The Rom and The Piano

ROM CRYSTAL NAPKIN SKETCH
ROM CRYSTAL napkin sketch

On june 2, 2007 The official opening of the ROM extension was celebrated. The what extension? The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Who’s Crystal?

Okay okay I’ll try to explain.

The ROM is not Read Only Memory, but the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. The Piano is not Renzo Piano, but a real piano (see below). The ROM extension is a new building designed by Polish born, USA raised and Berlin Based Architect Daniel Libeskind who is also responsible for rebuilding Ground Zero.

Inspired by the ROM’s gem and mineral collection, architect Daniel Libeskind sketched the initial concept on paper napkins while attending a family wedding at the ROM. The design was quickly dubbed the ‘crystal’ because of its crystalline shape.

“Why should one expect the new addition to the ROM to be ‘business as usual’? Architecture in our time is no longer an introvert’s business. On the contrary, the creation of communicative, stunning and unexpected architecture signals a bold re-awakening of the civic life of the museum and the city.”

– Daniel Libeskind

ROM CRYSTAL

Michael Lee-Chin is a Canadian businessman who donated $ 30 mio to the ROM and hence the new building got his name.
The Piano
Via The Globe and The Mail I learned that Liebeskind, whose first vocation was to become a virtuoso pianist designed a Grand Piano.

The idea for the piano arose in 2002, when Toronto piano dealer Robert Lowrey arranged a meeting between Libeskind and Nicholas Schimmel, head of Schimmel Pianos, one of the few remaining companies to make pianos mostly by hand. Libeskind had initially wanted to be a concert pianist, Lowery said, and Schimmel has already produced instruments with designs by the likes of German artist Ottmar Alt.
‘It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,’ piano dealer Robert Lowrey says.

Libeskind Limited Edition Piano
Rendering by Studio Daniel Libeskind

Three 16-foot-long (five-metre) specialty models will be made, as well as a small number of seven-foot (two-metre) grands based on the same design.

Libeskind designed only the exterior case; the interior works will be essentially the same as in a normal grand.

“It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,” Lowrey said.

Like the Crystal, the Libeskind piano poses stiff engineering challenges. The enormously long lid, for instance, must be light enough to be raised by an ordinary person, and strong enough not to warp or bend. Lowery said Schimmel is experimenting with titanium as a material for the cabinet. The case for Schimmel’s playful Alt piano, which looks like a gigantic child’s toy, employed steel, glass and fibreglass.

“It’s taking longer to make this piano than to build the Crystal,” Lowrey said.

Thorsell said he expected the piano to emerge from Schimmel’s factory next year. But the head of Schimmel’s American office, to whom the German office referred questions, said he had “no idea” when the piano might be completed.

Lowrey said Schimmel hopes that the publicity value of the large instruments will help sales of the limited-edition models, which will probably number fewer than 120. One of the other long models may be displayed near the ground zero site in Manhattan, he said.

I wonder whether this will revive the classical piano.

Shocking Hotel Art: "Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry"

Trafalgar Hotel
Trafalgar Hotel

This weekend the London Trafalgar Hotel served as podium for Bridge Art Fair, a Chicago-based arts programming organization Bridge, NFP which organizes annual Bridge Art Fairs in Chicago, Miami and London.

As Part of The Bridge Art Fair Capla Kesting featured Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry.

Iraq War Memorial Prince Harry
Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry

by Daniel Edwards, well known for controversial sculptures, which include a nude, autopsied Paris Hilton, a graphic interpretation of Britney Spears giving birth and “Fidel Castro’s Deathbed Portrait”.

The Capla Kesting Press release explains it as follows:

LONDON, England – A war-mutilated Prince Harry is the symbolic fallen hero in a memorial honoring those willing but unable to serve in the Iraq conflict. Harry, brother to Britain’s future king, was poised to be the most celebrated soldier of the Coalition forces, but due to the “specific threats to kill or kidnap him,” he was kept home. However, Prince Harry will be remembered for his intended tour of duty in a memorial to be unveiled at the Trafalgar Hotel October 11th courtesy of Bridge Art Fair.

“Iraq War Memorial featuring the Death of Prince Harry, the Martyr of Maysan Province” draws inspiration from Harry’s willingness to sacrifice for his country, and the sympathy for his disappointment of an unfulfilled patriotic aspiration.

“This war memorial is dedicated to the brave at heart,” said spokesman David Kesting. “But the brave men and women Prince Harry inspired to enlist for combat following his announcement to serve six months in Iraq are not forgotten.”

The Memorial features Prince Harry laid out before the Union Jack with pennies placed over his eyes and head rested on the Bible. The statue suggests the tragic outcome of a confrontation in Iraq’s Maysan Province with the Iranian weapons smugglers for whom Harry’s tank regiment was scheduled to patrol. Prone with his unfired gun still holstered, Prince Harry is represented clutching a bloodied flag of Wales, and holding to his heart a cameo locket of his late mother, Princess Diana, while a desert vulture perches on his boot. Harry’s head is earless, denoting the explicit threats against the Prince from militia leaders saying they planned to send him back to his grandmother “without his ears.”

A bronze casting of Prince Harry’s “severed ears” also set for display at the Trafalgar Hotel will be offered on eBay.

Harry had stated he would leave the army if he was left in safety while his regiment was sent to a war zone. “Prince Harry’s spirit must have died the day they told him he couldn’t serve,” speculates New York artist Daniel Edwards. “That’s what this memorial is about.”

Like Paris’s Victor Noir Memorial, security for the Prince Harry Memorial will guard against vandalism from expected throngs of admirers believing luck in love and fertility may come by kissing the lips of the memorial to England’s reputed playboy “pinup prince.”

They even set up a website: Prince Harry memorial

There they claim the visitors comments were much more positive than the Press and the reactions on Internet:

The opening for the public was great. For all the negative press that we got and brandishing on the website NO ONE MADE A NEGATIVE COMMENT. Actually it was quite the opposite of what was said about it online. People responded very positively to the work. Remarking on the various details of the piece, like the locket, the holstered gun, the roses in his helmet and pound coins on his eyes. I think we had close to 500 visitors and no one had a negative thing to say. People really enjoyed the work and made numerous positive remarks commenting on their stance regarding the war, pubic service and the royal family.

The website features a picture of the London Towncrier who reportedly was responsible for announcing Harry’s birth:

Towncrier
The London Town Crier

I believe it is a great eye opener and reflection on present times.

What do you think?

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: Times Present Times Past

We visited the 10th Istanbul Biennial. On that occasion the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art had a temporary exhibition on the whole ground floor called “Times Present Times Past” with an overview of the 9 past Biennials.

The building itself is excellently located on the Bosphorus. I was mezmerized by the restaurant and bar: what a stunning view over the Bosphorus while having a lunch or simply an expresso (or Turkish Coffee).

What struck me most were four photo’s of Shirin Neshat from her series “Woman of Allah”.

Woman of Allah
One of the four exhibited
Photo © Shirin Neshat

As one of the most controversial of contemporary artists, Shirin Neshat will participate in the exhibition with her works from her series Women of Allah, which was part of the 4th İstanbul Biennial in 1995. In René Block’s biennial, Neshat’s work was introduced to the international community and widely discussed. The Iranian-American artist, who participated in the 4th, 5th and 8th İstanbul Biennials, was recognized internationally after her Women of Allah series, in which she used the images of Iranian revolutionary women who were ready to die for their convictions and combined a poetic expression with a problematical political content. Neshat left Iran in 1979 at the time of the Iranian revolution to resume her studies in the U.S.A. and had to live in exile until 1990. When she returned to her country after having spent 11 years in the U.S.A, she began questioning the role of women in the public sphere under the Islamic regime; in the series Women of Allah, which she produced between 1993 and 1997, she concentrated on issues relating to womens’ body, text and political action.

Immediately I associated these photos with the film Submission made by then controversial member of Dutch Parliament and current Bush think tank associate Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, a distant relative of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh who was murdered after the film was presented.
Last edited by GJE on December 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Amstelveen: Corneille in the Cobra Museum

Corneille
Photo: ANP/UNITED PHOTOS/ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN
via AD

Amstelveen is a suburb of Amsterdam. It has the Cobra Museum, the only museum devoted to the Cobra Group of artists. Actually it should be spelled CoBrA, because its participants came from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Corneille (Guillaume Corneille van Beverloo) is the only Cobra member still alive. Soon he’ll have the respectable age of 85. Here he is pictured with two of his paintings, Birds and Woman. As Corneille puts it: “They go perfectly together!”

This summer work of Corneille is exhibited under the title “Some of These Days” in the Cobra Museum.

Monet's Waterloo Bridge Temps Couvert fetches record

Monet's Waterloo Bridge Temps Couvert fetches record

Monet painted his Waterloo Bridge paintings during a stay in the London Savoy Hotel. This painting fetched a record at Christie’s of UK pnd 18 mio which is more than double the pre sale estimate.

From the Lot notes of Christie’s :

‘I adore London, it is a mass, an ensemble, and it is so simple. What I like most of all in London is the fog. How could English painters of the nineteenth century have painted its houses brick by brick? Those fellows painted bricks that they didn’t see, that they couldn’t see… I so love London! But I only like it in the winter… It is the fog that gives it its marvellous breadth. Its regular, massive blocks become grandiose in this mysterious cloak’ (Monet, quoted in J. House, ‘Visions of the Thames’, pp. 15-37, Monet’s London: Artists’ Reflections on the Thames 1859-1914, exh.cat., St. Petersburg, FL, 2005, p. 33).

When Monet arrived in London in 1899 for a family visit, he had not been to the British capital for some time. Checking into the relatively recently built Savoy Hotel, on the North bank of the Thames, he was amazed by the view, fascinated by the ever-shifting light effects on the river, and immediately embarked upon one of his most celebrated series of paintings, all showing essentially one of three motifs in London. These were the Houses of Parliament and, painted from his bedroom, Charing Cross Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. He focused more on the latter, as in Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, perhaps enjoying the looping rhythm of the arches in comparison to the rigidity of the ever-right-angled Charing Cross Bridge. Another aspect that may have led to his preference of Waterloo Bridge as a theme was the fact that the sun, rising in the East, shone during the morning from behind it, providing an intriguing array of subtle light effects, a smog-bound chiaroscuro. It is a tribute to the visual power of Monet’s paintings of Waterloo Bridge that the majority are now in museum collections throughout the world, meaning that the appearance of Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert is a rarity, a factor that is emphasized by the sheer quality and beauty of this painting.

It was in order to see his son Michel, who was ostensibly in London to improve his English, that Monet arrived in 1899 with his wife Alice and his stepdaughter, Germaine Hosched̩. His immediate rapture on seeing the view from his room must have been to the chagrin of his family, for already during this stay he embarked upon the beginning of a campaign that would last half a decade. Canvas after canvas was used in order to capture the ever-changing view from his window, and the speed with which these view changed meant that he ended the first stay frustrated, and would returnРalone, and therefore presumably without the distractions of his familyРto the same hotel in 1900 and 1901.