On the same, soaking rainy day, Kingsley and I toured the Vatican and the Marc Chagall: Love and Life exhibit. The striking juxtaposition of the content, the spirit, the environment, and the accessibility of the artwork was to my American and lapsed Catholic’s sensibility, ironic.
The Vatican was breathtaking. From the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square to the hushed hypnotic viewing of the Pieta, every room, hallway, courtyard held treasures. Our tour guide was a Vatican employee (unlike other independent tour guides) who was highly knowledgeable and respectful of the history and majesty – without sharing inside stories, true or false. From the monumental (St Peter’s Throne and the Brunelleschi altar) to the familiar (Sistine Chapel) to the surprising collection of contemporary art (the textile hanging by Matisse), it was a feast of art and architecture and the history of one of most influential institutions in the history of the world…and it did not disappoint.
Featured at the Chiostro del Bramante, a fine contemporary art museum a few steps from the Piazza Navona, was a retrospective of Marc Chagall. The exhibit was significant (and unfortunately, poorly executed – it was difficult to follow the sequence of work, even with numbers and a headset) with 140 works that highlighted the 3 cultures to which he belonged: Jewish, Russian, and the Western tradition of painting – from Rembrandt to the avant garde. It began with his life and the love of his life – his wife and muse, author Bella Rosenfeld – and completed with his paintings and etchings inspired by the Bible. Chagall believed the Bible to be “the most beautiful poem ever written”. He was a painter with a perspective without judgement, a painter whose truth was his own religion, his love of country and his expression as a painter.
I was overwhelmed by so much visual stimulation and world class art, and took the edge off with a mid-afternoon cappuccino break in the cafe, to rest feet and eyes and let the day wash over me.
It is important to fill the well…even sometimes to the point of spilling over.
For anyone who went and especially for those who didn’t.
A common conversation at every Market is how busy it is….questions of how busy it is on the street, in the building, in the showrooms. In the nearly 3 decades that I have been attending, traffic is less as there are fewer retailers in business and smaller entourages who attend market.
On the flip side, it appears to me that there are also more designers attending than I can remember and more product vendors who are appealing to them. I suspect that some designers have replaced some high-end retailers who are no longer with us (and I for one am very sad to see them go). And there are internet sites who share that high end substitution and of course, customers who don’t value fine quality furnishings and shop lower on the list of retailers.
What I find very cool about the emerging designer/vendor relationship are the vendors who are vying for designer business and are creating interesting product. In addition to product showrooms in the buildings, HP Market has “Pockets of Cool” like Interhall, Market Suites, Art and Antiques at Market Square where the vendors are often new or in a new location, that offers new and interesting product and presentation….and fabric! Kravet made a splash this year with fabric and furniture. And while they have had a space for years, they (not surprisingly as they are first at so many things) are filling the fabric vacancy at Market that is critical to designer attendance. Thibault wallcoverings and fabric showed, and Phillip Jeffries, the king of cool and does so much with such a tiny space. Stanley’s new uptown Crestaire collection was lovely, and the designer PR party that Gretchen Mellon Aubuchon threw was also a new direction at Market – linking a designer or two with a brand, even if they didn’t participate in its design. Opportunity abounds for those who are looking to create it! I didn’t get to Stickley, although I heard it was a great presentation this Market, as was Century – who always pleases.
There were some disappointments with some of the older, established lines – either poorly presented or confusingly presented, and I was disappointed to see such beautiful product not shown to the fullest. The good news is that overall the energy was good, creativity was flowing, and enthusiasm for the future was high…and that’s good for all of us!
Now, go sell something!
Love, love, love,