Monday, December 28, 2015

A Little Rome Gallery-Going from my post-Christmas Armchair . . .

I hope you all found some joy in these last few festive days, and I hope you may find some peace, as well, as the year winds down and we ready ourselves for a Restart. I'm not sure why this might be, except that the rhythm of my days is obviously changed with retirement, but this is the first year ever that the Solstice has made sense to me as a time of moving back toward the light. Otherwise, it's always felt as if we've moved right into the darkest time of the year -- I've always felt Winter get a serious start in the third week of December. This year, somehow, I felt convinced that the days would begin lengthening again; perhaps it's the luxury in the mornings of time to notice the sky rather than simply rush to get ready for work. . .


There hasn't been much contemplation in the morning for the past week, though, with a full house, and babies to steal away from their mothers after that 5:30 feeding. . . It was a wonderfully rich family Christmas, which would have been absolutely perfect if this one and her family had made it back from Rome. But everyone else was here, and FaceTime knit the whole bunch of us together for a few moments. Memories were recounted and new ones were made, and overall, it was splendid and noisy and just chaotic enough. But the last crew left yesterday, and Pater and I have been savouring the silence ever since. We'll even be able to pick up some of our regular routine with a yoga class this morning.


I'm playing around with a new MacBook Air, trying to sort out what I want to do blogging-wise in the new year, but wanting to preserve more free time over the next week. I'm never been a huge fan of those Recap of the Year articles filling the newspapers this time of the year, nor of the blog posts that do the same, but I did contemplate doing a few myself. And rejected the idea in favour of relaxing. I did realize, though, how much I still haven't told you about our trip this past fall. Much will have to remain unshared, I suppose, or will trickle out eventually.

But among my most popular posts ever are those I put together after visiting a wonderful exposition of Couturière Madame Grès's work at the Musée Bourdelle in Paris a few years ago. So I thought that there might be equal interest in an exhibition that similarly staged couture against a stunning backdrop of architecture and sculpture. The Couture/Sculpture exhibition of Azzedine Alaïa at the Borghese Gallery in Rome featured just such a pairing, and I took a few photos . . . I hope you enjoy them (if you'd like to know more about the exhibit, here's a link to a brief review in the New York Times, which includes a link to a slideshow).
 The dress above played wittily with the notion of metamorphosis referenced spectacularly in the same room by Bernini's astonishing sculpture of Daphne and Apollo (and there are simply not enough superlatives for this statue, so I won't even try. But if you're making a lifelist of art to see, I'd find room for this one!)


 The same wit as paired the ponyskin-horsehair dress with a statue about metamorphosis is abundantly manifest in the placement of this stunning crocodile-skin jacket in the Gallery's Egyptian Room (of which, a detail of floor below).

I'll close with two more photos; I'm holding a few more in reserve for another post later in the week.
 Alaïa's use of negative space in his couture was notable throughout the exhibit, as in this brilliantly simple dress of this gorgeously supple caramel leather whose ornamental folds cascade with decorative restraint over the implied wearer's left breast...competing for attention with the elegantly sensuous lines of her back, that collar. . . 
I hope you enjoyed viewing these as much as I've enjoyed re-vieweing them. I also hope your Monday doesn't require too hard a landing back at the Salt Mines... As for me, there's a big leather armchair and a book with my name on them. . . 

24 comments:

  1. Oh, we loved the Borghese and I see you also appreciated that wonderful Daphne and Apollo. I could have stared at it for hours, just taking in the intricacies. The warmth and life and movement captured in stone is truly awesome. I wish we could have seen this exhibit, love the juxtaposition and harmonies between the sculptures and sculptural elements of the clothing.

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    1. The astonishing virtuosity of that sculpture, especially given how young Bernini was when he created it! Particularly the lower part, where Daphne's legs were turning to tree trunk -- somehow the legs were still exquisitely carved despite the unimaginable technical challenge of getting in to work the tight spaces. . .

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  2. I loved the Borghese, and remember spending a huge amount of time with that statue. No salt mines here, and hopefully some reading here as well.

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    1. Enjoy the quiet time -- we're lucky to have escaped those mines, especially at this time of year. Read on!

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  3. I love Villa Borghese alone very much,but this combination with Alaia is superb, playing with textures,movements,static....great curator! Thank you to take us there for a moment.
    Did you know that our new prime minister-to be-, is a Croat,Tihomir Tim Oreskovic, who lived,went to school( McMaster University) and worked in Canada? Interesting,no?
    Dottoressa

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    1. I didn't know that about your new PM -- one of my colleagues did one of her degrees at McMaster. . . I wonder what his connection to Canada will mean for our two countries' ongoing relationship.

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    2. He is the candidate to form new government,we have situation like in Borgen and he is someone like Brigitte :-)
      First thing is talk about health system like in Canada. Are you pleased with it in Canada?
      D

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    3. Happy New Year!
      D.

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    4. Overall, yes, D, although some complain about waiting times and wish they could pay extra to jump the queue or go into a separate, parallel system. I'm proud that we've managed to maintain priority for affordable public health care over privatised, so far. . . .

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  4. We spent so little time in Rome after Monsieur's first cruise and first European vacation. I would love to revisit. The solstice definitely is the beginning of a new season of light. Bulbs are up and in 3 weeks, we will see snowdrops. I have another year before I get a new Macbook Air but my computer is an important part of my retirement life.

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    1. I believe that, like Paris, Rome is a city that requires and deserves numerous visits. . . I hope you get a chance to get back there someday, but at least we can visit it in books and film.
      I've never had a Mac before, always a PC, but I've been enjoying my iPad over the past few years, and then got an iPhone for my birthday, so Pater made the leap for me with a gift. So far, so good, except for occasional learning curve frustrations.

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  5. So pleased to hear of your happy family time and how delightful are these images. What a brilliant idea to juxtapose couture, sculpture and architecture. A feast for the senses. Wonder why we do not see this collaboration more often?

    Re the end of year round ups - I'd say that these are best kept as a solitary vice. Good to reflect and to look to the future but best done alone.

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    1. I thought it was a great idea, this staging, and it makes clear that Couture is about so much more than Fashion, underlining the connections to what we might think of as "higher" Art (you know, with the capital A! ;-)
      As for the end-of-year round-ups, sounds as if we agree, although I do concede that it some hands, the retrospective can move forward in insightful and analytical ways. Too often, they're just a repetition or regurgitation of stuff I remember reading at the same source only months earlier.

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    2. Although I must confess to a sneaking fascination with the And So We Say Goodbye round ups of those who died in the year. So often I find that I had forgotten that it was this year that they went. Even more often I am surprised that they hadn't died years ago...

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    3. True enough. . . Same thing I find with that review they do at the Oscars...

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  6. Sounds as if your Christmas was very like ours and like you we love it, and love having the house back to ourselves when it stops! Happy New Year.

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    1. You've had so much on your plates this past year that it must be a huge relief to hunker down on your own and savour this quiet time. Happy New Year to you as well!

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  7. What a kick, the fashion and the art together. Thank you for sharing - I have never been to the Borghese!

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    1. Well, I've apparently only been to part of it. Got back to our hotel after our visit and picked up the guidebook to check some info about something we'd seen -- found there'd be an upstairs section we'd completely missed the stairs to! And there were Caravaggios! So a return visit is definitely in order.. .

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  8. I bet this was great. I have never been to Villa Borghese either but it will go on the list. Just looking at these items makes me realise how high fashion is nothing to do with the ordinary bod - but the beauty of creation is compelling. Enjoy some quiet relaxation, Mater.

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    1. I'm not sure I would have got there had it not been for a wonderfully helpful blog reader here (Georgia perhaps? I'd have to search to track down the commenter) who told me about it and let me know it was important to get the tickets ahead of time. It was a highlight.
      And no, I don't think that, at least at this level, the high fashion is aimed at the ordinary, but rather seems to reach toward an Ideal,perhaps like any manifestation of Art. It is a compelling beauty, and there is nonetheless ample reason for those of us who diverge from the ideal, physically, to observe and protest, to remark at least, to connect the dots. But meanwhile, hard not to see some beauty there... And thank you for the directive -- I'm obeying ;-)

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  9. The last time I was in Rome it was with my history class, so historical monuments were at the top of our list - no time for the Villa Borghese, unfortunately. The only three hours I had to myself in the whole week were spent in the protestant cemetery (Cimitero Acattolico), which I would strongly recommend for your next visit.
    The combination of art and fashion appears highly attractive, although I must confess that some of the garments make me feel uneasy. There is something eerie about the horsehair robe and the leather dress, I find.
    Happy New Year!

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    1. ... not to mention the crocodile jacket...

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    2. I'll do some reading about the protestant cemetery to find out why I want to visit it (I trust your recommendation!) and where it is, Eleonore. I hope you get to the Borghese someday. I agree with you that some of these garments disturb, but I think that's part of how they rhyme, for me, with the art, asking questions about Fashion, perhaps... They get at the borders between beings that Ovid was thinking in Metamorphosis, and then Bernini . . . I suspect someone working in the relatively new field of Animal Studies has written something interesting about this... Happy New Year to you!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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