‘I’m so glad I didn’t die on the various occasions I have earnestly wished I might, for I would have missed a lot of lovely weather.’
Elizabeth von Arnim, in a letter.
Born Mary Annette Beauchamp in Sydney, Australia on 31 August 1866, the prolific and, in her day, hugely successful author ‘Elizabeth’ von Arnim lived a remarkable life that, just for starters, included performing Bach and Liszt on the organ at Bayreuth for Cosima Wagner (Liszt’s daughter) and marrying into the Prussian aristocracy.
The unprecedented modelling capacity of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is opening up new possibilities for understanding the way diseases develop, and finding more effective ways to fight disease.
This short video of the presentation by Abigail Hing Wen at the AI O’Reilly conference in Beijing 2019 provides a fascinating glimpse into how AI, in the form of Google’s Deep Mind, is helping researchers begin to provide answers to long-standing problems which up to now have eluded scientists.
For example, the three-dimensional structure of a protein, based on a sequence of amino acids, governs a protein’s abilities to perform its functions. Inability to perform these functions can have devastating consequences, for causing diseases and allergies, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cystic fibrosis.
Understanding how a three dimensional structure is determined can help us better predict harm to patients, design better drugs and design better proteins to fight diseases.
But the possible shapes that a string of thousands of amino acids can take is far beyond the capacity of even the most powerful computers to model …
Interesting thinking on innovation and customer focus in this post at Harvard Business Review –
Smart companies increasingly recognize that their own futures depend on how ingeniously they invest in the future capabilities of their customers.
and transforming your innovation mindset:
Shift the focus from extracting value from customers to making customers more valuable. Simply put, this new focus redefines the purpose of innovation — which is not just designing better products and services, but designing better and more valuable customers.
Design for Albanian Letters, a compilation of letters and reports on Albania in the 1870s by archaeologist and journalist Sir Arthur Evans, the latest book from the Centre for Albanian Studies now in print.
From the blurb:
In Albanian Letters Evans not only explores the implications of the key political events of this period but also paints a vivid picture of the country’s complex social and cultural make-up. Albanian Letters looks at how Albanians’ views of their homeland were affected by developments taking place at the time, including increasing awareness of ethnic differences, population migration, and changes to its distinctive culture and tradition.
and the back cover testimonials:
‘These fascinating letters and reports – never previously collected – cast fresh light on one of the most vital periods of Albanian history. The crisis which began in the late 1870s would lead, eventually, to the creation of an independent Albania. But while the end-point of that process was a relatively simple solution, the starting-point was a complex problem, with many different interests competing for power. Arthur Evans was both an opinionated young man and a brilliant journalist, with a vivid pen and a keen appetite for information; his accounts of these tensions and conflicts, both internal and international, make him a very valuable witness – and a very good read.’
Sir Noel Malcolm, Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
‘Despite their biases as pointed out by the editors, Evans’ journalistic reports provide an impressive depth of detail as well as insightful analyses of events, personalities and intrigue within their cultural and historical context.’
George W. Gawrych, Professor of History, Baylor University
Today is the last day of the office in Cavendish Square, with the advantage of the Mayfair galleries just a short step away. So very glad to have caught a great exhibition of work by Erwin Blumenfeld this lunchtime at Osborne Samuel on Bruton Street – Erwin Blumenfeld: From Dada to Vogue.
The exhibition includes some of his brilliant early work in collage as well as a wonderful selection of his experimental photography.
Above, Left:Nude, Paris, 1938
Above: Hitlerfresse, Amsterdam, 1933
Above:Shadow of the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Born in Berlin in 1897 Blumenfeld left Germany after the First World War, settling first in Holland, where he established a Dutch arm of the Dadaist movement, then Paris, where he made some of his most famous images, including Nude Under Wet Silk (1937).
Fleeing France in 1941 he settled in New York where he became one of the most internationally sought-after portrait and fashion photographers in the 1940s and 1950s. Remember his iconic Vogue cover of 1950 (not in the exhibition):
I wish I could say I had known all about and studied ‘legendary Memphis photographer’ William Eggleston before I read about the current exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. But, I don’t think I had ever heard of him. And that’s a big omission because his work is extraordinary. An education for the eye.
The pin sharp focus and vivd colour of his portraits give them a stunning presence, combined with a certain mystery and, in some cases, dread. Like the shot of his friend, the strange Memphis dentist TC Boring (though on this evidence boring he most certainly wasn’t; except perhaps in his day job), standing nude in his graffitied, black and red bedroom; it’s as if the image prefigures the violent death of its subject – Boring was later murdered by locals and his house set on fire.
And this strange picture (above) of Marcia Hare in Memphis, lying on the grass and yet almost floating above the surface – an effect created by the sharp focus on just the small area of the buttons on her dress, her outstretched arm and the camera. Hanging alongside this image is another portrait of Marcia, this time dancing (as if no one’s watching) – with a very similar body configuration, as this photo of the exhibition shows, taken before I discovered no photography was allowed:
The portraits are not portraits in the traditional sense; frozen moments in time but not character studies. Most are ‘Untitled’, the name of the subject in some of the photos revealed for the first time in this exhibition.
Another stand out image, printed in grand scale, of the artist’s uncle with his assistant who unconsciously mimics his employer’s pose; the one open door lends a strange, uneasy air to the image.
Whatever your knowledge or interest in photography, if you possibly can do go see this exhibition. It’s a glimpse of the work of a master.
William Eggleston, Portraits. National Portrait Gallery, 21 July – 23 October 2016.
By chance on Bond Street because I needed to take a photo of the Atkinsons building for my nearly finished book on Mrs Dalloway and caught the last day of the exhibition of ceramics by Picasso at Sotheby’s.
The extraordinary vigour and certainty of his line, his playfulness and use of colour never fail to enthral. And always that feeling of excitement being in the presence of work imagined, moulded, touched by that ferociously creative genius.
With ceramics and prints there is also the temptation towards recklessness that you could actually buy one; take away a work bearing that iconic signature.
Being sensible was helped by the fact the ones I really liked (inevitably) still retained a hefty guide price. In any case, ownership is not the key issue; it’s the capacity to enjoy the work that really matters. (Nonetheless …).
The work dates largely from the 1950s when, aged 65, Picasso moved back to the south of France after the war –
While staying with the printer Louis Fort in Golfe-Juan, the two came across Madoura and this led quite simply to the artist’s engagement with the pottery traditions of the area. There was also an influence on a personal level as the artist met his second wife, Jacqueline, when she was working in the Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris. She began to live with Picasso in Paris in late 1954 and they together moved to the villa La Californie in 1955. (Lucy Rosenburgh)
And of course it was one of the ‘Jacqueline’ earthenware dishes I wanted most.
Jacqueline’s strong features, her prominent profile, and her dark hair and eyes are readily found in much of the art Picasso made during these joyful years. Earlier portrayals often depict Jacqueline with her abundant hair covered by a headscarf, as seen in these two red and white earthenware empreinte. In the empreinte, the artist’s carved and modelled plaster mould would be pressed into the clay, leaving the unpainted impression as the only decoration. Picasso developed the method at the Madoura studio, inspired by the process of print making. (Lucy Rosenburgh)
Very glad to have caught the Irving Penn Flowers exhibition at Hamiltons Gallery yesterday. This is, apparently, the first time all the pictures in Penn’s flower series have been shown together and it makes for a brilliant exhibition.
The fabulously rich colours blaze off the walls of the gallery space, each flower revealed in exquisite detail against a plain white backdrop.
The images capture the sensual beauty of the form, pattern and colour of each flower and, by choosing to photograph specimens that “have passed the point of perfection, when they have already begun spotting and browning and twisting on their way back to the earth” Penn also imbues each image with a sense of time passing – Life, sex and death; it’s all here.
There is an intense physicality about some of the flowers, with their petals spread wide to expose the stamens and ovaries – pollination as aching desire. Nevertheless the photographs I would really love to hang on my wall are the almost monochrome Dandelion and Single Oriental Poppy, the taut delicacy of each tiny filament caught in thrilling detail.
About the Flower series
From the catalogue:
Penn’s Flowers series was initiated from an assignment by American Vogue for the 1967 Christmas edition. This became the first of seven annual assignments that Penn would photograph flowers for Vogue, each year devoting himself to one class of flower. The photographs were collectively published as a book Flowers in 1980: 1967, Tulips; 1968, Poppies; 1968, Peonies; 1969, Orchids; 1970, Roses; 1971, Lilies; 1973, Begonias (Penn also photographed wildflowers in 1973 which appeared in Vogue’s 1974 Christmas edition but were excluded from the Flowers book). Thereafter, Penn returned to the subject right up until his death in 2009.