Christopher Wood was marvelous.

Here he is, looking marvelous:

Don't you agree? And he painted splendid portraits, of himself (in a sweater I think I need):

Also, others:

Tellingly, not many women ...

And they tend to look more like paintings of women as a species than any person in particular. Whereas his paintings of men are so insightful -- I feel I know these guys:

The back story (interesting bits in bold):

"Christopher Wood was born in Knowsley, near Liverpool on 7 April 1901, the son of Mrs Clare and Dr Lucius Wood, a GP. At fourteen, Wood began to draw during recuperation from septicaemia, and went on to study architecture briefly at Liverpool University (1919-20). In London in 1920, the French collector Alphonse Kahn invited him to Paris, where Wood studied drawing at the Académie Julian in 1921. He entered effortlessly into fashionable artistic circles, meeting Augustus John and the Chilean diplomat Antonio de Gandarillas, with whom he began to live. As well as providing financial support, Gandarillas introduced Wood to Picasso, Georges Auric and Jean Cocteau, and to the use of opium. Although his painting was regarded as charmingly untutored, he learnt from these acquaintances, especially adopting the elegant line of Cocteau's drawings.

By 1926 Wood was in a position to make designs for Romeo and Juliet for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. When these designs were abandoned at the last moment, he concentrated on England, becoming a member of the London Group (1926)and the Seven and Five Society (1926-30). He exhibited with Ben and Winifred Nicholson at the Beaux Arts Gallery (April-May 1927), becoming close to them personally and artistically. In particular, Winifred was supportive in the aftermath of his failed elopement with the painter and heiress Meraud Guinness. He painted with the Nicholsons in Cumberland and Cornwall in 1928. On a trip to St Ives, he and Ben Nicholson encountered the fisherman painter Alfred Wallis, whose work answered a shared interest in 'primitive' expression and helped Wood to establish a personal style. A solo exhibition at Tooth's Gallery (April 1929) was followed by an exhibition with Nicholson at the Galerie Bernheim in Paris (May 1930), in which Wood showed paintings made in Brittany in 1929. The results of a second stay in Brittany (June-July 1930) were intended to open the Wertheim Gallery in London in October. Travelling with his paintings, Wood met his mother in Salisbury on 21 August 1930. Possibly believing himself pursued (an effect of withdrawal from opium), he threw himself under the London train. In deference to his mother, his death was often subsequently described as accidental. Posthumous exhibitions were held at the Wertheim Gallery (Feb. 1931) and the Lefevre Galleries (1932). In 1938 Wood's paintings were included in the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In the same year a major exhibition was organised by the Redfern Gallery at the New Burlington Galleries, which attempted to re-unite Wood's complete works, and gave impetus to Neo-Romanticism."


The best ones always have the most ridiculous ends. Tomorrow, his "naive" land/seascapes -- they'll know your socks off. Or at least I like them quite a bit.


Are we still doing the short pants thing this Fall?

Oh, ok ... I'll do it, Junya, but only for you:

Why must you torture me with your tweeeeeeds ...

And don't even get me started on this Fair Isles toggle coat. It's like he's been READING MY MIND, or heart:

I love it all. Fall 2011, Junya Watanabe. Typically, I might like a piece or two from a runway look, but I'd wear all of these entire. I still lament a Watanabe era Comme des Garcons coat that I failed to pick up from a little shop in Perugia. Not in the Dries store, but right next door.


An Island

I've long admired La Blogotheque's Take Away Shows, a project where the fast and raw techniques of Dogma 95 filmmaking are brought to videos of indie musicians playing unannounced performances on the streets of Paris. Virtually all of the interesting, relatively well known indie bands you can think of have worked with the filmmaker, Vincent Moon, to create a short -- I should say that I have never enjoyed recordings of performances, because they always seem to pale in comparison to the experiencing live performance -- but Moon's films come close. They are truly beautiful and immersive.

He has a new film coming out in February, in which he worked with the Danish band Efterklang. It's called An Island:

AN ISLAND - 3rd TEASER - Vincent Moon & Efterklang from Rumraket on Vimeo.

"August 2010, French filmmaker Vincent Moon and Efterklang's 8 piece-live band met up on an island in the Danish country side. The objective was to shoot a film. A film with the same length as an album, and a film full of performances, experiments and collaborations."

AN ISLAND - 1st TEASER - Vincent Moon & Efterklang from Rumraket on Vimeo.

"Over an intense period of 4 days Efterklang collaborated with more than 200 local musicians, kids and parents, creating new performances and interpretations of songs from their Magic Chairs album. It was all filmed by Vincent Moon who same time conducted several filmic and musical experiments with Efterklang as his dedicated play mates."

It look pretty neat, don't you think? I look forward to it.

Vincent Moon's biography on Wikipedia is disgustingly precious and it makes me wildly jealous:
"He has been living on the road since January 2009, experimenting on nomadic cinema and traveling to film rare musicians around the world. He now works alone or with people he finds on the road, and most of the time without money involved in the projects, trying to redefine the limits of cinema in the 21st century. In 2011 he will begin work on his new collection of recordings, Petites Planetes, dedicated to experimentation between images and sounds, shot around the world."

Petites Planetes indeed.


For Sara: Craving Breakfast in Porto

Postcard, last week, from dearest Sara:

Dear Nick -- this time of year always brings back memories of Portugal. Those breakfasts! this morning I was transported to that little place -- was it Coimbra? The one with the real linoleum floor and the china cabinet to end all china cabinets. They served us a huge pot of watery tea, & crispy white rolls with paper-thin slices of cheese or jam. It seemed a bit mean & frugal at the time -- but now, thinking back on it, it seems like such a comforting meal.

Yes, it certainly does. It was in Porto, in the little 'hotel' run from three extra bedrooms in a large and very old townhouse owned by a saucy spinster and her mother. It was on a hill that plunged down to the river, on a street frequented by a tribe of very independent dogs. Each morning we would wander to the dining room on the second floor, and this was my view:

Sara reads a telegram pensively. Or a receipt? And here she is demonstrating scale beside the largest china cupboard in the world:

We had a busy day ahead of us. First on the itinerary: visit the tiny, infrequently open museum dedicated to a collection of religious works of the 16th and 17th century -- their prize being a gruesome crucifixion, where Christ's blood drips into a fountain of blood, which is eagerly consumed by a kneeling family (including children). The family depicted commissioned the painting, and I think these patrons might even have had blood dribbled on their chins. It was about as horrid and fantastic as it sounds, and it was in this terrifying room:

Then innumerable lavish and entirely deserted churches, monasteries and convents -- inhabited by silent, unconcerned security guards. Pictures? Sure. Touch the tapestries? Ok. I'm paid to stand here and look creepy:

Then we peeled an amazing poster from the wall of a theater, which now hangs in an apartment in Chicago:


Phases of the Moon

Is there really anything more beautiful, in life or representation?

Here painted the 15th century -- the moon is one of the few things in this world that look exactly as it did 600 years ago, because it's out of this world and we've barely touched it. I hope it stays that way.


Masanori Oji

There aren't many contemporary designers whose work I think about often, out of the blue, like design daydreams. I have design daydreams about pieces by Masanori Oji, mentally installing shelves using his brackets under antique mirrors in bathrooms I do not own,

manically hanging towel bars everywhere just because I like the looks of them,

and screwing his little hooks all over the place, wherever I need to hang anything (mostly because they look like the keys used to wind clocks and bring automatons to life) ...

but the real conflict comes in selecting the right pendant for the breakfast room -- I'm not fussy, but I want them all. I guess I'll have to just use one in each of my pied a terres (London, Stockholm, Lisbon), and another in the garden room of my cottage on Grand Manan, and in the larder of my ancestral sod house in the prairies of Nebraska. Regardless of location, they'll look appropriate and stunning ...

but not stunning in that self conscious, distracting look-at-me-and-how-pretty-I-am, DESIGNDESIGNDESIGN way. I'm sure you know what I mean.

So, my point is that I have a crush on Masanori Oji and want virtually everything he makes. Maybe I could pop down to NYC this weekend to see his work in person and buy everything in sight at the New York International Gift Fair, but something tells me it's sort of industry geared, not design-crush geared.

Sigh. Dreamy. Discovered and admired on Hindsvik.


Morandi I Ain't

I accumulate endlessly -- the only thing separating me from a hoarder is the cats that I don't have. Finds from last weekend's thrifting, that I will not be parting with:

From left to right: 7 bronze bowls, beautiful and heavy, that might be Indian. I've seen similar ones used in a religious context, and elsewhere in Asia as monk's begging bowls. Beautiful matte golden color. Ah, the mysterious East ... Art glass tumbler, mouth blown, with these remarkable stripes that travel from the pontil up the sides, with no break in the pattern. Remarkable. Reminds me of Venice. And lastly, a bit of RI studio pottery that is still in production -- I adore this little kiln, and will write about more later.

You see, the problem is that all of my house looks like this:

... not like this:

Ergo the etsy. I regret things lost sometimes, but if I didn't do it, we'd drown!


Let there be bread! And light!

I can't think of anything more delightful:

I always seem to love chandeliers in unlikely materials (like those human bone ones in the creepy church in the Czech Republic -- you know, the ones you saw on Curious Expeditions?). This one is in Tartine, the venerable San Francisco bakery, and spied on the Selby.

My belov'd Jojo and I once bought provisions for a drive to LA from Tartine, and somehow managed to spend 35 dollars on pastry. Totally worth it.

Do you think you can order the bread chandelier over the counter?


Yep, She Killed It.

Georgia O'Keeffe by Cecil Beaton. And below, Night, in watercolor:

This Georgia O'Keeffe reverie stems from a casual conversation with a hairdresser a few weeks ago, during the first professional haircut I've gotten in 7 years. She told me about a trip to Taos, and the discovery of O'Keeffe's little known pottery, which was an artistic watershed moment for my barber.

Pottery? Georgia O'Keeffe? I thought I knew her work decently, but was unaware of this side of her artistry. I spent the rest of the haircut lost in dreams of pots in the purest style.

Her studio, below:

But the truth is that they might not exist, or at least no one talks about them online. Could she have dreamt them? I need to look into this more closely.

Info, dear reader?


Artists Do It Best

What, exactly, do they do best? Everything. Like this transcendent living room:

Rooms this sublime can only be created by true genius. Can you guess which one? Who does it belong to, dear readers?

(And if you are familiar with this house and know of a source of high res images, I would be forever grateful. I looked in vain for two hours yesterday.)

Modern Grotesquerie

One of my favorite things in the world, grotesques, are thus named after the rediscovery of this style of fantastically connected architecture, flora and fauna, in the grottoes of the Domus Aurea (or Golden House), Nero's Roman hideaway.

Justly admired, the style was revived and used to great effect from the Renaissance (Raphael's grotesques were as highly prized as his more serious works) through the 18th century:

Imagine my delight in discovering the work of Ellie Curtis, whose prints drive me mad with desire:

And this last one is less a grotesque, but it still has the spirit:


Pro RI

"Religious dissenter Roger Williams founded the colony of Providence, Rhode Island after being run out of the theocratic Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. Unlike the Puritans, he scrupulously purchased land from local Indians for his settlement. In political beliefs, Williams was close to the Levellers of England. He describes Rhode Island local “government” as follows: “The masters of families have ordinarily met once a fortnight and consulted about our common peace, watch and plenty; and mutual consent have finished all matters of speed and pace.” While Roger Williams was not explicitly anarchist, another Rhode Islander, Anne Hutchinson, was. Hutchinson and her followers emigrated to Rhode Island in 1638, bought Aquidneck Island from the Indians, and founded the town of Pocasset (now Portsmouth.)

Another “Rogue Island” libertarian was Samuell Gorton. He and his followers were accused of being anarchists, and Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay called Gorton a “man not fit to live upon the face of the earth.” Gorton and his followers were forced in late 1642 to found an entirely new settlement of their own, Shawomet (later Warwick). In the words of Gorton, for over five years the settlement “lived peaceably together, desiring and endeavoring to do wrong to no man, neither English nor Indian, ending all our differences in a neighborly and loving way of arbitration, mutually chosen amongst us.”

In 1648, Warwick joined with the other three towns of Rhode Island to form the colony of the “Providence Plantation.” From that time on Rhode Island had a government; this government, however, was far more democratic and libertarian than existed elsewhere in the American colonies. In a letter to Sir Henry Vane penned in the mid-1650s, Williams wrote, “we have not known what an excise means; we have almost forgotten what tithes are, yea, or taxes either, to church or commonwealth.”

--discovered on Fuck Yeah Rhode Island


Christmas Means Books

Needless to say, outside is beastly in the best possible way, but I can't spend too long without before wishing I was within -- and so I have been spending hours taking advantage of that most prized of holiday gifts: books. This year was a good year:

Ceramic Art in Finland -- Thank you, Ellen, for this glimpse into the esoteric and delicious world of Finnish ceramics -- I want nearly all of it, particularly the bird creation of Birger Kaipiainen. More on this to come:

Handcrafted Modern -- I know, hyped (I first read about it on ready4thehouse) -- but let me tell you, all worth it. The text leaves something to be desired. It's difficult for me to believe that this book had an editor, but who cares. It's all about the pictures. This was a present to myself : ). Highlights -- the Russel Wright house, which warms the cockles of my heart. Also, Esherick's home -- not the staircase, the floor entirely in purpleheart! It haunts my dreams:

In Youth is Pleasure -- Easily one of the dirtiest, most visceral and beautifully written books I've ever read -- every sentence is pregnant with meaning that tickles the mind less than some other bits. On creamed spinach:

"Spinach done in this way always reminded Orvil of something. He could not help it; although he tried to rid his mind of the image, it sprang up again with each new sight of the dish. Once in a field full of buttercups he had trodden in a cow-pat. He had looked down at his foot which had broken through the hardened outer crust. It lay in a trough lined in darkest richest green. 'What a wonderful colour!' he'd thought; 'it's just like velvet or jade, or creamed spinach.'

Now, as the waiter put the soft spoonfuls on his plate, the image was with him again. 'I'm eating cow-pat, I'm eating cow-pat!' he said to himself as he dug his fork in."

Thanks, Seth & Danielle. The world keenly observed:

Never Let Me Go -- Doubtless numbingly depressing, I have not yet dipped into this one. But I adore Ishiguro's other works, Remains of the Day being one of my favorite books. It just doesn't get any better. Anyway, grim mysterious boarding school? Melancholy children harvested for organs? Count me in. Thanks, Andy. You know me well:

Exercises in Style -- Treats, treats. Little language hors d'oeuvres, dripping with French wit. Also, some sweet drawings, contortionists complementing the twisted language.

A boy gets mad at a man on the bus for stepping on his feet, and he takes a seat away from the man. Later, we see the boy again getting advice on a button from a friend. That's it, the whole book, and it's brilliant. Thanks, Rich:

Saint Joan -- This one I know little about, except that I like what Shaw I've seen. When I was growing up, there was a salacious Life of Sarah Bernhardt in the living room of our summer house, and I dutifully read it each summer -- much was made of her performance of Saint Joan, and I picked this up, thinking that at last I could read it. Different version of Saint Joan! Woops. But I found it in a box on the street, so, no loss. I guess it was a gift from God?

What are you guys reading these days?



Last night, the Edgewood Yacht Club burnt to the ground (or sea, really). It was a local landmark in the center of the neighborhood where Steven and I hope to move --

"The oldest yacht clubhouse in the state, the Edgewood Yacht Club (1908, Murphy, Hindle & Wright, architects) is the only remaining example of a group once relatively common in this ocean-oriented state. Its form and siting typify those of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century seaside clubhouses. The club which erected and still occupies the building played an important role in promotion of yacht racing in Narragansett Bay.

Established at this location in 1885 as the Edgewood Boat Club, this organization served the nascent, upper-middle-class suburb of Edgewood and included only a group of bayside bathhouses. The Club was formally incorporated as the Edgewood Yacht Club in 1889, and a clubhouse, which replaced the various temporary structures here, was constructed in 1903; its incineration in 1908 necessitated the construction of this structure.

Built on pilings in the water with docks extending into the bay, this building follows the format established for yacht clubs and boat houses in the nineteenth century and continued through the first four decades of the twentieth century. Most, like this one, were two stories high with circumferential verandas: the porches were important functionally to catch the sea breezes and to provide ample room for lolling and watching approaching vessels and their very form recalls the decks of ships. The interiors of these structures were invariably utilitarian, usually finished with matchboard paneling.

Similar structures stood nearby to serve the Rhode Island Yacht Club and the Washington Park Yacht Club; perhaps the most elaborate of the genre was the Narragansett Boat Club on the Seekonk in Providence. All others have disappeared, prey to hurricanes in their vulnerable seaside settings, or destroyed by fires."

text found here.

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