japonisme: true beauty

27 December 2008

true beauty

when chester a arthur moved into the white house, he called in some of the most important designers of the moment to decorate. it was 1882; he called tiffany.

louis comfort tiffany and artist associates of his, including candace wheeler, designed windows, screens, fabrics and more, none of which lasted long enough for a color photo (teddy roosevelt wanted something more colonial revival).

fortunately (for several reasons), some of his interior design collaborations have lasted, and in fact some are now finally being restored.

when new york city's 7th armory was constructed on park between 66th and 67th. "It was constructed from 1877 to 1881 for the prestigious Seventh Regiment. The Seventh Regiment had a glorious history. It was the first militia to respond to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers in 1861, and the name National Guard originated with this regiment.

"After completing the Drill Hall and the three-floor Administration Building along Park Avenue, the Regiment hired the most prominent design firms in New York to create the luxurious interiors. One of the most well-known firms, Associated Artists, included Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White and Candace Wheeler.

"The Aesthetic Movement, popularized in the US by the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, emphasized the ‘aesthetic” or artistic in the applied arts and reached its culmination in the design of interior decoration. The design is characterized by visual complexity and profusion of surface ornament, embracing many different historical styles, including Japanese, Moorish and other exotic motifs. The regimental rooms, most notably the Veterans Room and the Library, are among the most stunning spaces anywhere in New York City." 1

and it was fortunate for us, in a manner no one could have predicted:
"Ten years ago I stumbled on my first reference to the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. I was studying American architecture at Yale University and preparing a paper on armory buildings in New York City. Tiffany, I found, had decorated the Veterans' Room and Library for one of these.

"The following semester, I presented a seminar report on Tiffany as the leading American exponent of Art Nouveau and, just for fun, I purchased a Favrile glass bowl make by Tiffany as a demon- stration of his work. It cost four dollars and I thought it was expensive. Today it is worth a great deal more. [1,000 times more] When I brought it home my wife asked, 'How long do we have to keep it?'"

Robert Koch, 1964 •
Louis C. Tiffany: Rebel in Glass.

in 1957, mr koch went on to complete his dissertation on tiffany, and then in 1958, to curate, with thomas s tibbs, the tiffany exhibition at the museum of contemporary crafts.

tiffany said, “Styles are merely the copying of what others have done, perhaps done better than we. God has given us our talents, not to copy the talents of others, but rather to use our brains and our imaginations in order to obtain the revelation of True Beauty.”

t's true: his work was stylistic enough that we can easily see when he left his "aesthetic phase" and entered his "art nouveau phase." but every artist believes this of their work, and must. it's how our collective unconscious moves through time.

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Blogger john hopper said...

Thanks for this post. Really informative and entertaining. Plenty of little gems of information, which I always love.

Happy New Year!

01 January, 2009 03:30  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks john! i've always had a detective side to me so finally it's being put to good use!

happy new year!!

01 January, 2009 07:07  
Blogger belvedere beads said...

chester arthur - my favorite president. i did not know about this, very interesting.

01 January, 2009 09:24  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks, lucinda-- i find it interesting too, and ironic, because i spent several 3-day weekends in this very building to do the small press bookfair in the 80s. if i had only known!

01 January, 2009 16:45  

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