Style Court

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


Anticipating 2011

Happy New Year! I hope 2011 brings many good things your way.

[Left: A mounted African textile in artist Elliott Puckette's house; photography by Anita Calero, story written and produced by Miguel Flores-Vianna for Elle Decor October 2000. Right: Panel (detail). Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Textile Museum 24.3. Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1933.]

[Henri Cartier-Bresson's image from Matisse, His Art and His Textiles with Matisse in the foreground and Kuba cloth in the background on his bedroom wall, Vence, 1943-44.]

As a sort of follow up to my varied 2010 African textile posts, I have great news: A landmark exhibition of Kuba design is scheduled to open at The Textile Museum in October 2011. Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa will draw from the permanent collections of the National Museum of African Art and The TM, as well as private collections. Click here for details.

The TM's major fall 2010 show, Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats, continues on view through March 13, 2011 and (if you're not too groggy) the museum will be open New Year's Day until 5 p.m. Elliott Puckette: New Paintings remains on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery through January 22, 2011. Lastly, as mentioned the other day,  Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century opens the High February 19.

[Screengrab, top right, from Out of Africa.]


Extravagant Display

[Tablet with Design for a Carpet, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736–95) 
Gift of James F. Ballard, 1923, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.]

Less than seven inches high, this petite ivory model of a carpet is one of my favorite pieces on view in The Met's exhibition, Extravagant Display: Chinese Art in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.  With its delicately rendered details, the tablet seems to epitomize the idea of little luxuries. Visual arts of the Qing dynasty were so dynamic, so lush, and have had such staying power, that the colors, textures and motifs associated with the period continue to permeate Western design today. According to the museum, the use of a precious material to make a carpet model speaks to the Qianlong Emperor's lavish style.

[Tablet with Design for a Carpet, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–95)
Gift of James F. Ballard, 1923, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.]

Above, another exquisite ivory model measuring 13 inches high.

[Box with Floral Design, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911) 18th century, 
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1913, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.]

And one of the beautiful carved red lacquer pieces drawn from The Met's permanent collection. This tiny (roughly five inches wide) 18th-century example is topped with an abstract floral design.

[Vase, China,Qing dynasty (1644–1911) 18th century, Cloisonné enamel, H. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm) Gift of Edward G. Kennedy, 1929, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.]

Extravagant Display features multilayered lacquers, cloisonné objects, ivories, jades, porcelains, and textiles and will remain on view through May 1, 2011. The show will dovetail with The Emperor's Private Paradise, opening later at The Met the first of February. Click here for details.

Related past post: Jingtai Blue Christmas.


Antidote for January Doldrums

 [Photo: Courtney Barnes]

In Atlanta, those annual post-holiday doldrums may be decreased a bit by the opening of Anthro's new store on Howell Mill Road.

Expected to open in just a few weeks, the Westside location is characterized by an expansive glass facade (one of Anthropologie's modifications). I spent many hours in this lofty space back in the days when it was occupied by The Silk Trading Co., so I'm anxious to see how Anthro's creative team capitalizes on the building's features. Actually, my mind is wandering to spring and summer, and on to holiday 2011, as I imagine future window displays. Here's a peek at the team's past work.

[Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1944, Henri Matisse, Vence, France
from MoMA's exhibition,  Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century.]

And the High will make winter 2011 livelier, too As mentioned in the previous post,  Toulouse-Lautrec and Friends: The Stein Collection opens January 29th. Another much-anticipated, soon-to-be-on-view exhibition is Fifty Works for Fifty States: The Dorothy and Herb Vogel Collection, debuting in Atlanta at the end of January. MoMA's show is also on its way -- Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century opens here February 19th.

 [Red, late-19th-or-early-20th-century North African pierced and appliqued hanging. 
Colored cotton appliqued to sackcloth. Matisse, His Art and His Textiles.]
Related past post: The Party.


Getting Ready for Santa

I'm still getting ready for Santa, so I think I'll pause now and wish you happy, healthy days ahead!

[Mary Laura Philpott took one of my all-time favorite holiday pictures. Photo courtesy Mary Laura.]

Also, I have a few virtual treats to share:

A different kind of Tennessee Waltz.

The original Rudolph.

Cheekwood Collects: The First 50 Years will remain on view through January 2, 2011. The grand old limestone house in Nashville will stay decked out for the holidays through January 2, too.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History hosts Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World through January 5, 2011.

The Indian Gallery of Henry Inman, organized by the High, continues through January 21, 2011 at the Albany Museum of Art (read about LACMA's Inman acquisition here and here), and Toulouse-Lautrec and Friends: The Stein Collection opens at the High January 29.



A Study in Contrasts

[Screengrabs from Out of Africa.]

Visually, my favorite scenes from Out of Africa are the ones shot outdoors -- I love the light, the landscape and all those tall boots the characters are wearing. But the New Year's Eve scene is magical, too.

Throughout the film, Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton (Meryl Streep and Robert Redford) are rarely seen rubbing shoulders with the other European colonialists. For New Year's, though, they join the crowd at the club in town. The tree is decorated simply (from what I can tell with red candles, a few white or silver snowflakes and ropes of silver).

The real visual contrast comes in with the paper decorations. Clear, bright, primary-colored paper balls, bells and garland stand out against the very grown-up neutrals and metallics of the party-goers' fancy dress. Truth be told, I don't know a lot about the history of crêpe paper but, as I understand it, party decorations made from the crinkled, textile-like material were widely marketed in the first quarter of the 20th century. So, the movie's whimsical paper embellishments seem period perfect. (In Atlanta we have the Williams Paper Museum at Georgia Tech. Hidden Treasures: Marbling from the Permanent Collection will be on view there January 27 through March 2011.)

As wonderfully retro as the crêpe paper and silly hats are, I think the blizzard of confetti and streamers falling all around Streep's and Redford's shoulders are most memorable.

Just a reminder: holiday wrapping paper and ribbon that's too crumpled to be reused on future packages can still be recycled as confetti!

 [Image ©Kate Headley. Posted with permission from the photographer, Kate, and the bride, Janet Blyberg.]

You might also like Geometry and Geography and The Villagers.


Sibella Court and Christmas Dates

Over the weekend I noticed that the pictures I've taken of my 2010 tree are nearly identical to last year's shots. No doubt influenced by this book, the decorations are an imperfect mix, and the Fir occupies so much space that I'm reminded of the scene in How I Met Your Mother when Lily hoards all the Christmas decorations in her tiny apartment.     

In an attempt to be a little less redundant, I did use Benjamin Moore's Color Viewer® to digitally change my wall color (selected something resembling the shade seen inside Leigh Magar's Charleston building). But if you're looking for styling inspiration, I suggest visiting Sibella Court's revamped site.

I frequently refer to Sibella's book, Etcetera: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Love, so I was happy to read her recent post about another edition scheduled to be released May 2011: a style guide to NYC. Apart from Sibella's unique photographs of interiors, shops and buildings, coverage of museums will be included, too. It was her mention of Pitt Rivers Museum, in the first book, that turned me on to the natural history institution as a great source of design inspiration.

 [Photo courtesy Ryan in D.C.]

Since my tree above is essentially a repeat, I think today might be a good time for the annual "re-run" of favorite holiday-related ideas and memories from past posts.  On Sunday, a beautiful arrangement of peonies displayed beneath winter branches in Bella Cucina's window took me back to Ryan's dad's garden. Last May, Ryan shared with us the layers of meaning behind the objects in his D.C. house. 

[Photo by Janet Blyberg.]

He described his pieces as not overly precious in the monetary sense. "Their value is in the associated memory," he explained, "I spent many a weekend of my childhood roaming estate sales and antique malls around Northern Virginia and Maryland. At an early age, we were taught that old objects should be respected."

His small landscape, titled Vermont, was purchased at a threadbare shop in South Carolina. "When you are a kid and make an allowance of, say, $5 dollars a week, $25 is a lot to pay for a small painting. My father, noticing how much I loved it, went back the next day and bought it along with a second painting by the same unknown artist. Both were waiting under the tree the following Christmas."

[Image above from past Anthro holiday catalog.]

In November, Mary Randolph Carter told us about her big extended family's Christmas Eve rituals. And long-time readers are familiar with my friend Cameron's parent's Christmas Eve date. When the children were little, her parents usually began the evening like a romantic date instead of diving straight into the toy assembly. They typically tucked the kids in bed then went downstairs to share snacks and champagne by the tree while exchanging presents with each other. After that the Star Wars action figures came out of storage.

[A multi-generational phenomenon. I wonder how many of these will be left for Santa this year? 
Cookie cutters via Williams-Sonoma.]

A variation on the Christmas Eve date is the "double date." During the years when my mother and her brother were very young, my grandparents waited until Christmas Eve to decorate the tree, hoping the kids would think Santa did everything. They invited their friends and relatives without children to join in the merriment and help make the living room magical before morning.


Women at Work: Julia, Angie, Stacey and Leigh

 [Unless noted otherwise, all images ©Julia Lynn and posted with permission from the photographer.]

See the two-story building above on the far left? There's an awful lot of creative energy flowing within those circa 1825 walls. Located just one door away from Charleston's Sugar Bakeshop, the larger place is home to Magar Hatworks as well as the studios and offices of interior designer Angie Hranowsky, artist and printmaker Stacey Bradley, and photographer Julia Lynn.

 Julia Lynn]

Hatmaker Leigh Magar owns the building and as you can see she's decked out the porch with festive millinery-influenced holiday trimmings. Some of Leigh's many fans and clients include Michael Stipe, the Lee brothers, Christina Aguillera, John T. Edge, and the late Gregory Hines. I'll show you Leigh's collection of museum quality hat blocks in a bit, but first let's look at Angie's area.

For her office, Angie plays vibrant fuchsia curtains, a zebra rug and a sleek Saarinen table against the roughness of the original old floors.

Julia's beautiful photographs capture the spirit of this place so well; I definitely recommend taking time to enlarge the images with a click. You don't want to miss any of the details.

I can never resist peeking at other people's inspiration boards, so I was happy that Julia documented Angie's.

Office perk: everyone has an original fireplace.

Angie began her career as a graphic designer and later transitioned to interior design. Past posts about her art collection and style can be found here and here. Below, a look at Stacey's art studio.

And more details -- tools for printmaking.

Finished work.

Stacey and Julia actually share a space divided by a white book shelf. Julia's framed work rests on a mantle and her things can be seen spread out below.

Learn more about Julia here, and read about Stacey's holiday flair here.

Above, a sampling of Leigh's fantastic hat block collection.

More of her work and creative laboratory.

Check out the hatmaker's fascinating story here.

Many thanks to Julia for giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Charleston's 21st-century creative side!

[Photograph by Maura McEvoy  ©Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard by Debra Shriver, Glitterati, Inc. 2010.]

Also of interest: Inspiration is Free.