Monday, November 30

Santiago Calatrava Naturally Challenges Structures

Santiago Calatrava Valls, born 1951 in Valencia Spain, is an internationally recognized award-winning architect, sculptor and structural engineer with offices in Zurich, Paris and Valencia. He studied at the Architecture School and Arts and Crafts School of Valencia. Following graduation he enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, for graduate work in civil engineering. In 1981, after completing his doctoral thesis, "On the Foldability of Space Frames", he started his architecture and engineering practice. Since then he has been bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture. Visit his website at

The innovative 54 story high twisting tower, called Turning Torso, Sweden
The Chicago Spire set to completion in 2011, Chicago. Will be the tallest building in North America at 2,000 feet.

80 South Street, a skyscraper with 10 townhouses as stacked cubes, Manhattan.
The interior of the BCE Place Galleria, Toronto, Canada (1992).
Bridge of the Woman, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Chords Bridge for pedestrians and train in Jerusalem, Israel

“There was a wish to get something exceptional. I also wanted to deliver something technically unique.” - Santiago Calatrava.

“I have tried to get close to the frontier between architecture and sculpture and to understand architecture as an art.” - Santiago Calatrava.

The Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum. First US building 2001.
The Milwaukee Art Museum at night.
The Milwaukee Art Museum interior.
Tenerife Opera House, Canary Islands, Spain.
Calatrava designed the future train station - World Trade Center Transportation Hub - at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City. His theme is meant to see the beauty within despair and provides hope for a brighter future.

The glass and steel structure is meant to have a profound impact on Lower Manhattan at all times of the day. During the day, natural light will flood into the Transportation Hub. At night the illuminated building will serve as a lantern for the plaza and the office towers surrounding it. The roof of the Hub's freestanding structure will be fitted with an operable skylight located along the central axis on fine spring, summer, and fall days, as well as on September 11th each year, the skylight will open thus providing the interior space with a slice of sky and its natural light.

Read more about this project in the New York Times at and also at Watch photos of the Freedom Tower project at youtube and also the construction in progress of Calatrava's Hub bellow.

"The most touching thing that anyone can say to me is that I have done something beautiful for the community.” And while landmark projects such as the WTC Transportation Hub define this architect’s career, he says that even “a small bridge in a beautiful natural place, a winery in a delicate setting, can also move your sensibility and show you how important it is that architecture does not become a predator on the landscape, but rather gives dignity and human scale to its environment. Even in the most modest circumstances, there is the possibility for emotion and poetry.” - Santiago Calatrava.

Walk through another Calatrava future project, the Future Train Station In Liege, Belgium.

Tuesday, November 24

Tim Burton and his striped socks

Timothy William "Tim" Burton, born 1958, is a a prolific American film director, producer, writer and artist. His first film was Pee-wee's Big Adventure in 1985, but he is most known for his dark and quirky-themed films, such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He frequently works with close friend Johnny Depp, musician Danny Elfman and partner Helena Bonham Carter. Literally transform in a monster and walk through his website at

Burton's most recent film was 2007's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. His most recent production is the Shane Acker animated sci-fi fantasy 9, a co-production with Timur Bekmambetov. His next film Alice in Wonderland is due for release March 5, 2010. Watch the movie trailer at

From November 22 and through April 26, 2010 the New York's Museum Of Modern Art is hosting a five month-long retrospective of the work of Tim Burton. A great excuse for a NY trip! Watch the exhibition teaser at And listen to Burton talk about his life as an artist bellow.

The MoMA's site says: "This major career retrospective on Tim Burton, consisting of a gallery exhibition and a film series, considers Burton's career as a director, producer, writer, and concept artist for live-action and animated films, along with his work as a fiction writer, photographer and illustrator. Following the current of his visual imagination from his earliest childhood drawing through his mature work, the exhibition presents artwork generated during the conception and production of his films, and highlights a number of unrealized projects and never-before-seen pieces, as well as student art, his earliest non-professional films, and examples of his work as a storyteller and graphic artist for non-film projects. The opposing themes of adolescence and adulthood, and the elements of sentiment, cynicism, and humor inform his work in a variety of mediums—drawings, paintings, storyboards, digital and moving-image formats, puppets and maquettes, props, costumes, ephemera, sketchbooks, and cartoons. Taking inspiration from sources in pop culture, Burton has reinvented Hollywood genre filmmaking as a spiritual experience, influencing a generation of young artists working in film, video, and graphics."
The MoMA's dedicated site for Burton's exhibition can be seen at Also watch the opening reviews bellow.

His new book "The Art of Tim Burton" is the definitive compilation of forty years of Tim Burton's artistry, including film concepts and hundreds of illustrations from his personal archives, edited under the creative guidance of Burton himself. This comprehensive 434 page book is grouped into thirteen chapters that examine common themes in Burton's work, from his fascination with clowns to his passion for misunderstood monsters, to his delight in the oddities of people. Many of Burton's friends and collaborators offer their thoughts, insight and anecdotes about Tim Burton's style and artistic approach to life.

A limited edition of the book has autographed reproductions of his drawings like the ones bellow.

And just to lock in an extra dark mood, watch the Marilyn Manson's version of Nightmare before Christmas's song, This is Halloween.

Monday, November 23

The Sensual World of Klimt

Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) overcame childhood poverty to significantly influence the Viennese Secession and Art Nouveau movement. Klimt’s elaborate, explicitly sensual works expressed themes of regeneration, love and death, and incorporated Egyptian, Classical Greek, Byzantine and Medieval styles. Klimt also utilized symbols representing art’s liberation from traditional culture. Laying the groundwork for Art Deco and Modernism, Klimt’s creative influence can still be seen in today’s art, decorations and jewelry.

"I have the gift of neither the spoken nor the written word, especially if I have to say something about myself or my work. Whoever wants to know something about me -as an artist, the only notable thing- ought to look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do." - Gustav Klimt.

His major works include paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects, many of which are on display in the Vienna Secession gallery. Visit their website at Klimt's primary subject was the female body, and his works are marked by a frank eroticism, this more apparent than in his numerous drawings in pencil. He used gold in his paints, technique he learned from his father, Ernst Klimt who was a gold engraver. Bellow there are some examples of his Golden phase.

Klimt obsession with the female body is shown all through his work, he would paint first the nude body of his muses and then add on the clothes. He would portrait the female in all her dimension as lover, mother, young, older, powerful and sensual. His own son, one of his 14 children, was included in his paintings.

"iKlimt - The Life and Work of Gustav Klimt" is a multimedia presentation dedicated to the Austrian painter, featuring an interactive timeline and a showcase of his most important work. There you can see a recompilation of his elaborated paintings and sensual drawings. Watch it at  

A great site to get your own reproduction is He also painted many florals and landscapes where his unique sensitive stroke can be admired.

Thursday, November 19

The kimono 着物, a thing to wear.

A Japanese traditional garment worn by women, men and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" (ki "wear" and mono "thing"). Kimonos are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimonos are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial), and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimonos are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi).

Today, kimonos are most often worn by women, and on special occasions. Traditionally, unmarried women wore a style of kimono called furisode, with almost floor-length sleeves, on special occasions. A few older women and even fewer men still wear the kimono on a daily basis. Men wear the kimono most often at weddings, tea ceremonies, and other very special or very formal occasions. Professional sumo wrestlers are often seen in the kimono because they are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.

Top illustration "Woman Walking," circa 1795. J. Hillier, Japanese Colour Prints, Oxford, 1978. Bottom illustration  "The Courtesans Hitomoto and Tagosode." 1783. Published in J. Hillier, Japanese Colour Prints, Oxford, 1978

A woman's kimono may exceed US$10,000; a complete kimono outfit, with kimono, undergarments, obi, ties, socks, sandals and accessories, can exceed US$20,000. A single obi may cost several thousand dollars. However, most kimonos owned by kimono hobbyists or by practitioners of traditional arts are far less expensive. Enterprising people make their own kimono and undergarments by following a standard pattern, or by recycling older kimonos. Cheaper and machine-made fabrics can substitute for the traditional hand-dyed silk. There is also a thriving business in Japan for second-hand kimonos, which can cost as little as ¥500. Women's obis, however, mostly remain an expensive item. Although simple patterned or plain colored ones can cost as little as ¥1,500, even a used obi can cost hundreds of dollars, and experienced craftsmanship is required to make them. Men's obis, even those made from silk, tend to be much less expensive, because they are narrower, shorter and less decorative than those worn by women.

Three kimonos from Tansu-ya, a second-hand store 
that offers vintage formal robes made before World War II.

The Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum in Tokyo, founded in 1923,  showcase a collection of kimonos dated form the 17th century. Visit their website at

Today kimono inspired robes are an emerging trend for sleepwear and loungewear. Kimonos first appeared on spring/summer 2003 in the runways of Gucci, Blumarine and Gharani Strok and today kimono style elements can be seen in Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton collections. Bellow the controversial Gucci ad campaign Spring 2003, with kimonos and oriental styling.

And for last Madonna and her interesting take on the Japanese esthetic and the kimono in her video "Paradise, not for me".