Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eternal secrets

. . . le style, pour l'écrivain, aussi bien que pour le peintre, est une question non de technique,
. . style, for the writer, as well as for the painter, is a question not of technique,

mais de vision.
but of vision.

Il est la révélation, qui serait impossible par des moyens directs et conscients, de la différence qualitative qu'il y a dans la facon dont nous apparait le monde, différence qui, s'il n'y avait pas l'art, resterait le secret éternel de chacun.It is the revelation, that would be impossible through direct and conscious methods, of the qualitative difference in the way the world appears to us - difference that, if art did not exist, would remain the eternal secret within each of us.

Par l'art seulement nous pouvons sortir de nous, savoir ce que voit un autre de cet univers qui n'est pas le meme que le notre, et dont les paysages nous serait restés aussi inconnus que ceux qu'il peut avoir dans la lune.
Through art only we may come out of ourselves, to learn what others see of the universe - for theirs is not the same as ours, and its landscapes would have remained as unknown to us as those of the moon.

Grace à l'art, au lieu de voir un seul monde, le notre, nous le voyons se multiplier, et, autant qu'il y a d'artistes originaux, autant nous avons de mondes à notre disposition, plus différent les uns des autres -Thanks to art, instead of seeing one lone world, ours, we see it multiplied with as many different worlds at our disposition as there are original artists -

et bien des siècles après que c'est éteint le foyer dont ils émanaient,qu'il s'appelat Rembrandt ou Vermeer, nous envoient encore leur rayon spécial.
and many centuries later, after their emanating fire has been extinguished, from now Rembrandt, now Vermeer, we still receive their special light.

From his essay on Proust's character Bergotte and Vermeer's View of Delft
Les écarts d'une vision
Zao Wou-Ki, Samuel Van Hoogstraaten, Marc Rothko, Nicholas de Stael, Vermeer

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pied-à-terre Jansen 1943

The colors in these illustrations of Mme M's Parisian pied-à-terre by Jansen are a pure delight. Illustrator, Pierre Mourgue, better known for his work in fashion , captures the glowing quality of burnt tones set off by the surrounding cool violet-touched silver sophistication.

This elegant apartment served for receptions and as an after-theatre gathering place. It was created in 1943 when wartime transportation had become unreliable making Mme M's grand suburban residence unattainable during the late hours of her Parisian social life. This former atelier in the rue Saint Didier with loggia and a multitude of nooks made original interpretations of the space possible. The silver folding screen, modern tapestries by Legueux et Planson and heavy curtains of bordeaux velvet hung from the ceiling give a characteristic theatrical feel -

all worked in with the supreme refinement of the color scheme.

I couldn't help but think of another divan by Jansen in seeing this image...

The enviable object is here in the home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

These illustrations by Mourgue are from the Gazette du Bon Ton and date to the 20s. Alas,
I didn't have an example contemporary with the interior to show.

Illustrations such as these are full of color inspiration - be it for clothing or interiors.

As for Maison Jansen, probably the first of interior design firm, it was such a large operation and lasted so long (1880-1989) that at any given moment there are furnishings to offer on the market. In passing, a design school now occupies Jansen's manufacturing sites.
These sconces are to be found on eBay until the 21st of November.

The following three pieces were part of the Manalo March sale last October at Christie's. March was one of the firm's most important clients, after the Shah of Iran, during the second half of the 20th century.
Ormolu and glass table by Stéphane Boudin circa 1960

Lacquered brass and lapis lazuli gueridon circa 1965 by Pierre Delbée of Maison Jansen Christie's

4 green painted and parcel gilt side chairs circa 1965

Pierre Delbée of Maison Jansen Christie's

Monday, November 9, 2009

Autumn Trip

all photos Le style et la matière

Where am I?

all photos Le style et la matière

Friday, November 6, 2009

fare-thee-well - objets en fer

Can one object be more an object than another? These articles made of iron - wrought, cast, sculpted - seem to be the very essence of objects. Everything in the Musée LeSecq des Tournelles of Rouen is a useful and often, a usual item. It may be the heavy process of taming iron, the bending, stretching, heating, hammering it into shape that gives it such fighting spirit. From heavy forged grills to dainty lacy pierced screens, they seem to say, "I was made by the sweat of the brow and now I stand alone." Objects par excellence.

L'arbre sec or the dry tree is a symbol for a cloth merchant and gave its name to a very old street in Paris. This wrought iron tree hung there until c. 1660. The street is located just next to the Samaritaine and I used to go there often to see a friend so I was particularly interested to discover the meaning of the name and its textile link. It seems that cloth merchants referred to Oriental legend for their symbol, since the most beautiful fabrics came from the East. The legend speaks of a tree visited by pilgrims to the valley of Josephat in the Holy Land. It was thought to have existed since the beginning of the world and to have grown on Lot's burial place; by the time of the death of Christ, the tree was dry.

At the sign of the cloth seller. Here the merchant holds the emblems of his profession measuring stick and scissors.

"How do you do?"
One of my favorite items in the museum is this candlestick that seems to be tipping a brass hat. It is really a bougeoir avec éteignoir automatique/ candlestick with automatic snuffer - an important item for those who liked to read in bed. When the candle burned low, the brass snuffer would fold over the flame, extinguishing it and preventing the start of a fire even if the reader had nodded off over his book. These items continued to be perfected until the beginning of the 19Th century.
Light fixture from 1930 which recalls the ancestral tradition of nailing the night creature to barn doors to ward off bad luck.

Dentist's pliers in the form of a bird head. The fun way to have a tooth pulled.

This robust 15-16th century door knocker seems to taunt us to have survived so many a man.
Its arms serve to balance its weight.

English lock from an Oriental cabinet.

Master project for locksmith. Note sun and moon emblems.

German orthopedic corsets, artificial arm, defensive collars (?).

Strength in numbers.

Door knocker with lion and salamander.

A magic lantern, ancestor of the projector.

Strong boxes and coffers.


Miniature furniture
The museum sponsored contemporary artists to create new "fencing" to surround the museum garden. Each panel represents a part of the collection. Here Epées by Ferdinando Nava, Carole Nava (St Cler-sur-Epte), Michel Mouton (Brussels), Florence (Arras), Ludovic Boyer (Paris).

The collection was started by pioneering photographer, Henri Secq (1818-1882) and continued by his son. It is housed in the former church St Laurent built in the late 15th century and renovated in 1911 for the millennium of the city of Rouen.

For further views and close ups, visit the site Musée Le Secq des Tournelles.