visit in Athens few days ago, caught me by surprise of the amazing installation by BLESS at Radio Athenes, where its  dynamic founder Helena Papadopoulos full force completed an amazing installation on the ground floor of the space and continue ‘aggressively’ but yet so beautifully on first floor at her  living space; indeed, an installation with no limits!

The Paris and Berlin based duo BLESS (Désirée Heiss and Ines Kaag) refuse to capitalize on any one milieu, and instead explore the differences between, and the mixing of, the systems of art, fashion, and design. They glide over the conventions of production, distribution and display to create things (to wear, to use, to look at, to smile at) for now and forever. Their collections are titled to reflect a current mood that may ostensibly last for many seasons to come, questioning consumerist behavioral patterns and proposing instead a ‘Present Perfect Continuous’.


They came  to Athens to inhabit the Radio Athènes headquarters at 15 Petraki Street and the  private apartment on the first floor of the same building.  They transformed these interior spaces into a BLESSHome and  presented their ideal and artistic values to the greek public for the first time.



What they do is not so easily summed up. “Many of our clothes are not spectacular catwalk items, but aim to be all time favorites for everyday life,” says BLESS. The collections they create (which is classified by a number rather than a season) feature reinvented garments like the N°10 pleatskirtscarf, a combination of a pleated skirt and scarf. Their projects remain somewhat simple, inspired by the ins and outs of daily life. (somethingabloutMagazine)


The work of BLESS has been exhibited internationally including the 1st Berlin Biennial, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Manifesta 4, the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, the Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, the Goethe-Institut, Tokyo, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and the Istanbul Design Biennial.





Is BLESS more successful in Berlin or Paris? Where do you more commonly see your garments worn?

Neither nor. BLESS supporters are spread all over the world. In Berlin or Paris, (there) is a concentration of friends and family. The ambitious aim in the beginning was that we wanted to feel like ‘Europeans’ are still relevant; we still don’t care if we get labeled in articles as French or German designers. With time it became more important to concentrate the energy we need for production more in a local context, but the outcome of our work is really without destination. With our perspective as a niche-designer, we appreciate that modern media spreads the information round the globe and connects us with like-minded people from far destinations.(Interview at somethingablout Magazine) 


all photos@VK by permission
Radio Athènes institute for the advancement of contemporary visual culture is a non profit organization  in Athens. Radio Athènes was conceived and founded by Helena Papadopoulos in December 2014 with founding member Andreas Melas. The centre of operations that doubles as a bookstore is on 15 Petraki Street in Athens, Greece, zip code 10563, near Mitropoleos Square. The nearest metro stops are Syntagma and Monastiraki.

Munich: Jean Paul Gaultier “From the Sidewalk to Catwalk” at Kunsthalle der Hypo

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk-a major retrospective of the haute-icon’s phenomenal oeuvre- at Herzog & de Meuron-designed Kunsthalle in Munich, preview opening, September 17th

September 18, 2015 – February 14, 2016.


Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator of the exhibition, working  with Swarovski as the premium partner, opens  up Gaultier’s historic archive and amazingly uncovers  some brilliant gems.  A super spectacle exhibition!


For the past 40 years, the French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier (born in 1952), dubbed the ‘enfant terrible’ of haute couture, has been one of the most influential designers of contemporary fashion. More than any other, his bold and ironic creations have repeatedly challenged our concept of fashion and beauty.

FullSizeRender copy 3conThroughout his career, Gaultier has made it his mission to challenge conventional views on the social roles of fashion, while audaciously extending the fundamental manufacturing principles of fashion design. He uses a wide range of materials like feathers, crystals, animal skins, jet stones, metal cans or rubber. In his Paris couture atelier, these are finished with superb workmanship – often in unconventional combinations – for his avant-garde creations. Besides his hometown, he finds inspiration in a variety of sources: from the world of pop and mass media or the trends of subcultures like London’s punk scene to different cultures from around the world; prototypical figures like the geisha, the Native American or the torero inhabit his universe, yet always with surprising twists.

FullSizeRender copy 2

…….In addition to his haute couture and prêt-à-porter designs, the show includes costumes for theater, dance, and cinema. Gaultier repeatedly worked together with film directors like Pedro Almodóvar, Luc Besson or Peter Greenaway and created stage outfits for popstars, like the famous bustier worn by Madonna in 1990 that caused a stir on her Blonde Ambition tour.

FullSizeRender copy

above photos@VK taken during the opening exhibition


Exclusively for the Munich venue, Peter Lindberg shot the lead image, featuring Jean Paul Gaultier and Nadja Auermann. (photo published at kunsthalle der Hypo website )


This exhibition celebrates haute couture legend Jean Paul Gaultier’s sparkling forty-year career and is Kunsthalle’s first fashion presentation, its 30th anniversary and its 100th exhibition.  Enjoy some of the celebrities during  the opening evening, 

Paros, Cyclades: a true craftsmanship designer; Christiane Smit

While sailing in the Cyclades islands in August, enjoying the blue water,  during a beautiful hot morning a visit  at  Christiane Smit’s studio in the island of Paros;  a pure craftsmanship  of refined simplicity of  hand stitching marvelous bags.



Christiane Smit, born in Netherlands, lives and works in Papos island, one of the most beautiful island in the Cyclades, Greece.  She creates leather bags the old fashioned traditional way, using her hands. Each stitch is formed by hand with nothing more than an awl, one needle and a length of waxed linen. Having a passion for natural and organic materials it came natural to her choosing to work with natural dyed hole grain leather form the finest quality showing all original structures and the linen wax wire, which is used in book binding and baskets weaving…



photos @VK, Christiane Smit’ s studio, Paros, Cyclades





photos@Mike Salis


basket bag

“It all started all when I fell in love with a piece of skin when I was travelling in Turkey, the most butter soft,  blood red, piece of goat suede just felt as silk in my hands and I started to design a small evening bag, using a vintage Japanese silk cloth as lining and grey sweet water pearls as handles…and the story takes it from there…”

IMG_1742 copy


photos@Christiane Smit

As Christiane says, very few companies can invest the time necessary to hand stitch their items, but the strength and resilience of hand stitching far exceeds the machine made equivalent.

basket bag 2 colours

we women, carry our life in our bags, they should be something more than a product, they should be a  extension of our own soul and personal style. Unique as every woman is.. versatile and honest good…refined simplicity:uncomplicated and pure.. 

Christiane’s “Petite Maison Christiane”, was born in 2011.  Christiane’s women are effortless chic: sophisticated but relaxed and simple.


Christiane Smit’s inspirations came from living in the Caribbean and travelling through countries as Mexico, Guatemala, Suriname, America and Asia always having a soft spot for all things hand made.




Christiane is  working only by order and customized so she cannot come out with a collection every season. The designs stay in the collection and she might make a change during time, for example The Basket Bag she did it in two colours, combined and every year or half year she  comes out with a new design. The Basket Bag that has two colours has a lot more stitching than the one colored bag. This bag goes with the summer breeze, bohemian chic, easy to wear from morning till the evening.

“I am passionate about all that’s real, clean and pure things, colour combinations because they created atmosphere. About love and my love for my work, people and working with my clients… enjoying always my passion for hand stitching… craftsmanship and creating”

Christiane Smit studied at University of The Arts London and Amsterdam. She worked  in Amsterdam in High End Jewellery, Bvlgari, Pomellato and Pasquale Bruni and High End fashion, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcon and Giorgio Armani. Travelling to Paris and Milan selecting collections for the different seasons… Life and her dream brought her to Paros island,  to create and live by the blue sea where she is inspired.





some  photos were taken that beautiful morning at Christiane’s studio, on August 10th, 2015 in  Paros.

here a great shot by Christos Drazos and words by Maria Alipranti, Christiane Smit in Paros, “The Tide”





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