Eye Travel

Four Fab Things in New York
November 3rd, 2011
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With some time to spare in Manhattan last week, we took a cultural spin around midtown. Even in a single day, the jolt of shows and stores in New York gave us a fresh new perspective. Here are four things that particularly captured our attention.

1. De Kooning’s Colors. (above) The blockbuster art show in New York this Fall is unquestionably this enormous retrospective at MOMA. Frankly, for us, a little bit of carnivorous women paintings goes a long way. Instead, what impressed us about the show was how, over a very long career, de Kooning returned time and again to the color pink (often complemented by a mustard yellow). It’s this color that gave his paintings a consistent sensuality. As de Kooning himself said: “Flesh was the reason why oil painting was invented.”

2. Elie Nadelman in the MOMA Sculpture Garden. We can’t believe we never spotted this wonderful Nadelman bronze before. (One of his drawings, above right, takes pride of place in our personal collection.) The graceful stance is pure Nadelman, and how charming is the whimsy of the bowtie, sitting like a butterfly on his chest?

3. Organic shapes at Museum of Art and Design. The show itself — Flora & Fauna, MAD About Nature — was a little lackluster, but we were intrigued by Ted Muehling’s “Thorn Necklace”. (See more of his lovely pieces here.) The way the shapes interlock is striking, but then we noticed a single coral pendant, nearly hidden among the thorns. This made the whole piece that much more arresting. Perhaps the thorns had drawn a drop of blood?

4. Cheap clothing, fantastic stores. Just enough time for a retail dash along 5th Avenue. Forget about Gucci and Armani, the most sensational stores this Fall are the new Uniqlo (above left), with its Blade Runner light show, selling cashmere sweaters for $49.90, and the sleek video cube minimalism of the Hollister store (right), which features $25 sweatpants.

Eye Travel: Fantastic Floors
October 8th, 2011

Our instinct, when taking in travel sights, is to look high for new perspectives. But it can also be fascinating to look down, and find unexpected beauty in the floors on which we tread.

We’re reminded of Fay Wray’s wonderful story about Cary Grant, who was once besotted with her. “Whenever we went to a party,” she recounted, “he would always sit on the floor beside me. I thought that was kind of beautiful, like that’s where he wanted to be.” Kind of beautiful, or kind of crazy — on ne juge pas — but here are some elegant floors that might tempt Mister Grant.

The terrazzo floor (above) is from the Museo Correr in Venice. Viewed up close, the shattered colors remind us of an abstraction by Jackson Pollock or Jean-Paul Riopelle.


We love the clever whimsy of these tiles — see how exactly the same circles can act as air bubbles from a fish or eggs guarded by a gander — and the irony that they should be found in the home of one of America’s least-whimsical authors. From the bathroom floor of the Hemingway House in Key West.


These floor tiles, from a lovely little hotel outside Carcassonne in France, have a shifting perspective that evokes the art of M. C. Escher. Intellectually mischievous, Escher once asked: “Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?” Look again at these tiles (above), and let your eye play tricks.


When we finally arrived at the little palazzo in Marsala, Sicily, it was in the darkness of near midnight. And we confess we found the place a little forlorn. But, the next morning, when the sun had spread like a song through the house, we realized the same floors over which we had dragged our suitcases the night before were in fact these luminous beauties. And our holiday spirits lifted.

Eye Travel: Peru
September 15th, 2011

For this new series of posts, we’re inspired by Diana Vreeland, Gustave Flaubert, and Walker Evans. DV said: “The eye must travel.” Flaubert remarked: “God is in the details.” And Walker Evans told us to: “Stare. It is the easy way to educate your eye.” Travel is such a powerful inspiration for us, but it is the small details and textures — not the broad postcard vistas — that we’ll be exploring in these visual essays.

First up: our trip to PERU this time last year.


We’re smitten by this rich orange/grey combo: lichen against the Imperial Stone Wall at Machu Picchu … a silver bracelet (right) from a local jeweler in the Pisac market, and the royal alpaca scarf we wore everywhere (Peruvian silver and textile craftsmen trace their history back to Inca times) …


… isn’t the chipped marquetry of this signage from Bar Cordano in Lima so chic and evocative of art deco glamor gone by — we’re tempted inside for a Pisco Sour …


…. we love how the textures and colors of these succulents in a garden in Urubamba … complement the vivid crewel work on a table runner …


… a beautiful brass handle that seems to float on a glass door at the Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco … and how romantic is this heavy room key with a tiny hand clutching the keyring (and yes, that date does read 1692).

We hope your eye enjoyed the trip! Here’s one last image, since no picture of Peru would be complete without a llama. This little fellow, silver inlaid with turquoise, and once again the work of Pisac market craftsmen, is only 2.5″ tall: a tiny memento of a big trip.