Sunday, October 18, 2009


Don't get lost in the stairway
Musée des Beaux Arts Rouen


Friday, October 16, 2009

Yves Saint Laurent - Pierre Bergé bis

Little Augury has been exploring fascinating terrain in her recent post: should we judge a book by its cover? Literally and figuratively, we do. And if we do, we should take into account cultural bagage, what you bring with you when you are face to face with something new, with any experience in fact. Take the same book and observe the differences in the American book cover, the British one, the French one etc. Sometimes a flashy best seller from the US is published with an artistic or intellectual looking cover in France. The novel is the same, but our impression is different. Is this just marketing? (There seems to be less difference in recent years though.)

A book on art or decoration doesn't undergo such radical changes. There is the integrity of the work or artist to be taken into account, but choices are made. The results can be very different.The beauté above (top photo) is the cover of the French edition of the Robert Murphy/Ivan Terestchenko book on Yves St Laurent and Pierre Bergé. It is the purist of the three covers (see below and Little Augury).
Is that YSL and PB as the Greek god Janus, keeping watch at the gate of their secret paradise? Does Janus, looking to the past and to the future, mark the transition for the places, people and things contained between the covers of this book? The mood is solemnly commemorative as with a funerary stele. Is this a way of not turning the page?! In any case, even if this is the edition you prefer, the book that came out only in February is not available; it's already out of stock. Good news! The word from Ivan Terestchenko is that it will be available once again at the end of the year.

For more of the stunning photography of Ivan Terestchenko, click*

Open door, color, pattern.

Closed space, graphic elegance.

Along with the aesthetic, notice too the title differences.

Are the differences more due to the respective audiences or to their views of YSL-Pierre Bergé?

The universe may be expanding but this old world is shrinking. Where differences exist, let them be celebrated, because even in imitating we always manage to create something new.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On the silver screen

The other day I had the pleasure of discovering Mankiewicz' A Letter to Three Wives. The story was intriguing, the dialogues sharply chiseled, the filming original. It's the story of three women who are leaving for an outing when they receive a letter from their mutual friend, Addie Ross. The letter announces that she is about to leave and never return - with one of their husbands. Addie is a sort of Rebeca we never see but whose voice narrates the story, a powerful seductress as much envied by each of the women as she is admired by each of their husbands. The fact that each couple is living through some difficulties increases the women's feelings of insecurity. Whose husband is it?

We see the house that each woman lives in. Deborah lives with Brad in a big house with a colonnaded porch. Addie tells us that Brad, who gave her her first black eye and her first kiss, bought the house before going off to war.

Deborah on her way to pick up Rita for a picnic with the other wives, while the men...?

Rita Phipps ( Ann Sothern) has been waiting for Deborah in front of her home in a neighborhood shared by those on their way up and those on their way down. "Rita is on her way up and wouldn't have it any other way," says the voice of Addie. She rushes back in to say goodbye to the twins, oblivious of her husband, George (Kirk Douglas).

The beautiful Lora Mae (Linda Darnell) is from a shack on the wrong side of the tracks. It shakes and rattles when the train passes by but Lora Mae stays cool and steady for she knows what she wants...
and gets it.
Lora Mae guesses the identity of the beautiful woman in the portrait. We only see the back of the frame.

Rita Phipps is the working woman of the three. An ambitious soap opera writer for the radio, she invites her over-bearing employer for dinner trying to win her favor. Her attempts to put her best face forward naturally include sprucing up home and husband. They purchase expensive Scotch for the occasion, though "Bourbon is a better drink," because it's in fashion with "those showbiz types." Husband is expected to wear his tuxedo and the housekeeper has a new uniform complete with a saucy cap that she detests - all this is designed to impress. George, a school teacher, is indulgent but fairly put off by his wife's attempt at pretence.
Rita: People in the show business, you know what I mean, those kind of
people always drink scotch.
George: Well, I know what you mean, but I wish you wouldn't say it in radio English. "That kind", not "those kind".
Rita: There are men who say "those kind" who earn $100,000 dollars a year.
George: There are men who say "stick 'em up" who earn more.
I don't expect to do either.

There is tension in the air with such a cocktail of personalities. The guests bicker and the oafish boss and her submissive husband won't touch the Scotch though the others find it very necessary to partake. There is a clatter...

when it comes time to dine. Sadie (Thelma Ritter) unveils the dining area by removing a screen Betty had apparently thought a more elegant way to proceed. Ah ha! The ultimate sign of
Rita's pretense!

The cumbersome folding screen practically comes tumbling through the viewing screen,

a struggle ensues,

the cap goes askew.

As Sadie wrestles to put it aside, she sighs wisely saying,
"I tol' ya the screen was a crummy idea. Soup's on!"
Of course, this was a great screen moment for me ! Clever Mankiewicz.
I leave you to you to find out about the rest of the story.

Monday, October 12, 2009


If you are in love with the worn and faded souvenirs of yesterday and sometimes feel your most at one with humanity when it reaches out to you from the bygone days ... you might enjoy my views of one of my favorite fairs on the Ile des Impressionists. Now that I can't get my mind off Screens, it is naturally their direction I pointed my camera.

It must be difficult to restore some of these.

This double screen with views of Paris and Versailles dates from the 50s
and is in perfect shape.

Is it worth it to get an old screen or would a new frame be better for this sort of fabric model?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Color Identity -Colorstrology

photo from VOGUE Fée Couture by Michael Thompson robe Dior

I love all colors. I have definite leanings, but for me any color blooms in relation to other colors so I can't exclude a single one. Sometimes there's a color you just want to sink your teeth into. There's an immediate reaction. Is it emotional need?

Some people identify strongly with an animal, but have you ever asked yourself --IF YOU WERE A COLOR, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE ?

Just for fun, look into your personal color on this site; it's not necessarily your favorite color, astrologer Michele Bernhardt explains but a description of your personality based on your birth date.

"The colors we see all around us are a reflection of the sun's light in all its glory. It is
magic made visible. There is nothing more miraculous, unexpected or wondrous than seeing a rainbow appear in the sky.

You are part of that rainbow of light and just as being born on a particular day under a particular sun sign offers insights into your personality and nature, there is also a
personal color that corresponds to the real you. It is the color that reflects the very
essence of your specific birth date."

I don't know what serious astrologers would say about this but I did find that Aspen Gold had the right vibrations for me!

Monday, October 5, 2009

screen story - la suite

Screens have divided and conquered Eastern and Western living spaces through the ages. With their distant origins in China dating to the 300B.C., their use became more widespread in the 7th century China. First heavy, lacquered, relatively stationary objects, they became truly mobile when made of beautiful papers and cloths later in 8th century Japan. Their easy transport made them ideal for tea ceremonies or as backdrops for religious ceremonies, dance and theatrical productions. The wild enthusiasm for all Oriental articles of luxury and refinement of the late 17th early 18th century naturally included not only porcelains, lacquer furniture and silks, but also screens. It seems to me their introduction into Western living spaces altered our relation to those spaces.
( European illustration for a fan, 1700,Victoria & Albert Museum)

This very simple screen made from a frame with dark green fabric nailed through a ribbon on to it seems to show that the utility of screens had been known for some time already; a screen wasn't only a highly ornamental piece from the Orient. Homemade would do. (Gérhard ter Borch 1665)

Mme de Rambouillet (1588-1665) is thought to have first brought screens into fashion in France. Their introduction into living quarters coincides with the start of a new desire for privacy in a world where personal isolation was yet unheard of. Interiors were teaming with humanity. Aristocratic circles were surrounded by servants and constant social movement and in simpler home settings, one room served for everything and everybody; living was a collective venture. Folding screens could designate a more intimate space. Behind the protection of its shielding presence, one could listen and dream unseen. (Francois Boucher 1743)

Vast rooms would begin to be marked off with areas for particular domestic functions. The notion of comfort had started to make headway. Daybeds and low slung fauteuils encouraged a different kind of posture and less self-conscious behavior. One could set off precious chosen company as jewels in front of its richly decorated folds, the better to appreciate glittering banter or stylish readings. Luxury had met with a new sense of douceur de vivre, stiff etiquette could be relaxed here.

(Jean Francois de Troy 1679-1752)

With the progression of the home to a personal sanctuary, privacy became more and more natural to the point of being taken for granted. The 19th and 20th centuries saw homes become increasingly the expression of their owner's personalities and this as a prerogative for many.

The use of screens on the stage has long been known as a simple way to change scenery. To those who approach life as an art form, screens seem an especially fitting accessory for the home. You have only to provide the theatrics before the backdrop of your choice. Here's quite an example to follow with Dame Edith Sitwell in this famous photograph by Cecil Beaton.

Anna de Noailles, poetess with a flair for exotic costume. Many photographs show her with this screen positioned behind her daybed or her bed.

It's so much more effective to strike a pose against the vibrant color of a Chinese screen - a method tried and true for us in Western interiors for 400 years. Women's magazines throughout the 19th and beginning of the 20th century were filled with projects for homemade screens using postage stamps, wallpaper, or prints - just as today we may see similar projects using stencils, photographs or storage pockets.

André Arbus proves the utility of screens even in a very streamlined setting. There are no paintings on the walls but a screen of the same cream tones as the walls sets the accent on the sofa, giving it importance and a level of comfort that it would lack without it.

Click for more information on screens

Sunday, October 4, 2009


If for any reason the body must be clothed,

the clothing should be to the body as nearly as possible
what the body is to the spirit.

painting from the Four Elements, Air by Mariano Fortuny
photos and model Knossos by Fortuny