Building of the week: The Pole House, Australia

Perched high above the Southern Ocean on Australia’s famous Great Ocean Road, the Pole House by F2 Architecture is a great example of the power of architecture, made possible by the spectacular location combined with the unique experience that a work of architecture can bring to such a unique expanse of coastline.

The house sits atop a concrete platform supported by a 13m high pylon built into the steep hillside. Accessible only by a narrow concrete bridge, the visitor is delivered to an entrance which is recessed into the metal clad walls that face the hillside.

As soon as you step on to the bridge you know you are in for something special. Once inside, a curved timber clad wall directs the visitor to the living area with its spectacular 180 degree view of the Southern Ocean.

Full height glass walls can be slid back to open the living area to the panoramic ocean view, sun and sea breeze. Frameless glass balustrades at the perimeter of the elevated platform provide safety and wind protection without obstructing the view. A fireplace is suspended from the ceiling in the corner of the living area to provide warmth and ambience on cold winter days or in the evening.

n contrast to the scale of the landscape, the house is very modest in proportion, the ideal weekender. More akin to a luxurious suite than family accommodation it contains a spacious living and dining area, bedroom and bathroom in an open plan arrangement. The kitchen, bed, robe and storage are built into the flanking walls to maximise the sense of space and provide flexibility. The bathroom is concealed in a timber clad drum which is centrally located to provide separation between the bedroom and living areas. The drum is not full height to allow the pyramidal roof form to float above the living areas.

The deceptively simple square plan of this house underpins the dramatic experience it delivers. The two walls facing the hillside are solid providing complete privacy and a sense of detachment from the land, the only connection being the narrow entry bridge. The two walls facing the ocean are glass. The result is a living area perched high above the landscape, referencing only the vastness of the ocean, the horizon and the distant land forms.

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and The Avant Garde at Barbican, London

Featuring the biggest names in Modern Art, a new exhibition at the Barbican-  Modern Couples explores creative relationships, across painting, sculpture, photography, design and literature.

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde showcases the creative output of over 40 artist couples active in the first half of the 20th century. Drawing on loans from private and public collections worldwide, this major interdisciplinary show features the work of painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, designers, writers, musicians and performers, shown alongside personal photographs, love letters, gifts and rare archival material. Among the highlights are legendary duos such as: Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp; Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin; Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson; Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso; Lee Miller and Man Ray; Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko; Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West; as well as pairings such as Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt, Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí, Romaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford-Barney and Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt, Claude Cahun and Marcelle Moore,  Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, and Nancy Cunard and Henry Crowder, Maria Martins and Marcel Duchamp.

The exhibition seeks to define and explore the relationship between art, society and politics. By focusing on intimate relationships in all their forms – obsessional, conventional, mythic, platonic, fleeting, life-long – it also reveals the way in which creative individuals came together, transgressing the constraints of their time, reshaping art, redefining gender stereotypes and forging news ways of living and loving. Importantly, the exhibition also challenges the idea that the history of art was a singular line of solitary, predominantly male geniuses.

A great example is Cahun’s and Moore’s lifelong relationship. They were already lovers before Cahun’s father married Moore’s mother, making them stepsisters. They created art collaboratively from the 1920s onwards, most strikingly in the form of photos of Cahun, an ambiguously gendered, compelling and strange iconic figure. The couple resisted convention even to the point of death, arranging to be buried together under a headstone marked with two stars of David. Cahun was Jewish but unreligious while Moore wasn’t Jewish at all. It was the Fifties and the gesture was of solidarity with those oppressed by the Nazis in the last two decades. 

The show’s catalogue talks of desire linked to revolution. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were married for 30 years. They were unfaithful to each other, but the Communist ideal they shared and the aim that stemmed from it to create art not for a cultured elite but for the people, is the important factor. They were ideological collaborators.  

Another fascinating insight is found in the display of Nancy Cunard and Henry Crowder’s relationship. Cunard inherited a fortune from her father Sir Bache Cunard, an heir to the Cunard Line shipping businesses. Crowder was a jazz pianist. He was African-American and with his moral support, as well as active engagement as musician and writer, Cunard used culture to fight racism and colonialism. Their affair lasted seven years. After Crowder’s death in 1955 Cunard wrote that it was really him that inspired her sense of art’s purpose. Her own death 10 years later, was terrible: ravaged by alcoholism, weighing only four stone, mad and desolate, she died in the Hôpital Cochin, in Paris, which featured in the essay How the Poor Die by  George Orwell . In the 1920s and 1930s, though, she was a magnificent cultural leader and class warrior. Poet, collector and publisher, she launched the career of Samuel Beckett by bringing out his first book of poetry, Whoroscope. Crowder set the type and designed the cover. Cunard encouraged him to put poetry by black writers to music. In 1934 she published her influential book, Negro Anthology, documenting black culture.

Modern Couples really makes a case for itself with its representation of Cunard’s and Crowder’s joint story, by showing how each was a very great artist indeed in the sense we’re now getting used to, where many things can count as art.

PAD London 2018 Highlights

PAD London, the city’s leading art and design fair, displays an impressive selection of 68 galleries from 12 countries showcasing masterpieces across design, art, antiquities, tribal art and collectible jewellery. PAD London 2018 is unique combination of midcentury, antique and contemporary pieces are displayed revealing new talent and presenting the most recent projects of established talent offering a unique portfolio of creativity and craftsmanship. See our selection of some of the amazing items of design and art on display across the fair.

Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2018 highlights

There is a heightened sense of expectation as Frieze Art London opens its marquees to collectors and guests to reveal contemporary artworks designed both to challenge and inspire. Based in London’s gracious and spacious Regent’s Park the fair takes place from 4th to the 7th of October and features over 160 of the world’s leading galleries.

Highlights are below:

Drawing inspiration from the history of art and music, the talented artist Idris Khan investigates memory, creativity and the layering of experience in his works. The London based Victoria Miro Gallery represents the artists latest works "The Existence of Beauty, 2018", "Falling into the depth of the ground, 2018" and "Nothing to Believe, 2018" at their Frieze London stand this year.

The British artist Rana Begum loves to play with colors, light and perspectives. Her latest works are represented by Kate MacGarry Gallery London at this year's Frieze London and are outstanding pieces, you shouldn't miss, when strolling through the fair

Then our standout booth was at Timothy Taylor, London- with a solo presentation from Brooklyn based painter Eddie Martinez. The oil paints on linen are a wonderful play of vivd contrasts and aggressive combinations. His peculiar dynamic explodes traditional ideas of what a still-life can be where traditional opulence is cut with the grime of urban life.

At the same time, Frieze Masters sees over 130 specialist dealers displaying quality artworks whose timespan stretches from the ancient through to Old Masters as well as late 20th Century Art. Perfectly framing and then linking the two exhibitions is Regent’s Park itself; visitors can stroll and linger on a beautiful 20 minute walk  through the park, passing Frieze's sculpture park while absorbing the natural wonder of this year’s spectacular autumn colors.

One of the appeals of Frieze Masters is the way it forces wildly different eras to coexist;Artemisia Gentileschi Giorgio Morandi Steven Parrino and Dutch still lifes all have to share the same big tent. 

Gagosian, devoted its booth to Man Ray bringing a miniature museum exhibition to Frieze Masters. Small sculptures made from odds and ends—twine, metronomes, chessboards, springs, baguettes painted blue—are joined by photographs, paintings, and assemblages. A 1966 collage, entitled Demagogue, looks shockingly fresh, combining images of a parrot, a smiling blonde woman, and a silver wheel rim. A mixed-media work finds Man Ray mounting a toilet seat atop a photograph of an egg, and in Anal Sunrise (1956), he puts an anatomical spin on the landscape tradition. Not everything here is a masterpiece, certainly, but the pieces combine to form a picture of an artist who wasn’t afraid to follow his quirkiest inclinations.

Madrid based gallery Galería Elvira González set two giants of American Minimalism together, with a focus on their work in wood. Carl Andre’s Pyramus and Thisbe (1990), composed of 20 blocks of Western red cedar, is installed on either side of one of the booth’s walls. It jibes nicely with a four-part series of wall-mounted Donald Judd sculptures from the 1980s and ’90s, made of unadorned Douglas fir plywood.

Dig deep and you’ll come across Delacroix drawings and a terrific Lucas Cranach the Elder Mocking of Christ.

Renzo Piano: The Art of Making Buildings at The Royal Academy

From The Shard in London to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the buildings of Renzo Piano have enriched cities across the globe. The Royal Academy’s new exhibition highlights the vision and invention behind Piano’s pioneering work, showing how architecture can touch the human spirit.

United by a characteristic sense of lightness, and an interplay between tradition and invention, function and context, Piano’s buildings soar in the public imagination as they do in our skylines. Counting the New York Times Building and the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa among his creations, he has cemented his place as one of the greatest architects of our times.

This illuminating exhibition follows Piano’s career, from the influence of his Genoese heritage and his rise to acclaim alongside friend and collaborator Richard Rogers, to current projects still in the making. Focusing on 16 key buildings, it explores how the Renzo Piano Building Workshop designs buildings “piece by piece”, making deft use of form, material and engineering to achieve a precise and yet poetic elegance.

On exhibit are rarely seen drawings, models, photography, signature full-scale maquettes and a new film by Thomas Riedelsheimer that show how inspiring architecture is made. At the heart of the exhibition is an imagined ‘Island’, a specially designed sculptural installation which brings together nearly 100 of Piano’s projects.

Designed and curated in close collaboration with Piano himself, this is the first exhibition in London to put the spotlight on Piano in 30 years.

Victoria and Albert Museum - Dundee

The £80m V&A Museum Of Design Dundee on the banks of the Tay, housed in a dazzling building inspired by cliffs on the east coast of Scotland has opened this September and is now the V&A’s first outpost in Scotland.

The building, designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, is unquestionably a new landmark for the city, similar in wow factor to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, northern Spain, designed by Frank Gehry.

From some angles it looks like the prow of a ship about to enter the water. Kuma has talked about wanting to create a “living room for the city” with a building resembling a Scottish cliff face.

There are 300 exhibits in free-to-enter galleries telling the story of Scotland’s design heritage.

At the museum’s centre is the 13.5-metre-long oak panelled room, which Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street tea rooms in Glasgow in 1907. The panels were salvaged in the 1970s and have largely been in storage since then.

Other objects include original Beano artworks from the Dundee publisher DC Thomson and a 15th-century Book of Hours.

The Turner prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips has been commissioned to make a work in response to the collections. It would be seen by visitors as they reached the top floor of the museum, before entering the galleries.

Also included is a recreation of a tea room by Charles Rennie Mackintosh which was revealed on the architect’s 150th birthday.

Mackintosh designed Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms in 1907, which included an elaborate 13.5-metre long Oak Room. Considered one of the Scottish designer’s key projects, it shaped his ideas for the Glasgow School Art Library which was completed in 1909.

The Oak Room was saved by the Glasgow Museums when the building was demolished in 1971 and put into storage. It will now be painstakingly reconstructed inside the Kengo Kuma-designed museum when it opens to the public in September.

Building Of The Week: The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM), Marseille

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations designed by the Algerian-born French architect Rudy Ricciotti is the flagship project of Marseille’s on-going architectural and cultural renaissance. The museum is located on Marseille’s seafront next to a seventeenth century stronghold, Fort St Jean. Built upon the Greek and Roman vestiges of the antique city-state, the Fort is charged with history and includes a chapel which dates back the twelfth century.

Rudy Riciotti’s classic monolithic design is built around a perfect square; each side of the building is 72 metres. An inner square of 52 metres per side forms the heart of the museum and comprises the exhibition and conference halls. The inner structure, which is composed of steel and glass, has been covered with a delicate ornamental skin of filigreed concrete. The same innovative material has been used to create 308 tree-shaped pillars that stand at over 8 metres high and form the vertical structure of the building. This patterned concrete skin opens the building to natural light and views of the sea allowing the marine atmosphere to pervade entirely the inside of the building. Furthermore, the lace veil of concrete on the outside of the building creates intricate shadow patterns that can be seen as “a projection of the bumpy and irregular sea bed” comments Ricciotti. He goes on to say his Museum is, “open to the sea, to draw a horizon where the two shores of the Mediterranean can meet”.

The Museum is organised on three levels with an array of exhibitions, an auditorium and a bookstore. The rooftop is a particular feature and is set to become an iconic venue for the city with beautiful panoramic views of the sea and harbour. At night a lighting scheme designed by Yann Kersalé creates a magical atmosphere with shades of blue and turquoise.

The top floor roof decking, which spans a width of 24 metres covering an area of 1600m², is made from heat-treated American ash, supplied by Bingaman and Son Lumber Company in Pennsylvania, USA. The top deck sits along the pedestrian route running through the Museum and across Marseille’s historic seafront, so with a constant flow of pedestrians a heavy duty decking solution was essential. “We asked the general contractor to come up with a decking solution that could withstand an average load of 250 kg/m²” explains Tilman Reichert, the project architect. Eric Durand from Roofmart, the contractor in charge of supplying the heat-treated ash decking comments, “The architect was looking for solutions that would avoid him specifying tropical hardwoods; initially he wanted to try heat-treated pine but was not happy with the results of the initial trials. The quality of the heat-treated ash we were delivered was first class. When the architect saw the samples he was won over both by the aesthetic appeal of ash with its characteristic grain but also its dimensional stability and long lengths (20 x140).”

The thermal modification process uses a high temperature in a controlled environment permanently altering the wood’s chemical and physical properties. This limits the ability of the wood to absorb moisture, so products are more dimensionally stable and less prone to cup, warp and twist with changes in humidity. The thermal modification process also removes the nutrients in wood that would otherwise provide a food source for insects and wood-destroying fungi. This increase in dimensional stability and decay resistance significantly extends the service life and reduces maintenance needs of the decking. Given its marine environment, the deck is highly exposed to weathering from the sun, rain and sea spray so will be monitored to assess its performance over time. Tilman Reichert the project architect comments: “We believe that ash with its long wood fibre will offer greater resistance to wear than pinewood”.

he decking is laid on a traditional system of boarding joists to allow the insulation membrane directly under the wooden decking to be well ventilated. The boards were nailed not screwed which is visually more pleasing.

AHEC European Director David Venables says, “The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations is a superb example of the use of newer technologies of hardwood durability enhancement. There’s a developing market for thermally modified hardwoods in Europe and this project publically showcases their potential. By processing wood produced from America’s well-managed hardwood forests, thermally modified hardwood provides a quality, environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to imported tropical hardwood species.”

The weight of the 24 metre wide rooftop terrace contributes to stabilising the concrete pergola above it through a clever system of stainless steel cables. The vast veil surrounding the terrace is made up with the same intricate filigreed concrete that covers the sides of the building. It rests on 15 metre wide concrete cantilever beams that sit on top of the main vertical pillars of the building. On the outside of the building the cantilever beams carry the weight of the external ramps that lead up to the terrace through long stainless steel braces that span the whole height of the building. Stainless steel cables have also been fixed from the wooden deck to the cantilever beams which overhang above the terrace by 4 metres to stabilise the whole canopy structure above the terrace.

The roof terrace offers visitors an inclined walkway made up of 115 metres of bridges travelling out from the roof of the building and crossing the harbour basin. This links the Museum to Fort Saint-Jean which hosts the main restaurant managed by local cooking celebrity Gérald Passedat. In time the fort will house a further 15,000 m2 of museum exhibition space. Furthermore the open public spaces around the Fort have been redesigned to showcase a unique botanical collection of Mediterranean plants along a landscaped promenade. Another footbridge leads visitors to le Panier, the oldest and most traditional neighbourhood in Marseille with endearing narrow streets and steep steps.

Magister Canova at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia, Venice

From 16 June to 22 November 2018, the Scuola Grande della Misericordia in Venice hosts Magister Canova (Possagno, 1757 - Venice, 1822), the first major multimedia exhibition to be devoted to the greatest sculptor of Neoclassicism, created with a scientific committee with a high international profile and the collaboration of the Fondazione Canova Gypsotheca and Museo Antonio Canova di Possagno. An interweaving of music, words and images with the extraordinary participation of Fabrizio Plessi, the voice of actor Adriano Giannini and music by cellist Giovanni Sollima.

Moving from the micro to the macro, Magister Canova accompanies the public on a journey of discovery of an inimitable human and artistic itinerary.

The exhibition route of Magister Canova winds its way through environments of major perceptive impact, scenographic reconstructions, deceptive views. Technology - at the disposal of art - offers visitors an unprecedented experience, where details, episodes, intervals of the broadest scope, are showcased and highlighted, to enable them to grasp the meaning of one of the most exciting creative processes in the history of European sculpture.

Accompanying the visit, an emotional tale recounted by Adriano Giannini’s voice and Giovanni Sollima’s cello. The exhibition moves from the micro to the macro, from Cupid and Psyche’s butterfly to the giant Hercules’s frenzy and Lichas’ terror, from the study of the anatomical drawings from the Biblioteca dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità to the representation of the revolutionary process of creation defined by Canova. The narration continues from the great myths, the heroes carved in white marble, to the multi-colour temperas on dark backgrounds devoted to dance, to conclude with an environment completely devoted to one of the great Canova masterpieces, Paolina Borghese, portrayed by Canova as Venus Victrix.

On Scuola Grande della Misericordia’s ground floor, a site-specific installation by Fabrizio Plessi, an ideal journey in the mind of Antonio Canova, introduces the visit to an exhibition where show and detailed study, emotion and knowledge, blend together perfectly.


Thomas Cole: Lost Arcadia and Destructive Hubris

Born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1801, Thomas Cole (1801–1848) travelled to America with his family at the age of 17 following the failure of his father’s business. Teaching himself painting from textbooks, he then showed America to the Americans, becoming over his short career both his adopted country’s first notable landscape artist and the founder of its first notable art movement, the Hudson River School.

A highly political painter, Cole’s five-part series “The Course of Empire” is only the most obvious polemic in a body of work infused with nostalgia and suspicious of development, be it industrial, commercial or agricultural.

His best known work, the 1836 View from Mount Holyoke, Northhampton, Massachusetts after a Thunderstorm, generally known as The Oxbow, perfectly highlights the transition between the rich and beautiful forested wilderness in the foreground and the colourless and anodyne transformation to dull and listless grid of fields in the centre.

Cole View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow.jpg

After his initial success in New York he returned to Europe in search of mastery, and to meet his heroes John Constable (1776–1837) and J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851).  With Constable he developed a strong friendship, but he found Turner disappointingly chaotic and informal.

Cole’s undoubted technical proficiency in a pre-photographic age allowed him to create immersive works which draw the viewer into the envisioned space, although he perhaps overused the trick beloved of John Martin (1759-1854) (whom he also admired), of filling the centre of the canvas with brightness and darkening the sides, creating a tunnel towards the light. However he lacked the courage of Turner to move from painting with defined forms to painting with light, and the grandeur of many of his works is diminished by fussy detail.

While early American pioneers and politics objectified the landscape as a resource to be claimed, colonised and exploited, Cole was at the forefront of a new philosophy that valued the natural world and rejected its destruction. Such disrespect of nature, Cole presciently alludes, will only lead to our doom.

Jack Coulter: Painting sound

London based artist Jack Coulter, 21, has a form of Synaesthesia, a rare neurological phenomenon that causes him to ‘hear’ colour, resulting in a sensory overload that he finds both draining and beautifully enriching.

Jack Coulter has spent his entire life surrounded by colour. But not the kind of colour you or I see; the spectral vortex that constantly surrounds him is the result of synesthesia - a rare neurological condition which makes staring at the sky a fluorescent experience, and turns the sound of his beating heart into a shade of ultra violet, even the greyest of objects shine like diamonds, so it's no wonder that Jack has also spent his entire life trying to recreate these hallucinations on canvas.

At just 21 years of age, he's already built up a large body of paintings, prints, and photography, featuring in the likes of GQ and on the cover of singer-songwriter SOAK's debut album, Before We Forgot How to Dream. Using the cheapest paint available, and applied with things like sticks, broken glass, knives, and even mixed with sand - Jack's paintings are like looking through a kaleidoscope, as each marbled spatter of florescent paint bleeds into the next, its tangibility alluding to the physical forms of colour that Jack has visualised his whole life.

Deconstructing the perception of colour in a world where we routinely experience life through the prism of an Instagram filter, his work appeals to the masses (he already has over 46,000 followers on the social platform). There's also a sense of alienation and isolation bound up within his work, how he operates as an artist, and the fact that he sees things that no one else can see, in other words a loneliness that people can identify with and take comfort in, which is probably why Jack receives so many messages from fans online.

The Scottish Colourists: Cadell, Fergusson, Hunter and Peploe

The term ‘Scottish Colourists’ refers to four painters, S. J. Peploe (1871—1935), J. D. Fergusson (1874—1961), G. L. Hunter (1877—1931) and F. C. B. Cadell (1871—1935).

This collective designation, however, was not coined until the late 1940s, by which time three of the principle artists – all except Fergusson – were dead, and has only recently achieved widespread currency. The designation ‘Scottish Colourist’ is also misleading, suggesting an artistic unity of purpose and collectivism, which does not accurately describe the tenuous relationship between the artists or the heterogeneity of their collective output.

The term in other words tends to obscure the wide variety of stylistic influences and approaches developed and employed by the artists. Regardless of what the collective appellation may suggest, the four artists were not a particularly close-knit group, neither did they work collaboratively towards a common goal. During their lifetimes the artists only exhibited together three times, and each of them developed individual methods, characteristic styles and divergent approaches to a wide variety of subject matter.

The Scottish Colourists combined their training in France and the work of French Impressionists and Fauvists, such as Monet, Matisse and Cézanne, with the painting traditions of Scotland. A forerunner of this movement was William McTaggart (1835–1910), a Scottish landscape painter who was influenced by Post-Impressionism. He is regarded as one of the great interpreters of the Scottish landscape and is often labelled the "Scottish Impressionist". They absorbed and reworked the strong and vibrant colours of contemporary French painting into a distinctive Scottish idiom during the 1920s and 1930s.

Although their subject matter is often considered conservative compared to their French counterparts, since much of it consisted of island landscapes, Edinburgh interiors and fashionable models; their style was confident and vibrant.

Their interpreations of Scottish interiors with their palettes of soft whites, pinks, greys and lilacs evoked the cool northern light and contrasted vividly with both the brighter, more extravagant works that all of the four produced in France, both in Paris and on the Mediterranean, and their outdoor scenes and seascapes of Scotland.  These Scottish interiors with their palettes of soft whites, pinks, greys and lilacs evoked the cool northern light and contrasted vividly with both the brighter, more extravagant works that all of the four produced in France, both in Paris and on the Mediterranean, and their outdoor scenes and seascapes of Scotland.

The Scottish Colourists were internationally known during their lifetimes but their work fell out of favour by World War II, until they were rediscovered in the 1980s and subsequently played an influential role on the development of Scottish art.

Their work is featured in the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Aberdeen, Scotland; the J. D. Fergusson Gallery in Perth, Scotland; the University of Stirling, Paisley Museum and Art Galleries and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Some of Leslie Hunter's paintings can be seen in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. The Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery is said to house the largest collection of works by Peploe and McTaggart.


Car of the week: Bugatti Type 57S Atalante

The Bugatti Type 57 and later variants (including the famous Atlantic and Atalante) was an entirely new design created by Jean Bugatti, son of founder Ettore. Type 57s were built from 1934 through 1940, with a total of 710 examples produced.

Type 57s used a twin-cam 3,257cc engine based on that of the Type 49 but heavily modified by Jean Bugatti, unlike the single cam engines of the Type 49 and earlier models.  The engines of the Type 50, 51 used bevel gears at the front of the engine to transmit power from the crankshaft, whereas the Type 57 used a train of spur gears at the rear of the engine, with fiber gear wheels on the camshafts to achieve more silence in operation.

The Bugatti Type 57S Atalante number 57502, built in 1937 by Automobiles Ettore Bugatti, is one of 43 Bugatti Type 57S made and one of only 17 Type 57S produced with the in-house Atalante coupé coachwork. The car hit the headlines in 2009 when auctioned by Bonhams, after having been rediscovered in 2008, following 48 years of storage in a private owner's garage in Gosforth, England, with few people aware of its location.



Rodin and the Ancient Art of Greece at The British Museum

In 1881 the French sculptor Auguste Rodin visited London for the first time. On a trip to the British Museum, he saw the Parthenon sculptures and was instantly captivated by the beauty of these ancient Greek masterpieces.

Like many archaeological ruins, the Parthenon sculptures had been broken and weathered over centuries, but Rodin took inspiration from the powerful expression that they conveyed through the body alone. He even removed the heads and limbs from his own figures to make them closer to the broken relics of the past. By doing so, he created a new genre of contemporary art – the headless, limbless torso.

A hundred years after his death, the British Museum curates a selection of Rodin’s works – including his iconic sculptures The Thinker and The Kiss – in a new light. This major exhibition features original plaster, bronze and marble examples of many of Rodin’s sculptures on loan from the Musée Rodin in Paris. For the first time, they are shown alongside some of the Parthenon sculptures that the artist so admired, as well as selected objects from his own collection of antiquities.


Oscar Niemeyer: The Man Who Built Brasilia

Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture. Niemeyer was best known for his design of civic buildings for Brasília, a planned city that became Brazil's capital in 1960, as well as his collaboration with other architects on the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. His exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete was highly influential in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Both lauded and criticised for being a "sculptor of monuments", Niemeyer was hailed as a great artist and one of the greatest architects of his generation by his supportersHe said his architecture was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, but in an interview, assured that this "didn't prevent [his] architecture from going in a different direction". Niemeyer was most famous for his use of abstract forms and curves and wrote in his memoirs:

I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein.

Niemeyer was educated at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and after graduating, he worked at his father's typography house and as a draftsman for local architectural firms. In the 1930s, he interned with Lúcio Costa, with the pair collaborating on the design for the Palácio Gustavo Capanema in Rio de Janeiro. Niemeyer's first major project was a series of buildings for Pampulha, a planned suburb north of Belo Horizonte. His work, especially on the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, received critical acclaim and drew international attention. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Niemeyer became one of Brazil's most prolific architects, working both domestically and overseas. This included the design of the Edifício Copan (a large residential building in São Paulo) and a collaboration with Le Corbusier (and others) on the United Nations Headquarters, which yielded invitations to teach at Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

In 1956, Niemeyer was invited by Brazil's new president, Juscelino Kubitschek, to design the civic buildings for Brazil's new capital, which was to be built in the centre of the country, far from any existing cities. His designs for the National Congress of Brazil, the Cathedral of Brasília, the Palácio da Alvorada, the Palácio do Planalto, and the Supreme Federal Court, all designed by 1960, were experimental and linked by common design elements. This work led to his appointment as inaugural head of architecture at the University of Brasília, as well as honorary membership of the American Institute of Architects. Due to his largely leftist ideology, and involvement with the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), Niemeyer left the country after the 1964 military coup and opened an office in Paris. He returned to Brazil in 1985, and was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988. A socialist and atheist from an early age, Niemeyer had spent time in both Cuba and the Soviet Unionduring his exile, and on his return served as the PCB's president from 1992 to 1996. Niemeyer continued working at the end of the 20th and early 21st century, notably designing the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (1996) and the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (2002). Over a career of 78 years he designed approximately 600 projects.





Car of the Week: The Hispano-Suiza H6

Rolls-Royce must have been fuming by the buzz that surrounded the launch of the Hispano-Suiza H6 at the 1919 Paris Salon. For such a large luxury car, the new model – designed by the brilliant Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt – not only looked imposing, but also bristled with innovative features. The firm’s aero experience was clearly evident in this vintage exotic. Under the long bonnet, the all-alloy 6.6-litre straight-six, finished in signature gloss-black paint, was in effect one bank of Hispano’s magnificent V12 aero engine, with its overhead camshaft driven by a vertical shaft following aviation practice.

Just one twin-choke updraught Solex served the engine, mixing fuel with air warmed by the crankcase. Twin-plug ignition and Hispano’s patented threaded-cap valve stems both featured in this handsome, compact unit, which would have impressed even Ettore Bugatti. The auxiliaries were kept hidden, like servants in a grand château, and the crankcase was stretched wide to meet the chassis sides and make the engine bay even tidier. Peak power was 134bhp at 2750rpm, with maximum permitted revs at 3000, but some reports claimed that the factory was over-optimistic and 115bhp was closer to the truth. Whichever way, the power output was huge compared to rivals, with Rolls-Royce mustering around 70bhp and Isotta Fraschini about 80.

When most makers were still boasting of having four-wheel brakes, Hispano was far ahead of the game with its servo assistance integrated with the gearbox, a design patent that Rolls-Royce carried through to the 1965 Silver Cloud. The conventional deep-channel chassis was well braced by a finely cast aluminium bulkhead.

Sporting motorists at the Paris show may have scoffed at the three-speed ’box but Hispano, like many quality firms, regarded gearchanging as an operation unfit for gentlemen, and claimed that the engine’s torque would provide ‘smooth and flexible’ performance whatever the route. Frustratingly, pre-war road testers didn’t report torque figures but the H6B was reckoned to give 350lb ft at just 1600rpm. No wonder it could accelerate in top from single figures to 60mph in just 30 secs. The H6B’s pace clearly matched its impressive stopping power, which all underlined its bold claim to be ‘the best car in the world’.


Masterpiece 2018: The Unmissable Art Fair returns to Chelsea, London

It was exciting to attend this year's Masterpiece Art Fair for their preview afternoon.  The eclectic set-up of the fair presents collectors with the opportunity to admire works from diverse disciplines in tandem, and discover the joys of mixing and matching. With 160 international exhibitors gathered at the Royal Hospital Chelsea,  our highlights are below - from Greta Garbo's jewellery, to a selection of eye catching contemporary art and design amongst Old Masters and ancient art and artefacts.  We spotted an ancient Middle Eastern shield as well as some beautiful Italian mid century furniture design.


Building of the Week: blurring the lines between nature and the superficial construction in the Chaoyang Park Plaza - Beijing

MAD architects, the Chinese firm led by Ma Yansong, has completed ‘Chaoyang Park Plaza’ on the southern edge of the largest park in Beijing’s central business district. 

Having a similar position and function as Central Park in Manhattan, but unlike the modern box-like buildings that only create a separation between the park and the city, “Chaoyang Park Plaza” instead is an expansion of nature. It is an extension of the park into the city, naturalizing the CBD’s strong artificial skyline, borrowing scenery from a distant landscape ─ a classical approach to Chinese garden architecture, where nature and architecture blend into one another.

The development includes the 220,000 square meter ‘Armani apartment complex’, which comprises ten buildings that have been designed to ‘unfold as a classic Shanshui painting on an urban scale’. the project — which broke ground in 2014, before topping out the following year — has been conceived as extension of the park within the city. ‘we want to blur the boundary between nature and the artificial, and make it so that both are designed with the other in mind,’ explains Ma Yansong.

Inspired by traditional Chinese landscape paintings, MAD’s design introduces a range of natural forms and spaces.  Connected by a glazed atrium, the site’s asymmetrical twin tower office buildings sit at the base of the park’s lake and appear as two emerging mountain peaks. the small-scale, low-rise commercial buildings appear as eroded mountain rocks whose seemingly random positioning forms a secluded urban garden. finally, the two multi-story Armani apartments to the southwest feature staggered balconies that encourage outdoor living

The development’s overall environment is shaped by smooth, curved surfaces that seek to evoke the emotion and aesthetic resonance of a traditional Chinese ink painting. the landscape that weaves itself in between the buildings incorporates pine trees, bamboo, rocks, and ponds — all traditional eastern landscape elements that imply a deeper connection between the architecture and classical space. meanwhile, Japanese graphic artist and curator Kenya Haraled the design of the project’s signage system.

in modern cities, architecture as an artificial creation is seen more as a symbol of capital, power or technological development; while nature exists independently,’ says Ma Yansong, founder of MAD architects. ‘it is different from traditional eastern cities where architecture and nature are designed as a whole, creating an atmosphere that serves to fulfill one’s spiritual pursuits.’


Building of the week: Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Art Nouveau masterpiece - The Glasgow School of Art

Due to the sad news today we are posting about Charles Rennie Mackintosh's beautiful design for the Glasgow School of Art as our building of the week.

Glasgow School of Art, situated on a steep hill leading down to Sauchiehall Street, is one of the most distinctive Art Nouveau buildings in Glasgow, displaying a combination of decorative styles influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. 

The opening ceremony of the completed Glasgow School of Art took place on 15th December 1909, performed by Sir James Fleming (left), chairman of the Board of Governors. Sir James had been a pupil of the school a few years after it had been founded in 1840.  At the ceremony Sir John Stirling Maxwell moved a vote of thanks to the architect, Mr Mackintosh, whom he said "had the real faculty of being able to adapt a building for the purpose for which it was really intended". He went on to say that the Glasgow School of Art "was a conspicuous success of that kind".  Mackintosh acknowledged the compliment and on behalf of the contractors presented Sir James Fleming with a jewelled silver casket containing a decorative signed scroll.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's silverware was influenced by the work of the 'Wiener Werkstätte', designers and artisans of the Vienna Secession of which he was an honorary member. 

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had submitted his designs for the competition in 1896 and was successful in becoming the winning entrant when the result was announced in early 1897. Funding limitatations meant that the building was erected in stages between 1897 and 1909. 
Glasgow School of Art still demonstrates a freshness of style and presents a fascinating insight into turn of the century modernism.

Founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design, it changed its name to The Glasgow School of Art in 1853. It was first located at 12 Ingram Street and moved to the McLellan Galleries in 1869. In 1897, work began on a new building to house the school on Renfrew Street. The building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, chosen for the commission by the school's director, Francis Newbery, who oversaw a period of expansion and fast-growing reputation. The first half of the building was completed in 1899 and the second half in 1909.

Mackintosh lived most of his life in the city of Glasgow. Located on the banks of the River Clyde, during the Industrial Revolution, the city had one of the greatest production centres of heavy engineering and shipbuilding in the world. As the city grew and prospered, a faster response to the high demand for consumer goods and arts was necessary. Industrialized, mass-produced items started to gain popularity. Along with the Industrial Revolution, Asian style and emerging modernist ideas also influenced Mackintosh's designs. When the Japanese isolationist regime softened, they opened themselves to globalisation resulting in notable Japanese influence around the world. Glasgow's link with the eastern country became particularly close with shipyards building at the River Clyde being exposed to Japanese navy and training engineers. Japanese design became more accessible and gained great popularity. In fact, it became so popular and so incessantly appropriated and reproduced by Western artists, that the Western World's fascination and preoccupation with Japanese art gave rise to the new term, Japonism or Japonisme.

The school has produced most of Scotland's leading contemporary artists including, since 2005, 30% of Turner Prize nominees and four recent Turner Prize winners: Simon Starling in 2005, Richard Wright in 2009, Martin Boyce in 2011 and Duncan Campbell in 2014. The School of Architecture is highly rated by the architecture profession[5] and the School of Design has been described by Design Week as "leaders in design education"



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