Monday, January 21, 2013
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Portugal Wine Sales Rise as Asia, Ex-Colony Demand Grows - Bloomberg
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Illuminating Jewish Life in a Muslim Empire
By ISABEL KERSHNER
The MasterLiving Blog
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
Numerous companies have christened themselves Bauhaus over the years
From The International Herald Tribune:
Deconstructing a prestigious name
BY ALICE RAWSTHORN
LONDON — When a friend from Manchester landed in Berlin with time to spare before a meeting, he asked a taxi driver to take him to the Bauhaus museum. Instead of being deposited outside the Bauhaus Archive, which is dedicated to the early 20th-century German art and design school, my friend was astonished when the taxi stopped at an enormous D.I.Y. superstore.
Perhaps his request was lost in translation, but the driver had mistaken the name of the archive for that of the Bauhaus retail group. The error was understandable, because hundreds of organizations have chosen the name Bauhaus: from a Hong Kong furniture store and a solar energy conference in Frankfurt, to a Madrid investment bank and a hostel in the Belgian city of Bruges. There is also the Bauhaus University in Weimar, the city where the school originated, and one of the first gothic rock groups was dubbed Bauhaus.
Every so often, there have been legal ructions over the name. The biggest battle was in 1972 when the Bauhaus Archive tried to force the retail giant to drop the name, but failed. A new argument has erupted over the latter's recent efforts to compel ''My Bauhaus is better than yours,'' a small Berlin company selling conceptual work by young designers, to change its name. Its legal assault succeeded, but has triggered a feisty debate over the ownership of one of the most important names in design history.
To any design enthusiast, the word Bauhaus means one thing: the art and design school founded by the architect Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919. The Bauhaus moved to a bespoke building in the city of Dessau in 1925, and then to Berlin, where the Nazis forced it to close in 1933. By then, it was famed as a bastion of the modern movement, whose approach to arts education had been imitated all over the world.
Many of the most important figures in 20th-century art and design taught or studied there: Gropius and Mies van der Rohe in architecture; Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee in painting; Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer in communications; Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl in textiles; and Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer and Wilhelm Wagenfeld in product design. No wonder so many people have wished to be associated with it.
The name Bauhaus was chosen by Gropius in 1919. The previous year, he had written to a friend, the museum director Karl Ernst Osthaus, explaining that he was thinking of starting a new school, which he described as a ''Bauhütte,'' or a medieval Masonic workshop. Soon afterward, Gropius was invited to become director of the Academy of Fine Art in Weimar, and insisted on merging it with the nearby School of Arts and Crafts and adding an architecture department. On March 20, 1919, he made a formal request for the new school to be named the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar.
''Staatliches,'' or ''state,'' was only ever used for official purposes, and Gropius is thought to have invented Bauhaus, which combines the German words for 'build'' and ''house'' as a more modern version of Bauhütte, stripped of its Masonic origins. His choice of a short, distinctive name, easily pronounceable by foreigners, helped to raise awareness of the Bauhaus worldwide. By 1924, it was so well known that Gropius registered Bauhaus as a company to generate income for the school by selling the students' work.
Gropius left the Bauhaus in 1928, and its last director, Mies Van Der Rohe, took the painful decision to close the school in 1933 under intense political pressure. No one could have anticipated how famous the Bauhaus would become as its alumni fled Nazi Germany to seek refuge in different countries, where many of them assumed important academic posts, including Gropius, who perpetuated the school's memory from his new power base at Harvard University, helped by Philip Johnson, an influential curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
As the Bauhaus's posthumous reputation rose, so did the value of its name, especially to anyone likely to benefit from being linked to design, modernity or creativity. Legally, the name was up for grabs, because of the haste with which the school had closed and the political confusion in post-war Germany, where the Bauhaus buildings in the eastern cities of Weimar and Dessau were on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain to the Bauhaus Archive, which opened in Darmstadt in 1960, and moved to a building designed by Gropius in West Berlin in 1971.
Numerous companies have christened themselves Bauhaus over the years, the most prominent being the retail group, which began with one store in 1960 and now owns 190 stores across Europe selling furniture and garden products as well as hardware. It trademarked the name during the 1960s and has taken legal action to protect it. Even so, it is puzzling as to why it targeted the tiny My Bauhaus, which has three employees and whose choice of name was clearly ironic, when there are so many bigger businesses called Bauhaus.
Set up by a bunch of design students from Bauhaus University in 2009, My Bauhaus, now called New Tendency, holds exhibitions of conceptual design and sells small editions of furniture and objects. ''When we received the first legal letter last spring, we believed it was a joke,'' said Manuel Goller, one of its co-founder. ''But a second letter arrived in the autumn. We couldn't afford a lawsuit, so we have changed our name. How is it possible that a hardware store controls the name of the most important art and design movement of the 20th century?''
Similar questions are being posed by the German media and by design historians concerned that young Europeans will grow up associating Bauhaus with D.I.Y. superstores, not with a visionary design school. Judging by the number of calls to the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau requesting advice on home repair, some people already do.
Friday, January 11, 2013
The painter who turned the 215 steps into a kaleidoscope of brightly hued tiles from all over the world, transforming a dingy, urine-scented alley and stairs into a rambunctious “tribute to the Brazilian people,” was found dead on the very staircase.
Rio de Janeiro police found his body front of his house, one of the humble colonials that face the staircase as it ascends into the St. Teresa Convent above. Visitors dropped flowers and tried to light candles in the blustery weather on his doorstep.
Investigators would not disclose the cause of death but are not discarding murder. Calls for additional comment from police were not promptly returned.
“We can speak of Lapa before and after Selaron. He changed the face of Rio. His death is something brutish, that makes no sense,” said Jocimar Batista de Jesus, aka Mestre Duda Pirata, a capoeira master who also lives along the steps and shared many a beer with the artist over decades.
The staircase project began in 1990, when Selaron began tiling the steps and collecting old porcelain bathtubs to use as planters along the sides.
As it grew, people began to contribute, to send him tiles, to bring them to Rio when they came to visit“He had no resources, no support from the city,” said Jesus. “The neighbors helped as they could. I brought him tiles from my trips, from Spain, Holland, as I traveled. As it grew, people began to contribute, to send him tiles, to bring them to Rio when they came to visit.”
Crowded in a corner are tiles showing a woman in traditional dress from Minho, Portugal, next to a Buddha in seated lotus position, next to a depiction of St. Jorge slaying a dragon. A few steps ahead, Indian deities fan out around a tile representing the principal sites of Berlin. Further up are tiles showing Bob Marley, antique French tiles, and others with flowing Arabic calligraphy, all flanked by the flaming red and eye-popping yellow Selaron chose as the dominant colors.
The artist himself, unmistakable with his bushy mutton chop mustache, was always around, said tour guide Alejandro Martin Barreira.
He’d make a little money selling other paintings to people visiting the steps.
“Here in Lapa everyone knew him; he was the face of this bohemian, artistic neighborhood,” said Barreira. “He was simple man, who loved this life, sitting here, watching the kids play, chatting people up.”
A mysterious image that pops up in all of Selaron’s work — a hugely pregnant black woman, often shown holding a fish — makes appearances throughout, some of them discreet, some monumental. In one painting that takes over several tiles, Selaron gives himself, mutton chops and all, the same pregnant belly and prominent breasts, along with a sign that says, “Brazil, I love you.”
The artist introduces the character to visitors in his own words, painted, of course, on tile: “On the 7th of December of 1999, I was moved to tears,” he wrote. “All that was needed was for me to paint the pregnant woman who is in all my paintings.”
He never reveals who she was, writing only it is a personal matter. With that last touch, he ran out of room. So he started substituting the tiles, he explained, turning the staircase into a fluid, evolving piece, perennially changing to reflect the interests, origins or obsessions of contributors, with Selaron first among them.
The staircase that was born of this “great folly,” as he writes in a tile, is full of stories, notes, poignant mementos of those who pass by and leave something of themselves.
In one, Selaron thanks a friend for helping out with the tiling. Elsewhere, proud mother Jandira announces the birth of her son Bruno. In one tile, Selaron apologizes to his landlady, Dona Elena, for having neglected to pay rent during the years he spent working on the staircase.
“I hope you understand,” he pleads in a piece decorated with the omnipresent pregnant woman.
Selaron meant the work to last a lifetime.
“I will only end this mad and singular dream on the last day of my life,” he wrote on the wall.
Several steps above, an anonymous contributor answered, in simple handwriting on a plain tile painted in the green and yellow of the Brazilian flag: “Obrigado, Selaron.”
“Thank you, Selaron.”
Jorge Selaron found dead on the staircase he decorated in Brazil | World | News | National Post