Cadogan Square

It’s very rare that I ever visit Cadogan Square. In fact, I only ever remember occasional and faintly alarming visits to visit Denis Mahon, who lived in the most spectacular disorder with papers piled everywhere on the floor beyond the possibility of ever being tidied. But today I visited a private collection and was able to admire the ceramic columns at the north end:-

image

The astonishing riot of brick and terracotta decoration on no. 52, designed by Sir Ernest George for Sir Thomas Andros de la Rue:-

image

image

image

image

And more high quality brickwork decoration elsewhere in the square:-

image

image

image

Standard

The Last Supper

We had our first formal dinner last night in front of the Royal Academy’s early copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper.   I found it forced attention on the drama of the action:  the way that St. James reacts by spreading out his arms, thereby preventing doubting Thomas from getting near Jesus, who is isolated from the others, having just declared that one of them will betray him.   As dramatic narrative, demonstrating the way that Leonardo created drama compositionally, the copy is as good as the original (and, dare I say it, given the state of the original, more legible):-

image

image

Standard

Lovelace Courtyard

I have been fascinated by the rapid development and maturing of the Lovelace Courtyard, a slender space between the back of the Pennethorne building and the extra run of studios which were added – it is thought – by Norman Shaw to the north of the Royal Academy Schools.   The space has been landscaped by Peter Wirtz who designed the courtyard to David Chipperfield’s offices in Berlin, a comparably urban space.   He uses the most minimal means:  no more than cobbles, a curving path and grass;  but to great effect, bringing green into the heart of London:- 

image

image

Standard

The Silence of the Blog

I have just received a mysterious message on the answering machine asking if I was ailing since it is at least three days since I have written a blog.

The truth is that I have never wanted to feel compelled to write something if I haven’t got something to say.   I have been recovering from the shock of becoming a knicht and answering the wonderful deluge of correspondence from all corners of the globe.   And this weekend I have particularly been mourning the loss, a second time, of Glasgow School of Art.   It seems unbelievable and unfair that one of Scotland’s greatest architectural masterpieces – the ruggedly solid and beautifully detailed Glasgow School of Art – should have burnt down not once, but now twice: the first time because of a projector catching fire and this time on the night of the students’ graduation.  

I have been trying to remember it from the few times I have visited, never recently, and can only recall its noble hillside setting, the sense of Scottish baronial massing, and the way that the art students treated their masterpiece so magnificently unceremoniously.  

I suppose that the craftsmen will just have to go to work again and recover what they can.

Standard

Theaster Gates

In the interests of completeness, I should record that I attended a memorable, but inscrutable performance by Theaster Gates with The Black Monks of Mississippi as a musical homage to the Black Madonna who sat in the middle accepting libations of wine.

Standard

Kunstmuseum Basel

I had a therapeutic hour at the end of the day in amongst the Old Master paintings on the first floor of the Kunstmuseum.

A Cranach of Lucretia:-

image

Grünewald of the Crucifixion:-

image
An amazing Altdorfer of The Resurrection:-

image
It must be one of the greatest Holbeins of The Dead Christ (1521):-

image

image
Holbein of Bonifacius Amerbach (1519):-

image
Erasmus himself in 1532:-

image
And a Frans van Mieris of A Young Woman with a Feather Fan Prepared to Go Out:-

image

Standard

Bengal Architecture

I called in at the Basel Museum of Architecture to see their exhibition Bengal Stream about contemporary architecture in Bangladesh.   In the early years of Independence, they employed major American architects, including Stanley Tigerman working with Muzharul Idlam at the Polytechnic Institute in Sylhet, Paul Rudolph at the Mymensingh Agricultural University and, most memorably, Louis Kahn designing the Capitol in Dhaka.   Since then, they have developed their own traditions of lightweight construction, designed, as far as possible, to withstand the consequences of flooding, cyclones and the monsoon, low-rise and often brick:-

image

Standard