American Modernism : Modern Americana

Paul Evans + more .

WRIGHT'S Annual No Reserve Auction
previews begin July 5

Paul Evans Cityscape bookshelf Paul Evans Studio for Directional USA, c. 1975
Paul Evans table base Paul Evans Studio USA, c. 1970,

Wright’s spring 2011 auction season comes to a close with their annual MASS MODERN auction on July 9th. This no reserve sale features nearly 500 lots of modern design. From Tank lounge chairs by Alvar Aalto, to Ball wall clocks by George Nelson & Associates, to a Giada decanter by Toni Zuccheri.

Chrome-plated steel, brass, and glass, oh dear me ! These works of Paul Evans capture my full attention as I sit, typing, imagining them in dark wall to wall carpet rooms, deep conversations pits perhaps below old dusty disco balls. Stacked records out of their sleeves, water rings marks, half parted curtains that look onto a New York 5 am sunrise. The sounds of bankers and brokers scurrying to their desks and joggers taking the first leaps of the early morning. Perhaps this is the time of day these works came most alive? The sun beginning to glisten the materials of these shelves. American Modernism. Modern Americana.

What did it feel like to be in truly MODERN in 1970 in Manhattan?

I recently purchased the book, Modern Americana: Studio Furniture From High Craft to High Glam by Todd Merrill and Julie Iovine, by Rizzoli. I've flipped through it in bookstores, but finally made the plunge. I've been looking for a book on these works specifically, or an interview with Paul Evans about this pieces. (Please pass on if you have one.)

Buck's Magazine 2008 states: " The Sculpted Bronze tables beloved by Manhattanites had tops of glass, slate or, occasionally, wood and radically shaped bases: cubes, arches, serpentines, stalagmites. He made tables in copper, bronze, pewter and the welded aluminum called argente and tables with bases designed to resemble skyscrapers. All challenged conventional notions of furniture design – and continue to do so, even today."

"In 1981 Evans opened his own showroom in New York City, stocked with prototypes and some motorized furniture. He got a substantial order from a Saudi Arabian princess, but the Plumsteadville factory kept him in debt, and in 1987 he retired. He was 56 years old and headed with his wife to Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he had a heart attack and died. A market for his work developed immediately, and since 2005 it has been in high gear. Fakes and copies were made.

Iovine says Evans's work anticipated the limited-edition furniture of today. Phillip Powell, with whom Evans shared a studio in New Hope, never wanted to make production furniture or make deadlines. " (taken from Merrill Antiques here)

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Has the ARTIST become the DECORATOR?

Jerry Saltz
Richard Hell 1975

"Our culture now wonderfully, ­alchemically transforms images and history into artistic material.
The possibilities seem endless and wide open
" - Jerry Saltz

one lighting fixture by Jean Perzel, 1970

"I belong to the blank generation and I can take it or leave it each time

I belong to the ______ generation but I can take it or leave it each time"

-Richard Hell, "the blank generation"

In Jerry Saltz's recent article "Generation Blank" he reflects on the youth artists of this generation, and reflects upon their work at Venice 2011. He states, "Their art turns in on itself, becoming nothing more than coded language. It empties their work of content, becoming a way to avoid interior chaos. It’s also a kind of addiction and, by now, a new orthodoxy, one supported by institutions and loved by curators who also can’t let go of the same glory days. "

"Neo-Structuralist film with overlapping geometric colors, photographs about photographs, projectors screening loops of grainy black-and-white archival footage, abstraction that’s supposed to be referencing other abstraction -- it was all there, all straight out of the 1970s, all dead in the ­water. It’s work stuck in a cul-de-sac of esthetic regress, where everyone is deconstructing the same elements.... but such obsessive devotion to a previous generation’s ideals and ideas is very wrong." (read entire article here...) I'm still digesting this article... but...

I wonder, has the artist become the decorator, become the blogger become the critic? The internet allows for instant sources of unlimited information, but also speeds the expiration of ideas. We chase our tails only to collapse in exhaustion. We need the new, right, or do we? We are new only to become instantly old. Are artists merely decorating the curators' walls? Must the artist / designer / interior architect / human express their work someway/somehow? Is a passion for aesthetic pleasure an empty quest? Do we cling to what we know, what we feel, or do we erase, and begin again?

Time for some afternoon coffee.

-David John

"Jean Perzel b. 1892, Germany: Jean Perzel was the first designer of distinctly modern lighting and the first to concern himself particularly with electricity - it's nature, potential, intensity, methods of use (semi direct or indirect lighting) - and to design logical, rational and harmonious fittings; he was the first to exploit the potential design of glass while using it to diffuse light. Since 1930 Perzel concentrates on studying the laws of optics and their practical consequences: changing the appearance of objects and faces using the intensity and color of light - amber, light pink or champagne; he attaches a particular importance to the soothing or unpleasant effects on the eye of these different types of light, which's were generally used without principle or restraint."

Roger Vanhevel coffee table 1970
via City Furniture

"when tables become sculpture become a lifestyle brand"

“Yes and in that sense the difference Donald Judd sought to construe between his work and traditional painting is misconceived. It is true that perspective creates the illusion of depth, whereas in Judd’s work there is actual depth, but both create a sense of space in the observer.”

“I must confess that I enjoyed the final rooms of the exhibition. Still to me those boxes and stacks seem little more than decoration, I mean, have you ever been to Calvin Klein’s flagship store on Madison Avenue or to The Hempel in London?

“I know what you’re getting at, MINIMALISM AS LIFESTYLE. The fact that Judd also designed furniture may not speak in his favor. I do think there is a difference between his furniture designs and his art. In his furniture he explored his ideas in relation to a given object’s function, a bed or a chair, in the works he created as art he didn’t have to worry about function.” (taken from here)

Above, altered images of Jean Perzel Sconce via Pavillon Antiques Chicago,
Jerry Saltz article here...Generation Blank

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A conversation with CostelloTagliapietra

"This was our very first opportunity to design a piece of furniture so admittedly we were like kids in a candy store. Poor Jean (de Merry) had to rope us in a bit!"

Costello Tagliapietra's work in progress for JDM-10

Recently, a very certain chair stole my afternoon attention. It all happened so suddenly. I was walking down the street, when the beast appeared. The chair continued to haunt me, and confuse me! Horns reaching into the air, looping around, with a glittery disco ball underneath a cushion made of fur... Wow. A sudden rush.

The chair I speak of is sitting proudly in the window of the Jean de Merry showroom here in Los Angeles. I was grateful to be offered a full tour of the 10 works that are part of the 10 year anniversary collaboration project for Jean de Merry, and discovered the chair was created by NY fashion designers, Costello Tagliapietra.

I reached out to them in the hopes of understanding more about their process. They were kind enough to send a few sketches of the beast in progress! Their final work will be shown until September 2 in the Melrose Place, Los Angeles showroom. All of the works included in this show are beyond gorgeous, exquisitely crafted, and have a timelessness about them.... Thank you Sean Yashar for inviting YHBHS to see these works in person.

Each guest designer has collaborated with Jean de Merry to create their own limited-edition piece of furniture, casegood or decorative art piece to be sold with 100% of the net proceeds going toward the charity of the artists’ choice. The JDM-TEN participating designers included: Costello Tagliapietra, Oliver Furth, Katherine Heigl, Molly Isaksen, Joe Dahan of Joe’s Jeans, Karolina Kurkova, Kara Mann, Joel Morrison, Irene Neuwirth and Gregory Parkinson. In the new week, I'll post some images of the other works in progress that are included in this show...... All of the photographs are taken by Bethany Nauert... Thank you Bethany....

two sketches of the chair....

There appears to be a sense of freedom in the design of this chair. An over the top element that carries me away, if you will! How did you arrive at the idea for
the JDM-10 chair?

This was our very first opportunity to design a piece of furniture so admittedly we were like kids in a candy store. Poor Jean had to rope us in a bit! We really wanted this to be something special unto itself and feel not necessarily ours or JDM but live somewhere in between. What JDM does is so handcrafted which really spoke to the way in which we work, so the chair really came out of that. The computer screen was covered in images ranging from Norwegian death metal photos, vintage photos of hunting cabins to horned animals. In the end we wanted a bit of humor to come through and for the person who sits in it to appear as though the horns were coming out of their head.

Talk about the silver sphere that is mounted underneath the seat? A reference to the past lives of the disco era? What other materials are incorporated?

Personally we have been really drawn to the culture and history of the seventies and early eighties particularly gay culture and how we connect to that history. There is something so iconic about a silver ball, originally we had thought about mercury glass but were thrilled to see Jean interpret it as a disco ball of sorts and we love that the chair has that slightly subversive feel to it almost fetish-y in a way but indefinably so.

Rick Owens, and some other fashion designers have designed some incredible furniture + interiors. Do either one of you have a desire to design more furniture? Have you designed furniture in the past?

It is a huge interest for us. The hope for the clothes we make is that they provide a lasting love to the owner. We hate the idea of seasons dictating what people wear and really hope to create things that live beyond both season and trend. Furniture is something that you must think of in this way, few people have the luxury of changing their furniture seasonally but instead buy things they know they can live with and connect with in a very deep way. There is something really special about that and we would love to see filter into the way people buy everything; collecting rather than consuming.

Jean de Merry
& Christian D. Maroselli opened their first showroom in Los Angeles in 2001, but the journey to where they find themselves today can be traced back hundreds of years to the limestone plateaux of the Causse Noir in South Central France. By the 19th Century, the leather tanning process of de Merryʼs ancestors had pioneered and cultivated what came to define this rural location as one of the premiere leather manufacturing regions in Europe. Utilizing long held family secrets; re-creating and refining the process of aging rawhide in order to create hand-crafted goods that look and feel like treasured family pieces, the result was the starting point for the Jean de Merry brand, which resulted in an exclusive, signature line of club chairs. These artisanal pieces are hand-dyed and hand-aged as they were in a wonderful bygone era, when quality and integrity were evidence of a skilled and talented craftsperson.

Today, Jean de Merryʼs visionary line offers flawless execution of subtle palettes, discreet, sophisticated finishes and sleek lines that create a harmonious, artful juxtaposition to the raw beauty of their organically crafted leather pieces. With a strong appreciation and respect for pedigree and community alike, they have created furniture that embodies the classic elements of design while still being original and personal. Never modish but always stylish and relevant, these pieces are the heirlooms of the future. The instinctive and emotional relationship they have with their collection is what defines Jean de Merry as an iconic creative visionary and as an extraordinary brand.

Visit Jean de Merry.
All of the photographs are taken by Bethany Nauert...
Costello Tagliapietra's Fall/ Winter 2011 collection here...

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when buildings become furniture, become movable,
become paintings, become stories, becomes a color, become memories.

Stephen Prina

R.M. Schindler

top image, Schindler, pair of end tables, c 1943

I often wonder where buildings end, and the furniture begins? Where do rooms stop and color blend? Spaces melding with history! Stephen Prina's recent work in Vienna encouraged me to pull a catalog off my library shelf that I received from Gerard O'Brien at REFORM Gallery (who hosted a fantastic evening with Leslie Williamson last week.) This catalog is from a past LAMA Auction that sadly, I never saw in person. Prina works with the collective memory. Enjoy Prina's work, and Schindler's masterpieces.

When furniture becomes buildings, our homes can become the village. Good Sunday to you in pink, in New York, to those who continue to march... - DAVID JOHN


"I never refer to these painted objects as sculpture and I trying not to refer to them as paintings." - Stephen Prina (from here)

"Stephen Prina is characterized by his appropriation of works by other artists, which he then places in new contexts. The point of departure for As He Remembered It is a memory from the 1980s, shared with artist Christopher Williams, of a fitted unit by architect R. M. Schindler that is taken out of its original context, painted, and recontextualized as an independent object."

"When Schindler failed to receive architecture commissions, he gladly accepted contracts that called for the design and execution of furniture. One of the reasons for this, in addition to the obvious necessity to keep working and earning, was the fact that although the scale was smaller, he was still creating architecture. Ratios and pitches, systems and sense of space - all were brought forward from Schindler's vocabulary in buildings into the scaled down world of furniture making."

- Michael Boyd, "Furniture as Micro Architecture: R.M. Schindler's Gingold Commissions

Stephen Prina: "I never refer to these painted objects as sculpture and I trying not to refer to them as paintings. I refer to them as objects almost in the way that Donald Judd would refer to his as specific objects. So they are coloured objects.

But I realize that in the painting application there is the tradition of painting function of the under-painting. I am painting a green object as we speak, so I look at how the green comes through when the brush strokes get a little bit thinner. And then when the paint pools on the surface it doesn’t allow that come through so much and it advances itself as a surface that has more shine. You know, when I started this painting process I wasn’t sure how many layers of paint were going to be involved, because I wanted to see it. I was actually very, very surprised that one coat seamed to do it. When we were actually painting them and they were still wet I thought no this don’t look right. And, then when I came in the next day I saw everything changed when it dried. If I put any more paint on it, it will occlude some of these details and you will not have visual access to the under-painting. It won’t have this play and range of incident that I wanted. Because I think these objects have a peculiar design, as any kind of functional object that has been ripped of its context will have, but then beyond that, I wanted people to inspect these painterly incidents. So it wasn’t that they were made out of a slab of a solid material, but they actually have a skin that envelops the objects and alters the way in which we apprehend that skin.

, Pink, 2011 Color of the Year.

Stephen Prina: "To talk about the Pantone Colour of The Year, that afforded me a relief. It is a relief from the total dependence upon the personal anecdote we started with. I thought, at some moment I have to select a pink and that pink is only in my memory. I remember it one way, but how do you even describe a color that is in your memory? I was a little bit concerned that there would be too much of a preoccupation on everything going back to the memory. And, at one point I was speaking with Kimberli Meyer, who is the director of the Schindler house, and we were talking of the fact that Pauline Schindler, the ex-wife of Schindler, had painted her half of the Schindler house pink, she painted over the concrete, she painted over the redwood beans."

Stephen Prina at Seccession, Vienna
"As He Remembered"
It May 27 – August 21, 2011

Schindler images taken from RM Schindler, The Gingold Commissions, a publication by Los Angeles Modern Auctions, and Reform Gallery, and Michael and Gabrielle Boyd

Go to LAMA Auctions here...

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"I have always wanted to defend what is indefensible."
- Yves Gastou

images from Gastou's home on the Right Bank from book, Metropolitan Places

"As owner of one the most renowned art gallery in France, Gastou is respected in all circles of art and design. His art gallery is noted for the recognition of architect and designer Ettore Sottsass in 1985.

It was within his art gallery that many famous architects and designers including Ettore Sottsass were first exhibited. Other famous architects and designers exhibited at the gallery of Gastou are Shiro Kuramata and Ron Arad. His art gallery also featured the artworks of artist such as Jacques Adnet, Maxime Old, Marc du Plantier et Paul Dupre-Lafon, Chale and Jean Claude Farhi, Paul Evans and Maria Pergay.

If you were an artist in the 40's, 50's and 70's the likelihood of being featured at the gallery of Gastou was almost guaranteed. Gastou's love of historical design led him to becoming one of the most extensive antique art collectors of his time. Antique furniture became a very important aspect to the Gastou artist pursuit both personally and professionally. His gallery became a showcase for furniture dating back to the 1940's to 1970's. For some of history's most poignant antique and eclectic furniture pieces, the gallery of Gastou would most certain be the venue to seek out the unusual in furniture designer pieces."

more about Galerie Yves Gastou
images taken from
Metropolitan Places
text taken from here


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ATELIER, new work:
"station lamp"

: for all those headed down to Dwell on Design this weekend, don't miss ATELIER's latest lamp, the "Station Lamp". I've been huge fans of the Atelier Journal and the work of Los Angeles ATELIER, for years now, so it's a pleasure to finally meet face to face, and see his latest brass lamp in all of its glory!

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Brooke Woosley
design truck all weekend, los angeles

bundle is a glassblown pendant lamp
that was inspired by sloppily tied newspapers held together by twine.

Brooke Woosley
's latest project, "bundle" will be part of DESIGN TRUCK.
This afternoon, I met up with Brooke at her home studio, wanting to learn more about this work inspired by newspapers tied up with twine. I spent the early part of my twenties blowing glass, so I have a weakness for beautiful glass and lamps. These natural glass forms being held by woven cords remind me of the simple joy of watching clouds pass in the sky above. There is a lightness in these works that make them a complete joy.

I hope you can make it to the Design Truck, where some of LA's top young designers will be showing the streets some good ole design. Expect to see "bundle" and new Scout Regalia benches, and a bunch more. Dang!

I'm looking forward to posting a long interview with Brooke Woosley on YHBHS this summer, where we talk about materials, spaces, geometry, and Los Angeles design.

Design Truck
Friday 7-9 pm at Stussy, 112 South La Brea with Kogi
Saturday 6-9 pm at Covell, 4628 Hollywood Blvd with Heirloom

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Eileen Gray 1938
Roisin Murphy 2009

"From the primordial soom
Out of the dim and the gloom we came
We are animals one unbroken chain"

From the primordial soom
Out of the dim and the gloom we came
We are animals by any other name

From the primordial soom
Out of the dim and the gloom we came
We are animals
one unbroken chain

- Primitive, by Roisin Murphy

Eileen Gray... she designed this chair in about 1938 for her house at Castellar in the south of France, which was built to her own design between 1931 and 1933. The canvas seat is suspended in an S-bend of perforated, laminated wood, and the chair can be folded to half-size for storage. This chair is a prototype and has never been put into production. It was later given to the Museum by the designer. (taken from V of A museum in London.)

“One must be grateful to all those people who bother to unearth us and at least to preserve some of our work. Otherwise it might have been destroyed like the rest.” - Eileen Gray

1938 Chair
Laminated wood, painted, with canvas

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Ian McDonald

Play Mountain, Tokyo

For all those in Tokyo, please visit Play Mountain this weekend.
Ian McDonald will be showing new works as part of "One Eight Hundred"

Read YHBHS interview with Ian McDonald here..
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Great Coxwell Barn
Paula Rego Museum

"the barn vs the art gallery"
"the artist and the chickens become one"

Great Coxwell Barn is a large 14th century barn on the northern edge of the village of Great Coxwell, in Oxfordshire, England, though formerly in Berkshire.

Paula Rego Museum: The Portuguese painter and illustrator, Paula Rego, commissioned architect Eduardo Souto de Moura to design the museum that would house a substantial collection of her work. The resulting red concrete-clad building, situated on the former public garden Quinta da Parada, references historic buildings of Cascais and embodies the culture of the region. Two tapering towers distinguish the building; volumes of differentiated heights provide a variety of interior exhibition spaces.

Well, there’s the trend toward lightness and there’s another trend in the opposite direction. I think post-modernism marked a crisis in the modern movement from which two tendencies have emerged: one leading architecture toward more modernity and high technology, which involves reducing material; and the other that goes in the opposite direction, toward a revival of tectonic architecture. So you have those who use technology to push the limits of thinness, and you have those who celebrate the revival of the massive wall. We must recognize both.

We have Norman Foster and the whole English high-tech school, Grimshaw, Renzo Piano, and so on. And we have the other school represented by Siza and Moneo, who build solid walls with single openings for windows and doors, in different proportions, accenting the wall."

"There’s also a trend in architecture of increasing OPENNESS. It is already possible to build entirely transparent buildings – man living at one with nature, that sort of thing. On the other hand, using nothing but glass as a building material seems to me artificial, unnatural. There must be a rationale. My architecture fluctuates considerably between the full and the empty, the open and the closed. My early work was far more open and transparent; my current work has become increasingly CLOSED."

taken from here., Eduardo Souto De Moura

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Michael Anastassiades

"The first collection of pieces to be introduced follow two years of meticulous preparation. It combines fine detailing with honestly expressed materials reinforcing the elegant simplicity of the designs."

"For years Michael has produced his work in very limited quantities as editions of quality crafted pieces and small runs. In 2007 he set up a company to increase the availability of his objects. He traveled around the world and located small family run workshops to fabricate his pieces. The workshops were selected for their unique manufacturing skills and tradition in the use of materials.

The first collection of pieces to be introduced follow two years of meticulous preparation. It combines fine detailing with honestly expressed materials reinforcing the elegant simplicity of the designs. All the products are hand made in unlimited editions. The glass work is free blown, the stone work is hand carved, and the metal finishes are bespoke. Each piece, stamped with the designer's mark, is manufactured in accordance with the purity of his original vision. Michael Anastassiades' philosophy is to produce exceptionally designed objects of permanent value."

images via Nilufar
20121 Milano,
32 via della Spiga

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"the Los Angeles story."
"you know the old story"


Summer officially begins June 21st. There is simply too much happening in Los Angeles in the upcoming weeks. As the sun begins to feel the power that June gloom took from her, the city becomes alive with the buzz and the beat of summer. This first glorious week of summer you will find YHBHS here:

1. LAMA AUCTION, preview begins today. Auction this Sunday, June 26th. The above image is Lot 51: Edward Ruscha "You Know the Old Story." Bid online for this work here... See you there! But still craving more Ruscha? Then get on the road to Hammer Museum's On The Road...

2. DWELL ON DESIGN. June 24th-June 26th, Los Angeles Convention Center. Plus the hundreds on events that are happening surrounding this event. Remodelista will be there with Atelier's goods, Scout Regalia! plus hundreds of other vendors. go here...

3. MARC FOXX GROUP SHOW, 6150 Wilshire, has a beautiful group summer show. Ricky Swallow's new works are on view. Trust me, see them. They call to mind red tunnels & buildings that you might secretly dream about. (At least for me!)

4. DAVID KORDANSKY shows new work by Los Angeles painter, Lesley Vance. "In particular, some of the new works conjure the otherworldly light, perforated spaces, and strange familiarity that the surrealists brought to painting during the first half of the twentieth century. " + new watercolor works by Lesley.

5. IKO IKO and HEATH both have new shows, which is always a reason to celebrate in my book. Kristin from IKO IKO presents MerkelWare. Don't ask, just go. (Or just peak here.) Adam Silverman shows new works at HEATH this week with two openings, one co-hosted by REMODELISTA. The series is called COLORBLIND, June 23 5:30-8pm. (New York's SIGHT UNSEEN just posted a great studio visit with Adam Silverman when they were in town recently on their site...)

Leslie Williamson photography, Bertoia Barn, Barto, PA

6. REFORM GALLERY will be hosting an event the same evening down the street from HEATH. Leslie Williamson's Handcrafted Modern: "This collection of photographs by Williamson focuses on domestic modernism at its warmest and most creative, offering an intimate and detailed glimpse into the strikingly beautiful mid-century home interiors of some of the most iconic designers and craftsmen of our time, including J.B.Blunk, John Kapel and Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman, artists whose work will be on display at Reform." Meet Leslie Williamson, and enjoy some beautiful images of DOMESTIC MODERNISM, at its finest.

. DESIGN TRUCK: A mobile gallery following some of L.A.'s best food trucks next weekend, June 24th and 25th, to mark the end of the first-ever L.A. Design Festival.
Design Truck will feature the work of 12 Los Angeles-based designers, bringing comfortable chairs, beautiful tables and designed lighting to the hungry masses. Featuring Brendan Ravenhill, Chris Adamick, Bend Seating, Kelly Lamb, Sam Moyer, Scout Regalia, Brooke Woosley, Machine Histories, whyrHymer, Woodsmithe Aprro, Clancy Pearson

8. PAINTERS BEYOND PAINTING, Sunday, June 26 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm Location @ the Mandrake 2692 South La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90034

Tom Lawson, Steve Roden, Brett Cody Rogers, and Amanda Ross-Ho join moderator Jill Newman in a conversation about artists’ relationships to painting when it is one aspect of a multi-faceted practice. In some cases these artists apply the language of painting to various mediums, in others they create paintings through the mechanics of differing disciplines, or arrive at content through subjects outside of painting.

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"I believe that meanings in sculpture emerge more powerfully
when they are carried through sculpture's own silent language"

Becky Beasely

Francosi Azambourg

"for tonight, we will hold each other until dawn"


1. A framework of heavy timbers, steel, or reinforced concrete beams laid longitudinally and crossed by similar members laid upon them to spread a heavy load over a larger area, esp. for use where the ground is not firm.

2. A series of steel beams, bolted together and placed over a footing; used to distribute a concentrated column load over the top of the footing.


"If human beings respond so decisively to mood and environment, and also to space and proportion in architecture, then it is possible to, and imperative that we should, rediscover those perceptions in ourselves, so that architecture and sculpture can in the future evoke those definite responses in human beings which grew with Venice and still live to-day. Sculpture should act not only as a foil to architectural properties but the sculpture itself should provide a link between human scale and sensibility and the greater volumes of space and mass in architecture."

"In opposition to 'social realism' I believe that meanings in sculpture emerge more powerfully when they are carried through sculpture's own silent language; and that if the sculptor himself can find personal integration with his surroundings and his community his work will stand a greater chance of developing the poetry which is his free and affirmative contribution to society."

"So many ideas spring from an inside response to form: for example, if I see a woman carrying a child in her arms it is not so much what I see that affects me, but what I feel within my own body. There is an immediate transference of sensation, a response within to the rhythm of weight, balance and tension of the large and small form making an interior organic whole. The transmutation of experience is, therefore, organically controlled and contains new emphasis of forms. It may be that the sensation of being a woman presents yet another facet of the sculptural idea."

-Barbara Hepworth


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Mattia Bonetti

"Garden Loveseat & Other Works"

at Duke & Duke Gallery, Los Angeles

"his effortlessness at blurring the lines between
contemporary art and contemporary design."

Rock Crystal lamp, 2010
Transparent acrylic, rock crystal, white nickeled steel

Paul Kasmin Gallery
is pleased to announce Duke & Duke's inaugural exhibition of new works by Paris-based artist Mattia Bonetti. The exhibition will be held at designer Michael S. Smith’s newly opened furniture gallery located at 8527 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA from June 21 - September 7, 2011.

The exhibit will be Bonetti’s first on the West Coast and features the Garden Loveseat, among other important works. Smith was excited for Bonetti to be the inaugural Duke & Duke exhibition, mainly because of his effortlessness at blurring the lines between contemporary art and contemporary design. Throughout his distinguished career, Bonetti has employed traditional bronze, gold leaf, wrought iron and blown glass techniques and juxtaposed them with resin, acrylic and mirrored stainless steel technologies to create whimsical, glamorous and sophisticated pieces of art.

Mattia Bonetti was born in Lugano, Switzerland in 1952. His work is included in numerous public collections, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Duke & Duke was founded in 2011 by interior designer Michael S. Smith and his longtime art collaborator, Maya McLaughlin.

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"The Witches of Finnmark Memorial"

"there is a line, which is mine, and a dot, which is hers... "

"The Witches of Finnmark Memorial" is dedicated to the victims of a 17th century witch hunt in Vardo. The two building monument is a collaboration between the artist Louise Bourgeois and the architect Peter Zumthor.

"Between 1598 and 1692,135 people were indicted and 91 executed as witches in Finnmark, the vast majority in Vardø. Many of these were of Sami ancestry. The monument is erected at the place where the burning of witches originally happened, Steilneset in Vardø.

Inside a glass cube designed by Zumthor, Bourgeois's sculpture "The Damned, The Possessed and The Beloved" (2007-2010), is made up of a flaming chair surrounded by a ring of seven oval mirrors. Each distorted mirror reflects the flame differently, symbolizing the various perceptions of reality that one person has of the behavior and values of another. A second building by Zumthor, made of wood and fabric and 125 meters long, has one illuminated window for each of the victims burnt at the stake.

Peter Zumthor in an interview with ArtInfo described his unique collaboration with Louise Bourgeois remarking, "I had my idea, I sent it to her, she liked it, and she came up with her idea, reacted to my idea, then I offered to abandon my idea and to do only hers, and she said, 'No, please stay.'

So, the result is really about two things - there is a line, which is mine, and a dot, which is hers... Louise's installation is more about the burning and the aggression, and my installation is more about the life and the emotions [of the victims]."

(text via Cheim and Read)


"Memorial to the 91 persons convicted of sorcery and burnt at the stake in Finnmark County. Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) designed the artwork; she is recognized as one of the most influential artists of the contemporary era. This was her last major installation. The site is a cooperation between the artist and the architect Peter Zumthor. He contributed the design of the building that houses the artwork, as well as an information centre.The site is to be opened 23 June 2011."

(photos bi Jivri Havran)

let's disappear in norway...
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"We were determined not to make the house into something it was never intended to be."
"Memories floating out of the wall plane"

- Alison Sky, SITE Architecture, from Metropolitan Places

"As a way to further link the past of the house with that of its current owner, SITE decided to install actual objects that somehow relate to her distant or recent past in some of the walls. In SITE's conception, the walls act as a skin, a delicate membrane that separates and links the past and the present."

taken from Metropolitan Places, by Elizabeth Heyert
inspired and reminded by the 2thewalls.

thinking of Rachel Whiteread sculptures today, go here..

Rachel Whiteread: "For me, Apartment has a lot to do with figuring out how to cast a many-roomed apartment and show the space where the walls were between the rooms. When I made House [1993], we had to leave the actual walls and floors in place. We could not knock them out. But with Apartment, everything was cast around the architectural elements and the casts were removed in sections. So when you look at the piece, there is a space between the rooms where the wall once was. We did an awful lot of casting for six months in order to make this space. The engineering and crazy gymnastic backward thinking that was needed to be able to make the piece was remarkable. That's really how I think about it. "

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YHBHS interview with Cathy Akers

"How much bliss can you handle?"

"Morningstar and Wheelers were not utopias, by any stretch of the imagination--they were way too raw and disorganized to attempt to develop a better "system" of living, which is what I understand most utopias to be--but they were idealistic, crazy places where you never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next.

And there has to be some sort of value in that.

Cathy Akers' latest works opened last weekend at Emma Gray HQ in Culver City, and will be up until July 13th. Akers' latest works are photographic collages expressing ideas surrounding notions of the historical bliss of realized spaces, personal freedom, and the quests for "better" systems of living. She touched upon these communal ideals in the watercolors from 2009. (see them here), and continues with this latest show.

Her work reminds me of a quote that I have scribbled on a sheet of paper by Buckminster Fuller. As designers & artists, aren't we all simply dreaming of better places to exist in our minds and our physical environments?

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
- Buckminster Fuller


YHBHS interview with Cathy Akers

I've been thinking about ideas of UTOPIA & Experimental Communities, from historical communes, to places like Burning Man, & Short Mountain Sanctuary. Have you spent any time in these communities and what ideas resonated with you?

Cathy: I have been interested in communal living for a long time. I grew up in a planned suburban community in Maryland that developed out of the '60s ideals of equality and sought to eliminate racial, religious and income segregation. I remember a lot of optimism in the community about being part of this great new experiment when I was little, but by the time I was a teenager, it was like any other suburban community and most of the energy around for creating something new had dissipated. But the idea always stuck with me that it is possible to create a real sense of community among a group of people who have a vision of how the world should be.

My current body of work about communes started around 2006, when I visited Breitenbush in Oregon on a road trip. Breitenbush is a hot springs resort run by a small group of commune members, and it's been around in one form or another since the late '60s. What impressed me the most about Breitenbush was the beauty and uniqueness of the hand-crafted buildings on the commune's property, many of which dated from the commune's early years and I took many photographs of them. In 2008, I visited more '60s-era communes in Oregon and Southern Washington and also photographed their amazing, totally handcrafted buildings. To me, these buildings are enduring reminders of the incredible optimism and DIY spirit of the '60s. I had a great time visiting these communes--they are all on beautiful land and are usually occupied by a handful of the original, usually very friendly, commune members, plus maybe a few new recruits.

The process of your photo collages. Are the photographs taken at these communes? Are the people of images from books & magazines, or are they from your personal collection of photographs?

Cathy: In my collaged photographs, the photos from the communes are the background images, and the cut-out photographs that I've pasted onto them are mainly from archival photos from two '60s-era communes in Sonoma County, Morningstar and Wheelers. Most of these photos can be found online. My interest in these communes began around 2007, and I have spent a good deal of time researching both places--I am lucky enough to have spent some time over the past couple of years with Ramon Sender, one of the founders of Morningstar and its primary archivist.

What interests me about Morningstar and Wheelers is that both communes were places where anything could, and did, happen. They both tested people's ability to cope with complete freedom from any structure; as one commune member put it, "How much bliss can you handle?"

In my past several art projects, including a series of dioramas collectively titled "Hertopia," I've investigated environments that force people to define how much social structure is necessary to function; it seems to me that Morningstar and Wheelers really pushed at the limits of how little structure they could get away with.

Both communes never really had a sense of a unified community, but that it part of its appeal--they never even attempted to be "functional" communes in the traditional sense of being able to complete projects or be self-sufficient in any way. They functioned primarily as a place people to freak out, figure out what was wrong with their lives, and try to move forward in some way. With all of the violence and intense drama of the '60s, it seems to me that places like Morningstar and Wheelers were absolutely necessary as a kind of psychic release valve.

“What I think has emerged here is a very valuable pilot study in the lifestyle of the future… What is really essential about the hippies is that they do constitute the first wave of the technologically unemployable

– Lou Gottlieb, founder of the Morningstar commune,
from a 1968 interview with the CBC television program The Way It Is.

Cathy: I think we could use someplace like Morningstar and Wheelers today, someplace where pent-up anger and frustrations could be released, and any type of behavior is acceptable.

Morningstar and Wheelers were not utopias, by any stretch of the imagination--they were way too raw and disorganized to attempt to develop a better "system" of living, which is what I understand most utopias to be--but they were idealistic, crazy places where you never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next. And there has to be some sort of value in that.

please stop by to see the show until July 13th...
EGHQ :2600 La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90034

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LAMA Auction Catalog

Los Angeles Modern Auctions are here.

I've gotten into the practice of going to auction houses for personal education, and to look for pieces of design + art. LAMA Auctions had an amazing auction this past March with many Sottsass works (here). I was thrilled to spend a few hours with Peter Loughrey hearing about these works. Not since the exhibit at LACMA exhibition in 2006 were we able to see such a large collection of Mr. Ettore's works in one room here in L.A., not to mention available for purchase.

Their latest auction on June 26, 2011 has some pieces by "Billy" Haines, Mathieu Mategot, Ruth Duckworth, Ed Ruscha, Sam Maloof, Espenet, and more...

The preview begins on June 18th...
Lots are now online for preview here...


LAMA Auction's next auction will be happening on June 26, 2011:

"A rare Robert Rauschenberg Combine from 1958, a collection of William “Billy” Haines custom designs, and a Calder painting are among the many highlights in the upcoming LAMA June 26, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction. Each of these highlights has come from decades-old collections and nearly half of the 452 lots have never traded hands on the open market."

“Every collector from private buyers, to the most celebrated public institutions are coming to realize that it is not acceptable to have an important modern art collection without a Combine by Robert Rauschenberg. Combines are quickly disappearing into institutions and will always be seen as an important centerpiece of Postwar Modernism.”
- Peter Loughrey (here)

Email me at
the first 5 will receive the latest LAMA catalog....

read the LAMA blog here....


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Jason Roskey of FERN NYC

a conversation with Fern NYC

"Many furniture makers stay away from these types of maple because of the uneven characteristics in the grain, but I'm interested in going against some of the old woodworking conventions by mixing woods and using lumber with the most character to my advantage when designing a piece."

"an early 20th century lathe of mine
with turning leg blanks for a new chair design

"recent Studio Table in the process of being flattened."

A couple weeks ago, I had a discussion with Jason Roskey, of Fern NYC, about his choice of materials & woods. Fern recently launched an online store (here) that include their latest release, the Amoeba Serving Boards (cherry & big leaf maple) and their line of lighting and objects, including limited edition boxes. If you are LA, SPECIFIC carries some select FERN pieces.


Can you tell me about your choice of materials?

Most of our work is constructed from walnut, maple and oak. We source two types of walnut - Claro & Eastern Black Walnut. We get our Claro mostly from working walnut orchards in Northern California. As these trees die out, they are being replaced with a new hybrid walnut tree. There's a huge market for the stuff right now, because of its beauty so we have chosen to not put as much focus on the giant slabs that a lot of other companies are using, but to use the orchard lumber, which usually has a lot of defects and comes in smaller pieces, but has beautiful grain.

A couple weeks ago, I had a discussion with Jason Roskey, of Fern NYC, about his choice of materials & woods. Fern recently launched an online store (here) that include the Amoeba Serving Boards (cherry & big leaf ample) and their line of lighting and objects, including limited edition boxes. If you are local in LA, SPECIFIC carries some select FERN pieces.

Claro Walnut is the only West Coast wood we use, all of our other lumber comes from the Northeast - primarily Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Upstate New York. Eastern Black walnut differs from Claro Walnut in that it doesn't show as many color variances and is more straight-grained. It is generally a more toned down wood, but it's still very beautiful.

I'm also obsessed with maple and the various ways you can manipulate its color by bleaching and oxidizing. I'm mostly interested in using "soft" maples, a deceiving name since they are only slightly softer than Sugar Maple (the most common maple lumber used for cutting boards and furniture). We use a variety of maples that include Silver, Red, and Norway. These woods have much more figure than Sugar Maple. Many furniture makers stay away from these types of maple because of the uneven characteristics in the grain, but I'm interested in going against some of the old woodworking conventions by mixing woods and using lumber with the most character to my advantage when designing a piece.

"the picture is of maple to be milled and glued up for chair seats.."

The "Studio Dining Table," a slab table proportioned for apartment living that can comfortably seat four, tell me more!

The Studio Dining Table began as a custom table for a client who wanted a natural-edge slab table, and this being New York, didn't have the space for many of the large slab tables that are on the market. She really wanted a substantial, yet movable piece that could double as a desk and seat 4-6 people for dinner parties.

It is built from red maple I sourced from Pennsylvania. The slab was split and widened about eight inches. I added a 12-inch square brass joint that will form a patina over time. A lot of the wood's color changes come from the ambrosia beetle, an insect that attacks maple trees when they are at or near the end of their life. The beetles leave a fungal trail inside the tree that gives the wood beautiful streaks of color. I put the wood through an oxidation process that was common among 19th century gunmakers to change wood color. Unlike an off-the-shelf wood stain that creates a dull uniform color, this recipe reacts with the wood's tannins changing natural maple tones to gray, purple and brown that remind me of a sophisticated weathered barnwood.

Read past interview with Fern on YHBHS here...
Please visit Fern's online store here..
or just contact them directly here!

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