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Van Gogh’s Bedroom

In celebration of its upcoming exhibition ‘Van Gogh’s Bedrooms’, the Art Institute of Chicago has created a human-scale replica of the most iconic bedroom in art. Beginning today, interested guests can rent the simply furnished, brightly colored space in Chicago for only $10 a night through airbnb, listed by ‘Van Gogh’ himself. ‘I’m charging $10 for no other reason than that I need to buy paint,’ the host says. ‘However, I will be happy to provide you with tickets to my exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.’

The accommodation reproduces Van Gogh’s 1888 painting of his own bedroom in the ‘Yellow House’ in Arles, France. The Dutch artist outfitted the space with minimal, pine furniture and his own paintings. This intimate space held special significance for Van Gogh, who created three distinct paintings of it between 1888 — 1889. The exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago brings together all three versions for the first time in North America, offering an in-depth look at their making and meaning to Van Gogh in his relentless quest for home.

Style-conscious Superheroes

Italian illustrator Federico Babina depicts the designer dwellings of style-conscious superheroes. Without deliberately expressing it, comic books offer a rich architectural ambiance that sets the scene for the protagonists’ story, whether it centers around a gritty, dense metropolis or an imagined, otherworldly landscape. With comics as one of the first encounters with architecture during his childhood, Federico Babina traveled through Gotham City with Batman, and New York with Superman and Spiderman — an influence which he says ‘helped the growth and education of a generation of architects.’

Today, Babina imagines the living spaces of some of the most iconic superheroes in the history of graphic novels. the 17 compositions that make up the series ‘Interheroes’ depict a cross section of each interior environment within the home, revealing a glimpse of each figure’s personal habits and habitats. The shadow of the protagonist looms within the frame — creator of the colors, shapes and design objects that make up the spaces. ‘I tried to create images in balance between playful codes of cartoon and the expressive rigor of architecture,’ Babina says. ‘It is a short architectural journey into the world of comics through the script of 17 small illustrated stories. The chairs, armchairs, lamps, walls and the paintings are in these interiors the key pieces that make up the mosaic that speaks about its host.’

I’m just wondering why the Fantastic 4 have to share one seat…

More art by Federico Babina


Why Do Architects Wear Black?

I have yet to do some research about this beautifully shaped cape but I wanted to share it already. It is probably the best neckline I ever saw in a man’s costume. It is so sharp and original in its asymmetry (and the little white button of his shirt on the left brings a subtle balance to the whole). The fact that it is an architect wearing it somehow makes sense, as if the shape of his dress underlines his creative talent. But why do architects ‘still’ wear black?

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Ludger Tom Ring (the Elder), Portrait of an architect, on oak, first half of the 16th Century, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.


Strawberries Anyone?

These strawberries in a Chinese porcelain bowl are painted on copper, which makes it look so bright it almost seems like the bowl is real porcelain, reflecting the light of the room.

It was painted by Frans Snijders in 1616, and is called: Still Life with Fruit, Porcelain and a Squirrel, oil on copper, and part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
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Amsterdam in the 17th century was a vibrant city with global connections. The largest and most powerful trade and shipping company in the world, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) filled Dutch homes with Asian porcelain, lacquer, sumptuous textiles, diamonds and spices.

QPQHSZ44Made of special, precious materials and adorned with intriguing exotic patterns no one had ever seen before, the Asian treasures caused a sensation in Amsterdam. With their color and richness, they aroused the curiosity and stimulated the imagination of the Dutch bourgeoisie. Very fine white porcelain with blue designs from China, boxes displaying excellent lacquer work and ivory from Japan, gem-studded jewelry from India and Indonesia, silk fabrics from Japan, remarkably shaped shells, black ebony, filigree from India… the Dutch gasped at the beauty of it all and enthusiastically incorporated these treasures into their hitherto more modest interiors. It was also remarkable that not only the super-rich could afford to buy these items, but also a large part of the growing middle class. All that precious luxury was shipped to Amsterdam – at that time ‘the world’s harbor’ – by the ‘world’s first multinational’, the Dutch East India Company.

Inspired by these novel imports, Dutch potters, textile designers and jewelers created works of art we now perceive as distinctly Dutch. Artists such as Rembrandt, Willem Kalf, Jan Steen and Pieter Claesz were also quick to incorporate these luxuries into their paintings.

Co-organized by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, this exhibition of 170 superlative Asian and Dutch works of art explores the transformative impact that Asian luxuries had on Dutch art and life in the 17th century, bringing new perspectives on the Dutch Golden Age and its relationship to Asia.

At the moment it’s on show in the exhibition Asia > Amsterdam at Rijksmuseum until 17th January.

The exhibition Asia > Amsterdam will be on view in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, US from February 27 till June 4, 2016.


Urban Symmetry

Urban Symmetry on the banks of the river Danube. Budapest-based photographer Zsolt Hlinka has found ‘urban symmetry’, where buildings reflect their architectural qualities in balance and harmony. The series of photographs emphasize each structure’s uniform proportions by placing them onto homogeneous, monochromic spaces that wipe away the surrounding, exterior information. Beige, orange and off-white backdrops accompany each grandiose building pictured, highlighting the symmetrical qualities and characters they all embrace. However, the series cannot be considered as a dry study, since it does not depict the raw reality.
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‘If you get a closer view of the photographs, you may discover that none of the pictures show the building in its full form, but only its reflected part,’ Hlinka says. ‘After all, these fictitious buildings coming into existence perfectly grab and condense their original character into themselves, as if you could see human faces and different personalities on the building portraits.’

More info and images: Zsolt Hlinka


Clever Combophotos…

by Stephen McMennamy tie two mismatched pictures into one.

First concocted by a group of surrealists in the early 1900s, the ‘exquisite corpse’ technique is a group exercise where players draw in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal the image, then pass it to the next player for further contribution. the result typically forms zany and unusual mixed-and-matched combinations like human faces with animal bodies and flowers with feet.

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Popularized by children’s books, Atlanta-based artist Stephen McMennamy now expertly brings this age-old pastime to present day using photography and simple props. His series of combophotos combine a pair of images in a single frame, juxtaposing two otherwise unrelated elements against each other. The duo of photos are seamlessly met in the middle of the composition, manifesting the mashup as a surreal blend of fantasy and reality.

For more info and photos go to: Combophotos

Graffiti on lonely heights

When you think of graffiti, many people think of large, colorful drawings or words that young people illegally apply to walls using a spray can or marker. This form of graffiti began mid 60s of the last century in the United States. In the 70s and 80s this street art blew over to Amsterdam. The exhibition “Graffiti – New York meets Dam square’ in the Amsterdam Museum is completely dedicated to New York and Amsterdam graffiti from this period. But graffiti is actually hundreds of years old, it is a fact of life.

af_20151203graffitidrktmj_10The word graffiti comes from the Italian verb ‘graffiare’ which means scratches. The oldest examples of graffiti date back to 40,000 BC., when cavemen left rock drawings behind in caves. But the Greeks, Romans, Vikings and Crusaders used walls frequently in the past for these kind of messages. Also in Amsterdam, this scraping is sometimes found in unexpected places.

As part of a large-scale restoration the Wester Church was surrounded in scaffolding. For construction and architectural historians of the Department of Monuments and Archaeology it was an excellent opportunity to even get close to the ‘Old Wester’. This revealed several initials, in modern graffiti known as tags. They were found on the stone of a vase on the south side with the initials AK and CN and the date of 1754. And in 1789, exactly 35 years later, DRK was applied but also TMJ in 2005.

af_20151203graffitiludolf_10H. v.d. Meer was a little clearer about what his name was and that also applies to a certain Adolf Meijer, who in 1820 put in his name high on the church. The best tag, however, is that of C. LUDOLF from 1820. The addition OUD 5 JAAR (5 years old) makes clear that he has not written his name himself. Probably a stonemason brought his child upstairs in the hope to show him an unforgettable view and mark this by his or her name left at a lonely height in stone behind.


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