• Renata Haidle

Three For The Weekend

Recently I came to realize that there is no better cure for an artistic slump than a deep immersion into other creators' work, following their journeys with all their struggles, triumphs, and breakthroughs. Having turned my attention almost entirely from creation to consumption, this week has been generous with visual and auditory content, and I felt inspired, uplifted, and downright charmed by what I found.

As a result, I'm inaugurating a new blog series today, with three recommendations of things to watch, listen to, taste, try to make, or simply ponder. I will attempt to make this a weekly endeavour, and if I fail, please be patient. I promise I'll be coming back with more. There will be things that made me smile, or touched a chord, or otherwise delighted the senses in some way.

Villa E-1027, Cap Moderne, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Copyright: © Manuel Bougot

Without further ado, the first on my list this week is a film I watched earlier this week. The Price of Desire introduces the viewer to the world of Eileen Gray, pioneer furniture designer and architect that rose to fame in the early years of the 20th century. I found the Amazon Prime short description of the film to be quite inadequate, so please don't bother reading it. There is a love story, that part is true, but the more important narrative centers on the creation and building of E-1027, Eileen Gray's modernist villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, on the French Riviera. Famed architect Le Corbusier holds a significant part of the story, as you might suspect if you are familiar with his work. His relationship with Gray is strained. There is mutual admiration and there is defiance on both parts. There is betrayal and deceit. There is artistic struggle. Gray shines through it all, with elegance and grace. Without giving away any details, I have to say that the entire film is a poem in black, white, and muted earthy tones, and it will delight you with its flawless cinematography. At times it felt like watching a slideshow of gorgeous magazine photos from the 20's, 30's, and beyond. Multitaskers beware: you'll have to pay close attention to every line, otherwise you'll find yourself later looking up details and facts on the internet, like I did. Which turned to be a good thing after all, having learned quite a bit more about Gray, Le Corbusier, and other key characters playing a role in the story. Gray gave us so many pieces of furniture that most of us will recognize, and her designs are still being produced today, decades after the original ones.

Two iconic Eileen Gray designs: the E-1027 side table and the Bibendum chair. Photos © Aram Designs

As a follow-up to the story, I found a very good YouTube documentary: A Brief Introduction to Eileen Gray, by Matthew Bird. Himself an industrial designer and metalsmith as well as lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design, Bird brings a new understanding to Gray's creative genius and enduring success, and fills in some of the gaps left open by the film.

Café de Flore, a Parisian institution

Since I was already on YouTube, I got a random recommendation to watch The Lost Generation, an AE Biography documentary about all the great literary names that made Paris their home in the 20s: Hemingway, Stein, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sylvia Beach (founder of the famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, as well as publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses), and so many others I'm sure you're familiar with. The story is told beautifully, without a moment of boredom. A perfect thing to watch if you're stuck inside on a rainy day, preferably with a steamy cup of tea (my favorite these days is Pukka Relax, an infusion mixing chamomile, fennel, and marshmellow root).

That's it for today. Please send me a note if you watch any of the above and let me know your thoughts.

Next on the blog: A day trip into the English countryside with Tatiana Bellator.

© 2020 Renata Haidle