Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Desolate city (Still here)

Just had one of those blog moments where I lost my entire post...

But just to run down the key ideas:

- I'm still alive.
- I'm not where I should be, but I'll get there soon.
- The city in summer is a desolate place. There are people but everyone looks vaguely lost, marooned, displaced. Drinking a nice German Riesling helps, but does not cure this condition.

But I like the city, even in summer. It's quiet and this allows you to appreciate things around you with more care. I came across this building and loved it from first sight. Reused, abused, and abandoned in so many different ways, each of them wonderful.

Act 1
I always enjoy the pvblic face civic architecture, especially when it's nicely worn; pomposity gone, it's like bones in a graveyard.

Act 2
Caged birds trying to escape, lovely in their futility

Act 3An older citizen feels young again as new uses are found; old but not yet outdated.

Act 4
Only the best training will do for our municipal lifeguards.


I supposed to be there, but instead I'm here. Except I'm not really here. So if you see me here, then you didn't. If you thought you spotted me there, then perhaps you did, or at least that's my story. Clear?


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer sports: sample sales

It's time for everyone's favorite summer sport: sample sales! Indeed, it is sporting and competitive. Not only because there is a huge queue when you arrive only 45 minutes before the opening of the Catherine Malandrino sale:

Velvet ropes and crowd control, even for a sample sale! But the real competition isn't to get in, but to look just right while waiting to get in:

(Who let the gazelles and flamingos out of the zoo?)

These pics are thanks to my friend Nuria, who in the end seems to have done very well for herself...

I am now going into a period of intensive training for the pinnacle of the season, the Barney's sale... Off to do my laps and work on my quick grab.



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Flugelbinder's holiday

As you might have gathered I'm still in New York. I'm here on a bit of a flugelbinder's holiday. For those of you not familiar with this term, it substantially resembles a busman's holiday. When we travel, we take our work with us: always in our minds and sometimes in our tool bags. A little bit like a child with a toy in his or her pocket, it brings order. But one's passion can also be a burden.



Monday, July 9, 2007

Blah, blah, blah (couldn't resist)

So as you've gathered I was at MoMA the other day admiring the new works by Richard Serra. I'm just part of a big crowd who believe that he is a great artist producing great art. But wandering through his works (literally) I was mulling over two ideas.

In our post-modern times, we are hesitant to crown artists with laurels of greatness. We are more than willing to bid up their auction prices into the 8-digit range, but shy when it comes to asserting their greatness shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the past. Why? The burden of historicity (we won't know who is truly great until the dust has settled), or perhaps a reflection of our own insecure age. But I think we shouldn't shy away from it. Even if we are wrong, and history rates our greats to be second-rate hacks, we are still participating in the process of art, which is almost as important as art itself. The process of art involves the patrons, the artists, the public, and the plate tectonics of critical opinion.

It's refreshing to see so many people celebrate Serra's work, but also a bit jarring. There was a fun house atmosphere, with children running up and down the snaking alleys between huge, torqued sheet of metal, delighting in the echo of their shouts. Adults - art lovers and tourists alike - also approached the works with a child-like wonder. What holds them up? What do they feel like? How do they sound (metallic, not surprisingly). I'm not a snob, not at all -- I don't believe in exclusion. But I can't deny a touch of the elitist in me: not the desire to exclude, but a belief in a certain set of values. In the case of art, these values seem a little old fashioned (or perhaps reactionary). A belief in form, a belief in idea, a belief in feeling. All of which explains why I like Serra.

Having recently mused in London on whether fun house art could be serious art, let alone great art (for example, most of the installations in Turbine Hall at the Tate), Serra steps forward to answer the question.

Enough self-important musings for the day. Next post will be on fashion!



Sunday, July 8, 2007


ART                                 HOUSE

I could blah, blah, blah - I am quite good at it - but though grainy, these pictures give you the idea.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

New York Nocturne

Lulled to sleep by the burbling river of traffic, punctuated by the traffic-song of car horns. The forest never sleeps, but learns to live with the night. Sleep is neither fought nor sought. It comes and leaves as needed.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

So I was (yet again) in New York last weekend

Do you think this is becoming a bad habit? Or perhaps it's an outright addiction? Living in one place and commuting or traveling to the other regularly. Previously, I did a one hour plane commute once a week so I could spend my weekends back in New York. Now it's six hours by plane. The weekend was magnificent, reminding me of everything I have left behind: fantastic friends; restaurants with decent food and good wine at reasonable prices; a city with a real summer with warm, dry weather; the smell of garbage and dog piss; and a city where a 20 dollar cab ride gets you from the upper west/east side to downtown.

Not that I'm complaining now that I'm back in London, though I have done my share of that. It was sunny and cool, at least this morning. And it felt good to be back in my new neighborhood. The porters, in their own British way, seem pleased to see me (i.e., they recognized me at offered me waiting mail - not the slap on the back I would get from the front desk staff at home in NY, but still, solid and reliable). My 9 bottles of wine shipped directly from Italy had arrived. And a quick glance at the web assures me many things to do in the coming weekend.

No, perhaps this need to travel is something simpler, and more troubling. I am beginning to enjoy the process of travel. Some of this has to do with a series of fortuitous upgrades and clever use of miles that has kept me out of the back of the bus for the last few trips: a comfortable seat, a full library of films and music at your fingertips; a nutritionally balanced and moderately tasty meal served in to you on real plates using real knives and forks (trumps my tasteless Tesco soups consumed from chipped mugs at home), and some pretty decent pours of nice French wine. If you're very lucky (and I was, once) a kind woman will arrive at some point and make up a little cot for you (which wonderfully resembles the berth on a train). Really it seems and feels like a flying sanatorium; instead of Magic Mountain and Thomas Mann it's Magic Carpet and Virgin Atlantic. Instead of being wrapped in a blanket in the chilly air with a view of the the Swiss alps you are wrapped in blanket in the chilled air of a pressurized cabin with a view of the clouds...

Must get back to the flugelbindery so I can save up for the next one.


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