Greek Game of Thrones — Acrocorinth Castle

by Sally Steele

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Acrocorinth apex, photograph by Kim Steele

Who could resist the temptation whilst in ancient Greece to visit a mysterious site, the Temple of Aphrodite, at Acrocorinth, marked only with a lone column, where legend reveals that more than 1000 sacred prostitutes associated with the temple. Acrocorinth is the acropolis (the upper or higher town) of ancient Corinth. When The Boulevardiers arrived in Corinth, we couldn’t stop looking up, wayyyyy up, at this castle on the hill–Acrocorinth indeed. It’s mesmerizing, something you see mostly in CGI today. We asked everyone and were told to go there in the early morning, to revel in its history, quiet, energy and majesty.
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Acrocorinth outer walls, photograph by Kim Steele

Acrocorinth has a fractuous history of occupation, from ancient times through the 19th century: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Venetians and Ottoman Turks perched there. Saint Paul is supposed to have stayed there on a mission of preaching to the citizens of Acrocorinth. It served as a sentry point for minding marauders to the town below and to all of The Peloponnesus. Everything happened here, from peace to war to trade to intrigue.

From Gadling.com: “Its strategic location close to the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow strip of land connecting the Peloponnese with the rest of Greece, makes it one of the most important castles in the country. The Corinthians even built a seven mile track of wood to transport their ships from one body of water to the other. Acrocorinth is such an obvious point for defense that there’s been a castle here for more than 2,500 years. The ancient Greeks built a temple to Aphrodite at the top and built walls made of massive stones to serve as a refuge for the Corinthians against pirates and invaders.”

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Acrocorinth watch tower,  photograph by Kim Steele

Corinth has it’s own beyond rich history – the intersection of mythology and archaeology is almost unimaginable as well. Wikipedia: “Neolithic pottery suggests that the site of Corinth was occupied from at least as early as 6500 BC, and continually occupied into the Early Bronze Age, when, it has been suggested, the settlement acted as a centre of trade. According to Hellenic myth, the city was founded by Corinthos, a descendant of the god Helios (the Sun), while other myths suggest that it was founded by the goddess Ephyra, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus, thus the ancient name of the city (also Ephyra).”

“According to Hellenic myth, the city was founded by Corinthos, a descendant of the god Helios (the Sun), while other myths suggest that it was founded by the goddess Ephyra, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus, thus the ancient name of the city (also Ephyra). There is evidence that the city was destroyed around 2000 BC. Some ancient names for the place are derived from a pre-Greek “Pelasgian” language, such as Korinthos. It seems likely that Corinth was also the site of a Bronze Age Mycenaean palace-city, like Mycenae, Tiryns, or Pylos. According to myth, Sisyphus was the founder of a race of ancient kings at Corinth. It was also in Corinth that Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, abandoned Medea. During the Trojan War as portrayed in the Iliad, the Corinthians participated under the leadership of Agamemnon.”

The Romans under Julius Caesar took a constructive interest in Corinth, who refounded the city as Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis (‘colony of Corinth in honour of Julius’) in 44 BC, shortly before his assassination.

Wikipedia: “In a Corinthian myth recounted to Pausanias in the 2nd century AD, Briareus, one of the Hecatonchires, was the arbitrator in a dispute between Poseidon and Helios, between the sea and the sun. His verdict was that the Isthmus of Corinth belonged to Poseidon and the acropolis of Corinth (Acrocorinth) belonged to Helios. Thus, Greeks of the Classical age accounted for the archaic cult of the sun-titan in the highest part of the site.

Gadling.com: “In AD 146 the Romans destroyed Corinth and its castle and for many years they lay abandoned. The temple was replaced by a church in the 5th or 6th century AD. By this time the Western Roman Empire had collapsed and the Eastern Roman Empire, known as Byzantium, was a powerful Christian state ruling over much of the eastern Mediterranean with its capital at Constantinople, modern Istanbul. Corinth and Acrocorinth became important again as a Byzantine regional capital. The Byzantines had their hands full fighting Muslim armies and were seriously weakened when they lost most of what is now Turkey. Little did they expect the next blow to come from fellow Christians. As knights from Western Europe set out on the Fourth Crusade, they originally planned on retaking Jerusalem from the Arabs. Instead they diverted to Byzantium and sacked Constantinople in 1204. The Crusaders surrounded Acrocorinth but saw that an assault would be foolhardy and settled down for a long siege. Acrocorinth was defended by the Greek lord Leo Sgouros. For four years he kept the Crusaders at bay, but the strain of living within the walls eventually drove him mad. One day he mounted his horse and galloped over the cliffs to his death. This didn’t deter his garrison, however, and they continued to hold on until 1210, when the situation became so hopeless that they finally surrendered.”

Acrocorinth, photograph by Kim Steele

Acrocorinth, one of the three gates protecting the city, photograph by Kim Steele

“The French knight William de Villehardouin built a castle on Acrocorinth and strengthened the walls. The Byzantines slowly pushed the crusaders out of their empire and Acrocorinth was retaken in 1395. The ravages of the Fourth Crusade permanently weakened Byzantium. The Ottoman Turks were moving in from the east and took Constantinople in 1453. The Peloponnese held out for a time and Acrocorinth didn’t fall until 1458 after a long siege during which Greek soldiers snuck through Turkish lines and climbed the cliffs to bring supplies to the beleaguered defenders. The Venetians took the castle from the Ottomans in 1687 and many of the walls visible today are their handiwork. After a long war, the Ottomans retook Acrocorinth, only to lose it for good to the Greeks in 1823 during the War of Independence.”

Acorcorinth Map

Acrocorinth Map

FeelGreece.com: “The moat and the first gate were built around 14th century. The Venetians built the second gate and placed a large tower next to it. The third gate is flanked by two towers, with few more towers along the big stone walls. Most of the last gate and walls date back to Byzantine times. Once behind the walls there is flatter area where settlement developed with houses, barracks, churches, mosques, water cisterns, fountains and baths. On the rocky high southwest side there is Frankish castle with a keep. On the highest hill point there was the Aphrodite temple, succeed by church and later by mosque. The Upper Peirene spring is in the southeast plateau part.”
Acrocorinth, photograph by Kim Steele

Acrocorinth cobblestone path to gate, photograph by Kim Steele

The Upper Peirene Spring is featured in many legends. One tale says that Zeus gave it as a gift. Other legend says that the mythical winged horse Pegasus touched the ground and created the spring. The spring is an underground chamber, protected by arches. It has crystal blue water and never dries up…this water fed Acrocorinth and the City of Corinth below…Áriston mèn hýdōr. “Greatest however [is] water” — Pindar, Olymp. 1, 1.

Acrocorinth, photograph by Kim Steele

View to Gulf of Corinth from Acrocorinth, photograph by Kim Steele

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Photograph © Leonardo Finotti.

Mineral roof garden, Banco Safra headquarters, São Paulo, designed by
Roberto Burle Marx, 1983, Photograph © Leonardo Finotti

There was much trepidation as the 2016 Olympics approached; everything from security, Zika, to running water and accommodations. Several stories appeared in The New York Times about assaults, and robbery. As the date approached, the Torch Bearer was stoned and ridiculed because of all the offenses to the citizens of Brazil — the displacement of people from the favelas; and the expenses to host, which could be better spent on the citizens. The most remarkable element was the political turmoil — the past President was impeached and the current one is under investigation for bribery.

This aside, now a days into it, things are going well. The “Dream Team” (US basketball team) is lollygagging on a luxury yacht. And, this is a good time to focus on one of the greatest designers of the last century: Roberto Burle Marx, now exhibiting at the Jewish Museum in New York until September 18th then traveling to Berlin, and then to Museu de Arte do Rio, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rarely has a designer left such a deft mark on a landscape as Roberto Burle Marx did in Rio de Janeiro. I remember gazing down from my hotel, many years ago on the Copacabana shoreline, at the mesmerizing sidewalk he created that serpentines along the shoreline…wondering who created that?

© Hedgecoe/TopFoto/The Image Works

Portrait of Roberto Burle Marx, courtesy of The Jewish Museum, New York, © Hedgecoe/TopFoto/The Image Works

Burle Marx’s art inhabits a rare space between the rational and the lyrical. Nature’s variability was for him a liberating force: in a sixty-year career he designed over two thousand gardens worldwide, discovered close to fifty plant species, advocated passionately for the environment, and made paintings and objects of exuberant, rare beauty. Burle Marx, who called himself  “the poet of his own life,” left the world a poetic legacy. (source: Jewish Museum, NY)

Burle Marx was a true Modernist from the 1930’s. Embracing various media and stylistic modalities: Nature, Industry, Graphics and Color. He created very unique and inviting natural spaces that are as vital today as they were in the 1950’s. He elevated Landscape Architecture to a new level, pushing old vernaculars (European) to fresh ground-eschewing symmetry, and introducing a primeval energy that resonates with jazz and folk art.

Burle Marx was a painter and sculptor; a designer of textiles, jewelry, theater sets, and costumes; a ceramicist and stained-glass artist. Born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, Burle Marx’s first landscaping inspirations came while studying painting in Germany, where he often visited the Botanical Garden in Berlin and first learned about Brazil’s native flora.

He gained prominence by collaborating with Brazil’s most prominent artists of the day, specifically the tile artist Cândido Potinari, and Oscar Niemeyer-to design the Pampulha in Rio, in 1942.

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Pampulha Architectural Complex, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, newsinslowportuguese.org

Burle Marx began taking expeditions into the Brazilian rain forest with botanists, landscape architects, architects and other researchers to gather plant specimens.

At least 50 plants bear his name.

His style borrows from Cubism and Abstraction, but his greatest inspiration was: Anti-mimesis, a philosophical position that holds the direct opposite of Aristotelian mimesis. Its most notable proponent was Oscar Wilde, who opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” In the essay, written as a Platonic dialogue, Wilde holds that anti-mimesis, “results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy.”

© Burle Marx Landscape Design Studio, Rio de Janeiro. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved

Victoria Amazonica Water Lilies, Garden of the Fazenda Vargem Grande, Clemente Gomes residence, Areias, 1979

His 1979 plan for the private garden of Fazenda Vargem Grande (Clemente Gomes residence on the grounds of an arid coffee plantation) in Areias highlighted the remarkable and expansive Victoria Amazonica water lilies. Throughout his life, Burle Marx advocated passionately for the environment. To this day, Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, the artist’s former home, preserves his collection of tropical and semitropical plants-one of the largest in the world.

Burle Marx collaborated with the great design minds of his day, including Le Corbusier.

Copyright© Burle Marx Landscape Design Studio, Rio de Janeiro

Roberto Burle Marx with Le Corbusier during a luncheon in the architect’s honor at the home of Burle Marx, 1962, Copyright© Burle Marx Landscape Design Studio, Rio de Janeiro

While studying in Berlin he soaked up Picasso, van Gogh’s elaborate landscapes, and most importantly the German Expressionism movement. Upon returning to Brazil in the 1930’s Burle Marx turned his attention from painting to horticulture. One of his teachers, Lucio Costa, (future designer of Brasília), a modernist architect, secured him a commission to design his first garden. He realized that plants and ink both express art forms.

Burle Marx’s first most prominent design, with Le Corbusier as his advisor, was the Gardens of the Ministry of Education and Health, designed by Costa, with assistance by young Oscar Niemeyer. Here for the first time, he employed only indigenous vegetation, and introduced his hallmark sensuous curves.

Photo: Cesar Barreto

Gardens of the Ministry of Education and Health, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Here began Burle Marx’s love for saturated colors. Adopting this pallet, he then created his most memorial project, The Avenida Atlântica along the infamous Copacabana shoreline, in Rio. He created a canvas of extravagance, employing and abstract pattern of quilting white, black and earth-toned paving stones into an undulating wave of a magic public space–like a musical score that became the symbol of Rio and now the 2016 Olympics.

Credit Burle Marx Landscape Design Studio, Rio de Janeiro

Avenida Atlântica, designed in 1970 for the Copacabana shoreline in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

 

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Advil on a silver platter…

by Sally Steele

Rick Owens, always Fashion Week fabulous

Rick Owens, always Fashion Week fabulous

One of the joys of life these days, and I know I am ultra-privileged, is that my life offers me the opportunity for international travel, with my learned and adventurous spouse, and, oh!, the places we go! I’m in London and Paris each year, and I’m determined to go to a Fashion Week show. The calendar for the next year is not cooperating, but that won’t stop me; it’s in my sights, and I am aiming hard for it.

One of my inspirations was this article last year in The Telegraph, and it is all about me: “Fashion month is becoming increasingly consumer-facing. In September 2015, French fashion house Givenchy offered 820 free tickets to the public to watch its SS16 show in New York, while young French designer Simon Porte Jacquemus followed suit and offered 40 members of the public the opportunity to attend his Paris Fashion Week show, simply by entering their email address into a prize draw on his website. Burberry have announced plans to restructure the entire model to be all about you.”

Courreges, Fashion Week feet

Courreges, Fashion Week feet

At the other end of the inspiration spectrum, following a recent encounter with Anna, in Antibes, I recalled this gem, “Anna allegedly had Advil delivered to her on a silver platter at the DVF show. Because #luxury #power.”

Acne Studios, Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Fashion Week posters

Acne Studios, Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Fashion Week posters

FWO (Fashion Week Online) notes the rules for being in, rather than out: “Industry New York Fashion Week shows are reserved for buyers and press. Most buyers and press outlets contact the design houses directly. Bloggers can submit for accreditation to producers like IMG. IMG registration generally opens up a few weeks before the events. Several thousand people apply, and only a small percentage are accepted. There’s also an application fee (usually around $80), which doesn’t guarantee approval. And even if your application is approved, that still doesn’t guarantee admission. It simply allows you to submit to the various designers for their consideration to actually attend shows.”

Krizia, Fashion Week Invitation

Krizia, Fashion Week invitation

“More and more opportunities are being offered to the public, via prize giveaways, and opportunities to buy tickets, from people such as Macy’s, emerging designers, and more. There are also various other companies of varying degrees of legitimacy offering “tickets” to New York Fashion Week. In general, we don’t recommend companies selling “tickets” to New York Fashion Week. For volunteer opportunities, try some of the producers of New York Fashion Week, or individual design houses.”

“London’s most prominent series of events are held by the British Fashion Council. As with Mercedes-Benz’s series of events in New York, you’ll need to register on the official site (in this case, that of the British Fashion Council). You’ll also need a verified address in London to register (presumably to show you’ll actually be able to attend if accepted). But if you can’t get into those events, you’re in luck. Because directly following London Fashion Week is a four-day, open-to-the-public series of events called London Fashion Weekend. And yes, you can buy tickets!”

“To attend Milan Fashion Week, you’ll need to register at the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, which organizes the shows of Milan Fashion Week.”

“Even though New York came first, Paris is still considered by many to be the grande dame of all fashion weeks (Paris having been the epicenter of fashion for most of the history of Western civilization). As with the other fashion weeks, you can apply for accreditation, this time at the French Federation of Fashion. (You’ll note the screening process is more intense, and the language on the website a bit more stern.) You can also try emailing the designers directly, as each season the schedule is posted with each designer’s press contact. You’ll also need a verified Paris address in order to attend. But you don’t have to wait for fashion week to see a runway show in Paris. The Galeries Lafayette has runway “trunk shows” (showing new collections debuting in-store) throughout the year, and they’re free to attend.”

Phillip Lim, Fashion Week invitation

Phillip Lim, Fashion Week invitation

 

Burberry, Fashion Week invitation

Burberry, Fashion Week invitation

So where to start, The Fashion Calendar is the place. This is the comprehensive listing with names & contacts addresses, it’s free online, or you can pay to subscribe to the luxe version. A more affordable subscription is vis DFR: Daily Fashion Report. Vogue and WWD have lots of talk, but no contact info.

The standard is that almost all Fashion Week shows are by invitation only. “If you are a legitimate member of the press you can request coverage of the event but this may also be limited to amount of press and to where you can go. Legitimate means your work, writings, photos, video footage, appear regularly in a venue or several venues.”

Celine, Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, Tods, Fashion Week invitations

Celine, Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, Tods, Fashion Week invitations

Marni, Balenciaga, Proenza- Schouler, DKNY Fashion Week invitations

Marni, Balenciaga, Proenza-
Schouler, DKNY Fashion Week invitations

 

Other insight, maybe my time IS now? David Yi on Mashable this year, “Did social media kill fashion week once and for all? Is anyone paying attention? That’s the question I asked throughout New York Fashion Week this season, when the entire front row was too busy Snapchatting their favorite looks, using specific geofilters for their videos, Instagramming shots within seconds of seeing an outfit.”

Maison Margiela, Fashion Week invitation

Maison Margiela, Fashion Week invitation

Mashable from prior years: “So how do bloggers gain access to this major industry event? There are two main ways to get invited to the runway shows and presentations: 1) by registering as a press member via the official website, and 2) by asking individual designers for invitations to their shows. Registration is the best way to start. If accepted — and only a small, albeit growing percentage of bloggers are welcomed each year — you’ll get a press pass and access to all relevant press releases and contacts.”

1. Find the right brand contact.

2. Include all relevant information.

“When it comes to invite request etiquette, there are also plenty of don’ts. Don’t drop names, and don’t request a +1 or exaggerate traffic stats, Fierro warns. Lastly, never request a front-row seat. “If you have to request a front-row seat, you’re not deserving of one!” ”

3. RSVP in a timely manner.

4. Be persistent.

“If you do get your credentials, but don’t receive an invite to a show you were itching to cover, don’t give up. Arrive before the show starts and ask the PR representative in charge of check-ins for a standing room ticket. You won’t have the best views, but if you can develop nice coverage out of the experience, you might just land a seat next season. Your in-person meeting will also prove that you’re professional and committed to your craft.”

5. Be grateful.

6. Establish connections early.

Lastly, even if scoring a Fashion Week invite proved to be mission impossible this season, you can still get your digital front row seat by watching livestreams of the show online, many of which will be hosted by YouTube.

Gucci, Fashion Week Invitation

Gucci, Fashion Week invitation

Sounds formidable. I’m not worried, I can always just sneak in aside my spouse, who is, a) a famed photographer; b) effortlessly glamorous; c) always attired in Prada or Loro Piana; d) clearly should have been on the “in” list.

“If you can’t be better than your competition, just dress better.” Anna Wintour
Emilio Pucci, Fashion Week invitation

Emilio Pucci, Fashion Week invitation

 

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Josef Sudek – a passionate man: Jeu de Paume

by Kim Steele

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Rarely does a photographer look so inward to create his or her images. In the many years I have viewed photography, I have not been so emotionally moved by the sentiments of a series of images depicting the inner sanctum of a visual artist. The range is extreme here in this retrospective: well hung and captioned in this lovely intimate space, Jue de Paume – within stones throw of The Louvre. (The Intimate World of Joseph Sudek: until September 25, 2016)

So often I have thought that a photographer needed to go nowhere in order to create powerful images.   The compelling photos of our time have focused on conflict and refugees, which are raging around the world and are indeed powerful. Done years ago, Salgado’s work on refugees speaks so distinctly today. Josef Sudek has trained his camera on his inner landscape. This was due in part, to his confinement to his apartment during the occupation of Prague by the Nazis. His series My Window depicts this intimacy with great courage and skill. Employing everyday objects – they can appear sentimental or destructive. They are eloquent in their tenderness, and passionate in their convictions. He expressed various photographic movements in this endeavor.

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Rue de Prague, 1924, photograph by Josef Sudek

Sudek was a technical virtuoso employing various printing techniques, including pigment prints using carbon tissue. His color images here have never been heretofore exhibited.   I imagine him printing in the mode of Cameron – in the kitchen sink while fetching water nearby. The adversity prevalent in his work arises from heart. He was drafted into the Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm. Infection set in and eventually surgeons removed his arm at the shoulder. But somehow Sudek managed to carry his large format camera atop a tripod around the city. A vision! A physician friend, Dr. Peter Helbich gave  his own private assessment of the connection between Sudek’s life and his work.”Ever since he lost his arm,” Helbich explained, “Sudek has felt estranged from the rest of humanity, and his photography is a means to bridge the gap. It is the reason for the melancholy in his photographs,” said Helbich. “Sometimes I think if he had not lost his arm, he would not have become the great artist he is.” Josef Sudek, by Charles Sawyer [originally published in Creative Camera, 1980]

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Studio, 1940, photograph by Josef Sudek

His early work was influenced by the powerful movement titled “Pictorialism” – spearheaded by Alfred Stieglitz‘ groundbreaking magazine Camera Work. But later, Stieglitz and Steichen opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, breaking from this earlier tradition, it eventually became known as 291, after its address. This movement spanned the turn of the century until the early 1920’s. During this time Sudek was visiting his mother in Kolin, while traveling and photographing along the Elbe River. He experimented in gelatin and bromoil prints favoring the soft tone and moody swathes of shades. Indeed Romantic in style, there underlies a sadness and loneliness that permeated his work thought his life. Sudek preferred to work in series. There are seven represented here.

roses

Kolin, 1922. photpgraph by Josef Sudek

For this reviewer, The World from my Window is the most powerful emotionally, though not the most graphic or compelling visually. The melancholy nature of the images are heartfelt and tender, like tears or droplets on the window behind a solitary rose. The subject is not the visual world but his inner one. There is a cycle of Nature’s dimension to the work, seasonal changes with hope announced by spring or contrastingly, darkness shrouding the potential danger afoot. His still-lifes beckon the same spirits.

 

Night Walks bespeak the Nazi occupation of his city from 1939 until the end of the War. The ‘enforced’ darkness intrigued him in it’s mystery; the curfews could have cost his life if he were caught. Not inconspicuous with the large camera and his hunched figure, his small courtyard of Sudek’s home provided a secretive subject where he could concentrate on mutable plays of light and darkness, acting as ‘equivalents’ of his emotions. There is a wonderful video of Sudek in the exhibition that is endearing, which demonstrates his love for classical music, while entertaining friends in his atelier. A shy man, he never married and rarely included people in his photographs. There are a few portraits in the exhibition, titled Friends and Artists that are quite well executed and reflect a deep connection to them, full of intimacy and empathy.

prague tree

Prague at Night, 1950, photograph by Josef Sudek

The St. Vitus Cathedral was a haunt Sudek frequented. Its large interior lent itself to his continued exploration of light and dark, as in his psychological dimensions. He often visited other nearby locales. These included the forest of Beskid Mountains and Hukvaldy, home of Sudek’s favorite composer, Leo Janáček; although he was an urbanite, Sudek admired Nature’s force.

desk paper

Still-life, 1968, photograph by Josef Sudek

Sudek was a hoarder. Despite his small studio, he collected object for possible ‘still life’ studies. This included feathers, paper, tinfoil, glasses, seashells, string and shoe molds. Once again, he found beauty in everyday objects. This could have been influenced by his Dada comrades. Sudek also experiments with compositions and light in a “Modernist” convention. There was a foretelling of Cubist direction here, later explored by Rodchenko and Oppenheimer to a greater degree, but Sudek foraged in those explorations. His concentration of pure form and illusory perception evidenced by some surreal subjects and choice of subjects (broken dolls similar to Bellmer) that bespeak transition and impermanence, these concerns were always just below the surface of Sudek’s later images. There is always the strain of devastation and destruction that Sudek witnessed in the battlefields of First World War and later, as a witness the Second World War, in his work, regardless of the subject. It translates to a melancholy of spirit in his work.

JosefSudek_20-1024x662

Statue, v. 1948, photograph by Josef Sudek

Sudek enjoyed some recognition later in life, as he did modestly throughout his career, in the early seventies, including an exhibition at the renowned Eastman Kodak House. He died 1976. Sudek is a lesson for young photographers trying to find a vision. It can be as close as your kitchen counter.

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The World is my Oyster ~ artist Ahmed Alrashid

June 26, 2016

ProfileofArtist

  The ‘Global Village’ is a clique. But in the world of design, be it architecture, graphic or product design – it is a global market. Jordan tennis shoes come to mind. Working from the Middle East, based in Kuwait and traveling to Dubai, Ahmed Alrashid, has struck a note that resonates throughout the world, […]

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Gem in the Desert, Museum of Islamic Art ~ Doha, Qatar

April 30, 2016

Night skyline view with Museum in foreground, photograph by Kim Steele

Approaching the cubistic building along a path of luscious palm trees, I knew there was something special inside this Museum. In my travels across the Mid-East, there was an alarming dearth of cultural artifacts. The National Museum in Kuwait City was appalling, and impossible to find, as well. The excuses for cultural artifacts were dark […]

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Saved by Ivana…

March 12, 2016

Trump for TimeMagazine84 1

  From our Boulevardier & Publisher, Kim Steele: I shot a portrait once a week for Time magazine, Business section, in the 1980’s, and hit all the major players, including The Don. Trump was the most difficult, made me wait for hours, hurried me, until Ivana came in and said, “The reason you don’t like […]

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Biggest Scam in the Art World in a Century: Greed shows it’s teeth

March 4, 2016

Charles L. Knoedler (1863–1944), the youngest son of Michael Knoedler, at the gallery's fourth location, a rented brownstone at 170 Fifth Avenue and 22nd in New York, Getty Images photograph

  Forgery is not an offense under the law of Scotland, but here in the U.S. it has caused quite a stir. The distinguished Knoedler Gallery in Manhattan has shuttered it doors after one hundred and fifty years. Knoedler dates its origin to 1846, when French dealers Goupil & Cie opened a branch in New York, as […]

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Coralie Bickford-Smith — A Love Story

February 12, 2016

Designs by Coralie

        The Boulevardiers have a new friend, Coralie Bickford-Smith ~ the book designer.  When you read about Coralie and her magnificent work, if you don’t know Coralie yet, you will be envious of our friendship. Don’t despair, it’s ok to fall in love, read on…!     In Coralie’s words from her […]

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DAVID IRELAND – San Francisco’s Most Famous Art Home

January 17, 2016

David Ireland with Broom Collection (1978)

  The first time I had the honor to walk into the home at 500 Capp Street of the renowned artist in 2001, about whom I knew very little, I realized it was a special place. I was introduced by the Director of Crown Point Press, Valerie Wade, a friend of Ireland. Ireland was elderly […]

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Albertopoulis…the V&A…and an “extremely capacious handbag”

December 25, 2015

Victoria_Albert_Museum_2nd_Floor

  Happy & Beautiful Holidays to all our Boulevardiers & Readers…thank you for another inspiring year!   The Boulevardiers recently did London, from top to bottom, Shakespeare to the Houses of Parliament, to Bond Street & Saville Row, to museums, many, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is really one of the wonders of […]

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MICHAEL HEIZER: The man who moves mountains

October 27, 2015

Michael Heizer on his desert ranch  with Potato Chip
Credit:  Isaac Breeken, New York Times

  THE MOST PROMINENT EARTH SCULPTOR IN THE WORLD, Michael Heizer has experienced a resurgence in his work, as evidenced by his recent exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in New York this summer, which The Boulevardiers had the pleasure of viewing. As a neophyte in art reviewing, just awarded my NEA grant as an ‘emerging critic,’ […]

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When in Milan … Expo 2015

September 19, 2015

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The Boulevardiers have been to EXPO 2015. We were impressed, surprised, entertained, humbled, underwhelmed, treated to a world-class press tour of the Switzerland pavillion, in awe of the Korea pavilion, left with big thoughts, and big questions. Sustainability, the ifs ands and buts are resoundingly evident at EXPO 2015, more here. Does this drive all […]

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Flaming June, and other Pre-Raphaelites

July 19, 2015

Sir Frederic Leighton’s 1895 painting Flaming June. Photograph: Museo de Arte de Ponce

“PAINT the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world.” John Ruskin The Guardian, Friday, May 1, 2015: A remarkable study for Flaming June, one of the best known of all Pre-Raphaelite paintings, has been discovered hanging discreetly behind a bedroom door in an English country mansion. I […]

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John Heartfield…Abandoned in a field by his parents as a child…

May 29, 2015

Nascido Helmut Herzfeld

  “I lost my parents in 1899 and thereafter lived as an orphan with different families.”   John Heartfield managed to rise to a distinguished career as a graphic designer after a very challenging childhood, founding a publishing house, Malik-Verlag in 1917, with the renowned artist George Grosz, one of this publisher’s favorite artists.  Both […]

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Emancipation & Esteem

May 27, 2015

Juneteenth Flyer Musician

65th Annual SF Juneteenth Celebration Commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation “The Journey Continues” Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more […]

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Save the date: May 9th, 2015 ~ Fondazione Prada

May 8, 2015

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On May 9th Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 3, Milano, will be open to the public from 10 am to 9pm.     Once a former distillery, in the industrial south section of Milan–8,900 square meters, it is now the home of the biggest, and arguably, this city’s most exciting contemporary art space. The new location […]

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In the Studio: Photographs

April 11, 2015

Photograph by Constantin Brancusi, 
View of the studio: Plato, Mademoiselle Pogany II, and Golden Bird, c. 1920; © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

  An ambitious exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue, curated by Peter Galassi, rustles up many issues. As Roberta Smith quoted in the New York Times: “…trophy-curators. Clout is definitely on display here, contributing to that heady combination of overt excellence and subtle vulgarity that may be something of a Gagosian specialty.” The […]

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“I would rather sleep in a bathroom than in another hotel.” Billy Wilder

March 8, 2015

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    Just In Case The Raphael is Booked                                                      …by Jerry Bowles                                                                         There is nothing quite as deliciously self-indulgent or decadent as a great hotel. Hemingway wasn’t whistling Dixie when he said “Whenever I dream of afterlife in Heaven, the action always takes place at the Paris Ritz.” Papa loved the […]

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William Randolph Hearst ~ Boulevardier of the Year

January 18, 2015

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~~~~~~     WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, your readers might like it. ~WRH   One of the most telling descriptions, for better or worse, is the fact that his Senator father, George Hearst, willed his entire fortune upon his death in 1895 to his wife, Phoebe, stating that his […]

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How to be Successful in the Arts 101… Shear Madness

December 31, 2014

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    “I’ll never forget my first words in the theatre. Peanuts. Popcorn.” Henny Youngman     What happens when 2 actors from upstate New York decide to pursue their dreams, buy the rights to a murder-mystery written in German, by Swiss playwright Paul Portner for $50,000, turn it into a comedy, and spend another […]

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Boulevardiering — the verb

December 12, 2014

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  The Boulevardiers are proud of and bemused by the mileage and velocity we are encouraging via our use of the term Boulevardiering (our Twitter name). We are Boulevardiers, indeed Chesterfieldian, flâneurs, fops, walking-stick nuts, so are most of our friends, and garnering that curiosity and energy is the reason we started this publication over […]

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Arnold Newman – Master Class in Portraiture

November 25, 2014

Arnold Newman, Sir Cecil Beaton, photographer and designer, Broadchalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, 1978.

Photography of Photographers   Portraiture is about revelations.  Either for the subject or the artist.  So often in painting, El Greco, or Singer Sargent – exemplified by his most famous portrait, Madam X, the subject is somewhat incidental, especially out of the cultural context of the era.  But in photography, the subject is paramount.  Some […]

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The Era of AREA ~ New York’s most revered club

October 31, 2014

AREA partygoers, from Photos from Area--1983-1987, by Eric Goode and Jennifer Goode, Abrams Books, photograph by

In 1983 a nightclub opened in Manhattan unlike any before it. Minimally named “AREA,” the club would set a new precedent not only in the nightlife world, but also in the art world. More precisely, during its relatively short reign from 1983-1987, AREA represented a heady commingling of these two worlds. While its chronological precedent […]

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“Nothing should be noticed.”

October 12, 2014

Marella Agnelli, Truman Capote, and Bunny Mellon, with unidentified man, lunching at Lafayette the day after Capote's Black and White ball

“I don’t know what I’ve done that has made people so interested in me, more than anyone else.” Imagine being Bunny Mellon. From Listerine heiress, to Paul Mellon’s wife, to designer of the White House Rose Garden, to age 103 and upon her death 1000+ items from her collection donated to the National Gallery of […]

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Elwood Smith – Today’s Dagwood

September 28, 2014

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    Elwood H. Smith is an illustrator who speaks a language that appeals to various strata of readers.  I can remember my father laughing out loud at the comics. I have read The New York Times for thirty-five years, and they deign to include the ‘comics’ for it’s low brow aesthetic.  That is fine […]

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Italy: Non abbastanza monete nella fontana…

September 11, 2014

La Dolce Vita, and the Trevi Fountain

  Non abbastanza monete nella fontana…not enough coins in the fountain! Italy has the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, currently 75. In a country which bleeds culture, history is an irreplaceable natural resource. We have seen first-hand that Italy is crumbling. To the rescue come some legendary names in fashion […]

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Portrait of a Photographer as a Young Man

August 26, 2014

Self-Portrait, Monument Valley, Utah
1958, Photograph by Ansel Adams, Collection Center for Creative Photography, © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

  ANSEL ADAMS FORMATIVE YEARS     Born at the turn of the century, Adams grew up in the hinterlands of dunes and beaches of the City of San Francisco.  Descending from Maine stock, originally from Northern Ireland, the Adams Family created a niche in the physical and social scene of San Francisco.  Ansel could […]

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Comic CONsciousness

August 10, 2014

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“The great thing about the comics industry is that it’s driven by passion …it isn’t driven by money.” Royden Lepp, graphic novelist, The New York Times, 7/28/14 The New York Times: Armed Animals Don’t Invent Themselves ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Character Creators Fight for Cash and Credit “Like millions of moviegoers over the weekend, Bill […]

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Good Days and Bad Hair Days

July 29, 2014

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  I never knew that April 30th is National Hairstyle Appreciation Day … but that’s another day and a different story. I’ve been thinking about hair, and styles, and reminiscing. The options are numerous, and hysterical, and just plain ridiculous. Some are so bad, they’ve morphed to good, great or even legendary (in their own […]

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CASANOVA: (Catalan or Latin, casa ‘house’ + nova ‘new’) Lover; a man who is a promiscuous and unscrupulous lover

July 12, 2014

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, painting by 
Alessandro Longhi

    Giacomo Girolamo Casanova: Synonymous with lovemaking charm and persuasion, even since Casanova’s death in 1798, his name evokes and defines the same person to this day. In today’s vernacular, “Womanizing.” Despite his impoverished condition and position at his death in Bohemia, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova’s memoir fetched a stunning figure in 2010 by the Bibliotheque […]

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Fair Cecily, and other fair-weather friends

June 29, 2014

Rex Whistler; Cecil Beaton; Georgia Sitwell; Sir William Turner Walton; Stephen Tennant; Zita Jungman; Teresa Jungman, photograph by Cecil Beaton

  All I want is the best of everything and there’s very little of that left. Never in the history of fashion has so little material been raised so high to reveal so much that needs to be covered so badly. What is elegance? Soap and water! …quotes by Cecil Beaton   I have an […]

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An Ephemeral Awareness — Death and the Coming of War

June 21, 2014

BA ephemeral

When we arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, in January, 1966, one of the most unusual thing that we saw were tanks in the streets and soldiers behind sand bags around government buildings.  In the following days we learned that some government officials, senior military leaders and the Sultan of Sokoto had been killed during a coup […]

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Machu Picchu — “The First Tourist”

June 9, 2014

Machu Picchu, prior to excavation

      “The Explorer” by Rudyard Kipling, “Something lost behind the Ranges.  Lost and waiting for you. Go!” The Boulevardiers have been to the mountain, and climbed it. Machu Picchu, the Old Peak…and Huayna Picchu, the New Peak, to be exact. Sources noted below have reviewed its “discovery”. There is no clear and definitive […]

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Black Mountain College ~ America’s Most Creative Art School

May 10, 2014

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The New York Times has titled Black Mountain College as one of “six nodes of progressive culture in America.”  Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice,  there were innumerable renowned artists that pasted through these hallowed halls for such a  limited period of existence, including Robert Rauschenberg, Ben Shahn, and Joseph Albers — who brought the […]

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Whitney Biennial ~ a meaningful surfeit

April 14, 2014

There was a time when the Whitney Biennial was the much-anticipated barometer of the state of American art…   Whether praised or reviled, everyone could be counted on to have an opinion. This year, as has been the case for some time, the Biennial is just another blur in the bombardment of art as excess […]

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Ironing One’s Shoelaces

April 1, 2014

Coco Chanel gown, 1938

  Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends…. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.  ~Henry David Thoreau Vintage has always been at the top of my list, the visual, touch, feel, quality. I would rather spend hours, weeks, months, years amidst the old wood cases of museum costume […]

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Laces of The Boot — Campania, Italy

February 25, 2014

View from Centola, Campania, Italy, photograph by Kim Steele

    The Cape of Palinuro is a delicious slice of timeless travel, it is a sight to behold along the Cilento coast…we hesitate a bit in saying this, as it is sort of a secret…   According to Virgil´s ancient legend, Aeneas´ unfortunate helmsman Palinuro fell overboard close to the coast, giving his name […]

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