Monday, March 26, 2012

A Dangerous Method

Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein.
I had the pleasure of going last night to see the movie A Dangerous Method directed by David Cronenberg, which is based on a true story about Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, a psychiatric patient who came into their lives. The movie has been out for a while, and there were about six people in the little theater, but what can I say; this movie about interesting historical people at the turn of the last century is more my speed over something like Hunger Games which the rest of the world is seeing right now.
Viggo Mortensen (left) plays Sigmund Freud and Michael Fassbender (of Shame fame) is his protege Carl Jung. Set from 1904-1913, the move captures the Edwardian era which I love. The men wear black jackets, vests and ties, and white shirts, striped grey and black morning trousers, and black gloves. Elegant.

The interiors are quite beautiful - this is Dr. Freud's office where the men meet and talk.
Michael Fassbender makes for a handsome Carl Jung
and Keira Knightley, of whom I have been a fan since Pride & Prejudice, is quite a gorgeous mental hospital patient.

There are some compelling scenes in this movie, including a trans-Atlantic voyage for Freud and Jung on an ocean liner. In New York Harbor they sail past the Statue of Liberty, and the six of us in the movie theater nodded in the dark, "Yes, New York is the place to be."
Jung lives on a Swiss lake, which reminded me of Otsego Lake up at Cooperstown, and his wife buys him a sleek sailboat where he entertains Freud

and his mistress Sabina.

It's a cerebral movie, as Freud and Jung discuss the ideas that give birth to modern psychoanalysis, and then fall out over their differences. And it's sad too, as the love affair between Jung and Sabina ends unhappily. So this is not a fun, date night "rom-com" but, like the movie Coco & Igor, I did enjoy a visit to an elegant and civilized time gone by, and learning more about important figures in history.
Blog bonus: movie trailer

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Visit to the Yale Center for British Art

Miss Mary Hickey painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds (click on paintings to see them better)
I recently had the chance to visit the Yale Center for British Art, in New Haven, which is one of my favorite museums. I hadn't been in a while, so it was pleasure to return. The museum building, its collection of British Art, and its endowment was given to Yale by Paul Mellon, the only son of financier and industrialist Andrew Mellon. It was Andrew himself who started the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., donating his collection of 115 paintings including works by Raphael, Titian and Vermeer. Paul Mellon died in 1999, and his wife Bunny, the renowned tastemaker, collector and gardener who was a mentor to Jackie Kennedy in the White House, still lives at the Mellon Virginia estate.

The museum was designed by renowned architect Louis Kahn, and manages to be both modern and monumental, and serene and reverential at the same time. The top floor of the museum where the permanent collection is housed is airy and quiet. I love the portrait of Mary Hickey, above, from 1770. The fashions of the time were ornate, but the style of the painting is simple – a white hat, a black frock and dove grey suede gloves. I would love some dove suede grey gloves but I can never find them. Out from under the shadow of the hat peers Mary Hickey's beautiful face.

Below is a picture of a fox hunt from 1817 by James Ward. The countryside and the glistening horse contrast dramatically with the red hunting coat. In England, hunt members still wear "colours," these traditional scarlett coats which are called pinks.

This is "The Life of Buckingham" by Augustus Leopold Egg, painted in 1853. It depicts a controversial friend of King Charles II who is seated at the center. My favorite part of this painting is the moon peaking around the window frame – very poetic.

Here we have part of a painting of Wollatan Hall, built in 1588 (1588!) for the family of Sir Francis Willoughby, who made a fortune in coal. Surrounded by ornate gardens, the house itself reminds me of Downton Abbey.

After I left the British Museum, I went across the street to the Yale University Art Gallery where I searched in vain for the floor which housed a collection of antique furniture. I just couldn't find it. Finally I asked a security guard. He said, "Um, when was the last time you were here? The museum has been under renovation for three years." Time flies! Most of that museum was closed for renovation, but I look forward to visiting it again when it is reopened.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dries Van Noten for Virginia Woolf

A jacket over a long dress with pockets.
You know I am a huge fan of the Belgian fashion Dries Van Noten – I've written about him here, here, and here. The fall 2012 collection which he just presented in Paris looked just beautiful. He told journalists that he recently researched ancient costumes from China, Japan and Korea at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which is one of my favorite places. He photographed the pieces and was inspired by their prints. What resulted was perfect clothes for 2012 but also designs that remind me a lot of Virginia Woolf and what the Bloomsbury crowd would had worn in the 20's and 30's in England. These clothes are modern and romantic at the same time.
I would love to see a girl wear this to work –

Here a striking coat is worn over a simple black blouse and pants – easy.

A wonderful mix of asymetrical prints -

A mix of proportions – a silky tunic flows over narrow white pants.

This spectacular print reminds me of the glamorous exotic style of the Ballets Russes.

This dress is very Bloomsbury –

A customer could easily buy one of these pieces and mix it into a wardrobe. These clothes would never go out of style because they are above the trends. Dries doesn't follow trends; he does what he wants to do. He's an artist and his medium is clothes. I personally love something like this that transcends time – which evokes the past but is also modern for today. And is such a pleasure for the eye.
(photos from, see the entire collection here)