Monday, March 31, 2008

Espace Claude Berri

On March 21st a new contemporary art space opened in Paris. The Espace Claude Berri is a newly renovated gallery space dedicated to the collection of the legendary director and producer, Claude Berri. Since the early 1970s Berri has been amassing an enormous and important collection of modern and contemporary art. Artists range from the early 20th century Italian master-painter of still lifes, Giorgio Morandi, minimalist painter of white, Robert Ryman, to artists such as Bruce Nauman, Christian Boltanski, Paul Mcarthy and photographer Yto Barrada. The space doesn't show a collective exhibition but rather has opened with a large installation by the French artist, Gilles Barbier, of what could perhpas be summed up as a sculptural fantasy of the intestinal hommage to the environmental/political/corporate destruction of the world. Espace Claude Berri plans to change exhibitions every few months so take note of a new space to check out on your regulary Marais outings. Espace Claude Berri, 8, rue Rambuteau.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Batignolles:Le Dix-Sept (17th)

Photos taken in and around the petit parc de batignolles on Easter Sunday....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cheyney Thompson at Sutton Lane Gallery

“New Works,” is an exhibition by Cheyney Thompson at the Sutton Lane Gallery in Paris of just that, new work. It is a small show, with four oil on canvas paintings, but it is a strong show with work that forms part of a larger project, some of which is included in the current Whitney Biennial. The paintings on view demonstrate Thompson’s ongoing investigations of commodity and the marketplace, uses of repetition and media imagery, and the practice of formalist and history painting. This is the artist’s first solo show with the Paris branch of Sutton Lane. The exhibition runs through April 12, 2008.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

design with conscience

Artecnica is a design firm that emphasizes a mix between art and technoogy to, as they say "elevate the value and purpose of everyday objects..." They work with various, international contemporary desginers to produce an interesting line of mostly high-end products. Based in California, they have always had a sustainable approach to design and production, but the most interesting, in my opinion is their project, "Design with Conscience," whereby they pair up a leading designer, say Dutch designers Tord Boontje or Hella Jongerius, with artisans in developing countries, in this case Rio de Janiero and Peru respectively. Working with the non profit Aid to Artisans and the British Craft Council, this project creates not only a more affordable product of these designers, more importantly draws out the importance and potential of collaboration, and the links between these two types of designers, artisan and design studio. In addition, these products often have an eco-approach to materials, for example the project between Estudio Campana and artisans from rural Vietnam that uses repurposed scooter tires and natural wicker to produce a unique type of container or the tranSglass line which transforms recycled materials into a beautiful glass-like material that is then crafted by Guatemalen craftsmen into designs by Tord Boontje and Emma Woffenden. It's one of their best selling products. Take a look at their website for more information,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Discovered:Tanya Aguiniga

Thanks to, the detailed mecca of design information, I just discovered the website of Tanya Aguiniga,, a furniture and textile designer based in Los Angeles. The work is amazing and I needed to share the information. Tanya was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico and her work is very much influenced by the culture, border issues and community activism that surround Mexico and the US. As her website states, she is influenced by the interconnectedness of societies, the beauty in struggle and the celebration of culture. Her work encourages people to reconsider the objects they use in their daily lives. Some of my personal favorites are the objects that incorporate an element of the natural world, whether in the series of pieces using birchwood or the chairs covered in felt or the chairs built up from layers of threads which come to resemble a type of loom. The work is really different. It considers new possibilities for pillows, tables and seating. In addition she makes beautiful textile objects that are hand woven.

Eirlys Roberts

From the Guardian newspaper over the weekend I read the obituary of Eirlys Roberts, a woman who led a most interesting life. She was considered the mother of the modern British consumer movement. In 1957 she helped establish the first consumer magazine called Which? Everyone thought it would flop, but she knew the importance of this arena and worked hard to make it happen. She ended up serving as the editor until 1973. Above and beyond that she studied the classics and spoke Greek and Latin. She was always writing and involved with women's magazines early on. She joined up with the British military and political intelligence sector in the mid 1940s living in Greece and Albania, where she reported on the current wars and atrocities and helping with human rights efforts. At heart she always had the interest of the people at hand, which is what led to her lifetime involvement with consumer organizations and concerns--going as far as developing this sector for the European Economic Community. She died at 97.

I had not heard of Eirlys Roberts before yesterday, but felt lucky to have read this and learned about such a pioneering and intriguing woman. It seemed important to share.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

French Ceramicist Gregoire Scalabre

French ceramicist, Gregoire Scalabre, has a fantastic new exhibition at the Galerie NeC at 117, rue Vieille du Temple. Gregoire, one of the leading ceramicists in France I am told by his associates, transforms clay, here mainly lush white porcelain, into
contemporary, sculptural work that is at times rather akin to surrealist organic forms.

The smallish, circular-like objects, titled "Temps Moderne," are a recurring form. They often have small holes pierced onto the sides or are open at the base. They suggest something between a children's rattle, an industrial plumbing device and chemistry models for molecules. He places them onto their sides or against one another, sometimes on a layer of small, pentagon shaped tiles and other times a
flat rectangular base. It's a seductive, if not unusual work that can
function alone on a pedestal, as a sculptural, stand-alone object, but
would also be lovely as an object that tied in with other household
pieces like a desk or low table, perching it just so to give it its
space, yet engage with other pieces around it.

In "Fleurs de Grand Feu," tube like shapes about 8-10inches high, sprout up from a flat, rectangular base. With a metallic like patina the piece could almost suggest a late 60s-early 1970s ceramic work. Scalabre also riffs on traditional ceramic vessels in his large cylindrical vessels with handles, or the Tony Cragg like installation of dozens of miniature, white vase-like vessels with cut out centers which are placed on a high pedestal.

Also on view are ink on paper drawings and sketches made both as studies and
preludes to the sculptural work. They are interesting studies of form
and space.

It's is clear that Gregoire is talented, very experienced and
extremely skilled with the possibilities of ceramic as a medium and its
potential to be transformed into contemporary sculpture.
I may be biased because Gregoire was my teacher during my three-month 'stage' at the Atelier de Ceramique,
where I struggled interminably on my quest for zen and just one
centered pot (not). From time to time we had the pleasure of watching
M.Scalabre while he spun his miniature vessels, one after the other from a large dome of porcelain. You can visit his website for more information,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Liz Saintsing

I found Liz Saintsing's website through some internet-desgin related searching and was immediately drawn to her work. Based in San Francisco, Liz Saintsing is an artist, (she studied printmaking), who finds old vintage purses, gloves, belts and various textiles which she brings back to life through her printed designs of birds, animals and other nature imagery which are hand-silkscreened onto the objects.

The results are one of a kind. The old, funky shapes of vintage bags have a fresh, contemporary feel, yet the images don't jar with/or take away from the vintage quality. In many respects they seem to fit naturally, as if they were originally a part of the object. The gloves are a personal favorite. Her work sells at various locations around the USA and online.

Monday, March 17, 2008


abcd la galerie is a hidden pleasure. Tucked away in Montreuil, abcd galerie is devoted to Art Brut and it boasts one of the best collections in the world, including works by artists Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfli, Aurie Ramirez, Dan Miller, Jakic Vojislav, and Jaime Fernandes. The 20+ minute metro ride to the galerie is fully worth it. It's a beautiful, welcoming space, and the owner is usually onsite and very helpful with any questions. There is also a small screening room to show some of the films on artists they have produced.

Art Brut, or Outsider Art in English, was a term coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet to refer to art made outside the boundaries of "normal" society. Essentially this refers to artists with mental handicaps, as well as to artists working in prison, who are illiterate, or who are totally uneducated. Typically these people are making art out of a purely intuitive and almost obsessive need. Speaking recently to Tom di Maria, the director of Creative Growth Center in Oakland, California, a center which supports over 150 mentally disabled people to make art at their center, (and who are also opening a gallery in the 10th arrondisement in late Spring!), he discussed how some of these artists who cannot even make a sandwich for themselves are creating incredibly layered, rich and important works of art. It's an unexplainable situation really, the why do they do it factor, but it is truly an engaging field in the art world, which is only growing stronger thanks to such institutions like Creative Growth, and fantastic collectors like abcd galerie.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rosa B.

Rosa B. is a new online French/English magazine produced by the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art Bordeaux and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux. Named after the painter, Rosa Bonheur, who lived and worked in Bordeaux and who was known for her beautifully painted scenes of animals, landscapes and market life. Rosa Bonheur was an independent and rebellious artist who fought societal conventions
put on women to become a working painter and run her own art establishment. She
dressed up like a man to visit the livestock markets and she travelled to the American West, exploring new territories and becoming friends with wild characters.

The magazine, which channels this free spirited mind, seeks to explore issues of art, theory, culture, methodologies of knowledge, writing, philosophy
and the like. Each issue of the magazine will focus on a specific theme, subject matter or question that is a common concern for each institution, the choice of which will be made by the editorial board.

Each issue will have a new editor, who will select and organize the materials, text and audio-visual, that will be included. In the first issue, writer and curator Thomas Boutoux serves as the editor and he has included a video interview about Stuart Bailey, the writer/editor/and founder of Dexter Sinister, a small press in NYC; a
short film about Roma Publications in Amsterdam which includes the artists Mark Manders and Roger Williams; an extract from a book called Grammaphne, Film, Typewriter by German Philosopher Friedrich Kittler, (1986), with an introduction by Patricia Falguieres; and an illuminating interview between Boutoux and the writer Matthew Stadler. Rosa B. is an interesting and insightful new addition to the world of online sites devoted to art/culture.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sarah Crowner-Hand Built Vessels

I meant to post about this show last week, but I must have been caught up in post-Tangier world. Sarah Crowner, an artist based in NYC and a dear friend of mine, has a fantastic new exhibition of hand built, ceramic vessels at the Nice and Fit Gallery in Berlin, This new body of work (she previously focused on painting and abstraction), is inspired by Beatrice Wood, the famous ceramic artist who lived over 100 years during which time she hung out with early Modernists like Duchamp, Picabia, Anais Nin and the like. Wood was a pioneer on many levels. Not only did she leave home and traditional routes to live in New York and immerse herself in avant garde artistic movements, she then became a renowned ceramic artist, supporting herself completely and then became involved in spiritual movements such as theosophy. She continued to write, travel and make art until her death at 105. What a better person to be inspired by? Crowner's work (admittedly only seen in photo because I couldn't go to berlin), are unglazed, hand built, sensual objects that are meant to be abstract portraits of the circle of friends that surrounded Beatrice Wood. Wood would no doubt be honored by this homage.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Khadi + Co

Khadi + Co is a lovely boutique in the Marais which is run by Danish textile designer, Bess Nielsen. Khadi refers to a type of cotton (but can also be silk or wool) that is a traditional Indian cotton, locally harvested and handspun. It appears to have begun in 1918 and served as a symbol during India's struggle for independence, representing village industries and possibilites for the country and Ghandi himself is known for having promted and worn the Khadi cotton.(source for this info from

Nielsen has been working with a cooperative in India to produce her elegant, classic designs which she sells at the boutique, 37, rue Debelleyme. Through the 21st of March is a special presentation of Indigo fabrics and clothing, titled "Vivre en Indigo." Scarfs, tunics, blouses, skirts and linens are available in this gorgeous blue, or patterns of indigo and white. She is constantly creating new designs and travelling to India, and so it is almost essential to make the store a regular visit to see what is the latest addition. There wasn't much available online about Nielsen nor the store, so I will try to get some further information to share. www.,

Saturday, March 8, 2008

salon du livre et papiers ancien

On through tomorrow at the espace champerret in the 17th, is the annual salon du livre and papiers ancien. Housed in what appears to be the basement of some uninteresting conference center, this is a gem of a salon for anyone who loves to hunt for old books, postcards, posters, and emphemera. The average viewer and dealer could be considered a bit "crusty," I would say that M and I lowered the average age by a few years, but none-the-less, it is a fun way to spend the afternoon. I bought a couple of small posters and cards of 1940 or 1950s advertisements for coffee and rum, filled with bold, graphic colors and shapes. M found some old religious texts and politcal studies for his work. Plus, not to be missed is the fabulous "cafe" that serves delicious wine and champagne alongside plates of charcuterie and fromage, homemade tarts and fresh bread. Makes the whole experience even better.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thoughts of Restoration

I talked earlier about the Cinematheque Tangier, which has been lovingly restored by artist Yto Barrada+ her husband Sean Gullette. Walking through the streets of Tangiers you cannot help but indulge fantasies of restoring one of the amazing, old art deco or neo-classical buildings that are sadly in ruins all over the city. Fantasies of a new Miami or Nice, France float through my not-so-creative, but strong imagination. If 10-20 people took an initiative in Tangiers, like Sean and Yto, this city really could be revitalized, but unfortunately I don’t imagine it would happen for awhile. Still, M + I played around for an afternoon with the notion of taking over this old café that sits on a side street, just down from the “Chemin de Paresseux,” or the walkway of the lazy, the little stretch along the main route that has a beautiful look-out point over the ocean, where you can usually see the tip of Spain. The two-floor café has floor-to-ceiling windows that take in this view of the ocean as well. How perfect to construct an updated café on the top floor and a small bookstore or boutique downstairs? Keep it friendly for the old regulars but contemporize it for young people. Think of having such an excuse to buy loads of old tiles and furniture. Could it work? Well, perhaps—with major risks and huge commitment, but alas, my imagination and my reality have not yet found harmony, so Paris it will remain, for now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

And a few more...

Photos of...

Here are some photos from our trip to Tangiers. Aside from the nasty stomach virus that I unfortunately brought home with me, it was a fantastic trip. A city full of color, chaos, beauty and decay.