[A previous Munro installation via Longwood Gardens]
[Longquan ware vase, latter half of 13th century, Southern Song or Yuan dynasty. Stoneware with celadon glaze and Japanese lacquer repairs. Freer Sackler.]
The Freer Sackler is starting the new year with a bang, releasing images of 40,000 Asian artworks (the galleries' entire holdings) via a free resource called Open F|S. This means that the public will be able to access objects not on view and if interested use the images for anything ranging from massive mood boards to more scholarly pursuits -- essentially any personal or artistic project under the non-commercial umbrella.
Check out the gilded "scar" on the old vase, above. Rather than hide its imperfections, a Japanese artisan highlighted the flaws as he repaired them.
[Carrying case, 20th century. Cotton with mirror glass, open chain, buttonhole, and stem stitches; laid work. Gujarat/Kutch or Sind, India or Pakistan. Freer Sackler.]
According to the museum, slight asymmetry also figures in the design of this handbag with pakko (meaning well-done) embroidery. The unconventional approach is supposed to stave off bad fortune.
[Screengrab from Ang Lee's Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon]
Last month I instagrammed a wish that Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou's staggeringly gorgeous but hard to find 1991 movie) would stream on Netflix or appear in iTunes. Hasn't happened yet but my fingers are still crossed; The Met's spring blockbuster, China: Through the Looking Glass -- set to open May 7, 2015, examining China as ever-enduring fashion muse -- might help build momentum. The Museum says that some of the show's "reflections" will materialize in film clips from acclaimed Chinese directors including Yimou and Ang Lee, which will complement the exhibited clothes and vignettes centered on women with presence such as Oei Huilan.
In the meantime, other easier to access textile-filled flicks include Yimou's House of Flying Daggers and Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And The Last Emperor, subject of a past post, dovetails with the eras highlighted in The Met's upcoming show. (Actually, in one way or another all of the suggested films do, as the exhibition covers territory from the 18th century to the present, but Emperor shows more mingling of Western and Eastern fashion in the 1920s.)
[17th–18th century Chinese saddle made for the Tibetan market. The Met.]
According to The Met, this opulent saddle is not unlike styles owned by the emperor Qianlong centuries before last emperor Pu Yi came on the scene. Though I'm highlighting it here just as a nod to the horseback riding scenes in Crouching Tiger. Well worth a look, the saddles and accompanying horse blankets in the movie seem wonderfully rugged by comparison.
[Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Peonies, 1884. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, NGA.]
But back to Gauguin's piece, his colors bleed and swirl together a little like a paisley pattern from the same era.
The palette of either object could be a great jumping off point for an entire room.
[Book open to an image by Francois Halard]
To convey just how rarefied and tantalizing lapis-blue was to medieval Venetians, he shows the laborious process by which the lapis stone was transformed into brilliant ultramarine paint, and he visits Giotto's star-flecked, deep-blue, 14th-century barrel-vaulted ceiling within the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Fox sees blue as an adventurous color, sometimes exotic and technically always a bit out of reach.
By the late 20th century, blue pigments weren't so rare but the application of blue paint on a Manhattan patio stairway -- a detail I spied in the 2001 book, House & Garden Book of Style -- still has an adventurous spirit.
[Click for full view. Colossal Statue of the Gautama, 1855, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.]
The Fabric of India. For armchair travelers, there's a catalogue, too.
Rudolph's cousin, pictured above, is rendered on a Japanese writing box (Suzuri-Bako) with a deer and foliage motif attributed to Hon'ami Kōetsu, 1558 - 1637. This piece is part of a new exhibition, Flowers and Birds, Wind and Moon: Nature’s Presence in Japanese Art and Culture, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Soon more Japanese works will go on view at the Museum when a major show dedicated to the accomplishments of Kano painters, Ink and Gold: Art of the Kano, goes on view in February.
[Zorah Debout, Henri Matisse. Oil on canvas. 1912. The State Hermitage Museum.]
Here's my pick for a satisfying virtual trip: Artists’ Journeys: Sean Scully on Henri Matisse, an early 1990s BBC documentary in which Scully compares and contrasts his own work and sources of inspiration with those of the 20th-century master and even travels to Morocco to follow the path blazed by Matisse.
[Book image via Barnes and Noble]
It's too bad I'm not in school re-experiencing Intro to the Italian Renaissance. I have just the topic for a research paper. Admittedly my idea isn't very original but in light of recent trends (recent meaning the past several years), this subject is hard to resist: Flora, as interpreted by Botticelli in La Primavera, circa 1477 to1482, and her centuries-lasting impact on fashion and pop culture.
[Screengrabs two through four are from the documentary Botticelli: A New Springtime]
Now her spirit can be felt in every online flower crown or wreath tutorial.
But if you're mostly interested in the actual botanical specimens used by the Florentine artist throughout the painting, I stumbled upon an intriguing title, Botticelli's Primavera: A Botanical Interpretation..., originally published in the 80s and apparently currently out of print. (By the way, once a week I'll be Instagramming new-to-me book and textile finds like this, intermingling them with my own mundane fare, since these days I always seem to be short on time for decent blog posts.)
More glimpses of the Renaissance master's wildflowers -- growing in the grass and across Flora's dress -- can be seen in this video about the restoration of La Primavera.