Boulevardiering — the verb

by Sally Wilson



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 2 years ago. We are in world-class company here: Irving Mansfield, John Garfield, Leo Lindy, Walter Winchell, even Ethel Merman. As our readership grows, and our reach extends internationally, we are humbled and empowered by the statement we make.  We encourage all to Promenade through life, from the Great Promenade in Central Park to the various promenades along the water fronts world-wide, Cannes come to mind.  A tradition hundreds of years old in Europe, and we have experienced it.  Sit and watch the strollers go by in the hour before dinner, then join them while others watch.  This occurs even in the small towns, like Lucca, Italy.




Some recent Boulevardiering references we have seen, human, animal, and worldwide…for your reading pleasure.


T. G. Lewis, Book of Extremes: Why the 21st Century Isn’t Like the 20th Century, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2014: “Boulevardiering is one of the most endearing customs of urban Italians–parading up and down major thoroughfares of Rome and other Italian cities in one’s finest clothing. It is largely and extrovert’s sport played by social animals with an abundance of self-confidence. Boulevardiering regularly breaks out among the Neapolitan natives near the Castel Nuovo off Via Nuovo Marina Boulevard or most anywhere the stylishly dressed Italians happen to go in the cool evening after siesta and before dinner at 9pm. Italians love to be spontaneous, but with style. The fondly call these spontaneous exhibitionists, “Boulevard Animali”–parading animals.”  The term has been elevated to an adjective in a New York Times article describing a new bistro in Manhattan, Buvette, as a “flaneur-magnet.”


Boulevardiering has spread to other, more uptight countries like the USA. Southern Methodist University students in Dallas Texas have been doing it for years. Typically the SMU Mustangs parade around campus prior to a big game against the rebel Black Bears of the University of Mississippi. It started in 2000 as a kind of extemporaneous celebration in honor to the new Gerald J. Ford Stadium. SMU needed something bigger and better than the Black Bear tailgating parties in Mississippi. So they turned “boulevard” into a verb–an act of one-upmanship over the University of Mississippi. It must have worked, because SMU students have been boulevardiering ever since.

Boulevardiering holds wonderful nuances . As the day wind dies down, and the Italian sky turns august, people turn out gradually at first, and then in droves – linked arm in arm, all ages and sexes. When dinnertime arrives the crowd fades just as orderly and smoothly as it gathered. Whether parading around in one’s fashionable attire in Italy or baseball cap and war paint in Texas, the ritual is a predictable one–smooth and rhythmic as one would expect from a civilized and sophisticated people.




Forest and Stream, Volume 83, By Charles Hallock, William A. Bruette: “Nor were these the only feathered people that come to our cabin. One spectacular being clothed like a boulevardiering cavalier and having the mein if a finished chesterfieldian gentleman was noted seated in an oak near the cabin one day. It did not take more than one sweep of the eye to place him. I smiled grimly and called Fred’s attention to him.”




A Review of, A Flâneur for All Seasons, by James Guida: “Of all the instances in literature of direct advice, there can be few to rival Peter Altenberg’s: “Get thee to the coffeehouse!” This is the fin-de-siècle Austrian writer’s prescription for a host of life’s ills. You’re broke, there’s a rip in your boots, you have a fickle lover or no lover at all, you want to do yourself in, or you just “loathe and revile people and yet can’t live without them”? Altenberg is unswerving: to the coffeehouse. Rilke might impress on us the urgency of changing one’s whole life for the better—some excellent self-help, provided it can be glimpsed how. While waiting for enlightenment to take hold, Altenberg is your man.”

“Peter Altenberg, or “P.A.” for short, was the pen name of Richard Engländer, born in Vienna in 1859 to a well-to-do merchant family, and a Jewish convert to Christianity, Engländer walked out of courses in law, botany, and medicine before, in his thirties, giving himself over to a life of thorough and eccentric bohemianism. He is reputed to have spent most of his adult waking hours in coffeehouses, and the sleeping ones in a hotel that was little more than a brothel. As for writing, his chosen medium was a feuilleton-style prose poem of anywhere from a sentence to a few pages in length, and he did wonders with it. Though far from the only painter of modern life, Altenberg seems singular even when compared to his nearest literary kin: less austere and allegorical than Baudelaire, and more involved with society than Robert Walser, his short prose approaches form in ways that are uncannily relevant now.”

“Altenberg was central in his time: a friend of Berg, Klimt, and Loos, he had a large audience of female readers and a roll call of admirers that included Kafka, Kraus, Mann, Musil, and, yes, Rilke. Even the writers who quarrelled with him were ready to contribute funds when he was in trouble. Perhaps alone among authors who answer to the description of “walking-stick nut” and who sell their own handmade jewelry in cafés, he was nominated for a Nobel Prize.”


Boulevardier - Grilled Baby Octopus, peppadew peppers, fines herbes, capers, lemon oil













Dancing at Ciro’s: A Family’s Love, Loss, and Scandal on the Sunset Strip, by Sheila Weller “Helen’s antic childhood friend Irvie Mandelbaum was now Broadway’s “boy genius” publicist. Borrowing a page from John Garfield (nee Garfinckle) and Ethel Merman (nee Zimmerman), Irvie had renamed himself Irving Mansfield, and he was living, like Herman, in a Broadway hotel, boulevardiering with all-the-rage bandleader Richard Himber and stopping in at Leo Lindy’s with Walter Winchell and Dave’s Blue Room to jostle the showgirls, many of whom Herman directed.”




Time Out, 1000 Great Holiday Ideas, edited by Chris Moss: “It’s almost unbelievable anyone still flies or ferries to France, when you can go by Eurostar for less that 60 quid. For that quick romantic getaway, a weekend in the city of love, especially in spring or autumn, still delivers in terms of candlelit bistros, afternoon in cafes, and boulevardiering in the Marais. Get yourself in the mood by having some bubbly on board the train.”


A review of The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, by Edmund White: “White’s Paris is seen on foot, as a flâneur, a stroller who aimlessly loses himself in a crowd, going wherever curiosity leads him and collecting impressions along the way. Paris is the perfect city for the flâneur, as every quartier is beautiful and full of rich and surprising delights. But this is no typical tour of monuments and museums; it is much more intimate and surprising. As a flâneur of Paris for 16 years, White knows where to find the very best of everything–silver, sheets, plum slivovitz. He can tell you where to get Tex-Mex surrounded by a dance rehearsal hall, where to rent an entire castle for a party, or even where to get Skippy peanut butter. He eschews the pearl-gray city built by Napoleon and roams the places where the real vitality lives, the teaming quartiers inhabited by Arabs and Asians and Africans, the strange corners, the markets where you can find absolutely anything in this city that accommodates all tastes. White’s Paris is a place rich in history with a passion for novelty and distractions.”



In Praise of the Flâneur, Paris Review, by Bijan Stephen: “The figure of the flâneur—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart. When Walter Benjamin brought Baudelaire’s conception of the flâneur into the academy, he marked the idea as an essential part of our ideas of modernism and urbanism. For Benjamin, in his critical examinations of Baudelaire’s work, the flâneur heralded an incisive analysis of modernity, perhaps because of his connotations: “[the flâneur] was a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city, but also a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism,” as a 2004 article in the American Historical Review put it. Since Benjamin, the academic establishment has used the flâneur as a vehicle for the examination of the conditions of modernity—urban life, alienation, class tensions, and the like.”


Arnold Newman – Master Class in Portraiture

by Kim Steele

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 portraitist assume the highest position, as with Annie Leibowitz, most are circumspect.  There is a grand tradition of portraits in photography; in fact it was the ‘studio’ portrait that gave most credence to the burgeoning art form in the mid-nineteenth century.

Due to the limitations of materials and equipment, the subject remained static for minutes at a time, and it required elaborate developing processes.  Now especially with the digital age, the process has been stripped away entirely, and only the subject and artist are revealed to the viewer.  In the other direction, the celebrity images in Vanity Fair and T Magazine are stuffed with ornate details and references, to the point of distraction.

In this powerful exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the mastery of Newman is keenly evident.  I took a workshop from Newman in the seventies, after which he offered me an assistant position, for meager $50 a week which I could not afford in New York City, but thankful none-the-less.

What is unique in this retrospective, rich with gorgeous silver prints, was in the inclusion of portraits of many photographers of the day.  Here you have an interesting confluence, a master portrait photographer capturing a master perceptor of visual content – namely themselves.  I can speak for myself, having shot many portraits for Time and Forbes, as well as corporate subjects, that an experienced photographer can ‘visualize’ themselves in a the portrait.  Cartier-Bresson claimed the ‘decisive moment’ term but also ‘pre-visualization,’ along with Minor White.  It is evident here that the subjects are very keenly aware of their own presentation, and stage themselves accordingly.

So my focus here is on the image resulting from the collaboration of Newman with famous photographers.  His Stravinsky portrait is his most famous, but his images of photographers are a less known oeuvre.


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

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


Starting at the most self-conscience, is the dramatic theatrical master, Cecil Beaton.  Like Dali, his close friend, he was intimate with the power of the ’set,’ which he used here to full advantage, with propping of a cane, hat and sumptuous surroundings, he presents himself to the viewer as he intends.  There is little hand of Newman here to be seen, except for the rich lighting.


Arnold Newman, Ansel Adams, photographer and teacher, Carmel, California, 1976

Arnold Newman, Ansel Adams, photographer and teacher, Carmel, California, 1976


Ansel Adams poised approachably in his Yosemite studio, is surrounded with his trademark Natural elements.  Newman has always employed environmental elements (but disdained his characterization as the father of environmental portraiture).

“For me the professional studio is a sterile world,” said Newman in a 1991 interview. “I need to get out: Be with people where they’re at home. I can’t photograph ‘the soul,’ but I can show and tell you something fundamental about them.” (Museum press release)

So Adams seems right at home here, a collaborative venture.  This contracts dramatically to his two contemporaries, Avedon and Penn who trusted the studio to lay bare the innards of the subject which employes their own artifice.


Arnold Newman, Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer, New York, 1947

Arnold Newman, Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer, New York, 1947


Cartier-Bresson’s portrait is unique in that little is revealed about him as he glances away from the camera, while being flanked by a large negative space of emptiness.  Camera in hand, and an intense gaze that seems to be his shaping up a decisive movement, he could be anyone of that era.  This seems candid, especially in the oeuvre of Newman’s work, very casual, though the clothing is very revealing – like Man Ray painting in a suit.


Arnold Newman, Brassai, photographer, on his studio roof of 39 West 67th, New York, 1976

Arnold Newman, Brassai, photographer, on his studio roof of 39 West 67th, New York, 1976


Brassaï, original name Gyula Halász, from Romania, whose images of the night scene in Paris are captivating and passionate.  I once had the honor of entering a room at night in the San Remo overlooking Central Park where the room was entirely lined with the jewel-like prints of his of Paris nightlife.  Unforgettable.  Here he is almost asserting his right over Newman on how to be memorialized.  He is unshakably self-confident in his persona, and giving Newman the eyeball as to how he should be rendered – clearly on his own terms. The gesture of his hand over his heart is revealing as to his intention.  There is a famous quotation from Bernard Shaw when he was sitting for a portrait.  He asserted that “one should present one’s most important asset forward.”  For him, it was his forehead.  Here for Brassaï, it was his heart.


Arnold Newman, Robert Doisneau, photographer, New York, 1981

Arnold Newman, Robert Doisneau, photographer, New York, 1981


In complete contrast, Robert Doisneau, who has captured two for the most memorable images of the twentieth century (later disputed to be ‘staged’).  His portrait here is the most contrived of the bunch.  There is no apparent reason or rhyme for his peering around the edge of a sheet of seamless paper in Newman’s studio above the Café Des Artist Restaurant in New York.  Unless one interpreted that seeking a street spontaneous image is like peaking into the world around a corner is the portrait here, but that is a stretch. His face is intently focused on the camera.  He is a handsome man but no revelations are offered here.

Several of his other portraits of photographers range from brilliant, Edward Steichen whose environments says as much about his curatorial role as his photographic one; to the ordinary, as with the first Modernist photographer Paul Strand, with his wife standing just so.  It is difficult to judge some of these, in an era of overkill of images from Instagram and Facebook.  Clean, sparse and direct, they sometimes lack a certain hutzpah. William Eggerton poises with head and equipment, Manuel Bravo flirts with shadows reminiscent of his stark images of nudes, and Aaron Siskind sits before his signatory peeling painted walls.   Sometimes the contrivance of the subject is unresolved, Bill Brandt’s decompositions, JP Witkin’s curious eyes, and Eugene Smith’s portraits seems to miss the mark entirely.

Newman set the bar very high for portraiture, especially the incorporation of the setting and props.  There is still a very strong tradition of portraits, mostly now in the celebrities arena, led by the likes from Josef Karsh to contemporary Mark Seliger. With the death of some of the greatest image makers, Avedon, Penn and Newman, we are in a more disposable era. Are selfies the new portrait? I understand now that photographers must complete a hundred page contract before the sitting to restrict most aspects of the portrait session, and the usage of the resulting imagery.  Media representatives hovering around the session does not a candid portrait make.  But the honesty of Newman’s imagery is a breath of fresh air and well worth the visit to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, I heartily recommend it, especially for those of us who can remember who these artist were and their importance in our culture.


ARNOLD NEWMAN – Master Class, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, on view until February 1, 2015




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

by Jorge Socarras

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

AREA party-goers, from: Photos from Area–1983-1987, by Eric Goode and Jennifer Goode, Abrams Books, photograph by Volker Hinz-dolf

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 was Studio 54,  then the Mudd Club, AREA’s decidedly artistic roots went back to Zurich’s 1916 Dadaist club Cabaret Voltaire, and to the “happenings” of the 60s, notably, Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. But AREA out-did them all.

Eric Goode and Madonna at Area, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Eric Goode and Madonna at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Itself a consistently changing work of art, AREA underwent a total installation makeover every 6 weeks. The address, 157 Hudson Street in then-pioneer Tribeca, stayed the same, but inside the 33,000 square foot space was completely transformed according to designated themes. Installations incorporated elaborate sets, dioramas, machinery, taxidermy, live animals, tableaux vivants and performers in character, along with club goers who themselves often participated, wittingly or otherwise, in bringing the theme to life.

Ron and Jo Wood at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Keith Richards and Patti Hansen at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Philip Glass at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Philip Glass at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan
















Behind AREA’s creation and ongoing metamorphosis were founders Eric Goode, his brother Christopher, Shawn Hausman and Darius Azari, four childhood friends who took their art-fueled let’s-put-on-a-show zeal to the level of an unnatural history museum. Among the many changing themes were: Religion, Sex, Fashion, Suburbia, Fellini, Science Fiction and Food. To give an idea of how involved the installations were, for Food, the club’s indoor pool was filled with alphabet soup, while Religion featured a life-size burning cross, and a functioning confessional with resident confessor.


Roy Lichtenstein at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Laurie Anderson and Roy Lichtenstein at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

 AREA’s invitations were themselves art pieces. The grand opening invitation contained a blue pill that when dissolved in water disclosed the party details. The guest list was legendary: Grace Jones, Billy Idol, Madonna, Sting, Cher, JFK Jr., Bianca Jagger, Boy George, Federico Fellini, Prince and Diana Ross all partied there.

Keith Haring at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Keith Haring at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

AREA regular Andy Warhol set up a polaroid studio where he’d shoot portraits of the “beautiful people,” while artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring not only hung out at the club, but hung works in it. Avant garde electronic rock band Indoor Life performed there, and the band’s singer (myself) compiled theme-oriented music mixes for the club lounge where the likes of Bowie and Iman sipped cocktails. Legendary New York DJs Johnny Dynell and Justin Strauss kept the crowds in thrall on the dancefloor, while in the notorious same-sex bathrooms, anything could and did go on. Outside the club, throngs waited hours, often in vain, hoping to get in. They only had three years to try.

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat at AREA, photograph by Ben Buchanan

When AREA closed, creative director Eric Goode was left with a ton of art, photos, paraphernalia and press. As he put it, “What had been conceived as impermanent had left an indelible mark.” This then would be recycled 30 years later into the book “AREA: 1983-1987”, a 368-page tome spearheaded by Goode and his sister Jennifer, and published by Abrams.









Of course, there had to be a book launch party…

Fisher Stevens, Tony Shafrazi, and Eric Goode from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Fisher Stevens, Tony Shafrazi, and Eric Goode from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

This is where the club metamorphosis comes full circle. For one night, The Hole Gallery, on Bowery opposite The New Museum, was transformed into a veritable time capsule worthy of the Morgan Library, but much more decadent and fun. Now, people too young too have experienced the club in its day, could have a super-concentrated taste of it, as well as mingle with actual AREA alums.

Chuck Close arrives,

Chuck Close arrives, from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Outside The Hole, artists and scenesters lined up much as they might have for the club. Inside, among the featured displays was Warhol’s “Invisible Sculpture,” a piece he installed in the original club that consists of an empty pedestal. Cocktails were served in Campbell’s soup cans while nudes in sex-doll masks danced against a Barbara Kruger mural. Co-curated by Jeffrey Deitch together with Eric Goode, Jennifer Goode and Serge Becker, this was Mr. Deitch’s first exhibition post-LA MOCA. “Area was of its own time,” he said, “but also way ahead of its time.” The show also included works by Basquiat, Clemente, Scharf, Haring and others — many created originally for AREA.

Girls in Money Machine, from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Girls in Money Machine, from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

At 9PM the party moved to the nearby Bowery Hotel, where AREA survivors mingled with young wannabes in a joint effort to recreate some of that 80s decadence. Mirrors on cocktail tables were piled with copious lines of fake cocaine, while nude or nearly nude dancers presumably simulated drug-induced expressive dancing. Vintage AREA house photographer, Ben Buchanan was on hand documenting the evening. One famous AREA veteran, Calvin Klein, reminisced: “It was a different experience every time. You never knew what to expect.” Eric Goode added, “The late ’70s and early ’80s were a very special time in New York – it was a think tank of artists. The city was very lawless. Places like AREA would be impossible to pull off today.”

"Underground S&M" from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

“Underground S&M” from Area: 1983-1987 book launch party, November 2013, photograph by Ben Buchanan

Indeed that golden decade of ravishingly decadent yet sophisticated nightlife came to end with the advent of AIDS, club kids, and the real estate overhaul of Manhattan. At least we have the AREA book.

Publisher’s notes:  I remember well the first opening of the club where my then assistant, Ben Buchanan, traveled down to Texas with a trailer-tractor truck to pick up the laboratory fixtures from the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant complete with radioactive containment chambers.  A fabulous setting!  At another time I recall entering the club in complete darkness, walking on tire inner tubes.  There was no limit to the creativity that we enjoyed.  AREA is by far, my best nightlife memories in New York. It did not hurt that I was best friends with the manager (the author of this piece). I shot the ‘artist’ installation for Time Magazine.

Keith Haring, shot for Time Magazineat AREA, NY, photograph by Kim Steele

Keith Haring, shot for Time Magazine at AREA, NY, photograph
by Kim Steele

“Nothing should be noticed.”

by Sally Wilson

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

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.”

Bunny Mellon's design for the White House Rose Garden

Bunny Mellon’s 1963 design for the White House Rose Garden

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 Art. A life hardly tinged by dogged scandals. What more can we say? Bunny Mellon, Boulevardier. To have lived her privileged life with such quiet aplomb seems the ultimate success.
Bunny Mellon (right)

Bunny Mellon (right)

Newsweek, July 25, 2011:
She was born into a well-to-do Princeton family. One of her grandfathers, chemist Jordan Lambert, invented Listerine, but it was her father, Gerard Lambert, an advertising innovator, who turned it into a hit product by marketing the antiseptic as a cure for halitosis. Bunny made her debut in October 1929 and three years later married the socially connected Stacy Lloyd Jr. Settling in Virginia, they had a circle that included Paul Mellon, the wealthy son of Herbert Hoover’s Treasury secretary. During World War II, Lloyd and Mellon roomed together in London, where both worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA.
Once the war ended, as Paul Mellon wrote in his autobiography, Reflections in a Silver Spoon, both men found it difficult to resume married life. In October 1946, as the Mellons were riding home together after fox hunting, Paul’s wife, Mary, suffered a severe asthma attack, dying hours later. Bunny Lloyd made a condolence call; Mellon wrote that she was “very kind and understanding over my distress.” Indeed. She quickly divorced her husband, and in May 1948 she and Mellon wed.
Bunny & Paul Mellon, center

Bunny and Paul Mellon, center

Paul and Bunny Mellon

Bunny and Paul Mellon

The Washington Post, March 17, 2014: Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the Listerine fortune heiress who married arts patron and philanthropist Paul Mellon, was a confidante of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and redesigned the White House Rose Garden, died March 17 at her home in Upperville, Va. She was 103. Tony Willis, her librarian and assistant, confirmed her death. The cause was not immediately available. The Mellons donated more than 1,000 objects to the National Gallery of Art, including paintings by Cezanne, Degas and van Gogh. With Mellon’s sister and a family foundation, they also funded the construction of the gallery’s East Building, designed by architect I.M. Pei, in the 1970s.


At the Milliner's by Edgar Degas, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, collection of Mr, and Mrs. Paul Mellon

At the Milliner’s by Edgar Degas, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon













Mark Rothko, from the Mellon collection

Untitled, by Mark Rothko, collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon








“She worked quietly behind the scenes for many years to support horticulture and the arts,” said Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery, in a statement. “She leaves behind a meaningful legacy.”

He noted that Mrs. Mellon died on the 73rd anniversary of the West Building’s dedication, which Paul Mellon attended alongside President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Despite her social connections and contributions to the cultural life of Washington, Mrs. Mellon was publicity averse and took great care to remain low key. “Nothing should be noticed,” she told the New York Times in 1969.

Vanity Fair cover

Vanity Fair cover

Architectural Digest, March 17, 2014:

For someone who preferred to shun the limelight, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, who died on March 17th at age 103, was a significant, if somewhat mysterious presence in the world of style, rarely quoted yet widely admired.

Sublime perfection was her goal, whether it was having the mature oak trees at her 4,000-acre Virginia farm pruned into giant green clouds or ordering maids’ uniforms from the couturier Hubert de Givenchy, thereby ensuring that her staff wore clothes as finely crafted as her own wardrobe. The gardens that Mellon, a self-taught but award-winning landscape designer and horticulture scholar created possess a restful, immaculate elegance, and two of them are American icons: the White House’s Rose Garden and the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, where she tucked herbs for the Kennedys’ chef amid the flowerbeds.

Bunny-Mellon discussing sculpture with Adam Peiperl

Bunny Mellon discussing sculpture with Adam Peiperl

Following in the footsteps of her father-in-law, who founded Washington’s National Gallery of Art, she and her late husband, the financier and philanthropist Paul Mellon, assembled a spectacular collection, ranging from medieval drawings to Georgian equestrian scenes to Diego Giacometti bronzes. It was a passion that occasionally proved startlingly extravagant: The couple once purchased 70 wax sculptures by Edgar Degas in one fell swoop, and another time, Mrs. Mellon stopped by Mark Rothko’s studio and left with 13 of his works.

The Mellons’ homes, on the other hand, are barely known beyond a circle of friends, the couple having eluded the frequent entreaties of design publications. A wide array of decorators (such as Billy Baldwin, Syrie Maugham, Bruce Budd, Paul Leonard, and John Fowler) and architects (H. Page Cross, Tommy Beach, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and Hugh Newell Jacobsen) worked closely with Bunny Mellon over the years, but the end result was absolutely singular, a highly personal brand of understated elegance that trickled down into the homes of admiring friends—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis among them—and, thence, quietly, into the public arena.

Bunny Mellon brooch

Bunny Mellon brooch

The Telegraph, September 14, 2014:

A treasure trove of art, jewellery and other valuables from the estate of the reclusive heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon will go on sale at auction following her death earlier this year at the age of 103.

Experts invited to assess her collection at her country home of Oak Spring Farms, in Upperville, Virginia, were stunned at the scale of the riches she had amassed, including little-seen Picassos and Van Goghs, personalised Chanel handbags and even a vintage 1950s fire engine.

Balenciaga 1958, for Bunny Mellon

Balenciaga 1958, for Bunny Mellon

The sale of more than 4,000 items is due to take place in mid-November and will last nine days. It is expected to bring her heirs at least $100 million (£61 million), making it one of the most lucrative auctions ever to take place.

Few people had ever been invited to Oak Spring Farms to see the scale of the collection before Mrs Mellon’s death in March at the age of 103.

Widow of the philanthropist Paul Mellon, “Bunny” was wealthy in her own right as the granddaughter of the chemist Jordan Lambert, who invented Listerine mouthwash.

Jacqueline Kennedy and Bunny Mellon

Jacqueline Kennedy and Bunny Mellon





A close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy and talented horticulturalist, she designed the Rose Garden at the White House but rarely gave interviews and shunned the public eye.


John Kennedy's funeral

John Kennedy’s funeral











She came to the world’s attention in 2012 however when she was caught up in a political scandal involving John Edwards, a Democratic presidential candidate she said reminded her of John Kennedy. He was accused of improperly using political donations from her to keep secret his mistress and their child as he sought his party’s nomination.

Sotheby’s plans to give over all nine floors of its New York auction house to displaying her collection, which includes paintings, drawings, jewellery, handbags, dinner services and gardening tools. Her baskets alone were displayed in their own house on the Oak Springs estate.

Paul Mellon's study

Paul Mellon’s study



Prices are expected to range from $200 (£123) for a rug to $30 million (£18 million) for a Rothko painting.



Bunny Mellon's basket collection

Bunny Mellon’s basket collection

Itemising and packing up all the items assembled in Mrs Mellon’s five homes was described as a Herculean task, taking up 3,000 feet of bubble wrap and more than 500 packing boxes for the decorative objects and books alone.

John Wilmerding, an American art scholar and trustee of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, told the New York Times: “Bunny was part of a generation that no longer exists today: an amateur collector with a sure eye, great taste and upper-class refinement, who bought across the board, from expensive jewellery and paintings to trinkets.”

Rachel "Bunny" Mellon

Rachel “Bunny” Mellon

“Granbunny” had the gift, said her grandson Stacy Lloyd IV, of finding the best in the simplest things: the smell of grass, the sound of water against a wood boat, the feel of the wind on her face. “She has taught me how to find beauty in everything,” Lloyd told the congregation. Jackie (Kennedy Onassis) once teased her: “Bunny, you think all your ducks are swans.”


AUCTION UPDATE: From The New York Times — “Artwork spanning 400 years attracted bidders from 32 countries and four continents. The evening brought $158.7 million, topping a high estimate of $121 million. All 43 works sold. Among the stars: a 1970 abstract canvas by Mark Rothko of intense blues and greens that brought nearly $40 million, twice its high estimate, and several paintings and drawings by Richard Diebenkorn, including “Ocean Park No. 89,” which sold for $9.6 million, below its high estimate of $12 million.”

Elwood Smith – Today’s Dagwood

September 28, 2014


    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


“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


  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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