2010年8月30日 星期一

The Hotel as Art Gallery

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The James, a sleekly designed hotel rising over Grand Street in SoHo, will open for business on Wednesday with all the support staff a guest could expect: a concierge, receptionists, bellhops, chambermaids, parking valets.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Matthew Jensen, the art curator of the James Hotel in SoHo, chose works from emerging artists for the hotel’s 14 floors of guest rooms.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Employees installing art in the hallways of the James.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

An installation by Sarah Frost of typewriter keys glued to a wall in the lobby of the James.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The owners of the James, which is scheduled to open on Wednesday, tried to reflect the artistic microclimate of SoHo.

All that, and one helping hand a guest might not expect: a hotel art curator.

Hotels have been hanging fine art on their walls for decades now. Ian Schrager commissioned a series ofRobert Mapplethorpe prints for what is considered the original boutique hotel, the Morgans, in 1984; the Roger Smith, a small property in Midtown Manhattan, transformed its lobby into an art gallery and performance space as part of a 1991 renovation.

But few have gone so far as the James, which hired a young artist, Matthew Jensen, to select original artworks to adorn each of its 14 floors of guest rooms.

Mr. Jensen, 29, a photographer whose work was acquired this year by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, may have an unusual job description, but he is also part of a growing breed. As business and building owners look to inject their properties with a little artistic personality, a new class of curators — some of them contractors like Mr. Jensen and some of them staff members — has arisen to help.

“There’s all these empty walls and there are thousands of artists out there who are living in the city and have never had their art seen by anyone,” said Leah McCloskey, who places works by students at the Art Students League in restaurants and apartment and office buildings. “It’s about connecting to that generation of artists and to what’s going on out there.”

That connection has been particularly important in the past few years for hotels, which are increasingly seeking novel ways to distinguish themselves from a flood of competition. Responding to guests’ desire to have their lodgings project an image of who they are or aspire to be, hotels are taking their artistic endeavors more seriously, industry analysts say, using art to build an identity rather than just to make it look good.

“Hoteliers are not only trying to come up with a theme or a style that attracts customers, but they are approaching it in a much more professional and involved way,” said Sean Hennessey, chief executive of Lodging Investment Advisors, a consulting firm in Valhalla, N.Y.

“It used to be that you could get away with just slapping something up in the lobby,” he added, “but more and more customers are looking and evaluating it much more closely.”

For the James, meeting that demand has meant trying to reflect the artistic microclimate of SoHo. Though many of the artists who once made the area a creative mecca have fled, an emerging art scene is still represented through nonprofit institutions there that support artists and show their work.

Denihan Hospitality Group, which is developing the hotel, operates another James Hotel in Chicago that is also dedicated to emerging art. At the Surrey, one of its New York hotels, work by established names like Jenny Holzer, Claes Oldenburg and William Kentridge nods to its location on East 76th Street, near major art showcases like theWhitney Museum of American Art.

Mr. Jensen’s relationship with the hotel grew from a chance meeting last year with Brad Wilson, the chief operating officer at Denihan, at an exhibition for Mr. Jensen’s project “Nowhere in Manhattan,” featuring billboard-size photos of the borough’s remaining wildernesses that are meant to spur people to visit those places.

“It’s a way to remind people in a subtle way, if they complain, ‘Oh, I never get out into the woods,’ well, you can just get on the A train to Inwood, or you can go in the other direction to the Rockaways,” Mr. Jensen said.

The pictures appealed to Mr. Wilson — who hung three of them on the building facade when it was under construction — and Mr. Jensen’s job evolved from there. Once hired, he settled on the idea of using New York-based landscape artists working in different media, one per floor.

Using an online database, he amassed a list of about 1,000 artists, which he whittled to the final 14 in three months, creating something that “kind of feels like 14 solo shows stacked on top of each other.”

Taken as a whole, the installation, called “Stand Here and Listen,” is meant to play off the idea of travel, inspired by signs at revered destinations like the Grand Canyon that urge visitors to look out from a particular spot, Mr. Jensen said.

One of the artists, Jessica Cannon, said the installation offered guests — perhaps more open to seeing things differently because they are removed from their everyday routines — the chance to experience art in a new way.

“You can have this encounter with work that’s very intimate, almost like it’s in a home or an empty gallery, but you can have it on your own time,” said Ms. Cannon, a painter whose work imbues landscapes with a sense of an impending event. “If someone’s got insomnia at 3 in the morning, they can pace the halls and have a really intimate and personal encounter.”

In addition to curating the hotel art, Mr. Jensen manages the studio of John-Paul Philippe, a painter and designer who created several decorative elements for the hotel, including the room numbers. Mr. Jensen has also been overseeing the installation of the collection — the hotel bought the works — and the text that goes with it, along with a potential catalog.

Mr. Jensen said the curatorial foray, his first, took him to studios all over the city, exposing him to a whole community of artists.

“It was pretty exciting to me to see how many artists are working, just like I do, like obsessively hard, in their own studio tucked away, but nobody’s really paying attention to them yet,” he said. “There’s a lot more emerging than established in New York — once they’re established, then they all move upstate. So everyone who wants to do it is doing it here.”

2010年8月24日 星期二

Mona Lisa's smile

The secret behind Mona Lisa's smile

The secret of how Leonardo da Vinci produced the optical effects that created the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile can be revealed for the first time.

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Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci Photo: CORBIS

Scientists have discovered how the artist managed to achieve his trademark smoky effect, known as sfumato, on the painting; by applying up to 40 layers of extremely thin glaze thought to have been smeared on with his fingers.

The glaze, mixed with subtly different pigments, creates the slight blurring and shadows around the mouth that give the Mona Lisa her barely noticeable smile that seems to disappear when looked at directly.

Using X-rays to study the painting, the researchers were able to see how the layers of glaze and paint had been built up to varying levels on different areas of the face.

With the drying times for the glaze taking months, such effects would have taken years to achieve.

The scientists also suspect that he used his fingers to apply the glaze to his paintings as there are no brush marks or contours visible on the paintings.

Leonardo is known to have employed the sfumatoeffect to seamlessly blend shading together and to blur outlines. But the exact techniques used to achieve this have long fascinated and intrigued art experts.

The new discoveries have been made by scientists at Laboratoire du Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musees de France and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.

Writing in the scientific journal Angewandle Chemie, Dr Philippe Walter, who led the study, said: "The perfection of Leonardo da Vinci's painting technique has always been fascinating.

"The gradation of tones or colours from light to dark is barely perceptible. Above all, the way the flesh is rendered gives rise to many comments because of its crucial role in the fascination exerted by Leonardo's portraits.

"The thinness of the glaze layers must be underlined: it confirms the dexterity of the painter to apply such thin layers. Moreover, the measured slow and regular evolution of the thickness of the glaze layers implies that numerous layers... have to be applied to obtain the darkest shadows.

"Even today, Leonardo's realisation of such thin layers still remains an amazing feat."

The scientists used a technique known as x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to study the painting as it allowed them to examine the layers of glaze and paint in detail without having to take samples that would damage the masterpiece.

A beam of high energy X-rays were focused on the painting which allowed the researchers to determine how the layers of glaze and paint had been built up while also giving them information about their composition.

As well as the Mona Lisa, the team also studied skin tones in six other of Leonardo's most famous paintings, including Virgin of the Rocks, Madonna of the Carnation, Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin and the Child

They found that each layer of glaze was around just two micrometers, around 50 times thinner than a human hair. In the lightest areas of the skin, the glaze was found to be very thin but in the darkest areas it had been built up layer upon layer to be up to 55 micrometers thick.

Grains of black and red pigment were also found in the glaze, but were so small that they would be impossible to detect using conventional analysis techniques.

Dr Walter and his team believe that Leonardo experimented by creating different types of glaze and with different pigments to perfect the sfumato effect.

Professor Francis Ames-Lewis, a distinguished art historian and vice-president of the Leonardo da Vinci Society, an organisation devoted to the scholarly study of the Italian painter's work, said: "Leonardo da Vinci was concerned with producing smooth tonal gradients from light to dark without any perceptible change like we see in real life and sfumato was essential to this.

"What is extraordinary is the meticulous way he carried this out and the precision of his technique. In the Mona Lisa, he captures a complex and ambiguous personality and conveys it with the help of sfumato."

2010年8月15日 星期日


【藝識形態】 塞尚的勝利

塞尚的一生都被誤解 遭到嘲笑,或乏人問津
塞尚花了好幾年 甚至好幾十年才成為現在的塞尚
現代藝術領域裡 畫家從烈士搖身一變成為英雄
但是塞尚從未割下耳朵 也沒有流浪到小島上 最遠也只去過瑞士一趟
所以我們不禁會問 他的作品如何從沒沒無聞
一直到少數人發覺 然後越來越多人想擁有 直到現在炙手可熱
我們想知道 塞尚的傳奇

2010年8月4日 星期三

The Born Identity


The Born Identity

When I heard that Huggies had begun to sell a “limited-edition jeans diaper,” and that its bigger rival Pampers was offering a new diaper line carrying the imprimatur of the fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, it struck me as a throwback. Could there be a more absurd example of the sort of mindless conspicuous consumption that marked the years before “credit default swap” entered the national vocabulary? I seem to remember a lot of declarations that the urge to buy anything signaling nonthrifty behavior had been left behind as decisively as a house with an upside-down mortgage. Even TV commercials said so!

George Marks/Getty Images (top and middle); Three Lions/Getty Images.

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But upon further reflection, it’s a little too simple to conclude that designer diapers signal the return of the splurgy ’00s. An ad for the Huggies jeans diapers — obviously they’re not really denim, just a denim-suggesting pattern — pokes goofy fun at fashion tropes: women peep over their trendy shades to glimpse at a stylish player who turns out to be diapered child, pimp-rolling in slow motion to his convertible. A Euro-voice coos over an electro soundtrack, “My diaper is full — full of chic.” It’s parody, except the product is real, and really does cost more than standard diapers — 40 percent more, according to a Los Angeles Times “parentology” blogger who reported that the product was selling out in some stores and than an “online frenzy” was under way.

Rowley’s Pampers line, devised in conjunction with her ongoing relationship with Target, offers a more straight-faced rationale for setting aside tightwad habits to pay more for the very finest in things that will be soiled with excrement and thrown away. According to an official Pampers announcement: “The diaper collection, which will be available in pastel designs including madras, stripes and printed ruffles suited specifically to babies and toddlers” — not to teenagers or the middle-aged, you understand — “delivers the perfect blend of utility and aesthetics.” The same document quotes Rowley: “As a mom, I wanted other moms and dads to have more options in every part of their lives — even diapers. It’s the first piece of clothing your baby will ever wear, and it should be special.”

Maybe you think that one thing America consumer culture had successfully delivered to its moms and dads was a sufficient number of options, or maybe you don’t think of diapers as clothing. If that’s your reaction, you’re missing the point, just as I was. Designer diapers do not portend widespread return of pre-recession overspending habits. Most of us are going to need something more convincing than economists’ declarations to persuade us that the recession has ended in the face of all the bleak news about jobs, income and debt. But even in penny-pinching times, parents still want to demonstrate how well (or at least tastefully) they are bringing up baby. Designer diapers are a useful tool for sending that message. And perhaps more to the point, they are also an extension of the well-established tendency among contemporary parents to treat their children as identity props. And it’s plausible that this version of that behavior says something about this specific cultural moment.

For years, we’ve seen youngsters in luxury-brand outfits (if not in real life, then at least in magazine ads, where they often look distinctly insolent). Similarly, the onesie has long since been converted into a wearable billboard for parental taste, a means of swaddling infants in visual endorsements of the Ramones, the Yankees, Sarah Palin and any number of other things that a budding human does not yet understand. And it has been a couple of years at least since I marveled to a friend about tiny Timberland boots on the feet of beings as yet unable to walk, and she patiently explained to me that the concept of a fashion-aware baby was both funny and pleasing. If that is so, then clearly there’s no reason not to extend the general idea to diapers.

Especially, perhaps, now. Surely there are those among us with the means to reclaim flashier pre-recession behaviors — back before the president called upon us to “set aside childish things” — yet remain squeamish about doing so. Why not satisfy the urge by putting your baby in a top-notch diaper? I have to admit, though, that this development makes me sad. One of the few genuinely charming things about infants, in my view, is their indifference to, and indeed ignorance of, the identity projection and status signaling that will soon enough complicate their lives. Do we really want the burden of society’s designer desires being newly borne by the newly born? I don’t think so.

Moreover, the disposable diaper seems like a particularly unfortunate vehicle for identity signaling, given its status as a longstanding bugaboo of many environmental crusaders disturbed by our throwaway culture. It’s a regular tactic of the eco-concerned to prod us to imagine a future in which our children ask us, “As the evidence mounted that the way we live might not be sustainable, what did you do?” In this case the answer would be, “We bought you some trendy diapers, and baby, you looked fantastic.”



【明 報專訊】許多人都知道第一屆世博在英國舉行,時為1851年,博覽會在維多利亞女王與丈夫阿爾伯特親王大力支持下舉行。博覽會舉辦成功,成為國際間盛事, 延續至今,於是我們有了今年的上海世博。倫敦世博造就了世博傳統外,也成就了一座博物館。所說的就是倫敦的Victoria and Albert Museum(V&A)。它創立於1852年,正因為1851年的博覽會太成功,激發他們要在倫敦肯辛頓區建立博物館,來陳列展覽各國優秀的設 計。

V&A也在成長,不斷更新與擴大,最新的設施是陶藝展廳(Ceramics Galleries),展出逾26,000件藝術品,包括中國明代陶瓷、Meissen作品、荷蘭代夫特(Delftware)陶瓷及由畢加索 (Picasso)繪製的花瓶,陣容鼎盛,幾乎把陶藝史都展現眼前。

地址﹕Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL





2010年8月3日 星期二

Modern Indian Art: The Birth of a Product Category

Modern Indian Art: The Birth of a Product Category
There was little market for twentieth-century Indian fine art until artists, auction houses, and critics defined a new product category, resulting in worldwide demand. Mukti Khaire explains the dynamics behind new market categories.

2010年8月1日 星期日



ob·jet d'art (ôb'zhĕ där') pronunciation