Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Garden of the Sun King: The Fountains of Château de Versailles

Statue of the Sun King, Louis XIV

As you pass through the golden “La grille d’Honneur,” or gate of honor, even on the most overcast of days, one is immediately spellbound by the visual grandeur of the Palace of Versailles. It’s patinated gilt foliage reminded me of our Louis XVI style gold-leafed trumeau back in the gallery.

The “sun” was King Louis XIV’s chosen emblem of power, and he perceived his reign to be of divine providence. This is evidenced in the various representations of Apollo: god of music, poetry, truth, and light. Louis XIV’s tenure as king is often referred to as “Le Grand Siècle” (the Great Century) as the gilding throughout the palace and gardens conveys.

Gate of Honor, circa 17th century.

 

19th Century Louis XVI Gold Leaf Trumeau

I had the good fortune of attending the gardens on the first day the fountains were running this spring. The current plumbing dates to the seventeenth century. With such delicate pipes, they run for only 15 minutes intervals at a time.

Parterre d’Eau

In the 1600’s, just as today, water was a costly resource, and there was much construction required for supplying these extravagant fountains. The “Marly le Roi,” or Marly Machine, had been installed along with aqueducts, tanks, and canals. This impressive hydraulic system was built in 1684 to pump water out of the river Seine and send it to the Palace of Versailles. A sophisticated system such as this was the only one of its kind in Europe at this time.

View of Marly’s Machine (1723) by Pierre-Denis Martin – Palace of Versailles

The grounds were designed by French landscape architect, André Le Nôtre, son of Jean Le Nôtre, master gardener of the Tuileries under King Louis XIII. André also studied under painter François Vouet and applied the laws of perspective from this tutelage in his great projects. It is André that transformed the more than fifteen-thousand acres of muddy swamp into majestic, meticulously patterned paths and parterres. 

Leconte Map of Versailles, ca. 1920

The gardens at Versallies alone contain 221 works of art. These include grand statutes and fountains by sculptors Thomas Regnaudin, Gilles Guerin, Balthazard and Gaspard Marsy, Martin Desjardins, and François Girardon. There is beauty in every direction as visitors explore the immense layout in tranquil adoration of its splendour.

Bronze sculpture in the Basin d’Eau

 

Marble and Bronze Sphinx and cherub sculpture

 

Roman Goddess of the Hunt: Diana, in marble
Bosquet of the Salle de Bal

It was a true sight to behold water cascading over rocks brought from the far reaches of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Of all the fountains, I was most in awe at the immense presence of the lead fountain of Apollo. He is sculpted emerging from the depths, his cartel of horses charging forward as he masterfully guides these graceful beasts onward. 

“View of the Apollo Basin” engraving by Louis de Chastillon, ca. 1683

 

Apollo in his chariot by Jean Baptiste Tuby, ca. 1670

Latona’s Fountain also exemplifies a dramatic event from Apollo’s youth. Here the god is shown as a boy while his mother, Latona (Marble, by Gaspard and Balthazard Marsy, ca. 1670), flees from the wrath of Juno, Jupiter’s wronged wife, as she pleads with Jupiter to punish those casting insults at her and her children, Apollo and Diana.

The Latona Fountain

You can learn more about the myth which inspired this spectacular fountain here:

If a visit to Versailles is not on the agenda this spring, one can channel the romance of this exquisite sculpture garden with our 4-paneled hand-painted French screen below.

 

I highly recommend booking a tour of Versailles. Many tour companies, such as Sandemans, offer these in several languages, and you can make a reservation in advance. You will receive a delightful guided history of the gardens with entertaining commentary on art, architecture, King Louis XIV, and his dalliances, of course. Whatever your plans may be, the fountains of the Château de Versailles are definitely a must-see destination for anyone traveling to Paris. Not that we object to sipping espresso in Parisian cafes all afternoon!

Le Pavillon des Canaux

 

Posted by admin at 04:54:16 PM
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

MONOCHROME: CJ Hendry’s Colorful World

Within a 22,000 square foot industrial space in Brooklyn, artist CJ Hendry has created a seven room interactive experience of color, titled MONOCHROME. This explosive exhibition features seven distinct spaces, each designed to emulate the art on the walls. The art, hyper-realistic drawings by Hendry, depict crumpled Pantone chips. The textural element is essential to the experience, both of the drawings as well as the furniture featured in each room. MONOCHROME was open from Thursday, April 5th to Sunday, April 8th, 2018.

Blue Room, High Snobiety
Green Room, Designboom
Yellow Room, Design Boom
Orange Room, Designboom

“People generally buy art as the last item, they find art to match their home. I have become close with my collectors over the years and have noticed how differently they live their lives. Art is the first thing they add to a space and they design their entire home around their collection,” said Hendry. “I have taken this concept to an extreme level. Each room has been designed to emulate the art on the wall. The art is the focus, everything matches the art.”

Red Room, Designboom
Pink Room, Vice
Purple Room, Designboom
Pantone Drawing, Designboom

Hendry, an Australian artist, became known for her hyper-realistic black and white pen drawings, often depicting inanimate objects with incredible shadow and light. Last year, Hendry partnered with Christian Louboutin for a colorful exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong, titled “Complimentary Colors.” Turning to color for the first time, her drawings for the exhibition showed splashes of bright pigment. Now, MONOCHROME is an ambitious next step in her evolution with color.

“Color is exciting and sad and frustrating and confusing. Color is all around us, it’s everywhere,” Hendry explained in a press release. “Color is not a physical thing, it’s a thing that describes something else. By drawing crumpled colored cards I have given color a physicality and form.”

Hermes Scarf by CJ Hendry, Art Resources
Helium Balloon by CJ Hendry, The Cool Hunter
Donuts by CJ Hendry, Design Milk
Wine Bottle by CJ Hendry, Whudat
My Modern Met
My Modern Met
Lindley Pless
Lindley Pless

 

For her second foray into color, Hendry continues to link pigments with emotion.

“I am new to color, not too sure if I understand it yet. Before, when I drew in black ink all the focus was on the object because all the emotion of color was removed. Now I stare at my drawings and feel…just different, I can’t explain it.”

Though the MONOCHROME exhibition has closed, CJ Hendry is an artist to follow, as she is sure to surprise and delight with her next concept.

 

Posted by admin at 04:53:52 PM
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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Cape Town’s Zeitz MOCAA

Hailed as the “8th wonder of the world” at its opening, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa is the largest contemporary art museum on the continent. The building was originally a 1920’s grain silo, which was converted by English architect Thomas Heatherwick to create a honey-comb-like-space, where the cement columns look as though they were smoothly carved like “a hot wire through butter”. There are one hundred galleries spread over nine floors that feature almost exclusively African and South African artists, as the museum strives to act as a “platform for Africans to tell their own story”.

Zeitz MOCAA Entrance | Daily Maverick

The entrance’s focal opening, BMW Atrium, features a giant mixed-media dragon by South African artist Nicholas Hlobo, titled All the Lightning Birds Are After Me, or – in Hlobo’s native Xhosa language: Iimpundulu Zonke Ziyandilandela. Originally created for the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, this seminal work combines rubber inner tubing, colorful ribbons, and an animal skull to create a seductive creature charged with meaning. His use of masculine materials strung together with feminine techniques is an exploration of issues of gender, race and ethnicity. Hlobo also has three other mixed-media on linen works featured in their own gallery, one on each wall.

Nicholas Hlobo: iimpundulu zonke ziyandilandela | Zeitz MOCAA

 

The museum has a cutting edge range of paintings, photography, sculpture, short films, video installations, and mixed-media in their permanent collection, along with temporary exhibitions, and Centers for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice, Photography, the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute. The general message of the works throughout the museum matches that of Hlobo– it is one that strives to call attention to the struggles for gender, racial, and ethnic equality.

 

    

The exterior architecture of the museum is a work of art in itself. The protruding “flies’ eyes” windows speak to the multi-faceted, multi-vocal magic that lies below, as they actually belong to the boutique luxury hotel that sits atop the museum.

 

Aptly named, The Silo Hotel is the perfect spot to lounge and have a drink after a full day of absorbing art. Their bar on the sixth floor, The Willaston Bar, is named after the first ship to export grain from the original silo complex back in 1924. Its stunning Cape Town views, delicious cocktails, cozy seating areas, colorful design, and funky mushroom lamps mingle for a unique and creative environment to unwind.

The Willaston Bar | The Silo Hotel

  

If you’re ever in South Africa, Zeitz MOCAA is a must-see cultural experience, and The Silo Hotel is a convenient and beautiful cherry on top.

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