April 29, 2012
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
Shiro Kuramata’s suspension of red roses in his “Miss Blanche” plexiglass
chair is legendary of course, and the brilliant abstraction of this
plexiglass cube also by Kuramata has been sitting right here on my desk
for years. I don’t need fresh flowers with the unfolding petals of this
rose held in such suspense, both genius achievements creating new forms
in design. This week I have been seeing roses everywhere as the Galleria
opens an exhibition inspired by the rose. Kuramata’s roses; a Douanier
Rousseau painting translated to a French birthday card, or the one single
rose that has just made its way to sunlight in all of the green in the
garden. I thought I didn’t care about the roses but on the walls, or in
my life, the rose inspires.
For 30 years, Nick Knight has challenged the eye to expand its conventional notion of beauty. He also captures with such purity the relationship between the viewer’s emotions and the photo.
Here in the galleria we have his roses. His book, Flora, a series of flower pictures of just this clarity, calm the eye and sharpen the mind.
“The silhouette is a stem narrow, flexible as a rose”. Here a double
page from Fleur Cowles memorable magazine she published between 1950 and
1951. Flair would go on to set standards for what would happen in
beauty, style and content for decades. It is now very much sought after
for reference and the pleasure of true style.
A magazine that only lasted for one year yet still inspires with its
style, Flair’s cover of roses and leaves like a crown around her head.
And the universe of Claude Lalanne’s organic and surprising jewelry here
inspired by vines and flowers show that always the artist will bring
another powerful dimension into the work. The line between art and
decorative art here has no meaning.
Alexander Calder would draw a special necklace for his hostess when he
would be invited for dinner. No flower bouquet could be as beautiful as
the drawing as a gift.
Venus gave a rose to Eros; Eros gave the rose to the God of Silence. In
ancient Roma, a wild rose placed on a door would signify “secret and
confidential matters were being discussed”. Now to say sub rosa or
“under the rose” means to keep a secret. At the opening of the Galleria
the other night, the talk of roses was anything but secret but of
course I won’t tell.
Food is of course as important as Eros. This set of cooking pots called
“Aphrodite” were designed by three women designers from the Istituto
Europeo di Design (IED) Monica Albini, Cara Judd and Benedetta Leonardi.
Years ago on a trip to India, I came back with two suitcases full of red
roses. To go to the rose markets in Bangalore and fill my arms with roses
was irresistible and I thought – I will bring them back for my daughter
and I did. Today maybe security would not allow such fantasy.
All the memories of India are special but the best fantasy in India is the
Wenkataramana Swamy temple and is still for me a memorable dream.
The magazine Bloom is an artistic discovery not only for trends in
flowers, plants and the gardens in which they grow, but also of the young
photographers, artists and designers who contribute. Here, pictures for
the magazine taken by Australian photographer Vee Spears. Now living in
Paris, Spears started taking pictures of her children and has become
recognized worldwide for her portrait work.
When it comes to flowers, nobody could ever take a better picture than
Irving Penn. Penn was so talented that even if he had never wanted fame he
could not keep it away. Penn’s Flowers pictures first appeared in the
Christmas issues of Vogue from 1967 to 1973. The book, Flowers,
exquisitely printed on heavy glossy Kromekote paper and oversize,
is now a collector’s item.The weight and presence of these amazingly made books,
Flora and Flowers, here on my desk are always a Sunday pleasure for me.