2012年7月31日 星期二

Burrowing in Some Very Famous Closets

Burrowing in Some Very Famous Closets

Jonathan Player for The New York Times
Kerry Taylor runs her own fashion auction house in London.

ON a blustery day last January, Kerry Taylor took the train from Victoria station in London to Paris, then drove directly to a sprawling apartment in the chic suburb of Neuilly. There she proceeded to examine about 50 outfits belonging to Heidemarie Garrigue-Guyonnaud, a former model and socialite now in her 70s.

Jonathan Player for The New York Times
Items from a recent auction.
Jonathan Player for The New York Times
A hat worn by Kate Middleton before she married Prince William was among the items.
Though the two women had never met, Ms. Taylor, 51 and a major force in couture auctions, dove into Ms. Garrigue-Guyonnaud’s closets.
“We had thought about an exhibition of my mother’s clothes,” said Ms. Garrigue-Guyonnaud’s daughter, Princess Désirée von Hohenlohe, in a telephone interview later. “But we settled on a sale and we had read about Ms. Taylor.”
Neither the princess nor her mother knew the value of Ms. Garrigue-Guyonnaud’s wardrobe. No matter. There were several pieces, including a black crepe evening dress with an embroidered droplet-shaped motif, that quickly caught Ms. Taylor’s eye.
“It looked quite familiar,” said Ms. Taylor, a fashion devotee since she was 10. She began working in the auction business in 1979 and started Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2003. “I had seen a photograph of a similar dress in one of my reference books.”
In the past few years, Ms. Taylor has auctioned items worn by Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Amy Winehouse, Ava Gardner, the Duke of Windsor and Michael Jackson, as well as clothing once owned by less lustrous names. While those goods could be sold at vintage shops for a fixed price, the owners would not benefit from the frenzy that can push prices through the roof for gowns, dresses, hats and suits once owned by celebrities. They also would not benefit from Ms. Taylor’s encyclopedic knowledge.
In the case of the black crepe evening dress, “I remembered a gown in blue by the designer Madeleine Vionnet that belongs to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris,” she said.
Ms. Taylor took the black version, along with the rest of Ms. Garrigue-Guyonnaud’s collection, for her “Passion for Fashion” sale on June 26 in London; she put a photo of the black Vionnet dress on the catalog cover. She estimated that it would sell for $10,000 to $14,000.
On the sale day, Princess Désirée and her mother “were giggling nervously,” the princess recalled. When Ms. Taylor’s gavel finally came down (she serves as auctioneer, employing only one assistant), the price tag was $70,000.
“I though there was an ‘0’ too much,” recalled the delighted princess. “It was a complete surprise. We had no idea.”
That auction included two black plumed hats that Kate Middleton had rented to wear to events while she was engaged to Prince William.
“You have to remember that before she became her royal highness, she was just an ordinary girl with a bit of a budget and so she rented these hats from her local hat shop,” Ms. Taylor said. “Hats take up masses of space. Once you have worn them, they sit in the dust.”
If Ms. Taylor, who holds six auctions a year, is a leader in the auction world’s fashion niche, it is in part because brand-name houses no longer participate very actively. Sotheby’s, where Ms. Taylor once worked, now sends clients to her.
Christie’s does present some competition. Last month in London it sold a collection of clothes by Alexander McQueen that had been owned by the stylish heiress Daphne Guinness, including a pair of black, gold-soled “angel wing” shoes, with heels in the shape of angels. The shoes sold for $23,000 after a bidding war among buyers from 21 countries, according to Leonie Pitts, a public relations officer at Christie’s.
(The most expensive item, though, was not a piece of clothing but a portrait of Ms. Guinness by the photographer Mario Testino, which sold for $208,000.)
Earlier this year, Elizabeth Taylor devotees walked off with some of the actress’s nearly 400 gowns and pieces of jewelry when her property was sold by Christie’s in part to benefit AIDS research.
But these days fashion sales at Christie’s are relatively rare.
“We used to have 20th-century fashion sales, but they were of lower value,” Ms. Pitts said. “In terms of the administration it is labor-intensive and then if it only makes a few hundred thousand dollars, it was not worth it.”
Kathy Doyle, chairwoman of the Doyle New York auction house, said that her firm started couture auctions in 1993.
“That lasted 10 years,” she said. “But by 2003, because the trend had become so mainstream, we stopped. Everybody was creating vintage. There were fewer pieces to offer to the buyers. The iconic pieces brought a lot of money. But there is not a lot of iconic stuff.”
Clothing also requires considerable maintenance and careful handling.
“I remember the auctioneer at Sotheby’s once saying to me, ‘You have to touch clothes too many times,’ ” Caroline Milbank, a fashion historian, said.
Still, the Web site 1stdibs has started a gallery of shops for vintage and couture clothing.
“For us it is a growing business,” said Clair Watson, fashion director of the company. And eBay has long offered a wide range of bidding opportunities for vintage clothing.
But Ms. Taylor’s combination of expertise, connections and customer service might be unparalleled in the upper end of the category.
“If she knows you and your collection, she will advise you as to what fits into it,” said Sandy Schreier, a collector in Detroit who bought a white jersey Courrèges dress for $11,000 at the June auction. “In effect, she serves as an art consultant.”
All the more so when the garments end up in museums, like the low-cut black gown worn by Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 when she first went out publicly with Prince Charles, a dress the press nicknamed “Take the Plunge.” It was made by the British designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel (who also designed Diana’s wedding dress).
“Up until then, Diana had worn skirts and cardigans,” Ms. Emanuel said. “It created a sensation.”
Years after she married Prince Charles, Princess Diana took the dress back to its designers to have it altered because she had lost weight. Ms. Emanuel decided it would take too long to redo, gave her a new one and sold the first version through Ms. Taylor in 2010 in a hotly contested auction, won for $300,000 by the Fundación Museo de la Moda in Santiago, Chile. (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Art have also been her customers.)
Ms. Taylor’s instincts about what will sell are not always correct, however. At the recent auction, she was excited about a green tartan suit made in 1950 for the Duke of Windsor, expecting it to fetch as much as $15,000. But it did not sell, which was particularly galling since Ms. Taylor had sold that same suit to a collector when she was still at Sotheby’s.
Ms. Taylor grew up in North Wales “on a mountain surrounded by sheep,” she recalled, where her father was a gentleman farmer and her mother a homemaker.
“On rainy Sundays, I would watch all those black and white Hollywood films,” she said. “I bought my first piece of vintage, a sequined cape, when I was 11. I saved up for it.”
Young Kerry wanted to be a fashion designer, though her family “would have preferred me to marry a farmer,” she said. She went to art college in North Wales, where “my teachers made a mistake on the form and they signed me up for a year of fine arts study,” Ms. Taylor said. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
After graduating, Ms. Taylor got a job as a receptionist selling catalogs at the Sotheby’s outpost in Chester, England.
“It was super-boring because nobody wants to buy a catalog,” she said.
But she worked her way up, ultimately developing a collectibles department at Sotheby’s in London (in-between raising two children by her first husband, Jon Baddeley; she has since married Paul Mack, a potter).
“For 20 years, I ran all the collections division and major single owner sales,” she said. “Then in 2003, I was on my bicycle and got a phone call telling me I had been made redundant.”
“It was a terrifying moment,” she said.
But in the best British tradition, Ms. Taylor decided to “just get on with it.”
“I decided that I would concentrate on clothes,” she said. “I had nothing and two children to bring up alone. I rented an auction room on sale days. And that was how I started.”
Ms. Taylor will not say what her annual income is. At any rate, she is adamant that her work is not about the money.
“I don’t give a fig about it,” she said. “I just love what I do. When I see a woman photographed in something she bought from me, it gives me enormous pleasure.”

Walter Pichler, an Artist Who Bucked the Status Quo, Dies at 75

Walter Pichler, an Artist Who Bucked the Status Quo, Dies at 75

Walter Pichler, an architect who became a leading artist in Austria’s postwar avant-garde movement, eventually distancing himself from the art establishment by moving to a farm and creating works mainly to please himself, died on July 16 at his home in Burgenland, Austria. He was 75.
Roland Schlager/European Pressphoto Agency

Castelli Gallery
“Barn,” by the Austrian architect and avant-garde artist Walter Pichler in Castelli Gallery’s first architecture show.
The cause was cancer, said his assistant, Alois Hörtl.
Mr. Pichler was a sculptor and illustrator whose works included a white, torpedo-shaped helmet with a television inside it (“Portable Living Room”), a rusty bed frame supporting a humanoid form divided by sheets of jagged glass, and numerous drawings and models of fantastical structures, among them floating cities and underground buildings.
His architectural drawings were not just plans; they were also works of art in and of themselves. Other images — “dream drawings,” as he called them — were dark and psychologically loaded. His figures were often skeletal or robotic.
“In the early 1960s he was one of a small group of Austrian architects who took a visionary approach and made images of architecture that completely defied the status quo,” said Barry Bergdoll, the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, which owns 16 of Mr. Pichler’s drawings. The group also included the architects Hans Hollein and Raimund Abraham, who won international renown.
The group’s drawings and models challenged modernist architecture, which emphasized function and often produced stark buildings devoid of ornamentation and dominated by concrete and metal.
“They began to explore the emotional resonances of architecture,” Mr. Bergdoll said. “A building might tell a story, rather than just be a function.” Mr. Pichler liked designing buildings that were never going to be built.
In an essay, he wrote, “this is what we reproach architectural functionalism with: it no longer functions.” He proclaimed, “What I call for is an architecture which fascinates.”
Walter Pichler was born on Oct. 1, 1936, in Deutschnofen, northern Italy. He studied art at the Hochschule für Architektur in Vienna and began working as an architect in the 1950s.
In the early 1970s, after a flurry of shows in Europe and the United States brought him international acclaim, Mr. Pichler moved to Burgenland, a corner of eastern Austria near Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia, away from the world of galleries, museums, exhibitions, art critics and collectors. There he did what is widely viewed as his best and most important work.
“He bought a little farm there, and in one of the buildings he discovered a little figure that was wrapped in gauze — I think, a Christ figure,” said Barbara Gladstone, owner of the Gladstone Gallery in Manhattan, which has shown his work. “He was inspired to make a kind of altar for it, to give it a special place.”
Mr. Pichler converted a farm building to house the figure and then began altering the other half-dozen or so outbuildings on the property, installing one of his own sculptures in each. One is composed of two large, cylindrical concrete containers with a system of gutters that collect and disgorge water. The sculptures and the buildings that sheltered them became his life’s work.
The works were “very polished, dark, ominous, mechanical,” Ms. Gladstone said, likening some to Darth Vader, the villain in the “Star Wars” movies.
“He really built these sculptures for himself,” Ms. Gladstone said. “He didn’t want to compromise anything, and if he worked for himself, he didn’t have to.”
Mr. Pichler is survived by his wife, Elfi, and his daughter, Anna Tripamer.
He refused to sell the sculptures from the farm but sometimes lent them out for shows. Ms. Gladstone, who had seen his work in a show at MoMA, traveled to Vienna in the hope that he would allow her to exhibit his drawings. She found him to be serious, formal, elegantly dressed and not easily persuaded to part with his drawings, she said.
“He was always surprised when someone wanted to show them,” she said. “The commercial world was not something he went after.”

Franz West Is Dead at 65; Creator of an Art Universe



Franz West Is Dead at 65; Creator of an Art Universe

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
“The Ego and the Id,” installed at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park in 2009.

Franz West, an influential Austrian sculptor with a penchant for art objects that were willfully unserious, nonideological and accessible and were displayed in Central Park and on the plaza at Lincoln Center, as well as in international exhibitions and blue-chip galleries around the world, died on Wednesday in Vienna. He was 65.

A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Franz West
Oliver Hartung for The New York Times
An installation at the Museum Brandhorst in Munich.
His death was announced by the Franz West Foundation. He had been ill for some time.
Mr. West’s work ranged from collages to furniture to large, colorful public sculptures. It consistently embodied a kind of friendly iconoclasm in which form and function were pitted against each other, and the notion of artwork as an autonomous object was frequently undermined. His homely, rough-surfaced materials, like plaster or papier-mâché, sometimes doused with color, challenged accepted taste.
His efforts contributed equally to two of contemporary art’s most persistent trends: the interactive, collaboration-prone art of relational aesthetics and the cobbled-together assemblage-like objects called bricolage. He was also known for large, irreverent sculptures, like those shown in Manhattan in 2004 whose cartoonish, sausagelike shapes and patchwork surfaces, made of lacquered aluminum, parodied the usual decorum of abstract public art.
Mr. West, who represented Austria at the 1990 Venice Biennale, was less a strikingly original artist who changed the course of art than an astute synthesizer and incisive adjuster. He operated on a parallel course to contemporary art, commenting and satirizing, creating a vast multimedia universe that fomented an active mingling of painting, sculpture, collage, furniture and even works (most of which he owned) by the artists he admired.
But his work was also steeped in various figurative and avant-garde traditions of postwar European art. Its DNA included the elongated, encrusted figures of Giacometti, the plaster-coated paintings of Jean Fautrier, the reliclike sculptures of Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth’s objects made of chocolate and other decaying foodstuffs, and the polymorphous formal wit of the painter Sigmar Polke.
Mr. West was born on Feb. 16, 1947, in Vienna. His father was a coal dealer, his mother a dentist who took her son with her on art-viewing trips to Italy. Mr. West was unclear about his aims in life and sometimes said he started making art “mostly to calm my mother, who was fed up that I did nothing.”
He started making crude drawings around 1970 before moving on to painted collages incorporating magazine images that showed the influence of Pop Art. He was also attracted to newsprint as a material both to paint on and to moisten and form into tentative objects.
By then he was familiar with the work of the Vienna Actionists, whose provocative performances involving masturbation, self-mutilation and dead animals dominated the Viennese art scene of the 1960s. He once said that he had his first taste of the movement when he heard the screams of his mother’s dental patients from her office next door to the family’s apartment.
He deliberately sidestepped Actionism’s physical ordeals and existential intensity. Instead he emphasized a benign, relaxed lightness.
Among his first known efforts were pieces that he called Passtücke, or Adaptives: eccentric white objects formed of plaster or papier-mâché and sometimes rebar that he began making in 1974, three years before he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he studied until 1982. There he executed the first of his “wall arrangements,” installations in which he combined his work with that of his fellow students.
The Adaptives, Mr. West’s primary work into the early 1980s, executed a neat, low-key truce between performance and art object. Sometimes incorporating parts of chairs and other found objects, they reflected his early admiration for the all-white paintings and reliefs of Robert Ryman and Piero Manzoni. The difference was that Mr. West’s works were intended to be held, carried or worn by the viewer, and they were often part of larger events.  
Writing about the Adaptives in 1989 in The New York Times on the occasion of Mr. West’s first exhibition in the United States, at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Michael Brenson noted that they were “meant to be placed over the face, worn around the waist or held in the crook of the neck,” adding that “they leave the wearer looking both protected and trapped.”
Much of Mr. West’s later work developed from ideas implicit in the Adaptives. He sometimes invited other artists to apply paint or collage to their white surfaces. Soon he was adding color himself to pieces that were too large to handle, and which he therefore called “legitimate sculptures.”
These evolved into considerably larger painted papier-mâché and cardboard works whose fragmentary shapes and distressed surfaces had an ancient mien, as if they had survived the vicissitudes of time. They were succeeded by larger, hilariously bulbous, vibrantly colored papier-mâché pieces.
In the early 1980s he started expanding on the possibilities of the found furniture incorporated into some of the Adaptives, making spindly chairs and divans out of rebar that parodied elegant furniture while being quite elegant and surprisingly comfortable themselves. This development led in turn to increasingly ambitious installations that combined furniture, sculpture, paintings and, frequently, works by other artists.
A large presentation consisting of row upon row of divans, covered with Oriental rugs, suggestive of a theater without a stage and titled “Auditorium,” was one of the biggest hits of the 1992 Documenta in Kassel, Germany. A variation called “Test and Rest” was later installed on the roof of the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea.
In the late 1990s, Mr. West turned to the immense lacquered aluminum pieces, the first (and several after) inspired by the forms of Viennese sausages, as well as the shapes of the Adaptives. With their hot monochrome colors and irregular patchwork surfaces, these works were immensely appealing and also meant for sitting and lying. They both confirmed and belied Mr. West’s contention that “it doesn’t matter what the art looks like but how it’s used.”
Mr. West’s first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Tamuna Sirbiladze, a painter; their children, Emily Anouk West and Lazaré Otto West; and his sister, Anne Gutjahr.

Herbert Vogel, Fabled Art Collector, Dies at 89

Herbert Vogel, Fabled Art Collector, Dies at 89

New York City teems with questionable urban legends. But the fable about the postal clerk and his wife, a Brooklyn librarian, scrimping to amass an astounding collection of modern art, cramming all 5,000 pieces in a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment, then donating the whole kit and caboodle to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and galleries in all 50 states, is true. 

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Dorothy and Herbert Vogel at a Manhattan art gallery in 1992.

Herbert Vogel, who retired as a postal clerk in 1980 but kept collecting art, died on Sunday at 89 at a nursing home in Manhattan, the National Gallery announced. When he and his wife, Dorothy, gave thousands of artworks to the museum in 1992, J. Carter Brown, then the museum’s director, called their collection “a work of art in itself.” 

So too were the lives of the couple colloquially called Dorothy and Herbert (the order on which Mr. Vogel insisted). Shortly after their wedding in 1962, they bought their first piece of art, a small crushed-metal sculpture by John Chamberlain. Realizing that their own efforts at making art were not up to the standards of Mr. Chamberlain and other artists they admired, they began buying others’ works. Starting slowly, they bought what they liked — within the strictures of two civil-service incomes — with the only criterion that they be able to carry it home. 

Fitting it in their small apartment on the Upper East Side was no problem, as long as they didn’t mind devoting their closets to art, getting rid of their sofa and other furniture, and perpetually tripping over paintings. Mrs. Vogel told journalists that she did not — repeat, did not — keep art in her oven. “We didn’t set out to live bizarrely,” she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1992. 

Wandering around the mountains of art were eight cats with names like Manet, Renoir and Corot. Twenty exotic turtles completed the scene. 

But the art was what came to matter most, and the Vogel collection grew into a guidepost for an often austere school of art that followed Abstract Expressionism’s long reign: Minimal Art, which often examined monochromatic surfaces and essential forms. It was nowhere near as popular as Pop Art, which drew its colorful imagery from consumer products and arose around the same time. 

There was also a buyers’ market for conceptual art, in which the image is an idea. An example in the Vogel collection was a few inches of frayed rope with a nail through it; another was a black cardboard square with the definition of the word “nothing” printed on it in white.
Their style was to make friends with the young, often little-known artists who were making the new art. Thus they bypassed galleries, a practice some in the art world later criticized as cheating the system. They bought on credit and were slow to pay. They had no car, took no vacations and ate TV dinners; a night out was a trip to the nearby Chinese restaurant. They sometimes did cat-sitting in exchange for art. 

Artists liked to be taken seriously by patrons eager to understand novel directions in art, and they particularly appreciated the Vogels’ pattern of buying artists’ works over a period of years to capture evolving careers. “You knew when you were selling them something it was becoming part of an important collection,” Chuck Close, who helped develop the painting style called photorealism, said in an interview with Newsday in 1992. 

Christo, whom the Vogels collected before he became famous for monumental works of environmental art, told The Miami Herald in 1989, “They passionately collect some artists, and they collect them from the beginning, before gallery or critical interest.” 

Among the artists the Vogels collected were Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle and Donald Judd. In more recent years they collected works by Andy Goldsworthy, James Siena and Pat Steir, among others. 

Earl A. Powell III, the current director of the National Gallery, said in a statement: “The radical expansion of intellectual and stylistic expressions in many media by European and American artists since the 1960s is reflected in the diversity of the works that Herb and Dorothy collected over five decades.” 

Herbert Vogel was born in Manhattan on Aug. 16, 1922, dropped out of school and worked in garment-industry sweatshops. But he told Smithsonian magazine in 1992, “I knew there was another world out there, and somehow I’d find it for myself.” 

After a stint in the Army, he encountered paintings by the old masters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That led him to contemporary art, and contemporary art led him to the Cedar Bar, the fabled artists’ hangout in Greenwich Village. There he listened in awe to Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and David Smith. 

“I was nothing — a postal clerk,” he told The Times. “But I respected the artists, and they sort of respected me. They would talk until 3, 4 in the morning, and I would be one of the people who just listened. I just remember it very vividly. I never even asked a question.” 

In 1960 he met Dorothy Faye Hoffman at a resort in the Poconos. On their first date, art did not come up. On subsequent dates, as they went to the movies and watched the presidential election returns together (Senator John F. Kennedy won), they fell in love. After their honeymoon in Washington, where they visited the National Gallery, they both took classes in painting. They soon realized they would rather hang other artists’ work on their walls.
“I wasn’t bad,” Mrs. Vogel told Newsday. “I didn’t like Herbie’s paintings, actually.” 

In 1992 five full-size moving vans were needed to move their art to the National Gallery, where they were soon feted by William H. Rehnquist, the chief justice of the United States, and David Rockefeller. In 2008 the gallery announced that it would help them carry out their plan to give 50 artworks to a museum in each of the 50 states. The couple liked to work with the gallery because it has never sold a painting, and admission is free. 

In 2008 Megumi Sasaki directed a documentary about the Vogels, “Herb & Dorothy.” Ms. Sasaki had her camera operators focus on how Mr. Vogel’s eyes intensified and lit up when he liked something. In addition to his wife, Mr. Vogel is survived by his sister, Paula Antebi. In 1992 Mr. Vogel, whose highest salary at the post office was $23,000 before taxes, told The Associated Press that he and his wife could easily have become millionaires. “But we weren’t concerned about that aspect,” he said.

2012年7月24日 星期二

Clamshell! The Story of the Greatest Computing Form Factor of All Time

Clamshell! The History of the Greatest Computing Form Factor

Clamshell! The Story of the Greatest Computing Form Factor of All Time

Grid Lapop
Getty Images
The Grid Compass, the first clamshell-case laptop computer
How do you tell if a new technology product is a brilliant breakthrough?
Listening to its creators doesn’t work: Tech companies have an annoying tendency to promote everything as a brilliant breakthrough. And tech journalists have a history of getting irrationally exuberant over stuff that doesn’t end up amounting to much.
Real breakthroughs aren’t always immediately identifiable as breakthroughs. Sometimes, they just go on to change the world without anyone knowing it’s going to happen or even talking about it much. Their influence becomes so pervasive that people think of it as unremarkable, not remarkable.
Take, for instance, Grid Systems’ Grid Compass 1101, a portable computer which was announced in April, 1982. It wasn’t the first computer designed to be toted. It was just the first one in a briefcase-shaped case with a screen on one half of the interior, a keyboard on the other and a hinge in the middle. It was, in other words, the first computer with a clamshell case–or, to use a more common term, the first laptop.
(PHOTOS: 14 Masterpieces of Gadget Design)
The Compass was innovative in multiple ways, and certainly got a fair amount of attention in its day. Fortune, for instance, named it as one of the magazine’s products of the year for 1982. It even went up on the Space Shuttle, a rare achievement for any commercial product.
As far as I know, however, nobody was smart enough to declare that its basic design would come to dominate the PC business. (Which it did, although it took a couple of decades before laptops outsold desktops for the first time.) The name “Compass” was downright prescient: The machine did indeed point the entire industry in the direction it would follow for the next few decades.
Alan Kay's 1972 Dynabook drawing
Almost all portable PCs have had clamshell cases for so long that it’s tempting to assume that it was obvious from the start that it was the ideal form factor. Not so. In 1968, visionary technologist Alan Kay had proposed a sleek portable computing tablet for kids, the Dynabook, in 1968. It went on to be wildly influential. But when he drew it, he depicted a tablet-like device with a screen and keyboard, but no hinge.
With the Dynabook, Kay’s mind raced far ahead of what the technology of the time was capable of creating. Portable computers didn’t really exist in 1968, unless you want to count a case that let you transport a 75-pound Teletype machine. Even in 1975, IBM’s first “portable computer” weighed 55 pounds.
Osborne 1
Getty Images
The Osborne 1. Not a clamshell device
By 1979, which is when Grid began design work on the Compass, the notion of designing a portable computing device that was truly portable wasn’t completely nutty. But it also wasn’t a cakewalk. While the company was busy with research and development, it was beaten to market by Adam Osborne’s Osborne 1, which went on to become the first successful portable computer.
The Osborne wasn’t a clamshell: It was a sewing machine-like 24-pound behemoth with a dinky 5-inch screen, two full-sized 5 1/4″ floppy drives and a desktop-like keyboard which clipped onto the case. In 1981, though, nobody looked at it as being unwieldy. In fact, it was a huge hit, in part because the price–$1795–was so reasonable.
TRS-80 Model 100
Getty Images
Radio Shack's TRS-80 Model 100. Also not a clamshell computer
Osborne hit that price point by using off-the-shelf parts. Grid, however, packed the Compass’s magnesium case with cutting-edge technologies and priced its computer at a daunting $8150, or around $19,000 in current dollars. Instead of a bulky CRT display, the machine had a 6″ active-matrix electro-luminescent flat-panel screen. And instead of a floppy-disk drive, it used 384KB of bubble memory for storage.
At the time, many folks thought that both technologies were the wave of the future, but neither one saw widespread use in later portable computers. What stuck was industrial designer William Moggridge’s case, with its flip-up screen. (Moggridge had settled on it after Grid abandoned earlier, more Dynabook-like concepts.)
Moggridge’s design made for a far more portable computer than the Osborne. It let the user angle the screen to his or her preference. The backside of the display protected both the screen and the keyboard when the machine wasn’t in use. And unlike numerous mobile-computer cases to come, it was mechanically simple. It’s one of the most clever pieces of engineering in computing history.
While the Compass originated the clamshell design and is instantly identifiable as an ancestor of all modern laptops, this first stab at the concept did vary from later versions in some respects. Its hinge wasn’t in the back, as in all modern clamshells, but in the middle of the case; that worked because the 6″ screen was so small. The case also incorporated a fold-out leg which raised the back of the machine, angling the keyboard for comfy typing and discouraging overheating.
The Compass was almost 2″ thick, or about 18 times thicker than the thinnest part of Apple’s MacBook Air. In 1982, that looked remarkably trim: The Osborne 1 was 8.5″ tall and couldn’t be stowed underneath an airplane seat or stored in a piece of luggage.
Today, the term “laptop” is synonymous with “notebook,” and in both instances, it’s assumed that they reference a computing device with a clamshell case. That wasn’t always so. In fact, when Grid announced its computer, nobody called it a “laptop.” That term was apparently first applied to the Gavilan SC, another early example which was unveiled a year later and available only briefly before its maker went bankrupt.
Both the Grid and the Gavilan were bulky by modern standards; in the early days, a laptop wasn’t necessarily a computer which you could slip in a briefcase or tuck effortlessly under your arm. The first popular notebook–basically, a compact laptop–was the TRS-80 Model 100, which Radio Shack released in 1983. It wasn’t a clamshell, though: The skinny LCD display sat above the keyboard.
Compaq Portable
Compaq's non-clamshell Portable
Also popular, and even further afield from Grid’s clamshell design, was the Compaq Portable, announced in November of 1982. It sported an Osborne-like luggable case, and for several years, businesspeople did indeed lug them everywhere.
It was only in the mid-to-late 1980s when it was clear that clamshell laptops inspired by Grid’s Compass would be the primary form of portable computing device. IBM PC-compatible models such as Toshiba’s T1100 were bestsellers, and unlike the Compass, they ran off batteries, making them far more mobile.
In 1988, consumer-electronics behemoth Radio Shack bought Grid Systems. The inventor of the laptop never became huge, but it was still doing innovative things such as creating the GridPad, one of the first tablets. The patent that Grid had received for the Compass’s case was still in effect, so Radio Shack was able to collect licensing fees from Toshiba and other makers of clamshell portables.
HP 200LX
HP's 200LX palmtop
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the clamshell case was so familiar that it was used, in downsized form, for early “palmtop” pocket-sized computers such as the Atari Portfolio, Poqet and HP 95LX. It was only when Apple unveiled its Newton PDA in 1992 that it became accepted wisdom that a miniature computer should be anything but a Compass-like laptop, only smaller.
(MORE: Newton, Reconsidered)
For full-sized portable PCs, the clamshell proved remarkably impervious to improvement. Almost all the change to Grid’s original concept has been evolutionary: thinner cases, bigger screens, faster components, additional features crammed inside.
Apple PowerBook 145
Getty Images
Apple's 1992 PowerBook 145, from the era of built-in trackballs
The last basic change came a couple of decades ago when–after a brief period of ungainly clip-on trackballs–industrial designers started accommodating built-in pointing devices.
After experimenting with trackballs, pointing sticks and even J keys you could wiggle in different directions, most companies settled on trackpads, a design first seen in Apple’s 1994 PowerBook 500 and still standard today.
It’s not that nobody tried to profoundly revamp the laptop. Many did, just not successfully.

In the early 1990s, for instance, Zeos’s Freestyle let you swivel its screen, a design which looked appealing to me at the time but didn’t go anywhere.
Google Patents
A high-rise clamshell from a 1996 patent
I’m also fond of a perversely brilliant 1996 patent on a laptop design that was part clamshell, part giraffe: Telescoping extensions and rear support stalks let you raise the screen to eye level. Like nearly every modified clamshell, it complicated what had been elegantly simple without enough new benefits. In patent-drawing form, the whole setup looks rather precarious; as far as I know it never hit the market.
Others have tried to cram two screens into one laptop, such as Xentex’s Flip-Pad Voyager, which had the standard clamshell hinge plus another in the middle of the keyboard, and twin 13.3″ screens which could be spun about separately. (It made a bit of a splash in 2003, but either never shipped or came and went so quickly that it might as well not have.)
Xentex Flip-Pad Voyager
Xentex's ill-fated Flip-Pad Voyager sported a double-clamshell design
The most concerted, high-profile effort of all to transform the clamshell into something new was the Tablet PC, which Microsoft began promoting in 2000 as the future of mobile computing. Bill Gates famously predicted that it would dominate the market within five years, a prognostication which I’m sure was sincere but turned out to be spectacularly off-base.
Some Tablet PCs were proto-iPads: slabs without a hinge or a keyboard. Most, however, were convertibles, with newfangled hinges which let you open the case like a conventional laptop or flip the screen around into tablet orientation. (The convertibles were reminiscent of a design which ever-inventive Grid itself tried late in its life.)
Tablet PCs
Getty Images
Bill Gates attempts to get the world excited about convertible Tablet PCs at the last COMDEX show in November, 2003
A few convertibles remain on the market, and more will presumably arrive when Windows 8, with its touch-friendly interface, ships. But within a couple of years of the Tablet PC’s debut, it was obvious that the vast majority of PC users didn’t want to convert their laptops into tablets. They just wanted to use them in pretty much the way that Grid had envisioned back in 1982.
The clamshell didn’t get a truly formidable competitor until Apple announced and shipped the first iPad in 2010. Instead of building on Grid’s 1982 innovation, as Microsoft’s Tablet PC had done, Apple’s tablet simply abandoned it. There’s no hinge and no physical keyboard: Unlike nearly every other would-be laptop replacement of the past three decades, the iPad is simpler than a conventional PC rather than more complex.
That hasn’t stopped plenty of folks– including me–from using the iPad with external keyboards, such as Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Case, in an attempt to mimic the virtues of a clamshell. The high-profile Kickstarter project Brydge goes further, turning the iPad into a genuine clamshell device which looks suspiciously like a MacBook Pro.
Then there’s Microsoft’s Surface, the first PC which the company that’s synonymous with PCs has ever designed on its own, and probably the iPad’s most ambitious rival to date. Clad in a magnesium case–like the Grid Compass–it’s a tablet, not a clamshell.
But the most innovative thing about Surface is its super-thin optional keyboard, which snaps onto the case magnetically. Pop it on and pull out the case’s built-in kickstand, and the Surface becomes a tablet that’s trying its darndest to duplicate the functionality of a clamshell laptop.
You’d have to be wearing technological blinders to deny that clamshell devices have finally lost their monopoly on portable computing. And you don’t have to be a brilliant futurist to see the day coming when the average mobile computing device is an iPad-style tablet, not a direct descendant of Grid’s 1982 machine.

Still, it’s hard to imagine any design rendering the the clamshell utterly obsolete. No matter how astonishing computers are in 2082 and beyond, I’ll bet that some of them will have a screen, a keyboard and a hinge in the middle. Why would the world want to give up something so fundamentally useful?

mechanical engineering heritage awards

Washlet toilet, stainless-steel train declared engineering marvels



A toilet seat with a warm-water spray feature, a stainless-steel train car and three others have won mechanical engineering heritage awards.

photoThe Washlet G toilet (Provided by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers)photoStainless-steel rail cars (Provided by Japan Transport Engineering Co.)photoThe Yoshino-yama Ropeway (Provided by Yoshino Omine Ke-buru Bus Corp.)photoPower lathe (No.1) produced by the Ikegai Plant, the oldest existing power lathe produced in Japan (Provided by the National Museum of Nature and Science)photoRicopy 101, a desktop copier released in 1955 (Provided by Ricoh Co.)

2012年7月19日 星期四

張大千在羅馬 1950s: 古老的橄欖樹

19989月底, 《聯副》有人寫《張大千在印度》,讀後益覺得張大千先生是位重情義的典型中國人。張大千先生的藝術是生活的藝術, 不見得全在其作品,起碼我認為他生活得很有靈氣, 其作品是否是「五百年第一」,則是見人見智。

我一直以為,在當時,張大千先生是少數而難得能遊遍世界的中國畫大家。 然而, 正因為「東方是東方,西方是西方」兩不相干。其實,大千身在異國, (和其訓練)卻是在華夏的, 所以他未能走入西方藝術世界, 何其可惜。

我想起張大千先生的一則軼事, 最能說明我的想法。多年前讀羅光先生著 《台北七年述往》(台北:學生1979再版,頁75-76), 記得提過大千路過羅馬, 並不要求看畫廊, 教堂等, 「反正也是看不懂。」他很誠實,他要的是去些或可遊走走( 他的畢生所建的名園, 不知能否與義大利的庭園會通? )而畫室對畢卡索的重要性,比園重要的多。以上是我憑記憶寫的,現在補上羅光的原文:


1,000-year-old olive tree

It’s difficult to convey the ubiquity of olive trees in Apulia. Our hosts at the Masseria Le Fabriche in Maruggio believe this beauty to be more than 1,000 years old.

Ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

One of the oldest olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. This tree is hollowed out in the center but continues to grow outward. It is quite conceivable that it is well over 1,000 years old.

2012年7月14日 星期六

《活化台南老眷村》成大、英國AA 聯手 注入新思維

《活化台南老眷村》成大、英國AA 聯手 注入新思維

《活化老眷村》成大、英國聯手 注入新思維

成大與英國等學者意見交流,為老舊眷村活化注入新活力。 (記者林孟婷攝)

透過不同視野 激盪出創意






Taiwan, UK academics propose re-development plan for Tainan City

TAINAN, Taiwan--()--Professors and students of National Cheng Kung University and Architecture School of Architecture Association (AA), United Kingdom, have jointly explored possible approaches to the urban development of Tainan City in southern Taiwan.
During a 10-day NCKU-AA Intensive Workshop hosted by Tainan City Government and NCKU, 12 professors and 62 students from NCKU and Architecture School of Architecture Association (AA) discussed and debated the best way to use large chunks of public properties surrounding the NCKU area for urban regeneration.

NCKU President Hwung Hwung-Hweng welcomed tutors and students of Housing and Urbanism from AA to join the teachers and students of NCKU’s College of Planning and Design at the workshop that ended on July 11.

The collaboration between NCKU and AA on railway underground project last year triggered productive discussions and this year’s theme -- on the holistic strategies for rejuvenating the NCKU area, according to Hwung.

The transnational academic collaboration between NCKU and AA on the issues of urban renewal is unprecedented in Taiwan, said Tainan Deputy Mayor Charles Lin who hailed the opportunity of collaboration between the two universities.

In an effort to solve the urban problems and improve the quality life for Tainan citizens, the Tainan City government is ready to adopt the suggestions and proposals put forth by the workshop, according to Lin.

The subjects of the workshop are four public sites at Tainan City, namely 96 Military dependents’ village, TzuChiang Military dependents’ village, JingZhong 3rd Military dependents’ village, and Ordnance Accessories Factory, which were investigated closely by the participants who were divided into four groups to develop feasible plans over the 10-day workshop.

Co-Director Jorge Fiori, on behalf of AA, thanked Hwung and the staff and students for their warm hospitality, saying he was impressed by the potential of the students in the workshop who have taken advantage of the 10 days to work in teams on design and research.

Tainan has a tremendous opportunity to reposition itself over the next 20 years and the collaboration among the university, city government, and business investors will make the city development very promising in the next steps of developing a knowledge-based economy, according to Prof. Hugo Hinsley.

2012年7月5日 星期四



オシャレで機能的! イギリスのデザイン小物

ロンドンオリンピックの開幕が間近に迫るなか、今回は世界から熱い注目を集めるイギリス発祥ブランドのデザイン小物をピックアップ! キッチンツールに テーブルウェア、リビング収納からデザインウオッチまで、人気デザイナーが手がけたオシャレで機能的なアイテムで、日常生活をスタイリッシュに演出しよ う。


双子の兄弟アントニーとリチャード・ジョゼフが、ロンドンで設立したキッチン・テーブルウエアブランド「ジョゼフジョゼフ」。まな板と水切りカゴが一体に なった「リンス&チョップ」や、カラフルなキッチンツールをパズルのように重ねた「NEST」をはじめ、品質、機能、デザイン性を兼ね備えたアイテムがそ ろう。日本でも百貨店に特設コーナーができるほどの人気ぶりだ。
JamieとMarkの兄弟によるイギリスのブランド「j-me」は、収納アイテムをはじめ、さまざまなモノにユニークなデザインを吹き込み、日常を楽し く演出。リモコンやメガネの収納ホルダー「COZY remote tidy」や、アートでポップなアイコンのキーフックなど、お部屋や玄関まわりのセン スアップにどうぞ!
o.d.m マイケル・ヤング デザインモデル
o.d.m マイケル・ヤング デザインモデル
イギリス人プロダクトデザイナーのマイケル・ヤングが、「オリジナル・ダイナミック・必要最小限」をモットーに掲げる香港のデザインウオッチブランド 「o.d.m」とコラボした腕時計シリーズ。人間工学に基づいてデザインされた「ハッカー・ウオッチ」、時計の表面にボタン、側面にディスプレーを配置し た「リバース」など、どれもウイットに富んだデザインが魅力。
ユニークなデジタルガジェットで知られる「ブルーラウンジ」は、スイス/イギリス出身の製品デザイナー、ドミニク・シモンズと、グラフィック・デザイナー のメリッサ・サリンジャが設立したブランド。洗練されたデジタル・ガジェットを数多くリリースし、中でもケーブルボックスは雑然としがちな電源コードや タップをすっきり収納できるとあって大人気。豊富なサイズ&カラー展開も魅力!
Suck UK
Suck UK
「Suck UK」は、ロンドンで誕生したデザインブランド。イギリスをはじめ多くの国で賞を獲得し、世界中のセレクトショップで人気を博している。メッ セージスタンプ付きのホチキスや、ターンテーブル型のネコのつめ研ぎ、太陽光を集めて光るビン型の照明など、どれも遊び心にあふれた斬新なアイテムばかり だ。

2012年7月2日 星期一

The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis (English: "Maurice House")

The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis (English: "Maurice House") is an art museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. Previously the residence of count John Maurice of Nassau, it now has a large art collection, including paintings by Dutch painters such as Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter and Frans Hals and works of the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger.


 毛里茨住宅[1]荷蘭語Mauritshuis)是位於荷蘭海牙的一座建於17世紀的荷蘭古典主義代表性住宅建築的名稱,也是該流派建築的開山之作,現為同名藝術博物館所在地。起初該住宅是拿騷-錫根親王約翰·毛里茨荷蘭語Johan Maurits)托建並居住的住宅,該住宅以其姓「毛里茨」(Maurits)命名。該住宅對17世紀及其後的英格蘭、北美等地的住宅及其他民用與公用建築設計產生了重要影響,是世界建築史上的經典作品之一。如今的博物館擁有規模龐大的藝術收藏,包括荷蘭油畫家揚·弗美爾(Jan Vermeer)、倫勃朗(Rembrandt van Rijn)、揚·斯特恩(Jan Steen)、保盧斯·波特(Paulus Potter)和弗蘭斯·哈爾斯(Frans Hals)的油畫,以及德國油畫家小漢斯·霍爾拜因(Hans Holbein the Younger)的作品。

待ちきれず500人が列 マウリッツハイス美術館展開幕

 フェルメールの代表作「真珠の耳飾りの少女」など17世紀オランダ・フランドル絵画の名品約50点を紹介する「マウリッツハイス美術館展」(朝日新聞社 など主催)が30日、東京・上野の東京都美術館で始まった。初日の開室前には、この日を心待ちにしていた約500人が列を作った。先頭にいた埼玉県蕨市の 飲食店経営、楠田兼路さん(43)は「2年前に真珠の耳飾りの少女が日本に来ることを新聞で知り楽しみにしていました。昨夜店を閉めてから、そのまま来ま した」と話した。9月17日まで。