Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Giving Out Eye Candy

It seems that serious rug enthusiasts tend to be familiar with Renaissance artist Carlo Crivelli because lavishly detailed textiles and decorative carpets feature prominently in the Venetian painter's work. In the autumn issue, Hali explains that the "Crivelli star," a classical carpet ornament, is named for him and next month a new exhibition at Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera will explore the connection between real rugs and Crivelli's paintings.

As I understand it, Italian textiles and three rugs including the 15th century Crivelli star example, shown second above via Hali, will be on view along with the art. Designers (interior, fashion, graphic) are often saying that they look to art history for inspiration, so it's always interesting to stumble across an exhibition that examines this symbiotic relationship. Unfortunately, I can't read Italian and will therefore be clueless when it comes to ordering an exhibition catalog.

Shown at top and directly above, The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius, 1486, Carlo Crivelli, via The National Gallery, London.

Slinks: A Haunted House in Charleston (and the Touch of Cotton)

This is as close as I think I'm going to get to a haunted house post. Click here to learn about the amazing 18th-century digs Haskell Harris rented when she first moved to Charleston.

And here are a few more pics from G & G. I wanted to revisit the feature on Andrea Nutt because everywhere I turn lately I'm seeing bouquets of cotton.

Even Tara Guérard recently used cotton for a wedding.

First two pictures are courtesy Haskell Harris; Andrea Nutt holds the copyright for image three; image four is from G & G; and the last picture is from Soiree by Tara Guérard.


Is it the Same Artist?

Yes, it is. A friend asked me if Francesco Clemente, the Italian artist who painted Kelly Klein's portrait above, is the man who did the art seen in 1998's Great Expectations.

In the movie, Ethan Hawke's character, Finn, is an artist and Clemente worked behind the scenes contributing all of the original drawings and paintings featured as Finn's -- even the art he does as a child. Click here for a refresher.

Whatever you thought of the film, the distinct palette is interesting to many designers. Green dominates nearly every frame and a wide spectrum of verdant shades appear. Apparently director Alfonso Cuarón simply loves the color. (More on that here.)

By the way, Clemente is among the contributors to Assouline's To India with Love. And if you have time to listen to the entire segment, the artist's conversation with Charlie Rose is really fascinating.

Francesco Clemente portrait of Kelly Klein, via Town & Country, October 2008; last image courtesy Assouline.


The Cup Runneth Over

It usually starts with a slightly over-the-top idea. MaoSayWhat shared this picture on Flickr as part of a set of photos taken at Billy Reid (I believe the NYC shop). It's such a striking look for instore display but I think, on an everyday basis at home, trying to store such a dense arrangement of scarves or handkerchiefs in a vintage trophy or urn would become impractical. However, the image did remind me of another use for ice buckets: napkin storage. Not super-crisp linen napkins that look best ironed, but less formal cotton napkins that can be stored in rolls on a kitchen shelf. Just another way to enjoy a terrific old bucket without waiting for a special occasion.

I don't have a walk-in closet, but if I had a place where I kept some accessories out and close at hand, I might keep a few wool scarves in a silver bucket. Probably too much of a dust magnet, though.

Maybe Mary McDonald still has the best idea. Take a closer look.

She suggests using pretty buckets to hold blueprint-like rolls of paper, or to serve as part-time waste baskets.

Three "blue office" photos above by Melanie Acevedo for domino, January/February 2006.

More pragmatic options. Flipping through San Francisco Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, I spotted something I used to do: keep paintbrushes in smaller urns. Shown above are detailed views of artist Ira Yeager's barn cropped from David Duncan Livingston's lovely photographs. (I did a double take too. David Douglas Duncan is the photographer behind the Picasso books, one of which appears in my new blog banner painted by talented Anne Harwell.)

[©Anne Harwell]

Happily, overstuffed cups in paintings never tip over. More on Anne's work and the muses behind the picture to follow. Related past post: Best in Show.

Off topic, but I suppose a different kind of bounty, Anthropologie's holiday ornaments are in. For me, the standouts are the swan, the skates, the peacock, and the ombre caribou.

If you have any plans this year to display ornaments in a vintage punch bowl, here's an inspirational image, also from David Duncan Livingston and San Francisco Style.

Update: 10.29.09

When I first put this post together, I should have included a reminder of the umbrella stand used by William Pahlmann Associates to hold blueprints as seen decades ago at the Tiffany Decorators' Show. Love this idea for wrapping paper too. Photograph is from Tiffany Table Settings.

These brass open-work styles aren't always so easy to find but they are really sharp.

Art in Context

As her online presence has evolved this year, artist Hayley Gaberlavage has frequently popped up on this blog but to date I haven't shared many images that show her work framed and hanging in a residential-like setting. And I think for potential collectors it's helpful to see certain works paired with furniture. Something about the vignette above, photographed at Udwell in New Orleans, feels reminiscent of the interiors in 1960s movies. Maybe it's the mix of abstract art, French Provincial cabinet, and white-brick walls.

By the way, if you're researching art collections in film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a great one to rent. Lots of large-scale lamps mixed with antiques too.

Like photographer Lacey Terrell, Hayley favors the clean look of white or very light frames for her work. Although that style might be typically associated with more modern interiors, the look can really work in a traditional setting as evidenced by this Miles Redd-designed room, shown below.

[Photograph by Simon Upton for Elle Decor, January/February 2009]

Similarly, Millie chose a perfectly understated frame for her Cecil Touchon collage.

Hayley has uploaded more of her pieces here. (And no, in case it crossed your mind, I don't receive a penny or any free art from the artists and galleries I highlight.)

A quick reminder for Atlantans, beginning tomorrow, Thursday, October 29 from 6 to 9 p.m., Holly Bryan is hosting an open house and sale at her studio located at 3725 Powers Ferry Road. Additional hours are Friday and Saturday, October 30 and 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shown above is a very big painting, Ten-Run Inning, but if you're interested in Holly's small works be sure to explore her site and inquire about her price range.


November Happenings

Sister Parish fans in Atlanta will be happy to know that Mrs. Howard is hosting a book signing for the new release, Sister Parish Design: On Decorating, from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 5 at 425 Peachtree Hills Avenue. Authors Susan Bartlett Crater and Libby Cameron will be on hand to greet guests, sign books and chat about Parish’s work. Sounds like a great opportunity to pick up a holiday gift.

Later in the month on Thursday, November 19, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the Birmingham Museum of Art's curator of decorative arts, Anne Forschler-Tarrasch, will discuss the Buten Wedgwood Collection. In celebration of Wedgwood’s 250th anniversary, Lord Wedgwood is scheduled to be there to present a gift to the Museum, and while supplies last, lecture attendees will receive Tricia Foley's latest book, At Home with Wedgwood: The Art of the Table, compliments of Wedgwood and signed by Lord Wedgwood. The Museum is located at 2000 Reverend Abraham Woods, Jr. Boulevard.

And just in time for the Thanksgiving table, Pacific & Rose is offering its popular blocked paisley print linens in new colorways including black-and-white or green-and-white. Tablecloths are also available. My mom has purchased some of these cotton textiles, so I can report that they are even lovelier in person and quite durable.

If you want to try your own hand at making holiday linens, Elizabeth continues to sell the wood blocks too.

Update: 10.27.09

This morning I purchased a copy of Sister Parish Design: On Decorating. As expected, Mita Corsini Bland's watercolor illustrations are seriously charming. Many of her room portraits capture contemporary designs from talents such as Tom Scheerer, so that is a nice surprise. The book's tone is conversational, and a gathering of decorating heavyweights (Miles Redd, Bunny Williams, Suzanne Rheinstein, Todd Romano, Jeffrey Bilhuber, John Rosselli, Mitchell Owens, Jane Churchill and Peter Dunham, just to name a few) share what Sister's legacy has meant to their work.

The topic of comfort seems to be a big theme; not simply furniture placement but the importance of a client feeling attractive and fascinating in his or her own home. In short, many say, let the client outshine the decor. Although there are interesting anecdotes peppered throughout the chapters, the book has distinct focuses ranging from how to display collections to working with textures, so I think design enthusiasts in search of a new "bible" or handbook will like the approach. Bonus: Underneath Mita's dust jacket the book is bound with Sister's "Burma" in blue.

Below are the latest colorways.

Oh, and yes, I'll be picking up at least one more copy for a Christmas gift!

In other book news, Taschen's spectacular Ornament, a tome I covet each time I'm at Sam Flax, is now available in a more budget-friendly $75 edition. Quite a savings from the original large-scale $200 version. The new volume also includes access to an online image library with over 4000 high-resolution scans of ornamental designs and patterns.

Remember this post about late-17th/early-18th-century artist Maria Sibylla Merian? Taschen has also released a lavish volume of her work.

Update: 10.29.09


Practical Magic

Every year I fantasize about flanking my steps with pumpkins or gourds that have been carved to resemble old pierced English creamware. (You probably don't need me to tell you that the intricate examples above are Martha's.) For a Southern gathering of design enthusiasts, something ceramics-inspired would be timely this year because of the Birmingham Museum of Art's Buten acquisition, the largest assemblage of Wedgwood ceramics outside of England. More importantly, though, pierced pumpkins illuminated by candlelight look magical on crisp October nights.

[18th-century Shorthose & Heath pierced creamware baskets via Christie's]

So far all I've got going is this.

But I know many of you are doing creative projects: putting the final touches on those costumes, battling royal icing and contributing to the neighborhood Halloween festival, or just running around town looking for the last remaining black tapers.

[Dilapidated candelabra with black candles via Carolyne Roehm]

If you want a relaxing soundtrack for the last minute crafting or errand running, Practical Magic is finally available through iTunes.

No Halloween kitsch, just a little Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, and some 90s nostalgia.

This other Martha project with simple drilled holes looks like a possibility. Have any of you tried it?

Update: 10.26.09
8 p.m. Inspired by the Peachtree Heights East Duck Pond pumpkin float referenced in the comments to this post.

One down. Clearly a large grouping is needed for impact. We'll see what kind of damage squirrels do overnight.

FYI: The Birmingham Museum of Art officially opens ts new Wedgwood gallery on November 19, 2009.

Update: 10.31.09

Above is a shot from the Duck Pond Float spearheaded by Charlotte Margolin nearly a decade ago after she learned about Central Park's pumpkin float. Her husband and another neighbor made the original float for the Peachtree Heights East neighborhood. Peachtree Heights East's duck pond is one of the most picturesque sites in Atlanta, so on the night when local kids float their pumpkins on the water, the setting becomes even more wonderful.