Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


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.


Another John Folsom Sighting

Okay, I've already posted the cover of the exhibition catalog for Lure of the Lowcountry, on view in Charleston, South Carolina at the Gibbes Museum of Art through April 18. But fans of contemporary artist John Folsom can also see an example of his work in the Curator's Corner at Spotlight on Art in Atlanta through Saturday, February 20. The Curator's Corner (literally a corner of the open-to-the-public Artists Market) highlights art that will be auctioned during the Gala on February 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Georgia Aquarium.

In case you're just tuning in, here's the full scoop on the free-admission Market.

And speaking of the Gibbes, click here for an interesting museum blog post about art on the road.

Chinese Textiles at Calke

[Detail of the Calke State Bed. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel.]

For a long time now I've been contrasting grand centuries-old canopied beds with some of the more lavish beds that occasionally pop up in the pages of Elle Decor. After my recent post about Marla Mallett's Chinese textiles, a very kind person from the National Trust shared these colorful, wonderfully detailed images of the silk-laden 18th-century Calke State Bed. (Click them to enlarge.)

[The Calke State Bed when it was being shown as part of the Treasure Houses of Britain exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1985. ©NTPL/Mark Fiennes.]

The National Trust describes Calke Abbey as a very old British country estate in Derbyshire (early masonry found on the property dates back to the Elizabethan age) that has been preserved in a state of 20th-century decline..."a place poised somewhere between gentle neglect and downright dereliction..." Visitors to the house become acquainted with the eccentric Harpur family who, I was told, seem never to have thrown anything away.

[©NTPL/Rupert Truman.]

The bed with the amazing embroidered Chinese silk hangings was probably made for King George I around 1715. It appears to have come to Calke in about 1734, as a gift from Princess Anne (daughter of George II) to her former maid of honor Lady Caroline Manners when she married Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Baronet, and went to live at Calke. Apparently the bed was mostly kept boxed up and was only properly revealed after the National Trust took over the house in 1985. In addition to the bed, Calke is home to a collection of countless 19th-and 20th-century household objects and curiosities.

Update 2.18.10
Click here to read Janet Blyberg's insights on Calke, A Case for Benign Neglect.


More on Halsey and McCallum

[William Melton Halsey (1915 - 1999), Search, circa 1971, Collage, paint, glue, canvas and sand on Masonite. Charleston's Gibbes Museum of Art.]

Just came across the Corrie McCallum-William Halsey Foundation page over at Carolina Arts. I still heartily recommend Gibbes Interactions (scroll down and click on the painting titled Search) for a truly dynamic and comprehensive intro to the Charleston-born abstract expressionist, Halsey, but the Foundation page offers additional background. Caroline Cobb's thesis on the painter is posted, and the career of Halsey's wife, Corrie Parker McCallum, is covered too. It's fun to browse examples of her work, including the paintings from the globe-trotting 60s.

Click here to see a Halsey in designer Muffie Faith's dining room.

Save the Date: A New Bucci Exhibition

[Andrew Bucci Untitled Face (1950s) Watercolor/Paper, 11 x 9 inches. Courtesy Cole Pratt Gallery.]

Thinking about a late spring jaunt to New Orleans? Opening just about when spring turns to summer is a new exhibition of Mississippi-born artist Andrew Bucci's watercolors. From May 30 to June 27, 2010, Cole Pratt Gallery will show Bucci's mid-century "Face" paintings including works not previously seen by the public.

For new readers, here's a little Bucci synopsis from some of my past posts.

[Andrew Bucci, a mid-century figure courtesy Cole Pratt Gallery.]

[Andrew Bucci Untitled Face (1950s) Oil/Paper, 11 x 8.5 inches. Courtesy Cole Pratt Gallery.]

Cole Pratt Gallery director, Erika Olinger, explains that the mid-century era was the heyday for a style of Bucci's work that was abstracted yet still somewhat representational. In later decades his paintings became deconstructed, and great examples of his range can be seen here and here. Many collectors respond to the Fauve-like hues that are ever-present in the 1950s pieces.

[Black-and-White Andrew Bucci's framed in a room decorated by Melissa Rufty.]

In 2009, at age 87, Bucci was chosen to receive the Mississippi governor's Lifetime Achievement Award for the arts. Influences over the years have encompassed Matisse, Japanese woodblock prints, and noted Southern artist and teacher, Marie Hull.

Today his paintings can be seen in museums as well as chic cottages (design blog enthusiasts probably remember the bold Southern guest room done by New Orleans decorator Melissa Rufty with one of his colorful figures, or the Bucci watercolors flanking Gerrie Bremermann's entry hall mirror). Look for more of his work in the following collections:

Smithsonian Archive of American Art
Lauren Rogers Museum of Art
Meridian Museum of Art
Mississippi Museum of Art
New Orleans Museum of Art
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art


Music for the Eyes

[©Taschen from Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, 2010.]

I once saw a makeover show on HGTV (I'm guessing it was Kenneth Brown's reDesign) that involved a couple's dispute over the husband's vast record collection. The wife, and quite a few television viewers, probably assumed that the interior designer would suggest banishing the albums, but instead he creatively incorporated rows of the colorful old record covers into the revamped room.

[Photo of books courtesy Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.]

I can't remember if the album edges were grouped by color, like Lisa's books above. As I recall the end result was very graphic, enhancing the interior. And the husband was thrilled because, not only were the records preserved, they became easily accessible on shelves.

[©Taschen from Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, 2010.]

Did you know that prior to 1940 LPs were sold in plain brown-paper-wrappers? I didn't. According to Taschen, when 23-year-old Alex Steinweiss became Columbia Records’ new art director, he proposed replacing the nondescript wrapping with arresting artwork. Columbia said yes to the novel idea and soon record sales skyrocketed by over 800 percent.

[©Taschen from Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, 2010.]

A new collector's edition from Taschen celebrates Steinweiss, who literally is the inventor of the modern album cover. Today Steinweiss and his wife live in Florida, and earlier this month the artist was honored at the Ringling College of Art and Design.


Take a Look Around

[Japanese Shibori Nagoya Obi, circa 1930, tie-dyed silk. Available through Marla Mallett.]

[Japanese Maru Obi, circa 1920, silk. Available through Marla Mallett.]

"Take a look around, see what you like," was the advice Elaine (Frances McDormand) gave young William in Almost Famous.

She was talking about life -- the big picture -- but the words also apply to next week's event, Spotlight on Art. Just a reminder: the Artists Market set up on the campus of Trinity School, 4301 Northside Parkway in Atlanta, will offer 7,500 pieces of regional art, ranging in style from abstract to representational to folk. Admission is free and open to the public, and I've never experienced any pressure to buy (although last year I did happily make a purchase). So the market provides a laid-back environment in which to simply explore contemporary art.

[From a previous post, a detail view of a painting artist Annie Kammerer Butrus sent to Spotlight on Art, 2010. The full piece is 14" x 50" and is from her Peach Tree Trail series.]

See this past post for highlights and more.

[Image courtesy Janet Blyberg.]

If you're snowed in but lucky enough to have power, sites like that of textile collector Marla Mallett offer a seemingly endless array of images and resources.

[Photo by Imogen Brown.]

While this post is supposed to be about browsing not buying, I will say Mallett does have many pieces that would look terrific framed and used in a mix similar to Scout Designs' above.

By the way, don't miss Scout's chair picks. (The leather Butler's chair is screaming out to be in my bedroom.)

And Scout's client, event designer Tara Guerard, just launched her beautifully revamped website. For art enthusiasts seeking inspiration, there's also Apollo magazine.

News flash from design*sponge: the Coralie Bickford-Smith-designed version of Penguin's cloth-bound Emma is finally scheduled to be available in the U.S. in March.

[Emma cover via Amazon. The image of Frances McDormand in the station wagon is a screengrab from Almost Famous.]

Textiles as Art

[©Eric Morin via Selvedge, issue 21.]

I was flipping through a back issue of Selvedge when I stumbled upon Eric Morin's photographs of Lord and Lady McAlpine's large textile collection spread out in the courtyard of their 15th century monastery in Pugila, Italy (ll Convento di Santa Maria).

When the related story by Clare Lewis was published, the collection encompassed textiles from North Africa, West Africa, India, America and Mexico. Since Lord McAlpine is known to view the pieces as art -- something akin to the abstract expressionist paintings of the 1960s, and, as reported in the magazine, "as beautiful as a Rothko," I thought these pictures would serve as an interesting follow up to the previous post.

[©Eric Morin via Selvedge, issue 21.]


South by Southwest

[Chimayo table scarf, hand-woven wool tapestry, ca.1960's. Through Allan Arthur.]

Southwestern-inspired design is clearly back in vogue, but I think it's still hard for a lot of people to see textiles associated with the American Southwest and Mexico (Navajo rugs and blankets, Mexican serapes) without thinking of Southwestern theme rooms they've seen in the past.

[Detail, early-20th-century Navajo horse blanket, hand-woven wool. Through Allan Arthur.]

So, sometimes it's helpful to look at the textiles in isolation. Just study the graphic lines and colors, and pretend the horse blanket is a painting.

[Early-20th-century Navajo horse blanket, hand-woven wool. Through Allan Arthur.]

This approach opens up a whole new world of possibilities. In Atlanta, Allan Arthur has a range of vintage Pueblo and Rio Grande textiles, Mexican serapes, and Southwestern pieces that could be used to upholster a bench, or thrown over a sofa or a table. And of course he also has rugs.

This mid-century hand-woven wool Navajo rug resembles Op Art. Picture a pattern like this paired with a sleek lacquered bedside table or a glamorous traditional lamp. How about Southeast meets Southwest?

[Visit the Peabody Essex Museum to see Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel.]

And again there's Iris Apfel. Check out her fringed jacket, above, as seen in the Peabody Essex Museum video. Whether it relates to rooms or outfits, we hear so often about drawing upon diverse cultural influences that the advice can start to sound cliche. But Iris truly does this, mixing the Far East and West, with unique results.

In the Western epic, Giant, Elizabeth Taylor's character, Leslie, retains her polished East Coast style throughout the film, occasionally incorporating a nod to her new home state, Texas. A similar strategy could work in a room. In addition to textiles, Allan Arthur has a few colorful Plains beaded objects and vintage baskets-- just to jump-start your creative process.

[Eastern Woodlands basket, mid-20th-century. Okay, not Southwestern, but reportedly represents Native American work. Through Allan Arthur.]

[Shifting to the Southeast: Cherokee oriole basket, North Carolina, 20th century. Through Allan Arthur.]

[Choctaw work basket, Mississippi, first quarter 20th century. Through Allan Arthur.]

For more Navajo eye candy, I like to explore Ralph Lauren's Gift Vault. The circa 1880 Navajo saddle blanket, above, has been sold but its graphic design is endlessly inspiring.

I love how the RL team describes Indian Man In High-Top Sneakers, a framed photograph from the Gift Vault (also now sold), as culture connecting.