Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An Exhibition of Alexander Girard

There’s Knoll, Eames, Saarinen, Breuer, and then Alexander Girard, “the most famous designer you’ve never heard of” as dubbed by Vogue. He is most recognized for his festive and colorful textiles, though he was a true renaissance man who worked in architecture, typography, furniture, exhibition, graphic, and interior design. 

Alexander Girard in his studio in the 1950s, Curbed

Born in New York City in 1907, Girard was raised in Florence, Italy and studied architecture in London and Rome. He later moved to Michigan and was the head of the textile division at the Herman Miller Company, where he had the freedom to express himself with primary colors, patterns, textures and graphics. He created over 300 textile designs during his tenure, ranging from wallpapers and prints to furniture and objects. 

https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/25/11273174/alexander-girard-exhibit-vitra-design-museum-graphic-design
Textile design, 1971. Courtesy of Andreas Sutterlin, Curbed
https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/25/11273174/alexander-girard-exhibit-vitra-design-museum-graphic-design
Interior of Miller Cottage in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada in 1952, Curbed
http://historicallymodernquilts.blogspot.com/2013/09/modern-print-monday-alexander-girard.html
Eden by Alexander Girard, 1944, Historically Modern Quilts
https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/25/11273174/alexander-girard-exhibit-vitra-design-museum-graphic-design
Textiles & Objects Shop in New York City for Herman Miller, 1961, Curbed

One of his most notable commissioned projects was the legendary New York City restaurant La Fonda Del Sol in 1960. Girard used vibrant and animated sun-face motifs throughout the space in the Time-Life Building— from tablecloths and menus, to serving carts and paper wrappers on the sugar cubes. The swivel chairs were designed through a collaboration between Girard and his colleagues Charles and Ray Eames. It was a lively spot, the place you go for a three-martini-lunch, and was frequented by many well-known figures of the time (including Any Warhol!).

http://www.penccil.com/gallery.php?p=152151228943
La Fonda Del Sol, Penccil
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e0/42/3f/e0423fe0ae08409ff37f2824061cbe4f.jpg
Sun Motif Serving Carts, La Fonda Del Sol, Pinterest
https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/25/11273174/alexander-girard-exhibit-vitra-design-museum-graphic-design
Matchboxes for the La Fonda Del Sol Restaurant, 1960, Curbed

Girard’s use of color, pattern and texture throughout his works was predominantly influenced by International folk art, which also contributed to his works’ “messages of love, joy, humor and cross-cultural understanding”, as described by his granddaughter Aleishall Girard. Through his expansive travels, Girard amassed a collection of approximately 106,000 “toys”, as he called them— 100,000 of which were donated to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM. He designed a new wing at the museum to house the collection, and later produced a permanent exhibit displaying folk art scenes, which depicted a range human activities and experiences. 

https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/25/11273174/alexander-girard-exhibit-vitra-design-museum-graphic-design
Girard with Folk Art Collection, Curbed
https://girardstudio.com/folk-art/
Girard Studio

https://girardstudio.com/folk-art/
Girard Studio

 

https://www.webproxp.com/girard-folk-art-museum-santa-fe/
Folk Art Print, Girard Folk Art Museum

Girard qualified his passion and shared his believe that, “…we should preserve this evidence of the past, not as a pattern for sentimental imitation, but as nourishment for the creative spirit of the present.” We feel the same can be said of antique and vintage furniture, accessories, Murano glass, and a host of other historical elements of design. They should be cherished and used as a means to unify the past with the present and inspire new ideas.

https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/25/11273174/alexander-girard-exhibit-vitra-design-museum-graphic-design
Love Heart, Environmental Enrichment Panel # 3017 for Herman Miller, Curbed

Girard produced a truly impressive oeuvre over the course of his career, much of which is currently on display in the exhibition “Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe” at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Michigan. The seminal designer’s works will be on display through October 28, 2017. We’d love to go and escape the Texas heat!

Posted by Lauren Gunn at 04:52:53 AM
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lisbon: Coveted City by the Sea

By Cecilia Chard

“By day Lisbon has a naïve theatrical quality that enchants and captivates, but by night it is a fairy-tale city, descending over lighted terraces to the sea, like a woman in festive garments.” –Erich Maria Remarque, novelist

Originally named Ulissipo, meaning “enchanted port” by Ulysses, the city of Lisbon has an important and ancient history made even more spectacular by its bright street art, tiled facades, and sea food markets. Lisbon has been inhabited for 30 thousand years, and was originally one of the most coveted port cities of the old world. After Jean-Marc spent several days in Lisbon this summer, eating the fresh fish and visiting some of the city’s wonderful museums, we wanted to share some background on this stunning city by the sea.

Lisbon, Portugal, Huffington Post
Lisbon, Portugal, Huffington Post
Tile art showing a historical view of Lisbon, Sétima Colina Blog
Tile art showing a historical view of Lisbon, Sétima Colina Blog

Portugese Azulejo

Though ceramic, glazed tiles originate in Egypt, the Portuguese have used these tiles in incredibly imaginative and beautiful ways for centuries. Many large buildings in the Gothic period had large, flat plaster walls needing to be decorated. This resulted in the art of fresco in Italy, and the art of azulejo in Portugal.

The tiled facades of buildings continued through the centuries and can still be seen on many buildings today. Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos, director of the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, said that “many other countries have tile art… but in Portugal, it became a part of the building. The decorative tiles are a construction material as well as a decoration.” In more recent periods, the azulejo have even been modernized, with contemporary colors, designs, and uses. Now as street art, the subway stations of Lisbon are tiled with these stunning murals.

Traditional 17th Century Azulejos, BBC Travel
Traditional 17th Century Azulejos, BBC Travel
Tiled Building Facade, Culture Trip
Tiled Building Facade, Culture Trip
Frontiera Palace Fountain, BBC Travel
Frontiera Palace Fountain, BBC Travel
Oriente Train Station, BBC Travel
Oriente Train Station, BBC Travel

Fresh Seafood Markets

The relaxed atmosphere of Lisbon is wonderfully matched by the simple, seasonal cuisine. Traditional Portugeuse dishes are uncomplicated, instead relying on the fresh ingredients to provide the taste. These beautiful dishes are also heavily seafood based, with favorites such as moray eel, octopus, sardines, and salt cod. Beautiful restaurants can be found throughout the city serving this incredible food, while chefs and locals alike frequent the many food and fish markets.

Portuguese Octopus Dish, Kitchn
Portuguese Octopus Dish, Kitchn
Fresh Salt Cod, photo by Jean-Marc
Fresh Salt Cod, photo by Jean-Marc
A Cevicheria, photo by Jean-Marc
A Cevicheria, photo by Jean-Marc

Art of Lisbon

Though the city is filled with art and museums, one of Jean-Marc’s favorite stops on his trip was the Berardo Collection in Belém, Lisbon. This stunning museum focuses on the modern and contemporary art of Portugal and beyond. With a collection of works that is valued at 316 million euros, this stunning display covers major artist movements such as pop art, surrealism, and more. Named after José Berardo, a well-known Portugese art collector, this museum has only been open since 2007 and already established a name for itself in the art world. Make sure to stop by this fantastic location on a trip to Lisbon for an extensive permanent collection and a regularly changing temporary exhibition.

Berardo Collection, Wikipedia
Berardo Collection, Wikipedia
'Lucky Seven' by Joan Mitchell at the Berardo Collection, photo by Jean-Marc
‘Lucky Seven’ by Joan Mitchell at the Berardo Collection, photo by Jean-Marc
'Judy Garland' by Andy Warhol in the Berardo Collection, photo by Jean-Marc
‘Judy Garland’ by Andy Warhol at the Berardo Collection, photo by Jean-Marc

The colorful and historical streets, fresh local food, unique art scene, and laid-back atmosphere make Lisbon a wonderful destination. We at Jean-Marc Fray are always inspired by our travels and the incredible cultures we experience!

Posted by Cecilia Chard at 01:47:29 AM
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ai Weiwei Greets Austin with Two Public Art Installations

By Deanna M. Ashley

More than a contemporary conceptual artist, Ai Weiwei, a native of Beijing, China, has used his art as a means of engaging the social consciousness of humanity through site-specific installations.

http://www.yu-photography.com/gallery/aiweiwei/
Ai Weiwei c/o Yu Photography

Many fans of his work in Austin, Texas are feigning over two recent outdoor installations. Ai’s, “Forever Bicycles,” appears to offer a nod to “Bicycle Wheel,” the 1913 kinetic work of another famed provocative artist, Marcel Duchamp. It is a large-scale installation of 1254 bicycles towering impressively along the Waller Creek Delta.

Forever Bicycles, 2014. Ai Weiwei. c/o austindowntowndiary.com
Forever Bicycles, 2014. Ai Weiwei. c/o austindowntowndiary.com

 

https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/marcel-duchamp-bicycle-wheel-new-york-1951-third-version-after-lost-original-of-1913
Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel”, c/o MoMA

His cast sculpture, “Iron Tree Trunk” graces the lush grounds of The Contemporary’s Laguna Gloria. Standing 15 feet tall, the sculpture could initially be mistaken as a natural part of its surroundings, though upon further inspection, it is clear the piece has been altered by man. Ai was inspired by the Chinese tradition in which beautiful dried tree pieces are sold at market to display in the home, admired for their unique intricacies and meditative influence.

Iron Tree Trunk, 2015. Ai Weiwei. c/o thecontemporaryaustin.org
Iron Tree Trunk, 2015. Ai Weiwei. c/o thecontemporaryaustin.org

Ai studied animation at Beijing’s Film Academy where he founded an avant garde art group, STARS. He went on to study art at Parson’s School of Design in New York. He eventually lost interest in their conservative approach to teaching and earned a living by drawing street portraits instead. In 1993 his father became ill and he subsequently returned to China.

Son of Ai Qing, one of China’s finest poets, Ai is no stranger to the punishment that accompanies non-conformist expression. His father studied painting in Paris between the years of 1929 and 1932 where he developed a fondness for poetry. His poetry became imbued with social commentary, and in 1957, shortly after Ai’s birth, he was censored for his criticism of the Communist Party and sent into exile.

http://forum.hkej.com/node/72829
Ai Qing, Ai Weiwei’s father

Qing eventually became Vice Chairman of the Chinese Writer’s Association in 1979, and was later named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by then President, François Mitterand in 1985. In this regard, being a non-conformist can be seen as practically part of Ai’s DNA. Parallels may certainly be drawn between using their art as a tool to reveal social oppression and initiate change through public awareness.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2292669/Ai-Weiwei-Chinas-famous-dissident-artist-opens-ordeal.html
Ai Weiwei as a baby with his father

Ai WeiWei was one of the first artists to utilize social media outlets, such as Twitter, as a means of exposing oppression. When a shoddily constructed school crumbled in an earthquake in Sichuan, China in 2008, local authorities would not release the student names or calculate casualties. Ai and his team researched those who perished and released their names on his blog. This was the inspiration for his 2009 installation, “Remembering” at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. This work was made of 9,000 vivid backpacks, each symbolizing the life of a child lost in the natural disaster.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/global-culture/global-art-architecture/a/ai-weiwei-remembering-and-the-politics-of-dissent
Remembering, 2009 c/o Khan Academy

 

https://imageobjecttext.com/2012/08/09/where-activism-meets-art/
Detail of Remembering c/o Image Object Text

In April of 2011 Ai was detained while attempting to depart Beijing for Hong Kong, and was held in a tiny room supervised by Chinese military for nearly 3 months. His studio was later raided and bulldozed. Street art stencils popped up all over New York City declaring, “Where is my passport”, referring to the police’s confiscation of his passport, which was not returned to him until 4 years after his release. In December of 2011 he was named one of TIME magazine’s runners-up for Person of the Year.

http://globalgraphica.com/2013/06/12/more-awesome-ai-wei-wei-street-art-in-new-york/
Where is my passport c/o Global Graphica

Ai has collaborated with several architects from 2002 up to the present, which speaks to the progress of his grand outdoor installations. “Think Different (How to hang workers’ uniforms)” was part of Scandinavia’s 2015 public art show, OpenART, in the city of Örebro, Sweden. His exhibition draped rows of 375 uniforms over the street representing those worn by Chinese factory workers as a visual representation of the inhumane treatment and harsh conditions they endure.

Think Different..., 2015. Ai Weiwei c/o streetartnews.net
Think Different…, 2015. Ai Weiwei c/o streetartnews.net

Ai Weiwei’s creative motivation appears to spring from a visceral sense of social justice. His bold, outspoken, and superbly-crafted conceptual art has sprawled poetically against an international playing field and made its way to Texas. Perhaps a visit to Austin is becoming as motivated by contemporary art as it by live music, honky-tonks, technology, football, and BBQ.

Posted by Cecilia Chard at 05:22:24 AM
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Thursday, July 06, 2017

The History of Age Old Carrara Marble

Most of us are familiar with the beauty and elegance Carrara marble can bring to a piece and to a space, but what is the story behind this timeless stone?

Mission Stone
Mission Stone

The name derives from its provenance in the city of Carrara, settled between northeastern coast of the Ligurian Sea and the western edge of the Apuan Alps in the Tuscan region of Italy. The earliest known settlements in the area were by the Apuan Ligures tribe back in the 9th century BC (over 2800 years ago).

The peach color signifies Tuscany, the red signifies the Carrara area.
The peach color signifies Tuscany, the red signifies the Carrara area.

The town, as it is now, originated from the Roman conquest of Liguria (just north of Carrara) in the early 2nd century BC. Houses and districts were built for marble workers and slaves, who opened up quarries to excavate the alluring stone.

http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/visiting-carrara-marble-quarries-apuan-alps-eternal-snow
Italy Magazine

The marble was extracted and shipped to Rome for use in palaces and monuments—it is responsible for transforming Rome from a city of brick huts into a gleaming empire. Most notably, it was used to create the Pantheon and Trajan’s Column.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/345369865150718700/

Khan Academy
Khan Academy

After the Roman Age, Carrara experienced another “boom” during the Renaissance. Money was pouring into the arts, and marble, especially Carrara, was “de rigueur” in Florence, Venice, and Rome.

The Wawel Royal Cathedral
The Wawel Royal Cathedral
Wiki Art
Wiki Art

Michelangelo himself traveled to the Apuan Alps to choose his marble for sculptures and other whims of his patrons, the Medici. He eventually even opened his own quarries for them, rivaling those of Carrara. Michelangelo’s David is a fine example of his search for the brightest, most finely veined marble available.

Wiki Art
Wiki Art

Carrara marble is a beautiful staple of the antique French furniture here at Jean-Marc Fray. Adding elegance and history, the marble often tops chests, coffee tables, and more. The veining and details may differ from piece to piece, but the stunning marble always adds to the classic aesthetic.

Jean-Marc Fray, Antique Bistro Table
Jean-Marc Fray, Antique Bistro Table
Jean-Marc Fray, Louis XVI Style Grand Buffet
Jean-Marc Fray, Louis XVI Style Grand Buffet
Jean-Marc Fray, Louis XVI Style Chest
Jean-Marc Fray, Louis XVI Style Chest

 

Posted by Lauren Gunn at 04:58:32 AM
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