Archive for February, 2018

Auction | Lights, Camera, Fashion!

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Jean Cocteau and Jean
Marais on the set of
Jean-Pierre Melville’s film,
Les Enfants Terrible, 1950

Vintage silver print
Estimate €200 > 400



Photographs Mode Cinema
Drouot-Richelieu
Paris | France
Exhibition 28 February /
1 + 2 March 2018.
Sale 2 March 2018



Fashion’s influence on film – and vice versa – is as enduring as the simple black sheath Gabrielle Chanel created in 1926, which Hubert de Givenchy paid homage to with the little black dress he designed for Audrey Hepburn to wear in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) that became thereafter an essential item in every modern woman’s wardrobe.

It shouldn’t be ignored, however, that fashion-conscious men such as the distinguished French writer, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker, Chanel’s friend Jean Cocteau whom she first met and for whose ballet she designed costumes in 1917, exerted a significant, if somewhat more subtle impact on the development of 20th-century, and even 21st-century male style.

Jean Marais in Jean
Cocteau’s film Orphée, 1950

Vintage silver print
Estimate €200 > 450



Jean Cocteau on the
set of his film, Le
Testament d’Orphée
, 1956

Vintage silver print
Estimate €300 > 500



The self-portraits Cocteau produced throughout his life tend to concentrate on his head. Lacking conventionally handsome looks, clothes hung well on his slim, angular frame and, from the start, the painters and afterwards the photographers, who chose to immortalise him pulled back to show what he was wearing. As concerned about his own look as about that of his lover Jean Marais, in 1937, Cocteau asked Chanel to dress Marais for his film Oedipus Rex.


Jean Cocteau and
Charlie Chaplin,
Saint-Jean-Cap-
Ferrat, c 1950

Vintage silver print
Estimate €300 > 500



The dozen, or so, photographs of Jean Cocteau to be found among the diverse collection of 386 lots in the forthcoming auction Photographs Mode Cinema at Drouot in Paris, curated by photography expert Viviane Esders, reveal that by always dressing well and looking as good in front of the camera as he did while directing the actors who appeared in his films, he set an impeccably stylish example for others to follow.


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being made available to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Books | Architecture Beyond Belief

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Capilla Abierta de la Gratitud /
Gratitude Open Chapel
by Tatiana Bilbao Studio +
Dellekamp Arquitectos



Landscape of Faith
Interventions Along the
Mexican Pilgrimage Route
Edited by Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.
Photographs by Iwan Baan.
Lars Müller Publishers
Paperback + jacket,
320 pages, 202 images,
English + Spanish text.
Available now



Mirador Espinoza del Diabolo /
Espinoza del Diabolo Lookout Point
by ELEMENTAL



El Camino de Santiago in Spain, Kumano Kodo in Japan, the Middle East’s Abraham Path and The Pilgrims’ Way in England: often enduring extremely arduous conditions, pious travellers around the world have walked, crawled and shuffled on their knees, along these famous pilgrimage routes for many hundreds of years.

But in Mexico where, every year, three million people trek the 117 kilometres of La Ruta del Peregrino (The Pilgrim’s Route), over the isolated and rugged terrain that stretches from Ameca to Talpa de Allende, to visit the site where the Virgin is alleged to have appeared in the 17th century, the pilgrims weren’t happy. For a start, the trail was badly marked; and while they were content to bear their crosses with equanimity, there were no proper resting places and they didn’t see why they should continue having to put up with unsanitary conditions and the absence of fresh drinking water.

After decades of complaints, in 2008, the government finally acted. To appease the wayfarers, a project was launched with the initial aim of furnishing them with better conditions. Nine local and international architecture studios – Godoylab, Tatiana Bilbao Studio, Dellekamp Arquitectos, Christ & Gantenbien, Ai Wei Wei + Fake Design, Luis Aldrete, HHF Architects, ELEMENTAL, Rozana Montiel, Estudio Arquitectura – were invited to create infrastructural interventions along the route.

The iconic structures that resulted, provided people with places to rest and reflect. The aggrandisement of the journey and its rituals, however, was also intended to broaden its appeal thereby attracting an audience that might include more secular visitors, whose spending on local goods and services would help the government to achieve its bigger goal of boosting the area’s economy.

Ermita Las Majadas /
Las Majadas Hermitage
by Tatiana Bilbao Studio



Mirador Los Guayabos /
Los Guayabos Lookout Point
by HHF Architects



Mirador Cerro del Obispo /
Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point
by Christ & Gantenbein



Vacio Circular / Void Temple
by Dellakamp Arquetitos +
Rozana Montiel



The vertical, chunky format of Landscape of Faith falls somewhere between that of a guidebook and a missal but whereas either of those would be chock-a-block with dense text, here words are confined to a short, general introduction, a concise essay on pilgrimage and brief descriptions of each separate project (plus an arcane prose poem by Verónica Gerber Bicecci), allowing generous space for Dutch photographer Iwan Baan’s pictures.

Bahn (b 1975) produces work for the world’s top architectural practices – SANAA, Herzog & de Meuron, OMA, Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito are among his regular clients. His appeal lies in his unique ability to focus on the connection between architecture and the surrounding environment, including those who populate it. In this instance, it could be said that he has done such a comprehensive job as to render an excursion to the isolated Mexican site, for all but the most penitent sinner or devout architecture groupie, almost unnecessary.

As the book reveals, when questioned, those who do go there appear to value the architectural structures less for their aesthetic merit than for the functional services they now provide and for the plentiful supply of flat surfaces on which they can leave commemorative graffiti.

Landscape of Faith is published this month by Lars Müller Publishers.

Spreads and page from the book © 2018 Lars Müller Publishers and the authors. All photographs by Iwan Baan, © Iwan Baan


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Design | Sheila Bownas: Queen of Post-War Pattern

Friday, February 9th, 2018

SB 159, c 1950 > 59
Private Collection /
Rachel Elsworth



Sheila Bownas: A Life in Pattern
Pallant House Gallery
Chichester | UK
21 February > 20 May 2018



SB 1471, c 1970 > 79



A few years ago a huge cache of work produced by Edwardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson for Hammer Prints, the company they formed in 1954 to produce groundbreaking textiles and ceramics, was found rolled up at the back of a neglected garage. At around the same time, in 2008, gallery professional, Chelsea Cefai, having completed the renovations to her home and in search of something to hang on its walls, turned to eBay, where she stumbled across and bought an extensive collection of original textile designs, produced over a period of thirty years, beginning in the 1950s, by someone called Sheila Bownas.

Unlike Henderson and, particularly, Paolozzi, Bownas (1925 > 2007) had never achieved fame or recognition during her lifetime. The Hammer Prints material would soon form the basis of a major exhibition at Colchester’s First Site gallery in 2012. It would take eight years and a great deal of painstaking research and effort by Cefai, who founded the Sheila Bownas Archive and invited artists and designers across the UK to collaborate on a unique range of products to bring Bownas’ patterns back to life, before Sheila Bownas: A Life in Pattern was shown for the first time at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum in 2016. From later this month, the prestigious Pallant House Gallery will present the material from this exhibition to a wider audience.

SB 301, c 1960 > 69



Untitled 1, c 1950 > 59
Private Collection /
Jill Wharton



SB 1466, c 1970 > 79



Realising the importance of the 200 hand-painted designs she had discovered, Cefai first made contact with the Bownas family and pieced together a detailed history of the artist’s life and work. Having grown up in the isolated Yorkshire Dales village of Linton-in-Craven, Sheila Bownas had attended Skipton Art College in the 1940s then won a scholarship to attend The Slade in London. Graduating in 1950, she forged a career as a freelance designer. Oscillating between London and Linton over the following twelve years, she finally settled in the Yorkshire Dales from where she despatched her designs by post.

Untitled 3, c 1950 > 59



Hammer Prints, set up as an edgy antidote to the revival of interest in quaint early 20th-century craft movements, was an innovative and bold statement but lasted only a few years and never achieved commercial success. Bownas, on the other hand, who capitalised on the optimism that swept the country after the 1951 Festival of Britain, and who had no qualms in adopting stylistic variety, supplied consumer-friendly patterns to leading brands such as Liberty, Marks & Spencer and Crown Wallpapers for more than two decades. It was common, however, for pattern designers to go uncredited during this period – Lucienne Day was a rare exception – and, despite the consistently high quality of her prolific output, until after her death in 2007, Bownas remained an obscure figure. Sheila Bownas: A Life in Pattern at Pallant House Gallery will confirm her status as a leading name in mid-century British textile design.

All artworks by Sheila Bownas, courtesy Pallant House Gallery, © Sheila Bownas Archive


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being made available to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Auction | JF Chen’s Mid-Century Thriller

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Raphael Giarrusso,
Boar, c 1967
Estimate $800 > 1,200



JF Chen Collection
Christie’s Online
7 > 14 February 2018



Anonymous,
stand, second
half 20th century
Estimate $800 > 1,200



JF Chen. It sounds like the name of a mysterious character in a film noir thriller. And, coincidentally, forty years ago, when Joel Chen opened his first shop on West Hollywood’s Melrose Avenue, it was close to the RKO studios which, throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s, was a virtual noir factory churning out a stream of stylish, classic crime dramas including: The Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), Journey into Fear (1942), The Spiral Staircase (1946), They Live by Night (1949), The Prowler (1951) and While the City Sleeps (1956).

Chen’s business is based on stylish classics of another kind from roughly the same period: mid-20th-century design and objects d’art. But from the start, it relied on the stealthy and dogged detective work often portrayed in noir films. Renowned for his taste and expertise, nowadays he has a vast 30,000+ square feet (3,000 square metres) of shops and gallery space, all still located within the same area of Los Angeles. An important resource for Hollywood film-makers, Chen’s inventory includes furniture and design objects ranging from the curious to the exquisitely beautiful.

Preben Fabricius
& Jørgen Kastholm,
FK 82 lounge chair,
designed 1968
Estimate $2,500 >3,500



While he offers work by well-known international design giants, like Poul Kjaerholm, Jean Prouve, Charles and Ray Eames and Hans Wegner, and, in 2006, JF Chen was a major lender to the first-ever retrospective of Ettore Sottsass’s work in America, he has also become interested in discovering and cultivating emerging artists, such as New York-based Karin Haas (b 1986), and designers, several of whom he now represents.

Gae Aulenti,
King Sun table lamp,
designed 1967
Estimate $2,500 > 4,000



So much of Chen’s ingenuity and knowledge is invested in sourcing each item from every corner of the globe that the aficionados and A-listers, who frequent his shops and seek out his services, might expect to pay finder’s fees in the form of premium prices. However, in Christie’s forthcoming JF Chen Collection Online sale, the most expensive item listed is a pair of rare Luigi Caccia Dominioni (1913 > 2016) Italia 22 wall lights from 1957, estimated to sell at between $5,000 and $8,000. Meanwhile, the rare beast at the top of this post, along with a number of other items, some with identified makers, some without, but all endorsed by Chen’s trusted dependability are a steal at only $800 to $1,200. Elsewhere, an FK 82 lounge chair designed in 1968 by Danish designers Jørgen Kastholm & Preben Fabricius (1931 > 2007 /1931 >1984) is expected to sell for between $2,500 and $3,500.

Karin Haas,
Untitled (4 works),
2016 > 17
Estimate $2,500 > 3,500



Some of the objects he collects, he says, speak to Chen more than others and if they don’t sell he takes them home with him. His personal bête noire is guests offering to buy items in his house, however, for this grave misdemeanour, the price they pay is no more menacing than his vehement refusal to sell.

All images courtesy Christie’s


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being made available to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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