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FEATURES

Filtering by Category: Design

Fairy Tale Kingdom

Mira Dayal

THE DUKE OF BAVARIA CONTINUES THE FAMILY TRADITION OF PRESERVING AND PROMOTING THE ARTS.

LEGEND HAS IT that a young King Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the Fairy Tale King, told his governess: “I want to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others.” Arriving at his magnifcent castle more than a century after his death, we could see instantly that his dream had come true.

We were there to celebrate the 80th birthday of Franz Herzog von Bayern (the Duke of Bavaria), head of the Wittelsbach family and a descendant of Ludwig II. We reached the royal palace after driving several hours on the Autobahn, followed by a boat ride across Bavaria’s largest lake, Chiemsee , to the island of Herreninsel, where a walk on a path through the woods took us to the castle.

Construction of Herrenchiemsee (New Palace) began in 1878 but was not completed until two years after the 42-year-old king’s mysterious death in 1886. 

The so-called Bavarian Versailles, which was modeled after the French palace, boasts elegant staterooms, a huge state staircase and the Great Hall of Mirrors. Ludwig, however, preferred his small apartment designed in the French rococo style. The large garden, with its now-famous fountains, was not completed until after his death.

We passed through the north wing to the Fairy Tale King’s awe-inspiring masterpiece. In a two-story section of the castle marked by unfnished brick walls, there were exhibition spaces flled with works by Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Sigmar Polke, Arnulf Rainer and Eugen Schönebeck. Also on display were installations by Dan Flavin, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and John Chamberlain.

The spectacular exhibition of American art in this historic setting marks the intersection of modernism and tradition, where Europe meets America. And while it may appear striking that the historic castle features art which postdates its walls, the exhibition was, in fact, building on the House of Wittelsbach’s long history of collecting works by the world’s best artists during each respective generation and making these collections available to the public.

Franz was born in Munich in 1933 to Duke Albrecht of Bavaria and his wife, the Croatian Countess Maria Draskovich. His family staunchly opposed the Nazi regime and left Germany for Budapest in 1939. They lived there in exile until 1944 when Hitler invaded Hungary and ordered the arrest of the family, including 11-year-old Franz. The royals spent the remainder of the war in various concentration camps, including Dachau, until American troops liberated them in 1945. The duke resumed his education, eventually studying economics and business in Munich and Zurich.

Meanwhile, a debate continues in England over amending the 17th-century Act of Settlement, which could technically place Franz in the direct line of succession to the British throne. The act, which created a parliamentary monarchy and prevented any Catholic from ever ascending to the throne, was established after Franz’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great- grandfather, King James II, was deposed during the Glorious Revolution.

Succession passed to James’ Protestant daughter, Mary II, who ruled jointly with King William II. They died without heirs, and the throne eventually passed from the Stuarts to the current House of Windsor. The law stands, but is amended periodically (most recently to allow frst-born royal ofspring to inherit the throne regardless of gender), and the Protestant requirement continues to be debated. 

But the duke does not spend time dwelling on royal succession, focusing instead on the Wittelsbach family tradition of promoting the arts and sciences. He is a member of the board of trustees for both the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich and the German Museum. He is also a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, chairman of the Society for the Promotion of the Alte Pinakothek, vice-chairman of the Munich Gallery Society and chairman of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

And so it was ftting that the duke decided to celebrate his birthday with a spectacular debut of artworks from Munich’s world- renowned Pinakothek der Moderne, where many masterpieces from the duke’s private collection are on permanent loan.

After viewing the exhibitions, we mingled with guests outside the castle, overlooking the magnifcent fountains. We refected on the vision of Ludwig II over 100 years ago and the continuation of that vision through Franz today. Before heading back into the castle for dinner, we could not help but believe that fairy tales do exist. One has only to dream. 

Christophe & Carolina: Fluent in Style

Mira Dayal

Christophe von Hohenberg & Carolina von Humboldt met at a party in Christophe’s home in 2008. She was admiring the nude images on display, when he walked over and introduced himself as the photographer. . . . 

. . . And the rest is history. 

Trompe l’oeil painter and interior designer Carolina von Humboldt speaks the language of art:

Almost daily, I walk past a beautiful interior design studio on the ground foor of a building on New York’s Upper East Side. The space evokes the image of a white canvas with accents of color: Photographs adorn the room; books are neatly stacked under the window; a white desk hugs the wall and a kitchen aisle runs down the room’s center.

I have often wondered who works there and what their lives are like. I found out one recent fall weekend when I set out to interview renowned interior designer and trompe l’oeil painter, Carolina von Humboldt, and discovered the studio was hers.

The atmosphere is sophisticated yet warm and inviting, which speaks to Carolina’s unparalleled ability to create and customize comfort. Her ofce is decorated with a beautiful combination of classic and modern pieces. Her paintings and designs beautify private homes and ofces around the world, including the Paris headquarters of Estee Lauder Europe and the corporate ofces of Fiducial in Paris, Lyon, and Antwerp.

“You need to talk to the client. You have to get along as human beings before anything happens,” said Carolina, who defnes style as “timeless,’’ and is inspired by “the mystery of tomorrow.’’ 

Carolina von Humboldt was born in Paris to Spanish-German parents. She started her career in Paris as a textile designer when she was 18 years old.

“I fnished high school, and I went to an art school in Paris and then I wanted to go on my own. I didn’t want to stay in my parent’s house,’’ she said. “You either study and stay home or you do something else, so I got a job as a textile designer.’’

Her frst big job was with the Parisian luxury linen maker D. Portdault, where she worked on their custom line and designed the prototype for their frst beach towel. “I remember feeling very proud. It was a big blue fsh in diferent shades of blue!” Carolina said.

She soon decided to study trompe l’oeil in Paris, Milan and Rome. “Since I was little, I always painted, more or less, depending on my life and other things,” explains Carolina. She enjoys painting nature, especially water because “it changes all the time with the light, the weather.” 

After a 10-year pause for a modeling career, Carolina moved on to interior design, working with clients in their corporate ofces, commercial spaces and residences in Europe, South America and New York.

When starting a new project, she imagines the design from the client’s perspective. “My frst step is to feel in the same wave length with the client and remember they will live or work there, not me.” Carolina likes colors to travel through the rooms. “They should come back here and there, but in a subtle way. It should not be obvious.”

She has lived and traveled throughout Europe and Latin America and speaks fve languages fuently, although Italian is her favorite. “I went very often and I lived there, but I’m not Italian,’’ Carolina refected. “I always liked visiting. I think it’s the country that has the most beautiful things.’’

Carolina moved to New York in 2004 after a client commissioned her to design a Madison Avenue apartment. The city remains one of her favorite places in the world.

“Everyone wants to be working here,’’ muses Carolina. “There must be something; there is a reason for that.”

Carolina von Humboldt’s current project is Le Bilboquet, the iconic French bistro on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. To learn more about Carolina, please visit cvhinteriors.com and carolinavonhumboldt.com. 

Christophe & Carolina: Finding Focus

Mira Dayal

Christophe von Hohenberg & Carolina von Humboldt met at a party in Christophe’s home in 2008. She was admiring the nude images on display, when he walked over and introduced himself as the photographer. . .

. . . And the rest is history. 

Acclaimed photographer Christophe von Hohenberg refects on his journey .

Christophe von Hohenberg casts a humble shadow for a world-renowned photographer. Despite the glitz and glamour that punctuated decades of his prolifc career shooting for the likes of Vanity Fair and Vogue, it was a youthful and composed fgure that greeted me on a recent sunny afternoon in New York. 

Born in Oyster Bay, NY, Christophe embraced the world of art at an early age when his mother brought him to St. Croix following her divorce from his father, a money manager. In stark contrast, his new stepfather was a passionate photographer who shot for Mercedes- Benz and Town & Country.

“Lights were always fashing and cameras all around, and I was told not to touch anything,” recalls Christophe, adding that his stepfather gave him his frst camera when he was 11 or 12. It was one of his stepfather’s old Rolleis, the preferred camera of Richard Avedon and other notable photographers in the 1960s. “I still use that camera today,” he added. 

Christophe attended various schools in New York, Vermont, Germany, Spain and France, studying a wide range of disciplines. Along the way, he studied with Rod Abramson, a protégé of the great French artist Fernand Léger, who encouraged him to enroll in drawing school.

“I wanted to be a renaissance man,’’ explains Christophe, adding that he was “drawn to the life of being a painter, the fantasy you read in Hemingway.” “We weren’t thinking about money then. We were thinking about education, seeing the world, spiritual awareness...then the philosophy was you never know what happens the next day.”

While exploring painting, Christophe began to associate with and assist photographers, which led him to New York, where he set out on his own. It was here that he ultimately gained international recognition for his portrait and lifestyle photography.

It wasn’t long before international style and fashion magazines took notice of his work, as did the Museum of Modern Art, which particularly liked a series he did on Spain.

In 1987, Vanity Fair magazine hired Christophe to shoot Andy Warhol’s memorial service. His assignment: to capture mini-skirts in mourning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Unfortunately, no one was wearing them.

“I was really worried about missing people going into the Church and I thought, ‘shit, no one is wearing miniskirts,’” recalled Christophe. “I had three cameras on me and then all of the people I knew started coming in at once, and I was snapping all over the place.”

“It wasn’t somber; it wasn’t really sad. It wasn’t happy. It was the end of a period and a time and that was it,’’ he added.

Christophe’s photographs from that day eventually flled his book, Andy Warhol: The Day The Factory Died, which captures images of Yoko Ono, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, George Plimpton, Tom Wolfe and others paying homage to the pop icon.

Reflecting on what he regards as the most critical catalyst in career growth, Christophe says it all comes down to “guidance,” which he said he wished he had earlier. “I was just in it and having fun with it and traveling with this little world of mine.”

One change Christophe did not make as he progressed on his long artistic journey was the switch to digital cameras. He remains dedicated to flm. “I use analogue and hardly ever use digital,’’ he said. “I want to feel it. I want to smell it. It’s my second hand.”

Before we parted, I asked Christophe to summarize the meaning of his work. “Death represents the loss of knowledge and time,” he answered. “Photography holds time and keeps knowledge alive.”

Christophe von Hohenberg’s upcoming book, Another Planet, will be published this spring. Visit his website at: christophevonhohenberg.com. 

Becoming Visible

Mira Dayal

PHOTOGRAPHER, ACTOR AND BILLBOARD ARTIST JOSH LEHRER ILLUMINATES BROADWAY FROM ALL ANGLES.

JOSH LEHRER is lighting up Broadway. A renowned photographer, known for capturing the theater’s magic by shooting images of the faces of actors backstage, Lehrer has also designed some of the most memorable billboards of the Great White Way.

“Anytime we create art for a crowded landscape, we ask ourselves, ‘how do we get the public to pause and grasp the information?’” asks Josh.

He is animated by the challenge of capturing—if for only a heartbeat—the gaze of the passerby in the visually over-stimulated Times Square. His formula is simple: Trust the viewer and don’t tell the whole story.

An accomplished actor, Josh has worked with renowned directors like Robert Wilson, Andrei Serban and Julie Taymor. He was also the executive director of the Atlantic Theater Company.

THE BOSTON native began his career produc- ing still photography at Showtime. He decided at the age of 40 to change it up and enroll in New York’s International Center of Photography.

While in school, he worked on a series of imagery called Back Stage, where he captured Broadway and regional actors as they prepared for their turn in the limelight. The series reignited his love of the theater and the wonderful portrait opportunities that actors present.

Around the same time, he landed his first billboard ad for fedging fashion label, WDNY, which caught the eye of entertainment advertising giant, SpotCo. In the end, not only did the billboards pay for his tuition, but they also grabbed the attention of agents looking for fresh blood in the billboard and celebrity portrait world.

Of all the advertising campaigns and billboards, Josh is most proud of the work he did for Hair. He was so taken by the actors’ energy in the show he had seen the night before, that he came to the shoot the following day with the idea of capturing the cast mid-leap.

His other Billboard credits include the Broadway hits Kinky Boots, La Cage, Three Penny Opera, Chicago, Passion and Hurley Burley.
 

“My love of theater predates anything else,” says Josh.
 

Josh lists Tina Brown and Ethan Hawke as among his many favorite portrait subjects. Hawke, he explains, has the courage to be honest in front of the lens. “Everything in the acting profession teaches honesty and truth in the moment,” says Josh. “It is very difcult for many trained actors to surrender to the implied artifce of still photography. Ethan can do it always.”

Brown, he says, recognizes a photographer as one who wields signifcant power over the article, ad campaign or portrait, and how the viewer sees the subject.

“When I arrived at her house there was a spread, crab salad, and she had researched me; she knew my work! She said ‘this must be important if they sent Josh Lehrer.’ She knew how to make me do my very best.”

Josh moves ever forward while at the same time following in the footsteps of his photographic idols: Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Mary Bow White.

DESPITE HIS thriving business in the rarifed world of Broadway, his mantra is that society is only as strong as its weakest members.

So in 2008 Josh set out to bring to surface the lives of one of the city’s fastest-growing homeless populations: transgendered youth. With that focus, his art project, Becoming Visible, was born.

The result was a series of portraits of homeless teenage transvestites that has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including at the Robert Miller Gallery in Manhattan.

In the series, for which he received the Photo Philanthropy Award, he asks the viewer to pause in a sea of visual stimulation and see the world through the eyes of society’s castofs.

“We, as a society are as sick as our weakest members,” he said. “I want to illuminate the segments of society that we are sometimes not aware of.” 

Bravo, Josh, Bravo!

Hats Off to Kokin

Mira Dayal

The master milliner is on top of the world.

EVEN AS A CHILD growing up in Bufalo, NY, Kokin was drawn to the dramatic. While he imagined a career on the stage, little did he know that the spotlight would fnd him not on Broadway, but on top of the world of millinery masters.

Kokin counts among his devoted clientele the likes of Julia Roberts, Hilary Duf, Michelle Pfeifer, Cindy Lauper, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Sophia Loren, Mischa Barton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cher, Queen Latifah, Beyonce, Bianca Jagger, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon.

“I really appreciate designers who make a woman look beautiful,” says Kokin, who rose to the top of his feld with the unveiling of his fall, 1983 collection. “Great design is memorable; bad design is forgettable.”

He would know. Kokin is responsible for creating some of the most memorable pop culture fashion moments. Alicia Silverstone wore Kokin in the 1993 movie Clueless, as did Andie McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) sported a Kokin topper in the television show Gossip Girl and Sofa Vergara seductively tips a Kokin hat while sipping Diet Pepsi in a recent ad campaign.

In a period when grunge and “heroin chic” became the rage with oversized plaid shirts and ripped jeans, Kokin focused on refned feminine designs. 

A stickler for top quality, Kokin works with fne materials like cashmere jersey, duchess satin, python leather and wool ottoman. “People will always pay for something beautiful,” says Kokin. “If something was beautiful in 1950, it is still beautiful today. In every collection you will see Audrey Hepburn peeking through from somewhere.”

Kokin explains that running a millinery shop is still like running an old world business. Many of his machines date back to 1890, and when a part malfunctions, it can be difcult to fnd someone to make the repair. “It’s a hard business,’’ he admits. “It’s a business that not everyone understands.”

Kokin has adapted to changes in the industry. “Stores don’t really have hat departments anymore,” he laments. “However, I’m selling more hats without a hat department than ever before.”

He now has a fagship store on 1028 Lexington Avenue in New York City, and his designs are also sold in Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, as well as stores in Rome, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo, and Beijing.

Kokin’s craft is also getting a royal boost from Kate Middleton. Like Princess Diana before her, the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearances in exquisite hats have sparked an increase in sales. “Thanks to Kate Middleton people now come in requesting fascinators,” he says, adding that many customers come in requesting “fasteners” or “fashinators.”

Kokin believes that a woman should dress “for the theater of her life.” He claims that “women buy things in my store that they wouldn’t buy anywhere else,” noting that many customers have “always wanted to wear a veil, or a fedora like a man, or even a cocktail hat.”

The master does not think that a beautiful hat, which he regards as “one of the greatest cosmetics,” should be reserved for special events, adding that superstars Barbra Streisand wears her Kokin originals when gardening, and Bette Midler opts for a topper when having a “bad hair day.”

Not only does Kokin create one-of-a-kind masterpieces, but he sells everyday hats as well. In fact, his best selling hats are black berets.

“There’s nothing like all black,” opines Kokin, suggesting that women should always wear the colors in which they feel the most comfortable. “There’s nothing like a blonde wearing the color of champagne or a redhead wearing green,” Kokin says. “I really like it when a shoe matches a bag. I think it’s chic.”

He recommends protecting your investment by storing hats in hatboxes and not in plastic bags or hanging on the wall, where they collect dust.

Kokin hopes to open stores in Beverly Hills and Paris. “I’m re-entering to do ready-to-wear and accessories.”

To Kokin, no woman should ever look frumpy in a hat. “I always say spend the money on your face. No one is going to take photos of your feet.” 

 

Absolutely Impiglia

Mira Dayal

Artist GIANCARLO IMPIGLIA passes his passion on to his son.

"Be whatever you want to be as long as it’s not an artist,” my father laughed, brush in hand, as he counseled me years ago. 

It was an obvious joke, but it still came as a bit of a shock. I come from a family of artists—writers, musicians and sculptors—so it seemed only natural that I too would join their ranks.

Clearly, my father was referring to the difculties all artists face in their careers, his own included. His father supported the family as an artisan furniture designer while also smuggling weapons to the Resistance in Nazi-occupied Rome.

My father supported himself as the country rebuilt after the war, and it was his art that allowed him to do so. In the early stages of his career, it wasn’t his painting but his music. While studying classical art at the Liceo Artistico and the Accademia di Belle Arti, where he studied under post-war greats such as Giuseppe Capogrossi and was infuenced by the likes of Alberto Burri and Gino Severini, he played the bass and sang in nightclubs throughout Italy and, eventually, the world.

His music brought him for the frst time to New York, where his iconic artistic style was born on the canvas. His classical education and study of Cubism and Futurism collided with the brightly lit modern city, creating a burst of colors and sophisticated lines.

He landed his frst major commission in 1974 when he was asked to paint a 60 x 6 foot mural for the lobby of the Great
American Insurance Building at 99 John Street, which launched his international career. But more importantly, it was in New York that he met my mother.

His trademark has always been faceless fgures. “It’s a satire on consumerism,” he says. “People have become anonymous, defned by what they wear. It’s all a superfcial façade covering their true identities.”

In 1980, his work led him to the artistic haven of the Hamptons, where I had the privilege of growing up. 

Today, my father’s paintings, sculptures and jewelry can be found in hundreds of galleries, private collections, and museums worldwide. Big, the movie starring Tom Hanks, immortalized his 35-foot-long mural, Café Society, commissioned for the legendary New York nightclub of the same name. Absolut Impiglia became one of the official advertisements for Absolut Vodka.

His works also cross many oceans on Cunard’s cruise liners. My father’s nostalgic reinvention of Art Deco was in perfect sync with Cunard’s desire to uphold the legacy of ships like the SS Normandie.

I have witnessed a clear evolution in my father’s style since he decided, in 2007, to close his New York studio and work in the Hamptons full-time.

Faceless, geometric elements of his images persist, but naturalism has penetrated to the heart of his work: backgrounds of skyscrapers have given way to vibrant entanglements of vivacious fora and fauna, hard lines have become more supple and less defned.

What has also changed in my father’s work is his increased sensitivity to history. Growing up in Italy and travelling extensively throughout the world, he had always been exposed to the grandeur of ancient Rome and other past cultures.

But since moving to the Hamptons, his interest in the past has resurfaced and now blends with modernity. He recently added to his collection a series of chiaroscuro sketches in the classical style of Michelangelo and a life-size interpretation of Giovanni Bellini’s Saint Sebastian. Not only do these emphasize his classical education, but they also bring with them further commentary on the modern world. Saint Sebastian, for example, in addition to serving as a celebration of the Italian Renaissance, also plays the role of a Byzantine icon, a symbol of eternal human sufering in the face of greed represented by the thick layers of gold leaf.

I watch his style continue to unfold into new visions each time I walk into his Bridgehampton studio. Now, a frame of camoufage canvas occupies his aisle, the fabric that he has used many times to draw attention to society’s inherent fascination with war.

My father has helped me every step of the way in my own artistic journey. One of his murals, containing two uncharacteristically defned human faces, graces the cover of my book, The Song of the Fall.
Back in his studio, a fgure is beginning to take form on the rippling shades of green, limbs and face yet to be defned. My father hands me his brush and tells me to fnish painting a portion of the canvas with a sharp shade of yellow while he mixes other colors. “So, you still don’t want me to be an artist?” I ask. He arches an eyebrow and says, “Did you ever really have a choice?”

Christopher Impiglia is a writer of essays, poems, short stories and screenplays. His work refects a keen interest in history, inspired by his extensive travels throughout Europe and Asia. You can view his website at: www.christopherimpiglia.com. 

State of the Art

Mira Dayal

KEVIN BERLIN on Miami’s week in the sun:

Get ready to fall in love again. One of the world’s most anticipated happenings takes over Miami for an inspiring frst week of December, and thousands of collectors, dealers, curators and artists will be joining you there. 

Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Miami, CON- TEXT and Aqua Art Miami are among more than 20 separate fairs converging on this sun-bathed city for Art Week, long known as a launching pad for the artistic stars of tomorrow.

“We noticed an opportunity to extend our hand to the young emerging artists, and the young galleries or seasoned galleries that are representing them,’’ said Nicholas Kornilof, Art Miami’s founder and director.

While 2013 marks the 24th edition of
Art Miami, which acquired CONTEXT two years ago, this is the frst time the ninth-year exhibitor, Aqua, has operated under Art Miami’s ownership.

Aqua director Jennifer Jacobs said her group’s fair ofers 47 rooms for individual

artists and cooperatives, as well as education- al institutions and galleries from around the world, which feature both emerging talent and mid-career artists exploring new ideas.

“Aqua has traditionally been one of the great smaller fairs for emerging and mid-ca- reer artists,’’ said Jacobs. “We’re taking a lot of that artistic DNA and providing and strengthening an infrastructure.’’

There is far too much ground to cover in one week but, with careful planning, you can attend a host of ofcial openings. And you should. A full year of planning precedes each event, where the organizers are cordial and welcoming.

Each event gets its own moment in the sun. Art Miami and CONTEXT open Decem- ber 3 with a beneft for the city’s new Perez Art Museum. On the same day, Scope Miami opens at its new location on the sands of Mi- ami Beach. December 4 is the VIP opening of Art Basel Miami Beach, considered Art Week’s anchor.

And, keep in mind that the fairs aren’t the only venue to view cutting-edge art. Day or night, you can wander the streets of Miami’s famous Wynwood Walls section, where graf- fti rules and artists from around the world present powerful, personal and high-energy work for free.

So, put down the cell phone and take your time beholding the extraordinary art before you. The week will draw to a close before you know it, but the memories will not. You will always have Miami.

KEVIN BERLIN is an internationally renowned artist whose recent solo exhibitions include galleries in Shanghai, Kiev, Chicago, and New York City. See his work at: www.kevinberlin.com.