Every Christmas calendar ends with the 24th door, so does ours. We hope you enjoyed this year's edition as we had making it.
As it is time to focus on the Christmas festivities, therefore nothing is behind door number 24. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and of course relaxing holidays!
Your, GRUNDTNER & SöHNE Team
Open, outspoken political opinions are scarce in music, probably because people are afraid to scare of their public resulting in bad sales. So it is extremely fascinating and atypical, that the pianist Igor Levit is quite frank in this matter. He positions himself as Citizen, European, Pianist.
Born in 1987 in Gorki, he started to learn to play the piano at the age of three from his mother, an opera répétiteur and gave his first concert already a year later. In 1995 he and his jewish family moved to Germany. He shortly studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg but then studied the piano in Hannover, where he graduated in 2010 with the highest ever score.
After, but also already during his studies, he started to tour and perform live and has since played in all over Europe, the United States and Israel. But not only is he a performing artist, but also records. His first record showed his love for Beethoven, comprising the composers late piano sonatas. Also new and untouched territories interest him and so he collaborated for example with the artist Marina Abramović.
Concerning the aforementioned political views, he regularly uses social media to share his opinion, but also in interviews. But he is also a man of action directly addressing the audience in concerts or as he played the BBC Prom in 2017 he wore the European flag on his lapel and played as an encore Franz Liszt's rework of ode to joy as his opinion towards Brexit.
Most publicity gained in 2018 his move to hand back his Echo Award, after they were awarded to the German rappers Kollegah and Farid Bang, whose texts include anti-semitic, racist, misogynous and homophobic parts.
His political opinion is also reflected in his repertoire choices, most famously the variation cycle The People United Will Never Be Defeated by the American contemporary composer Frederic Rzewski. The cycle is based on a Chilean song to overthrow the dictatorship at the time. He recorded it together with two other famous variation cycles Bach's Goldberg variations and Beethoven's Dalbelli variations on his album Bach, Beethoven, Rzewski.
Architecture and interiors are often in their representation, whether it is photo or video, quite sterile and inanimate. Over the course of our Christmas calendar we had already good examples of the contrary like Apartamento magazine or François Halard. Another one is the filmographer duo Bêka & Lemoine, consisting of the Italian Ila Bêka and the French Louise Lemoine.
This difference, between how a space is presented and how it is used, was the starting point for their fresh approach towards architecture filmography. They not only show the house, the layout and all the features of the building, but rather follow the people who live in it.
A prime example is their first film, Koolhaas Houselife, where they follow the Spanish housekeeper Guadalupe Acedo and other people, who take care of the building, over the course of two weeks and show what they do.
This approach is then adapted to the building in question, like the infamous Barbican Center in Barbicania or most recently in Moriyama-San, a building complex designed by Ryue Nishizawa from SANAA. In 2016 the Museum of Modern Art in New York bought their entire body of work, then 16 films, for their permanent collection.
Abstract expressionism is seen as a men' only club, but fortunately there are exceptions like Elaine de Kooning, Shirley Jaffe or Helen Frankenthaler. These women had to fight hard for their position and another wonderful example therefore is the American painter Joan Mitchell.
Born in 1925 in Chicago, she grew up in a wealthy family. Her dad was a doctor, famous for his work on syphilis and her mother was a poet and co-editor of Poetry. But it was not an easy childhood. The relationship with her father was ambiguous. One the one side, he himself an amateur painter, sparked and fostered her interest in the arts, but at the same time highlighted, disappointed that she was not a boy, that she as a woman was second class.
Perhaps this injustice initiated the drive that she had through her entire career. After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1947 she got a fellowship to travel abroad, but first moved to New York, where she got in contact with the New York School. There she met among other Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. She was one of the few women to be granted membership in the so-called Club, founded by Jackson Pollock.
Her career took on momentum as she was part of the the landmark 1951 exhibition The Ninth Street Show, organized by Leo Castelli and a year later she had her first solo exhibition at the New Gallery. After a few visits, she moved in 1959 to France, first to Paris and then northwest to Vétheuil, where Claude Monet lived. After her mother's death, she inherited some money and bought a house there, where she stayed until her death in 1992.
Stylistically she is known for broad and intense brushstrokes, despite being abstract often depicting landscapes or her surroundings, inspired by famous artists like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. Also, contrary to her peers she never abandoned composition, which is visible through her entire body of work.
Our last gift guide for this year's Christmas calendar is here.
An easy gift, but unfortunately often a boring one, can be the a hat and scarf, but this is not the case for Howlin's set in vibrant purple and beautiful grid pattern. Next to it is Éditions M.R.'s woolen double pleated trousers in an elegant slate grey. This year S.N.S. Herning updated their classic crew neck, now called Fatum, making it in a more relaxed fit by adding pads on the shoulder.
The more earth-toned, beige set consists of pieces by Airbag Craftworks, Our Legacy, Libertine-Libertine and A Kind Of Guise. The shirts are both made from a warm and soft cotton fabric, perfect for the colder days.
S.N.S. Herning's modern twist on of their elder knits result in the elegant, but sporty Fatum Full Zip Jacket. In more subtle colors, but still witty, is the second hat and scarf set from Howlin'. Again made from brushed wool in Scotland, it is the perfect add-on for every gift. Fanmail rounds it off with their beautiful materials in shades of lilac.
Photographers often see their camera as an extension of themselves and therefore use it as a medium to communicate, to make themselves understood. In the case of French photographer François Halard, it was even more extreme, as he had difficulties speaking up until he was fourteen.
Saul Leiter's studio, East Village
He started photographing at age of 12 after he saw Helmut Newton taking photographs at his parent’s home, who were famous interior designers. So the camera helped him overcome his speaking difficulties and also his shyness.
During his teenage years he spent instead of vacations his summers assisting photographers he admired. While studying École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris he got to know Marie-Paule Pelle, who hired him to photograph for the interior magazine Décoration Internationale.
Next up was a call from Alexander Lieberman, at that time editorial director of Condé Nast, to shoot a couture editorial in New York. This started the long collaboration with House & Garden, GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue. He first started to photograph models, he was one of the first to photograph to Christy Turlington, but slowly his focus got more and more on interior and architecture photography, that he is known for today.
On his list of photographed houses and interiors are among many others Richard Avedon’s place in the Hamptons to Chatsworth’s stately interiors, designed by John Pawson, David Hockney’s swimming pool in Los Angeles or Cy Twombly's home.
© Phaidon Press
The role of gallery owners and dealers is not only for artists a pivotal, but also for designers. A name that regularly pops up is Zeev Aram, he not only helped Eileen Gray to her reputation, but also another interior and furniture designer, the Japanese Shiro Kuramata.
Issey Miyake Store (1976)
He staged an exhibition of his work in 1981 in London, when Japanese design was still seen as copy-work and helped establish their work. Shiro Kuramata, born in 1934, belongs to the generation of artists and designers like the fashion designer Issey Miyake, architects Arata Isozaki and Tadao Ando, and film-maker Akira Kurosawa, who were born shortly before the 2nd world war and grew up in its aftermath.
Oblomov bar, Fukuoka (1989) © Mitsumasa Fujitsuka
Shiro studied architecture at Tokyo Polytechnic until 1953 and after a short work-experience started to enroll himself at the Kuwasawa institute to study interior design. In 1965 he started his own design practice Kuramata-Studio. He did interiors for bars, restaurants or shops like his friend Issey Miyake. Unfortunately not many of his architectural works, with a few exceptions works, are not on display anymore.
Stylistically he left a big imprint on Japanese post war design. He used industrial materials like like acrylic, glass, aluminum, and steel mesh, combining the Orient and Occident. He is often seen as a minimalist but was daring to experiment with shapes and color. He joined Ettore Sottsass's collective, the design group Memphis, at its founding in 1981. His most famous furniture designs are How High the Moon chair (1986) and the Miss Blanche chair (1988). The later ine is named after Tennessee Williams’ character Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. Unfortunately his career was short through his untimely death in 1991.
Miss Blanche chair (1988)
A skater with a big bag of tricks is nice to watch, but its personality that makes skaters stand out. This is probably one of the main reasons, why the series Epicly Later'd is so successful.
In the case of Tyson Peterson, he got personality, style and is technically versatile. The Florida native made a name for himself in 2016 with his Next New Wave part, showing his skills and seemingly doing everything with ease and a big grin on his face.
In 2017 he was part of Trasher's Am Scramble, but his breakthrough year was 2018, where he turned pro. His opening part in Vans' video Spinning Away probably helped. He also had a part in Element's movie peace and became first in Trasher's King Of The Road.
Photo by Laura Lot
Compilations were longtime looked at askantly as they often give a superficial overview of a genre or artist. In recent years, a few exceptions surfaced, like Jan Schulte's Tropical Drums of Deutschland or Jamie Tiller & Raphaël Top-Secret's compilation entitled Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe, 1980-1991.
Another standout was the compilation Sky Girl, released in 2016 through the label Efficient Space, run by Michael Kucyk better known through his now defunct radio show Noise in My Head. The selection of folky, psychedelic, wavy oddities, often only released on diy labels, was compiled by two French guys, Julien Dechery and DJ Sundae.
The two are not producers, but through their digging and selection tastemakers in their own right. The start of the compilation was a CD, sort of a mixtape, with no credits on it, sold at Parisian store Colette in 2013, reflecting their personal and deep knowledge of music. Then Noise In My Head came on board and helped with the licensing and finally released the record on its sublabel Efficient Space.
But they not only work togehter, Julien Dechery first compiled in 2010 under his Eddie Ramamurphy alias another compilation entitled Play That Beat Mr. Raja #1 - Selected Oddities From The Tamil Film Industry (1984 - 1991) and then in 2012 Fire Star: Synth-Pop & Electro-Funk From Tamil Films 1984-1989. In 2018 he released a selection of songs of the artist Sebastian Gandera again on Efficien Space, which were before only available on tapes.
DJ Sundae, real name Laurent Richard, is originally from Montpellier, but now lives in Paris. He first founded Hollie Records, where he released Arthur Russell affiliate Nirosta Steel, chilean psych-folk or Japanese disco rock bands. After Hollie's closing, he now operates the label Idle Press, started as a re-issue label but recently released a CD of edits from Alexis Le-Tan and an album by Smagghe & Cross before that.
Together with Cosmo Vitelli, he co-hosts the radio show No Weapon Is Absolute, originally on Rinse France, now on NTS Radio.