Thursday, November 29, 2007

VENICE - Museo Correr

Cocktail Party at Museo Correr.
Piergiorgio Coin and his daughter, Marta Coin Castellini, with Mita De Benedetti, were receiving guests, as his wife Franca, president of the Venice Foundation, was unable to attend the cocktail party at the Museo Correr prior to the concert in the Basilica of Saint Mark's directed by Lorin Maazel.

The Business Ladies. Giuliana Benetton and her daughter, Franca Bertagnin Benetton both sit on the board of directors of Edizione Holding, the family owned financial company. Giuliana co-founded with her three brothers the apparel company Benetton in 1965.

The Art Collectors. Art collectors, Roberta and Gimmo Etro talk to Cristina Pinto. Gimmo founded the fashion and textile company Etro. Though he has retired and his children have taken over the running of Etro, Gimmo still consults, especially for the Women's collection.

The Artist. Artist and stylish lady, Marie-Louise Brulatour Mills. Her love of Medival history, with a fondness towards Federick II, is often the theme of her works.

The Group. Venice's favorite architect and interior designer, Matteo Corvino, Mme. Antoine Bernheim, Princess Eleonora of Yugoslavia, Jerome-Francois Zieseniss, president of the Comite Francais pour la Sauvegarde de Venise, who is responisble for restoring the Museo Correr and art historian and journalist, Cesare Cunaccia.

A detail. A detail of one of the frescos on the grand staircase leading up to Museo Correr. The frescos on the staircase were restored by the Comite Francais pour la Sauvegarde de Venise.
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Saturday, November 03, 2007


Tuesday – The Met - Roof Garden. This Is It! The view is so spectacular, you can see the skyscrapers south across the tree tops, you can also see most of Central Park West and a little of Fifth Avenue. Plus you can enjoy the view with a cup of coffee or a drink in your hand and absorb the last rays of sun. This Is It! Because there is just enough time to go back home and close the suitcases and go back to “Prosecco country”. We have had a great time, it’s been mostly a foodie trip and the icing on the cake, was the fabulous weather.

Detail. A Detail of the Frank Stella’s carbon epoxy composite, 2007 sculpture, entitled, Chinese Pavilion. The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden on top of The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened to the public in 1987. The first annual installations featured selection of modern sculpture from the Met’s collection. More recently, each installation has focused on the achievements of an individual artist. This year Frank Stella’s recent explorations in sculpture and architecture were on view.

Contessanally tip: remember you can click on photos to enlarge them.

Photograph by Manfredi Bellati

The Met. - Special exhibition - Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor. The Special exhibition Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor, until January 6th, 2008, must not be missed, it is daunting, awesome and the gigantic billboard sized tapestries are well hung and superbly lit. The exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of high quality seventeenth-century European Tapestry. Drawing from collections in more than fifteen countries, it presents some forty rare tapestries made in Europe between 1590 and 1720, along with twenty-five drawings, engravings and oil sketches. The exhibition investigates the stylistic and technical development of this prestigious figurative medium and explores the contributions of artist such as Peter Paul Ruben, Jacob Jordaens, Simon Vouet, Charles Le Brun, Pietro da Cortona and Giovanni Romanelli as they respond to the challenges of the medium in unique and spectacular ways. Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times “…this exhibition is stupefying, a king-size display of a space-eating art, awesome in its exacting detail.”

The Met. – Special exhibition – The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met. Is home to the finest collection of Dutch art outside Europe, including twenty works by Rembrandt himself, and all 228 of these masterpieces are displayed for the first time in the exhibition, The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, until January 6th, 2008. The exhibition also celebrates Rembrandt’s 400th birthday. The works on view date mostly between 1600 and 1700 – landscapes, genre pictures, still lifes, marine views, portraiture and historical and biblical paintings, by Rembrandt and other celebrated Dutch masters such as Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch, Pieter de Hooch, Jacob Van Ruisdael and Aelbert Cuyp. Shown above. Jan Davidsz de Heem, Stiff Life: A banqueting Scene, Oil on Canvas. I thought this still life was appropriate for this New York foodie blog. The ambitious still life caused some head scratching among the scholarly community, but the co-census now is that de Heem painted the picture in Antwerp about 1639 or 1640 as a pioneering work of its type. The lavish display of objects and delicacies find a discordant note in the provincial clock at the upper right, as if a local preacher intruded upon festivities at a great country house. It is signed JDH in the lower left on a napkin.

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Friday, November 02, 2007


Monday – Gastro-pub: The Spotted Pig. In the West Village, The Spotted Pig is the first gastro-pub in New York. The chef is English expat, April Bloomfield who worked at the renowned River CafĂ© in London. Her cooking focuses on seasonal British and Italian, using local ingredients when possible; simple straightforward food. There is a hundred-bottle wine list, as well as, a large selection of beers and naturally, Irish stout. The Pig has maintained its Michelin star for the past three years and has won the 2007 New York Award for Best Comfort Food. Besides the hamburgers, The Pig is known for its Sheep’s Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter and Sage. I would rate the food as good and the atmosphere pleasant at lunchtime, though I believe it gets very crowded and noisy in the evenings.
Contessanally tip
Go for a weekday lunch, or be prepared to wait, even up two hours at night, as you cannot book a table.

Detail. The Chargrilled Burgers get the best reviews for their simplicity and the Roquefort cheese melts in your mouth. I thought the Shoestring Fries excellent.

Detail. The Spotted Pig is famous for its Mashed Potatoes maybe because they are so rich in butter and cream.

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Monday – Garden in Transit. The flowers on this and other taxis were hand-painted by more than 23,000 children and adults throughout NYC as part of an art, education and creative therapy project. The temporary exhibition celebrates the 100th anniversary of the metered taxicab.

Detail. The TV screen inside some of the newer taxicabs. Some taxi cabs went on strike again today, for the second time in a month, to protest about the new GPS and credit card systems to be installed in them. The Taxi Workers contend it as both an invasion of privacy, and a pay cut due to the transaction fee of credit cards.

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photograph by Manfredi Bellati

Sunday – Lifestyle: A cocktail party - detail: On a very warm October evening, cookbook author and friend, Susan Simon gave a cocktail party for my husband and my decade marking birthdays, here is the menu:

Susan Simon’s Mascarpone and Smoked Salmon Foccacia
Susan Simon’s FreshTomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Foccaccia
Bianca Fresh Cow’s Milk cheese

Hawthorne Valley bio-dynamic farm
Local Apples
(cut into wedges, rubbed in oil and roasted at 350 degrees F for 11/2 hrs)
Nuts and Raisins
(tossed together to make a mix – almonds coated with curry & coconut)
Hilda Simon’s Gingersnaps
Sasha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Roy’s Caramel Cake
Prosecco -

A detail above of Susan’s fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and Basil focaccia, as well as, her mascarpone and smoked salmon focaccia rest on a glass stand and on an antique Chinese export plate on top of a Moroccan silver plated tray on her English 19th Century drop-leaf dinning table.

Photograph by Manfredi Bellati

The birthday cake cook. The Caramel Cake was made by Roy Finamore and brought to Susan’s in this beautiful wooden basket. This is what Houghton Mifflin, the Boston cookbook publishers say about Roy Finamore, ‘Respected throughout the food world for his ability to create cookbooks that are both stylish and perfectly attuned to the home cook, Roy Finamore is an author, editor and stylist. He has edited such major authors as Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Lee Bailey, Diana Kennedy and Tom Colicchio. His own books include Tasty (Houghton Mifflin), which won the James Beard Award and One Potato, Two Potato (Houghton Mifflin).”

Note: in the background the drinks tray is set on top of an American early 20th Century chest.

Detail: “That cake – Caramel Cake - is classic Southern. Six layers of yellow cake with a long-cooking caramel frosting. I make the caramel a little darker than the traditional one, because I think the slightly bitter edge offsets all that sugar.” Roy explained.

Detail: The large glass trifle bowl holds Hilda Simon’s Gingersnaps, the recipe can be found in Susan’s book, The Nantucket Holiday Table (Chronicle Books) and the John Derian decoupage cake stand holds Sasha’s chocolate chip cookies, they both sit on an antique black and gold tole tray, to the right, the chrysanthemums from Tompkins Square Park Farmers Market are placed in an antique 19th Century transfer-ware bowl.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007


Sunday – Long Island City - P.S.1 MoMa – Contemporary Art Center – openings. Seen in the courtyard, P.S.1 director, Alanna Heiss greets Italian author, Alain Elkann and his wife Rosy to the full slate of fall exhibition openings. Alanna Heiss Established PS1 in 1976, it is an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art. P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center is one of the largest and oldest organizations in the United States solely devoted to contemporary art.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico exhibiton. The exhibition, through January 7th, presents a selection of Italian artists who have maintained a prominent presence in the international contemporary art world over the past decade. Senso Unico takes an intimate look at the work of eight influential figures: Vanessa Beecroft, Paolo Canevari, Angelo Filomeno, Ra di Martino, Adrian Paci, Paola Pivi, Pietro Roccasalva and Francesco Vezzoli.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico – Francesco Vezzoli. A still from the short film by Francesco Vezzoli's, Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story, 2006. Francesco Vezzoli, is a person New York Magazine recently said “exists at the center of the art-celebrity-fashion nexus that is, controversially, defining the art world today.”

P.S.1 – Senso Unico – Francesco Vezzoli. “I hate, I hate appearing in my films.” Vezzoli stated “I appear because I think it gives my work more meaning.” A still of Vezzoli as a young teenager from his short film Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story, 2006, a phony account of his life.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico - Vanessa Beecroft. A scene of the DVD of the performance that Vanessa Beecroft did at the 52nd Venice Biennale, entitled VB61 Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf? ,2007. You can see Vanessa, in the foreground, throwing red paint on the canvas near the bodies of thirty Sudanese women. Her aim is artistic and political. The performance serves as a graphic representation of the massacres and the genocides happening in the Darfur region of Sudan.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico - Vanessa Beecroft. Detail of Vanessa Beecroft’s the DVD VB 61 Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf? ,2007. Thirty Sudanese women lie face-down on a white canvas, stimulating dead bodies. Beecroft covers the canvas and the bodies with strokes of red paint.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico - Angelo Filomeno. Angelo Filomeno’s Shitting Baroque (White Death Moth), embroidery on silk shantung over linen with onyx, crystals and diamonds in white gold settings, 2005. Angelo is also exhibiting two spectacular feathered helmet sculptures.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico - Angelo Filomeno. Angelo Filomeno really does all the embroidery himself, free-hand. He does not have a computerized sewing machine. He was taught to sew first by his mother and then as an apprentice to a local tailor when he was a child in Italy.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico – Paola Pivi. One of the central works of art in the P.S.1, Senso Unico exhibition is Paola Pivi’s , Life is Great, 2007 sculpture of a grizzly bear which instead of fur has yellow feathers. Could she have been inspired because she lives in Anchorage, Alaska?

P.S.1 – Senso Unico – Paola Pivi. Seen roaming the Senso Unico exhibition Italian artist, Paola Pivi.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico – Paolo Canevari. “My video work “Continents”, 2005 that I’m showing at P.S.1 is about the prejudices and fears we have towards “others” and the political division that the “Democracy” and the so called “Modern Society” brought upon the world. This division mainly happened during the colonialism of the 19th and 20th Centuries, without any control by the natives and without taking into any account the natural geographical borders.” He explained.

P.S.1 – Senso Unico – Paolo Canevari. The elegant Italian artist, Paolo Canevari lives and works in New York, he is wearing one of his 1940s vintage suits from his vintage suit collection.

P.S.1 – Seen in the courtyard. New York based Italian artist, Nicola Verlato. It is a pity that Nicola’s work is not included in the Senso Unico show at P.S.1, because he is a very talented artist. Asked about the show, Nicola commented that “It throws light on what is going on in Italy today.”

P.S.1 – Lovett/Codagnone Exhibition. Interruptions of a Course of Action, through January 7th, is the first U.S. museum exhibition for the artist duo Lovett/Codagnone. Best known for their performances, videos and photographs that combine elements of S & M gay subculture and everyday domestic scenes, the artist team will further their ongoing exploration of relations of power with works that investigate politics and identity in more oblique ways. These new works depart from self-reflexive strategies to issues of collective identity and address the absorption of underground tactics of resistance. Shown above, Love Vigilantes, mirror, 2007.

P.S.1 – seen in the lobby. Sur Rodney Sur and Willoughby Sharp. Sur used to have an art gallery, now he works as an archivist and is friendly with most of the artists exhibiting. Willoughby Sharp was the founder and publisher of the seminal art magazine Avalanche, over the past decades he has gained international recognition as an artist, author, curator and teacher.

P.S.1 – seen in the courtyard. Tim Goossens and Kenny Scharf. Tim is an assistant to P.S.1 founder and director Alanna Heiss. Pop artist, Kenny Scharf needs no introduction. He has a show on, right now, at The Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea called, New! New Paintings and Crazy Roy-Al. “The end of the world is fun” summarizes the spirit of Kenny’s new works. He pairs classic symbols of American consumerism with an underlying subversive edge.

P.S.1 – Kris Martin Exhibition. This is the first solo New York exhibition, through January 7th, by Kris Martin. The Belgium artist brings together sculpture, drawing, photography and works on paper that examine the themes of morbidity, beauty, destruction and time. Whether working on the scale of monumental sculpture or de-materialized gesture martin’s practice positions itself at the extreme brink of cognition – how knowledge and wisdom is gained at the close of experience or how life is recognized only at the edge of death. Shown above; Mandi VIII, plaster, 2006.

P.S.1 – Kris Martin Exhibition. Mandi III, mixed media, 2003, is like an airport signboard whose ever changing face announces only its futility, as there are no numbers, letters or writing on it, from which the very source of struggle has been removed. It marks the passage from experience to abstraction. Martin’s art draws from the space in between, an image of the world in which all activity, monumental or insignificant, may be just killing time.

P.S.1 – Seen in the courtyard. Desiree la Valette is a freelance editor for guide books in New York; she is also a collector of art. One of her favorite pieces was the Kris Martin signboard called Mandi III shown above. “I like the fact that it is all black. I like the randomness of the idea. You could run a shopping list on it, or what’s for dinner menu. Life writes the best stories.” She concludes.

P.S.1 - Irrational Profusions. Irrational Profusions, through January 14th, is an exhibition of an intergenerational group of artists who work in clay. Ranging from rigorous investigations of form to seemingly irreverent compositions, the show presents the myriad possibilities and potential of the medium. Shown above a range of Peter Schlesinger’s stoneware columns and vessels. The other artists in the exhibition are Nicole Cherubini, Marc Leuthold and Joyce Robins.

P.S.1 - Irrational Profusions – Peter Schlesinger. The stoneware columns and vessels of Peter Schlesinger present a textured geometry. They vary in scale, from diminutive to monumental. His background as a painter influences his selection of abstract shapes, patterns and manipulation of the material’s consistency. “I got bored with painting and needed to do something more three-dimensional, I just stopped painting and just love working with clay.” He told me.

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