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Making Modernism Rich

What is called “modernism” in architecture can be a bit barren and over-blank. The term colloquially refers to almost anything that’s rigorously rectilinear and mostly unornamented. But it doesn’t have to mean aesthetic impoverishment. Frank Llloyd Wright understood this perfectly.  Case in point, the Bachman-Wilson House (1954) which has been … Continue reading

No Recent Posts on Architecture: wHY?

This blog has been entirely bereft of architecture posts for months. Why the dry spell? I haven’t seen much worth mentioning. The endless insensitive regurgitation of 20th century modernism doesn’t do it. Nor does the egomania of international celebrity architects who rode the wave of wacky overspending that brought us … Continue reading

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Arts of Ancient Viet Nam Coming to Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Asia Society, New York, offer an unprecedented exhibition of art from ancient Viet Nam—the first U.S. exhibition to address in depth the historical, geographic and cultural contexts of precolonial Vietnamese art. Arts of Ancient Viet Nam: From River Plain to Open Sea will expose … Continue reading

Custom Furniture: 90% Perspiration

Last week was spent with two designers from Douglas Durkin Design, Greg Elich and Andrew Horn. They were in Bali to work on a collection of extraordinary custom furniture for a residence in Hawaii. For those of you who might imagine that creating high-end custom furniture is pure glamour, just … Continue reading

beyeler foundation tribal and modern

Fine Friends: Tribal Art Meets Modern at the Beyeler

A truly outstanding exhibition at a truly outstanding institution. The Beyeler Foundation in Basel offers “Visual Encounters — Africa, Oceania and Modern Art,” through 24 May 2009. The show juxtaposes masterpieces of tribal sculpture with important canvasses of modern masters; van Gogh, Cézanne, Braque, Matisse, Léger, Picasso, Rothko. The result … Continue reading

One for the Archives!

I guess February was a very busy month for me, because I notice there were no posts in February. The blog archives column looks rather sad as a result, with the month of February 2009 not listed at all.  Therefore, I feel obliged to post this post-dated post, just so … Continue reading

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Haunted by Gervasoni’s Ghost

We’ve found once again an extraordinary line of furniture that just works. Comfortable, stylish, elegant, confidently irreverant. It’s Gervasoni’s Ghost collection, a semi-spooky, seams-out fog of soft seating. When you have a space containing art and artefacts worthy of attention, you can either go museum-bench rigid with the upholstered pieces, … Continue reading

Does Bali Need a System Reboot?

Is it just me? Or do we have a total system crash here? I wrote the following rather long piece start to finish without stopping, in response to two heartfelt comments on the Jakarta Post reader’s forum. In those comments, the writers were giving voice to their concerns as visitors, about … Continue reading

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Island Magic at Minasian Chicago

Has Chicago’s Minasian Oriental Rug Gallery gone flat? In a certain sense, yes – – they’ve hung a fabulous show of Indonesian flatweave textiles rather than their usual rugs. The exhibition, entitled “Island Magic: Court and Tribal Textiles from Indonesia” runs through the 10th of January, and was reviewed in HALI this … Continue reading

davina stephens and bruce carpenter at four seasons jimbaran bali

Pretty Viscera: Davina Stephens at Ganesha Gallery

Something profound happened at the opening reception for Davina Stephens’ exhibition entitled “This Side of Paradise” (Ganesha Gallery, Four Seasons Resort Jimbaran, 18 December).  What happened is perhaps best voiced by considering the contrasts in Davina’s most recent work. On the one hand these are images that could be, and have … Continue reading

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Diadem Fit for an Assyrian Queen

I stumbled on this stunning diadem, excavated from a royal tomb at Nimrud in Iraq, where it was discovered near the remains the queen’s skull. Its technical sophistication and fine workmanship are unbelievable. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of gold ornament I have ever seen or heard of. … Continue reading

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Get a Grip

Tribal art dealer, Mark Johnson has just added an unusual bronze grip to his website. He indicates it was excavated in Java and is approximately 2,000 years old, dating from the Indonesian bronze age, often referred to at the Dong Son period. I have never seen a similar piece from … Continue reading

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Contain Your Enthusiasm

I have always been a big fan of small containers. They imply the concealment and protection of something precious, something treasured – – or treacherous. The tribal cultures of Southeast Asia have produced some of the most beautiful and enigmatic small containers ever. Apparently I’m not the only one who … Continue reading

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Hey Textilians: Play the Maharam Memory Game

Have you got an eye for textiles? Test your textile memory with the Maharam Memory Game, a beautiful, enjoyable and relevant freebie on Maharam’s marvelous website. The game involves remembering the location of textile swatches and pairing them up on screen. Be warned: it’s compulsive. Maharam is a fourth-generation family … Continue reading

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Here Materials Matter Most

Been looking for alternatives to hard-edged modern-minimalist rectilinearity? Alternatives suited to a non-urban, natural island lifestyle? Here’s one – – furniture, lighting and accessories by Bleu Nature. This is rustic primitive minimalism without apology. Driftwood and hairballs against icy white set the tone of their new 2008-2009 collection. It’s beachy and … Continue reading

The Many Merits of Munkenbeck+Marshall

Found this firm by chance, having stumbled on a credit in a book on modern garden design. Munkenbeck’s bio goes like this: Dartmouth Harvard Foster Associates James Stirling, and he’s worked for a wealth of aristrocrats, including designing four palaces for Saudi royals. The stunning visitors centre for the Earl … Continue reading

“Why are buildings in Bali so ugly?”

I’m often saddened when proudly showing friends around Bali, to be asked, “Why are the buildings in Bali so ugly?” Living here for so long, one tends to become numb to the pain of countenancing constant architectural eyesores. When I’m hit with the “ugly buildings” question, therefore, I have a … Continue reading

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