Tag Archives: london

Lovers and Other Strangers

My absolute favorite artist in the world is Jack Vettriano, which may seem a little cliche due to a few extremely well known and well exploited works of his.  However, I feel unique in saying so because I’ve studied his work, I know his background, I can recognize his distinctive style from a mile away.  I’ve no less than seven prints by Vettriano on display in my apartment (and about fifty more that I wish I had wall space for), not to mention the coffee table book on my, well, coffee table.  The Singing Butler is probably his most famous work, which was interestingly enough part of his first London exhibition back in October 1992 called God’s Children:

you know

Vettriano was born in Fife, Scotland in 1951.  He sparked an interest in painting when a girlfriend gave him a set of watercolors on his 21st birthday, and spent the next nearly 20 years teaching himself how to paint.

In 1989, he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition; both were accepted and sold on the first day. The following year, an equally enthusiastic reaction greeted the three paintings, which he entered for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy and his new life as an artist began from that point on.

The next twenty years produced over 23 separate exhibitions, including those during his 13-year residence at London’s Portland Gallery, which produced such projects as The Passion and the Pain; Between Darkness and Dawn; Lovers and Other Strangers; Affairs of the Heart; and Love, Devotion, and Surrender.

this makes me think of November (probably because it was the featured piece on a calendar I had once)

I have a deep appreciation for Vettriano’s work mostly due his fascination with stylized 20s- and 30s-type settings and characters.  I also love his use of rich, warm colors for his light, sentimental work, and cooler, occasionally faded colors for his darker, moodier pieces.  Vettriano devotes his efforts to exploring specifically angles of the human body and how changing postures and profiles can portray emotion or circumstance, and more broadly, human interactions in general – half of his works feature two or more people and the other half seems to be clearly contemplating those not shown.

The thought and lyricism in the titles of his works is another effort that rings especially important to me (as a writer and general lover of language).  The piece above is called Back Where You Belong.  The piece below is Elegy for a Dead Admiral.

one of my definite favs

I find his work to convey both timelessness and elegance, his collection as a whole striking a delicate balance between the ethereal and the esoteric.  The pieces both above and below are hanging in my dining room.

The next few pieces are Mad Dogs, The Temptress, Waltzers, and Sweet Bird of Youth, respectively.

a fairly early work

a fairly recent work

might recognize this one too

the first piece I ever saw

A few other well recognized paintings are Bad Boy, Good Girl (1994), In Thoughts of You (1996), Dance Me to the End of Love (1998), and Cafe Days (1995).  Below is Vettriano, now 58:

the artist

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Golden Age of Couture

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to Nashville’s own Frist Center for the Visual Arts with a friend of mine.  Being the girly girls that we are, we simply couldn’t pass up the current exhibit: The Golden Age of Couture.  The following paragraphs are a partial description from the Frist website.

The Golden Age of Couture
Paris and London 1947-1957
June 18–September 12, 2010

The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947–1957 is an exhibition that transports visitors to the most glamorous fashion houses of Paris and London in the years after WWII. This exhibition was organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London, which possesses one of the finest costume collections in the world. Following record breaking attendance at its launch in London and its subsequent presentations in Australia, Hong Kong and Canada, The Golden Age of Couture continues its international tour at the Frist Center, the exhibition’s only venue in the United States, before traveling to Museums Sheffield in 2011.

The exhibition celebrates an important decade in fashion history that began with the launch of Christian Dior’s famous New Look in 1947 and ended with his death in 1957. The romantic postwar silhouette pioneered by Dior scandalized and delighted the public, and ushered in a period of remarkable creativity. Dior himself called it a “golden age” for haute couture. He and his contemporaries set a standard for impeccable workmanship and design that has rarely been surpassed since.

hand beaded, like whoa

As a girl who is fascinated with both fashion and history, this exhibit was bliss.  There were sections for both London and Paris, descriptions and displays on each stage of the process of making the dresses, video footage of fittings and fashion shows, along with examples of outfits for every occasion, drawings and sketches, every accessory imaginable… even old-fashioned (and terribly uncomfortable looking) undergarments.

Things I gathered from this experience include:
handmade dresses take forever to make, but they are brilliantly intricate and solidly made;
women in the 40s and 50s were outrageously thin;
tons of fabric was used for each garment in those days(!);
women didn’t mind emphasis on hips, butt, or thighs;
I hate everything in my closet now;
and I wish that I was in Paris in 1955 so that I could wear dresses like that.
I would also settle for living some sort of glamorous lifestyle that involved going to cocktail parties and balls so that I could wear modern versions of these dresses.  Here are a few of my absolute favorites:

ostrich, i believe?

not so good for the hips

can i borrow this for a sec?

aaand my definite fav

The Frist is also currently hosting a small version of the Chihuly exhibit out at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.  I haven’t been out to Cheekwood yet, but the Frist works were absolutely breathtaking.  I’m saving that discussion, though, until after I experience “Chihuly Nights.”  Google it in the meantime.