Aging Gracefully

Kiyp Aragai - Aging Gracefully
© 2017 by Karsten Thormaehlen.

Meet Kiyo Aragai one of the 52 centenarians photographed by Karsten Thormaehlen for his new book Aging Gracefully. 

Aging Gracefully invites readers to look into the face of a century of life experience with portraits of centenarians captured by Thormaehlen’s compassionate, minimalist lens. The striking photographs are accompanied by short bios of the centenarians, featuring quotes and wisdom on love, food, humour and living with grace.

The following is an extract from Aging Gracefully.


BORN SEPTEMBER 10, 1914,IN ASAHIKAWA, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN

Kiyo Aragai

SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO, JAPAN


Kiyo says she had a free, idyllic childhood and a wonderful marriage “full of happiness and without any arguments.” She has her husband to thank for the fact that she has become such a good cook, “thanks to his wonderful sense of taste and his weakness for good food.” The couple travelled a lot, including to places abroad like Hawaii. She says she does not really have anything to complain about, nor does she have any regrets. She is at peace with herself.


Aging Gracefully, a glorious celebration of humanity and the human spirit’s capacity for happiness, is on sale 7th March 2017. Find out more and order your copy here.

Aging Gracefully by Karsten Thormaehlen

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order)

It is a sad truth that there is still a gender bias in the art world. The facts speak for themselves: an audit of the art world in 2013 showed that every artist in the top 100 auction sales was a man, and just 8% of public art in central London was created by women(1). During Frieze week, the busiest time in the art calendar, a mere 33% of solo shows were by women(2). Between 2007 – 2014 the Tate Modern granted women artists solo exhibitions only 25 percent of the time(3).

To put it plainly: works by women artists are still worth far less than similar works by men from the same generation and location.

BUT things are changing and Chronicle Books are adding their voices to the battle cry of groups like the Guerrilla Girls with a new book; Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order).

Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art canon. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, Broad Strokes offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of 15 brilliant female artists in text that’s smart, feisty, educational and an enjoyable read. Replete with beautiful reproductions of the artists’ works and contemporary portraits of each artist by renowned illustrator Lisa Congdon, this is art history from 1600 to the present day for the modern art lover, reader and feminist.

The following is an extract from Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order):

PAULA MODERSOHN-BECKER
© 2017 by Lisa Congdon.

PAULA MODERSOHN-BECKER


I love waking in my studio, seeing my pictures come alive in the light. Sometimes I feel it is myself that kicks inside me, myself I must give suck to, love . . .

—ADRIENNE RICH, “PAULA BECKER TO CLARA WESTHOFF”


IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that the annus mirabilis of twentieth-century Modernism occurred, quite specifically, in 1907 in the city of Paris, making way for everything that was to follow.

Every movement loves a start date. But, of course, Modernism was well underway before 1907. The Romantics had already depicted a world devoid of organized religion, but soulful and sublime; Realists had given us the heroism of everyday life (“How great and poetic we are in our cravats and our patent-leather boots,” said Baudelaire); the Impressionists faithfully captured on canvas the play of light across skin, field, water, and air; and Post-Impressionists took such facts to the unseen world of spirit and emotion, what Symbolist (and proto-Expressionist) Edvard Munch called, “the soul’s inner pictures.”

So what happened in 1907 that branded it ground zero of twentieth-century Modernism?

One of the oldest things in art: the female nude. As painted by two men.

In the spring of 1907, former Fauve bad boy Henri Matisse showed his Blue Nude (Souvenir de Biskra), an unclothed woman in the odalisque tradition (reclining, Orientalizing, sexualized) reduced to disjointed color, line, and form.

As if summoned to a duel, Picasso answered by painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a shocking and disorienting brothel scene credited with ushering in Cubism. “The contest for the supremacy of the avant-garde was being fought in the arena of the female nude, painted large in scale,” writes Cubism scholar Natasha Staller. Contest is certainly le mot juste in this case.

Yet that contest was underway before 1907. The previous year, a nude as groundbreaking as those by Matisse and Picasso had already been painted, by a woman. In Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Self-Portrait, Age 30, 6th Wedding Day, the unclothed subject is the artist herself. Standing life-size, she stares out at us, comfortable and impassive. From the waist up she wears only an amber necklace that rests between her small breasts. Her left hand holds a kind of skirt or drapery around her waist, while her right rests—protectively? meaningfully?—above her protruding belly.

It’s painting as manifesto, not one brushstroke less so than Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. In a New Yorker interview, art historian Diane Radycki describes Modersohn-Becker as “the missing piece in the history of twentieth-century Modernism.”

“Cézanne is the father of us all,” is a line attributed both to Picasso and to Matisse. Certainly it’s true he fathered them both.

It’s equally true that Modersohn-Becker is mother to an alternative strand of Modernism: psychologically probing, personally brave, flagrantly and unrepentantly female. Think Frida Kahlo and Alice Neel, Ana Mendieta, Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero, Cindy Sherman, Catherine Opie, and countless more. The list is eminent and long.

* * * * *

I like to picture Modersohn-Becker in a cold Parisian flat, in the spring of 1906. She’s waited until the light is good, but sun in May is weak at best. She’s stripped to the waist, chilled, and alone but for her camera. She’s left her husband, her parents, and her sisters behind in Germany. She is there, in a foreign city, because she has no choice. This is where she first saw Cézanne, Gauguin. Where the ancient art of the Louvre—Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman—waits for her every day. The Old Masters are there, too, of course. And in the galleries, so much that’s new. Something entirely fresh is happening in art; she must be part of it.

She’s painted nudes for years, German peasants, even old women and young girls, from the village of Worpswede. Here in Paris, it’s not so easy. Models are a professional lot. They must be paid—in francs, not in trade or promises—and, just now, she has no money.

But what luck, she has herself with her. She smiles and adjusts the light, the lens, and steps back. She varies the tilt of her head, takes one photo with hands to necklace, another with them resting across the flat plane of her stomach. She plucks small flowers from a jar on her bedside table, the first buds of spring, and holds them before her as she stares into the camera.

She develops the film, likes what she sees.

As soon as she wakes each morning, she paints. Paints all day while the light lasts. She forgets to eat. The work is enough; it sustains her. Though she grows thinner, in paint she grows fuller. She gives herself a wholesome round belly, big with promise. She is as full of potential as a bud in spring.

When she’s done, she steps back. She knows she’s becoming something at last. Never again will she apologize when saying she is a painter.

She signs this self-portrait P. B. Though she notes the day as her fifth anniversary (or sixth wedding day) of marriage to Otto Modersohn, that’s done now. She uses only the initials of her maiden name: Paula Becker. I made this.

A friend from home, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, stops by soon after, catching sight of the new work. He eyes his friend’s swollen belly on canvas with concern. Rilke believes art must trump life. A child would be a disaster.

He should relax. Paula Becker is not pregnant.

* * * * *

Modersohn-Becker painted the first female nude self-portrait in Western history. It is true that Artemisia Gentileschi likely used her own body as the model for her Old Testament heroine in Susanna and the Elders, but that’s not the same thing. In Self-Portrait, Age 30, Modersohn-Becker is her own heroine. She is artist, subject, object, metaphor, nature, and actor.

Compare the not-pregnant, but pregnant-looking artist, here, to her flourishing forebearers in paint: Botticelli’s famous curving Venus in La Primavera, for example. The goddess is not with child, but is part of a (nearly) baffling allegory pertaining to the fertility of all creation. Or consider the female half of The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait by Jan van Eyck. On seeing it (if you have not, trust me), the inevitable first question is, “Why is the bride pregnant?” She’s not. Round-bellied women, believe it or not, were considered the most beautiful.

Though revolutionary, Modersohn-Becker is more than aware of the past. She is Botticelli and his Venus, Jan and his full-bellied bride, in a cold Parisian garret in spring, procreative as all hell.

By the time Modersohn-Becker painted her first nude self-portrait at the age of thirty (she went on to do six more), she’d been grappling seriously with art for a good decade, ambitious from the start.

When I was twenty-two, I read this, written by the artist in 1897 when she was my same age: “I walk along the boulevards and crowds of people pass by and something inside me cries out, ‘The beauty I have before me, none, none, none of you have.’” By the time I read those words, I was in love with New York and in love with the idea of writing, though I’d done little outside the academic.

In a course on German Expressionism, our professor, Gert Schiff, had shown one of Modersohn-Becker’s nude self-portraits and mentioned he’d put a volume of her translated letters and journals on the “class hold” shelf in the library. At the break, I raced upstairs, found the book, and moved it to “my” chair in a study room. Books on class hold could not be checked out.

I spent the next week at my boyfriend’s place on the Upper East Side so I could get to school early and get dibs on the book. Mornings I waited on the cold sidewalk for the building to open, vainly warming my palms on cardboard to-go cups of too-milky tea. Once in my chair upstairs, I devoured Modersohn-Becker’s words, wanting to know, in order to re-create, her recipe for making oneself an artist.

* * * * *

It was her diaries and letters, not her paintings, that first made Modersohn-Becker famous. Rilke, her close friend, refused to act as editor and begged his own publisher not to release them: “For where do they let us learn that this accommodating creature, who met the demands of family communication so compliantly and cooperatively, would, later, seized by the passion of her task, renouncing all else, shoulder loneliness and poverty?”

Where else but in the paintings themselves?

Though the writings don’t always pertain directly to her art, I’m so glad they were revealed. They give us the backstory, and all the conflicted emotion behind that story.

Modersohn-Becker’s father (named—unfortunate in our Harry Potter age—Woldemar) had insisted she train as a governess. There’d be no hinging hopes on marriage, much less the utter fantasy of art. But his driven daughter snuck in art training when and where she could. She never had her father’s blessing (“I don’t believe you will be a divinely inspired artist of the first rank—it would have shown in you well before this”), but then neither did Cézanne.

On her own, Modersohn-Becker discovered the artists’ colony of Worpswede near her hometown. It had been founded in 1889 by two art students, Fritz Mackensen and Otto Modersohn, as part of an embrace of a naturalist movement romantically fixated on nature and the ennobling qualities of shoveling ox dung and burning peat.

It was in Mackensen’s drawing class for his female students that Paula Becker met the sculptor Clara Westhoff in 1899. The young artists became intimate friends, working together, dreaming, talking, planning. They were soon joined by the poet Rilke, who seemed a little in love with them both (“I am with you. Am gratefully with you both, / Who are as sisters to my soul.”). But it was Clara he married.

In Modersohn-Becker’s Portrait of Clara Rilke-Westhoff, painted in 1905, just a year before her flight to Paris and breakthrough self-portrait, she depicts her friend all in white, a dramatic contrast to her dark hair and the red rose she holds to her chest. The rose was Rilke’s flower, used often in his poems. His wife looks out of the picture to her left, her face a mask of forbearance and longing.

The painting illustrates how crucial ancient art was to Modersohn-Becker’s burgeoning late style. Her figures are simplified, monumental, and timeless. But they also demonstrate her grasp of Modernism’s penetrating psychology, its flatness and powerful form married to mysterious symbol.

Becker often used flowers in her portraits of women, archetypes of nature, of beauty, of femininity, but also mysterious in the way they are often held up for the viewer, a secret sign we sort of understand, the way we comprehend things in dreams.

* * * * *

Modersohn-Becker’s visits to Paris began on January 1, 1900. In the first six months, she wrote effusive letters back to Worpswede, entreating others to come experience the transformative new art there. Several Worpswede artists came, including Otto Modersohn, eleven years her senior and one of the colony’s founders. His sick wife, left abed at home, died three days after he arrived. Three months later, he and Paula Becker were engaged.

Otto Modersohn is sometimes painted as the bad guy in the story of his artist wife, but he loved and admired her. She had a studio outside their home in Worpswede (as did he), painting from nine in the morning until seven at night, with a two-hour break midday for family lunch, prepared by a cook. She had more support than most women artists, of any era. But even with that and with yearly visits to Paris, she struggled. A rural art colony, Worpswede looked backward while Modersohn-Becker saw the future. “She is understood by no one,” wrote her husband, who tried to understand.

While working on her Portrait of Clara Rilke-Westhoff, Modersohn-Becker wrote her mother, “That one is so terribly stuck when one is married is rather hard.” Rilke-Westhoff herself later wrote, “Paula threw one piece of peat on the other through a little squeaking door in the kiln, as one tear after another rolled down her cheek while she explained to me how very important it was for her to be out ‘in the world’ again, to go back to Paris again.

“‘When I think of it, the world’—she said.”

In early 1906, just days after Otto’s birthday, Modersohn-Becker fled Worpswede, intending never to return.

* * * * *

In letters from Paris she begged Otto not to try to win her back. At the same time, she asked for money. As a married woman, she had none of her own.

Practical necessities were a constant problem—food, heat, model’s fees—but still, her art flourished. After only a few months in Paris, she broke through to a powerful new style. Shortly after painting the life-size Reclining Mother and Child II she wrote her sister Milly, ecstatically, “I am becoming something—I am living the most intensely happy period of my life.” Then she asked Milly to send money.

Traditionally, a reclining nude is a come-hither sign of sexual availability, whether cloaked in mythology (Titian’s Venus of Urbino, say) or Orientalizing romanticism (Ingres’s Grande Odalisque) or straight-up prostitution (Manet’s Olympia). In these and hundreds (thousands?) of similar works, a nude woman stares undefended at the viewer, welcoming his gaze. It is impossible to presume the viewer is anything but a man; it is presumed for us.

But in her Reclining Mother and Child, Modersohn-Becker broke with three thousand years of convention. Her mother and child face each other, oblivious to any viewer. They do offer sensuality, but it’s one of food and touch and warmth and animal love. For each other.

Equally groundbreaking, Modersohn-Becker does not fear a woman’s body or what it’s made for. Her monumental mother reclines with breasts, navel, and pubic hair exposed. Her hairstyle and features are undifferentiated, masklike, in imitation of ancient or non-Western sources. She is as timeless as the Venus of Willendorf, which is about how far you have to go back—the Paleolithic—to find a frank and frankly unsexy pubic view.

In addition, the artist has entirely reimagined the nursing mother and child. Not as Virgin suckling a holy (male) child, or as earthy peasant wearily opening her blouse, but as Woman, Mother, Nude offering sustenance and love, and getting those in return from a child whose sex we do not know.

Modersohn-Becker’s nude mothers are powerful and protean, also natural. As artists are. As this artist and woman is.

Critics have sometimes sensed a conservative streak in Modersohn-Becker’s mother and child paintings, an obsession with womanhood’s being bound up in motherhood. But Modersohn-Becker’s vision has a feminist core. She wants it all: art and child.

We don’t know whether the artist was pregnant when she made Reclining Mother and Child II, but she likely was. If not quite yet, then soon.

* * * * *

I remember the very moment I saw Modersohn-Becker’s work for the first time, sitting near the front of the Institute’s lecture space, in the mansion’s former ballroom. Professor Schiff was a few feet away, peering into his notes at the lectern. He’d fought on the German side in World War II, was captured by the French, and then came to New York, where he lived among the bohemians at the Hotel Chelsea. A few years ago I read this by Patti Smith in her memoir Just Kids, from when she lived there: “Occasionally I would bump into Gert Schiff, the German scholar, armed with volumes on Picasso.” I smiled, picturing Schiff just as he was at the lectern twenty years later, hunched over a text on art, rumpled, wry, impassioned.

A slide of Modersohn-Becker’s Self-Portrait with Amber Necklace popped up, many feet high beside him, the crystal chandeliers and mirrored gilt walls of the room disappearing behind a woman’s pale torso. Schiff glanced up, looked startled, then gave a sigh—of what? Recognition? Admiration? I followed his gaze. An ample nude seen from the waist up, body turned toward us, her eyes cast somewhere to our right. She stands before a sky-blue background filled with vines and flowers. She wears an amber necklace—warm gold against peach skin—and in her pulled-back hair are three small pink flowers. She holds two similar flowers against her chest, the one in her left hand turned upward between her breasts.

“They are,” Schiff said beside her, “nearly the same color and shape as her areolas.” His German accent slipped softly on the s’s.

It looks so clinical written down, but sounded beautiful to me then. Unlike every other nude we’d seen in the course, she was sensual but not sexual, brimming with health and strength. So unlike her Nordic and Germanic peers, slashing, sultry nudes as she-wolves and sex objects, devourers and meat.

I was stunned by the painting, trying to take notes, but not wanting to look away. When Schiff said it was a self-portrait, I almost dropped my pen. When he said that here, this artist was pregnant, I did. Somehow, I hadn’t known such a thing was possible. I didn’t know you could have a child and make great art, I really didn’t. Maybe not entirely a surprise that I didn’t know. Self-Portrait with Amber Necklace is the first pregnant nude self-portrait in history.

Years later, when I was teaching a yearlong Survey of Modern Art course at Portland State, I lingered on Self-Portrait with Amber Necklace with my students, in a lecture hall ten times the size of the old mansion ballroom where I’d first encountered it. Like Schiff, I pointed out the small flowers and the artist’s nipples and how she was, like nature, lovely, generative, eternal. I mentioned the child inside her, and the work without. I glowed at the lectern with admiration for such a woman.

When grading finals, where the painting had been one of the slide IDs, more than one student parroted back what I’d said about it, then added comments about the nipples and flowers like, “Which is weird,” or “I still don’t get why anyone would do that,” or “Maybe being pregnant made her act strange.” I went back and made a small stack of the exams with such comments. They were all male.

* * * * *

Otto Modersohn showed up in Paris unannounced, just a week after his estranged wife had completed her Self-Portrait, Age 30, 6th Wedding Day, signed with just the initials of her maiden name. She was painting Rilke’s portrait—another model she didn’t have to pay for, like herself—when Otto burst in.

In the beginning she resisted his entreaties, but then, finally, she took him back. Who knows why? Money? Loneliness? Love for him?

They lived together in Paris through the summer before moving back to Worpswede. Modersohn-Becker had by then created a handful of revolutionary nudes, including her two self-portraits and the monumental Reclining Mother and Child. And she was well along in her first pregnancy.

Before leaving France that fall, she could have seen exhibitions by Rousseau, who was her neighbor, as well as Courbet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Rodin, Derain, and Matisse. She might have seen the latter’s incendiary Blue Nude just as she was packing up her own revolutionary nudes for her return to a small German art colony still fixated on the previous century. But she was untroubled, certain of her breakthrough.

She did write a chilling letter to her sister Milly in November: “I look at it this way: if the good Lord allows me to create something beautiful once more, I’ll be happy and content just as long as I have a place where I can work in peace, and I will be thankful for what part of love comes my way. As long as one stays healthy, and doesn’t die young.” Possibly no surprise that a woman coming near to giving birth in that era might think of death.

* * * * *

Later that same month, Modersohn-Becker gave birth to a daughter, Mathilde. Photographs show a beaming mother and screaming baby, both healthy and thriving.

The mother and artist kept telling visitors: “You should see her in the nude!”

As was common practice, the new mother was put on two weeks of complete bed rest. After one week, she complained of leg pains. After two, she was allowed up. She braided her hair, weaving roses in it, and asked for her daughter. Suddenly she was in pain. She raised one leg, then collapsed. Her last words: What a pity.

Text copyright © 2017 by Bridget Quinn.


 Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) is on sale 7th March 2017, order your copy today.

Broad Strokes


1. The Guardian 2013: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2013/may/24/women-art-great-artists-men

2. Guerrilla Girls: https://www.timeout.com/london/blog/how-sexist-is-the-art-world-really-frickin-sexist-actually-111016

3. ARTnews: http://www.artnews.com/2015/05/26/taking-the-measure-of-sexism-facts-figures-and-fixes/

How to stay positive throughout 2017 – inspiration from Ups and Downs: A Journal for Good and Not-So-Good Days

Ups & Downs Journal

2016 was a tough year and 2017 is set to be full of it’s own challenges: with New Years Resolutions feeling like a distant memory, we are all in need of a little guidance for how to stay positive. The Ups and Downs Journal is the perfect place to let go of the bad and focus on the good.

Ups and Downs Journal

Give it a go today; jot down your answers to the following questions and feel your worries ebb out onto the page.

First the downs:

This rained on my parade: _______________________________________________

I view this as a problem/challenge, because…__________________________

The Future looks: _________________________________________________________

Would I rather be elsewhere right now? yes/no

If yes, where and why? __________________________________________________

The most annoying person I talked to: ________________________________

The biggest disappointment of the day: _______________________________

Ups and Downs Journal
Now the Ups:

This was quite good: ____________________________________________________

This unfortunately less so:_______________________________________________ , but it doesn’t matter.

Did I reward myself? yes/no

If yes, how and for what?_______________________________________________

If no, why not? __________________________________________________________

This made me laugh: __________________________________________________

I enjoyed this: __________________________________________________________

This day was my friend because ______________________________________

My resolution for tomorrow: _________________________________________

Ups and Downs Journal

With space to record the day’s low points followed by the day’s highlights, this journal encourages you to acknowledge the bad, let it go and embrace the good!

ABRAMS TO PUBLISH FIRST BOOK ON THE WOMEN’S MARCH

Why I March

For Immediate ReleaseABRAMS TO PUBLISH FIRST BOOK ON THE WOMEN’S MARCH

ALL ROYALTIES WILL BE DONATED TO NON-PROFITS AFFILIATED WITH THE MARCH

New York, New York – February 2, 2017Today,ABRAMS announced the publication of WHY I MARCH: Images from The Women’s March Around the World (Abrams Image; 21st February 2017; £11.99; Paperback), the first photographic tribute to the largest peaceful demonstration in history. The book will come out exactly one month after five million people in more than 80 countries on all seven continents stood up to challenge the dangerous rhetoric of an administration on inauguration weekend. The book takes readers on a global tour of the marches and features colourful, inspiring photographs that were provided in great part by Getty Images, which has partnered with ABRAMS.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring this book and these images so quickly to the market in order to commemorate and confirm the energy, hope, solidarity, and strength that millions of people displayed that day. Their energy and commitment has helped motivate and mobilize our own here at ABRAMS. We’re also proud to donate all of the royalties from the sale of the book to nonprofits associated with the March in support of ongoing work and resistance,” says Michael Jacobs, president and CEO of ABRAMS.

Featuring images of people in snow gear in Antarctica, women holding “Love Trumps Hate” signs in Durban, South Africa, and little girls in the streets of New York City, WHY I MARCH is organised by continent and showcases the recurring themes of inclusion and intersectionality that the March so embodied. The book also includes an in-depth Resources Guide for activists, old and new, who are looking for next steps to keep the momentum going. This includes information on existing grassroots organisations all over the United States.WHY I MARCH will honour the movement, help raise funds and awareness, and promote future activism.

About the Book:

WHY I MARCH: Images from The Women’s March Around the World

Abrams Image | 21st February 2017 | £11.99 |Paperback | 176 pages

203 x 178mm / 150 colour photographs

ISBN: 9781419728853

Books, and others.

Contact: publicity@abramsandchronicle.co.uk

Source: abramsbooks.com

The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style

The Coveteur Private Spaces, Personal Style

The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style by Stephanie Mark and Jake Rosenberg

Ever wanted to peek into your idol’s closet? In The Coveteur, celebrities open their doors to offer us a glimpse of their life, their style and their private treasures.

The following is an extract from The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style by Stephanie Mark and Jake Rosenberg

Bobbi Brown

Founder, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; editor-in-chief, Yahoo Beauty

When: November 12, 2014

Where: Brown’s family home in Montclair, New Jersey

Why: As if we even need to say this, but if there’s such a thing as a beauty godmother, Bobbi Brown is it.

Bobbi Brown at home
© 2016 Jake Rosenberg

 

“Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules and create your own.”

Apologies ahead of time if we get a little sentimental here. Just bear with us.

A lot of what we do when we’re considering whom to photograph is about inspiration— what’s the special thing or person or moment that has us excited now, but also in the long term? A lot of the time, quite honestly, this looks like stumbling across a person or trend when we’re down a deep Instagram black hole sometime north of midnight.

But then there are those luminaries we’ve grown up with—who have seemingly been a constant presence in our lives by way of advice given in nineties-era issues of Seventeen or even a book or two still residing on our present-day bedside shelves. And there’s no one who really epitomizes the endlessly inspiring, yet totally relatable power woman quite like Bobbi Brown. What can we say? The woman has been our personally appointed cheerleader ever since Teenage Beauty: Everything You Need to Look Pretty, Natural, Sexy and Awesome. (And, not coincidentally, that book title is still very much our mantra when we look in the bathroom mirror every morning.) So when we finally got the go-ahead to get into her closet (and beauty cabinet, because we couldn’t not), the prospect of meeting the woman who taught us that there is, in fact, a perfect blush color for each person–(“To find your ideal blush color, pinch your cheeks or look in the mirror after a workout. The color they turn is your ideal shade.”)–became a game of minimizing our obvious fan status.

Inside Bobbi Brown's home
© Jake Rosenberg

 

Showing up at her suburban New Jersey home, it didn’t take us long to get digging through her prodigious collection of Céline, Saint Laurent, and Chanel. And, honestly, it wasn’t so hard to feel at home with the makeup mogul, especially when she plied us with food and coffee— unquestionably the surest way to our hearts. Then again, that could be because we’re still reading up on everything she has to teach us via Yahoo Beauty, which, when it comes to empowering women (rather than encouraging insecurities) pretty much nails it on the digital head.

“I built my brand on empowering women to celebrate their natural beauty and be their best, most confident selves,” she told us. “I have worked with actresses, models, and celebrities my entire career, and have learned that they share all the same beauty concerns that everyday women have. So shedding light on those issues that nobody talks about is important to me. I will talk about them and tell you the truth.” And there she goes again: our cheerleader.

Bobbi Brown's "Everything Eyes" Book
© 2016 Jake Rosenberg

 

dots

Founded in 2001, TheCoveteur.com is one of the most popular fashion websites on the Internet. It is swooned over for its portraiture, profiles and beautiful photographic excavations of the closets and homes of the stylish and celebrated jet set. The book features 50 notables, including Karlie Kloss, Jessica Alba, Tavi Gevinson, Nate Berkus, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Tommy Hilfiger, Bobbi Brown, Hamish Bowles and Carolyn Murphy. Showcasing celebrities’ favourite clothes, accessories and objects in their private, rarely seen spaces, the book is an intoxicating combination of fashion eye candy, interior design, and celebrity voyeurism. With its intimate documentation, The Coveteur examines the creative process and inspiration of 50 of the designers, models, fashion editors and other tastemakers who are defining the fashion zeitgeist of our times.

Stephanie Mark is a stylist and the cofounder of TheCoveteur.com. Jake Rosenberg is a photographer and the cofounder of TheCoveteur.com. They split their time between Toronto and New York City.

The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style by Stephanie Mark and photographer Jake Rosenberg | Abrams | Hardcover | £21.99 

Peek behind the curtain of Mr. Ken Fulk’s Magical World.

Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World

Take a peek behind the curtain of Mr. Ken Fulk’s Magical world.

Working out of The Magic Factory, a 15,000-square-foot think tank in San Francisco, Ken Fulk specialises in interior design, special events and architecture. Whether he is creating fantastic homes, throwing the opening party of a museum show, or planning large-scale events (like the famous wedding of Facebook’s Sean Parker in a redwood forest), Fulk’s work is always remarkable and stylish and sometimes over the top.

Featuring more than 200 colour photos along with short essays by the designer, Mr. Ken Fulk’s Magical World will showcase the best of his luxurious environments over the past decade: gorgeous dwellings he has designed for notable clientele; his own three homes; stunning examples of his party and event designs; and even a private jet.

Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World Mr. Ken Fulk's Magical World

 

Mr. Ken Fulk’s Magical World is out 18/10/2016. Order yours now.

 

Abrams Books

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers

Power to the People

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale

The following is an extract from Power to the People by Stephen Shames and Bobby SealePower to the People contents page

What Was the Black Panther Party?

The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary political organisation. Although its members were leaders of the Black Power movement, they were not black nationalists. Their “black pride” was not based on denigrating whites, but on showing the black community how to take control of its own destiny. The Black Panther Party worked for economic justice and power for all people.

Bobby Seale explains, “The Black Panther Party was an ‘All Power to All the People!’ organisation. It was a powerful grassroots activist organisation that formed coalitions seeking to further our civil human rights and achieve real freedom and justice for all the people. These were the political revolutionary objectives of my Black Panther Party.”

In their landmark book, Black against Empire, Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. wrote:
What is unique and historically important about the Black Panther Party is specifically its politics. . . . They created a movement with the power to challenge established social relations. . . . From 1968 through 1970, the Black Panther Party made it impossible for the U.S. government to maintain business as usual, and it helped create a far-reaching crisis for U.S. society. . . . At the center of their politics was the practice of armed self-defense against the police. . . . The Panthers’ politics of armed self-defense gave them political leverage, forcibly contesting the legitimacy of the American political regime.{2}

Many scholars have characterised the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organisation of the late 1960s. Professor Judson L. Jeffries has called the Panthers “the most effective black revolutionary organisation in the 20th century.”{3} Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Héctor Tobar called the organisation a “serious political and cultural force” and “a movement of intelligent, explosive dreamers.”{4}

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The Legacy of the Panthers

The Panthers remain cult heroes today, a half century after their founding. They left a legacy of hope to black people in America—both youth and adults. Their courage, discipline, and dedication to serving the community continue to inspire.

Their survival programs provided a model for political action. We can thank the Panthers for shaming the federal government into action by feeding tens of thousands of children while the richest nation in the history of the world let them go hungry. The Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children Program preceded the government’s school breakfast and lunch programs.

Many of the free medical clinics they started are still operating today. The Panthers were among the first to bring national attention to sickle-cell anemia, a disease that primarily affects black people.

The Panthers founded their own school to educate children of Panthers. Their charter school was cited as excellent by the California State Legislature and became a model in poor communities.

The Panthers’ efforts for community control of the police, including their failed referendum to establish such control in Berkeley, paved the way for community policing.

The Panthers electrified a generation of black youth. The Black Panther Party gave purpose to aimless, angry young people who loitered on street corners. The Panthers molded them into disciplined, hard workers who served their community and showed respect for their mothers, fathers, and elders in general. The Panthers provided a model for how to reach these disaffected kids. By comparison, our underfunded, piecemeal efforts to reach youth today often end in failure.

The Panthers were ahead of most of their contemporaries in regards to equality for women and gay rights. As Ericka Huggins observes:
Another thing that is part of the legacy of the Black Panther Party is that we were not afraid to look at race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. All of it. Huey wrote in support of the woman’s movement and the gay liberation movement. Who the heck—what black man, what white man, what any man was talking like that in 1970? Huey talked about it in terms that anybody could understand. We had our own gender issues, not so much sexual, but gender issues within the Black Panther Party. But, we worked that too. We really were ahead in terms of thinking and acting. {10}

The Panthers’ voter registration drives and Bobby Seale’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1973 led to the election of Oakland’s first black mayor four years later. Even before that, Huey Newton’s 1968 Peace and Freedom Party campaign led to Ron Dellums’s election to Congress in 1970. Dellums finished his illustrious career in the House of Representatives as chairman, and then-ranking member (senior Democrat), on the Armed Services Committee. The number of elected African American officials at all levels nationwide in 1968 numbered in the hundreds. Today, tens of thousands of black elected and appointed officials serve our nation, including the president of the United States, the attorney general, and sheriffs in Mississippi and Alabama. Numerous former Panthers have held elected office in the United States, including Charles Barron (New York City Council, then New York State Assembly), Nelson Malloy (Winston-Salem City Council), and Bobby Rush (House of Representatives, from Illinois).

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This Book

Bobby and I created this book with the future in mind. We believe that a look back at the role of the Black Panther Party during the turbulent 1960s will help us better understand the present, and perhaps facilitate a brighter future. This book tells the story, in pictures and words, of the heroic men and women of the Black Panther Party who tried to bring a dream of freedom and justice, both political and economic justice, not only to African Americans, but to all Americans—in fact, to all the poor and oppressed people of the world.

Power to the People is a photography book coupled with a bit of oral history from people who were there. It deals with the vision and legacy of the Black Panther Party. This book is not meant to be a comprehensive or scholarly history. Charles E. Jones, in his book The Black Panther Party Reconsidered and his essay in my first book on the party, The Black Panthers; Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin Jr., in Black against Empire; and others have done an excellent job putting the Panthers into context.

My photographs deal with aspirations and vision. While I am not ignoring some of the negative aspects of the Black Panthers, that is not what is most important about them. To err is human, and the errors of the Panthers pale in comparison to those of the United States government at home and abroad during this period. They also are minuscule in comparison to the virulent racism and violence born out of the enslavement of millions of Africans. This racist strain continues to haunt us as we struggle toward our multiracial future. Building a wall will not keep the badness out. The bad is already here and has been since the beginning—as is all that is good about our country. We must continue to dream and organise, as the Panthers did, to ensure that the good triumphs, so we and our children enjoy a better future.

Bobby and I hope this book will be a tool to help you learn things you did not know about the Black Panther Party. The Panthers have a great deal to teach us: about their vision of community, about service, about ethnic pride and love, about coalition politics, about freedom and justice, about their Ten Point Program. We hope what you discover in this book motivates you to act.

I will leave the last word to Bobby, because he always says it best:
At this time more than ever we need activists who are motivated and dedicated to organising people, raising consciousness and instilling self-respect. . . . We especially need creative Black youth who know our history and who understand that Black Unity is the catalyst to help humanise this racist world. We need socially conscious activists who will work toward the . . . economic empowerment of our people. We need activists who cross all ethnic and religious backgrounds and colour lines who will establish civil and human rights for all. . . . We must create a world of decent human relationships where revolutionary humanism is grounded in democratic human rights for every person on earth. {13}

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Text copyright © 2016 Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale

NOTES

{2} Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr., Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party
(Berkeley and Los Angeles: Universityof California Press, 2013), 9, 14, 13.

{3} Quoted in Jordan Green, “The Strange History of the Black Panthers in the Triad,” Yes! Weekly, April 11, 2006.

{4} Héctor Tobar, “‘Black Against Empire’ Tells the History of Black Panthers,” Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2013.

{10} Also see The Black Panthers, photographs by Stephen Shames, essay by Charles E. Jones (New York: Aperture, 2006), 144–45.

{13} Bobby Seale, introduction to Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton
(Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1991).

Celtic Tales

Kate Forrester, illustrator behind the bold illustrations in Celtic Tales, talks inspiration, loving what you do and the beauty that comes from stepping out of your comfort zone.

Celtic Tales_Book Cover

Every now and then I get sent a commission that really allows me to push the boat out and create something really special. So often my jobs are very heavily art directed and don’t require as much imagination as you would think but this was no such project.

Before I had even got my hands on the manuscript, I knew this project was going to be right up my street! When i spoke to Emily, the designer from Chronicle, I knew we would be approaching this with the same vision. As well as illustrating the stories, she wanted me to design various patterns and bring the traditional Celtic knot work into my work and those are the kind of details i adore. I knew that it would work well to keep the illustration quite simple and the colours flat – my work is often likened to paper cuts or silhouette art – so this balanced nicely with the decorative borders and end papers she had in mind. Despite the traditional nature of the tales, I knew from the start that i didn’t want my illustrations to be too quaint or conventional so this was a challenge to overcome.

Once I read the manuscript, I was even more excited to be asked to illustrate such a rich collection of stories. There were sea monsters, princesses and even a 3 headed giant! Being very character driven, it was quite different to my usual commissions which tend to involve hand lettering as the main starting point. But it was refreshing to do something different and out of my comfort zone.

As luck would have it, right about the time I accepted this job,there was a big exhibition at The British Museum on the art and identity of The Celts. It was such a perfect start to my research. The exhibition was brilliant – dark and atmospheric and featuring lots of knot patterned metal and ceramic tools in pleasing shapes.

The way I work is to sketch out the rough layout of each story illustration using pencil and pen on paper and fill in heavy areas of dark shades to make sure they are more or less balanced designs. I do not keep my sketches and they are not beautiful!

Rough Sketches_Celtic Tales

 

But I was happy to know that my roughs were accepted pretty much as they were with very little amends before moving on to the final images.
The next stage for me was to develop the colour scheme as this was to tie all the tales together and was to be quite limited (I think there are only 8 or 9 shades in the whole book.) I also saw this as a chance to inject a more modern element to the book with some nice clashing shades of coral pink and mustard yellow. Colour is always important in my work but for this project it was vital to get it right!

Celtic tales Colour scheme

I guess the most laborious (but satisfying!) part of the task was researching and re-imagining the Celtic knot borders. Luckily my research at the British Museum had  left me with a wealth of books and visual reference to draw from. Once the 16 designs were complete, the cover was a breeze. I simply chose my 4 favourite characters from the stories and used them as a starting point to fit in the rough layout given to me by Emily.

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We tried a few different colour ways but i was very pleased when my favourite coral and teal version was chosen for the final jacket.

celtic tales_alt covers

It was a dream project and I was so excited when the final book landed on my desk this week. I just hope everyone else enjoys reading those crazy , wonderful tales as much as I did!

We think you did an incredible job Kate! 

Find out more about Kate and Celtic Tales here.

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4 Questions for Thomas Thwaites, author of GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human

Goatman

4 Questions for Thomas Thwaites, author of GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human

GoatMan Internal Images
© Tim Bowditch

Where did the idea for your project come from?

It was a time when I was getting a bit depressed about being a human being—sort of existential crisis meets very practical stressors, so I thought I would try and take a holiday from being a human. And I think it’s a fairly common wish, at least amongst children. If I only I could be a cat so I wouldn’t have to go to work/school… And then I managed to convince someone (The Wellcome Trust) to fund this attempt at wish fulfillment.

Why did you choose a goat as your target animal?

Well, at the beginning of the project I was going to become an elephant. This was for practical reasons, in that as a quadruped, one has to be able to get one’s food to one’s mouth easily…or vice versa. So all grazing quadrupeds have a neck in proportion to the length of their legs, so they can eat from the ground. I could imagine how I could adjust my limbs with prosthetics so I could become a quadruped, but I couldn’t imagine how to adjust the length of my neck. So I thought what’s a grazing animal which has a short neck, and the only one is an elephant. Of course, it has a trunk instead of a long neck.

However, I had the opportunity to see elephants in the wild, and came back, troubled by what I saw. They’re quite violent, and sort of sad. They have complex social arrangements. They mourn their dead. I came back, not wanting to be an elephant because I thought it might be depressing.

So I went to see a Shaman and she took one look at me and said: “You’re an idiot. Of course you shouldn’t be trying to be an elephant. What have you got to do with Elephants? You should be a goat.” And she was right. Being a goat is so much better. So short answer: a Shaman told me to do it.

What was the hardest thing about trying to become a goat?

Bodies are really heavy, in general I mean. So making prosthetic machines that would let me walk on four legs, when imagining and designing them, you imagine bounding along in them, but when you actually try to do that you realise how heavy your body is. The NHS prostheticist who made me my front leg prototypes said that often that’s the first thing an amputee will say about their new prosthetic leg: ‘it’s so heavy’, when actually with modern materials a prosthetic will weigh less than the part it’s replacing. But of course you don’t consider how heavy your hand is when you move your arm, or how heavy your foot is when you move your leg. But when you take the weight of your body on your front legs and you’re not used to it, it’s a struggle. Especially when you’re heading down hill, head first. Basically, I could be a goat for as long as I wanted if I only had to go uphill. Going down the steep rocky slopes of the Alps was terrifying.

What did you learn by becoming a goat?

In practical terms, I learnt that being a goat, you quite quickly learn to judge whether a particular patch of grass is worth eating or not. You get a feel for the colour, density, and thickness of the blades, and from that whether it’s going to be good to eat. I also learnt that eating grass gives you worms.
 In a deeper spiritual sense, in trying to adopt the perspective of another creature, it made me very aware of my own perspective: In that my own perspective, as a secular liberal, is just one of many. And that it might even not be the ‘right’ one. What I am trying to say is that in attempting to adopt another perspective on life, you learn both how rigid, and flexible, your own perspective is.

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GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human by Thomas Thwaites is on sale now.

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GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human | Chapter Preview

“original, engaging & rather quirky book” New Statesman

“A surreal journey through design, psychology & engineering” Tatler Magazine

GoatMan Cover

The dazzling success of The Toaster Project, including TV appearances and an international book tour, leaves Thomas Thwaites in a slump. His friends increasingly behave like adults, while Thwaites still lives at home, stuck in a big, dark hole. Luckily, a research grant offers the perfect out: a chance to take a holiday from the complications of being human-by transforming himself into a goat…

What ensues is a hilarious and surreal journey through engineering, design, and psychology, as Thwaites interviews neuroscientists, animalbehaviorists, prosthetists, goat sanctuary workers, and goatherds. From this, he builds a goat exoskeleton-artificial legs, helmet, chest protector, raincoat from his mum, and a prosthetic goat stomach to digest grass (with help from a pressure cooker and campfire)-before setting off across the Alps on four legs with a herd of his fellow creatures. Will he make it? Do Thwaites and his readers discover what it truly means to be human?

GoatMan tells all in Thwaites’s inimitable style. Read the introduction of this eccentric, intriguing and insightful story here.