BOOK REVIEW: Villa Astor

VILLA ASTOR Paradise Restored on the Amalfi Coast

Introduction by The Right Honourable the Lord Astor of Hever

Text by Curt DiCamillo, Suzanne Tise-Isoré, Alexandra Campbell and Rita Vessichelli Pane Photography by Eric Sander

£40
Flammarion 
ISBN 978-2-08-137592-5

The Villa Astor has, as the cover illustration suggests, rather a splendid location in the town of Sorrento overlooking the Bay of Naples. A former American ambassador to Italy William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) acquired the Villa and its surrounding properties in 1905 and then went on to transform it. He was certainly well practiced in such matters for in the United Kingdom he had an office at 2, Temple Place, and also homes at Hever Castle and Cliveden (he gave the latter to his son as a wedding present in 1906). As well as building up a large collection of classical sculpture at the Villa Astor he also had a Pompeian-style villa built on the east side of the gardens. Following Astor’s death the Italian government stepped in and said the sculpture collections and gardens should be protected and remain part of the villa.

 

It is a great survival having withstood different owners and World War II – and now following a restoration by the new owners, with the help of the famous French decorator Jacques Garcia. this extensively illustrated book celebrates the Villa in its full glory while telling the tale of its intriguing history. Can’t ask for much more really.

editions.flammarion.com

Matisse in the Studio

Matisse in the Studio, The Sackler Wing, Royal Academy of Arts,  Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1, until 12th November 2017

 

© John Kirkwood

I am grateful to John Kirkwood to visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

It isn’t often that one can visit an exhibition of works by a master such as Matisse and also see the subjects of the work on view alongside them as well. This exhibition brings together 35 objects alongside 65 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and cut-outs and it is startling to see the very objects represented, as Tommy Cooper might have said ‘before your very eyes!’

© John Kirkwood

This is the first exhibition to show that such treasures as are on display were often both the inspiration and the subject matter for the work and we must be grateful for their survival. Some of the objects are represented as you will see them but others get an interpretation from Matisse which shows his imagination and skill in transforming them into works of art.  Altogether a fascinating visit to his studio.

 

© John Kirkwood

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk

OUT & ABOUT: Blain|Southern

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

If you did not catch Benar Venet’s first solo exhibition in London since 1976 at Blain|Southern recently then you have an opportunity to see his works in the grounds of Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. Regarded by many as the foremost living French sculptor, ten large-scale works await discovery in the glorious formal gardens and spaces of Cliveden and can be seen there until mid-October.

 

nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden

Bernar Venet at Cliveden
©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde

 

http://www.blainsouthern.com/

BOOK REVIEW: Robert Adam’s London

Robert Adam’s London

Frances Sands

£25

Archaeopress

Printed ISBN 9781784914622.

Epublication ISBN 9781784914639. 

This book is a delight and has wide appeal for devotees of Robert Adam’s architecture and interiors and lovers of London. Written by Dr Frances Sands (Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum) to mark the exhibition held earlier there at the turn of the year it is a very much stand-alone volume too.  The starting point is Richard Horwood’s map of London (1792-99) and through this each of Adam’s projects can be discovered. It takes us on a fascinating stroll through the areas of London, both north and south of the river, where Adam worked and reveals that some buildings and interiors survive albeit much altered but certainly more than I had expected while others totally lost. So whether in the comfort of an armchair or in hand while searching the streets where Adam worked it is very much a book to savour and enjoy.

http://www.archaeopress.com

OUT & ABOUT: Gazelli Art House

 

Kalliopi Lemos
Wooden Boat with Seven People,
Spital Square, London E1 6DX, 2017
Courtesy Gazelli Art House
Photography by John Sturrock

For centuries the Spitalfields area of London has seen migrants arrive in search of a new life and this sculpture recalls that history. The boat is one that was actually used to transport refugees from Turkey to Greece and was acquired by the artists after it had been left abandoned on the shoreline.

 

http://www.spitalfields.co.uk/public-art/

Kalliopi Lemos
Wooden Boat with Seven People,
Spital Square, London E1 6DX, 2017
Courtesy Gazelli Art House
Photography by John Sturrock

 

http://www.gazelliarthouse.com

 

Rose Finn-Kelcey

Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1, until 15th October 2017

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

Working in London from 1968 until her death from motor neurone disease Rose Finn-Kelcey (1945-2014) was an innovative artist who questioned and challenged themes such as feminism, spirituality and power and politics through her works in various media.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

This engaging exhibition – the first since her death – combines key pieces with preparatory sketches and material, photographs and performance documentation and like the artist demands the viewers’ attention and interest.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

www.modernartoxford.org.uk

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

Plywood Triumphant!

PLYWOOD: MATERIAL OF THE MODERN WORLD, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, until 12th November 2017

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood to visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

© John Kirkwood

Perhaps not surprisingly this is a world-first exhibition featuring as it does the many uses to which plywood has been put.

 

Like me, I’m sure you thought it was a twentieth century invention but apparently fragments of layered board have been found in Egyptian tombs – perhaps they thought if the mummies came back to life they might fancy a bit of DIY to amuse themselves – but it really came into its own in the late nineteenth century with the advent of mass production.

 

Plywood’s ubiquity has been embraced by furniture makers, manufacturers of surfboards and skateboards, designers, architects and engineers and this very interesting exhibition takes visitors through plywood’s many transformations from a cheap product to material prized by mid-century modernists and by today’s flourishing maker movement.

©John Kirkwood

I so enjoyed the exhibition that I left feeling that ‘plywood is my wood!’

 

http://www.vam.ac.uk