The London Eye

The London Eye on the River Thames

The London Eye is a huge ferris wheel built on the Thames.  From inside a pod one sees the best views of the city of Westminster and beyond.  Here are a few photos of London on a clear day from the Eye.

Riding in the Pod

Into the sky

View of Parliament

Parliament

Westminster Abbey

According to my father, this is "the clock"

Going Down

What do you think…too many pictures?

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Christie’s Preview Exhibition

The Christie’s Auction House is a grand building in near St. James Square with luxery shops and posh restaurants on every street.  The window displays are as elaborate as Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods’ window staging.  Some display furniture and object d’art and other windows allow you a view into the galleries where you can see a Rothko or Francis Bacon yet to be auctioned.  Inside there is a grand staircase wide enough for 6 people to walk up side-by-side.

Our art business class was invited to  tour  the preview exhibition with one of the Christie’s researchers before the actual auction scheduled for the following day.  This particular auction was a collection of Impressionist and Modern Art and showcased the work of Degas, Monet, Kandinsky and Moore.  Our guide explained the general auction procedure before leading our group to the “lesser” valued drawings first.  The drawings and sketches may not achieve record bids but the work is beautiful and expressive.

Christie’s is arranged as a museum.  There are rooms with gallery lighting, hanging systems and labels.  What had I expected?  I don’t know maybe work in hung on storage walls that resemble large fences.  Anyway.  The drawings were hung close to one another but arranged nicely.  Our guide, Richard, spoke about the drawings market and explained that sometimes the work is sold during the daytime auctions.  Some drawings warrant an evening sales (I’m assuming a Da Vinci would) but theses works by Picasso and Matisse would be sold during the day.

After the drawing we walked around the gallery rooms where Rothko and Louise Bourgeois had work on display.  The main work of Rothko and Bacon were changed a day before the auction.  I liked that they moved the orange and peach Rothko to the dark blue wall.  What a statement!

Finally Richard took us to the Main Floor and discussed the work of Gris and Nolde, explaining how sometimes fantastic and seminal work will be on display and become completely overshadowed by commercially successful  work or marginal work by the rock stars of the art world.  For an example he took us to a Degas pastel, the rendering was a unfinished and the study was a little quirky.  Then Richard examined a work by Emile Nolde.  It was a painting of three Russian men in traditional fur hats and dark beards.  Drei Russen III is an outstanding example of Nolde’s ability as a colorist and expressionist.   He predicted the work wouldn’t fetch a price equal to its intrinsic value.

At mid point int he tour Richard took us to a muted Van Gogh.  He explained that this work, a field in front of the Chappelle de Saint-Remy was not as distinctive as his better known works.  The colors were soft greens, browned yellows with warm flesh colors distributed thoughts the field.

Vue de l'ase et de la Chapelle de Saint-Remy

I’m a Van Gogh kinda girl.  I know he’s a rock-star partly because of his persona but it doesn’t matter.  If no one liked Van Gogh I would still love him.  And this softer, gentler Van Gogh was beautiful.  The grains were as waves, the hay stacks in the distant haloed the ground  and his sky was at airy peace with the world.  But, traditionally, the work with raging colors and twirling stars fetch the highest bidders these days.  He had secret bit of info that would raise this little Van Gogh to the attention of buyers.  It has been purchased as a gift for Elizabeth Taylor from her father.

Christie’s had acquired several pieces from Taylor’s estate, notably her jewelry which toured around the world.  Instead of auctioning all the items together, Christie’s cleverly divided the items and created a triple-threat marketing plan: See the Jewelry. Watch the auction online. Stay tuned to Christie’s for a few more Liz surprises throughout the year.  Richard wasn’t sure if the painting would sell for the highest estimate or exceed it because it was owned by Taylor.

Our tour ended in a room arranged specifically for the Surrealists.   The usual suspects included Dali, Miro and Man Ray as well as others I hadn’t heard of before.  These works had strange or erotic or violent explanations of the subjects that couldn’t be completely confirmed by Richard.  And then, too soon, the tour was over.

Christies considers this collection a Modern and Contemporary Art Auction which brings major buyers and dealers across the world to the event.  Bidders register online and either bid at the auction or over the phone while the auction itself is broadcast online.  The night of the auction I dressed up and went to Christies hoping to get in to the auction but to be admitted to the auction floor, one has to be registered and perhaps prove they have the capacity to buy objects they bid on.  Once the hammer hits the desk the work is under contract to the highest bidder.  After the registered guests had been received Christies admitted others to the gallery area where one could view the bidding behind velvet ropes or on large TV screens.  I was amazed by the energy and bidding prices and what did and did not attract high bids.  I hope to go to a few more actions before the semester ends.

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The Estorick Collection

After discussing Futurism in class, our instructors led us on a field trip up to  the Islington neighborhood and the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Artwork.  The art is housed in small yet beautiful historic Georgian home. Today the rooms have been converted into small galleries where the work of Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla are displayed.

Entrance, Estorick Collection

Estorick Collection

Futurism began in the early 1900s with a manifesto (violent and a bit misogynistic).  Futurists worked to convey energy and vibration in order for the work to “move” in front of the viewer.  I find theses artworks difficult to digest because the manifesto is so aggressive and bombastic.  The work, which developed later, is interesting as artistic experiments within the language of movement.  Umberto Boccioni’s sculpture, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, is a famous example of futurism.  This sculpture is not in the Estorick Collection.  You can find it at the Tate Modern and there is one also at the MoMA .  In Unique Forms of Continuity in Space the figure is lurching forward, though not without resistance.

These are works found in the Estorick Collection:

Modern Idol, by Umberto Boccioni

Hand of the Violinist, by Giacomo Balla

The Estorick Collection also has exhibitions dedicated to solo artists.  This winter (January 13 – April 2, 1012) Alberto Burri’s work is on display.  Once a doctor, Burri was captured during World War II and spent time as a prisoner of war in Gainsville, Texas.  While waiting for the war to end and his release, Burri began to paint and once back in Italy he moved from that medium into mixed media and sculpture.  His exhibit is a collection of work containing plastics, ceramics, burlap, metal and tar.

Gallery

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Candy

I like candy.

Candy is fruity or minty, sticky, hard or gummy and it is a treat. Chocolate is different from candy and I’ll explain that a little bit later.  I want to talk about candy.  I like gummy bears, licorice, lemon drops, skittles etc.  Pixie sticks – did you  like pixie sticks? I shared pixie sticks with my freshman college roommate – we didn’t have much in common but an affection for the colored sugar.  I also knew a cat who like them too.

So while I’m in England I’m enjoying a smorgasbord of new candy:

Candy

The Wine Gums are like the *healthy* ocean spray fruit snacks my sister gives her girls.  The Guzzle Puzzles are like gummy bears but not as sour and the Fruit Sherbets are wrapped sourish hard candy.

They are pretty and will make a nice treat when my throat is scratchy or when I’m getting sleepy during class.  There isn’t a fruit center.  I don’t really like fruit centers…they are a bit…tricky.  Especially if the center is better than the candy or the candy is great and the center isn’t good.  Think of the chocolates in the white box with the red bow.  A gamble.

Some of the candy here is a little strange

What's up with the pink/yellow frothy ones?

These were gummy, but not gummy.  I waited until I didn’t have any regular ones left before I tried the “cloudy” pink and yellow ones.  They were fruity – but what type a fruit flavor wasn’t obvious.  I found “Jelly Babies” and sadly didn’t get a picture before I ate them all.  These “babies” are jelly but covered with a white soft powdery sugar that has no taste at all.  None.  So the powder must keep the “babies” from sticking to each other in the bag.

In the first picture I’ve included some new yogurt flavors, rhubarb and gooseberry.  Both of which grew in our yard in Minnesota.  The gooseberry bushes were prickly and never ripened.  We ate thorned green berries until we knew better.  I’ve enjoyed finding sandwich spreads that are alternatives to mustard and mayo.  I’ve got a sweet pickle spread that looks and tastes nothing like relish and a Bramley apple spread that may be excellent or, well not excellent.

During my childhood the English chocolate cadbury eggs only surfaced once a year.  I find them all year round these days and over here there are cadbury chocolates of all kinds.  There is so much chocolate to cover I think I’ll save it for another post.  I’m going to snack on my mint Kit Kat.

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A Visit to Somerset House

Somerset House is home to the Courtauld Institute of Art a wonderful collection of art spanning the work of Peter Paul Ruben’s to Modigliani.  Eduard Manet’s famous work, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, is one of its substantial acquisitions.

Here are photos from my visit on January 27, 2012

Courtyard view

Courtyard View

View of the River Thames from the terrace

Terrace

Interior

Interior

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British Museum

I am amazed with the organization and beauty of the British Museum’s collection.  But I wonder, is it beautiful because it’s organized or organized for the sake of beauty?

Entrance, British Museum

Tympanum

Tympanum, close up

British Museum Interior

British Museum Ceiling

Empty Library Display

Display Cases

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The Neighborhood & Sotheby’s Institute

My neighborhood:

Our Building

Our Street

Our Neighborhood

Sotheby’s Institute of Art

Bedford Square

Sotheby's Entrance

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