Sunday, January 15, 2012

The F word

Food for Thought

Just outside the jewel Italian city of canals 
is the fabulous and untouristed region of the Veneto.
Asolo is a perfect medieval hilltop town in the Veneto.
It's spectacular and quiet except on the second Sunday of
every month when a fabulous antique market is held in the square.
Charming hotels and authentic restaurants make this a must visit

Romeo Romeo wherefor art thou Romeo ?
In the Veneto is the beautiful city of  Verona where the Montagues and the Capulets
of Romeo and Juliet fame lived in the 15th century

Arguably the most influential architect in western culture
he wrote the Quattro Libri- the Four Books of Architecture
based on his studies of the classics of Rome 

Palladio's hometown
Palladian Villas dot the entire Veneto.  These fantastic structures did not depend
on expensive materials but rather on fine design

An interior trompe l'oeile in the Villa Barbaro


The Villa has four identical facades, each with it's own distinctive approach.
This one is my personal favorite as your view is totally channeled between two
parallel walls focusing the eye on the columns , the pediment and the dome

The Villa Saracceno

For a truly unique experience you can actually book a stay in a Palladian villa
if you are visiting The Veneto. 
Bookings can be made through
The Landmark Trust

It's the REAL THING 
The whole experience of visiting the Palladian Villas can best be described by accurately using the over-used expression AWESOME !!!

FAUX ...    my first F word - an imitation- not authentic- not real

                                        but given a French twist, it's very respectable

Ca'Toga is the truly FAUX Palladian Villa created by 
Northern California artist,Carlo Marchiori, 
at the northern end of the Napa Valley

Carlo is from The Veneto originally and with his talents and
imagination he has conjured up some serious magic.  If
you are in the Napa Valley between May and October
you can book a  Saturday tour but if that's not in your travel plans then get
a copy of Carlo's book.  

Not every artist from the Venetto is an avid follower of Palladio. 
Carlo Scarpa,  one of the leading modernist architects 
of the 20th century was also from the Venetto

  It's worth the drive on narrow dirt roads
 through fields of poppies to find the Brion Sanctuary
Scarpa designed  the  tomb for the Brion family.  It's a spectacular
monument with a Zen quality.  Concrete-bronze - and water.
There is no faux or fake here.
This is pure Brutalism at it's best
Scarpa himself is also buried at the sanctuary in a far corner,
wrapped in linen like a medieval knight and
encased in concrete in a standing position.

Thomas Jefferson, a great disciple of Palladio, may actually be the real "father of our country."
He began what was to become a 38 year relationship with Sally Heming, his 16 year old slave,
while he was serving as the US Ambassador to France in the years just prior to the French Revolution.

All evidence including DNA testing points to the fact that he was the father of her six children.

I am a fan of all films directed by James Ivory and this one gives a 
wonderful glimpse into the life of Jefferson and his relationship with
Sally while they were living in France

So there is that other F word  (the one that got you interested in this entry in the first place)
                                                   and guess where it all began...
                                                                                                in France 

Jefferson designed the United States Capital
as well as his Virginia home MONTICELLO

The Palladian Inspirations are self-evident.
When a neighbor asked him for architectural advice
Jefferson replied,
 "Palladio  is the Bible. You should get it and stick to it."

BTW... Did you know that Jefferson also invented the swivel chair ?  I picked up that little tidbit from Season I of Downton Abbey.  I am addicted to the PBS series on every Sunday night at 9:00 pm

FAKE... The other F word-   not real; an imitation with the connotation of being inferior

Are you old enough to remember this ad campaign from the 1960's...
So can you identify the beauty in this photograph  ?

First one with the right answer could be the owner of a
Faux Chincilla Pilla'

I have no idea what kind of faux animal Bobby McAlpine
has hanging over the arm of his lakehouse sofa  and atop a fireside ottoman
but it adds a great contrast in texture

So is authenticity and honesty still the best policy  ?
 Coke has been "banking" on  
The Real Thing 

...and  seems to have worked for George


... it didn't work for Elmyr de Hory, an artist who could find no market for his own works in the 1940's so  he began forging original works of art in the style of the celebrated painters of the day-

           without that French twist it seems to have a negative connotation

Good name for a forger don't you think ?  sound it out         DE HORY

Picasso, Matisse- Renoir- Modigliani-Gaugin 
De Hory escaped suspicion by never copying real existing works
but rather painting new subjects in the style of...

 SO...   why is an imitation  any less worthy or good 
just because it's not by a celebrated artist ?

Elmyr never signed any of his canvases and legally there is no crime for painting in the style of...                 It's only a forgery for legal purposes if the works are falsely signed. 

Elmyr gained fame and notoriety with the publication of Clifford Irving's book FAKE 

Ironically Clifford Irving went on to fake the
 auto-biography of Howard Hughes. 

Monkey see Monkey do 
Howard Hughes
What a babe - could have played James Bond
Orson Welles rode the De Hory hysteria to the bank
filmed the documentary on the forger
 helping to perpetuate the legend 
Ching ching ching- "Money Makes the World Go Around."

De Hory, possibly the finest forger in art history,  
became very collectible for his own work after he died in 1976. 
Forged copies of his paintings began to crop up in the art market.  

                     Forged - 

                                                    For sure !  All F words

You get a lot of BLING for the BUCK with Kenneth Lane's FABULOUSLY FAKE  jewels.


Seems that FAKE was good enough for the Duchesse
The Duke with the  Duchess of Windsor in her KL Pearls

and  it's OK to  jog in  K L Pearls for The First Lady

Is  Barbara  wearing  K L pearls or is she the real thing ?
So many questions ????

Faux is BIG in interior decorating.
In the hands of a novice it can become interior desecrating

 and become just plain fake-
                                                                               but in the hands of a master... 

The giant plinth column is entirely trompe l'oiele
and the door jamb and baseboard are faux marble

When faux is good it's really good but left in the hands of an interior desacrator
it's just scarey fake.

The height of chic and FINE FAUX is the design of the 
Guerlain Showrooms in Paris done in 1932

Appliqued embroidery on a golden wool ground
defines the faux doors that make not attempt at reality.  
The door jambs are all hand painted  faux marble.



Faux Bois  meaning fake wood  (there's that French again) is hand painted
on panels to give the impression of wood .

I reinterpreted the  Faux Bois motif   in a fine linen chenille
I designed for the Summer Hill Collection  and applied it
on this sofa named after my client and friend Christina.

"TUSCAN VILLAS"  are sprouting like fungus across the architectural landscape of America .

With so much really Fabulous Faux and some pretty Fantastic Fake why has there been such a proliferation of truly Freakish Fake ? 

Taking inspiration from the past is great, but give me a break...

There is so much talent available to guide those with no experience.
Mr. Saladino's book VILLA is a beautiful documentation of the
 transformation of a an old house into a beautiful villa,
authentic in it's details modern or ancient.

So let's raise a glass of sparkling bubbly to the F word

                                                             FAUX - FAKE - and FINE.  

Shramsberg sparkling wines can't be called champagne because
they are not made in the Champagne appellation of France.
However they are neither

Fake nor Faux

They are truly FINE !

In fact they are so fine that President Nixon took 17 cases of 
Shramsberg Napa Valley 
with him to China in 1972 on that historic occasion when an American president
went to China for the first time

Whatever your politics may be,  you will most likely agree with the toast he gave.






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