Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Must-See Art Exhibit: Degas

MoMa Degas Art Exhibit

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a magical place, oozing with creativity and culture from wall to wall. Venture to the 6th floor, Special Exhibitions, and you’ll stumble upon Edgar Degas’ exhibition, which you don’t want to miss.

Degas, best known for his paintings, became engrossed by the monotype process in the 1970s, a technique of drawing in ink on a metal plate that’s subsequently placed through a press and produces a single print. He saw endless opportunities and seized: not only did he create original monotypes, he also took it a step further and used the medium as a starting point for images that could be reworked. What is most striking is Degas’ inclination to see art as a an ongoing process, rather than a completed piece. His passion for endless innovation and propensity to keep studying, testing and reinventing has made all the difference in how art was and is perceived. More than half of Degas’ work depicts dancers.

The must-see MoMA exhibit features 120 rarely seen monotypes, in addition to 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketches and prints.

degas - art at the moma
Image via ArtNews.com
Frieze of Dancers via ArtNews.com

The painting above, made from oil on canvas, encapsulates Degas’ interest in repetition and variation–lessons he learned from his monotypes. One of his largest paintings, we see four ballerinas in nearly identical poses. Can you tell that the two figures on the left are actually mirror images? With that in mind, you can start to see that the painting relates to time-motion studies, which was just emerging during his time.

degas -art 2
Blue Dancers, c.1899, Image compliments of EdgarDegas.org
degas - moma art 3
‘Lady with a Parisol’ c.1870-72, photo courtesy of Artandarchitecture.org

Although the work appears to be a loose sketch, it is unknown whether it was a finished composition. Degas’ usual process included laying down areas of tone on canvas prior to filling it in with color. However, those close to him knew that he preferred to leave his work in black and white. “What can you do when everybody is clamoring for color?” he said.

More on Degas, the Artist

Like many artists, Edgar Degas began experimenting with art at a young age. At the ripe age of 18, he had turned his bedroom into an art studio, using the walls as his canvas. His father did not encourage him to pursue artistic inspirations; instead, he expected Degas to become a lawyer. Luckily for his fans, Degas only entertained that idea for two years before enrolling at Ecole des Beaux-Arts he studied drawing and conquering techniques of high academic and classical art.

Although you can tell a lot about someone from their art work and style, It can be a difficult thing to get to know an artist. We’ve compiled some interesting facts about Degas, to provide some context.

Fast Facts

  • Degas would practice his technique by copying paintings at the Louvre
  • He became a soldier in the National Guard in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War
  • He has less than perfect eyesight, which caused him struggles throughout the years
  • His mother was an amateur opera singer
  • Degas, Monet, Sisley and several others formed the Société Anonyme des Artistes (Society of Independent Artists) in 1873, and the subsequent year held the first Impressionist exhibition
  • Degas never married










Posted by cynthia at 11:00:25 AM
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Get Mad Men’s Mid-Century Style

While Mad Men aired its last episode just over a year ago, props from the show were just listed for auction last week. The 1960s-based television show was well known and recognized for its impeccable attention to detail and authenticity—from the clothes, to the cars, to the furniture and design. It’s no wonder the award-winning show was hailed as a success by critics young and old alike; Mad Men’s mid-century style transcends time and generations.

We won’t comment on the acting or the plot itself, as that’s not our area of expertise. Instead, we want to discuss the set decor further.

Photo courtesy of Midcenturymodernist.com

The woman responsible for the swanky decor, Amy Wells, was one of the few people onsite old enough to remember the era the show depicts. But, her memories alone weren’t enough to create just the right ambiance; she used her vast collection of vintage books, decorating magazines and catalogs––from Sears to Better Homes and Garden––to establish an honest depiction of Mad Men’s mid-century style.

Image courtesy of WHORANGE

Being entrenched in the interiors business, we constantly come across objects from yesteryear, including fabulous mid-century accessories and decor fit for the Mad Men stage. Recently, we came across a piece that looked all too familiar–Pete Campbell’s globe bar cart. We found a nearly identical piece from a dealer in the South of France on our last buying trip (lucky for you!).

Vintage Mid-Century Globe Bar Cart – Image Courtesy of Jean-Marc Fray

This authentic vintage globe has all the unique style of Pete’s, but with even more history and charm. Its intricate depictions of old-world geography and astrological signs, torsado carved wooden legs, and multiple layers of storage, this beautiful and multi-functional piece is the perfect conversation starter.

If you’re a mid-century modern fan and want to collect pieces of your own to decorate your home or office, look for these common designers: Eames, Bertoia, Cherner, and Saarinen.

Image courtesy of Fresh Home
Walnut Mid-Century Chair Set – via Jean-Marc Fray
Emile Calvet (Ronald Guttman), Marie Calvet (Julia Ormond), Megan Draper (Jessica Pare), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) - Mad Men - Season 5, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC
Mad Men – Season 5, Episode 7 – photo courtesy of Ron Jaffe/AMC
Photo courtesy of Jean-Marc Fray: Mid-Century Suzanne Guiguichon bar  


Posted by cynthia at 10:42:45 PM
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cool Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

Most of the men I know are quite picky and have everything. If you’re anything like me, it’s a struggle find any gifts for Father’s Day, and there’s only so many tool sets you can give him. Sure, we’d love to give them what they deserve: the vacation of a lifetime or a yacht, but being thoughtful will have to suffice. Here’s a few cool Father’s Day gift ideas to get you a gold star this year.

Pro tip: if you find something that Dad would love, but it’s out of your budget, team up with other loved ones to go-in on the gift! It’s about quality, not quantity, folks.

1.  Club Chair

After a long day at work or perfecting his golf swing, Dad just wants to come home, sit back and relax. There’s always that one chair that no one else in the family dares to sit in if he’s home. It’s the most comfortable seat in the house. It’s the king’s chair.

We love the look and feel of a buttery, leather sofa chair. It’s understated style shows you know a thing or two about luxury goods, without being over the top.

1940s French Original Leather Club Chair 15C7

Pictured above: 1940s French Leather Club Chair by Jean-Marc Fray

Image courtesy of Pottery Barn

Vintage de Sede DS-85 leather armchair and ottoman set by Jean-Marc Fray

2. Humidor

Even if you’re father is only an occasional cigar smoker, he’ll appreciate a gift that’s practical and doubles as decor in his man cave. He’ll be proud to show off his gift at his next poker night. Oh, and don’t forget to get him a classy ashtray, too!

gifts for dad - humidor
Image courtesy of Tedcigars.com

3. Vintage Decanter

A good decanter can improve the taste of your dad’s favorite wine by exposing it to more oxygen (we won’t get too technical). Decanters are often used to store whiskey, as well, but for aesthetic reasons. Due to it’s high alcohol content and tannins, letting more air into the whiskey won’t drastically change the flavor, according to The Scotch Whisky Association. Both types of decanters are commonly comprised of glass and crystal; the difference being in their shape and size.

gifts for dad - decanter
Image courtesy of Waterford.com
Decanter, ice bucket and vintage chrome bar cart by Jean-Marc Fray Antiques.

4. Key chain Finder

Wireless key finders are super handy for anyone of any age, no matter how good our memory serves us. One of the highest rated on the market is Tile, which is compatible with both android and Apple smart phones. It offers the best range and even has two-way finding so you can easily locate your keys or your cell phone.

Image courtesy of TomsGuide.com

5. The Ultimate Slippers

Soft. Comfortable. What else could you ask for? Go for a fair with nice cushion and lining. Although there are many to choose from, UGG has excellent customer reviews.

gifts for dad - slippers
Image courtesy of Nordstrom.com

6. An Original Painting

You shouldn’t keep all that good taste to yourself; fine art deserves to be given and shared. Of course, the art will depend on Dad’s tastes and home decor. A painting is an investment that you can enjoy time and time again, and it’s unexpected.

Art by Ashley Mayel, Photo by Jean-Marc Fray


7. A Massage

Sometimes an experience can be more enjoyable than a tangible gift and dad’s enjoy massages just as much as mom. If it’s your significant other, go as a duo––spas will often have packages and specials for couples. Everyone deserves a bit of pampering from time to time!

8. Gentleman’s Valet/ Suit Stand

The use of valet stands as unique furniture pieces is somewhat of a lost art. Give dad the gift of organization and revive the trend. Most stands hold not your suit, tie and shirt, but also serve as a men’s jewelry box for his personal items––watch, cuff links, wallet and keys.

Image courtesy of Jeffery Tucker

men's valet

Vintage, Italian men’s valet in mahogany and brass by Jean-Marc Fray















Posted by cynthia at 10:23:11 PM
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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

7 Creative Couples of Then and Now

They say opposites attract. But, that isn’t always the case.

Dozens of creative couples have cozied up throughout the years, each contributing something new and unique for the rest of us to admire. They didn’t have the most conventional relationships, but that’s another story entirely. 

You may wonder, what defines creativity? Creativity is defined as “relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” So, perhaps it was imagination that brought these creative couples together. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous couples and their talents.

Françoise Gilot and Pablo Picasso

“Weeping Woman” Photo Courtesy of PabloPicacco.org
Image Courtesy of Bauer Art

Gilot, born in France, is best known for being a painter, but she was also a best selling author and Art Director at Virginia Woolf Quarterly. Not coincidentally, she was the artistic muse of Pablo Picasso from 1944 to 1953. They had two children together, although they never married. Most people are familiar with Picasso, and know he was a Spanish artist with many skills––painter, sculptor, stage designer, and writer, just to name a few. And we must not forget that he co-founded Cubism.

Charles and Ray Eames

Photo via Gizmodo

The American husband and wife duo made significant contributions to architecture and furniture design (Have you ever heard of the Eames lounge chair?). They also dabbled in film, fine art and graphic design.

Ray Eames, To Hofmann Love From Buddha, circa 1941, via Gizmodo

Rem Koolhaas and Madelon Vriesendorp

Image Courtesy of Socks Studio

Koolhass is a Dutch architect who  who currently teaches Urban Design at Harvard University. What some people may not know about him is that he also practiced writing and journalism in London. His  signature architecture can best be described as gravity-defying. His other half, Madelon Vrisendorp, was also involved in the same industry. She co-founded the Office of Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam.


Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter

Image courtesy of I Require Art

“Colour is a means of exerting direct influence on the soul. The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul. There is no must in art because art is free.”  – Kandinsky

Gabriele, a German impressionist painter thrived in Munich with her avante-garde style in the 20th century. She studied for some in America, France and Berlin and was influenced by Kandinsky, a German-born artist. The pair started a relationship that blurred the line between personal and professional. You see, Kandinsky was actually married to another woman during their 12-year stint. Regardless of their non-traditional relationship, Münter created beautiful landscapes, while Kandinsky’s work varied throughout his life. He is credited for painting one of the first abstract works.

Image courtesy of WassilyKandinsky.org

Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning

Image courtesy of DorotheaTanning.org

Painter, graphic artist, sculptor and pioneer, Max Ernst will forever be recognized for starting the Dada movement and Surrealism. The German-born creator was constantly experimenting and moved around quite a bit. The couple met at a party in New York in 1942 and married in 1946. Tanning’s work shifted in different directions throughout her career, from self-portraits to fashion advertisements for Macy’s Department store.

Photo courtesy of Max-Ernst.com

Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz


Alfred Stieglitz’s Photography

O’Keeffe, better known as the “Mother of American Modernism,”  is best remembered for her large flower paintings, landscapes, and New York skyscrapers. Stieglitz was impressed by her work when they met in NY––he described her work as pure and sincere. Although married and 23 years her senior, Stieglitz invited O’Keeffe to come live with him and organized art exhibitions to showcase her work. This was part of his role as an art promoter; he also created his own work in the form of photography and was instrumental in making this medium an accepted art form.

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

Photo courtesy of DiegoRivera.org

Mexican painter Diego Rivera impressed the world with his frescoes and helped cultivate the Mexican Mural Movement. One word: murals. His work could be found everywhere from San Francisco to Mexico City and extended to Detroit. He married fellow artist, Kahlo, when was 22 and he 42. Their relationship was anything but harmonious, but you wouldn’t have known it from her art. Kahlo was best known for her self-portraits, which she attributed to spending a lot of time alone. Her isolation was mainly due to her lifelong health issues.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” – Kahlo

Image via FridaKahlo.org


Posted by cynthia at 02:25:32 AM
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