Monday, November 29, 2010

Collecting and Decorating with Art

"Cloud Fruit" by Charlene Liu

Collecting art is so personal.  That is obvious.  Like most people, my interests have grown over the years, and with that has come new and exciting explorations of art.  Here is what decorator  Bunny Williams in her new book, "A Scrapbook for Living," says about art in a home, "I am always excited to work with clients who have artwork, as I know that the  house will have  an immediate magic."

My husband and I have always been interested in photography, and so when we first started purchasing art, it was mostly photography.  My favorite is this Henri Cartier-Bresson he gave me for my birthday.  I love the romantic, painterly style of this photograph.

"Queen Charlotte's Ball" by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Bloomsbury art was another interest, especially the work of British artists Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, and Roger Fry,  and I was lucky enough to find some pieces over the years.

My interest in The Bloomsbury Group began in college with my interest in the British writer Virginia Woolf.  I learned about her circle of family and friends who became known as the Bloomsbury group.  These artists and intellectuals flourished in the early part of the twentieth-century.  Within the group were painters and art critics -- Roger Fry, Clive Bell, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell -- who first came to public attention as leading figures in the introduction into Britain of Post-Impressionism.  In fact, Roger Fry invented the term "Post-Impressionism."

It is easy to see the influence of Post-Impressionisn in their art, though they did not reach the heights of  artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse.  Still, their art is generally seen as one of the key influences on British art and design in the twentieth-century. Duncan Grant's connections to French art led him to be called the "British Matisse."  His art embodies a love of life and was known for its lightness, quickness, and joyfulness. These were characteristics of his personality as well.

"Ballet Dancers" by Duncan Grant

 "Richard Shone Reading, in the Studio at Charleston" by Duncan Grant

There are two exciting elements for me about this piece.  First, there was a fabulous exhibition of "The Art of Bloomsbury" at the Huntington Art Gallery several years ago. Richard Shone, the art historian, organized that show.  Also, this past summer I visited Charleston House in England, the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and saw the painted gramophone cabinet that is depicted in this painting.  It is still in Grant's studio.  I love the informality of this portrait, and the emphasis on the domestic interior. 

Many of my favorite pieces of art were bought on trips, and were unexpected discoveries which now hang in my house, reminding me of special vacations.

This watercolor was bought in a little gallery in Mammoth Mountain, California.

This is a painting of a Maine lighthouse, depicted on a lighthouse reflector, dated 1916.  We found this in an antique store in Portland, Maine.

These three still lifes hang in our kitchen.  They were bought in Los Angeles and Laguna, California.

When my daughter opened her art gallery Taylor De Cordoba, I became acquainted with many emerging artists, some of whom I now collect.  One of my favorites is Charlene Liu. Here are two pieces by Liu that I acquired.

In her works on paper and panel, Liu expresses her interest in the natural landscape in an abstract and dreamlike way.  She combines collaged prints and traditional painting techniques.  I am just wowed by the beauty and the colors of these pieces.

Another artist I have discovered is Kimberly Brooks.  She did this portrait of my daughter Heather Taylor a few years ago and it was part of her exhibition  "Mom's Friends," at Taylor De Cordoba Gallery.  I love her rendering of the dress.

Here are a couple of her paintings from her most recent exhibition, "The Stylist Project."

Art, books, music, conversation...these are the elements that bring magic, life, and warmth into a home.


  1. Love - all of this is so true. And how happy that Taylor De Cordoba helped turn you into a contemporary art collector too!

  2. Every piece of art, whether it's 19th or 21st century, fits perfectly in your home. You really show off a balanced aesthetic that transcends genres and eras.

  3. Completely agreed :) These pieces are just gorgeous and completely timeless.
    Love your blog!

  4. Great photos of beautiful artwork. I have always loved your art.collection Sunday. And the pieces from Taylor De Cordoba have truly enriched your collection. I hope to get to their next exhibition. Love Love Love their selection of artist they show.