Friday, May 28, 2010


 New York – May 24 – 230 Fifth.  Last night in town what better than to go to 230 Fifth, the rooftop bar, club and restaurant to admire the 360 degree view of the greatest city in the world.   Created by nightlife entrepreneur, Steven Greenberg who previously owned or co-owned The Palladium, Roxy and The Cobalt Club in the legendary Gramercy Park Hotel. On top of 230 Fifth is like being on a beach with palm trees and the surreal view of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, as well as, the golden domed New York Life Building, purple crowned Met Life Building and in the distance the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty. Open 365 days a year, the rooftop bar is partially heated and, if necessary, cozy fleece hooded red robes or oversized blankets are provided for extra warmth.   Below the rooftop bar is a luxurious Penthouse Lounge with seating for up to 600 guests. Large, but intimate, with a 1940s modernist decor and many original furnishings it is fully surrounded by floor to ceiling glass windows and beveled peach mirrors, it also shares the breathtaking panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.
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LIVE FROM NEW YORK - MOMA - Marina Abramovic

 New York – May 24 – MOMA – Marina Abramovic.   A pioneer of performance art, Yugoslavian artist, Marina Abramovic began using her own body as the subject, object and medium of her work in the early 1970s.  Since then she has viewed performance as a tool to visualize the here and now.  For Marina Abramovic, The Artist is Present, The Museum of Modern Art’s first performance retrospective, Abramovic performs every day the museum is open between March 14th and May 31st. This is probably  the best retrospective I have ever seen and was moved by it.


The Artist is Present.   The Artist is Present is Abramovic’s longest performance to date, visitors are encouraged to sit silently across from her for a duration of their choosing, becoming participants in the artwork rather than remaining spectators.  Though Abramovic is silent, maintaining a nearly sculptural presence with a fixed pose and gaze.  The performance is an invitation to engage in and complete a unique situation.  The Artist is Present distorts the line between everyday routine and ceremony: positioned in the vast atrium within a square of light, the familiar configuration of a table and chairs has been elevated to another domain.  Between 1981 and 1987 Abramovic and her then-collaborator Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen) performed Night-Sea Crossing, sitting motionless at a table in twenty-two locations around the world, The Artist is Present is in part a reinterpretation of that work, and with the involvement of the public it is generous, ever changing and unpredictable. The charged spaced between Abramovic and the other participant is the content of the work, a place where nothing-or possibly everything-happens.
Contessanally tip: click on any photo to enlarge it.

The hours.  Between March 14th and May 24th Abramovic had already sat in her hard back wooden chair for 716 hours and 30 minutes.

The retrospective: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. On the sixth floor a chronological installation of Abramović’s work is included revealing different modes of representing, documenting, and exhibiting her ephemeral, time-based, and media-based works. 

The retrospective: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present. A live reinterpretation of the performance of Relation in Time, performed originally with Ulay in 1977, in Bologna at the Studio G7.   In this work Abramovic and Ulay sat back-to-back, motionless and joined by their hair, in one of their longest single performances.  The artists performed for sixteen hours without an audience – “winthin the limits of their own energy,” they wrote.   During the seventeenth hour they “used the energy of the audience” to complete the performance.
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New York – May 24 – Paul Richard. Seen on  the sidewalk of10th Avenue, this graffiti self-portrait by Paul Richard. The famed artist is known more for his printed street signs like  “Please No Graffiti On This Wall. Thank You, Paul Richard”.  The Boston and New York-based artist has been declaring various urban scenes and street fixtures artwork since at least 1997. Watch out where you put your feet, in Chelsea art is everywhere.
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LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Barry Friedman Ltd - Kukuli Velarde

 New York – May 24 – Barry Friedman Ltd. – Kukuli Velarde: Patrimonio.  While I was viewing the Wendell Castle exhibition at Barry Friedman Ltd., I stumbled across these terracotta figures by Peruvian contemporary artist, Kukuli Verlade. Though not officially still on show, you can still see them in one of the rooms of the Chelsea gallery. Inspired by pre-Columbian terracotta figures, Velarde's Plunder Me Baby sculptures reveal folk tradition, evoke histories of ornament and craft, and disrupt normal aesthetic hierarchies. Removed from their natural environment and installed as if in an anthropological museum, these figurative characters appear as though awakened for the first time. Each figure exhibits strong reactions to their new surroundings including fear, disdain, and aggressive anger. With pejorative slurs as titles, such as Chola Puteadora, Grabby!! Needs to Be Put in Her Place, or Méndiga Perra Autoctona, Bites, Velarde imbues these “plundered” artifacts with references to the struggles of indigenous populations as a result of European colonization.

Kukuli Velarde.    Velarde re-casts these appropriated figures as self-portraits as a means of defiantly reclaiming their ownership while giving them new meaning and context. 
Above: Mortiferous Indianus Zopilotense – Be careful, She is Deadly and Pacharatense Indiansis Chancay – The One Next to Her, Best Friend.
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LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Barry Friedman Ltd - Wendell castle

New York – May 24 – Barry Friedman Ltd. – Wendell Castle: Rockin’.  The Wendell Castle solo exhibition, Rockin’ until June 26th at Barry Friedman Ltd in Chelsea features twelve unique stack-laminated wood chairs.   With decades of experience as his backdrop, Castle’s new work is imbued with an animated optimism.   While the organic, curvilinear forms of this new collection link it to many of his past masterworks, there is a confidence and quickness of gesture that suggest a new dimensionality.  For example, Ghost Rider, 2010, above, a large attenuated rocking chair, illustrates his ability to intertwine complex technique with bold and graceful lyricism; with the pod-like seat suspended quietly between swooping legs, it is a calm in a storm of motion.  Castle is often credited with being the father of the art furniture movement.
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New York – May 24 – Judi Harvest.   Judi Harvest the Miami-born artist working in New York City and Venice, Italy, in painting, sculpture, glass, collage and video.  The multi talented artist created the Buddha sculptures, which form part of the Fragmented Peace works, as a reaction to 9/11.  They express the message of fragility of life and the search for beauty. “Today world peace seems an impossible dream. Inner peace, too, seems unobtainable. Yet without the beauty, art, and belief in the world and ourselves, nothing is possible. This work is intended to remind us that it is not fragments we need, but peace in its entirety.” Judi Harvest.

The Battalion, 2003.  Twelve wounded Murano glass lost wax Buddhas with red felt in original wooden barrella (stretcher) from Murano.

A detail.  A close-up of The Battalion. The “Buddha dust” is the white powder on the Buddha sculptures and part of the process of the creation.  It is there to remind us that not everything, including the mind, gathers dust.  Time and conscience produce dust. Removing it or not is up to the individual.” Judi Harvest.

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LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Gagosian Gallery: Claude Monet

New York – May 24 – Gagosian Gallery - Claude Monet: late Work.  At the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, Claude Monet: Late Work until June 26th was curated by Paul Hayes Tucker.   This is the most significant gathering of Monet’s late paintings to take place in New York in more than thirty years.  The show focuses on the most important late subjects drawn from his gardens at Giverny – Nympheas, Le Pont Japonaise and L’Allee de Rosiers are among the painting on show, which are amongst his most treasured paintings in his long and prodigious career.

Photograph courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Nympheas (Water Lillies) 1916-1919.   “The instantaneity of Monet, far from being passive, requires an unusual power of generalization, of abstraction… Monet declares: here is nature, not as you or I habitually see it, but as you are able to see it, not in this or that particular effect but in others like it. The vision I propose to you is superior; my painting will change your reality.” Michel Butor, 1962
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Monday, May 24, 2010

LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Minetta Tavern

New York – May 22 – Minetta Tavern. I highly advise that you don’t go to the Minetta Tavern in the West Village.  Restaurateur, Keith McNally who owns seven other trendy restaurants in New York, like Odeon, Café Luxembourg, Balthazar and Pastis, very recently reopened this famed village tavern.  It is not in my nature to complain but the reason I don’t recommend it is that I found a LIVE BUG in my bread and the attitude (just like going into Barney’s) of the Maitre d’ when I very discreetly pointed it out to him was very haughty. When the bill came I was so surprised that no discounts had been credited and that no “on the house” little treats were offered.  Maybe they are not interested in clients going back?
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Perry Street restaurant

New York – May 19th – Perry Street # 1.   Lunch at Jean-George’s Perry Street restaurant in the Richard Meier Towers on the Hudson River in the West Village to celebrate the success of the guide book I photographed, Shopping in Marrakech, written by  James Beard award winning author, Susan Simon and published by The Little Bookroom.  The elegant yet simple décor is relaxed, the seating is mostly banquette, which makes for easy conversation and the three course Taste of Spring, menu was delicious.
Above: Warm asparagus with morels and wild mushrooms.

Perry Steet # 2.   This is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s eighth restaurant in Manhattan and boast a Michelin star and a three star (excellent) rating from Frank Bruni in the New York Times.
Above:  The classic cheeseburger is char-grilled and comes with Russian dressing and crispy onions.

Perry Street # 3.    “The expertly orchestrated interplay of flavors and yin-yang balance of effects in many of the dishes here are classic Jean-Georges, as are the clarity and lightness of his sauces and broths, which cast the stocks of previous eras as lumbering dinosaurs…” Mr. Bruni wrote in the New York Times.
Above.  The classic cheesecake gets a makeover with Rhubarb and strawberries; the Rhubarb ice cream sits on a bed of crunching crumbled biscuits.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Hugo Guinness Exhibition

New York – May 18th – Hugo Guinness exhibition. The Brits were out in full force for the Hugo Guinness exhibition at the John Derian showroom on 2nd street. Hugo’s flower paintings were inspired by his earliest memories of walking hand in hand with his twin sister Julia and his nanny Miss Lyons in Kensington Gardens in London, looking at the trees, the dogs, the old ladies feeding the pigeons.   Every May, John Derian hosts an exhibition of Hugo’s works on paper framed in vintage frames. Above, Hugo and John.

Hugo Guinness exhibition. One of the charming black and white flower  paintings.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Julia Leach, Andy Spade and Muriel Favaro.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Emily Mortimer and baby May Nivola.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Alessandro Nivola and his son Sam.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Tom and Daphne Guinness.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Muriel Brandolini and Peter Schlesinger.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Elliott Puckette, Christopher Brookes and his daughter Coca.

Seen at the Hugo Guinness exhibition. Rita Konig.
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LIVE FROM NEW YORK - ICFF 2010 Editors Awards

New York – May 18th – Javits Convention Center: ICFF. On a very rainy and wet day I visited the ICFF, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York’s version of the Salone del Mobile. Below are some of the winners of the 2010 ICFF Editors Awards. The Jury consisted of the industry’s top design editors who selected the best of the best of the year's crop of designs in sixteen categories.

2010 ICFF Editors Awards – seating.  Arper won the seating award. The Italian company’s direction is guided by; market globalization, environmental credibility and a pursuit of innovation.   Above, the Team chair designed by lievore Altherr, Molina, a seating collection inspired by the essential lines of contemporary architecture and innovative technology.  Team offers a family of seating options to suit all commercial and hospitality applications ranging from high end design to auditorium functionality.

2010 ICFF Editors Awards – Furniture. Mabeo is a furniture brand from Botswana, Africa. Collaborating with a select list of international designers including well known names like Patricia Urquiola and Claesson Koivisto Rune, the Mabeo brand uses good design, high levels of craftsmanship, carefully selected sustainable raw materials and people development as key building blocks. In the photograph Peter Mabeo is sitting on Patricia Urquiola’s Kika Stool, which is hand made using an involved process of wood lamination, turning and sculpting.

Claesson Koivisto Rune/Mabeo.  The Kalahari Bench designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune, key feature is the leg that appears to have been pushed through the top to show on the tables surface.

2010 ICFF Editors Awards – New Designers.  Andrew Mau and Asher Dunn are just two of the three designers that with Jorge Gomez make up Studio Dunn.   Studio Dunn uses classic materials to create progressive designs for products, furniture and environments.  The studio adopts a conscious use of materials, considering ways to reuse materials, minimize waste and benefit the environment without compromising the integrity of the designs. Andrew and Asher are standing beside the Coventry Stools made in American hardwood and the Cumberland Lamps, the pure and simple abstraction of a classic lamp form. 

Studio Dunn.  The Barrington Chair has a bent wood backrest, which ensures comfort and good posture and is made from American hardwood.

2010 ICFF Editors Awards – Craftsmanship Kataoka Katsuhito of Cocochi Design won the award for best Craftsmanship.  The Uzu series, Uzu means swirl, can be used in many ways. The design of this stool features a spiral pattern processed by a numerical control router, which is difficult to be processed manually.  It is unique in appearance as well as its non-slip proprieties.

2010 ICFF Editors Awards – Lighting.  Peter Stathis and Virtual Studio won the lighting award.  The Ikebana's unique flat-panel LED light  gives off a very soft and natural light and is fully dimmable.  It can be adjusted to any position and the flower head pivots and tilts in two axes.  The Ikebana light merges poetics with technology, decoration with function and aesthetics with ideology, in creating a symbolic beauty, a neo-nature for today’s solid-state world.

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LIVE FROM NEW YORK - Swarovski Elements at Work

New York – May 17th – Swarovski Elements at Work.  Designer, Francois Azambourg and Gaia and Gino’s founder, Gaye Cevikel at the Swarovski Elements at Work party in their SoHo store.  The Gaia and Gino company was named after the founder’s nickname and her dog Gino, it distinguished itself with quirky, inventive and storytelling products that have earned it a reputation as one of the international scene’s most promising young brands. Gaia and Gino’s involvement with Swarovski Elements at Work spans the talent of three designers: the Tokyo based firm Nendo, London based Sebastian Bergne and Paris based Francois Azambourg “I really wanted to collaborate with Francois as he is a fantastic engineer and problem solver, but then he adds great poetry to his designs,” Gaye says of Azambourg.

A detail. A detail of Francois Azambourg’s Fake Wood Collection for Gaia and Gino.  Choosing a design product most often made in wood, a desk box and a tray in two sizes, he has used the crystals to stimulate the pattern of wood grain.

Eye Collection/Gaia and Gino.
   London based designer, Sebastian Bergne is beside his Eye Collection of vases for Gaia and Gino. Inspired by a visit to Istanbul, he turned to ceramics for this project. The works incorporate the Nazar charm that traditionally protects the owner from the evil eye or bad luck.   He used a new Swarovski Elements product called Crystal Rocks for the pupil of the eye. “ I feel like we are making charms as much as vases and bowls.  To me, their function is as something symbolic, something to look at, as much as something to put flowers in.” Sebastian explained.

Seen at the Swarovski Elements at Work Party. Creative director, Jerry Helling.

Seen at the Swarovski Elements at Work Party. The New York Times,  T magazine design editor, Pilar Vilades.

Seen at the Swarovski Elements at Work Party. Designer, Constantin Boym who is moving from New York to Qatar to form a design academy.
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LIVE FROM NEW YORK - The Rug Company

New York – May 17th – The Rug Company.  The founders of The Rug Company, Christopher and Suzanne Sharp, hosted a party in their renovated SoHo store. The British company founded in 1997 believes in making carpets that are beautiful, original and distinctive, that will become heirlooms to be cherished forever.  Amongst their designers, who merge the world of fashion and design are; Dame Vivienne Westwood with her blurred Union Jack design and Sir Paul Smith with his iconic multicolored stripes, as well as, Tom Dixon, Ron Arad, Marni, Lulu Guinness, Nicky Haslam and Nina Campbell.

The Rug Company – entrance # 1.  Entering The Rug Company store is more like entering a private house.  In the foreground the Funky Zebra carpet designed by Diane von Furstenberg, on the walls displayed patriotically, a black and white reproduction of a painting of Queen Elisabeth I.

The Rug Company – entrance # 2. 
Guests at The Rug Company’s party in their renovated SoHo store enjoyed looking at the books on display on the round table, which sits on the Bishop’s Cape carpet by Diane von Furstenberg.  On the walls two rugs designed by Suzanne Sharp, Sellarbrook Yellow and Key Turquoise.
Contessanally tip: click on any photo to enlarge it.
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New York - May 17th - De La Espada.    The Director of the Portuguese company De La Espada Luis De Oliveira stands beside the Reedy Bookcase designed by Seyhan Ozdemir and Sefer Caglar of Autoban at the De La Espada store in SoHo.   “We consider ourselves more like talent scouts, we focus on the personality of the designer, on the story they can tell and we promote them while we sit quietly in the background, this is what makes us different from other companies.” De Oliviera explained.

De La Espada/ Seating for Eating.     The Seating for Eating collection designed by Ilse Crawford of Studioilse was shown for the first time in the United States. Seating for Eating is furniture that brings people together and is made by hand in solid chestnut, with copper feet using sustainable sources.

De La Espada/ Upholstered Tapas Chair.  The Upholstered Tapas Chair designed by Matthew Hilton for De La Espada is a light and comfortable high backed dinning chair with slim-lined upholstery and a nod towards the strong forms of Spain’s characteristic objects.  The unique shape of the seat shell set upon the three legs makes a compact piece of furniture that does not dominate space around the table and provides superior balance on any terrain.
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New York – May 17th – USM.  USM Modular Furniture’s CEO Alexander Schaerer is of the fourth generation of the family company.  The Swiss design company produces modular office and residential furniture systems.

Seen at USM – the Haller Credenza.  The Haller Credenza with two dividers and two extension doors is made of steel and was designed in 1969 by Professor Fritz Haller, together with Paul Schaerer and Kurt Scherrer. It has become a design classic and has been acquired for the permanent design collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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