The House Of Peroni

Whet your appetite for Made in Italy creativity at the exclusive House of Peroni residence in the elegant Georgian townhouse at 41 Portland Place. The Roman brewery, Peroni Nastro Azzuro, launched its London outpost of Italian contemporary culture earlier this month and is a must-see to sample the latest tastes of art, design, film, fashion and gastronomy being produced by a new wave of creativi from across the country.

The House’s 'residents' include celebrated design duo Formafantasma; the Michelin-starred Costardi Brothers and Slade alumni Ludovica Gioscia, whose work I remember and admired when I was in my first year as a student at The Slade, and which has since developed into a maximalist aesthetic in the form of large-scale sculptural installations. 
Liquid Sky Fits Heaven, 2013 - Ludovica Gioscia
Liquid Sky Fits Heaven is a new work from Gioscia’s Giant Décollage series composed of rolls of screen printed patterned wallpaper inspired by the seduction of advertising campaigns from the everyday – once pasted to the walls, Gioscia strips back the layers as a metaphor to expose society’s addiction to consumerism. 
The bombastic installation at The House of Peroni ironically has the ability to seduce even greater than the inspiration it had been conceived from, revealing Ancient Roman busts and butts paired with luxury imagery and zany graphics that glow under neon light.
Overseen by designer Carlo Brandelli, each resident also contributed to The Creation Project that presents an eclectic collection of conceptual artworks of the brewer’s iconic green beer bottle reinterpreted into materials such as Italian Carrara marble, plaster, mixed media and various glass forms.
 Bespoke Peroni Nastro Azzuro Bottle, 2013 - Martino Gamper
 Bespoke Peroni Nastro Azzuro Bottle, 2013 - Piero Lissoni
 Installations by Giacomo Lion
Optic fibre installation - Carlo Brandelli
The House of Peroni is open daily from 12 - 1130pm and closes this week on 31st July – for more information about this summer's project and residents visit thehouseofperoni.com 


Costume National

The annual Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace had an extra special plug before its official opening today - albeit indirectly - when Her Majesty The Queen disclosed to well wishers in Cumbria that she wished The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s imminent baby would arrive sooner rather than later as she was ‘going on holidays’. Prince George knew not to upset granny and arrived just in time to see her off before taking residence at Balmoral Castle in Scotland until the Autumn. When The Queen is away, the Royal Collection Trust opens the gates of the palace for visitors to explore inside one of London’s most famous landmarks and discover the wealth of fine art and objets d’art that make up this priceless, national collection. In what had been an extraordinary week for the House of Windsor in securing the line of succession for this century on the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge (Special Delivery: It's A Prince, July 2013), it was a pleasure to be invited to the scene of global interest on an unprecedented scale only a few days before, to attend the Press View of the palace’s State Apartments and exhibit before its public opening.
In 1953 London set the stage of pomp and pageantry that the world is so accustom with today. The Queen’s Coronation was the first major international event broadcast by the BBC on television and captured the atmosphere and regalia of a State occasion that remained essentially unchanged in British history for a thousand years. It made for potent viewing and set precedence for ceremonial documentation that too has changed very little with the planning of such events in the twenty-first century. The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of this historic event with the dedicated exhibition, The Queen’s Coronation 1953 that reunites art, fashion, jewellery and objects from the Coronation Day on 2nd June to recreate both the dazzling drama as well as the important sense of duty that had been bestowed on a young Princess Elizabeth.
Caroline de Guitat - Royal Collection Curator in The Ballroom
While many will have seen footage from the day countless times before, this year’s exhibit successfully complements the State Apartments as more than just rooms labelled for ‘official occasions’. Walking through the gilded interiors remastered by the architect John Nash under George IV, that very same footage comes to life as one stands in The Throne Room watching private scenes of a rather disorganised royal family trying to arrange themselves into frame for the photographer Cecil Beaton. One can only imagine the roar of cheers from the crowds that swamped the Mall, trapped in the palace's quadrangle that would have resonated from room to room as The Queen and her family prepared to celebrate over a State Banquet after returning from Westminster Abbey where the investiture took place. 

Visitors are welcomed into the exhibition space along the tour of the State Apartments by a marvellous contemporary visual installation in the Ball Supper Room of news footage - with the audio of a bygone reporting style in received pronunciation - in the run up to the Coronation, which is brilliantly displayed to project within the flat recesses of the ornate panelling and cornicing that decorate the walls of the room. A sculptural collection of wooden television sets from the Fifties show news items of families gripped with national pride, as well as the sheer excitement of television itself, with sets purchased for the very first time especially for the event. 

The black and white images that had been captured by Marconi MK II film cameras is in stark contrast to the glittering technicolour display, curated by Caroline de Guitat, of the royal and ceremonial costume, jewellery and personal items that are presented in the adjoining Ballroom. Here are a few highlights from my visit:
Encrusted floral symbols of the four countries of the United Kingdom 
Fashion enthusiasts will admire the beautiful iconographic designs by British couturier Norman Hartnall, who worked national and commonwealth floral emblems into the embroidery design of The Queen's white satin Coronation Dress - a breathtaking installation of minute detail on display for the very first time since 1953. The Robe of Estate - six and half metres of purple silk-velvet, lined with ermine - made my Ede and Ravenscroft, incorporates imagery of peace and prosperity in the form of raised wheat ears and olive branches along the edge of the train and frames the Monarch's new cipher, executed in fine gold thread by the Royal School of Needlework over four laborious months. Hartnall's sketches and test hoops from the school neighbour the completed garment in all its glory as the centrepiece in the exhibition space.
The Coronation Dress and Robe by Norman Hartnell and Ede and Ravenscroft
Putting on a show is nothing without diamonds and the iconic Diamond Diadem from 1820 by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell is paired with a necklace and earrings by R & S Garrard & Co. - masterpieces that are quite simply brilliant in name and vision.
Diamond Diadem, 1820 - Rundell, Bridge and Rundell
The Throne Chair and Anointing Dress
The Earl Marshal's Robe 
Preliminary works in watercolour on paper by the Polish-born British expressionist painter Feliks Topolski capture the energy of the spectacle, as well as the distinction between the young Queen and her fellow, more mature subjects adorned in their weighty attire. The Duke of Edinburgh commissioned Topolski to record the occasion in a large-scale canvas composition, Coronation Frieze, completed in the artist’s fluid style in 1960 that is on display at the very beginning of the tour. Illustrators will appreciate the charming invitation personally created for a young Prince Charles to attend the Coronation by Joan Hassall that reminds visitors of both the importance of provenance and preservation – ephemera is not a word in the Royal Collection’s lexicon.
In the Abbey - Coronation 1953 - Feliks Topolski
Coronets of Peers and Peeresses
The dress of the Royal Family including silk ensembles for Princess Anne and Prince Charles
The Ballroom and subsequent State Dining Room - exquisitely dressed as it would have been for the Coronation Banquet on Sèvres and silver-gilt service - display a rich chapter in British history and presents the beginnings of a global understanding of the symbolism of Monarchy in the twentieth-century. Curatorially loaded yet also restrained, given the vastness of the Royal Collection’s archives, the exhibition effectively balances the familiar with the impeccable detail of the new and unseen: a fine-tuned formula that will no doubt continue to contribute to the allure of such a unique spectacle that is a Coronation, guaranteed to be performed by the House of Windsor for future generations to come.

The Queen’s Coronation 1953 is part of a visit to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace that includes access to the royal garden until 29th September 2013. The Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery also offer exhibits during this period – for further details about events, educational programmes and ticket information visit the Royal Collection's official website.



Special Delivery

The world’s Press have descended on London again to pitch up on very different turf from the sporting spectacle of twelve months ago. In a corner of West London, St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington has been home to international royal correspondents, news anchors and television crews for weeks, all eagerly awaiting the birth of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child. Now days after media speculation the due date would be Saturday 13th July, newsrooms have surrendered to the waiting game, covering royal baby stories of both the absurd and sublime variety. 
From commemorative coins, chocolates and even cheese to a twenty-first century must-have: an app - affirming baby Cambridge as the most anticipated birth since the beginning of Twitter. The Royal Baby app, which intends to document various ‘firsts’ by the new addition to the House of Windsor in the coming months for dedicated royal followers who simply cannot wait for ‘commemorative’ publications to hit newsstands day-after-week-after-month. I myself could not resist getting involved in The Great Kate Wait and I had CNN’s Royal Correspondent Max Foster question Mario Testino whether he would be shooting the first official photograph of the royal trio, after spotting him at a charity function at Prince Charles's London residence, Clarence House last week - could Testino be keeping silencioso
While the media scrum have created somewhat of an art installation in their own right out of stepladders and duct tape in a kaleidoscope of colours on the sidewalk opposite the hospital, within its very walls one will discover that even the art world is included in the royal baby furore. The sterilised operating spaces of a hospital are after all akin to the clean, white walls of a white cube and in the private maternity unit of the Lindo Wing - specialising in labour, delivery and postnatal care and where Princess Diana gave birth to Princes William and Harry in 1982 and 1984 respectively - the worlds of medicine and contemporary art come together in a unique installation created by British artist, Julian Opie 
During its eighteenth-month renovation St Mary’s Hospital commissioned Opie to create forty panels of his trademark graphic portraits rendered with minimal detail, using thick, black lines for both the interior and exterior of the Lindo Wing, where the Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth to the third in line to the throne.
The permanent installation includes works of various sizes depicting tall, elegant women and crawling infants on transparent surfaces, light boxes and glass set against a neutral palette that feature along the walls of the wards, delivery rooms and building's façade. 
In an interview with The Telegraph, the artist talks of his intention to “enliven” patients with art that has a function to excite and the works certainly provide a special and alternative visual stimulus that is so very different from generic colour-conscious interior design, common on the bureaucratic agendas of public institutions. Given the Duchess is Patron of the capital's National Portrait Gallery she will appreciate the art around the unit and there is no doubt Opie will be amused that his work will be the first art seen by the future King or Queen of England. It would be wonderful if Their Royal Highnesses commissioned Opie to produce their newborn’s first official portrait in his contemporary style and save face amongst the art world with the rather disappointing choice of painter selected for the Duchess’s first official portrait unveiled earlier this year (A Portrait Of A Duchess, January 2013).
Paul, baby - 2001
My very best wishes to Their Royal Highnesses on their special delivery and as it so has been welcomed into this world, may their child be raised to reign supportive of arts, culture and creativity.

Visit Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for more information about the renovation to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital. 

Images courtesy of Julian Opie


Picasso Baby: Art History?

Did Jay-Z break down the walls of years of 'white' cube supremacy in the Western art world in just six hours at Pace Gallery yesterday afternoon?

Jay-Z performing Picasso Baby with Marina Abramovic

After a social media explosion with curious commentators wanting to know who was who (namely performance artist, Marina Abramovic) at the music mogul's live Picasso Baby performance, Jerry Saltz, senior art critic from New York Magazine, writes a moment to moment account from his experience of the afternoon's rap-turous event in New York City that was witnessed by art world heavyweights, gallery directors and even Pablo Picasso's granddaughter. Having performed his latest hit to the gallery's electric audience on repeat for six hours, this was a little bit of history in the making. Time will tell however, amongst the art establishment, whether it was a little bit of history worthy of repeating. 

Here is a look at the art bombs Jay-Z drops in a lyrical mash-up of global cultural references in new single, Picasso Baby, from his latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail:

'Picasso Baby'

I just want a Picasso, in my casa
No, my castle
I'm a hassa, no I'm an asshole
I'm never satisfied, can't knock my hustle
I wanna Rothko, no I wanna brothel
No, I want a wife that fuck me like a prostitute
Let's make love on a million, in a dirty hotel
With the fan on the ceiling, all for the love of drug dealing
Marble Floors, gold Ceilings
Oh what a feeling - fuck it I want a billion
Jeff Koons balloons, I just wanna blow up
Condos in my condos, I wanna row of
Christie's with my missy, live at the MoMA
Bacons and turkey bacons, smell the aroma

Oh what a feeling
Picasso Baby, Ca Picasso baby
Ca ca ca Picasso Baby, Ca ca ca Picasso baby
Oh what a feeling

It ain't hard to tell
I'm the new Jean Michel
Surrounded by Warhols
My whole team ball
Twin Bugattis outside the Art Basel
I just wanna live life colossal
Leonardo Da Vinci flows
Riccardo Tisci Givenchy clothes
See me thrown at the Met
Vogue'ing on these niggas
Champagne on my breath, Yes
House like the Louvre or the Tate Modern
Because I be going ape at the auction
Oh what a feeling
Aw fuck it I want a trillion
Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa
The modern day version
With better features
Yellow Basquiat in my kitchen corner
Go ahead lean on that shit Blue
You own it

I never stuck my cock in the fox's box but
Damned if I didn't open Pandora's box
They try to slander your man
On CNN and Fox
My Miranda don't stand a chance, with cops
Even my old fans like old man just stop
I could if I would but I can't
I'm hot, and you blow
I'm still the man to watch, Hublot
On my left hand or not
Soon I step out the booth
The cameras pops niggas is cool with it
Till the canons pop
Now my hand on the bible
On the stand got your man in a jam, again
Got my hands in cuffs
I'm like god damn enough
I put down the cans and they ran amok
My hairpin
Piece skin rupture spleens
Cracks rips go through cribs and other things
No sympathy for the king huh
Niggas even talk about your baby crazy
Eventually the pendulum swings
Don't forget America this how you made me
Come through with 'Ye mask on
Spray everything like SAMO
Though I won't scratch the Lambo
What's it gonna to take
For me to go
For y'all to see
I'm the modern day Pablo
Picasso baby

Oh what a feeling
Picasso Baby, Ca Picasso baby
Ca ca ca Picasso Baby, Ca ca ca Picasso baby
Oh what a feeling

Image & video courtesy of @cedar



Wine collectors will already regard their cellars as a gallery of fine taste equal to any art collection, however collectors may want to keep Dom Pérignon’s 2003 Rosé Vintage above ground. The prestigious champagne house has invited Jeff Koons to produce a limited edition collaboration package that includes a scaled down version of his 2008 sculpture Balloon Venus, inspired by the ancient fertility statue Venus of Willendorf. The voluptuous vessel, exaggerated by Koons’s trademark inflatable aesthetic is anything but understated and the same can be said for its price tag – at $20,000 this is Dom Pérignon’s most expensive collaboration to date, after David Lynch, Andy Warhol (A Toast To Pop, July 2010), Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Newson. The iconic bottle’s label and foiling mirrors that of its presentation box in metallic majenta – a nod to its rosé interior.
   Balloon VenusDom Pérignon 2003 Rosé Vintage
This is not of course Koons’s first foray into the cellar – in 2010 Baroness Philippine de Rothschild continued the annual tradition since 1945 at the winery of Baron Philippe de Rothschild to commission an artist to design the label for its Château Mouton Rothschild bottles. Koons joined Picasso, Dali, Freud, Bacon and Warhol in this exclusive club with a reworking of the classical fresco image from Pompeii of yet another Venus - the House of the Venus Marina III - superimposed with an infantile silver line drawing of a sun and sailing boat. Château Mouton Rothschild 2010 remains one of the most expensive of the Moutons from the winery’s vintage from Pauillac over the last decade and is sought after by wine and art connoisseurs alike.

This latest luxury association with an art world grandee is somewhat of a first with regards to its price bracket, inevitably posing the question: is Dom Pérignon’s 2003 Rosé Vintage the most expensive champagne in one’s cellar or is Balloon Venus the most accessible Jeff Koons one can collect? Whatever camp it lies, Dom Pérignon affirms the high-culture-formula to be much more than a trend in recent years but an essential staple in a brand’s heritage and a profitable identity strategy that justifies larger than life price tags, and in this instance, larger than life lifestyles. For when money is no object, why not have one Balloon Venus in the cellar and the other on display upstairs. Chin-chin to the best of both worlds. 

To find out more about Koons’s luxury lifestyle collaborations from this year read Fine Dining - a commission by French porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud to celebrate their 150th Anniversary with a collection of plates for L’Art de la Table.

Visit Dom Pérignon for more details on this year's limited edition Balloon Venus release due in September.