Saturday, January 19, 2013


It was Rick's turn to define a design tip. I would have hit the obvious: quantity vs. quality, a queer eye, or quintessential choices. This would never have been Rick's way; no. He comes up with the "Quiver-leg". Sometimes I just feel stupid.

In historical styles the quiver-leg is described as a round, tapered chair leg used in the Louis Seize style and similar styles.  I find it a very early example of modernism; though it was fluted it was a much simpler, less ornate leg than those that came before it.
Look at the legs of a lot of mid-century modern furniture and there you will find that leg, minus the fluting, used in abundance. The simple beauty of T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings furniture in the 1940's for Widdicomb Furniture company gave rise to the frequent use of this style of leg in the Golden age of Modernism and has continued to be an elegant form to this day.
It is now a classic furniture form and whether plump or attenuated, it adds elegance to any piece of furniture it graces.
We've used it on several pieces in our new Mendota collection.

This started out as a research project on graffiti for a current project we're working on in New York. The graffiti got me thinking about wall art either aerosoled or painted on the walls of New York City buildings done both legally or initially illegally. The history of tag art goes back to its initial illegal roots in the 1980's.
Then in 1993 the Phun Phactory was opened in Long Island city where graffiti signers were given a place where they could legally create their art on the walls of an old factory building. The Phun Phactory is now known as 5ptz (5 Points), an outdoor art gallery, art school and indoor studio space for the graffiti aficionados. It attracts artists from all over the world and tour buses of admirers who line the streets with cameras taking in the vibrant ever-changing fa├žade of this Long Island building
One of New York's most prominent vigilante artists was Keith Haring. I can remember seeing his chalk drawings showing up in Subway stations across Manhattan in the late 80's, early 90's. His cartoonish characters and amazing sense of pattern were ingenious. Another soul lost way too soon, some of Keith's outdoor murals have survived and have been preserved. That's a good thing.
Much of the original graffiti of the late 20th century was considered vandalism and many of the original artists were arrested for their expression. On the other hand the depression era of the 1930's also produced a bunch of wall art some of which couldn't have happened without the support of the government and the WPA. A prime example of this is the McGraw Rotunda in the New York Public Library. The Story of the Recorded World, is a series of four arched panels painted on the ceiling of the rotunda, think Michelangelo, painted by Edward Laning from 1938-1942. Thematically the murals are a combination of religious moments and their recorded history through the written word.
Done at approximately the same time, one can once again see the amazing murals of the life of Theodore Roosevelt in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda at the American Museum of Natural History.
The murals painted by William Andrew MacKay in 1935 have gone through a lengthy renovation and have recently reopened to the public.
Similar to the controversies facing the graffiti artists of the 80's, this era of massive mural art was not without its controversy. There is a beautiful mural enveloping the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center. Originally painted by the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, titled, Man at the Crossroads, this mural included society women drinking alcohol, images of jail cells and a very controversial image of the Russian leader of communism, Vladimir Lenin. How the Rockefellers missed these aspects of the mural prior to it being completed is a bit amazing to me but, nonetheless, when the painting was completed the Rockefellers were so outraged that the mural was shrouded behind a curtain and then destroyed. The current mural was substituted for the original. Painted by the Spanish artist, Josep Maria Sert, it is titled, American Progress, and depicts a group of more appropriate historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
One of my favorite murals is at the back of the bar in the St Regis Hotel. Painted in 1932 by Maxfield Parrish, the mural depicts the nursery rhyme of, Old King Cole. The mural suffered the effects of most bar art during the later part of the 20th century. Saturated with the smoke from cigarettes and cigars, the natural accompaniment of beer and alcohol, The King Cole mural needed some emergency restoration.
The mural is now back in place and the new non-smoking regulations that are now law in almost every city will insure that the mural delights new imbibers for generations to come.

Bijou of Montmarte, 1933
Brassai, photographer
Rperesented by Edwynn Houk, NYC

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