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robertogreco : dinnerparties   5

Ray Eames and the Art of Entertaining - Curbed
"Ray Eames also understood housewifery as part, though far from all, of her and Charles’s design practice, as historian Pat Kirkham argues in an essay in a new book on the famous design couple. "Ray enjoyed nurturing through hospitality, and her ‘at home’ performances blurred the boundaries between her roles as wife, friend, and artist, designer and filmmaker with Charles," Kirkham writes in The World of Charles and Ray Eames (Rizzoli), a catalog which accompanies a recent retrospective at the Barbican in London. Other essays in the lushly illustrated tome cover their films, their dress, their multi-media exhibitions, and, in architect Sam Jacob’s contribution, their "California-ness."

Ray was luckier than many working women of her day, in that she could call upon her workplace for help. "Before the arrival of friends for an ‘informal’ evening at home, Ray, like a stage manager, art director, or production designer, would oversee a small Eames Office team assigned to preparing the house for the coming performance of hospitality."

She would orchestrate the arrangement of objects, the plumping of pillows, and the burning of candles to specific lengths. Food was generally simply prepared but of high quality, with a focus on arrangement of fruit, cheese, breads, and chocolate on dishes selected by Ray.

"Composition, colour, and colour coordination were central to Ray’s table-laying, and she drew on her large collection of crockery, from finely made Japanese pottery in plain bright colours to Royal Copenhagen’s prettily patterned tableware in blue and white." Woven baskets added texture; tablecloths, napkins, flowers and candelabra more colors. Staff had to be out of sight before the guests arrived, however, so as not to dispel the illusion.

In the documentary The Architect and the Painter, architect Kevin Roche tells the story of being served three bowls of flowers after a meal at their house. Ray called it a "visual dessert"—he reports later going to Dairy Queen.

On occasion, Ray even did themes, as when, in 1951, she planned a tea ceremony to welcome sculptor Isamu Noguchi and his movie-star wife Yoshiko (Shirley) Yamaguchi. Photos show tatami mats on the floor of the Eames House living area, with one of their wire-base tables in front of each guest. The room is uncharacteristically uncluttered, with plants in the corner and a Toy, with its multi-colored plastic-coated triangles, on the wall as a piece of abstract art.

Charlie Chaplin was also a guest, and later posed for photos with a Japanese fan. Could these elaborate events have served as inspiration for a sequence in the Eameses’ multi-screen show at the 1964 World’s Fair, "Think," in which a dinner party seating chart is used to explain problem-solving techniques to the masses?

In a 2006 essay for the Journal of Design History, I suggested the Eameses were not alone in performing modern marriage for publicity; the Girards, the Knolls, and the Saarinens also blurred the line between life and work, appearing in photographs in homes barely distinguishable from showrooms, and vice versa.

The Los Angeles Herman Miller showroom the Eameses designed predates their Pacific Palisades house, but was set up the same way, with seed packets keeping company with Giacometti, Japanese kites, and tumbleweeds. Eventually the Eameses would turn the decoration of their house into a third piece, the film House—After Five Years of Living (1955). The performance rolled on.

Acknowledging Ray’s hospitality as part of the Eames Office—as labor, as well as a design project—causes me to reflect differently on the occupations of previous generations. My mother and her parents were trained designers, and I had a great-grandmother who was an art teacher.

But a talent for composition, color, detail and arrangement can be handed down through the generations without a curriculum, if you think of it as a set of affinities. Brilliantly composed quilts and intricate afghans, balanced flower arrangements and gridded gardens use some of the same skills, and show the same daily devotion, as design practice. More housewives than Kjartansson have made homes performance art.

I think of the mother of my artist uncle, who was president of her state garden club, or the father of my architect husband, a businessman, who spent his spare time building a hedge maze. They were also designing—as Ray knew all too well, and as Kirkham has thankfully now explained.

The design world wasn’t the only place where table settings had a professional role to play, either. When I was growing up the dinner party was still, in academia, part of a winning promotion package, and it was rarely the male assistant professor doing the cooking and arranging.

Ray’s dessert flowers remind me of an elaborate dish my grandmother made at Easter, one that would be a worthy final project for Housewife School: paskha, an Eastern European egg custard molded into a dome and then decorated with fresh fruit in symmetrical floral patterns. It is a definitely a performance, and one that combines cooking, knife skills, composition, and color sense. (It is also, to my palate, better admired than consumed—sorry, Grandma!).

It seems Eames-esque: a folk tradition based on handwork and patterns, a food arranged rather than cooked. Shot from above, a paskha would fit right in with the photographs of rainbow grids of spools, crayons, and buttons that adorn the Eameses’ House of Cards. In a 1973 article in Progressive Architecture, critic Esther McCoy, a friend of Ray’s, wrote, "They were the first to fill in the spartan framework so acceptable to modern architecture with a varied and rich content." Later, she ended a remembrance of Ray with a vision of "her wide craftsman’s hands placing the bouquets on the table, moving them an inch this way or that.""
eames  charleseames  rayeames  alexandralange  2016  design  dinnerparties  performance  problemsolving  housewives  housewifery  calvintompkins  ragnarkjartansson 
june 2016 by robertogreco
When Meals Played the Muse - New York Times
"From the beginning, the idea was to establish not only a kind of perpetual dinner party but also a food-based philanthropy that would employ and support struggling artists, the whole endeavor conceived by Matta-Clark as a living, breathing, steaming, pot-clanging artwork.

“To Gordon, I think everything in life was an art event,” said Ms. Goodden, who now lives in a small town in New Mexico. “He had cooking all through his mind as a way of assembling people, like choreography. And that, in a way, is what Food became.”

In a catalog to accompany his retrospective, Elisabeth Sussman, the curator of the Whitney show, describes it as providing “the best picture of an artists’ utopia, in all its extraordinary ordinariness, that Matta-Clark imagined.”"
tinagirouard  robertfrank  rirkrittiravanija  filippomarinetti  thefuturistcookbook  philipglass  counterculture  alicewaters  robertkushner  trishabrown  1974  1971  janecrawford  hisachikatakahashi  robertrauschenberg  lcproject  openstudioproject  srg  cooking  donaldjudd  carolinegoodden  artists  allankaprow  supperclubs  dinnerparties  happenings  127prince  2007  nyc  restaurants  glvo  art  matta-clark  gordonmatta-clark 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Kinfolk Magazine - Kinfolk
"Kinfolk is a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings. We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us. We have come together to create Kinfolk as our collaborative way of advocating the natural approach to entertaining that we love. Every element of Kinfolk—the features, photography, and general aesthetics—are consistent with the way we feel entertaining should be: simple, uncomplicated, and less contrived. Kinfolk is the marriage of our appreciation for art and design and our love for spending time with family and friends."
kinfolk  lcproject  glvo  dinnerparties  supperclubs  leisurearts  relationships  community  lifestyle  magazine  food  design  culture  photography  entertaining  artleisure 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Episode 253: Nils Norman : Bad at Sports
"Norman founded an experimental space called Poster Studio on Charing Cross Road, London. This space was a collaborative effort with Merlin Carpenter and Dan Mitchell. In 1998 in New York he set up Parasite, together with the artist Andrea Fraser, a collaborative artist led initiative that developed an archive for site-specific projects.

Norman now lives and works in London Copenhagen. He exhibits internationally in commercial galleries, museum, and in public and alternative spaces. He writes articles, designs book covers and posters, collaborates with other artists, teaches and lectures in European and the US. Norman completed a major design project: an 80m pedestrian bridge and two islands for Roskilde Commune in Denmark in 2005 and is now working together with Nicholas Hare Architects on a school playground project for the new Golden Lane Campus, East London. He has recently finished an artist residency at the University of Chicago, Chicago, USA."
dogooderism  academia  careerism  culture  readerbrothers  lauraowens  making  authenticity  values  trust  productivity  production  productionvalue  local  deschooling  unschooling  communities  dinnerparties  supperclubs  formalization  access  creativepractice  contradiction  mfa  lowresidencymfa  purpose  posterstudio  soprah  situationist  culturalspace  privatespaces  publicspace  institutionalization  bohemia  bohemians  cityasclassroom  cities  gentrification  josefstrau  stephandillemuth  economics  neoliberalism  richardflorida  socialpractice  denmark  chicago  site-specificprojects  roskildecommune  collaboration  arteducation  education  2010  artproduction  nilsnorman  colinward  explodingschool  artists  interviews  art 
april 2012 by robertogreco

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