Style Court

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


Tanov's Many Stripes

[Fabric from Erica Tanov]

It wasn't until last year when I read Selvedge's story about her that I realized fashion designer Erica Tanov creates many of her own prints. Typically she mixes these up with more tailored stripes and plaids. And a cross-section of her original designs along with other fabrics can be purchased by the yard -- I just noticed -- through her site. There happen to be some great, modestly priced shirting stripes, cotton canvas stripes, woven silk stripes and dreamy Indian gauze that could be fun to play around with.  

[Erica Tanov design. Photo by Erica Shires]

If you loved Tanov's spring/summer 2009 campaign, I think you will really enjoy seeing her Berkeley house in Christiane Lemieux's new book, Undecorate (Lisa Borgnes Giramonti's inimitable digs are included too).

More to explore: Soft Focus, Turk's Process and Anthro's Decorator Concept.


Down to Basics

[Bud vase set from Heath Ceramics' new Summer 2011 collection. 
Photo credit: Jeffery Cross. Image courtesy Heath.]

Today's installment of Connections featured Met curator Soyoung Lee talking about abstraction. She said ancient pottery is usually so visually powerful because it's all about getting down to the most basic lines and forms. And she mentioned that simpler, abstracted designs are more ambiguous, allowing us to make our own interpretations. So, pottery and restrained forms were already on my mind when I received a perfectly timed email from Heath Ceramics about their new collection available the first of April.

[Photo credit: Jeffery Cross. Click to enlarge. Image courtesy Heath.]

Handmade in the U.S., in California, the spun lemongrass single stem vases, above, are characterized by narrow stripes achieved by lightly touching an etching tool to the spinning vase. Heath says the top layer of glaze is stripped away to reveal the glaze beneath, making each piece distinctive. Also, the etched vases are made in a limited quantity -- only 150 pieces.

This time, I'll end the post without juxtaposing Heath's sunny shades and appealing forms with any other objects; let the pieces stand on their own. In the spirit of Lee's talk,  I'll leave you to make your own connections. But to see more ceramics handmade locally, visit The Center for Southern Craft and Design.

You might also enjoy: Asia Week 2007, Connecting Lines and Boggled by Bottles.

Visual Cues

[Unless otherwise credited, all "Polaroids," collages and other snapshots are my own.]

Scientifically, I guess, scent is the more powerful trigger of memory but for me it's color. The hit of saturated green paint seen inside a cabinet at Providence reminded me of Owens-Thomas House, part of Savannah's Telfair Museums.

[Owens-Thomas House grand staircase via Telfair magazine.]

2011 marks the Telfair Museums' 125th birthday.  If you're not familiar with the Savannah institutions, there are three under the Telfair umbrella: architect William Jay's English Regency Owens-Thomas House, built from 1816-1819; Telfair Academy, also designed by Jay in the neoclassical Regency style; and the contemporary Jepson Center.

Years ago, a film trade magazine assigned me a story on movie-making and TV production in the Southeast; ever since I've been more curious about the subject. Back then, I think I referenced The Legend of Bagger Vance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil...and, yes, Dawson's Creek. When I recently noticed a Telfair magazine blurb about Robert Redford shooting scenes for The Conspirator at Owens-Thomas House, I paused to read. According to Redford's blog, the director was after a deep palette suggestive of Rembrandt. Kalina Ivanov, known for her work on Grey Gardens, did Conspirator's production design.

[All images except the Polaroid are my screengrabs from Campion's film, Bright Star.]

For anyone in Atlanta who is after that warm, very uncontrived but still elegant look Jane Campion achieved in Bright Star, the leather wing chair I posted the other day is now in Providence's window, so you can see it if you're going down North Highland Avenue. (Again, the "Hatch" pillow cover is from the Cassie Collection by Cassie Hart, a Savannah College of Art and Design alum.) I included the curtains floating in the breeze because they remind me of Kate Headley's photo of tent flaps in India, posted yesterday.

Click here to read Craig Hanson's take on Bright Star, and here for details about Telfair's ongoing celebrations.


Kate in India

[Film stills ©Kate Headley. posted with permission from the photographer.]

A little Tuesday morning inspiration: photographer Kate Headley is back from India. Click here to see what caught her eye. (Thanks Janet Blyberg for the alert!)

And by the way, Faces of India: Sculpture from the Callahan Collection is coming to the Birmingham Museum of Art in June. Before then, on Saturday, April 16 at 6 p.m., Subhash Kapoor, owner of Art of the Past, Inc., will visit the museum to present What is Art: Through the Eyes of a Collector, Dealer and Connoisseur.

[Martine's Legs, 1967, Henri Cartier-Bresson from Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century.]

Related past posts:
Wedding Whisperer
Observers and Collectors
The Villagers

There's an extended cut of Brenda's wedding film, the one I shared last year, here.

Update 4.12.11
See Kate's travel log here.


Flowers and Paper

[All papers from Paper Source.]

Baby, it's cold outside. Cherry blossom branches (Whole Foods, $12 for a bunch) on my desk and stylized interpretations of the pretty flowering trees on Japanese paper are just about the only signs of spring inside my house, at the moment. The handmade paper is from Paper Source and it has been the focus of several of my past posts. So, this morning I want to help spread the word about Paper Source's Support Japan effort. Through April 30, 2011, the store is donating 10% of sales from Japanese Paper to the Red Cross Japan Relief Fund.

Fine Japanese paper is really the foundation of Paper Source. Whether floral, geometric or tie-dyed abstract, many of the patterns stocked relate to old Japanese textiles. (Several designs make me think of Kelly Wearstler's collection for Groundworks.) This video explains a bit about how the papers are made. And if you're a serious paper enthusiast, you might want to explore Atlanta's Robert C. Williams Paper Museum.

  [Ann Palleson, Dogwoods.]

Lacey Terrell and Ann Palleson are among the photographers participating in Wallspace Gallery's relief effort for Japan. Click here for details.

Before the iPad Cover


The long, narrow shape of this chintz drawstring bag, above, looks a little like a laundry bag I used to have hanging in my dorm room (although the amazing print suggests Max's dorm), but the sack was actually made to hold 18th or 19th century manuscripts. Part of the V & A's collection, the Indian cloth was painted and and resist-dyed. The museum notes that the main design is in the style of export chintz created for the Western market, yet the smaller floral patterned border and triangular forms are very much in keeping with Southeast Asian taste.

[Yohji Yamamoto wares for the V & A shop.]

Maybe someone will use the bag as a jumping off point for new museum merchandise. Yohji Yamamoto recently did something like that. In conjunction with the V & A's site-specific retrospective of his work, he recently designed an assortment of floral bags for the museum's shop. As reported by Vogue, part of the fashion designer's inspiration came from the V & A's vast textile collection (specifically English cotton chintz and a furnishing fabric by John James Audubon, according to the museum) but the bag's utilitarian form is Japanese.

In other textile news, look for an addition to the V & A's great pattern series, Spitalfields Silks, out in June. As usual, a free CD-Rom of designs will be included.

Related past posts:
The Leman Album
Indian Florals
The Garrick Bed


What Comes Around...

[Clockwise from the right: detail, Trina Turk's water-y striped Essential Tote; a page from the March 2011 Bazaar; a terrific painterly ad for Hermes' Bleus d’Ailleurs porcelain; and from Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, Tissue simultané no. 205, France 1927, Block-printed cotton. Musée de l’Impression sur Étoffes, Mulhouse.]

First, a disclaimer: I wasn't planning to post today. Other projects need tending to. But my Color Moves exhibition catalogue came in the mail, and doing the initial flip through, I was struck by how really of-the-moment Delaunay's fabrics appear. Cooper-Hewitt textile conservator Sarah Scaturro covered this back in February. Still, I saw more connections than I anticipated.

Maybe in the next few weeks I'll copy Mrs. Blandings and do some sort of pop quiz: juxtapose an unlabeled Delaunay print with a contemporary fabric and ask which one is which.  For now, here is a timely blue-green mix. Without reading the credits, can you spot the 1920s piece? (Please click the image to enlarge and see the details.)


Bucci's Needlepoints and Michael Smith's App

[Daphne (2009) Andrew Bucci Needlepoint, 13 x 11.5 inches unframed.]

In May, I will have been blogging for five years. (Whew -- flashing back reminds me how tedious HTML could be in the earlier days.) High points along the way have included opportunities to become better acquainted with artists not covered in my art history books and chances to share their work with a new audience. Take, for example, Mississippi-born Andrew Bucci.

[Abstract (1950s) Andrew Bucci Oil/Paper 11 x 8.5 inches.]

In the past we've focused on his mid-century portraits and abstracts on paper but not his needlework. Cole Pratt in New Orleans happens to have two of his needlepoint pictures, and I think the Cooper Hewitt's live Delaunay webcast (with all the talk about Delaunay's openness to different mediums) made me take a second look.

The needlepoint shown at top is recent, completed by Bucci in his late 80s. It seems to be influenced by Matisse, while the second 1950s piece, I'm guessing, shows his interest in Japanese art. Speaking of the latter, the Gibbes has a nice interactive feature about woodblock prints and cultural exchange between Japanese and American artists (click and scroll down to Moon, Flower and Hawk Moth).

Of course, Michael Smith needs no introduction. The first TV episode I downloaded to my iPad was the Man Shops Globe with Smith joining Anthro's buyer-at-large, Keith Johnson, on a working expedition in Mexico. So, naturally, I was happy to see Smith's Jasper Collection app in the iTunes store. His textiles show off especially well via the app -- that's Star Atlantico, above -- but another bonus is the lookbook with a few rooms I've not seen before.

Related reading: This Museum Has a Lived-In Look. (Thanks Mrs. Blandings for alerting me to this one!) And Introducing Picasso: Themes and Variations.


Indigo Girl

[Tie-Dyed Indigo Woman's Wrapper, Bamana, Mali, West Africa, 20th century. Hand-spun and woven cotton; Strip-woven and tie-dyed. 36¼ x 73 inches. Available at Marcuson and Hall]

Despite the fact that it's all around us right now, my affinity for indigo shows no sign of waning.

[Full view,  Tie-Dyed Indigo Woman's Wrapper from Marcuson and Hall]

I love how the tie-dyed forms on this African piece from Marcuson and Hall resemble beads. Is anyone else thinking of the David Hicks pattern Hippie Beads? Maybe this is partly because the Cooper-Hewitt just emailed me a FedEx tracking number for my Delaunay exhibition catalogue, but the rhythmic quality of the indigo fabric is also yet another reminder of the big show.

Although it started just a few minutes late due to a technical glitch, I did catch the live webcast of Sonia Delaunay: A Conversation Among Friends. The main takeaway, for me at least, was how, as Petra Timmer said, the artist took her work "to the street." She didn't see embroidery or any of the textile arts as beneath painting and sculpture. Fabric design was a way to take modern art to the people. For her the medium didn't matter. (This concept seems to dovetail somewhat with African textile design, too.)

The panelists were enthusiastic, so the conversation lingered a little past the designated hour and a half, but if the Cooper-Hewitt uploads the program (check back here), and you can find the time, the video is worth a watch.

Related past post: From Painting to Textile.


Summering at the End of Empire

[John Folsom, photography on board with oil and wax medium. Image courtesy the artist.]

Inspired by remnants of the Gilded Age (not the most recent decades highlighted by Julia Reed during her SCAD Style 2010 talk, but the late 19th century period characterized by even grander houses), John Folsom's upcoming exhibition, Summering at the End of Empire, focuses on Cumberland Island with a nod to Longleaf pine forest preservation in South Georgia.

Shown above in one of Folsom's photographic paintings are the ruins of the Carnegie family's Dungeness obscured by Spanish moss and other elements of contemporary wilderness. (Click the image to enlarge and better see how the artist incorporates a grid into the work.) Begun by Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy in 1884, this mansion ultimately burned at the end of the 1950s.  Today the ruins are an iconic island site much like the wild horses that roam Cumberland. Another stately house built by Lucy Carnegie, the Georgian-style Plum Orchard, was donated to the National Park Foundation by the Carnegies in 1971.

Representing both new and past work, Summering at the End of Empire opens at the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art on April 9 and continues through July 3. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, Folsom is scheduled give a talk and tour of the show on Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m.


Material World II

[A little early spring breeze under linen.]

Tracking sources of inspiration: Curator Sharon Takeda, head of LACMA's Costume and Textiles department, talks about the importance of ornament in Kuba culture and describes how motorcycle tire treads were a springboard for one pattern. See the video here.

[Stills: left, a detail view, Kuba cloth from LACMA's collection; at right, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.]

Soon to open at the de Young is Balenciaga and Spain, an exhibition curated by Vogue's European editor at large, Hamish Bowles. Catalogues are available here, and a related symposium featuring Bowles along with three other world-renown costume scholars -- Miren Arzalluz, Lourdes Font, and Pamela Golbin -- is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 26.

And time is running out to catch Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915. The exhibition explores changes in lux textiles over roughly two centuries and remains on view in L.A. through March 27. Click here to see Vogue's behind-the-scenes shoot.

  [Design B53, by Sonia Delaunay (French, born Russia, 1885–1979)
France, 1924, Gouache on paper, Private collection © L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623 
Photo: © private collection.]

Lastly, over at the Times, Roberta Smith has a great review of the Delaunay show. 

Reminders: African textile shows debuting in 2011 include Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa -- opening at MFA, Boston, in April, and Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa set to open at The Textile Museum in October.


Lulu at Clic and an Anthro Update

I've been going through my archives again. Back in the spring of 2008, Lulu de Kwiatkowski's color-soaked book of collages was released and I had a wonderful opportunity to speak with her about both the weighty tome, her creative childhood, and her hopes for incorporating art into her kids' world.

Time flies; now she has three adorable sons. If you're a fan of her textiles and fine art, you may already know there will be an exhibition of Lulu's work at Clic Gallery, 225 Centre Street, NYC, April 6 through May 8. A list of prints with dimensions and prices is available here.

And of course I can't do a post that references collage without including a Romare Bearden link.  (Bearden is among the American masters currently highlighted at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art in Nashville.)

[Top left: Vera Neumann's Foucault’s Pendulum, commissioned by the Smithsonian during Vera’s residency in 1972;  top right: my own pre-opening shot of the glass facade;Bottom: Louisa settee upholstered in watercolor-like Vera-inspired fabric.]

In Anthro news, I just received word from the company that the online component of the new decorator concept has been rescheduled and will launch next week.

Sonia Delaunay: A Conversation Among Friends

[Design 1044
Designed by Sonia Delaunay (French, born Russia, 1885–1979) France, 1930–31. Printed cotton georgette. Private collection © L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623
Photo: © private collection.]

The countdown is almost complete; in two days Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay opens to the public. In celebration of this major U.S. exhibition, the Cooper-Hewitt is hosting a special talk on Friday, March 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 [Detail view.]

For those of us unable to attend in person, the event will be webcast live here. Petra Timmer, design scholar and Delaunay expert, will moderate as Matteo de Monti and Elaine Lustig Cohen share their own experiences involving the artist/textile designer. Lustig Cohen, a graphic designer, wrote The New Art of Color: The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and de Monti is the grandson of the director of Metz and Co, a Dutch department store Delaunay designed for in the 1930s.

Click here to register.

Update 3.17.11.

The exhibition catalogue, accessibly priced at $35, is now available through the museum's online shop.


Appreciating the Little Things

Les Indiennes' indigo cloth folios, shown above, are actually not little (the largest is 22" x 15.5") but their reduced prices put them in my "modest luxuries" category.

Some of you may remember the sketch books from a past post. All of the handmade pieces in the collection have a deep-pink linen binding and ribbon page marker or ties with an orange interior. I always seem to have a stack of need-to-eventually frame prints or drawings wedged between cardboard and stuffed into a closet. The bigger folio would be a nice alternative. Someone with an ample coffee table or spare corner could take Annette de la Renta's lead and put the folio on view.

The tiny perfume decanter by Jill Henrietta Davis is something I picked up at Anthropologie's Westside Atlanta location. With the stopper removed it's an ideal vase for little clippings. What really sets it apart, though, is not showing off in my pictures -- small drops of color hand-blown into the bottom of the container. Mine has opalescent shades but other options include blue-green and pinks with orange.  When water hits the bottom magic happens. 

And while we're on magic, late last night I noticed a larger format preview of sculptor Elizabeth Turk's Ribbons exhibition catalogue here.


Turk's Process

Even though this screengrab is terribly grainy, I think the strength of Elizabeth Turk's work comes through. I hope it does. Shown above, the sculptor has taken one of her intricate marble pieces "off the pedestal" and placed it in a koi pond.

Lace, eyelet and crochet are everywhere this season, so I've been revisiting Turk's marble collars and detailed drawings. As a follow up to past posts (here and here) I'm sharing this link to Constructing Collars, a great video about the 2010 MacArthur Fellow's process.  Related exhibition catalogues can now be found on the artist's site, too, along with a short video about her childhood. I noticed that she mentions the Met's "yellow jasper lips," a fragment from an Egyptian statue that recently appeared in Connections.


Connecting Lines

From the freshly cut camellia, a reminder of Japan, to a Kenzan-style ceramic with a simplified interpretation of the same flower.

[Kenzan-style incense burner with design of camellia, late 18th to early 19th century, Kyoto workshop; Edo period. Buff clay; white slip, iron and cobalt pigments under transparent glaze; bronze cover. Freer Sackler Galleries.]

[Tea bowl with design of pampas grass by Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743; Chojiyamachi workshop) Japan, Edo period, 1712–31. Buff clay; white slip, cobalt and iron pigments under transparent glaze. Gift of Charles Lang Freer. Freer and Sackler Galleries.]

Flat, restrained versions of camellias, plum blossoms, and other flowers and plants referenced in Japanese poetry are also key motifs found in Kenzan-ware decoration. Although these days it's hard to purchase anything that isn't branded, names were not typically associated with ceramics sold in 18th century Japan. But, according to the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Ogata Kenzan was the exception. Born into a family of textile merchants -- not potters -- Kenzan became interested in decorative painting and ultimately bought a well-established ceramics workshop. His team of professional potters decorated wares based on his spare designs, and the pieces were marketed under the Kenzan name.

The artists behind 21st century Working Class Studio aren't creating products anonymously.  A division of SCAD, the studio is a vehicle for students, alumni and staff to translate their designs into marketable home accessories, like the Savannah Toile Collection and this "Hatch" pillow cover from the Cassie Collection by Cassie Hart (BFA, Illustration, SCAD) recently spotted at Providence

[Design 1152 by Sonia Delaunay (French, born Russia, 1885–1979) France, 1932–33.
Produced by Metz & Co., printed silk. 
Private collection © L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623. 
Photo: © private collection.]

When I saw Cassie's design, I thought of the Kenzan tea bowl decorated with abstracted blades of grass as well as Sonia Delaunay's textile, above, yet another sneak peek pulled from more than 300 works included in Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, opening in five days at the Cooper-Hewitt. (Don't miss this related blog post by textile conservator, Sarah Scaturro.)

[Shibori at SRI Threads.]

More to explore: Imperial Palace Gardens with Wall, Tokyo (photography to benefit the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund), Silent Cloud of StarsWhose Sleeves?, Celebration of Spring: Woodblock Prints by Kawase Hasui, Daily Eye Candy and Sri Threads.

A note regarding the Japanese earthquake and tsunami: links to the Red Cross and UNICEF remain in the sidebar.


Informing the Eye

[Purple-splashed 'Jun' Bowl, Yuan Dynasty. Sotheby's.]

[Han Dynasty iron and bronze finials. Large finial at left with scroll detail is inlaid with gold and silver. Sotheby's.]

 [Southern Song Dynasty 'Jizhou' censer. Sotheby's.]

I've been browsing some auction catalogues. Just looking, admiring, and learning. For me the books are simply a source of inspiration, but Sotheby's does have a big upcoming sale with a few possibilities for collectors without terribly deep pockets: Informing the Eye of the Collector: Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art from J.T. Tai & Co., part of Asia Week March 18-25.

J.T. Tai was a prominent New York-based dealer from 1950 until his death in 1992. Last year his Imperial ceramics sold for record-breaking prices in Hong Kong, and the remainder of his collection will be sold in NYC during a day sale on March 22. A smattering of the pieces have modest estimates, beginning at $100. Not the wares shown here, though. These are among my favorites and happen to have estimates that are a bit higher. Click here to explore.

[XiXia Dynasty tall ceramic vase with carved lotus detail. Sotheby'.]