Style Court

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


First Look

Yuken Teruya Notice-Forest (Bon Marche), cut paper. Image courtesy of the artist.]

[Photo (detail) Janus van Helfteren ©Classic-Porsches: Generations of Genius by Brian-Laban, Artabras Publishers, 1993.]

[Interior design by Sara Tuttle. Photography by Lissa Gotwals.]

Sometimes I wonder if my affinity for painted lampshades, glossy ceramics and paper in saturated hues has any connection to the colorful vintage cars I was around as a child. Maybe it comes from a very early memory of shiny leather boots.


In his online bio, photographer Squire Fox says he was initially inspired by the famous picture of Peter Beard writing in a journal while lodged in the mouth of an alligator. Reading that, I became curious about the images that most impacted other creative people.

[Alexander Calder, Elephant, 1936, Sheet metal and paint ©Calder Foundation.]

With an architect dad and an artist mother, designer Megan Arquette learned to look at shape and color before she could speak. She told me, "I had a Calder mobile over my crib, so maybe that's where it began!" At the market, in the garden, and pretty much everywhere, Megan remembers her mother always commenting on an object's aesthetic qualities. "She'd pick up a tomato or eggplant and start waxing about its [form]. She taught me that nature actually creates the perfect color combinations."

Painter Amanda Talley was stimulated by the festive color pairings at her grandparents' get-away known as The Pink Elephant.


She recalls, "It was magical. It had a pink bar with pink bar stools, pink wicker, pink elephants everywhere, and green shag carpeting. My mother grew up going there, so I could dig through drawers and closets and find things from her childhood. I loved everything about it: card games, fishing, and building driftwood houses on the beach." Amanda is pictured above atop one of the card tables (the men and women each had their own).

[ Notice-Forest, 2005, cuts on paper (Tiffany & Co.), 5 x 6 x 8 inches. Image courtesy of Yuken Teruya and Josee Bienvenu Gallery.]

As a child, Shannon Morris, museum curator at Georgia College and Amanda's former roommate, was mesmerized by her grandmother's shopping bags.

"I grew up in the small town of Fairhope, Alabama." explains Shannon, "It is now known for its posh boutiques, quaint eateries and art galleries. When I was a child, however, it was much less glamorous and a lot less exciting."

[Tory Burch (Pink), 2010, cuts on paper, glue, 6 x 16 x 12 inches (detail). Image courtesy of Yuken Teruya and Josee Bienvenu Gallery.]

She continues, "I was lucky enough to have my grandparents nearby. Many of my childhood memories involve my grandmother who loved to travel and shop, and I [remember being] very drawn to the shopping bags that she brought home from her journeys. I loved everything about them -- their shiny surfaces, bright colors, stylized fonts and matching silk cord handles. One day, when she was placing her shoes on the shelf, I spotted a 'collection' of shopping bags in the closet and asked her if I could have them. I was elated when she gave them to me!

Afterward, she would procure extras just for me from boutiques and fine department stores. For me, the bags also represented the places where the stores were located. The prize of my collection was a Saks Fifth Avenue bag from New York City! I can remember sitting in front of it and running my fingers across its glossy surface. It was a classic black Saks bag with a red script font and a red silk cord. I imagined the elaborate displays that the store must have contained and the excitement of New York."

[Dior, cuts on paper. Image courtesy of the artist, Yuken Teruya.]

And she adds, "As a graduate student at SCAD, my thesis topic explored artists whose works dealt with the ecological consequences of consumerism. It may seem an odd choice for a girl who once coveted shopping bags, that is, until you see the works of Yuken Teruya, and then it makes perfect sense. Teruya's Notice-Forest series was a major part of my paper. Teruya uses the Japanese technique of kirigami- cutting and folding, to create these exquisite portraits of trees from shopping bags."

[©Patrick Cline, Lonny issue three.]

Next up: youthful memories from Max Humphrey of Burnham Design.

Since the previous post touched on leaf obsession, I also want to draw attention to the art direction of Anthropologie's March catalog -- a leaf lover's paradise with a hint of Mrs. Delany and Her Circle  -- and to a new small work from Richard Kooyman.

[Richard Kooyman, Look Up, Oil on mylar, 10 x 12 inches, courtesy Emily Amy Gallery.]

Related past post: Icing on the Cake.


A Daily Dose of Leafy Greens

[Patrick Henry Bruce (1881-1936) Leaves, ca. 1912, Oil on canvas, 10-1/2 x 14 inches, Spanierman Gallery LLC.]

Lately I've been revisiting the High's permanent collection, specifically the American art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the paintings that really has a hold on me is a vivid green Fauve-influenced take on leaves by expat Virginian, Patrick Henry Bruce. It's from around 1910 when he was in Paris studying with Matisse and, at the same time, very inspired by Cézanne's style. (Spanierman Gallery has another lovely example of Bruce's work from this period, shown above.) Later Bruce became influenced by Sonia and Robert Delaunay and Orphism but, as Grace Glueck notes here, throughout his life Bruce was sadly under-appreciated.  Tides turn, though, and decades after his death scholars and gallerists came to admire his contribution as an American Modernist.

Right now, most of the prices for Bruce's paintings exceed my budget, so I used my very last scrap of Fig Leaf on a smaller footstool that may or may not be the same age as his earlier works. Everytime I look at it, I think of the High's painting.

[George Bellows, Portrait of Anne, 1915 High Museum of Art.]

For any designer looking to be inspired by rich turquoise-blues, greens and purples, these hues can be found in abundance in the High's galleries of early-20th-century American art (pottery, glass and paintings). The collection also includes a tiny gem, View of Fez, one of Henry Ossawa Tanner's less conservative paintings influenced by his Moroccan travels.  And I always like to stop and study the small works by George Ferdinand Of (1876 - 1954).

By the way, LACMA has more information on Tanner in Tangiers.

[Joseph Rodefer DeCamp, The Blue Mandarin Coat (The Blue Kimono), 1922 High Museum of Art.]

Update: 2.25.10
Patrick Henry Bruce's work is included in Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris, currently on view through April 25 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As the Museum explains, Bruce was among the artists who followed Picasso’s example and moved to Paris during the first half of the 20th century, a critical period in the history of art.

I recieve no compensation for talking about Fig Leaf. Just obsessed with it. Speaking of passion for art and design, click here to learn about the Vogel Collection.


Indian Chintz at Powis Castle

[©NTPL/Erik Pelham]

This morning, courtesy of The National Trust, I have some vivid images of the Indian collection at Powis Castle in Powys, Wales. Shown above is an 18th-century Indian chintz tent, now preserved at the Castle, that originally belonged to Tipu Sahib, the Sultan of Mysore. The tent was acquired by Edward Clive, 2nd Baron Clive and 1st Earl of Powis, after Tipu was defeated by the British in 1799. The pieces at Powis also include objects brought back by Edward Clive's father, Robert Clive, known as 'Clive of India'.

[©NTPL/Andrew Butler]

Today, Brigitte Singh's Mughal-inspired cotton block print Poppy on White is available through Aleta Bartel-Orton.

Lulu DK's Moondance curtains give the bedroom above a contemporary global-chic feel. 

[©Michael S. Smith Houses by Michael Smith and Christine Pittel, Rizzoli New York, 2008. ]

And Michael Smith offers Moghul Panel as part of his Jasper line.

[©NTPL/Erik Pelham]

Not surprisingly, Tipu, the Sultan of Mysore, had opulent taste. Above are his slippers. At Powis, the objects are displayed in cases created in the late 1980s and inspired by the Anglo-Indian style of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

[©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel]

Related past post: Indian Florals.


Color Theory, Textiles, Sources

[Kashmir long shawl (detail), circa 1840-1850, National Museum of India, from Pashmina: The Kashmir Shawl and Beyond, by Janet Rizvi with Monisha Ahmed, reviewed by Steven Cohen, Hali, autumn 2009. Photo by Ashok Kumar.]

Initially I only planned to mention an intriguing post about color in oriental rugs and textiles over at R. John Howe: Textiles and Text, but then I remembered these ravishing images from Hali's review of Pashmina: The Kashmir Shawl and Beyond (Marg Publications 2009).  

Writing for Hali, Steven Cohen described the book as a much needed, refreshingly fact-based volume about a type of Indian textile that has often been misrepresented. So, textile enthusiasts might want to add this one to their bookshelves. Personally, after reading the R. John Howe color post, I'm seeing all sorts of woven things in a new light.

R. John Howe: Textiles and Text offers coverage of The Textile Museum's morning programs. In short, a virtual version of the lectures that visitors in Washington, D.C. experience. Wendel Swan's talk about the appeal of color in rugs was especially interesting. Click here to learn what Swan means when he says, in rugs, colors are like "musical chords" and the context of the hues alters our perceptions.


Drawn to the Same Things

[Screen grabs from Ken Russell's 1969 film, Women in Love.]

Nearly six years ago in a Departures magazine story, decorators Schuyler Samperton and Anna Hackathorn sited Women in Love, director Ken Russell's adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, as a source of inspiration.

This weekend I finally got around to renting it.

In the midst of making mental notes for a blog post, I remembered that last summer Lisa did a really creative post of her own covering the aesthetic high points of the movie. Everything she said felt spot on. It's a must read. Just to add to the conversation, I thought I'd highlight the "lounge chair" scene by the pool.

In Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence deals with a range of big issues: socioeconomic class differences in early-20th-century Britain, industrialization, modernity, change, and relationships. Director Ken Russell deftly uses visual elements to convey these themes by contrasting Victorian, Aesthetic Movement, and Edwardian styles with Modern pieces. And he juxtaposes lush scenes of nature with Machine Age items. (There's even a "vintage shopping" scene which involves character Rupert Birkin lamenting the death of craftsmanship.)

The scene pictured above shows leisure and abundance contrasted with a newspaper headline about rioting mine workers. A reclining couple is ensconced in a curvy wicker lounge chair with a huge fringed red-floral canopy and coordinating cushion. That part feels very 19th-century. But their bathing suits are contemporary for the period (late 1910s) and a "modern" phonograph is in the background.

[Lisa Romerein photograph of a Windsor Smith project, California Style magazine, June 2007.]

It's probably hard for some design enthusiasts to look at the scene and not think of Lynn von Kersting's California poolside vignettes. I also have to admit that I'd love to see Windsor Smith do a backyard pool and garden design inspired by the film.

It's interesting, too, to see how Russell dovetails styles of the late 1910s (the book was first published in 1920) with those of the late 1960s. The hairstyles obviously say 1969, but other elements are more subtle. Scroll-y wicker furniture and clothes characterized by Raoul Dufy hues are prevalent and appropriate. At the same time, Victorian wicker was back in vogue when the movie was released, and the strong oranges and yellows seen on screen must have felt fresh to audiences then. (The colors look dynamic to me now.)

Some of you may remember Angie Hranowsky's approach to using wicker in her rooms for Coastal Living's 2009 Idea Cottage. The headboard below is vintage rattan and other examples can be seen in her updated portfolio under Latitude Lane.

[Photo by Tria Giovan, styling by Lindsey Ellis Beatty, image courtesy Coastal Living.]

[Thrift rattan. Image courtesy Angie Hranowsky.]

In Atlanta, Gail Dearing of Dearing Antiques has been selling vintage and antique wicker for decades. Shown above is a Victorian piece with a newly added table top.

Related past post: Fabricating Modernity.


Nellie Mae's Journey

[Nellie Mae Rowe (1900-1982) Picking Berries, 1981, 16 1/2" x 14", Marker and Crapas on Paper, Barbara Archer Gallery]

From the outskirts of Atlanta, in early-20th-century Fayetteville, Georgia, where a creative young person first used art to escape the tedium of her chores...

[Nellie Mae Rowe Untitled, 1980, Mixed Media on Paper, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Gift of Judith Alexander and Barbara Archer Gallery.] Vinings, Georgia in the late 1940s when, as a widow, she was free to spend more time making exuberantly colorful, rather surreal pictures... 1970s encounters with collectors and dealers, then on to exposure in books and in the galleries of numerous museums including the High -- the art institution that received patron Judith Alexander's 21st-century gift of more than 130 works by the self-taught artist... a post on a blog... a coffee table in Sara Tuttle's super-chic home, Nellie Mae Rowe had an adventurous ride.

I love how Sara has small bursts of jewel-toned greens and purples and aquas playing off each other, slightly reminiscent of Nellie Mae's approach to color. (Don't you think designers' own digs always have extra flair?)

On Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m., Joyce Cohen, Assistant Professor of Art History at Simmons College, Boston, will visit the High to discuss Rowe's work. Cohen's focus will be the imagery of house and home that pervades Rowe's art, in the context of 20th-century women's studies. Click here for details.