What’s the Point of the Turner Prize? 10 Things You Need to Know

To celebrate last week's Turner Prize news, we wanted to look at

the key facts about the famed British art prize ...

1/ It’s organised by Tate but named after English painter J.M.W. Turner who, surprisingly, was quite controversial in his day. He wanted to leave a legacy to help struggling young artists but the Turner Prize didn’t actually get going until 1984.

2/ It’s awarded annually to an artist who meets the Turner Prize requirements; under the age of 50 and born, living or working in Britain.

3/ The winner receives £25,000 and each runner up gets £5,000.

4/ The prize isn’t awarded for the work you see on display at Tate Britain’s Turner Prize exhibition. Each artist is nominated for an earlier show and judged purely by that.

5/ And the 2016 nominees are …  Michael Dean, Helen Marten, Josephine Pryde & Anthea Hamilton.

6/ The prize is awarded to a visual artist working in any medium - this includes painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video or even a publication.

7/ And the 2016 Winner is ...

Helen Marten

8/ Each year there is a new panel of judges, chaired by the Tate Britain’s Director. This year the panel was:

Michelle Cotton, Director, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn

Tamsin Dillon, Curator

Beatrix Ruf, Director, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Simon Wallis, Director, The Hepworth Wakefield

9/ If you want to see the show, Tuesday is ‘pay what you can’ day!

10/ This year’s show runs until 2nd January 2017.

Now for a few things you don’t really need to know …

Yoko Ono was doing ‘Bottoms’ in 1966. Eat your heart out Anthea Hamilton!

Tracey Emin was a loser - she was nominated in 1999 but the bed she exhibited made her famous.

The ‘Turnip Prize’ is one of many spoof art awards inspired by the Turner Prize. The Stuckists make their own annual prize in protest; ‘The Real Turner Prize’, which is awarded only to painters.

The Wonders of Sir John Soane's Museum

We find Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields one of the inspiring places in London. Aside from being filled with fascinating artefacts, the architectural details are exquisite. Sir John Soane was a famed Neoclassical architect and his home reflects his remarkable talents. His best known public work was the Bank of England and Dulwich Picture Gallery where top-lit gallery design would go on to be a major influence on museum planning. 

In 1792 Soane bought three houses on the site, which he demolished and rebuilt entirely. The distinctive facade of white Norfolk brick still dazzles today. Inside is a beautiful array of eclectic objects and artworks, among them are his many plaster casts and Roman marbles. It's interesting to note the unusual way in which objects are displayed - rather than curating them in a chronological or geographic order, Soane instead opted for a creative display based purely on aesthetics. 

Since 2011 there has been a major restoration project to improve the museum to both develop the existing space and open up lost spaces which weren't seen before. If you haven't yet discovered Sir John Soane's Museum, now is the perfect time to explore the building and the exciting collection of artefacts.

Jane Wilkinson, head of conservation at the museum, said “we view the actual spaces as works of art” - an approach which has a powerful resonance with the way we approach the spaces we work with.

Painterly Interiors

Following last week's blog about the inspirational work of Etel Adnan currently on display at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery and her painterly tapestries, we sought out some bright designers who are creating painterly furnishings and objects for the home. These items are perfect pieces to add artistic charm to your home and lovely additions to an art-lovers room! We'll often take inspiration from works of art for our interior design projects and love the idea of introducing painted ceramics, rug designs based on paintings and art-inspired furnishings.

First up … Aino-Maija Metsola is an illustrator and print designer from Finland. She works as an in-house designer for print powerhouse Marimekko, designing prints for clothing and interior textiles. Metsola also created the ‘Weather Diary’ prints for their plates, tea bowls and cups. We love this collection as it was inspired by natural elements; the Finnish weather and shoreline. Metsola drew the designs in watercolour and ink, focussing on rain, clouds and grass fields. These bowls and cups would look lovely set against crisp, white linen and fresh cut white flowers, to create an elegant and charming table.

The collection is available to buy from a number of UK stores including Heal’s.

Kelly Wearstler’s collection for The Rug Company is another beautiful collaboration. Her hand-painted designs have been crafted into a series of rugs, each handmade by skilful specialist weavers in the Kathmandu area. ‘Wake’ shown below left draws inspiration from the free and fluid movements of water, creating an elegant and subtle design which would look lovely in a contemporary setting with a subtle colour scheme. Wearstler’s ‘Graffito’ design on the right is inspired by her love of graffiti and street art. The combination of a painterly, raw brush stroke design and pale blue colouring create a beautiful balance.

Wearstler's design below, named 'Flaunt' also draws on the fluid movements of water and includes bursts of sheeny blue to enliven the rug's surface.

London based, Australian designer Amy Sia creates beautiful hand-painted designs for textiles and clothing. For Amy, accessories act as a canvas, and and each design is an artwork. Her passion for colour is evident in her bright textiles, their boldness is offset with her sensitively drawn designs - Sia's floral-like patterns particularly caught our eye. Like Metsola, Amy Sia’s designs are first drawn in watercolour and then transferred digitally onto handmade cushions, seen below.

Visit Amy Sia's website to see more.

Weaving in a New Direction

This week we’ve been inspired by The Financial Times’ article in How to Spend it about the radical reworking of weaving traditions. Since we work with textiles, we’re always excited to see how artists push textiles to new limits and create contemporary artworks from textile traditions.

One artist who is left out is Gabriel Dawe who creates vibrant, humming structures from yarn. Dawe is originally from Mexico which might account for his love of vivid colour. His sculptural work is always site-specific, exploring the architecture of the space. He’s also interested in the connection between architecture and fashion, and how this can relate to the human need for shelter. We like how he attempts to subvert ideas about masculinity and gender construction - as a male artist working with thread; a so-called ‘women’s craft’ material.

The images below show Dawe’s technique, he installs hooks on the walls, floor or ceiling and weaves sewing thread back and forth through eyelets. 

The FT looks at another an artist whose work we loved, Ptolemy Mann. Mann creates colourful and painterly work. Her handwoven wall pieces are all made using hand-dyed thread, she builds chromatic bands which buzz and blend beautifully. 

Mann is passionate about colour theory which she says underpins her work - in the FT she says "Recently I've got bolder and more experimental with colour, allowing something unconsciously emotional to take place. I'm a fan of abstract expressionism. Mark Rothko is my favourite artist".

Mann says she also has a Bauhaus philosophy of product and art making; an idea of uniting creativity and manufacture which the Bauhaus movement hoped would rejuvenate design for everyday life. As well as her large scale pieces, Mann produces commercial furnishings including a range of fabrics, rugs, bed linen and cushions and we love that her work remains functional in this way.

We were also intrigued by Cecilie Bendixen's 'Draped Nimbostratus' which represents a hybrid form of design - blending textiles, sculpture and architecture. It is made from wool and polyester and designed to absorb sound so that it disappears, creating a beautifully poetic, cloud-like piece.

Botticelli Reimagined

For this week’s art fix we visited the V&A’s hotly anticipated ‘Botticelli Reimagined’ exhibition. The V&A has triumphantly succeeded in affirming Botticelli’s enduring impact on artists and designers throughout the years.

While he is undeniably considered one of the greatest artists of all time, the V&A reminds us that his work was largely forgotten for 300 years before we rediscovered it in the 19th Century. Since then he has informed the work and imagery of artists to come.

What makes this exhibition so remarkable initially, is its sheer quantity of work, from painting to fashion to film and photography to sculpture and tapestry - it’s got it all! There are some truly breathtaking works like Rosetti's La Ghirlandata, pictured below left. Rosetti even owned work by Botticelli, one of which is featured in this exhibition, a true testament of his love of the Renaissance master.

While we loved seeing the traditional works on dimply, one of the highlights for us was seeing the contemporary piece and how Botticelli’s Venus has been utilised and subverted in contemporary art. The photograph in the centre below uses pieces of trash and junk, remoulding it into Botticelli's iconic composition. The beauty of the images lies in Botticelli's Venus icon to survive amongst its mishmashed context - an interesting metaphor for its endurance in contemporary culture.

Inspired by Anwar Shemza

Walking around the Tate Britain last week we were struck by a wonderful Spotlight Display by Anwar Shemza.

Shemza moved to London from Lahore in 1956. In London he abandoned his illustrative and figurative approach that had brought him acclaim in Pakistan, he had achieved widespread recognition in Pakistan but was unrecognised in London

During his time at the Slade, a lecturer described Islamic art as purely functional and it was from that point that Shemza started his own, new style of compositions which combined calligraphy, Islamic architectural features and elements of Western abstraction. His Western influences came from artists such as Paul Klee and we loved the way he blended this abstraction with Islamic artistic traditions.

At Devas Designs we draw inspiration from many sources from sights we see on our travels to natural forms to works of art and antiques. Shemza's work reminded us of carpet designs we had seen. You don't need to own an artwork to introduce its influence into your home, if a well known work inspires you, you can draw on its colour scheme, textures and patterns to inform the look and feel of your interior.

Jennifer Manners creates beautiful modern rugs from bespoke designs. Each rug is hand made in Nepal and India by artisans who have been working in the textile industry for generations. Their previous patterns evoke middle eastern designs with a contemporary take.

Jan Kath also creates incredible designs using high quality materials such as Tibetan highland wool, Chinese silk, cashmere and nettle fibres. His rugs are also handwoven in Nepal by skilled artisans using a high density knotting technique to create wonderful textures that vary with each design. He sees his rugs as artworks in themselves, their texture and colourings have a beautiful painterly quality, they would be sure to stand out in a contemporary interior.

Flower Power

For this week’s blog we were inspired by a recent article about contemporary art and floristry in the Financial Times magazine. This floral art sees artists working with flowers to create incredible, blossoming structures that blur the boundary between floristry and sculpture. Often vast in form, utilising this natural, delicate material creates a truly poetic balance.

Daniel Ost is perhaps the best known floral artist. He has been creating floral art for over forty years and continues to mould his craft to suit contemporary trends. His current work integrates elements of contemporary design, with custom built structures that allow flowers to be weaved, hung or displayed around.

We were struck by this orchid canopy structure, pictured below, which Ost created for King Baudouin of of Belgium’s 60th birthday. The canopy integrates both contemporary design and natural orchids.

Another inspiring floral artist is East London based Rebecca Louise Law. She trained in Fine Art but her interests in nature preservation led to create floral installations. Speaking about her work she says that the ‘physicality and sensuality of the site specific work plays with the relationship between man and nature’. She transforms public spaces bringing in her floral creations to create a stunning display of dazzling natural beauty.

If you’ve been inspired by these floral sculptures there are more permanent ways of integrating floral features in your home. Looking at the floral sculptures reminded us of de Gournay’s wallpapers. De Gournay specialise in hand painted wallpaper, fabrics, furniture and porcelain. Their wallpapers are based on 18th century Chinoiserie designs and always incorporate stunning floral designs. 

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture at Tate Modern

This week we visited the must-see new exhibition at Tate Modern, ‘Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture’. It’s a truly beautiful and poetic exhibition showcasing Calder’s stunning kinetic sculptures.

Calder initially trained as an engineer before moving to Paris in the 1920s to start his artistic career. It was during his engineering education that he became fascinated with kinetics, physics and the nature of materials. In Paris he experimented with kinetic sculptures that brought to life the avant-garde interest in movement. His kinetic works blended movement with sculpture and in 1931 he invented the ‘mobile’ - Duchamp coined the term, having used it to describe Calder’s new sculptures. The poetry and beauty of his sculptures lay in their ability to move of their accord, simply catching the air in the space they hang.

We love pinning inspirational photos on Pinterest and Tate’s Pinterest board is always packed with great images. Their recent board ‘Art, Architecture and the Home’ show artworks in interiors, we liked this image below of Peggy Guggenheim alongside a Calder mobile - https://uk.pinterest.com/tategallery/art-architecture-and-the-home/

We also discovered this image of an Alexander Calder mobile in Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The blend of rustic design with the fluidity of his mobile is a perfect balance.

On the subject of artists’s home we were intrigued to find these images of Alexander Calder’s own living room. Having seen his mobiles in a white walled gallery space, it was quite the contrast seeing images of them amongst his colourful furnishings and belongings.

The London Art Fair 2016

As you know, the team here at Devas Designs love making sure we keep up with London’s latest arts and antiques fairs and exhibitions. We source a variety of items for clients from works of contemporary art to antique treasures, either as part of a project or as a one off. We are therefore always on the look out for exceptional pieces for our clients and make sure we keep track of the latest trends in the market.

This week we visited The London Art Fair held at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Split into various sections, the fair had a wide and electric selection on display including both young, emerging artists and established big names like Damien Hirst.

One of our favourite displays was the ‘Coast’ exhibition curated by the highly regarded Jerwood Gallery. They were displaying key works from their Jerwood Collection which included some of our favourite British artists such as Barbara Hepworth, John Piper and Ben Nicholson. Although we source international work and have a diverse knowledge of international art, we enjoy being able to collect British works for our clients. Often these works of art sit beautifully in British homes as they can reflect their landscape.

The works on display at ‘Coast’ all displayed how the British Coastline has influenced a selection of British artists - it reminded us of our past interior design project on the Irish West Coast, we took inspiration from the colours and atmosphere of its surrounding and focussed on a palette of pale greens, pale blues and greys. You can read more and see photographs of this project by clicking here.

Jean-Etienne Liotard at The Royal Academy of Arts

We used our time over the festive period to catch up on exhibitions and cultural events in London. One of the most striking exhibitions we visited was The Royal Academy of Arts Jean-Etienne Liotard show. Liotard beautifully captured the Enlightenment period across Europe and beyond. He was a painter in high demand at the time, producing distinctive portraits for the aristocracy and royalty.

The beauty and distinctive character of his portraits come from this enlightened approach. The age of Enlightenment was of course a time of thought, reason and science. Rather than focussing on his sitter’s wealth, as was always the focus in portrait painting, Liotard depicts subjects who are inquisitive and open-minded. Many of them are dressed in Turkish clothing, showing interest in cultural crafts or are actively engaging, reading a book for example.

Liotard was a well travelled artist, taking his paints as far as the royal courts of Constantinople. His work also helped to encourage the increasing trend for Oriental art, objects and textiles.

For us, the textiles portrayed in the portraits we truly inspiring, we loved the rich velvets and jewelled detailed in the portrait below. The colour schemes of an artwork can provide you with inspiration for your own interior. If a work of art really appeals to you, try picking out its three main colours and matching details such as cushions or a rug to build a cohesive and balanced colour scheme.

Goya: The Portraits at The National Gallery

Goya is undoubtedly one of Spain’s most compelling artistic characters. The National Gallery’s exhibition of his portraiture is a striking display. Having visited Jean-Etienne Liotard’s exhibition the same week, it was incredible to see how these two painters approached portraiture and turned convention on its head. Goya is of course known for his nightmarish scenes from his ‘Disasters of War’ and ‘Black Paintings’ series so it was spectacular to see an altogether alternative exhibition of Goya’s work.

His portrait patrons grew rapidly after a portrait commission from Spain’s prime minister Count Floridablanca, and he began painting portraits of Spanish figures from royalty to intellectual to military figures.

The impact of Goya’s portraits lay in his ability to manifest his sitter’s psychology. There is a beautiful and poignant realism in his work, there is no attempt to prettify, Goya painted what he saw. There is an informality to his work which we like, very disparate to the pompous portraits of the earlier 17th Century.

We were also struck by his sensitive and hazy touch in many of the paintings, such as this self portrait below. There are almost impressionistic touches, particular in his background which balances beautifully with his stronger stance.

Christie's Interiors December Sale

Following our blog about Christie’s Interiors December sale and the stunning works of art included, we also wanted to share with you our favourite items of design and furniture from the sale.

This gold-painted model of a tree is an unusual addition and instantly caught our attention. It has been made from steel and wood, painted gold which imbues a real sense of glamour. Its design is in the style of Curtis Jere, the American metalwork company founded by Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels.

Estimate: £1,200-1,800

While the work above is styled on Curtis Jere designs, these two bronze skiing sculptures are originals by metalwork company Curtis Jere, and both signed ‘C. Jere’. Each has been cast from a model, one of a slalom skier and one of a young boy pulling a sled. They sit on sloping onyx bases, and we love the use of this material to evoke their snowy landscape. Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels started C. Jere in the 20th Century, the company has since been sold and resold but their original designs such as this one are highly regarded in auction houses.

Estimate: £1,200-1,800

This Chinese famille rose and gilt dish is a charming item. It is decorated with a pair of ducks and a lotus pond and also features a kingfisher perched on a peony branch. The gilt forward border adds an extra detailed feature which beautifully holds the design together. This dish is decorated in a typical Yongzheng Period manner and would be a wonderful addition to a collection.

Estimate: £500-800

This next lot comes in an impressive size, it features ten French stained-beech dining chairs. We love simple designs like this, they have a timeless elegance that can work in both classic and modern interiors. There is a lovely elegance in their colouring as well, the tones of the stained-beech and mahogany balance beautifully with their pale grey fabric covered seat.

Estimate: £700-1,000

Paintings from Christie's Interiors December Sale

Christie’s regular Interiors sale is always on our calendar of must-see auctions. It is a perfect auction for both first-time buyers and seasonal auction hunters as each item has a guaranteed quality.

This month’s sale was no exception. Alongside objects and items of furniture were a selection of exquisite paintings and we wanted to share our favourite works with you.

This painting by Hercules Brabazon Brabazon really caught our eye for its subject matter and colour palette. English artist Brabazon was an accomplished watercolorist. After graduating in Mathematics from Cambridge University, Brabazon travelled to Rome to study art, pursuing his true passion. During his life he continued to travel, mostly across Europe, to explore the artistic feats of artists such as Velazquez, who he greatly admired. His watercolour style was also very much influenced by Turner. This work below depicts Santa Maria della Salute in Venice and is painted in watercolours heightened by white on blue paper. The colouring is sensitive and subtle yet still evokes this Venetian scene. When buying art for an interior, we enjoy selecting works which can either inform or tie together a room’s colour scheme. A work like this is a perfect companion, its colours can be translated into a colour scheme, yet itself would not overpower but compliment the space.

Estimate: £800-1,200

These next drawings, by Henry Parsons Riviere, are on sale as a pair. One depicts the Colosseum in Rome, the other shows a view at Tiber and St Peter’s Cathedral. Like Brabazon, Riviere was also a renowned watercolorist. He also travelled to Rome where he lived and taught for several years. During this time his work became increasingly focussed on ancient ruins and Rome’s historic landscape. These works are both executed in pencil and watercolour, and are beautifully detailed. Works like this are perfect for adding to a collection, particularly when bought as a pair.

Estimate: £1,200-1,800

This painting by Fred Yates has a lovely colourful and cheerful quality which caught our eye. British artist Yates took up painting during his time as a painter and decorator. In 1970 he moved to Cornwall where he painted outdoor landscapes scenes, and became commercially popular following the Tate’s ‘St Ives’ exhibition. His work is often likened to L. S. Lowry for its aesthetic similarities. This painting below depicts the town of Urmston in Manchester, Yates’ hometown, and we love the use of blues, yellows and reds. A work like this would enliven a modern interior, and look lovely in a muted colour scheme to add a splash of vibrancy.

Estimate: £2,000-3,000

The painting below by Julian Barrow shows a street in central Calcutta. Barrow was known for his paintings of London’s architectural features and everyday buildings, but was also a prolific traveller so we were intrigued to see this work. This painting has a lovely character, with almost impressionistic brushstrokes. The colouring is centred around a palette of subtle browns and blues which perfectly compliment each other.

Estimate: £800-1,200

El Divino Morales at The Prado // Madrid

We also caught Prado’s ‘El Divino Morales’ exhibition of the work of Luis de Morales. Morales is one of the most significant Spanish artists from the Renaissance period. The show focusses on altarpieces and devotional panels, two formats that he championed.

For fifty years he lived and painted in Extremadura and was certainly the most prolific painter of that area.

He was influenced by Flemish traditions of the 1400-1500s as well as Italian Renaissance artists and formed a style combining these two. The Prado tells us that this contributed to the commercial possibilities and successes at the time of his work; his audience recognised the religious subjects and loved the emotionally charged manner in which they were painted.

There is a section of the exhibition devoted to his paintings of the Passion, one of his keys subjects. His figures are almost silhouetted against dark backgrounds and beautifully sculptural.

Museo Nacional del Prado // Madrid

Last weekend we had a wonderful trip to Madrid and had time to explore the spectacular collection at the Museo Nacional del Prado.

As well as enjoying their permanent collection, they had a fantastic exhibition of rock crystal carvings from Renaissance Milan; ‘Arte Transparente’.

The exhibition analysis's the technique of carving rock crystal, which has been relatively unexplored by galleries. There are twenty exquisite examples on display, with fourteen alone coming from the same group known as ‘The Dauphin’s Treasure’. The other six on display come from historic collections including pieces from the Medici family from Florence.

As a material, rock crystal is known for being prestigious and luxurious. During the Middle Ages it was even associated with the celestial, while now it carries a hefty price tag. In Milan it emerged during the 16th Century as royal and wealthy families became interested in its beauty and value.

Works of beauty in materials like this have always intrigued us, particularly as their status fits in both domestic interiors and gallery settings.

Bernheimer Sale at Sotheby's

This month Sotheby’s is hosting a major sale of antiques and works of art from the collection of the Bernheimer family. The Bernheimers started with a humble market stall in Munich and grew to become one of Europe’s most dominant dealer dynasties. They have been incredibly resilient, overcoming deportation during the war to Dachau and the business being expropriated by the Nazis. During this time some of the family moved to Venezuela and after the war they returned and managed to entirely rebuild and eventually expand their business. The collection is in impeccable condition and features works of art, porcelain and furniture.

Here are a few of our favourite pieces from the sale …

This pair of gilt bronze mounted rouge grotto marble cassolettes from the 19th century are exquisitely sumptuous. They come from France and are in a classic Louis XVI style. Each one has a domed cover which conceals a nozzle. The details are wonderful, with each also featuring ram’s mask supports which are hung with beautiful tasselled chains. The beaded circular base gives a sense of stability to this ornate design.

Estimate: £1,000-1,500

This French grand piano (c. 1902) caught our eye instantly, it is an unusual and unique piece. It is in a neoclassical style known as ‘Adam’ which was inspired by the work of Robert and James Adam who advocated an integrated style for architecture and interiors. This stunning piano is polychrome painted with satinwood, ivory and ebony details. The case is decorated with roundels and rectangular panels. The painted details are very much in the style of Angelica Kauffman, a neoclassical painter from Austria who often worked alongside Robert Adam. Much of her work portrayed pretty and poetic scenes from Classical literature, like the painted roundels on this piano which have an almost Rococo quality. The piano also features decorative musical trophies, drapery and ribbon-tied laurel swags. While an item like this might seem like an extravagant addition to an interior, it would truly be a talking point and add a real charm and history to a room.

Estimate: £5,000-7,000

We loved this sculpture by German artist Hermann Haase-Ilsenburg entitled ‘The Amazon’s Farewell’. It has been cast in bronze with a beautifully rich dark brown patina. The female nude is elegantly modelled and the rich patina reflects light to produce a wonderful sense of movement when you walk around the work. This sculpture would look wonderful in a drawing room, either on display individually or as part of a collection. We source works of art for clients and enjoy finding unique pieces that work with their existing collection.

Estimate: £2,500-3,500

We also loved this sculpture by Max Klinger, a German sculptor and symbolist painter. This sculpture was most likely made during his time in Rome where he was heavily influence by Renaissance works and subject matter. Again this work is cast in bronze with a rich black patina and sits on a mottled green marble base. The female nude is reminiscent of Renaissance and classical figures like Venus.

Estimate: £5,000-7,000

The Frick Collection // New York

As well as exploring New York’s incredible contemporary galleries, we visited The Frick Collection. The Frick is known for its outstanding collection of works of art from the Renaissance to the 19th century and includes artists such as Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Degas, Turner and El Greco. The museum also has a charming garden to relax in and was a serene environment to enjoy the collection.

Here are some of our favourite works of art on display at The Frick Collection ...

Giovanni Bellini is the most famous of the Bellini family of Venetian Renaissance painters. He revolutionised Venetian painting through his coloristic and sensuous style. This work below, St Francis in the Desert (c. 1476-78) shows St Francis receiving the stigmata. We loved the landscape which is painted with stunning detail and includes animals, birds, plants and objects like skulls.  

We couldn't help but be drawn to some of the more British works of art on display such as this portrait of Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein. German artist Holbein spent long periods in England where he painted the nobility of the Tudor Court.

This terracotta sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon also caught our eye. It represents Diana the Huntress and its life size-scale is incredible. Houdon called on classical sources such as the Apollo Belvedere which inspired her long limbed, elegant pose.

There were also some outstanding works by Titian on display. Titian is an artist who has always captivated us for his rich hues and alluring subjects. He is widely regarded as the greatest painter of 16th century Venice and when you face his paintings you can see why. The depiction of soft flesh and textures of fur is painted with extraordinary detail.

The Whitney // New York

During our trip to New York we also visited the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Whitney focuses on American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. It was founded by sculptor and collector Gertrude Whitney, who wanted to promote the work of American avant-garde artists she felt were going unrecognised. After the Met Museum declined her gift of 700 works of art for their collection, she opened her own gallery in 1929.

It was a great year to visit the Whitney - in April it finally opened its new doors after the five year construction of a new gallery in the Meatpacking District.

The new building was remarkable to see, it has been designed by architect Renzo Piano, known for his many prizes and museum constructions. While he has been criticised for his imposing structures, we were struck by the boldness and bravery of his design.

We were most intrigued by the Whitney's permanent collection which ranges from 1912 to the mid 60s and traces the development of American Modernism. Unsurprisingly, the collection is dominated by Abstract Expressionism.

Among the works on display by Edward Hopper was this study for his iconic painting 'Nighthawks'.

We also like this charcoal drawing by Georgia O'Keeffe (left). Her abstract work was inspired by organic forms from nature like flowers and trees. There is a beautiful fluidity in the rhythmic spirals in this drawing. Willem de Kooning's paintings were also beautifully vibrant, such as this work called 'Door to the River' (right) which uses giant strokes of pink and yellow.

As well as a fantastic permanent collection, there was a retrospective of Frank Stella which we caught. The exhibition showcased works from the 1950s to the present day with over 120 works of art including paintings, sculptures and drawings. Stella is a key figure in American Modernism, inspiring minimal, abstract and colour fields artists so it felt pertinent to see his work in New York. We were also attracted by his bold colour schemes, works of art like this can enliven modern and minimal interiors. 

'Picasso Sculpture' at MoMA New York

You might have seen from our Twitter photos that we spent last week in New York, exploring the city and in particular its extraordinary art galleries. New York during the Autumn is a beautiful place, its colours and culture are truly inspiring.

For those of you who have been, it will be no surprise that one of our highlights was visiting MoMA. We were lucky enough to catch MoMA’s exhibition of Picasso’s sculptures. It’s been highly anticipated as there hasn’t been an exhibition of this scale of Picasso’s sculptural works since 1967.


Throughout his influential career, sculpture was a medium Picasso returned to time and again. He approached sculpture in an excitedly experimental way which we love. He blended both traditional and unconventional materials and methods, much like his paintings.

The exhibition itself had over one hundred works on display, complimented by photographs and works on paper which was a lovely story telling device.

Picasso’s ‘Still Life with Guitar’ (1912) really grabbed our attention. It has been formed in true Cubist style, with multiple angles modelled from cardboard.

It was fascinating to see an artist whose career is triumphed though works on canvas with such a vast collection of sculptural works. We also enjoyed seeing how his sculpture informed his painted works and vice versa. 

Autumn at Paisnel Gallery

This week we visited Paisnel Gallery in St James's to view their Autumn collection. Paisnel Gallery specialises in 20th century art, with particular attention given to Post War art and the work of the St Ives group. 

Among the paintings on display was this wonderful work by John Piper. Piper is one of Britain most celebrated war artists and was famed for his paintings and prints. The British landscape is a setting he returns to time and again and this work entitled ‘Portholland, Cornwall’ is a classic example of this. His paintings of British towns have in many ways become archives of these British sites. We were particularly intrigued in this work for its mixture of both figurative and abstract styles.

John Copnall's 'White Painting' caught our eye for its simple colour scheme. The work is mixed media and collage with overlaid and painted sections. His use of hessian, canvas and plaster was inspired by the work of Antoni Tapies. We like the materiality of the work, which, combined with a subtle colour scheme gives a wonderful texture.

We have written about Howard Hodgkin's work before, his sense of energy really inspires us. This work, 'Put Out More Flags', immediately captured out attention for its colour, movement and energy. Characteristically, it is a hand coloured etching and the layering of colours is fluid and balanced. Although his prints were intricately hand crafted, he retains a sense of spontaneity which we love. A work like this could really enliven an interior and look splendid in a modern space.