Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Museo Barracco, Rome

On one of our last days in Rome last June, John and I visited the wonderful Museo Barracco. It is housed in the charming, miniature Palazzo Piccola Farnesina at Corso Vittorio Emanuele 168 near the Campo de' Fiori market.
The palazzo was built in 1523 by a French clergyman, Thomas Le Roy, and now houses the truly beautiful, small collection of Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman sculpture of Baron Giovanni Barracco. It's a must see!
The well-cared for little palace is worth a visit on its own. We found it quiet and livable despite its location on the busy Corso.
And the collection of sculpture, like this one of Hermes with a ram, is one of those small, exquisite collections of art that we so love.
This long gallery has Greek and Roman sculpure, often busts and portraits.
An exception is this 5th century BC funerary stele with its gorgeous relief sculpture.
I loved this elegant-looking original Greek relief of Bacchantes in ectasy. Note that they are tearing animals apart in their frenzy!
John loved this Roman copy of a Greek youth in marble.
And this head of Apollo.
My personal favourite of the busts was this charming Etruscan head. I'd sit next to this fun-loving fellow on the bus.
Rather than next to this stern-looking Roman portrait bust.
Here's John admiring small Greek sculptures in a cabinet.
and this Classic Greek female profile were amongst the pieces in that cabinet. When next in Rome don't forget to visit this lovely, relatively unvisited collection.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Procession in Rome

No, we haven't returned to Rome in body, only in soul and even more so in more stories and pictures from our stay last May/June. Actually, the day before John and I left Rome, the city was steamy hot. We lunched in the Ghetto and as we walked back towards Largo Argentino, I stopped to take this photo of a man drinking and splashing his face from one of the city's many public fountains. In the distance we heard singing and hurried towards Piazza Mattei.
What we encountered was magical. A West African Christian Church procession was filling the narrow street of Via di Sant'Ambrogio. Every 20 feet or so, the girls in blue gowns would stop, turn around and run toward the cross throwing metallic confetti. The effect was magical.
Then the women would turn back to the street ahead and lead the group in their journey.
Here the women in blue are sprinkling the cross with confetti again at the gate to their church compound.
The group entered the gates into a courtyard and then into a church and we the onlookers were ushered back into the street. A beautiful farewell to Rome on our last day there. So exotic, so gorgeous. Thank you!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the Balcony with a Penguin

I hadn't heard of Penguin 75 until I picked it up in a bookstore and couldn't put it down. I had to buy it. It's full of fantastic contemporary Penguin book covers. I have to show you!
I'm caught by this cover for Zadie Smith's On Beauty. I remember I hadn't been impressed by it when I had first seen it for sale, but I love it here.
Especially after having seen these fabulous roughs that Henrick Kubel, of A2/SW/HK, did for art director Darren Haggar.
I love Brian Cronin's illustration for Graham Greene's Brighton Rock. What a fantastic depiction of Pinkie, with those terrible lips pressed tightly together!
It's fun to read what art director, Paul Buckley and the illustrator have to say about their redesign of Greene's novels.
Buckley and illustrator Mick Wiggins write about redesigning the Gerald Durrell catalogue. Wiggins' illustrations look both fresh and of the period. These are the copies of these books that I want to be seen reading.
How brilliant of designer, Jen Wang,  to use slices of the original paperbacks for the cover of The Short Novels of John Steinbeck. It's gorgeous.
I didn't know the "Turkish Delight" mystery novels of Mehmet Murat Somer. Here is cover illustrator Tomer Hanuka's description of the series hero: "You're a slender man of Turkish descent who's a computer whiz, a private detective, a black belt, and an Audrey Hepburn look-alike. Most prominently, you are a transvestite. You sit in your night-club, ready to punch someone softly or kiss him to death. Either way, it's a deadly move." I have got to read these.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Klockwerks Garden Party

Last Sunday Bill and I attended Roger Wood's Klockwerk's Garden Party 2010. That's Roger and Bill, seated from the left, with Nancy, Rebecca and Omid.
I love the way people relax after the formal picture is taken.
Roger lives on the second floor of the Klockwerks plant, on the Stoney Creek side of Hamilton, Ontario. Roger with Trevor Hughes.
Your humble reporter in the front hall is saying to himself, "Take this picture then put the camera down." But everything is a picture waiting to happen.
Roger's collection of antique razors on a shelf in the bathroom.
The Guest Room of Bad Taste
The Hall of the Black Velvet Masters leads down to the ground-level studio.
William Kimber contemplates a Klockwerks bell jar.
While Nancy Woodruff commissions a star-burst clock.
Then as in a horror movie Nancy then leads us into the basement.
Past the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Into the squalls of sawdust.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Karl Lagerfeld

This Dior advertisement was on the back of the Globe and Mail this morning and it made me wonder if Karl Lagerfeld is a cat lover. Imagine how much fun you could have hurling yourself around your apartment with your four legged friend tearing at those tassels.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Visit with Reta Kimber

Bill and I had a nice visit to St Catharines, Sunday, to visit his mother, Reta. We had a walk around downtown before we met her. I love the way St Paul Street curves here. Look how intact the defunct downtown buildings are.
This used to be a coffee shop beside the Leonard Hotel
Here's Bill prowling James Street
Window of Stella's, James Street
Bill and I are sorry we missed The Permtones. Do you think they all have perms? From this year's Summer Concerts at Montebello Park.
I thought Reta might be amused to have her picture taken before I'd even said hello. She knows I'm crazy, but invites me over anyway.
I've just picked up the camera off the table and am pointing it at her and snapping the shutter. She's amused.
We're all ready to go out and share a pizza at Coppola's -- Reta's favourite local Italian restaurant. This is the mirror in the hall. The painting behind us was left to her by her sister-in-law, and dear friend, Betty Storin.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the Balcony with Matisse

On the weekends our apartment sometimes takes on a feeling of being at a cottage. I remember all the times that Bill took work with him to Haliburton or Muskoka.
He would often settle at the cottage dinner table to redraw a penciled area, or add a wash of colour and let it dry. This Sunday afternoon finds him working at his desk.
My little corner of the balcony acts as my Muskoka Room.  That's the catalogue to the Matisse show that's at MOMA right now, waiting for me on the balcony -- Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917.
Time for a good look.
I love the cover -- all those bluish grays! And look at this reproduction of a painting called, simply, Composition, 1915, from MoMA's own collection. So gorgeous!
Matisse was interviewed in 1931, by Margaret Scolari Barr. She writes: "The green frame of the window suggests the green of the trees outside and the cool contrast of the green of the trees and the blue sky necessitated the large mass of yellow which to the artist signifies the vibration and pleasure which he derived from the contrast of trees and sky."
Bill's taking a break and I've asked him to take this portrait of me.
One of my favourite Matisse paintings: Interior with Goldfish, 1914, from the Centre Pompidou.
This catalogue has fascinating details of the featured paintings. I love the way the water is painted and the way the fish seem to flicker with life.
I look up for a minute at our beautiful balcony. That's a bay tree at the back, with a very happy rosemary bush beneath.
Another stunning Matisse: The Moroccans, 1916, again from MoMA's collection.
The catalogue suggests that Matisse got his inspiration for this use of black paint from Manet and Picasso and this Cezanne: The Black Clock, 1867-69.
One thing I love about looking at art books is that the world seems transformed afterwards -- like this beautiful glass of water.