Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Very Image of a President

Here are my favourite images of President Obama's 100 Days. They catch him in a range of situations from very formal to very intimate. And I haven't necessarily put them in chronological order.

Once more I have to thank my source, The Guardian website.

15 March: Obama runs with Bo, the Obama family's dog, down a hallway of the White House. Bo made his official debut on 14 April. Photograph: Pete Souza/AP

22 February: Obama and first lady Michelle enter the east room to hear Earth Wind and Fire perform at the governors' dinner at the White House. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

20 January: Obama and first lady Michelle, with staff and secret service agents, ride a freight elevator to get to an inaugural ball in Washington Photograph: Pete Souza /EPA

1 April: Obama looks over his shoulder as secretary of state Hillary Clinton walks in on the president's meeting with Chinese leader Hu Jintao at Winfield House Photograph: Jason Reed /Reuters

20 March: Obama meets Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's governor, at the White House
Photograph: Jim Young /Reuter

27 February: President Obama, sitting next to five-year-old Nick Aiello, sips a beer during the Washington Wizards NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls Photograph: Molly Riley/Reuters

3 April: Barack and Michelle Obama meet French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in Strasbourg Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

1 April: Michelle Obama puts her arm around the Queen during a reception for G20 leaders at Buckingham Palace Photograph: Reuters

1 April: Obama meets Gordon Brown ahead of the G20 summit
Photograph: Charlie Bibby/Financial Times/NPA Pool

1 April: Obama shakes hands with a police officer outside 10 Downing Street Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

1 April: A television presenter carries an Obama cut-out before the president's arrival at a Nato summit in Baden-Baden, Germany Photograph: Federico Gambarini/EPA

14 April: Obama runs with his family and and their new dog, Bo, a six-month-old Portuguese water dog, on the south lawn of the White House Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

7 April: Obama tours the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Photograph: Jim Young /Reuters

20 January: In a holding room at the Capitol in Washington Barack H Obama has a moment alone to gather his thoughts before he is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 44th president of the United States
Photograph: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

Image Top: 24 March: Obama leaves the east room of the White House after a primetime press conference Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Sunday Supplement: Not today

There is no Sunday Supplement today because I've been away for the weekend and early tomorrow I go into hospital for some radical reshaping of my right leg. That wasn't my intention sadly. Just some radical treatment for a mole which clearly had too much sun, dammit. What I am least looking forward to is getting up at a miserable hour without my usual cups of tea. Hope to be back soon.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Doris Duke Auction: My Bidding List!

My British pals generally won't know that much about Doris Duke. The Lucky Strike cigarette heiress, once deemed the richest woman in the USA, was born in New York on 22 November 1912 and died in Beverly Hills, California on 28 October 1993. In many ways a Renaissance figure, she used her fortune to endow academic and charitable institutions on a stunning scale but her wealth did not bring her true love. Surprise, surprise. I only started looking into her life recently when I found out about the upcoming auction of contents from her properties Duke Farms and Falcon Lair. For a quick introduction to an extraordinary life, Hugo Vickers' elegant obituary of Duke in The Independent will inform and entertain you.

The Auction catalogue is very mixed and I felt intrusive going through her possessions with a critical eye. From some very heavy undistinguished stuff to the sublime art deco screen that Emily Evans Eerdmans* was on to first, it seems her domestic taste was eclectic and sometimes uncertain. I imagine she was well advised on set pieces by decorators like Tony Duquette but she had all the money in the world and maybe not the vision one might have wished for in terms of decorating.

I am not saying that there aren't many desirable pieces in this section of the auction. Nor does it do justice to her collection of antiquarian books and Asian art which have already gone under the hammer and are catalogued separately by Millea Bros.

Here is my fantasy bidding list. I haven't got anywhere to put it all but I'd still like to get my hands on it!

Two of a set of 10 French side chairs in the manner of Serge Roche.First half 20th Century

Tres Dorothy Draper like the paint treatment and delicious curtains below

Thomas White Lamb (1871-1942, American), theatre curtains designed for The Hollywood Wing theatre at Duke Farm

Decorative throw pillows 20th Century

Deco chrome-plated armchairs attributed to Gilbert Rohde First half 20th Century

Steinway & Sons model-L grand piano No. 259723, circa 1927

Something to put my photographs on

Pair old Venetian glass "Lily" wall sconces First half 20th Century, possibly Venini

These are mad but I can't resist them

American Classical style carved mahogany sleigh bed 19th Century

"Strumenti Musicali" plates by Piero Fornasetti

Group of antique green majolica table articles 19th & 20th Centuries, English and Japanese examples

Antique Chinese camellia leaf green Yuhuchun Ping vase

Lacquer ware

From a pair Regency style pagoda-form window valences/pelmets

George III style hall lantern by S.C. Bishop & Co.

Antique Neo-Grec bronze and scagliola coffee table

silver-plated backplate with central cut star and scrolling arms hung with pendant drops

Antique Japanese patinated bronze hare Meiji Period

Hand-hammered gilt metal chandelier in the manner of Josef Hoffman

Antique Dutch Delft tin-glazed pottery tile picture

Custom window treatment from Doris Duke's bedroom, Duke Farms 20th Century nickel-plated and glass/acrylic curtain rods and yellow silk curtain panel

Attributed to Boris Lovet-Lorski (1899-1973, American), painting First half 20th Century, three-panel floor screen

Custom Art Deco painted side table

Pair old Venetian glass "Lily" wall sconces First half 20th Century, possibly Venini

Japanese gilt bronze, enamel and white jade smoking set

Circle of Fausto Pirandello (1899-1975, Italian), painting

* Emily Evans Eerdmans writes one of my favourite blogs. She wears her (formidable) learning lightly so her posts are authoritative and entertaining. Her book Regency Redux is highly recommended.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Photographic Object

These strange interventions into discarded portraits are by artist Maurizio Anzeri (Italy, b. 1969) whose embroidered embellishments challenge the conventional function of photography as a surface that reproduces the external world.

Forgotten lives take on the artist's own experience, a new psychological intensity and a different materiality. His work along with that of other artists including Gerhard Richter (Germany, b.1932), Wolfgang Tillmans (Germany, b.1968), Andy Warhol (USA, 1928 - 1987) and Catherine Yass (UK, b.1963) is showing at The Photographer's Gallery, Ramillies St, London from 24 April to June.

Untitled from The Family Day Series, 2008 © The artist

Related 2006 at Saatchi Online

Family album 2008

Family album 2008


The Last Portrait at Saatchi Online

top: at

Monday, 20 April 2009

Nancy Sinatra : Shy Dominatrix

image from

These Boots Are Made For Walkin' Video

Is it fair to laugh at the coy raunchiness of Nancy Sinatra and friends who seem to have lost their trousers/pants/kilts? It all reminds me of a nightmare I used to have where I would find myself at a party in nothing but a sweater. Maybe I could have enjoyed the dream if I'd had a pair of patent leather bootees and a dance routine?

Oh Nancy, what an incredibly good-natured dominatrix you turned out to be!

What possible dangers are those red flags pointing up? Hand Jive Ahead and a slap in the face with a wet fish? She and those gals in pastel angora woollies are hardly gonna grind their heels into your forehead when they
w a l k a l l o v e r y o u .

It was 1966, remember. Nancy's pretty wooden but the whole routine's as camp as a row of ridge tents. Wunderbar.

Courtesy of My Space Videos

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sunday Supplement: Nymphenburg Wish List

As I said before, when I want things I draw them. It helps. Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg produces such exquisite pieces, in form and colour, that these watercolour drawings do them little justice but I liked the process of contemplation. Doing the vase, I kept wondering if Giotto could draw the perfect oval too? I found it impossible and it increased my respect for the makers of this sublime butterfly vase. It was designed by Wolfgang von Wersin, 1958 and decorated by Ted Muehling, 2000. H. 10.5 cm

I adore figurines now, never really did when I was younger. This is a Commedia dell’Arte character Scaramuz designed by Franz Anton Bustelli 1759/60 H. 20cm. Seems remarkable that it is still in production.

The Swallow designed by Theodor Karner in 1910 H. 8 cm

Find out more about the company's distinguished 260 year old history on their very beautiful website which carries these intriguing images of the factory and a visit from Queen Elizabeth II.

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