A lounge with a patterned carpet and cream chairs

Ritz-Carlton LA elegance in the Club Lounge

In the fourth part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles

We are sitting on sun loungers by a rooftop swimming pool. On the table beside us are two unfeasibly green apples and two slightly darker green juices in long glasses. The view to one side stretches to the Pacific Ocean. To the other, a ridge of blue-grey mountains wobbles in the heat haze. It could be any Pacific-rim resort, but it is where such an experience would have been unfeasible a few years back: downtown LA.

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The area, a few miles from my usual LA haunts of Beverly Hills to the northwest and Santa Monica to the west, has never been a tourist attraction. Now, driven by its proximity to the studios of artists who have trained or landed in the city, fleeing more expensive locations, downtown feels, if not the place to be, then a central location from which to explore greater LA.

A bedroom with windows overlooking a city

A corner hotel room with a view

It needed a world-class place to stay, and in The Ritz-Carlton, it has that. At ground level, it looks like a luxury city tower, with separate entrances for the expensive apartments, sorry, “residences”, on one side of the building, and the hotel on the other. I quickly clocked that the Ferraris and Porsches being parked out front by valets belonged to residence owners, rather than hotel guests with seriously exotic rental cars.

On the roof terrace, high above the city, you are in a different world. True, between you
and the ocean and mountains is the LA sprawl, although the pool is sufficiently high that you don’t realise unless you walk to the edge and look.

Unlike the slightly patchy service we can get in some hip boutique hotels springing up in the city, here it’s Ritz-Carlton service all the way. In my experience, this means less formality than, say, Four Seasons, but professionalism all the way.

Arriving late from the airport, we elected for room service, slightly dreading the standard hotel-menu options of club sandwich, pasta or steak, but ordering pistachio pesto campanelle with broccoli, fennel pollen and pecorino. When it came and was set up for us on our big round table by the window, complete with correct wine glasses, we ended up with a chic dinner and a magnificent Californian Chardonnay, with a view of the city lights few LA restaurants could match. We had to make our own atmosphere, but that’s called private dining in a restaurant, and those rooms rarely have this kind of view.

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Castillo Hotel Son Vida, Mallorca

Next day I saw the real advantage of downtown LA. It’s central. Meeting an artist in south-central? Five-minute drive, not 45. Dinner in Venice? West Hollywood gallery visit? While downtown LA may not be the place you do things, it is a great place from which to do them, without those painful, hour-long drives. Perfect for the traveller with a cross-city schedule.

Find out more: ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/los-angeles

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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the entrance of a hotel with arched windows and doors and plants
the entrance of a hotel with arched windows and doors and plants

Exterior view of the new Maybourne, Beverly Hills

In the second part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at The Maybourne, Beverly Hills

The most curious thing about the Maybourne Beverly Hills is its tranquillity. Here you are at the new US flagship of London’s swankiest hotel group (Claridge’s, The Connaught, The Berkeley), in LA, metres from Rodeo Drive, and yet the overarching feeling is one of peace. How does that happen?

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The first impression of a curious quietude was from the hotel’s rooftop pool terrace. In cities, these are often rambunctious things, squeezed in, next to a spa and a restaurant, a few sun loungers and a square of blue with a highway of guests and staff running through. Not so here: rows of loungers, immaculate staff waiting to serve, a big, blue pool, and a view across rooftops to the Hollywood Hills. You could come here for a week and not feel agitated by noise. Sure, there’s a terrace restaurant but the vibe is more Ibiza chill than urban thrill.

a bar with stools

The Maybourne pool

Our suite was all pastel shades and 20th-century modern furniture, rethought for the 21st century. A kind of Hollywood-meets-resort feel, with some gorgeous photography and art. Maybourne’s owners are significant movers in the art scene, and you can tell: even the lift lobby on our floor featured an Idris Khan edition.

Downstairs, the Terrace restaurant seemed to be a breakfast, lunch and dinner hangout for the Beverly Hills crowd and the Beverly Hills chihuahua (along with a nice variety of other breeds). Opening out onto a public garden, it was also very quiet: no fumes, no traffic noise, no honking horns. All the more interesting because the hotel was originally built in the grand style of iconic US palace hotels (think Boca Raton resort): but here, the style is everywhere, and the noise nowhere.

swimming pool

The hotel’s rooftop pool

The food was also consistently brilliant: sunny and fresh, like pan-roasted dayboat scallops with girolles and sunchokes, and an absolutely vivid, meaty whole grilled branzino with Napa cabbage and basil. The Terrace is a people-watching place, and if you want to watch people more closely, and with a slightly different lens, just move to the Maybourne Bar or the Cigar and Whiskey Bar. What’s the difference between the two? Same as the difference between the Blue Bar at the Berkeley and the Fumoir at Claridge’s (with additional cigars in the case of the Cigar and Whiskey Bar).

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

It was a bit of a mystery to me how Maybourne expected to create a global brand, given that its London hotels are so distinctive, unified by a crossover in clientele and a certain appeal to the fashion crowd through their louche artiness in their public spaces. Here they are in LA, and they have done just that. Quite an achievement.

Find out more: maybournebeverlyhills.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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artist standing between a blue and red painting
Jeffrey Deitch Gallery
Meeting art doyen Jeffrey Deitch at his gallery in West Hollywood

Part One: Art & rediscovery in LA

When I was spending a lot of time in LA in the 1990s, there were some areas a visitor would avoid at all costs unless they had to. Three of these were South Central, Downtown, and the web of roads behind the boardwalk at Venice Beach.

I am due to visit all three. Heading to LA mainly for Frieze LA, where I am meeting with our partners at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, the long-term partners of Frieze, I have added a full California schedule on to the three-day art fair itinerary. LA, from Beverly Hills to South Central, is just the beginning.

Partly this is for sustainability reasons, to minimise future flights, and also because I have not been to California since before the pandemic, and as ever it is home to many of the world’s thought and opinion leaders, some of whom are on my schedule, as well as a thriving art scene in LA itself.

I spent the ten years before the pandemic commuting many times a year to Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as on short haul trips to Europe for Condé Nast, my other alma mater. Meaning I built up a British Airways Gold membership and accompanying dependence. I had not been to the Virgin Clubhouse for years. The feel is as much private club as airline lounge, with the key differentiator of excellent customer service. I had a wonderful chat with a manager at the lounge who was bemoaning her inability to return to her native Hong Kong, and we exchanged tips on restaurants there (hers, mainly). When the chairs, food, and champagne are largely the same, this makes a difference. I silently wish Virgin had short and mid-haul operations to my frequently visited European and former-Soviet destinations.

Editor’s note: LUX paid for its flights to California in full and received no support from any airline.

a man and woman standing on a terrace

We met with Forbes 30 Under 30 curator, Emilia Yin, at the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at Frieze LA

Central LA is a grid of warehouses, yards and unmarked buildings. Nowadays, inside some of these there are artists’ studios, the artists driven here from around the Americas and elsewhere by then cheap rents. As ever, the artists move in, hipsters get the vibe and start to gentrify, and the artists are forced to move out. That hasn’t happened yet in central LA, but it will. So I enjoyed the moment of visiting a few studios, buried behind delivery yards and run-down buildings, with real working artists inside them. No cafes, no galleries, no bars. Give it two years. It’s a cert that the property investors are already there.

A friend with homes in LA sends me a WhatsApp suggesting I visit Gjelina, on Abbot Kinney Boulevard behind Venice Beach, for dinner. I last knew this street as needle central, with a few porn and pawn shops thrown in (homophones that go together), in the late 90s. But my friend has taste, and many homes, so I take his advice. The food is vibrant, trim, focussed and beautiful, like the clientele. Like nothing anywhere else.

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The street is now lined with (expensive) independent fashion boutiques and teenage TikTokkers wander around making TikToks. They fit the TikTok profile of being blonde, white and wealthy. The porn and the pawn have now moved and multiplied online, but where have all the junkies gone, I wonder? Elsewhere in Donald Trump’s ‘American Carnage’?

artist standing between a blue and red painting

Ross Caliendo is among numerous artists from around the world who have set up in the warehouses around downtown LA

two men standing side by side

Meeting with ocean conservation icon Jean Michel Cousteau in Santa Barbara

I host some clients at the pre-opening event at Frieze, created by Deutsche Bank, in Michael Jackson‘s former mansion above Beverly Hills. People are happy to be able to meet and mingle after two hard years, which seem to have hit LA hard. There is a sense of anticipation about the fair. People have travelled, and people in LA have prepared. It’s the first major cultural event in the city for two years. Art really can catalyse human change.

At the fair the next day, everyone is waxing lyrical about the lounge. Deutsche Bank’s team have created an indoor-outdoor space with garden and water, a few footsteps from the fair and linked by a private walkway. Many guests comment that it should be permanent. Meetings in the lounge are bound by Chatham House rules, but there are plenty of guests, our own and others, who have come from afar, and are loving both fair and lounge. Bravo to the creators, although the Deutsche Bank lounge at Frieze London, with its creations by Idris Khan and events on ocean conservation, was still the more artistic and focussed. In my view.

I drive to West Hollywood to see Jeffrey Deitch, an art world force since the 1970s. In his private gallery, which is probably three times the size of the Serpentine Gallery museum in London, he has put together a museum-grade show, entitled Luncheon on the Grass. Works from Mickalene Thomas, Jeff Koons, Kehinde Wiley and Paul McCarthy line the walls. I am taken by Tschabalala Self’s response to Édouard Manet’s ‘Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe’ in particular. A few of the interpretations are quite explicit.

Which is quite honest, as the idea of a summer lunch on the grass probably brings that out in many people. Any romance aside, I make a mental sketch of my dejeuner sur l’herbe: it would involve rosé champagne from a small producer like Chartogne Taillet and might ask a question of why people enjoying the countryside in my adopted homeland of England are so predominantly white. I decide the reason I like Deitch’s show so much is that it reveals so much about the artists, and how they want to be perceived, or appear to want to be perceived. I will leave the topic there to avoid falling into the trap of the dreaded (and banned in LUX) language of ‘artspeak’.

Deitch tells me it is his busiest day for meetings for years, another sign of what a good art fair can bring to a city.

Maubourne Pool
The Rooftop at the Maybourne Beverly Hills

The next morning, I drop in on a new friend I made at the fair, Emilia Yin, who was introduced to me by a major collector I invited to the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management lounge. I meet her at her Make Room gallery. Also in West Hollywood, it is in a little building behind a car park off the main drag, Melrose Avenue. There is a sense of both Zen and intent inside, and the paintings in her show, by young Brussels-based Italian artist Jacopo Pagin, all sold within days. I buy the last remaining work, an intriguing sketch. I wonder if she is one of the Jeffrey Deitches of the future.

After three days of intense art and meetings, I take a morning swim in the rooftop pool of the Maybourne hotel in Beverly Hills. The Maybourne, grand but laid-back, has a part-city, part-resort vibe and the view from the roof terrace is surprisingly restful. I pick out my favourite mansions in the hills over a green juice.

I have meetings lined up in the afternoon in Santa Barbara and Montecito. Santa Barbara’s main street, State Street, has been pedestrianised at its seafront end and it’s abuzz with cafes, bars, restaurants and an outdoor market. A positive outcome of the pandemic. A little further up the street I meet Jean-Michel Cousteau, octogenarian sage of the oceans, at his offices, which are lined with pictures and souvenirs of his decades in ocean wildlife conservation and filmmaking. There’s a touching picture of him as a small boy with his father Jacques, giving him instructions on how to dive.

Details of our conversation are saved for a major feature in the next issue of LUX, so stay tuned.

Read more: Olivia Muniak’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in Los Angeles

 

Ten minutes’ drive from Santa Barbara is Montecito, the chichi coastal community which plays host to Harry and Meghan, as well as many other members of the world’s rich and famous. It’s supposed to be a low-key place, I am told. I drive past bijou small shops and cafes, created in a faux-rustic style, all perfect. Perfect children walk past holding immaculate ice creams. On the road to the Rosewood Miramar Beach resort, where I am meeting my contact, three police cars, lights on full colour strobe, have formed a triangle, partly blocking the road. As I drive past, I see one individual sitting slumped on the spotless pavement. I wonder what his crime was. Perhaps not owning a Tesla?

My meeting takes place in a wood-panelled drawing room overlooking the beach, with a couple of islands visible in the slash of gold from the setting sun. I feel I am George Clooney in the last scene of a feel-good movie, concluding Bourbon in hand in a highball glass. Except this is the first scene of a (admittedly potentially exciting) business deal, I am not George Clooney, I do not live here, and I am drinking tea.

Back to LA in the dark, the traffic has died down, and I have a calming Margarita in the bar of the Maybourne to prepare me for the drive north the next day.

To be continued

An airport lounge

The Virgin Clubhouse at London Heathrow has a members’ club feel

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Image by Sterling Davis

As the art world’s elite flock to Los Angeles for Frieze art fair, Olivia Muniak, founder of catering company La Cura and LA resident, shares her guide on the best places to drink and dine around the city
woman holding plate of food

Olivia Muniak

Growing up in the restaurant business, I learned to appreciate the subtleties of what makes a restaurant succeed. I saw my parents transform a casual European cafe into New York’s coolest lunch spot after which they launched two chic Italian fine dining restaurants in the heart of Greenwich Village and having worked myself in pretty much every front of house position, I know how much hard work it takes to deliver an exceptional dining experience. It goes without saying that the food has to be good, but the best restaurants know that it’s also the lighting, the decor, the people that define their identity and keep clients coming back for more.

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Since moving to Los Angeles in 2017 to set up my business La Cura, I’ve made it my priority to scope out the city’s best places to eat and below are just a few of my favourites. Some newly opened, other’s mainstays in my book.

Bicyclette

The sister restaurant to the famed French cafe République.

Stepping down into the bistro feels like midnight in Paris, it’s a lively, warm space and almost every seat in the house gets a peak into the kitchen. Reservations are a must and make sure you arrive a little early for an aperitif at the bar. The food is classic bistro style, but so thoughtfully prepared. The soft egg, onion tart and bouillabaisse are amongst my favourites. Whether you go for a bottle of wine, or by the glass (my tip: ask for half-pours so you can explore the by-the-glass list), talk to the sommelier for their recommendations.

bicyclettela.com

luxurious restaurant interiors

The interiors of Gigi’s Hollwood. Image: @gigis_la

Gigi’s Hollywood

A trendy favourite for a late night dinner that begins and ends with cocktails.

The emerald green and gold interior, and white tablecloths feel fresh and luxe in contrast to the sporty-clad staff – it’s a vibe and we’re all into it. The quintessential California-french menu has many hits including the baguette with butter and caviar, but the most unexpected dish, at least for LA, is the Schnitzel and it’s delicious. Be sure to make a reservation.

gigis.la

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Supporting Emerging Chinese Artists

Cafe Stella

A tiny garden restaurant tucked away behind an even better bar.

Go for dinner, plan to stay late for drinks, and possibly, a spot of dancing. The interior is a bit worn and rustic, but that’s what makes it cool. The menu is also French bistro style and has all the favourites: Moules frites, Steak frites, Poulet Roti and Sole meunière.

cafestella.com

Crudo e Nudo

A very casual “fish market” with sidewalk seating, natural wines and the best crudo you will ever taste – trust me!

Crudo e Nudo takes sustainable seafood sourcing  to a new level. The chef knows every fisherman that brings in the day’s catch, and how that fish was caught. You can see the Japanese influence on a very Californian menu in the seasoning of the dishes but also in the discipline in the way the food is prepared. It’s worth striking up a conversation with the chef who’s friendly face you’ll see at the counter. The menu rotates but you can always find these dishes: Vegan caesar with Furikake and  Tuna Toast.

crudoenudo.com

Read more: Koons, Kitsch & the Evolving Art Market

Grá Pizzeria

A funky local spot in the Echo Park area.

The interior is pared down with exposed brick and an open garden patio. A few things worth mentioning about the pizza: the dough is made with a long-fermentation sourdough recipe that the owner brought over from the UK, and cooks in a wood-burning stove so it’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. More importantly, it holds it shape when folded (a true sign of a quality pizza). The Margherita is my favourite but the seasonal pies are always worth a taste. The plate of prosciutto and green lovage salad should also be on your order.

xn--gr-nia.com

outdoor dining

The patio at Gjelina. Image: @gjelinarestaurant

Gjelina

A well-known spot but deserving of the hype.

The menu is a journey through California produce, with some of the most creative, seasonal vegetables, pizzas and pastas. As soon as a vegetable is not at it’s peak, it’s off the menu. Gjelina is equally great for brunch, lunch or a relaxed, yet elegant dinner. If you can’t get a reservation, try  their sister restaurant Gjusta, which doubles up as a deli.

gjelina.com

 

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Olafur Eliasson: Your light spectrum and presence installation view at Tanya Bonakdar gallery

As Los Angeles gets ready to launch this year’s edition of Frieze, our Contributing Editor Sophie Neuendorf shares her must-see exhibitions and events happening around the city

Sophie Neuendorf

I have a special fondness for Los Angeles and not just for the sun and sea. My father spent a lot of time in the city. During his days as a gallerist, he travelled to LA to discover fresh talent, many of whom he showed or represented, developing several life-long friendships.

One of those artists was David Hockney, who loaned my father his car when he did his driving test and bought him an ice cream to celebrate. Another life-long friend was Robert Graham, a marvellous Mexican-American sculptor, well-known for not only his art but also his cameos in Wes Anderson movies (not to mention his glamorous wife, the inimitable Anjelica Huston).

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Venice Beach was one of his favourite spots, where his friend the artist Billy Al Bengston still lives and works today. One of Ferus Gallery’s artists, Billy’s unique, ethereal West Coast Pop is unmistakable and continues to inspire many artists and designers. Most recently, he worked with Yves Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane on a fashion show.

artist studio

Artist Billy Al Bengston at work in his studio

Now, as the art world flocks to the city for Frieze, I’ve put together a list of must-see exhibitions, events and projects.

Frieze Los Angeles

This year, Frieze (17 to 20 February) has moved from Paramount Studios to a new location, a tent adjacent to the Beverly Hills Hilton. It will, however, spill out across the city with monumental installations for Frieze Projects, including Mel Bochner’s Street Sign, which you can spot while travelling northbound on Merv Griffin Way across from the fair. The fair also welcomes a new director Christine Messineo and will feature 100 galleries, both local and international with exhibitors from 17 countries. The crowd promises to be nearly as colourful as the works for sale, studded with artists, collectors, celebrities, and fashionistas.

Felix Art Fair

Launched by collector and television mogul Dean Valentine, Felix (17 to 20 February) is a more intimate, edgier alternative to Frieze. Taking place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it will feature 60 international galleries, exhibiting in the cabanas alongside the David Hockney-painted pool and in the guest-rooms on floors 10 and 11.

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Making Art More Accessible

Womanhouse

Curators Barret Lybbert and Stefano Di Paola are curating a show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Womanhouse, an immersive installation co-organised by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro featuring work by 21 women artists. In the same radical spirit as the original installation, there’s no set artist list and the exhibition will evolve over its duration (18 Feb to 2 April) in an East Hollywood storefront.

Gallery Exhibitions

To coincide with Frieze, Gagosian is showing 10 recent works by Jeff Wall, marking the artist’s first exhibition in Los Angeles in nearly 20 years (on until 26 March 2022). Seven of the photographs were made in LA, where Wall lives and works in addition to his native Vancouver.

Over at Sprüth Magers, a show by artist Lucy Dodd (on until 12 March) is also a must-see while Nino Mier gallery is opening a show by hard-edge painter Georg Karl Pfahler, whose groundbreaking works will also be on view at Simon Lee’s London space this spring (read my interview with Simon Lee here for more info on what to expect).

restaurant interiors

Manuela restaurant at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

If you’re stopping by Hauser & Wirth’s impressive space to see Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition (I highly recommend you do), get in some R&R at their iconic restaurant, aptly named Manuela after the gallery’s co-founder and then pop by Tanya Bonakdar gallery to see Your light spectrum and presence, a solo exhibition by Olafur Eliasson. The show features eleven circular paintings created between 2012 and 2021, demonstrating Eliasson’s long-standing investigation into light, colour and the ways we perceive and interact with our surroundings.

Read more: The Best Art Exhibitions to See in February

It’s always worth a visit to the Getty Center, which is currently showing Poussin and the Dance (until 8 May) in collaboration with London’s National Gallery. The exhibition establishes a dialogue between 17th-century French painter Nicolas Poussin’s dancing pictures and new dance films by Los Angeles-based choreographers.

artist sculpture

untitled: skirt i; 2019. © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: ©2020 Alex Delfanne, All Rights Reserved

End Frieze week on a high note by visiting the absolutely unmissable LACMA exhibition Black American Portraits with work by Kehinde Wiley, Calida Rawles, and Catherine Opie (on until 17 April). Several of the artists in the exhibition will also be showing work at Frieze, albeit at different galleries. Wiley – whose 2018 portrait of former President Obama was also on view at LACMA in a separate exhibition that included Amy Sherald’s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama – will be part of Roberts Projects’ group exhibition at Frieze. The gallery will also present an exciting new portrait by Wiley while Rawles’ work will be on view at Various Small Fires’ booth, and Opie will be part of Regen Projects’ Frieze presentation.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice-President at artnet. Find out more: artnet.com

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Installation view of Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, September 29, 2021-February 13, 2022). From left to right: Savarin, 1982; Savarin, 1982; Savarin, 1982; Savarin, 1982; Studio II, 1966. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

In our ongoing online monthly series, LUX’s editors, contributors, and friends pick their must-see exhibitions from around the globe

Sophie Neuendorf, Vice President of artnet & LUX Contributing Editor

This month, Hauser & Wirth presents glimpse, British artist Phyllida Barlow’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, opening on 17 February (until 8 May 2022) to coincide with Frieze LA. The show will include new large-scale works assembled on site and made in response to the gallery’s physical adaptation of the historic Globe Mills, a collection of late 19th and early 20th century buildings. It’s sure to be a knock-out and as an added bonus, the gallery has an excellent on-site restaurant named after one of its founders: Manuela.

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installation artwork

Phyllida Barlow, Undercover 2, 2020. Installation view, ‘Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging – 16 Women Artists from around the World,’ Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2021. © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy the artist and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Photo: Furukawa Yuya

While you’re in LA, I also recommend stopping by Esther Kim Varet’s gallery Various Small Fires. The gallery launched in 2012 with the aim of fighting back against the traditional gallery system that allowed for already-big Western names to get even bigger. As a gallerist and dealer, Varet likes to keep it small: she only represents around 20 artists, fostering their growth right from the early-stages of their careers. As such, the shows here are always a great place to discover new talent before they take off. The current group show, for example, includes eleven artists curated by Todd Bockley of Bockley Gallery (on until 20 February 2022).

tapestry artwork

Julie Buffalohead, The Nourished, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist, Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Dallas/Seoul and Bockley Gallery

Sutapa Biswas, Artist

Three powerful, beautiful and moving exhibitions which are ‘must sees’ over this next month (in addition to my own solo show at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead of course) are Lubaina Himid’s exhibition at Tate Modern in London (on until 3 July 2022), Shigeko Kubota Liquid Realities at MoMA, New York (on until 13 February 2022) and Jennifer Packer’s The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing at The Whitney, New York (on until 17 April 2022). I had the good fortune of seeing Lubaina’s exhibition, and the Serpentine’s iteration of Packer’s show, but I was devastated that the recent outbreak of the omicron Covid variant resulted in my having to cancel a scheduled visit to Kubota’s exhibition – I’m still dreaming of seeing it and hope this exhibition travels!

mirror installation

Shigeko Kubota, Video Haiku–Hanging Piece, 1981. Courtesy Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. Artwork © 2021 Estate of Shigeko Kubota / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Digital image © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Denis Doorly

All three exhibitions bring together something vitally important in terms of our engagement with the subjects of their works in relation to the context, to form (the aesthetic) and to the nuances of meaning. I’m drawn to how each of these artists explore the intersections between art, history, form and our everyday realties and hopes. I love the confidence with which each of these artist’s works speaks through their works and what I learn as a viewer through my experience / encounter with their works. Moreover, I love how these artists’ works are haunting, opening thought in unexpected ways. Though the medium within which each of these artists work are so different, there is a language that connects them which relates to ‘the seeing’ and ‘the being’. Perhaps, for me, this ghosting of sorts is in part articulated through Kubota work titled Video Haiku – Hanging Piece, 1981. Prior to MoMA’s show I had not seen this work previously, but even on encountering it as a reproduction, I did a double-take. As a piece, it resonates deeply both formally and conceptually in terms of my own work as an artist. Such is the power and beauty of these women’s art.

figurative painting

Lubaina Himid
, Ball on Shipboard, 2018. 
Courtesy of Rennie Collection, Vancouver 
© Lubaina Himid

Darius Sanai, LUX Editor-in-Chief

The two shows I want to see most in February are shows I know I am not going to get to. First there is Mind/Mirror, the Whitney’s retrospective of Jasper Johns, in association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art (on until 13 February 2022). It’s the most comprehensive retrospective of Johns’ work ever staged and likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us. He has long fascinated me for his reflections of the dramatic ructions in American society immediately after WW2, when within a few years, women in the western world gained arguably their biggest single step change in emancipation, segregation was officially abolished, and teenagers were invented. Along with Kurt Schwitters and Roy Lichtenstein, I think he is an artist whose importance will increase dramatically over time. If you’re lucky enough to be on the East Coast – go!

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on Koons, Kitsch & the Evolving Art Market

david bowie photograph

Anton Corbijn, David Bowie, Chicago, 1980. Copyright Anton Corbijn

The other show is at the other end of the scale in terms of size, but not interest. Anton Corbijn first caught my eye when I was a child and my sisters worked for NME, the pre-eminent post punk newspaper. I didn’t have much interest in the bands featured in the paper at that stage, but Corbijn’s photography, artful, moody, powerful, and always monochrome, was memorable. As an outsider, I was also always fascinated by the idea of this Dutch guy being a mover and shaker on the British 1980s music scene. He moved onto photograph movie stars, supermodels and designers, including David Bowie, Naomi Campbell and Virgil Abloh. Now uber-curator and LUX contributor Simon de Pury has curated a show, viewed by appointment at The Hague, Amsterdam (which I’m not going to make) and online at de-pury.com. Speaking to Simon last week, I told him his next move in the pop world should include the works of Pennie Smith, who created the black-and-white imagery in the book The Clash: Before And After, a kind of epic, humorous Canterbury Tales of the punk band’s first US tour. Watch this space.

Read more: Legendary photographer Iran Issa-Khan on ‘The Forces of Nature’

Tarka Russell, Director Timothy Taylor Gallery

When in Los Angeles, I never miss a visit to David Kordansky Gallery. During Frieze LA, he has Jonas Wood showing a collection of new paintings and works on paper (on until 5 March 2022). Another unforgettable trip is the The Getty museum where you are immersed in treasures.

painting of garden

Jonas Wood, Future Zoo, 2021. Photo by Marten Elder, courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery

Loulou Siem, Artist

This month, Pal Project, Pierre and Alexandre Lorquin’s art space in Paris, is showing Paragone by Mateo Revillo (on until 12 March 2022). I had a preview just before the opening and it is electric. Revillo has painted lines in beeswax and pigment on tile shaped plaster boards and hung them like diamonds – lines that run away and towards each other, going somewhere and nowhere and wrapping the space in unseen tape that asks: what happens outside of the edge? Live snails crawl up the walls, creating yellowish, unconfident loops on the once pristine gallery surface. Meanwhile, the wonky lines in the paintings feel fast, like static, and seem to challenge the somnolent snails. Snails that tease the limits of the paintings: awkwardly sexy?

installation of artworks

Installation view of Paragone by Mateo Revillo. Courtesy of Pal Project, Paris

I normally think of tiles as existing in multiples, made up for architecture, but here each is given jewel-like space, and do not need a collective to communicate. In fact, the materials in the show are industrial, not typically decorative. The plaster board is part of the wall itself, the bench that has been burned has doodled soot down the wall at its fall and the relatively small church of wedged coal bricks is solid and uncomplicated. The paintings feel monumental to me in their abstraction. In some moments, paint has flaked off the edges of the plaster, reminiscent of some Mediterranean antiquity, except these tiles were always meant to be perfectly imperfect. If you’re in Paris this month or at any point the future, I highly recommend stopping by: I think there could be a lot of exciting things coming out of this space.

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Reading time: 7 min
people gathered round dining table
people gathered round dining table

One of La Cura’s intimate supper clubs hosted by Olivia Muniak in Los Angeles

In her first column for LUX, Los Angeles-based chef and entrepreneur Olivia Muniak traces the historical and modern significance of coming together to drink and dine

woman holding plate of food

Olivia Muniak

Gathering together to drink and dine has a long, primal tradition as a social glue of humanity. In Roman times, banqueting was an important social ritual involving extravagant menus with multiple courses, luxurious tableware, and diverse forms of entertainment. There were even civic feasts offered for all of the inhabitants of a city, often accommodating large numbers of diners.

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Of course, food or rather the lack of it has also given rise to revolutions. Marie Antoinette infamously uttered the phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“Let them eat cake”) on hearing that the peasants had no bread during one of the famines in France under the reign of her husband King Louis XVI. While it’s uncertain whether or not Marie Antoinette actually spoke these words, the phrase has acquired symbolic importance as an illustration of the upper classes’ ignorance, and the beginnings of the French Revolution.

If we look at religious holidays and the types of food that have been and continue to be served, we can also find connections with history. Lamb, for example, is served on Easter as a good omen, and is said to represent Christ while on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, apples and honey signify hope for future.

All of that is that is to say: food does not influence culture, it mirrors it and provides an important insight into the evolution of humanity. A pivotal point in American culture, for example, was the advent of the TV dinner which represented a huge shift in the archetype of family and our modern world. In the early 1950s, millions of white women entered the work force meaning that mothers were no longer at home to cook elaborate meals and pre-made frozen dinners provided the perfect solution: all you had to do was pop them in the oven, and thirty minutes later the family could be eating a hot supper while enjoying the new national pastime: television.

In Italy, food, drink and socialising go hand in hand. An aperitivo (pre-meal drink) is a cultural ritual, signifying the end of the working day. The Milanese take their aperitivo so seriously that the slang term apericena came about as a description of when drinks spill over into dinner. In Spain and some Latin American countries, sobremesa is the tradition of relaxing at the table after a heavy meal to relax, digest and converse, and in Sweden, it’s considered essential to make time for fika, a short coffee break, every day. We Americans go for all of it: cocktails, fine dining, street food, food trucks, coffee shops. We love a reason to get together with friends and indulge. The point is: humans have an appetite for good food and good company.

In 2019, I founded La Cura, a sustainable catering and event production company, based on that principle, but also because I was yearning for experiences that supported meaningful connection. I had recently moved to Los Angeles from New York and was eager to build a sense of community, and so it began, as a supper club in my backyard. I sold tickets to multi-course, family style meals. The first event was 32 guests, all different ages and from diverse backgrounds, crammed around one table. Guests had to pass platters of food to one another, share bottles of wine and the warmth of these very ordinary gestures created fast bonds between perfect strangers. The best story I heard from one of those events is that two guests (who both randomly ended up getting a ticket because a friend couldn’t go) began a podcast together.

Read more: Shiny Surfaces, Lawsuits & Pink Inflatable Rabbits: In Conversation with Jeff Koons

Over the last year or so, we have been starved of this simple, sensory act of gathering over food and drink. Instead, we met across screens – on Zoom, Facebook and Whatsapp – or hosted the same small circle of friends or family. When it became safe and socially acceptable to gather again, my company was booking a month plus in advance for brand events and dinners centred mainly around intimate dinners, which provided an escape from the ordinary. And this trend is only set to continue with many people hosting their own dinner parties having honed their cooking skills and invested in tableware over the various periods of lockdown. Alongside my company, which curates the menu and the evening, there are many consumer facing tabletop rental companies such as Social Studies which make it easier to throw larger events or themed parties within the comfort of your own home.

dinner party scene

 

These kinds of social acts are good for us: they break up our days, increase productivity, provide a space for us to unwind, relax and have fun. They add colour and depth to our lives, and now, in the wake of the pandemic, meeting for a drink or meal has become more meaningful than ever. What this time has taught us is that food and drink is what binds us. It connects us to our personal memories, a sense of self, as well as to our cultural histories and traditions. I have a childhood friend, whose mother makes a marble cake for every birthday celebration and every time I see a marble cake, I think of both her birthday and my family’s restaurant, where is also served it by the slice. Wherever I am in the world, it brings me a sense of comfort and nostalgia.

No matter our background or culture, the act of eating and drinking together is something we all share. It’s a basic human need and a communal pleasure. More importantly, in this hard-to-predict time, the ritual of dining and drinking brings a sense of grounding and normality to our lives.

Olivia Muniak is the founder of La Cura, a Los Angeles-based catering and events company. For more information, visit: thisislacura.com

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Reading time: 5 min
Man standing against pillar
Man standing against pillar

Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

Italian sparkling wine producer Ferrari Trento was founded in 1902 and is now under the leadership of the third generation of the Lunelli family. Following the recent announcement of the brand’s partnership with Formula 1, LUX speaks to CEO and President Matteo Lunelli about respecting tradition, sustainability and the challenges of the pandemic

1. How do you become Official Toast of Formula 1, as Ferrari Trento has just become?

Ferrari Trento has already been celebrated at many of the world’s most prestigious events. This includes being the Official Toast of the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles for the past five years and of the BNL International Tennis Tournament in Rome in 2019. The Formula 1 podium is one of the most iconic moments in the world of sport and has been a dream of ours for a long time which we are thrilled to now see come true. Formula 1 chose Ferrari Trento, firstly, because we share common values of passion and excellence, and also because Formula 1 is centred around innovation and looking to the future. This can be seen through this decision to go “beyond” the traditional choice of champagne, with a brand that not only offers a guarantee of quality but is also an ambassador of Italian style. We are thrilled to embark on this project as we strongly believe in the future of Ferrari Trento and in the dream that Giulio Ferrari, our founder, started over a century ago.

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2. You are the third generation of the Lunelli family to keep Ferrari Trento alive, and you have maintained many historic practices within the company. Are there any notable traditions that you needed to let go of?

Our goal is to innovate, but respect traditions. There are certain things that will never change at Ferrari Trento like the pursuit of excellence in every detail and the intimate link with our territory, because all our wines are made exclusively with grapes cultivated on the slopes of the Trentino mountains. On the other hand, we need to adapt to a market and a context that changes rapidly and, therefore, we constantly aim to innovate our business model. Over the years we have embraced digital media in our communication strategy, we have expanded to new markets abroad in order to grow our export sales, and we have moved to organic viticulture, putting strong emphasis on sustainable production.

Formula 1 sparkling wine

Ferrari Trento is the official sparkling wine of F1

3. Ferrari’s Trentodoc sparkling wines utilise environmentally friendly systems which heavily reduces water-consumption in vineyards. Is the wine-industry more broadly taking steps to become more sustainable? Should it do more?

We can certainly say that in the past few years the wine industry has significantly increased its attention to sustainability and I believe that this trend will continue even more in the future. This is especially important for high end consumers and wine lovers who not only look for excellent wines but also ask our companies to maintain an excellent behaviour towards stakeholders and to protecting the environment.

Specifically, the Ferrari winery is located in such a wonderful location that we feel even more duty to protect it and preserve it for future generations. Our strong commitment towards sustainability can be seen (amongst other actions), by the organic certification of all our estate vineyards and by the work carried out on biodiversity. Regarding water, as you mentioned, we utilise an innovative system of precision irrigation in order to reduce water waste. This system, developed together with a start-up called Blue Tentacles, uses a remote control to open and close the valves on the field, and optimise the use of water collecting data of the temperature and humidity through sensors located in vineyards.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on building a more sustainable art world

4. What are the biggest challenges that the sparkling wine industry faces today?

Sparkling wines are traditionally associated with conviviality and celebrations, which is the opposite of “social distancing”, and why the pandemic had such a strong impact on our industry. In addition, on trade is the most important channel for the Lunelli Group, and bars, hotels and restaurants being closed for such a long time in many countries has of course had an inevitable impact on our sales. We partially compensated the loss of the “outside of home” by increasing our retail and online sales for domestic consumption, however, we strongly believe that conviviality will soon come back, and we look forward to celebrations where people can spend time together again.

Vineyards

Ferrari Trento’s vineyards

5. Is Italian sparkling wine underrated?

Italian sparkling wine has witnessed an extraordinary growth worldwide in the past years, but I would say that sometimes the quality and excellence of Italian sparkling wine is underrated. Most consumers still do not fully recognise the diversity of our sparkling wine denominations which are made in different regions and with different methods.

It is by now evident between wine opinion leaders that in the sparkling wine space, just like in the still wine space, excellence is not a monopoly of one territory in the world. Italy, with the region of Trentino in particular, is in “pole position”, as shown by the results achieved at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships which saw Ferrari Trento crowned as the “Producer of the Year” for three editions. In 2019, Italy overtook France in terms of awarded medals, while in 2020 the competition saw a draw with 47 gold medals each. We hope to further excel the reputation of Italian fizz as we share our luxury wines on a wider scale than ever before through our partnership with Formula 1.

6. Where and when (apart from a F1 race) is the best place to drink your wine?

During a trip to Italy you can have a glass of Ferrari in some of the best bars and the most iconic travel destinations, however, first of all I would have to say in Trento, visiting our winery and enjoying what we call ‘a tour between beauty and taste’ on a lovely summers day, perhaps during harvest time. Here, we invite guests to have an all-round experience of the world of Ferrari, which begins with a tour of our cellars, where our Trentodoc wines mature gradually under the careful supervision of our winemakers. You can then go up the nearby hills to visit Villa Margon a 16th century mansion which is a treasure of art. The special experience concludes at Locanda Margon, our Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of our vineyards, where you can pair Ferrari with the creations of chef Edoardo Fumagalli.

In general, I think that the best way to enjoy Ferrari is to pair it with high quality food in a great restaurant or during an “aperitivo” with friends. I also love to think about sipping our Trentodoc bubbles whilst watching the sun set onboard a boat in the middle of the sea. However, more than anything, what will make the special moment is always who you will share your wine and emotions with.

Find out more: ferraritrento.com

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Reading time: 5 min
wine estate
wine estate

Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

For the cosmopolitan Prince Robert de Luxembourg, owning one of the world’s most celebrated wine estates, Château Haut-Brion, was not enough. The former Hollywood screenwriter is creating a world of fine wine and cuisine fantasy for visitors to enjoy in Bordeaux and Paris – and much more besides. Darius Sanai chats to the Prince about the future of Thomas Jefferson’s favourite estate

Chatting in fluent English about online retail and the Chinese social media app WeChat, Prince Robert de Luxembourg does not exactly conform to a preconception of a European prince who owns the longest established of all the great Bordeaux wine estates.

And yet since he took over Domaine Clarence Dillon, maker of Château Haut-Brion, in 2003, Prince Robert has transformed the company, taking it from being the maker of a couple of the most celebrated wines in the world (Haut-Brion and its sister, La Mission, and their second wines) but little else (and a little profit), to a business employing 200 people with five different wine ranges, a two Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, an upmarket wine store next door, an online fine-wine retail business and a wholesaling arm.

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To add a little tannin to the story, Prince Robert, despite being born into the family that owns Château Haut-Brion, was not even intending to run it. In his youth, he was a successful screenwriter, spotted by Creative Artists in Los Angeles, with one of his scripts optioned by Steven Spielberg. To this day, he looks as if he would be as comfortable sipping a margarita in Malibu as a glass of the legendary 1989 vintage of his wine in Bordeaux.

You also feel he has only just begun on his journey of creating a real enterprise around a gem that was previously, if not neglected then certainly not fully polished.

He insists that he will not, unlike Bernard Arnault of LVMH, luxury magnate and owner of the equally celebrated Château Cheval Blanc, be lending his wine’s name to a hotel group. But there is more in the offing, including a tasting, dining and museum facility at the château itself. Unlike Cheval Blanc, Petrus, Lafite and Margaux, Haut-Brion is easily accessible from the city and airport of Bordeaux, and it is a place where he is determined that any lover of great wines should be able to visit and enjoy.

man looking out of window

Prince Robert de Luxembourg. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

LUX: What were your dreams when you were young?
Robert de Luxembourg: Like all of us, I had all kinds of different dreams depending on my age and some of them were realistic and some were less so.

LUX: Not many owners of Bordeaux First Growths lived in the US and were scouted as screen writers by Stephen Spielberg.
Robert de Luxembourg: I lived in the US only because I went to university there for a short while (at Georgetown) in Washington DC. I was there for under two years. We’ve always had family properties in Maine up in the north-east where I go every summer. Afterwards, thanks to my future wife, we became involved in screenwriting. She was very keen and had done some courses and was working on some ideas and had written a couple of films before I became involved with her, and we wrote a first speculative script when we were living all over the place, including France and driving around. That was the one that was picked up by Creative Artists in Los Angeles and we were signed as young writers; there was interest from Spielberg in that script but we ended up auctioning it to Columbia Pictures and then we worked with different people on it including Peters Entertainment, Original Film and David Heyman. We would come and go. Creative Artists would set up two weeks of meetings for us; and then Columbia and David actually hired us to write another screenplay.

Read more: Penélope Cruz on designing jewellery for Swarovski

LUX: Does a bit of you wish you’d carried on?
Robert de Luxembourg: You can’t do everything in life, and what appealed to me initially about that was I was working with my future wife, and then the realities of our lives made it a bit more complex. I loved the purely creative process. But I have been able to enjoy that in the work that I do in the wine industry throughout all kinds of different projects, whether it’s in the wine estates’ architectural projects or whether it’s developing business ideas. My need, I have come to understand over time, is to be able to develop projects and to basically be able to tell a story and then see that story come to life. So, I have been continuing to write these stories even if they are virtual and seeing them come to life whether it is at Le Clarence or La Cave du Château, or whether it is creating our wholesale business plans.

Vintage photograph men in wine cellar

Seymour Weller and Douglas Dillon, respectively nephew and son of Clarence Dillon. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

LUX: Was it always inevitable you would go into the family business?
Robert de Luxembourg: In 1993 it was clear that we needed to have the involvement of a young family member in the business. My mother was older and my stepfather, her husband, who was also managing director of the company, was also older, so there was a definite need to bring in new blood. At the time my writing was going well, so I spoke to my grandfather because I could see my career moving away from the family business, and I said, “I’ve been led to believe that there might be interest in me becoming involved. If that is the case, it’s really going to be now or never”. I had moved back to Europe, I was starting a family, I had bought a property and was building a house and all the rest of it, and so I was physically present and I could do it.

I didn’t know to what degree it would become such a central part of my life or how time consuming it would be at the time, but I said to him I don’t just want to be a caretaker if I become involved. I didn’t want to be involved for the glory of being associated with a wonderful story which is Haut-Brion, but to look after the business and develop it, and so he agreed with that, and then I became involved.

wood-panelled library

The library at Château Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

LUX: What was your plan when you started?
Robert de Luxembourg: I had to deal with the most basic things, like branding for example. I also wanted to make sure that we had as much focus on La Mission Haut-Brion [the sister property of Château Haut-Brion, regarded by many experts as equally good] as Haut-Brion so that they were both treated as equals. The business had always been a folly, never a business, we never took any money out of it. It was really just about making exceptional wine. I recognised that was not going to be a way that we could maintain family ownership over the generations. You have to also have a vision, you have to also be able to develop the business, and eventually down the road have a realistic income stream for future beneficiaries.

The story we had to tell was just extraordinary. We wanted to communicate it properly to the outside world, including that Haut-Brion has the most extraordinary wine history of any of the estates in Bordeaux, and we didn’t talk about it enough. Haut-Brion’s red wine as we know it today was basically invented by the Pontac family, and we had this extraordinary story of how the first vines were planted there probably in the first century AD, whereas the Médoc [the main red wine region of the left bank of Bordeaux] was only developed in the 17th century, so 1,600 years later. We were really the birthplace of the great wines of Bordeaux.

Read more: Designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar on bringing dream worlds to life

The Pontac family started all of these technological advancements, meaning they were able to develop the new French claret (red Bordeaux wine) that became famous thanks to their extraordinary marketing tool of opening up the Pontac’s Head tavern in London in 1666 after the great fire of London, where all of the cognoscenti at the time would go; everyone from John Locke and Isaac Newton to John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys would be there.

Since then, there has been the development of a new wine estate, Quintus, which really came into existence in 2011, so next year we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary. And then the creation of Clarendelle [high-quality entry-level white, rosé, red and sweet wines]. And that was an easy story for me to tell. I was a young man looking for a great bottle of wine that had a little bit of age on it where I wasn’t going to have to break the bank and have to store in a cellar in London because I didn’t have one. I could buy extraordinary aged Spanish wines or even some Italian wines but I couldn’t find anything from Bordeaux that had the regularity or quality at that price point. That’s where that idea came from.

LUX: With something like Le Clarence, the two Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris that opened in 2015, how do you decide that something which might be interesting to do will also be a good business?
Robert de Luxembourg:  There’s a little bit of a field-of-dreams scenario in some cases in that if you build something then they will come. Le Clarence was inspired by the Pontac family opening up this extraordinary restaurant in London in 1666 where they introduced the new French wines of Haut-Brion. It became the most hyped-up meeting spot in that city, and I also thought if they can do that in 1666 after the Great Fire of London, we could open something up in the heart of the most visited city in the world, Paris, a few feet from the most visited shopping street in the world, the Champs-Élysées. If they were successful then, why not now?

chef in the kitchen

fine dining

Le Clarence chef Christophe Pelé (above) and a dish of sea urchin with nasturtium. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

My wife told me I was absolutely crazy but I said why not do something a little bit different, I would like to design it myself, decorate it myself, build the team around it myself and do something that’s unlike anything else that’s out there. Because I could see the way that people would react when I would invite them to Haut-Brion; they would come to the château for lunch and you could see that people were charmed by that experience. It’s a home, it’s a family story, it’s a historical story and no one else can tell that story but us.

Today it is easy to find perfection in all of these designer restaurants in great hotels around the world that are designed by the same people oftentimes. But I think what’s truly priceless is finding a soul and also finding a perfection in imperfection.

LUX: And what about the idea of starting a wine shop in a city, Paris, that has no shortage of them?
Robert de Luxembourg: Once again, it was about how do you create a unique experience. You can see what Hedonism Wines did in London for example. You didn’t have a lack of wine shops in London yet what Hedonism did was unique and founded a new customer base. Also, Sotheby’s have done an amazing job with their wine shop in Manhattan. La Cave du Château is very specifically focused on the best French produce. My first job was writing letters to about 500 wine producers in France asking them and begging them if they could give us a few bottles to sell directly from the estate. And then creating an environment that was beautiful.

La Cave has developed into an e-tailer, a rather exciting new development that has been a lifesaver for us over the last few months.

Wine cellar

La Cave du Château. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

LUX: Walking around La Cave and Le Clarence, you feel that they are more private clubs than commercial entities.
Robert de Luxembourg: Ha, yes, I know, it does not look very commercial. But once again, that’s the ultimate luxury. You don’t want to be going to a place where you are right next to other people. For a lot of these people today the ultimate luxury is being comfortable, you don’t want to be overheard by the next table, you want to be in a place where you have space and a sense of privacy. The premise was to receive people the way we receive people at the château in Bordeaux, and to have a place where, before you go down to lunch, you can go and sit in the living room and have a glass of champagne, and after dinner you can go up and have a brandy as you would in the château, and if you want to go outside and have a cigar you can do so.

LUX: And we know you have more plans…
Robert de Luxembourg: Yes, we will be opening up private dining rooms in Bordeaux, with a visitors’ centre. We will have a new Cave du Château which we’ll open up in our visitors’ centre, managed by our retail arm. We will have multiple private dining rooms there, and they can have an experience like the one they can have at Le Clarence but with an extraordinary wine shop downstairs, right within the vineyards of Haut-Brion.

Wine glass and bottle

Château Haut-Brion’s acclaimed 1985 vintage. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

Prince Robert de Luxembourg’s desert island wines: Château Haut-Brion 1945, Château Haut-Brion 1989, Château La Mission Haut-Brion 1955, Château Haut-Brion Blanc 1989, Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc 2009, Château Quintus 2019

LUX: With Château Haut-Brion, you are the guardian of one of the world’s great luxury brands. How does that feel?
Robert de Luxembourg: I’d like to say it’s the greatest! I don’t know – it depends how you define a brand. I am not arrogant because I am not responsible for it.

LUX: Traditionally, awareness of the great Bordeaux wines was handed down from parent to child – unfortunately, usually father to son. Now there are so many new markets – how do you pass the message on to the latest generation of wine lovers, and how do you ensure that the status of the brand is clear?
Robert de Luxembourg: It’s a challenge for us. When I first got into this space, a real wine lover in New York or Singapore or Hong Kong would say how exceptional our wines were. But none of our competitors had the regularity of the past century that we had at Haut-Brion. That was something not really known by the greater public, and it was something I felt we needed to work on.

We continue to be active and interact with people. We were the first First Growth to have our own server and website in China or have a YouTube channel or a WeChat account for our wholesale business, or to open up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for our vineyards.

You will probably remember that it was considered that luxury brands should not be represented in this space, and it took away from the experience. I disagree with that because I think if you controlled the way you do it you can reach this audience, especially a young audience. Our client base was changing and we needed to adapt to the youth.

chateau building

The chapel of Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

LUX: And what about the wines themselves? There are commentators who say wine now is better than it has ever been because of advances in winemaking techniques. And others who say that, for example, the 1945 vintage is still the best ever made.
Robert de Luxembourg: The 1945 is the finest Haut-Brion that I have had the pleasure of enjoying. I have only had it about three times in my life. We sold the last eight bottles for charity about ten years ago, and we have none left.

But the unfortunate truth is that global warming has been beneficial to the regularity of quality with wines we’ve produced, alongside the technological advances. If you look at a temperature chart of south-western France over the years, and the heat of those particular years, you will note that the better vintages like the 1945 and 1989 are always the hottest vintages. I don’t want to take anything away from our winemakers and their work, but their work is easier dealing with a 1945, 1959 or a 1961 vintage.

Read more: Meet the marine biologist pioneering coral conservation

Yes, it is helped by technology and science, and also by massive investment. We have been in a golden period for the great wines of Bordeaux, and so we have made more money and thus are able to invest more money in all of our businesses and we always try and push the envelope and do better every year. And then we’ve had the arrival of the wine critics who have always encouraged and helped us to a degree, because we have people looking over our shoulder so you can’t get it wrong today. So, yes, I don’t think we have ever made better wines over a period of time than over the past two decades, and our climate conditions have greatly helped us.

LUX: Many wine lovers, after starting their First Growth cellar with the likes of Château Lafite and Château Margaux, eventually gravitate towards Château Haut-Brion. Why?
Robert de Luxembourg:As a wine lover, and I consider myself to be a wine lover before a wine producer, you tend to gravitate away from things that are easier to understand towards things that are more subtle and more difficult to understand.

And that is a disadvantage for Haut-Brion when you are doing a blind tasting and you are not eating and your more easily able on a cerebral level to recognise bulky and more fruit-filled wines. As you age and you become more educated, you want to have a different experience I think you look for something that sets off multiple parts of your gustatory experience, hitting certain spots you are not able to reach with other wines. It’s the same with a painting or a piece of music.

You might find it shocking and enjoyable to see a Pop art piece but over time you maybe gravitate towards something that’s a little bit more complex and has a little bit more depth, with more layers. And Haut-Brion is an intellectual wine because of the terroir, but also because of the way the wine is produced. We have always had that at Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion. They are wines that are more difficult to understand, but when you want to grow as a taster, they are remarkable wines. You see that people eventually gravitate towards lighter extraordinary wines, and great Burgundies which I love also, and I think that is also explained by seeking out something very subtle, elegant and complex.

LUX: What are the unique opportunities and challenges of running a family wine business?
Robert de Luxembourg: Already just being in the world of wine, there is the notion that we aren’t doing anything for tomorrow. A decision that I will make to pull up a parcel of vines and replant it will probably still benefit my grandchildren if they are lucky enough to be involved in the business. We don’t anticipate being able to have a short-term return on many of these projects. We didn’t take a penny out of the business for the first six decades of running this company. It really was a folly of my great-grandfather [Clarence Dillon, who acquired Château Haut-Brion in 1935] that was then inherited by his children.

Today we can’t just sit on our laurels and think that we are managing a jewel of today and being proud of being the wardens or owners of this jewel. We have to have a business that makes sense for future generations and shows some evolutionary growth because otherwise you will immediately get frustrations from the generations to come that build up, and we know how that ends. So that’s a big part of it, great people keeping great people on board, sharing that message with them, making sure they buy into that and we’ve been able to do that with all our companies.

We’ve had relative stability across the board with the teams of people that I work with. Take Jean-Philippe Delmas, a third-generation winemaker at our estate. His family arrived at Haut-Brion in 1923, so they are about to celebrate their century with us, but his is one of multiple families that have been with us for generations.

country estate

Château Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

Winemaker and Deputy General Manager Jean-Philippe Delmas on the greatest wines from the Domaine Clarence Dillon estates

Château Quintus red 2011
We acquired this property in June 2011, so this is a first vintage. It is located on a promontory overlooking the Dordogne valley at the south-west end of Saint-Émilion. This wine is blended equally between Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It’s a sublime marriage of the finesse and elegance of Cabernet Franc with the power, colour and sweetness of Merlot.

Château Haut-Brion red 1989
Certainly the greatest success of all the wines produced by my father. Its harmony is close to perfection with a breathtaking intensity and aromatic complexity combining cedar, eucalyptus, mint, roasting and Havana. The whole tannic structure is coated, giving this wine an unexpected sweetness. This vintage remains and will remain a reference.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion red 2003
This is a vintage when the summer was scorching, so we started the red harvest in mid-August, working at sunrise at the coolest time of the day with refrigerated trucks to preserve the freshness until the vat. It is one of the few Mission vintages where there is a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon. The magic of this terroir does the rest with an incredibly fresh wine.

Château Quintus red 2019
This is the latest addition to this beautiful property in Saint-Émilion. After almost a decade of meticulous work, we have succeeded in creating not only a new brand, but also a new wine with its own identity. Over the years, we have patiently drawn the personality of this wine and have achieved our goal with this vintage.

Château Haut-Brion red 1929
Of all the vintages made by my grandfather, this is the greatest. Even today, this wine has an amazing youth. The great density of this wine has allowed it to travel back in time. It has all the characteristics of the great wines that this terroir can produce – an aromatic signature, elegance and inimitable silky touch.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion red 2009
2009 seems to me to be the modern version of the legendary 1989. In this wine, we find all the characteristics of La Mission, with very rich, deep, spherical and coated wines. This wine charms you with its precision, a tannic structure counterbalanced by sweetness akin to velvet.

Find out more: haut-brion.com

This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.

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Reading time: 20 min
two champagne bottles
two bottles

Ruinart recently launched its ‘second skin’ case, a stylish and more sustainable alternative to the traditional champagne gift box, as pictured above with the Brut Rosé NV and Blanc de Blanc .

Sometimes it’s the supplementary parts of art fairs that we miss the most. For yesterday’s virtual preview of Frieze art fair, we recreated the most excellent private Ruinart champagne event, which usually takes place this week, with a little tasting of their range at home

What will you miss most about the seminal Frieze London Art Fair moving this year from tents in Regent’s Park to an online-only existence, prompted by the pandemic?

Perhaps it will be the frisson of excitement of bumping in to collectors, curators and dealers from around the world expressing their way between the different booths at the pre-preview. Or maybe it will be the talks; or the onsite cafés, where can find yourself standing next to a museum director from LA and a young billionaire from Shanghai while sipping a cup of coffee and finding there is nowhere to sit and catch up on emails. Or, if you are fortunate, the buzz of the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management lounges, where collectors and private bank clients gather to sip on endless champagne and nibble perfect canapés.

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Then there is the physical art, of course. The two fairs, Frieze London and Frieze Masters, at opposite ends of the park, which at best offer an unparalleled art museum experience – a walk around Frieze Masters in particular affords a view of some of the most significant artworks in the world, perhaps on display for the last time in decades or centuries.

artist sketch

A print from David Shrigley x Ruinart’s ‘Unconventional Bubbles’ Series that was scheduled to feature in The Ruinart Art bar at Frieze 2020

We are missing all of that, but on a more social note, we also missed the brilliant annual Ruinart event in their VIP zone. This low-key gathering always brings together a selection of art collectors, artists, champagne connoisseurs and selected media, and feels very old school and decadent in offering an unlimited flow of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs in the late afternoon of the preview day.

Read more: British artist Marc Quinn on history in the making

For anyone who is a connoisseur of both art and champagne, it is also unique, as the champagne on offer at art events around the world is usually only marginally better than at fashion events, which is to say standard issue and not very interesting at all. The Blanc de Blancs is in a different league.

There was no Ruinart event this year, so LUX decided to create our own, by tasting a range of the Maison’s champagnes, with a couple of our favourite people, while clicking through some excellent artworks on a laptop. Needs must.

Our tasting notes are as follows:

champagne bottle

Ruinart Brut NV

Ruinart Brut Non Vintage
In years past, this was a slight and rather forgettable champagne. But, unlike the stick thin Frieze Art Fair VIP guests, it has gained a little weight in all the right places, without requiring any liposuction. Lean but muscular, it is eminently drinkable, and disappears quickly – like a Frieze VIP in search of a Julian Schnabel on the morning of preview day. Maybe not the most memorable companion but easy-going and easy to introduce to anybody.

Ruinart Brut Rosé
A little bit more spicy and fruity, as befits it medium pink palate. Good company, effortlessly enjoyable and also noticeable, not anodyne; and we never felt we had too much of it. Not flirty like some rosés, and not ponderous and serious like others. Just right, like a good art advisor.

green champagne bottle

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2007

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
There is, in our view, no better daytime art fair companion than this. Rounded, well formed, well educated, with years of expertise behind it like stumbling on a fabulous sixties pop artist at an unexpected booth. Aesthetically pleasing and rich, like many preview day guests. Buy, buy!

Dom Ruinart Vintage 2007
In a different league altogether. Like walking into a VIP lounge at frieze masters and chatting to Gerhard Richter (note, this has never happened). Delicate, aesthetic yet serious and multilayered, a companion you could be with it all night and not feel weighed down, and you would seek its company again and again. Like a Richter, there is always something else to notice about it.

Dom Ruinart Rosé Vintage 2007
Have you ever bumped in to has Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Olafur Eliasson having a banter at the bar at the Christie’s Vanity Fair Frieze party at midnight? Nor have we, but we reckon this is what it would be like. Engaging, by turns delightful and intellectual, and with deal depth and rigour underneath the fun facade. An ideal guest to the perfect dinner party. Or art fair.

Darius Sanai

Find out more: ruinart.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Artist installation in the desert
abstract artwork installation

Construction view of Los Angeles Water School (LAWS) (2018) by Oscar Tuazon

Artists have long explored themes of environmental sustainability in Southern California, but a recent series of devastating wildfires has brought even greater resonance to their work. Evan Moffitt explores how four LA artists are changing the way we think about climate change

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

When the Getty Fire tore up the dry hills of Mandeville Canyon in October 2019, many in Los Angeles feared the worst: the Getty Center’s Titian and Thomas Gainsborough paintings curling from their frames, masterworks of European art reduced to cinders. This wasn’t the first time locals had imagined such a catastrophe – Ed Ruscha had painted his iconoclastic portrait of the county museum, The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, in 1968 – but this time, it was different. The severity and frequency of wildfires had increased as climate change accelerated, threatening not just art in Southern California but the very way of life there.

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Scientists, furthermore, have warned that the city could eventually run dry, and nothing has shaped LA more than its lack of water. The Department of Water and Power was long seen as the most powerful bureau of city government, dating back to when William Mulholland drained the Owens Valley in 1913 to soak the dry fields of San Fernando. The violent conflict that ensued was famously fictionalized in the 1974 film Chinatown, and many artists have explored the city’s relationship with water, from Judy Baca’s epic mural along the Tujunga Wash, The Great Wall of Los Angeles (1974–84), to more recent projects by artists such as Carolina Caycedo and Oscar Tuazon.

This work can be difficult, but it has struck an important nerve. “Most of our patrons are museums or their supporters who want to engage in dialogue with challenging contemporary art,” says Kibum Kim of Commonwealth and Council, the gallery that represents Caycedo. “They don’t want something that is easy.” For Caycedo, this has led to being included in shows at major institutions such as the Hammer Museum in LA, as well as having works in a number of private collections. Artists such as her are a reminder that Southern California has always been a place where artists, writers, filmmakers and others have mobilized around difficult issues, mining the past to build a better future.

Artist installation in the desert

Wagon Station encampment at A-Z West (2004) by Andrea Zittel

No one embodies the utopian spirit of LA more than Andrea Zittel. In 2000, the artist left a burgeoning career in New York for a ramshackle bungalow on the outskirts of Joshua Tree National Park. She began slowly expanding her compound in the desert, informed, in part, by the Bauhaus, Japanese architecture, minimalist sculpture and architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. A-Z West, as the 60-acre campus is known, encompasses Zittel’s home and studio, guest cabins, outdoor sculptural installations, informal classrooms and a series of Wagon Stations, tiny chrome sleeping pods nestled between boulders like UFOs.

Read more: Picasso Through the Lens of David Douglas Duncan at Hauser & Wirth in Gstaad

Zittel refers to A-Z West as “an evolving testing ground for living – a place in which space, objects, and acts of living all intertwine in a single ongoing investigation into what it means to exist and participate in our culture today.” In part, this means creative, sustainable approaches to the privations of living in the desert. Zittel pulps her paper waste and sets it to dry in metal trays called the Regenerating Field; she uses the results to make sculptures. Vegetables grow from barrels shrouded by mosquito netting in a courtyard formed by shipping containers. Shade is provided by trees watered using dry irrigation techniques.

installation of artworks

Installation view of ‘Rafa Esparza: Staring at the Sun’ at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 2019

What ecological problems might be solved by building better? Like A-Z West, Oscar Tuazon poses this question with his Water School (2016). Its central component, Zome Alloy (2016), borrows its bubble-like plywood structure from the waste-free dome homes designed in the 1960s by Steve Baer, the inventor of passive solar technology. Tuazon’s project also refers to another LA visionary, the architect Buckminster Fuller, best known for his transparent geodesic greenhouses and light-filled homes. When Zome Alloy was recently on view in the Chicago Architecture Biennial, visitors could browse a small library of books about water rights and convene for bimonthly discussions.

Read more: Gaggenau’s head of design Sven Baacke on the meaning of luxury

For several years, Caycedo has explored the effects of colonialism and industrialization on water resources throughout Latin America with her ongoing project ‘BE DAMMED’. At the 2016 São Paulo Biennial, four enormous satellite images of controversial Brazilian dams revealed the structures’ disastrous effects on the surrounding landscape. Caycedo hung brightly colored sculptures woven from fishing nets, which she calls Cosmotarrayas, mesmerizing mobiles linking the precariousness of marine resources to the over-fishing that threatens the life within them. “There’s been great demand for Carolina’s Cosmotarrayas, which have immediate visual power,” says Kim. “They’re colorful, and they play into generally accepted ideas about sculptural composition and form. But they also carry a powerful message.” Caycedo says she doesn’t believe in sustainability, per se: “Extraction will never be sustainable. A coal mine is not sustainable. The way we use our water is not sustainable. I prefer to think about ‘sustenance’ in terms of my work and a healthier relationship to nature: to give strength to something you care about or someone you love.”

Installation of artworks

Installation view of ‘Wanaawna, Rio Hondo, and Other Spirits’ (2019) by Carolina Caycedo at Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA

In 2014, artist Rafa Esparza began making adobe bricks from mud he harvested on the banks of the Los Angeles River, on a parcel of land known as the Bowtie – one of the only sections of the river left unpaved by the Army Corps of Engineers when they buried the channel in concrete in 1936. In 2014 the artist Michael Parker had carved a 42m obelisk into the earth that Esparza covered with approximately 1,400 of his bricks. During the installation’s closing performance, he donned a traditional Aztec loincloth, pheasant headdress and ankle rattles and performed a dance atop the structure that referred both to his ancestral people and the indigenous Tongva displaced from the river’s edge by colonialism. Adobe and thatch are among the most sustainable building practices on earth, but the indigenous people who used them were killed or forced from their land, which was then torn up to build LA. Esparza has since repurposed his bricks for shows, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in what he refers to as “browning the white cube”.

This has had its challenges, according to Kim, who represents Esparza: “Adobe is very structurally strong, but it’s not archival; it will deteriorate over time, which can be hard for some collectors and institutions to accept. But that’s an important element of Rafa’s work: we need to re-conceive our notion of art as a static thing that will forever remain the same.” By imagining cities like LA and their museums made of mud and river water, Esparza places the environmental costs of colonialism into stark relief, proposing, if not a return to a precolonial past, at least a few important lessons we might learn from.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 6 min
Young filmmaker with camera
Panel discussion on stage

Ghetto Film School Roster brings together students and industry for a film competition screening and artist showcase of GFS alumni work, here at the Museum of the Moving Image, New York, 2017

The inaugural Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award at 2020’s Frieze Los Angeles recognizes ten young filmmakers who have been nurtured by Ghetto Film School. Maisie Skidmore meets the storytellers behind the camera

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

More than a century has elapsed since Paramount Pictures was established in Hollywood in 1913. Since then, the studio lot has grown somewhat, from the original 26 acres to no fewer than 65 today. The scene itself has altered entirely, with thousands of movies and television shows coming to fruition on its hallowed grounds.

The studio’s iconic logo, on the other hand, remains almost entirely unchanged. The snow-topped mountain-scape studded with an arc of 22 stars is one of the protagonists in the rich movie history of Los Angeles. It’s woven into the very fabric of the place; the city has grown up around it, producing writers, artists, filmmakers and plenty more. So, what better place than Paramount Pictures Studios to house Frieze Los Angeles, when the international art fair opened its inaugural edition in the city in February 2019?

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Non-profit organization Ghetto Film School has taken a similar trajectory to that of Frieze, in that it has opened its own LA outpost in recent times. GFS, as it is known, was first founded as a small after-school program in the South Bronx by former social worker Joe Hall some 20 years ago, with a view to introducing narrative filmmaking to youth programs in New York, particularly in low-income areas. “Ghetto Film School was founded on the premise of providing a robust, long-lasting platform for a new generation of storytellers, bridging the gap between in-class curriculum and hands-on experience in the entertainment industry,” explains Sharese Bullock-Bailey, its chief strategy and partnership officer. GFS has evolved exponentially, educating, developing and celebrating the next generation of great American storytellers. Since 2017 it has opened a third outpost, in London.

Camera crew recording a young girl in Africa

Ghetto Film School students filming in South Africa

Man attends film screening

Founder and president of the GFS, Joe Hall

In view of the long history of the film industry in Los Angeles, the city provided a natural second home for the organization in 2017. The GFS has continued to forge a pathway into the film industry and beyond for its students ever since. “There is so much more to GFS outside of fostering behind-the-camera filmmakers,” Bullock-Bailey continues. “Our partners, who provide GFS students with immeasurable support, have been key at introducing them to other related avenues within the creative world. Outside of filmmaking, our graduates have gone on to become advertising producers, writers, studio executives, and set designers.”

Now, the next generation of Los Angeles’s filmmaking talent is set to receive a further boost. In the summer of 2019, Frieze and Deutsche Bank launched the inaugural edition of the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award, a new competition created in collaboration with Ghetto Film School. Ten aspiring and emerging filmmakers were offered a unique platform and an intensive four-month development program through which to produce their own short films, inspired by LA’s artistic, social and cultural landscape. The winning filmmaker, who receives an award of $10,000 at a ceremony in the Paramount Theatre during Frieze Los Angeles, is chosen by a panel of leading figures in contemporary art and entertainment. The award is showcased at the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at the art fair, and its launch coincides with the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Deutsche Bank Collection of art.

Read more: How Adrian Chen’s K11 MUSEA is changing Hong Kong’s cultural scene

Naturally, LA is a rich and fertile subject area for the students of the Fellows Program of the GFS to draw on. “The history of Los Angeles is built on the confluence of disparate visions for the city and its future, something that made the energy and community support at the first Frieze Los Angeles so palpable,” says Bettina Korek, the executive director of Frieze Los Angeles. “To be able to support these emerging local filmmakers in depicting our city’s current world, and showing how the medium of film has grown alongside it, is a privilege for us and our partners at the Paramount Theatre, Deutsche Bank and Ghetto Film School. I can’t wait to meet the Fellows and to see how they envision Los Angeles.” Thorsten Strauss, the Global Head of Art, Culture and Sports at Deutsche Bank, echoes her sentiment. “We are delighted to be working with Frieze and Ghetto Film School on this exciting new film award,” he says. “It’s a natural step in our ever-developing partnership with Frieze to start this project together and support emerging LA storytellers.”

Young filmmaker with camera

Mya Dodson, a GFS alumna and below, Dodson at Film Independent’s GFS Shorts screening, LACMA in Los Angeles, 2016

Woman speaking into microphone

The Fellows, whose own cultural heritage reaches far and wide, have turned to their respective experiences of the city for their films, and the breadth of their concepts reflects the extraordinary diversity inherent to LA. They looked to the recent plague of fires (in the case of Nabeer Khan), the ubiquity of smartphones (for Nicole Thompson), and the wrenching unease of a displacement from, and subsequent return to, their home (for Silvia Lara). In each case, poignantly, the school’s Fellows share a profound and at times all-consuming desire to tell their story. They also all seem to share a hope that, in so doing, they might carve out a space in which others are able to make their own voices heard too.

GFS’s alumni, who are now scattered throughout the film industry and beyond, are testament to the program’s effectiveness. “Ghetto Film School is more than a non-profit mission statement,” says Luis Servera, a writer and director who graduated from the program in 2004. “It is family.” Servera has been part of the organization for all of his adult life, he says, proudly witnessing and contributing to its rapid growth. “It’s a bit surreal, but not surprising at all. GFS is destined to be a significant and influential catalyst in all things media.”

VIP lounge at an art fair

The Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at Frieze Los Angeles, 2019.

How has Ghetto Film School seen such success? “They understand the power of storytelling and the power of the storyteller, no matter what their background is,” Servera continues. “They also realize that education and opportunities to those with limited access are essential to cultivate and nurture unseen talent.” What’s more, he continues, given the current climate in the industry, the work GFS is doing has the potential to reverberate for decades to come. “In a time when trending words such as ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ seem to be at the forefront of keynotes and boardroom meetings, I find it curious that a small non-profit organization that started in the South Bronx is the solution to a problem that a massive industry is having.”

Read more: Francis Alÿs receives Whitechapel Gallery’s Art Icon Prize 2020

To see the short films that have been months in the making viewed and judged at a Frieze art fair – one of the core events in the art world – will, of course, be of no small moment for the young filmmakers. The Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award marks the first milestone in each of these storytellers’ own narratives; where and when the next one will be, we will just have to wait and watch.

THE 10 SHORTLISTED CANDIDATES

Young woman posing in suitALIMA LEE
“After watching Sun Ra’s Space is the Place, I had a dream about a portal that looked like an empty doorway appearing in different parts of the city. The portal allowed black and indigenous people to escape to a planet where they could be safe. I revisited this concept in my short film, to explore a story line about how a girl comes across this portal and about why she intends to use it.”

Monochrome portrait of young womanDANIELLE BOYD
“I was inspired by Shirin Neshat’s fearless ability to convey her feelings about being exiled from her home. I was also inspired by the colorful cultures in LA, and how they create the city’s identity. I was going to Africa for the first time and began feeling this sudden vacancy about my African American identity. I began to see more clearly how the miseducation of African Americans can affect us and the way we interpret our own history, and ourselves.”

Painting of young girl in car seatMICHELLE KIM
“The idea for my short emerged from this mental process of recognizing what moved me about LA and what felt significant. I reverted back to my childhood and the places I’ve grown up in, such as the car wash near my dad’s work, the liquor store in the strip mall. These sites are as sacred to me as they are banal to others, and the intention behind my short is based on visually sanctifying these places.”

Portrait of a young asian manNABEER KHAN
“I knew that I had to make my film about the recent Los Angeles fires. I asked myself how these fires were starting. That question, combined with my interest in psychology, led me to the concept for my film. I wanted to explore the power of grief and its progression to rage. In this film, I seek to apply this idea to our relationship with nature and the ongoing destruction of our Earth.”

Headshot of young woman

NICOLE THOMPSON
“The concept for this film came to me while riding a train through the city and seeing so many people wrapped up in their phones. I decided to tell a story about when a young boy is forced to move to LA and stay at his grandparent’s house for the summer. He tries to convince his mom to not leave him there, but she has to travel for work. Left with no friends, Wi-Fi, or games he explores the house, discovers a magical book, and goes on an adventure traveling through different dimensions.”

Portait of man wearing sunglassesNOAH SELLMAN
“I was watching surreal YouTube videos and saw in one of them an animated dreamscape made of Coke products. I started to wonder if that was possible. When I moved to LA, I was struck by the branding that covers the city. There is barely a blank surface anywhere. It was a lot for someone from a small town. Watching Shirin Neshat’s shorts, I realized the dreams could be abstract. Then I knew I had an idea.”

Side profile portrait of young manTIMOTHY OFFOR
“Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever was the first time I saw characters that I knew – not physically, but in character. I knew people just like them. I’ve dreamed of sharing my stories with the world ever since. The idea for my film originated during a debate with a friend about fear. We were discussing whether people are afraid of success or failure. Through that I developed a concept centered on dreams, fear and our willingness or unwillingness to overcome it.”

Portrait of young woman outside with sunlight on her faceTORYN SEABROOKS
“I love comedy and there is nothing funnier to me than an uncomfortable situation. When you’re trying to impress a person, you do things outside of your character and find yourself in the middle of cringeworthy moments. I wanted to tell this story to point out a darker truth I’ve grown to understand about idolatry within Hollywood, and what we’re willing to do to be accepted and seen by the people we admire.”

Portrait of young woman against white wallSILVIA LARA
“I’ve always wanted to see my city, Whittier in LA, portrayed the way I feel it deserves to be seen. I had lived elsewhere before but didn’t realize just how special it was until I up and moved across the country to New York and then returned. It contrasted so much that it made me appreciate aspects of this quiet suburb on the edge of LA. And it’s not as quiet as it seems.”

MYA DODSONPortrait of young woman in yellow top
“The concept for my film came to me in a vision while visiting family in Korea earlier this year. My sister had recently encouraged me to ‘move in love, not in fear’ – a motto that set the tone for my entire year. I was listening to frequencies when an affirmation came over me, and thus, Cosmic Affirmation was born. I saw the film as a representation of how I’m overcoming fear in love.”

THE JURY

Doug Aitken, contemporary LA-based artist
Claudio de Sanctis, Global Head of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management
Shari Frilot, Chief Curator, New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival
Jeremy Kagan, director, writer, producer and professor
Bettina Korek, Director of Frieze Los Angeles
Thorsten Strauss, Global Head of Deutsche Bank Art, Culture & Sports
Sam Taylor-Johnson, artist and film director
Hamza Walker, Director of LAXart

Find out more: ghettofilm.org

This article was originally published in the Spring Issue 2020.

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Reading time: 10 min
Installation view of exhibition
Installation view of exhibition

Installation view of Betye Saar: Call and Response, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Betye Saar, photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA

Following a major exhibition at MoMA at the end of last year, Betye Saar’s latest solo show Call and Response at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the first ever to focus on the artist’s sketchbooks. Spanning the entire length of the artist’s career, the show examines the relationship betwecen her sketches and finished works by showing 18 sculptures and collages alongside annotated drawings.

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Artist sketchbook with pen drawing and notes

Sketchbook (1998) by Betye Saar. Collection of Betye Saar, courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, © Betye Saar, photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA

Ironing board installation artwork

I’ll Bend But I Will Not Break (1998) by Betye Saar. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Lynda and Stewart Resnick through the 2018 Collectors Committee, © Betye Saar

Saar’s practice is primarily one of assemblage in which she builds sculptures from household objects to examine issues of race, gender, and spirituality.  I’ll Bend But I Will Not Break (1998), for example, is created from a vintage ironing board that the artist found in a flea market. In the finished work, a flatiron is chained to the leg of the ironing board, which has two images printed onto its surface: one is a 18th century British diagram of the packed hold of a slave ship in the Middle Passage between Africa and the Caribbean, and the other is a photograph of a black woman bent over her ironing.

Behind this assemblage, hangs a crisp white sheet clipped to a clothesline as if straight off the ironing board; in barely visible thread, the sheet bears an embroidered monogram: KKK. Viewed alongside the sketchbooks and accompanying annotations, this complex artwork is metaphorically disassembled, allowing the viewer to both recognise and appreciate the unification of the parts.

Dress hanging from the ceiling installation

A Loss of Innocence (1998) courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, © Betye Saar, Photo courtesy Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ, by Tim Lanterman

Whilst the exhibition is on a smaller scale than some of the artist’s recent museum shows (the work fills only one room), Call and Response offers a rare insight into Saar’s creative process.

‘Betye Saar: Call and Response’ runs 5 April 2020 until at LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion. For more information visit: lacma.org/art/exhibition/betye-saar-call-and-response

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Reading time: 2 min
Facade of a contemporary building at night
Facade of a contemporary building at night

Spring Place Beverly Hills is housed in a building designed by Belzberg Architects

Colour portrait of founder of Spring Studios Francesco Costa wearing a black blazer and a blue shirt, smiling

Francesco Costa

Is he the new Nick Jones? Is he the new Adam Neumann? Or is Francesco Costa a totally different type of entrepreneur to the founders of Soho House and WeWork? His Spring Studios and Spring Place businesses, which operate in New York, LA, London and, soon, Milan, offer hip coworking spaces, club membership and studios for shoots, and are becoming a creative force in themselves. Clients include Procter & Gamble, Louis Vuitton, Estée Lauder, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford. Milan will represent another big step in the global reach of a group that is harnessing the creative energy of its members in a way that might just be making the all-conquering Soho House group feel a little envious. LUX Editor-at- Large Gauhar Kapparova, a Spring member, fires some questions at the Italian creative rainmaker over lunch in London
Close up portrait of a woman with black hair and a black top

Gauhar Kapparova

LUX: Does anything else like your business model exist, and how did you think of it?
Francesco Costa: There is nothing like it, we put together workspace, creative agency, production, events and content creation.

LUX: Did you always intend to create Spring Place even when you were creating Studios?
Francesco Costa: No, the idea came later when we saw there was a request for space from our friends and associates.

LUX: How important was the buy-in of creative leaders?
Francesco Costa: Very. Spring is a platform created for them.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxresponsibleluxury

LUX: Spring Place is set to open soon in Milan, following on from NYC and LA. Why is this model so successful?
Francesco Costa: Because the community we serve has many occasions to meet socially, but not so many to meet and interact professionally.

LUX: Why Milan?
Francesco Costa: Milan has an incredible energy. Milan was the art capital of the world in the 1960s, then the fashion capital of the world in the 1980s. Today, it is the centre of design. And, I am Italian.

Contemporary communal living space

Luxury meeting room with contemporary interiros

The meeting space and bar (above) in the LA building

LUX: Did you need to get the buy-in of the big fashion houses for Milan and how did you do this? Who else? Agencies? Celebrities?
Francesco Costa: Most of the fashion houses in Milan are already our clients or investors or friends. I expect a big support from them.

Read more: The opening of Turkey’s newest contemporary art museum OMM

LUX: Is there a signature look and feel to all of the Spring locations, or does the design of each space reflect the personality of its host city? How will the Milan space be different?
Francesco Costa: Every one is different, but there is a common factor: the quality of design and the modernity. Milan will be the same .

Facade of a contemporary building with two palm trees

The Spring Studios building in New York City and the bar (below)

Contemporary style bar with barman mixing at the counter

LUX: There is an obvious logistical advantage in signing up for the whole Spring ‘package’ (production, location, content, events, workspace and entertaining), but does this joined-up approach somehow open up more creative opportunities as well?
Francesco Costa: My goal is to give opportunities beyond the obvious advantage of signing up for ‘a package’.

LUX: Tell us about examples of the creative community supporting or encouraging their peers through the Spring network.
Francesco Costa: There are so many; our members just had the opportunity to invest in the real deal one year ago at one third of the actual stock price.

Contemporary luxury meeting space with sofas and plants

Smart contemporary style terrace

Each Spring Place location – from LA (above) to NYC and soon Milan – is unique, but the common factor is “the quality of the design and the modernity,” says Costa

LUX: Fashion, film, advertising, digital, media, print – is one more important than others for you? How do they work together?
Francesco Costa: They all work together, but fashion pays for everything.

LUX: How do you communicate with your community and bind them together?
Francesco Costa: By email.

Read more: Lenny Kravitz on creativity and champagne

LUX: Are you the new Soho House?
Francesco Costa: No. Soho House is where you grab a beer, Spring is where you create a new venture or idea.

LUX: Is food and entertainment an important part of the Spring brand?
Francesco Costa: Very!

LUX: What are your biggest challenges?
Francesco Costa: To find amazing buildings like the NYC and LA ones.

LUX: What’s your ten-year plan?
Francesco Costa: To have Spring in every major creative city, a Spring audience, and great brands incubated out of Spring.

Notes: Costa co-founded Spring Place with Alessandro Cajrati; Olivier Lordonnois is its CEO. Costa reinvented the Spring Studios concept after buying it as a studio facility in London.

Find out more: springstudios.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 4 min
Luxury hotel interiors of a drawing room with painted walls and soft furnishings
Facade of a grand mansion house

The Rocco Forte Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Since he created it in 1996, Sir Rocco Forte has grown his eponymous luxury hotel group to include multiple properties in key destinations across Europe, with a major expansion this year within his family’s native Italy. And there are plans for the boutique group to move into the US, Middle East and Asia. LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the group’s chairman and founder about new openings, changes in the hospitality industry and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur
Colour portrait of a middle aged man in a suit

Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels

LUX: Rocco Forte hotels is currently in a period of planned rapid expansion – why now?
Sir Rocco Forte: We had a period of consolidation after the financial crisis and have gradually come out of that and the business profitability increased. We’ve improved the quality of the management team. Generally taking the company forward, it was the right moment to start expanding again and looking at adding additional properties…

There are a huge number of different luxury brands within Marriott. Having said that, I think there’s an opportunity for the niche player somewhere, a business that is much more personalised in its approach to its customers, where attention to detail is extremely important. I think people are looking for things which are more individual, more related to where they are going. They want the rubber stamp wherever they go. I think it is going to get more and more difficult for these big companies to actually deliver that, and for a smaller organisation like mine, it’s easier because the top management is hands on. The business and the detail of business has some advantages.

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LUX: How has the landscape and your business philosophy changed since you started?
Sir Rocco Forte: It’s changed significantly on the technological side, the way people buy hotels in particular is much more a business done through the internet than there was than it was before, there are online travel agents who are becoming quite powerful. Customers are now more inclined to book through the web than going to direct to hotel. Then there’s the social media aspect which is also becoming more important, as a means of communication and promotion of properties. There is an interaction between guests who have tried properties and posted comments and so on. This is picked up by other people and used to validate their choice. TripAdvisor type sites didn’t really exist before and now people use it to make up their minds about hotels. Then you have the back of the house side of things; technologies have come in there and give management a greater ability to know their guests. There is increased technology in the rooms, television, wi-fi. Wi-fi became available 20 years ago and now people complain unless they had the fastest band available in the hotel. People used to pay for wi-fi and now they don’t want to pay for it anymore. Telephones, actual landlines have gone out of the hotels; they are hardly used.

In terms of the actual service side, the principles remain the same. The customer wants to be treated as an individual, wants to feel a warm welcome when he goes into a hotel, wants to be recognised. Maybe the relationship between the customer and the staff members has changed to some degree, it’s become slightly less formal, which is something that we did from the beginning.  I wanted to de-formalise the service to some degree. Then you’ve also got to keep up to date in a hotel because there are things that people have in their own houses that they expect to find at a hotel and it is a competitive market place.

Luxury hotel interiors of a drawing room with painted walls and soft furnishings

The front hall at Brown’s, a Rocco Forte hotel in London. Photo by Janos Grapow

LUX: The marketplace is much more crowded nowadays with new players coming in and there’s Airbnb. What is it that has allowed you to keep going and growing with so much more supply?
Sir Rocco Forte: Airbnb doesn’t really effect the luxury end to any great degree. Airbnb has already started to show problems with consistency. There are plenty of niche players coming in and it does eat into the marketplace, but if you have a well-located hotel and you deliver an excellent service and have a regular clientele that like the place, it’s very difficult to prize a luxury customer away from a hotel that he’s used to and where the staff are trained to his needs. There have been a lot of new openings in London and there are more in the pipeline; there’s always a supply and demand equation. I think you’ve got to try and distinguish your hotel group from others and make a potential customer feel that they will get something special, something different if they come to you. The staff are the people who deliver the service and you’ve got to ensure that they’re motivated in the right way. They need to have the right training, the right philosophical background. We put a lot of effort into induction where we tell them about the family, the history of the company, the history of the hotel and something about the city where the hotel is located  so everyone has a sense of heritage and belonging as a family. It is my sister and myself and three children running the hotels, we know a lot of the individual staff members and it creates a sense of warmth in our hotels which you cannot necessarily find anywhere else.

Read more: Chaumet’s latest exhibition reveals the symbolic power of tiaras

LUX: Is it important that your guests can recognise the brand when they’re staying at one of your hotels?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, part of having a group is that, you get cross fertilisation and you get customers using more than one hotel, following the brand. So the brand is important because the customer knows that if he comes to Brown’s or goes to Hotel de Russie in Rome, he will get a certain type of service and a certain type of welcome.

LUX: A lot of your properties are significant and historic properties in individual cities, how do you imbue them with the Rocco Forte brand?
Sir Rocco Forte: The induction is consistent throughout the company that creates the blueprint on which the hotel is based. My sister who leads the decor has a strong agenda and sense of place. It is very difficult sometimes to please everybody. The thing is you get a hotel designer to design the hotel and there are the prototype rooms, but it is never quite finished, it is a design hotel, you are always adding little bits and pieces and so on, which gives a more personalised touch. My sister does that very well. She usually buys locally, which give the rooms a more homely feel.

Views from a luxury terrace over a European city

The view from the Popolo Suite at Hotel de Russie in Rome

LUX: You have lots of developments happening in Italy at the moment – is Italy a particularly important destination to you?
Sir Rocco Forte: Italy is not the easiest place to do business, so in a way that is an advantage for us. Italy is a tourist destination, it is the prime tourist destination in the world. The American market loves Italy and that’s a very important market for travel. About 40% of our business comes from the States, you can get high prices for the rooms you sell, which in some destinations it’s impossible to do. So from that point of view, it’s attractive. The bureaucracy and the labour laws make it difficult, but the demand is there if you get the right hotel in the right location and at the price.

LUX: And Italy is underserved by luxury hotels, isn’t it?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, there’s no luxury chain across Italy, and we now have the opportunity to create one. We have six hotels and the three new hotels that we’re developing — we are doing a second hotel in Rome, a small 40 bedroom hotel in Puglia, and we have just taken on a place in Palermo, which is a 100 bedroom hotel and used to be a jewel of a place, but is now very run down and it’s been badly run for many years. It is a wonderful destination hotel. The city Palermo is having a revival, a lot of people are buying houses there, and doing them up. It is quite a good time to go in there and I already have a resort in south of Sicily, and Palermo is the airport you use for that so having the two properties working together is beneficial. But obviously, I need to be in Venice and Milan, I’d like to be on the Amalfi coast and some of the other heritage cities with smaller hotels. I am pushing to try and get there.

I also still want to be in the States…New York and LA and Miami maybe, I’d like to be in Paris, I’d like to be in Moscow, and probably another German city. Hamburg or Dusseldorf would complete the German equation. We are doing our first hotel in the Far East, in Shanghai, which will open next year. We don’t have a clear date, things get delayed quite a lot there.  It is moving forward, but slower than it is supposed to. That will be our first step into that part of the world. We will see. If I am going to travel to my hotels and if they are way out, that’s less attractive. I have to think carefully about it, about how far we extend geographically. Within Europe it is fairly straightforward.

Read more: Maryam Eisler’s new photography series reimagines pastoral romance

LUX: With the new portfolio that you are developing, are most of the hotels owned or managed, or both?
Sir Rocco Forte: The Palermo hotel we bought, but we probably won’t keep the ownership. We are talking to a partner about taking it on and leasing it back to us. The other two are leases, I prefer leases to management contracts because we’re in control with a lease. You have complete control of the property and you can do more or less what you want. With a management contract, the owner tends to interfere all the time. He thinks he knows how to run the property better than you do. If the hotel is doing well, he doesn’t need you, if the hotel is doing badly it is your fault. You take on more risk with a lease, but then it is a bigger upside and you have control over your own destiny.

Luxury hotel suite with plush furnishings

A Junior Suite at Hotel de La Ville, one of two Rocco Forte hotels in Rome

LUX: As an entrepreneur, what qualities have you needed to get to this stage with RF Hotels?
Sir Rocco Forte: Very difficult to say. I think you have to have a passion for what you’re doing, what you want to do, and you have to really care, and have people around you who believe in what you’re trying to do, who will help you to do it. You have to have determination. Where there are obstacles you have to overcome them. You have to have the determination to overcome them, not take no for an answer, continuously try to move things forward. It is easy to get dispirited, upset and to give up. A lot of people do, but I am not made that way and I am always looking forward, always looking to see if I can do things better. It is that, and I think the minute I stop having a passion, then I should stop working. But I hope that will never happen.

LUX: Do you have dreams of passing on the business to your children one day?
Sir Rocco Forte: Yes, but my kid are still in the early stages and they might well reach a stage, where they don’t want to take on responsibility so we’ll see. At the moment, that’s the idea. And it’s good having them working the business, it gives a certain continuity to the business and it adds value to the business. In the short term, it makes us different to a lot of other companies and from a personal point of view, it gives me a huge amount of pleasure: my kids have left home, but I see them all the time. We’ve got something in common to talk about and to argue about, and to enjoy. You never know — I could go under the proverbial bus tomorrow. And then what happens? The business is in a position where it can continue to go forward, but then my family would have to decide what they want to do.

LUX: Talking about the younger generation, do you think that, as customers, their demands of the hospitality industry are different?
Sir Rocco Forte: Apart from the technological side that we were talking about it earlier, the way they dress is differently, but in the end of the day they still enjoy service and being looked after. It depends…a lot of them are brought up under very comfortable circumstances and they understand that way of life and I don’t think they are particularly different. All the ones I’ve seen using my hotels, seem to enjoy the facilities like anybody else. I suppose there is more of a consciousness of wellness and well-being and looking after yourself than there was in the previous generations. We meet those demands through the facilities that we have in the hotels already. But I wouldn’t say there is anything dramatic and to build a hotel for a specific sector of a population is narrowing your market quite considerably. I also think people whether they are millennials or older people, like the idea of heritage and like the idea of history, and they enjoy it when they experience it — I don’t think that has changed. Most people want to know what is the next thing? I don’t know what the next thing is, but I think hotels tend to follow trends rather than set them. Mine do anyway. I think in the luxury sector, that is more so than it is anywhere… You have hotels now that have no staff, you put a credit card in a slot, you get a room key and you go up to your room. And there isn’t a restaurant, there are communal rooms for people to use, you help yourself, all these sorts of things, but not at the top end of the market. I don’t see anything dramatic on the horizon.

Read more: Where I would invest £100m in property by Knight Frank’s Andrew Hay

LUX: Your portfolio is predominantly city-based. Have you ever been tempted to start a resort hotel in tropical climates? And if not, why not?
Sir Rocco Forte: Because anything I’ve looked at hasn’t really worked financially. I haven’t managed to find anything. The hotel in Puglia has a beach facility available, but it is not on the sea. And then there is a seasonality thing, which is difficult. When you are building a new hotel from scratch, to finance that on quite a short winter season, for example, is difficult because it closes, then it opens for a very short summer season and then it closes again…

Luxury contemporary style villa with a private pool and wooden terrace

A luxurious villa at Rocco Forte’s Verdura Resort in Sicily

LUX: And what about the residences model that a lot of new hotels seem to have now, is that something you’d ever consider?
Sir Rocco Forte: It depends on the property, the location and the size of the property. But in Rome we’re now doing five luxury apartments, which are situated on the corner of Piazza de Spagna, which is within walking distance to our hotels (one is on top of the Spanish steps and the other one is on Piazza del Popolo). So that’s a new endeavour. Also we’re building some villas now in Verdura, which initially will be let as basically a sort of extended stay or hotel accommodation for families who want to stay together in one unit. We’re starting to get into that market.

LUX: Are there any other new developments in the pipeline that we should know about?
Sir Rocco Forte: My daughter has been working on the spas. The spa in the new hotel in Rome will be her spa design, which she thinks will be the first properly designed spa. She thinks that it has more activity and treatments and so on, which will encourage people to come and see. There are a range of creams that she produced which are properly organic so that is a bit of a new venture. Otherwise, we are continually looking to improve the facilities in our hotels. We are looking at the food side particularly. It is difficult for hotels to do restaurants well. We are always searching. A lot of places that have successful restaurants started out being run by restauranteurs, rather than hoteliers and then they have a few rooms as well. For example, Chiltern Firehouse or Costes originally, they had a few rooms and then they bought the hotel next door extending it. I haven’t found the key to creating really successful restaurants. Our restaurants are doing well by the standards of hotel restaurants. If we are doing 120 covers a day, we are happy, but there are restaurants doing 250 covers a day. Some hotel restaurants you go into, you never see anybody there. That is not the case with ours, but we can do a lot better than we do.

Discover the full Rocco Forte portfolio: roccofortehotels.com

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Reading time: 15 min
Render of birdseye view of a harbour from the top of a building
Luxurious estate home in the Italian countryside

Italy retains its place as one of the most desirable second home destinations in the world, says Andrew Hay. This property, Le Bandite is located in Umbria with easy access to Rome

Portrait of a man in a suit

Lord Andrew Hay

Lord Andrew Hay is Global Head of Residential at Knight Frank, the international real estate consultancy, and has built up property portfolios for some of the wealthiest people in the world. In a new regular column, he is handed a theoretical sum of money by LUX and asked how he would invest it. We kick off by handing Lord Hay £100m and requesting a global residential property investment portfolio

When LUX’s Editor-in-Chief generously offered me the opportunity to “invest” £100m into property, I was unsurprisingly delighted to accept. I have had free rein on where and what I buy, but have decided to invest with both my head and my heart. The reason being – I want to enjoy the properties I purchase but also have a clear focus on investment returns.

With this in mind, I have divided my allocation into equal thirds, between high-end luxury residential property, residential investments with a focus on capital growth and rental returns and investment into student property and senior living. The final 10% I would invest into an agricultural portfolio.

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I have to start in London. Often the best investment strategy involves an understanding of which markets are the least fashionable at the moment – and with Brexit and tax hikes London has been underperforming in recent years.

With few London neighbourhoods having a global brand as strong as Chelsea’s, I firmly believe that Chelsea is the perfect example of an area that has been underperforming and which is now ripe for reassessment.

Prices here have fallen 20% since late 2014, compared with a 12% fall across the wider prime London market. While new-build property in this category achieves a premium, established property trades at between £1,200 and £1,800 per sq ft. With many properties now edging below £1,000 per sq ft, Chelsea is back in the spotlight and cheaper than some less central and glamorous neighbourhoods.

Luxury interiors of a stately home

Interiors of a luxurious villa residence overlooking Lake Como

Yes, the area still lacks the connectivity of other prime neighbourhoods. However, with easy access to the river, unrivalled shopping on the King’s Road and Fulham Road and some of London’s best schools within walking distance – including the Lycée Charles de Gaulle and the London Oratory School – and the promise (or maybe hope) of a station on the future Crossrail 2 underground railway, Chelsea is set for rediscovery.

The next place I would invest is the other side of the world: New Zealand. New flights and rapidly increasing connectivity to Asia means the country is increasingly becoming a go-to destination. Auckland is the logical entry point and investment destination. One location in particular stands out to me – home to the 2021 America’s Cup, Wynyard Quarter is changing fast. Over the past decade, this waterfront precinct, once the heart of Auckland’s marine and petrochemical industries, has emerged as a major hub for national and international corporates, including Fonterra, Datacom, Microsoft and ASB Bank, as well as for the city’s innovation and co-working scenes.

Read more: Ruinart x Jonathan Anderson’s pop-up hotel in Notting Hill

Staying in Australasia, I have to include Sydney in my portfolio – a market that has seen a huge growth in investment over the past two decades from around the world. The city may be remote, but education has been a driving force in attracting Chinese purchasers. The one location I would target is One Barangaroo – Crown’s new development. One Barangaroo is one of the most beautiful developments in the world currently being built and is achieving record prices on the shores of Sydney Harbour overlooking the bridge and the Opera House. It has brought a new global standard of facilities and services to the city.

Luxurious interiors of a penthouse apartment

New York design firm Meyer Davis have crafted designed the interior layouts of residences at One Bangaroo

Render of birdseye view of a harbour from the top of a building

View down to the harbour from One Barangaroo, the latest residential development in Sydney

In Europe, Italy retains its place as one of the most desirable second home destinations in the world. The new flat tax initiative however has cast the country in a new light as a potential permanent base for the world’s wealthy. Italy is certainly worth a closer look. Property prices in many Italian prime markets declined 40% in peak-to-trough terms following the financial crisis, interest rates remain at record lows and the country is better connected than ever before.

In the US, the West Coast is of especial interest to me, the combination of lifestyle and economic dynamism here is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. One area which appeals to me is Pasadena. Home to the Rose Bowl stadium, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena offers an attractive combination of relative value compared with neighbouring communities in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, and the desirable lifestyle and privacy that residents of Los Angeles seek. The neighbourhood is easily accessible, with a light rail line that puts it within 15-20 minutes of Downtown Los Angeles.

Read more: Kuwait’s ASCC launches visual arts programme in Venice

In terms of growth areas I would point to student accommodation and retirement. Student in particular is counter cyclical (i.e. typically more students in a recession). Participation in tertiary education globally is increasing – OECD predict 8 million internationally mobile students by 2025 (up from 5m today). Markets remain structurally undersupplied. In terms of where Sydney looks good it has a big student population and low pipeline due to shortage of development land. In terms of development, I like big European cities like Barcelona, Lisbon and Paris. European markets comprise with very little existing organised supply. Europe is new front for portfolio development, scale building and brand.

At the opposite end of the age scale is senior living where the market is undergoing rapid growth, underpinned by demographic shifts that are increasing demand for a wider array of specialist housing to suit the changing needs of older purchasers. London and the South East, Bristol and Edinburgh are key UK senior living markets. Globally, America, Canada and Australia are at the forefront of investment.

Finally I would invest in farmland. Choosing where to invest in agricultural land depends very much on your appetite for risk but the world faces both a water shortage and food shortage by 2040 and 2050 respectively and therefore, investors looking at long-term food security are well advised to invest in agricultural land. With the world’s fastest growing population, Africa offers some very exciting opportunities. Zambia, for example, provides a good balance of relative political stability and established infrastructure. The Asia-pacific region is seeing a huge growth in wealth and rain-fed farms on the east coast of Australia are well placed to take advantage of this market.

And, that’s my £100m invested.

Find out more: knightfrank.co.uk

Knight Frank’ Wealth Report directs ultra-high-net-worth individuals on where to invest in property and reflect $3 trillion of private client investment into real estate annually. The countries that have been most robust and performed best over the last decade have been those where there is a steady political and economic situation as well as transparent rule of law, high quality living and first class education. The above portfolio choice reflects this.

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Reading time: 6 min
Installation view of a contemporary art exhibition with round canvases
Installation view of a contemporary art exhibition

Installation view of ‘Echoes of Light’ by Andy Moses at JD Malat Gallery, Mayfair, London

Last week, Mayfair’s JD Malat Gallery celebrated its one-year anniversary with a summer party and private view of a psychedelic solo exhibition by Andy Moses

Art dealer Jean-David Malat‘s eponymous gallery has had a busy first year with back-to-back exhibitions and an ever-growing list of artists, of which Andy Moses is the newest addition. Last week, saw the official opening of the Los Angeles-based artist’s first ever solo show in London entitled ‘Echoes Of Light’ as well as the celebrations of the gallery’s first birthday.

Two men in suits stand in front of psychedelic painting

Jean-David Malat and Andy Moses pictured in front of the artist’s work

Guests raised a glass against the backdrop of Moses’ signature psychedelic, swirling colourscapes, which are evocative of other worlds, distant dimensions. Each work explodes with movement, seemingly rippling before your eyes, and often denying a stable sense of perspective.

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Meanwhile, the gallery’s downstairs space displays works by the likes of Henrik Uldalen, Zümrütoğlu and Chinese artist Li Tianbing all of whom apply paint to canvas with refreshing originality.

Round canvas psychedelic artwork

‘Geodesy 1212’ (2019), Andy Moses

‘Echos of Light’ runs until 20 July 2019. For more information on the gallery’s upcoming exhibitions visit: jdmalat.com

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Reading time: 1 min
Portrait of arts management agency founder Marine Tanguy
Conceptual contemporary art piece with candles in the forefront and a painting in the background

‘Seriera’ 2019 by MTArt represented artist David Aiu Servan-Schreiber

Marine Tanguy is the founder of arts talent agency MTArt, which represents the likes of Sarah Maple, Alexandra Lethbridge and Adelaide Damoah.  We put her in the hot seat for our 6 Questions slot.

Portrait of Marine Tanguy wearing a blue dress standing against a grey blue wall

Marine Tanguy

1. Have you always been passionate about art?

Yes – I have always loved making my world more visually inspiring and artists are the perfect people to do this with. I am still a five years old at heart and equally, my five years old inside me is very happy with I get up to everyday. That’s the secret isn’t? Listening to your inner child. My 5 years old self wanted art everywhere around her.

2. Why did you decide to set up MTArt?

An advocate for artists since a young age, I managed my first gallery at age 21, opened my first art gallery in Los Angeles at age 23 and finally created my current business in 2015, MTArt Agency, breaking from the gallery model to promote better the artists I believed in across the globe. MTArt is the first artist agency promoting influential visual artists and specialising in talent management: building, growing and accelerating careers. The artists of my generation don’t just wish to hang their works on walls, they want digital rights for their images, be in the press all the time and the top partnerships. This is much more the job of a talent manager than a gallery, who is first and foremost, a retail shop.

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3. Do the artists you represent come to you or do you find them?

As we open up doors and give financial support to artists, we receive over 200 applications a month!

Performance artist and painter Adelaide Damoah

MTArt represented artist Adelaide Damoah

4. Which contemporary artists should we be keeping our eye on right now?

Definitely the artist Adelaide Damoah! She was recently spotted on the recent campaign for the Nomade Perfume of Chloé, has started working with the top museums in the world like Tate and collectors adore her! Her art encourages all women to be stronger, bolder and more ambitious. After that, I would say Saype, Leo Caillard, David Aiu Servan-Schreiber, Phoebe Boswell, Nate Lewis

Read more: Trevor Hernandez’s surreal urban photography

5. What frustrates you the most about the art world?

The art world could be a much bigger industry if it decided to be more progressivist, it’s a waste of opportunities and I hate wasting opportunities!

6. Which artists would you invite to your dream dinner party?

So many! Can it be a very big party? Louise Bourgeois, Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, Géricault, Ana Mendieta, Adelaide Damoah, Saype, Paul Verlaine, Ayn Rand, Leo Caillard, David Aiu Servan-Schreiber, Chopin, Akala, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé etc…

Find out more about MTArt: mtart.agency

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Reading time: 2 min
Painter Kenny Scharf pictured in front of his artwork

Kenny Scharf reenacting his emoji-like paintings’ emotions with ‘Scardey’ (above his head) and ‘Tribali’ on his side

American artist Kenny Scharf’s work straddles a line between pop-art, street art and neo-expressionism. Through surreal imagery and humour, he challenges the elitist boundaries of fine art. Granted exclusive access to his new LA studio, LUX editor-at-large and artist Maryam Eisler spoke to Scharf about cosmic donuts, emojis and his friendship with Keith Haring.

Photography by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: You posted on your Instagram page that you found the black hole (referring to your image of a donut suspended in space) long before the black hole was photographed! Tell me about that.
Kenny Scharf: Well, I’ve been making cosmic donuts for quite some time now. I was always intrigued by this theory that the universe was shaped like a donut. I love the way donuts look….so it seemed so natural to do donuts in space! So when I saw the new blackhole image, I said ‘Uhhhh that looks like a donut!!’ I couldn’t help it.

Maryam Eisler: So I cannot help but ask you the question: where do we end up? In the donut’s hole or do we keep sparkling like its sprinkles?
Kenny Scharf: I don’t really know…maybe it’s even more sparkly in the hole!

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Maryam Eisler: Would it be fair to say that you invented the emoji?
Kenny Scharf: I guess I did. I’ve been doing it [referring to the round paintings] for 40 years before the actual internet came about.

Maryam Eisler: So copyright on the emoji?
Kenny Scharf: Yeah I need to get a penny every time someone uses those emojis. Actually I have my own emojis app. It costs two dollars!

Maryam Eisler: You’ve never been about definition, have you? And pretty much spanned across all mediums…
Kenny Scharf: I’m always wanting to break boundaries. If there’s a border, I’m going to go outside of it. You can’t keep me in. That’s against my…everything!

Artist studio belonging to Kenny Scharf with one of his pop art paintings on a round canvas

A view into the mezzanine of Kenny Scharf’s LA studio space

Maryam Eisler: Talk to me about New York in the 80s and the confluence of art, fashion, music, and the night clubs.
Kenny Scharf: When I moved to New York in the late 70s, there weren’t a lot of places artists could show their work or even make their work. There were so many young kids like myself who moved to New York with ambition. There were musicians and writers and people in fashion too. So nightclubs were a great venue to do your thing. Not only were nightclubs a place where you could make and show art, but they were also our livelihood. So we worked a couple nights a week and that was all you needed to pay your bills for the whole week, and you were then free to make your art. So New York became a place where you could move to, as a young artist without money, and find your way and meet other artists. It was this whole community that was just there. I feel very lucky that I arrived at that moment in time. But, I think the nostalgia for the 80s is more about the late 70s’. Because by ‘82, people started dying. I was just in my 20s and I was spending most of the latter part of the 80s going to hospitals and funerals and saying goodbye to friends and people. It was just beyond a nightmare.

Maryam Eisler: From Studio 54 to Club 57, tell me about it.
Kenny Scharf: Studio 54, I only went into once. Everyone knows it was a famous disco, a happening place. But my kind of group was more Punk-rock, New-Wave, downtown and very anti-uptown.

Read more: Artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar on the rise of interest in Iranian art

Maryam Eisler: East Village right?
Kenny Scharf: Yeah. At that time, Manhattan was very different with different parts to it. We hardly ever went north of 14th street, and the uptown people never ventured down to our neighbourhood. Club 57 was an amazing place and it did get its spotlight recently. There was a show at the MoMA that highlighted it. It was just this kind of moment. I don’t know if that kind of gathering place exists anymore, now that everything is online and internet-based. It almost harkened back to Berlin or Paris before the war and to these moments where artists got together and created with and for each other, always testing new ideas.

Artist Kenny Scharf painting an abstract composition of flowers

Kenny adding his final touch to an untitled painting depicting a flower arrangement

Maryam Eisler: A form of inner salon of some sort?
Kenny Scharf: Exactly. And the thing that was so good in retrospect, even though we were all dying to be famous and whatnot, was that we had each other to test out whatever we wanted to do. It was very inspiring. You were able to do whatever you wanted to do in the safety of this audience before you went out into the big world. A chance to incubate ideas.

Maryam Eisler: Would that idea of safety and sanctuary translate into your own Cosmic Taverns?
Kenny Scharf: Yes, that idea is definitely about safety and sanctuary. In fact, the very first one I did was around ‘82 and I was living in an old ramshackle townhouse in the middle of Times Square. Keith Haring was my roommate. It was on 6th Avenue and 42nd street. There was so much madness on the street surrounding us that I would create these environments inside, using artificial things – mostly plastic garbage and appliances and stuff which I would find on the street. And I would create this very chaotic artificial environment that actually acted as a refuge. Let’s call it artificial nature for urbanites!

Maryam Eisler: The idea carries on today. I see it here in your studio. It seems like you still work with found objects, recycled plastic and disused garbage ….
Kenny Scharf: I’m obsessed. I’ve been obsessed with garbage all my life. When I first moved to New York in the late 70s, the whole city was garbage. Nobody was picking it up. Everything I needed for my new life was there on the streets: I found my furniture, my clothes. This whole New Wave scene … we were all wearing 50s clothes because we all found them in the garbage! I feel like trash is such an indicator of the society that we live in. Not only does it show a lot about who we are, but I love the idea that these objects were actually used by somebody, and that they have this whole story and life that I don’t know about. And of course, there’s also recycling and the fact that we are drowning in our own garbage!

Artist studio with huge painted canvases and paint brushes

A view into the ground floor of Scharf’s studio

Maryam Eisler: From garbage to accessible artistic content, philosophically speaking?
Kenny Scharf: Yes. Philosophically, I’ve always been a proponent of accessibility. When I moved to New York in the late 70s, Conceptual and Minimal art were in fashion. I just didn’t like it. It felt too elitist and I don’t want to be elitist. I’m always staggering this fine line because I want to be in museums, that upper echelon of where art is shown, but I don’t like the idea of alienating anyone either. And I mean Joe Blow on the street who may have never read art history or gone into a single museum before! I would like to get those people interested in art and maybe inspire someone with an uplifting message. My language is the language of art so I don’t want to turn off the art-educated either!

Read more: Why you need to see the Luc Tuymans exhibition at Palazzo Grassi

Maryam Eisler: Isn’t art, at the end of the day, about interaction and connection?
Kenny Scharf: Yes, and communication. I have a message. You have a show in a major museum and you are going to get a certain amount of people to go and see it. You do a mural in a high traffic spot on the street, and you’ll get the same number of people, if not more, seeing it every day. I also love the idea that art goes beyond boundaries. Most people think that art belongs on a wall in a gallery or a museum. I think it should be everywhere. I often like to think about ancient civilisations, the Greeks and the Egyptians, and how they infused art into their everyday objects the same way I do. I really believe that by doing this, you elevate your daily existence.

artist Kenny scharf poses in his studio with a sculpture

‘I’ve been obsessed with garbage all my life!’

Maryam Eisler: Your emojis are a form of hieroglyphic art, right? Image after image, you try to describe a state of mind, an emotion, a space, a place …. There’s an emotive aspect to your art.
Kenny Scharf: Yes. Communication, feelings, history… Art that I love is art that emotionally gets to me, and I want to convey the same thing to people. I want people to feel.

Maryam Eisler: I love your lack of concern about the monetary value of your art in a world dominated by the $ sign . You paint cars and give them away as long as they’re not resold for gain!
Kenny Scharf: Yes, I’ve done 250 cars. We take pictures. People have crossed the line only two or three times in the past. Not cool.

Kenny Scharf painting on the side of a truck parked by a brick wall

One of Scharf’s 250 painted cars, utilitarian artworks which he creates for free, with the promise that they are never to be sold for gain

Maryam Eisler: From Cosmic Taverns to Flintstone’s cavern. Where did it all start?
Kenny Scharf: The Jetsons and the Flintstones? Back in the early 80s, when I was trying to figure out how to get myself out there, I realised nobody in the gallery world was going to be interested in me if I just told them ‘Hey I make art! Come and see.’ My whole group was in the street and we met all these graffiti artists with incredible paintings on subway cars; they used the whole city as their canvas basically. Around the Times Square show in ‘81, a lot of downtown, Punk, New Wave art-types like myself, met with all the uptown Bronx graffiti artists, and there was this very interesting cultural mix moment. I had a studio at PS1 and I lived in the East Village so I used to ride my bike at two in the morning down from the 59th street bridge to the East Village and bomb the walls the whole way down. I thought that I wanted to do something that was very personal to me in many ways, the Flintstones! Not only because I grew up with them but because conceptually I love the idea of the Flintstones representing the past and the Jetsons representing the future. And everybody knows who they are. I wanted to do something that people already connected with but that was also part of me. And at one point, the past and the future collided and created mutants which were my own characters.

Artist Kenny Scharf standing by an entrance sign to bedrock city

‘Conceptually I love the idea of the Flintstones representing the past and the Jetsons representing the future. And at one point, the past and the future collided and created mutants which were my own characters.’

Kenny Scharf round paintings in his studio

Maryam Eisler: So I haven’t brought up Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat purposefully. Could you give me one word, one anecdote or a wonderful memory for each?
Kenny Scharf: I mean I have so many memories. I met Keith and Jean Michel in 1978, basically my second week of arrival from LA to New York. And we all had this instant connection. It’s like when you meet somebody and you don’t really know why you are so attracted to them and vice versa. I met Jean Michel and introduced him to Keith. The three of us were a little bit of a posse. I used to go around with Jean Michel and Keith and draw and paint on the street. One of my first memories was when I went to this apartment where Jean Michel was living; it was just about a block away from where I was living, and I saw these collages he had on the wall and I was just blown away. I swear I almost fell on the floor. It was one of those moments when you see something and there is so much energy coming off this piece of paper that it literally floored me. I’ll never forget that moment.

Maryam Eisler: Can you share your last memory with Jean Michel?
Kenny Scharf: Of course. With Jean Michel, our relationship was not easy. It started off very close and then he kind of turned on me. We had this very volatile relationship where I didn’t know which Jean Michel I was going to get on any particular day, and actually, it was the source of a lot of stress for me. I really cared for him a lot, and he could be really difficult. So in the late 80s, all that amazing explosion from the early 80s, had a little backlash where that kind of expression was not ‘the thing’ any longer and Jean Michel, as always, really took everything to heart and he was just really down. There was this moment where I remember connecting with him on the street, where he could look at me not as competition and an enemy anymore and realise that we were both on the same side of the line; he let down the guard. We had this special moment. I didn’t know he was about to die.

Maryam Eisler: I read the book The Widow Basquiat. It seems like he did that uncertain thing to everyone?
Kenny Scharf: He did it to the ones he cared about. He was always testing. He was really…very…disturbed. He really was.

Maryam Eisler: A sign of artistic genius, perhaps?
Kenny Scharf: Yes, I know.

Pop art version of the american flag by artist Kenny Scharf

Untitled 2019 by Kenny Scharf

Maryam Eisler: What was your last memory with [Andy] Warhol?
Kenny Scharf: Right before he went in for the gallbladder surgery, I remember having a similar thing as I did with Basquiat – not that we ever had any down times because Andy was always great to me. He was always very supportive. But I remember…I dunno maybe he wasn’t feeling well or something. I remember I was in a restaurant and there was an emotional connection where I really felt something strong with him. Then I went to Brazil a week later and actually Keith [Haring] was with me when we found out about his death.

Maryam Eisler: And lastly, with Keith?
Kenny Scharf: I was the last person to be with him. So I was sitting with him and he wasn’t able to talk anymore. There’s no way I cannot cry, talking about my last moments with him. He was very agitated and I just told him ‘I know you can hear me’; I also told him that he should just calm down and relax because I was with him. And as his body relaxed, I said ‘You know you’re going to live on forever.’ I was telling him everything I believed and felt….It was really hard…losing my best friend.

Maryam Eisler: For you personally, to perform the act of creation, do you have to be at an emotional high or low? Are you really that happy-faced person?
Kenny Scharf: Sometimes. All the emotions, I am. I am a happy person. I’m an optimist despite a million things that are freaking me out. My feeling is that if I’m not an optimist, then I will kill myself. So I force myself to be optimistic no matter how I may be feeling inside. I take the stance and I do it. Because I’m here and I want to make the best of it. Now, I have grandkids and I’m really freaked out about the world they’re inheriting, so I have no choice but to be an optimist for them.

Maryam Eisler: Speaking of the world, one word on Trump?
Kenny Scharf: Piece of shit. Or just shit. Everything about what he represents is the antithesis of everything that I believe in. I’ve always felt that way all the way back to the 80s. I actually met him ten years ago, and I was so freaked out by his lack of normal decent connection. He was just so creepy. The whole thing nauseated me so much. The day of the election I couldn’t stop crying. I cried for a week. It was devastating and here we are two years later, and I still cannot believe this has happened. His name and the word President do not go hand in hand.

Maryam Eisler: You are now back in LA , your ‘home’? You left the concrete for greener pastures and blue skies, with a much more laid back attitude and even more space? And, of course, your family.
Kenny Scharf: I love it here. I was bouncing back and forth between LA and New York but when my grandson was born I realised that I didn’t want to be away anymore. I am completely in love with my grandkids. Obsessed in fact. I never realised how great being a grandpa was actually going to be.

Kenny Scharf’s solo exhibition ‘blue blood’ runs from 2 May to 28 July 2019 at the David Totah gallery, New York City

Discover Kenny Scharf’s portfolio: kennyscharf.com

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Reading time: 15 min
Philip Colbert lobster art installation
Contemporary artist Philip Colbert pictured standing on a ladder in front of one of his oil painting collages

Artist Philip Colbert in his studio

London-based contemporary artist Philip Colbert works within the self-defined movement of ‘Neo Pop Surrealism’. His distinctive, wildly vibrant aesthetic speaks of a hyperactive age swollen with imagery, media and symbols. His oil paintings are chaotic, visual overloads, creating imaginary surrealist dreams of swirling Colgate toothpaste roads, falling currency signs and laugh-crying face emojis.

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The exhibition “Hunt Paintings” presented by Unit London at the Saatchi Gallery pop-up in Los Angeles, coinciding with this month’s Frieze art fair, brings together a diverse range of artworks, including large-scale paintings, sculptures, and a virtual reality experience which transports viewers into ‘Lobster Land’. The title makes reference to the old master hunt scenes, depicted in works by artists such as Reubens. Reflecting on the violence of these scenes, Colbert’s collages teeter on the edge of nightmare, reflecting on the darker side of pop culture that lies beneath the sheen, slogans and humour.

‘The Year of the Lobster’, a collaborative work with art auctioneer Simon de Pury, is the most striking satire and an exhibition highlight. The surreal video is an art auction come pop song come music video, ridiculing the art world, consumerist society, advertising and modern day paranoias as de Pury calls out brand names and slogans, continually asking the viewer: “You do like that lobster, don’t you?”

Art sculpture by contemporary artist Philip Colbert

Philip Colbert lobster art installation

Installation shot of ‘Hunt Paintings’ by Philip Colbert at Saatchi Gallery, Los Angeles

“Philip Colbert – Hunt Paintings” runs until 11 March 2019 at the Saatchi Gallery pop-up, 8070 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles. For more information visit: theunitldn.com/whats-on

Check out the next issue of LUX magazine, on sale from May 1 for a fabulous collaboration with Philip and Charlotte Colbert.

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Reading time: 1 min
Tom Pope performance artist pictured floating in mid air
Performance artist Tom pope pictured floating in the air above a rural landscape

London-based performance artist Tom Pope & founder of the ‘One Square Club’

What do you get when you squeeze all the opulence and exclusivity of a private members’ club into a box about the size and shape of a telephone booth? You get One Square Club, the gleeful brainchild of London-based performance artist and self-described flâneur Tom Pope, and he’s taking it to LA.

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

When, a few years ago, Tom Pope discovered that one square meter of residential real estate in London’s upmarket Kensington & Chelsea cost £11,365 (approximately $15,000) it sparked a brilliant idea. “I thought, this is nuts,” he recalls. “How do they get that value? What is it based on? I had to do something.” The result is One Square Club. Membership lasts no more than a day and the fee is based on the average value of one square metre of property wherever the club is. “It’s interesting how the property and art markets attach certain values, and how these values fluctuate,” he says. “As such, the value of the club’s membership goes up and down depending on where it goes.”

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Members are treated to an intimate one-on-one with Pope himself. The interior is kitted out with a bar, luxurious wallpaper, cozy lighting and a miniature art display. Pope will make you a drink and listen to your woes. Or sing karaoke with you. Or talk philosophy. In fact, anything you like, even sitting in comfortable silence. Now, with the help of Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, he is bringing One Square Club to Frieze LA. It will sit inside a fake shop window on a Paramount Studios film set, and visitors can enjoy about five minutes’ membership. “There’s a lot of interesting mirroring going on here with the concept of film stars and celebrities and the idea of celebrity itself as an exclusive club,” says Pope. “I think it fits in here perfectly.”

To read a full interview with Tom Pope visit: deutschewealth.com

This article was first published in the Winter 2019 issue.

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Artist Betye Saar pictured in her studio
Artist Betye Saar pictured in her studio

In September 2018, the GRI acquired the archive of artist Betye Saar (pictured here)

As Frieze Los Angeles highlights West Coast art, Andrew Perchuk and Kellie Jones of LA’s Getty Research Institute introduce the new African American Art History Initiative and its place in the telling of California’s black art history

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

Illustration of man and woman in black and white

Andrew Perchuk and Kellie Jones

In the fall of 2018, the Getty Research Institute (GRI) announced the establishment of the African American Art History Initiative (AAAHI), an innovative nationwide research program focusing on the rich postwar art and cultural legacy of African American artists. In 2019, as Frieze LA draws an international audience to experience the thriving contemporary art scene in Los Angeles, the GRI demonstrates its longstanding commitment to the city and its vibrant artistic history. The AAAHI will entail concerted efforts in the acquisition of archival material, the support of scholars and researchers, research projects that will culminate in exhibitions and publications, an extensive oral history program, and the dissemination of materials and findings on digital platforms.

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The AAAHI continues research efforts initiated by the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Foundation, particularly ‘Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980’, which brought together 60 cultural institutions across Southern California for six months from 2011 to 2012 to draw attention to the many unique and diverse artistic histories, among them the numerous African American artists, curators, and gallerists active in the region after 1945. For instance, the California African American Museum’s exhibition for ‘Pacific Standard Time’, titled ‘Places of Validation, Art and Progression’, documented the history, beginning in 1940, and forces that made opportunities possible for African American artists in the LA art scene. Meanwhile, the Hammer’s ‘Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980’, is today recognized as a landmark exhibition that chronicled this historically under-researched area of American art and brought new attention to the work of artists such as Mel Edwards, Maren Hassinger, and Senga Nengudi.

As those exhibitions demonstrated, postwar Los Angeles was an important site of creativity for African American artists who migrated west in search of a modern future. Foundational artists such as Charles White paved the way for David Hammons, John Outterbridge, Don Concholar and Betye Saar. Through traditional media as well as avant-garde practices of assemblage, installation, and performance, these artists fundamentally changed the cultural landscape of Southern California and beyond. Individuals such as Samella Lewis, Cecil Ferguson and the brothers Alonzo Davis and Dale Brockman Davis championed the works of African American artists by developing gallery and museum networks, and were integral in sharing and publicizing the works’ significance with the larger artistic community. The AAAHI will supplement such past projects, and reach beyond the artistic landscape of Southern California, to acquire archives and oral histories, and support scholarship that will document these histories.

Read more: BASTIAN gallery director Aeneas Bastian on the global art world

The GRI has a small but growing collection of material from artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson and Kara Walker, and September 2018 acquired its first major archive in relation to the African American Art History Initiative, the archive of Betye Saar. Over a period of 50 years, Saar, a pioneering artist and major figure in the postwar art scene in Los Angeles, has produced assemblages, installations and public art works that are conceptually and materially grounded in the African American and African diasporic experiences. Archives play a central role at the GRI, and Saar’s archive is a cornerstone of the African American Art History Initiative. Sharing such acquisitions digitally, the GRI intends to enhance the visibility of works of art and cultural contributions by African Americans and to become a significant site of scholarship for African American art and culture.

The Getty does not launch the AAAHI alone. Its collaborative endeavor aims to enhance the visibility of and scholarly attention paid to African American artists and build on the substantial foundation that other institutions and individuals have contributed to this crucial history. Our initial partners include the California African American Museum and Art+Practice locally, and The Studio Museum in Harlem and Spelman College nationally. The AAAHI’s growing advisory committee of leading scholars, artists and curators – which includes Andrea Barnwell Brownlee of Spelman College, Richard J. Powell of Duke University, Bridget R. Cooks of UC Irvine, and Mark Godfrey of Tate Modern – will help shape the GRI’s collecting strategies and evaluate how we can best serve the field. Complementing institutions such as the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the GRI will make a distinct contribution as a research center for African American art of the postwar period. Further, the GRI will partner with historically black colleges and universities to maximize the research potential of its digital archives, increase scholarly access, and create a larger community. As the artist Noah Purifoy wrote in the late 1960s, “art is of little or no value if in its relatedness it does not effect change.”

Andrew Perchuk is Acting Director of the Getty Research Institute and Kellie Jones is Senior Consultant for the African American Art History Initiative at the Getty Research Institute and Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University

This article was first published in the Winter 19 issue

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Reading time: 4 min
Black and white portrait of Ai Weiwei
Colourful wall mural painted up the stairs

Eamon Ore-Giron’s monumental mural ‘Angelitos Negros’ (2018), shown at the 2018 biennial ‘Made in L.A.’ at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles

No longer an outlier from the busy Europe– New York art corridor, Los Angeles is rapidly becoming a serious contender as a thriving hub on the world art scene. Janelle Zara looks at the people and places that are making the City of Angels hot, hot, hot

This autumn in LA, Ai Weiwei season is in full swing. The Berlin-based Chinese conceptual artist and political activist has not one but three major, concurrent exhibitions across the city – one at Jeffrey Deitch’s new Hollywood gallery, one at the Marciano Art Foundation and one at the new UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills. With his LA debut coming three decades into his career, it prompts the question: all this time, has Ai been saving the best city for last?

The delay in Ai’s arrival to the City of Angels may lie closer to the fact that none of these venues existed before 2017: the Marciano Art Foundation opened in a defunct Masonic temple in May last year; the new UTA Artist Space, redesigned in part by Ai, opened in July; and his show with Deitch is the space’s very first. They’re part of the LA art scene expansion that is taking place at warp speed, one powered by a booming artist population and a corresponding wave of new galleries and museums.

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For all of its recent history, Los Angeles has been anchored by powerhouse institutions: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA); UCLA (where you could once take classes with the ground-breaking conceptual artist John Baldessari); and CalArts, where you can still take classes with the famous African-American abstractionist Charles Gaines (who is likely to come out and attend your exhibition opening). And yet, as far as the art world was concerned, history took place between New York and Europe. Like the rest of the world, Los Angeles was an afterthought, a home for surfers and movie stars.

Gallery space of animal artworks

Installation view of John Baldessari’s 2017 show at Sprüth Magers gallery, Los Angeles

Seemingly overnight, however, it has become a world-class art capital. Recent years have seen major milestones that have put Los Angeles on the global stage: mega-collectors such as Eli and Edythe Broad as well as Maurice and Paul Marciano have opened destinations at which to showcase their holdings, courting the likes of Olafur Eliasson and Ai Weiwei to do their first major projects in LA. Major galleries, too, have opened LA outposts to be closer to their blue-chip artists. For Hauser & Wirth, that was Mark Bradford and Larry Bell; for Sprüth Magers, Baldessari and Sterling Ruby. And, of course, the inaugural Frieze LA, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, will take place in February 2019.

Read more: 5 exhibitions to see in London this month + 1 to miss

In September 2017, ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’ embraced the West Coast’s exclusion from the New York/European canon by emphasizing its connection to Latin America. ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’ was a blockbuster moment with its thematic syncing of more than 70 institutions. Curators, funded by The Getty, had the opportunity to travel to Latin America and relay the art narratives seldom told, some amassing as much as seven years’ worth of research. The results were powerhouse exhibitions such as MOCA Pacific Design Center’s ‘Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano LA’, a survey of art that emerged in the Gay Liberation movement of the 1970s, or the Hammer Museum’s staggering feminist 260-piece ‘Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985’. It’s one of the few shows to originate in Los Angeles and then travel to New York, rather than the other way around.

Where ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’ took place inside more than 70 institutions at once, the new biennial Desert X took place in none. The first edition last February took art-goers on an epic scavenger hunt across the Coachella Valley, where artists including Richard Prince, Tavares Strachan and Will Boone took over derelict buildings and made massive incisions in the sandy earth. Doug Aitken, who built a mirrored hilltop kaleidoscope the size and shape of a small suburban house, described the event as “a vast sprawling parkour… where suburbia ends and the landscape begins”.

Endless Creative Space

In the 1960s, the Light and Space movement, with artists such as Doug Wheeler, James Turrell and Robert Irwin, was making experimental inquiries into sensory deprivation, visual perception, and the glossiness of automotive paint. In 2018, light and space are highly prized amenities that in cities such as New York and London are increasingly hard to come by. In Los Angeles, land of eternal sunshine, studio spaces are large, as is the distance between them (although lately rents have risen at an alarming rate). LA’s art scene is as vast as its geography, stretching from the shoreline into the mountains and out into the desert. See, for example, Doug Aitken in Venice Beach, Charles Long in Mount Baldy, and Andrea Zittel in the arid plains of Joshua Tree, where her collective practice revolves around survival in the desert.

Read more: Deutsche Bank’s PalaisPopulaire is changing Berlin’s art scene

It’s the kind of landscape that breeds autonomy, as exemplified by designer David Wiseman and his brother, former Guggenheim Deputy Director Ari Wiseman. After several years of David being represented by Tribeca-based gallery R & Company, he and Ari purchased and refurbished a 30,000-square-foot factory complex in LA’s Frogtown neighborhood where David could both produce and exhibit his work himself on site. Elsewhere along the LA River, French painter Claire Tabouret relishes the kind of solitude she could never enjoy at home. Inside her former industrial space-turned-studio, she spends “eight or nine hours inside not talking”, a real luxury in France, where you’re bound to bump into someone. For true peace and quiet, Tabouret also makes work in a small house she purchased in Pioneertown, a tiny Wild West city out in the desert with “no phone, no internet, no nothing”.

Facade of a red building with a public installation in a courtyard

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles

Solitude, on the other hand, is optional. Geographical barriers also breed tribes. There’s a conviviality rather than a competition among LA artists, particularly artists on the East Side who run spaces for other artists to show. From the Ruberta gallery in Glendale to the artist-run platform BBQLA downtown, openings are no formal affairs. Rather than white wine and polite conversation, you’re greeted by tacos and a cooler full of beer.

“I was surprised by just how small it feels compared with New York, but that also makes for a communitarian vibe,” says gallerist Kibum Kim, who moved to LA in early 2016. He’s a partner at artist Young Chung’s Commonwealth & Council (CwC), a Koreatown space Chung founded in 2010 and initially ran in his living room. Their work is less driven by the market than the desire to build communities, evidenced by the fact that Chung “didn’t make a sale for years”.

Read more: Gallerist Angela Westwater on inspiring women in the art world

“Many artists we work with have practices that eschew the Western notion of the individual artist genius and bring in their peers and make work that is collaborative,” adds Kim, citing partnerships between Rafa Esparza and Beatriz Cortez, or Candice Lin and Patrick Staff, all four of whom have now shown in the Hammer Museum’s prestigious biennial survey of the city’s mid-career and emerging artists, ‘Made in L.A.’. The institutional recognition affirms Chung’s diligence, Kim says. “I have to believe something like CwC can thrive in the art world, even in this hyper-accelerated, market-dominant environment.”

Nothing is Too Weird

“Los Angeles, as a subject of art history, has a few chapters to celebrate,” says Hamza Walker, director of non-profit art space LAXART, citing the Ferus Gallery days of the 1960s (the gallery closed in 1966) and ‘The Pictures Generation’ of the 1980s (a seminal exhibition curated by writer and historian Douglas Crimp at New York-based Artists Space, which explored artistic communities in New York, Buffalo and LA). Those days have passed, however, and LAXART’s focus is very much on the art of the present. Founded in 2005 as a platform for emerging artists with nowhere to show, LAXART, in light of all the young galleries that have emerged to pick up on those duties, pivoted its mission this year to respond to urgent cultural and political matters. Over the summer, Walker presented ‘Remote Castration’, a group exhibition responding to the #MeToo movement. Over the course of the show, the façade of the Santa Monica Boulevard building featured a portrait of Hollywood by Barbara Kruger – not the Hollywood of movie stars, but a sector of the city where pawn shops, dollar stores and sex work reign. Words such as “BREAK IT→OWN IT→STEAL IT→LOAN IT” were painted across the top, with the palette of black, white and green hitting the standard aesthetics of the surrounding marijuana dispensaries.

Black and white portrait of Ai Weiwei

The artist Ai Weiwei

As an OG enfant terrible, Kruger’s work has questioned the authorship of the status quo since the 1970s. The artists of this year’s ‘Made in L.A.’ at the Hammer seem to have picked up the torch, serving narratives excluded from the textbook art historical canon. Megan Whitmarsh and Jade Gordon built a collaborative parody of a typical LA New Age wellness institute with the very real intention of reframing the female life cycle as cause for empowerment. Lauren Halsey erected a monument to her native South Central LA and its residents in the shape of an Egyptian tomb, and it was Eamon Ore-Giron’s monumental Angelitos Negros (2018), a mural stretching the height of the museum’s grand staircase, that greeted visitors and set the tone of the show. Ore- Giron has arranged the circular motifs inherent to his work in a composition resembling the movements of the sun and moon. While his strong geometries typically evoke comparisons to the work of European modernists, he explains, they’re based on Peruvian abstraction of the 1200 and 1300s.

Ore-Giron’s mural is emblematic of the forward-facing art that defines LA now. It asks audiences to re-evaluate their understanding of the past, particularly concepts of Western art history. The appeal of LA lies in its cultural diversity, an atmosphere that, like his mural, “both elevates and alters the way we read the past,” says Ore-Giron. And from the past, into a bright, shining future.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2018 Issue in partnership with Deutsche Bank. Browse more content here: The Beauty Issue

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Reading time: 9 min
stylish contemporary interiors of a lounge space with orange chairs, big glass windows and wooden detailing
stylish contemporary interiors of a lounge space with orange chairs, big glass windows and wooden detailing

Spring Place New York: members-only collaborative workspace and social club

Co-working spaces are already well integrated into our urban landscapes. Companies like WeWork provide communal offices for start-ups and self-employed workers whilst the likes of Soho House invite members to use their residences for wining, dining and the occasional signing of a multi-million deal. Spring, however, aims to marry the two by offering physical studio spaces to rent and membership to a network of high profile brands and individuals. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the co-founder and CEO Francesco Costa about his vision
Colour portrait of founder of Spring Studios Francesco Costa wearing a black blazer and a blue shirt, smiling

Francesco Costa

LUX: Can you tell us about the concept of Spring?
Francesco Costa: I see Spring as a brand and an experienced company. It’s a brand that helps other brands and individuals in the luxury and aspirational industries to grow their businesses. We work with already established brands and freelance individuals, and it is the connection between these more established brands, emerging brands, talented young people and established talents that creates a unique environment.

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We now do creative agency production, post production and digital; we have studios, we have event spaces, we have co-work spaces and all of this together means that our clients or members or even our shareholders see us not as transaction opportunity, but as a long term opportunity. We are building a community and as a member of that community you are entitled to certain benefits. For example, we did an Estee Lauder campaign with Misty Copeland, the first African American Female Principal Dancer with ABT (American Ballet Theatre) and then we started working with ABT, and now we are the agency for ABT. We create certain content for them and some programming and then through us ABT got in touch with other brands that they want to sponsor ABT, and that creates further opportunities. That’s how this ecosystem works. Of course, the physical space has a key role because a lot of co-brands are trying to complete this without the investment – by that I mean not just a financial investment but an investment in time and the effort of finding a physical space – and it’s very difficult to do without having a physical hub in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan where people can actually meet, where people can create opportunities. I think it is impossible to achieve what we are trying to achieve now.

Contemporary co working space with shared tables and woman working on laptop

An example of Spring’s stylish co-working space at Spring Place New York

LUX: When you started Spring, was the intention always to go in this direction? Or did it start more as a studio space that companies could use?
Francesco Costa: It’s interesting because everything started as a real estate investment in New York. Myself and Alessandro Cajrati, my business partner, had the idea to create a studio event space, a hub for fashion. Our partner was Jimmy Moffat, the creator of Art and Commerce, let’s say he was our expert in the field. And then we discovered this company in London called Spring Studios (founded in the late ’90s strictly as a studio space), which we thought could be a good partner – they approached us and we liked their vision.

Read more: 6 Questions with world record-breaking sailor Giovanni Soldini

colourful contemporary interiors with pink arm chair, patterned pink wall and an electric guitar

The music room at Spring Place NY

Robin Derrick had just joined and Robin’s vision was to create content for companies that were functioning in the digital space. Then at a certain point, when the project in New York was growing, we saw that there was a synergy in what we were doing so we merged the two companies (the American investors remain the majority investors). That’s how Spring Studios as we now know it started.

Then a bit later, approximately two and a half years ago, there was a co-worker revolution which attracted a lot of attention – it became a kind of trend – and I thought it was interesting to give a physical space to the fashion community. The fashion community, but also the art community and other communities involved in the business of culture, tend to travel a lot and have a lot of social interactions. Frieze is a good example, or events or fashion shows or dinners that fashion brands put on, but there was no place where you could meet more professionally and during the daytime so I thought that there was a need for this kind of space, a place where CEOs or the head of communications can connect and collaborate with other brands and individuals.

Open plan industrial style dining room with exposed ceiling and square wooden tables

The main dining room at Spring Place NY where professionals can meet and socialise

LUX: How does your business model work? How do you benefit from the collaborations?
Francesco Costa: There two things that I get out of it: one is the attachment to the brand, to the physical space. The co-brand has an advantage working with Spring or being at Spring which brings them closer to us. The second is on the offer and the pricing. For example, we have showrooms that we rent for 2000/3000 dollars a day and we don’t rent for 2000/3000 a day because the real estate is better that the real estate next door which rent for 1000 a day, we rent it at that cost because the odds are that a journalist or a CEO or a famous blogger walks by, sees the product and thinks that it’s worth talking about or engaging with. I actually have a recent example of this. A very small, new shoe brand run by two young women with limited capital, launched their product in one of our showrooms and a buyer for one of the biggest retails was in the space for another meeting at that time. He saw the product, loved it and they signed a multi-million contract. This is what we offer, and this is what I mean about the benefits the community can provide.

Stylish industrial style bar with leather stools, exposed ceiling and bar tended preparing drinks

Travelling professionals and members of Spring can also make use of the bar area to meet with friends or relax

LUX: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about the brands that work with you and the kinds of projects you might work on together?
Francesco Costa: Of course – Estee Lauder might shoot a campaign in the studio, but that’s just the start. If we talk about our clients for whom we do the production, we have Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, L’Oreal to name a few. We do their campaigns. Then we have a whole other set of partners or clients for whom we run events. For example, we work with Universal Music, we did the Grammy’s week in January, New York Fashion week twice a year, Tribeca Film Festival, the list goes on.

To learn more about Spring’s studios and events visit: springstudios.com

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Street art painting by Los Angeles based artist Alec Monopoly depicting TAG Heuer's CEO Jean-Claude Biver
Street artist Alec Monopoly wearing hat and scarf covering half of his face

The artist in his signature (dis)guise in Hong Kong

Street artist Alec Monopoly’s distinctive creations are a blend of subversive graffiti culture and post-pop colour. And he has now been tasked with rejuvenating the culture at watch brand TAG Heuer. Nathalie Breitschwerdt catches up with the elusive – and anonymous – LA-based graffiti genius.

The manufacture of luxury watch brand TAG Heuer consists of a series of modern buildings on the edge of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in western Switzerland. The town is built on a US-style grid system, seemingly at odds with the rolling forested hills of the Jura that surround it.

Inside, it’s as you would expect a high-end watch factory to be. A sanitized workshop floor contains rows of technicians piecing together different watch components; other rooms contain test laboratories and machines for finishing the timepieces.

Walk from the workshop through some connecting corridors to the corporate offices, however, and you are greeted with an extraordinary sight. It is a glass-walled room with paints, canvases and strikingly colourful artworks, finished and in progress.

There was no artist at work on the day we visited – he was back in his home city of New York – but Alec Monopoly is no ordinary artist in-residence. Not long ago, his art was illegal. A graffiti artist, his trade involved tagging (painting) buildings – other people’s buildings – with his distinctive design. Monopoly developed a cult following on Instagram, and was then discovered by pioneering, maverick watch CEO Jean-Claude Biver. A key player in the revival of the luxury watch industry and now head of the LVMH watch division (which includes TAG Heuer), Biver made Monopoly a brand ambassador, launching the partnership at Art Basel Miami. Explaining why the artist would be given his own studio up in the Swiss mountains, Biver explained that Monopoly would play a key role in updating the brand for the new generation. “The most important thing is that Alec will be our art provocateur,” Biver said. “He will bring his influence inside the company. He will infuse the culture of TAG Heuer. That is the real job.”

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Monopoly’s real identity is still a secret: he hides his face behind a red bandana. But his post-Roy Lichtenstein takes on pop culture characters (and specifically the banker from the Monopoly board game) give him a universal and instantly recognisable appeal – as does his nuanced take on the world’s economic system.

Monopoly’s artworks are now appearing in TAG Heuer stores around the world, and he is more likely to be courted than taken to court by the property world now.

Street art painting by Los Angeles based artist Alec Monopoly depicting TAG Heuer's CEO Jean-Claude Biver

Alec Monopoly’s depiction of TAG Heuer ’s CEO Jean-Claude Biver at Art Basel Miami

LUX: When did you start making street art?
Alec Monopoly: I have been painting on the streets of New York since I was 12 years old. Growing up in the city, I loved skateboarding and the graffiti culture in the city. In 2008, I moved to Los Angeles and that’s when I started integrating my artwork into street art. I was a graffiti artist before and that’s when I became a street artist.

LUX: How has the perception of street art changed since you first started?
Alec Monopoly: It’s changed big time. It’s become more accepted into pop culture recently, whereas before it was much more frowned upon. In the early days especially, graffiti was looked on as pollution and destruction, but now it’s transforming the grey walls of cities into things of beauty. If you look at the Miami Design District and Wynwood, it’s changed a dangerous neighbourhood with abandoned buildings and actually turned it into something beautiful. Take a look at the Wynwood Walls where some of the best artists in the world come to paint; it’s a great example of how street art has been accepted into society.

Read more: Megan Balch & Jaime Barker, Founders of Flagpole on their inspirations and creative process

LUX: Tell us about your fascination with the Monopoly Man.
Alec Monopoly: I started painting the Monopoly Man in 2008 when the economy started to dip. I was playing the game Monopoly, which I love, and was watching the news where I saw Bernie Madoff being arrested. I remember thinking how ironic that situation was, as he sort of looked like the Monopoly Man. There was so much meaning to it. People really connect with the Monopoly Man, so that’s when I started painting him for fun in the street. Originally it was for fun, but it also became more real due to the situation. That’s when I started spreading more intricate characters into my paintings, like Robert De Niro, Twiggy and Jack Nicholson.

Large scale mural by Alec Monopoly on the side of a building in Miami's design district

An Alec Monopoly creation in Miami’s Design District

LUX: Why do you think your artwork is in such high demand?
Alec Monopoly: People can really connect with my work. I create a lot of work that has a positive message; it’s fun and brings happiness to people. A lot of people have found that my work is inspirational. Having the Monopoly Man with bags of money and seeing him run with them, it’s kind of like a good luck charm, which you see in the offices of CEOs. Now, I draw a lot of inspiration from life: travelling, meeting new people, experiencing new things. I truly live through my artwork and express who I am as a character, as a person, through my paintings. I think it’s important for an artist to express themselves through their work in a way where people can see life through their eyes – my eyes.

LUX: Are there certain places in the world that are “street art hubs”?
Alec Monopoly: I would say there are different cities where street art is more popular. Berlin would be one of the top cities for emerging street artists and for street art in general because it’s more accepted into the culture there. I would say LA is great due to the massive walls throughout the city and then, of course, Miami Wynwood is the Mecca of street art, for now.

Street artist Alec Monopoly painting TAG Heuer onto wall

Alec Monopoly tags for TAG at a pop-up store in California

LUX: You’re a brand ambassador for TAG Heuer. How did that come about?
Alec Monopoly: It came about through an organic relationship with Mr Biver. We met in the south of France in my studio and created a relationship. I was really taken aback by him – he’s a genius. He’s like the Steve Jobs of the watch industry. Hearing him talk and his passion, we really connected as I have a great passion for watches myself. My dream has always been to create a watch with my artwork in the dial. We really saw eye to eye with the collaboration and it’s been an amazing journey for both of us. All the watches sold out immediately!

LUX: Is it strange for a street artist to be associated with a luxury brand or do you see it as a step in the right direction?
Alec Monopoly: I definitely think it’s a step in a positive direction. I’m very picky who I do brand collaborations with, but I think TAG is the perfect fit. It’s the perfect vehicle to pursue one of my dreams, which was to put my art inside a watch. I was very happy to do it.

Read more: Luxury in the treetops at Chewton Glen

LUX: Anonymity and graffiti seem to go hand-in-hand for street artists such as Banksy and yourself. Why is that important to you?
Alec Monopoly: For me, it represents the freedom to keep painting in the streets where I would like to paint. I paint in some places where it’s kind of a grey area with regards to the law, so it’s important to remain anonymous. It’s kind of fun too; I can take my hat, my mask and my jewellery off and no one really knows who I am – it’s kind of nice to have that double life. It’s very interesting that when I cover my face people recognise me and when I don’t, people have no idea who I am. It’s the weirdest thing!

LUX: How do you define art and its purpose?
Alec Monopoly: I see art as very important for culture. It’s a way of seeing what’s going on in that part of history and what’s going on in the world. For me, it’s a form of therapy and expression, but it also brings happiness to other people’s lives. When I’m painting one of these graffiti walls, I’m transforming that neighbourhood through bright colours. People driving by, kids growing up there – I try to bring them as much happiness as possible. I’ve met kids who started painting their own versions of the wall and creating their own art, which is really inspirational to me.

LUX: What do you do when not making art?
Alec Monopoly: Honestly, I’m always creating art. Yesterday I was at the beach and started making these drawings in the sand – I can’t even relax when I’m at the beach! I love art, it’s who I am.

View Alec Monopoly’s portfolio of work at alecmonopoly.com and Tag Heuer’s collections at tagheuer.com

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Reading time: 8 min
LA based accessory designer Tyler Ellis SS18 Handbag Collection
Handbag from the latest collection by designer Tyler Ellis

Tyler Ellis SS18 Collection

Portrait of accessory designer Tyler Ellis, daughter of Perry Ellis the fashion designer

Tyler Ellis

Tyler Ellis, daughter of American fashion designer Perry Ellis, is one of LA’s hottest accessory designers right now. Her clutches and handbags are frequently photographed on the arms of Hollywood’s leading ladies, favoured for their simple, functional design and luxurious range of fabrics. Digital Editor Millie Walton puts the designer in the hot seat, for our new 6 questions slot.

 

1. You grew up around some of the biggest names in the fashion industry, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors to name but two. Did this inspire you to become a designer?

My mother chose to raise me in LA away from my father’s world to try and give me a private and more normal childhood, so I was not raised in the fashion scene. I remember the first time I went to a Marc Jacobs fashion show, I was around 13 years old and it was at a tented, candle lit pier in NYC, very reminiscent of a romantic night in Italy. That was the first moment that I knew the designer gene was in my blood. The energy in the room was electric – a feeling I will never forget and something that I knew I wanted to be a part of!

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I returned home to LA and for a period of time left my dreams of becoming a designer in NYC. I ended up going to college in Boston and graduating with a Communications degree. It wasn’t until I moved to NYC and started working with the designer Michael Kors that my dream to design reemerged.

Working for Michael and his team was amazing. It was like one big family with people encouraging and inspiring one another to push themselves to do their very best. After this incredible experience I decided to take the leap and start my own line. It was the scariest, but at the same time, most rewarding thing I have ever done and I am very thankful that these impactful experiences pushed me to follow my dream!

2. Your designs have attracted an impressive celebrity following, how influential do you think celebrity endorsement is for contemporary luxury brands?

It has been an unbelievable honour having such strong, incredible and powerful women like Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Salma Hayek and Reese Witherspoon choosing to carry my bags, when they have the world at their fingertips.

Celebrities have literally “made” unknown clothing brands by wearing their creations to major events, giving emerging designers a worldwide platform which most young brands cannot achieve on their own. Exposure is key!

The Golden Globes awards Salma Hayek holding Tyler Ellis clutch

Actor Salma Hayek (left) pictured at the Golden Globes holding the Lily Clutch by Tyler Ellis

The accessory world is a bit more difficult because when a celebrity walks the red carpet, the outfit is always the main focus, jewellery and shoes may or may not get mentioned, and the bag sometimes might not even be carried.

Personally, capturing images of celebrities carrying my bags has been a huge asset to my brand not only because it drives sales, but also because it creates brand legitimisation. In order for most people to purchase an item, especially a luxury piece, they must believe in or have trust in the brand. As I mentioned earlier, celebrities have access to anything they want, and when they choose to carry my bags it sends a message to the world.

3. What makes the perfect bag?

The perfect mix between functionality and luxury. There are many beautiful bags in the world, but what defines the good from the great are the intricate details.
All of my bags are hand crafted in Florence, by a father/son owned factory. I customise my hardware, purchase alligator, python and lizard from Hermès Cuirs Precieux (HCP), an Hermès owned tannery, and source all of my leathers from France and Italy.

To me, what make my bags even more unique are the beautiful details that create functionality. Every Tyler Ellis clutch comes with a hidden, detachable, lightweight chain, holds the largest iPhone, fits comfortably in the hand and most also have discrete exterior pockets and internal dividers for the essentials.

Leather rucksack from the SS18 collection by Tyler Ellis

Tyler Ellis SS18 Collection

Day bags come with phone chargers, extra-long key-fobs, credit card slots, iPad/computer compartments, hidden exterior pockets and zippered internal pockets. Gold plated pinecone feet are offered to help protect the hides and all of the bags are all lined with my signature “Thayer Blue” lining making it easy to see your belongings inside.

My bags are representations of me and my lifestyle, and I strive to make them as best as I possibly can.

Read next: Photographer Maryam Eisler on East London and the power of art

4. What are some of the challenges that face small independent luxury brands today?

Getting the right people in front of the product! People are so busy these days and given the speed and power of social media and the internet there is so much noise out there it’s very difficult to get enough attention from the fashion world to make a difference for an emerging brand. Larger brands have larger budgets, which leads to greater mainstream exposure. As an independent niche brand, I have changed my approach on running my business, relying less on the traditional fashion world and focusing more on intimate events with prominent women in key cities around the world. These women have access to anything and everything and when they choose to purchase and carry Tyler Ellis it’s an incredible validation for my brand and me.

Model Gigi Hadid with ava box handbag by Tyler Ellis

Gigi Hadid pictured with the Ava Box. Photo by James Devaney/GC Images

5. Do you have a favourite material to work with and why?

I always enjoy working with unexpected exotics…skins like ostrich leg, jungle fowl, fish and toad are not commonly used but look and feel super luxe and keep people guessing. Creating these unique pieces excites me because there is so much of the same out there and it’s always refreshing to find something different and individual. The most rewarding feedback I have received from clients is that when they carry their Tyler Ellis bags, people constantly stop them and inquire about the bags, which makes them feel great and excited to be carrying something special and coveted.

6. What’s next for your brand?

I am currently working on a bag collaboration with a very talented Hollywood stylist. It’s a sporty day bag, which differs from my more classic signature style, but I’m very proud of it and super excited for the launch. I will also be continuing an ongoing collaboration with the fashion label Noon by Noor for their Fall Winter collection which will be presented over New York Fashion Week– stay tuned!

I’ve also started to delve into the bridal world. I’m at the age where many of my friends are getting engaged and I’ve been getting requests to design bespoke bags for brides and their bridal parties. I have a quick turn around and can custom most colours and materials. Another added bonus is the interior of my bags are blue, so you are also checking off something new and blue!

tylerellis.com

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Reading time: 6 min
poet, model and film-maker greta bellamacina
London-based Greta Bellamacina is one of those people who, once discovered, you can’t stop thinking about. Like a sleeper hit which innocuously makes its way up into the charts as one by one fans fall in love, Greta’s infectious presence online and throughout the arts scene utterly grabs hold. For October’s Vogue she is included in a feature about today’s progressive new poets, along with Cecilia Knapp, Selina Nwulu and James Massiah – but this is hardly surprising considering the unique blend of talents in her arsenal. LUX’s contributing poet, Rhiannon Williams speaks to the woman behind the words about the plight of of the public library, how her varifocal talents intersect, and her inspirations.

Ethereally beautiful, the first thing that strikes you is that Greta looks every part the romanticised ideal of ‘poet’. But it is her passion for what she does which, more than anything, startles – and makes you want to follow in her lead as a force for good in a confusing world. Greta’s work as a poet, film-maker, activist and model crosses and fuses borders, something that is seen more and more these days as people resist the restrictive boundaries of having a single ‘profession’ – and what could be more fitting for a modern-day poet? She published her debut poetry collection ‘Perishing Tame’ in 2015 through New River Press, a poetry press which she co-founded herself, and launched it into the world with readings at Shakespeare & Co, Paris and The Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles. She has also edited collections, including ‘Smear’ in 2017, an important anthology for young women poets everywhere, and has published collaboratively with poet-husband Robert Montgomery the collection ‘Points for Time in the Sky’.

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In the role of film-maker a particularly significant recent work was 2016’s documentary ‘The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas’, which smartly tackles the state of the British public libraries, spreading awareness of a plight that not enough people are conscious of. For a poet, the savage cuts to public funding that have brought the libraries of the UK to their knees over the last decade is a political outrage that hits very close to home. Greta’s activism with this documentary, which involved Stephen Fry and Irvine Welsh among others, demonstrated a fierce defiance in the face of a crisis of intellectual deterioration, and a prime example of how Greta uses her creative abilities as a force for good.

On top of all this, Greta has been involved in modelling campaigns for the likes of &otherstories and Stella McCartney. One can only pause in awe to wonder how she has time for so much, all the while maintaining an image that is undeniably slick. This is brought about by a stylishness that spans from the arresting design of her website (think arty snaps with poet John Cooper Clarke outside her film premiere), to her Instagram presence (handwritten pages of her thoughtful, searing poetry), to her fashion choices (somewhere in the realm of elfish art student lost on a Victorian couture runway).

poet, model and film-maker greta bellamacina

Greta has appeared in modelling campaigns for the likes of &otherstories and Stella McCartney

Rhiannon Williams: How did you first fall into poetry?
Greta Bellamacina: It has always been there, I’ve always heard words in my head that I felt compelled to write down. I knew from early on that poetry has the power to break your heart and fill it up again within a sentence.

RW: Can you tell me a bit more about the intersection between your talents for film-making, writing and modelling? Do they complement or sometimes clash?
GB: I think I have always been drawn to exploring the truth and beauty in the everyday- and playing with everyday conventions. If you make art in any form I think you have the moral responsibly to make the world a better place and be socially progressive. Fashion can be a fun way to make people feel apart of a new consciousness.

Read next: Kering’s Marie-Calire Daveu on championing long-term sustainability 

RW: In your writing as well as film-making you are an activist, tackling the threat to the public libraries in Britain with ‘The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas’ and promoting the empowerment of girls and female identity with ‘Smear’. Was this always a conscious decision to use an artistic avenue to further a cause, or do you think your beliefs shape your work almost without you realising?
GB: The working class fought for a hundred years to have public libraries. My local one had been turned into a block of luxury flats. But it wasn’t until I kept meeting young secondary school students fighting for seats in the library all round Britain that I understood how much it would change the next generation, change the communities if these temples of learning were to disappear. I think it’s good to let the audience have room to imagine their own futures and memories in these places, in order to shape wider beliefs and bring change. I think thats why when I edited ‘Smear’ I didn’t have any age limit or direct theme of Feminism, I just wanted women to have a place to be uncensored and shameless, a place for women to speak.

RW: What is your creative process – how do you sort through ideas and plans for projects?
GB: Rage, heartbreak and love- usually in that order.

Rhiannon Williams: Who are some poets you could not live without reading?
Greta Bellamacina: I always seem to go back to Ted Hughes, his words have some many eternal, harrowing shades to them. It has a closeness to it that you can’t help feel connected. There are so many more, Robert Montgomery of course, Alice Oswald, Warsan Shire, Heathcote Williams, Anne Sexton….

RW: What are you reading, listening to or excited about right now?
GB: I am listening a lot to Mazzy Star, Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten and Sleaford Mods right now and really enjoying Warsen Shires poetry collection “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth”. I’m excited about the morning sun, learning from strangers and finding new worlds in the sky.

gretabellamacina.com

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Reading time: 5 min