Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Olympics in London plans reuse of reclaimed materials

London UK - WITH 2012 days to go to the 2012 London Olympics the Olympic Delivery Authority has published its Sustainable Development Strategy, with inputs from BioRegional's One Planet team and WWF, which encourages the reuse of reclaimed building materials arising from demolition.

The ODA say that the strategy is unprecedented for a development of this nature and sets new standards for sustainable design and construction. They aim to have on-site energy generation, to reduce waste by reusing or recycling 90 per cent of demolition arisings, and with 20 per cent of new construction materials having recycled content. [By value, weight, or embodied energy?? - ed]

David Higgins, Chief Executive of the ODA said, "We want London 2012 to be remembered as the greenest Olympics. We are meeting tomorrow's requirements today - far exceeding current policy targets. Sustainability runs through all we are doing - through design and construction, use of energy, reuse of waste materials, and transport such as the waterways in the centre of the Olympic Park."

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee, said, "We intend to set the very highest standards in sustainability and legacy for other Games to follow."

Robert Napier, Chief Executive of the WWF, said, "WWF and BioRegional support One Planet Olympics and welcome the ODA's sustainable development strategy as a first step towards the fuller, programme-wide plan that will emerge later this spring."

Monitoring the sustainability will be the job of the new Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, which will report to the Olympic Board, and is the first known body of its kind in the world.

Media Enquiries
Contact the Olympic Delivery Authority Press Office on 020 3 2012 700.

Olympic Delivery Authority : PRESS RELEASE

Friday, January 19, 2007

Michelangelo memo makes $576,000

Memo written by Michelangelo in 1521 about the account for his carving of the Risen Christ with his autograph on the second line. [Photo Sothebys Lot 18]

New York USA - Three handwritten sheets of paper bound in a red and gilt morocco album sold for $576,000 at Sotheby's New York on 11 December 2006.

Two of the sheets featured sixteenth century popes Clement VII, a Medici born out of wedlock, and Julius III, who scandalised polite society by making his seventeen year old Parmese boyfriend a cardinal and then apparently decorating his home at the Villa Giulia with frescos of putti playing with each other's genitals.

The third and most important of the sheets, described by Sotheby's as ultra rare, was a 1521 memorandum by Michelangelo about his carved marble figure of the Risen Christ carved for the Dominican church of Santa Maria sopra Opera in Rome, noting payment of 200 ducats (approx £32,000 in today's money) to Michelangelo for the commission, and his payment of 7 ducats to Pietro Urbano and Federigo Frizzi to install and finish the piece.

Michelangelo was commissioned by Bernardo Cencio, canon of St Peter's, and noblemen Mario Scappucci and Metello Vari delli Porcari, to carve:
A figure in marble of Christ as large as life, nude, standing, bearing a cross, in whatever attitude the said Michael Angelo thinks good, for the price of two hundred gold ducats of the Camera . . . which he promises to place in the Minerva in whatever position the before-mentioned shall approve; and at his own expense to make a niche where the said figure is to be placed . . .

The nude male form had only been used for important Renaissance sculpture twice before, both times for the biblical figure of David. The first effeminate nude David was by Donatello in 1440, followed by the muscular giant David in Florence by Michelangelo in 1504. Justification for the nakedness was that David, the bible implies, had removed his clothes to don some armour which was too heavy, so he removed it. Similarly for Jesus, the bible implies that he too must have been naked. Was the nakedness a genuine artistic quest for classical realism? Or was it that Michelangelo loved young men, as did his art-loving mentors, both secular and religious? Perhaps the best give-away into the deeper feelings of the artists is that the male nude was always beautifully portrayed while the female nude was not. Females tended to look like men with added breasts. Was the Florentine Renaissance art world completely dominated by gay men? Probably.

The the city of Florence set up 'The Office of the Night', a judicial board in charge of prosecuting acts of sodomy. Michael Rocke, author of 'Forbidden Friendships', used their texts to reconstruct Florentine homosexual history and stated that in Florence, with a population of approximately 40,000 people, nearly 17,000 men were charged with acts of sodomy during the seventy years that 'The Office of the Night' existed.

Back to the main story. He started in the summer of 1516 and stopped again when, unluckily and unusually for Michelangelo, a black vein was discovered in the white statuary Carrara marble which would have disfigured Jesus' head. Eventually a new block of marble was found, blocked out and finished enough to be taken to Rome, in 1521, by Pietro Urbano, Michelangelo's favoured young and impetuous assistant.

Pietro thought he could improve his master's work, and after doing mischief was dismissed in disgrace. 'I must inform you that he has spoiled the marble wherever he touched it,' wrote Sebastiano del Piombo to Michelangelo. 'In particular, he shortened the right foot and cut the toes off; the hands too, especially the right hand, which holds the cross, have been mutilated in the fingers. Federigo Frizzi, a Florentine sculptor of repute, in whose judgment I have greater confidence than in my own, says the hands seem to have been worked by a biscuit-maker, not wrought in marble, but kneaded by some one used to dough. I am no judge, not being familiar with the method of stone-cutting; but I can tell you that the fingers look to me very stiff and dumpy. It is clear also that he has been peddling at the beard; and I believe my little boy would have done so with more sense, for it looks as though he had used a knife without a point to chisel the hair. This can easily be remedied, however. He has also spoiled one of the nostrils. A little more, and the whole nose would have been ruined, and only God could have restored it.'

The transfer from Urbano to Frizzi irritated Urbano. 'Pietro shows a very ugly and malignant spirit after finding himself cast off by you. He does not seem to care for you or any one alive, but thinks he is a great master. He will soon find out his mistake, for the poor young man will never be able to make statues. He has forgotten all he knew of art, and the knees of your Christ are worth more than all Rome together. I am informed that he has left Rome; he has not been seen for several days, has shunned the Court, and I certainly believe that he will come to a bad end. He gambles, wants all the women of the town, struts like a Ganymede in velvet shoes through Rome, and flings his cash about. Poor fellow! I am sorry for him since, after all, he is but young.'

In Florence Michelangelo, who was affected by the turn of events and had a lot of respect and affection for Vari, offered to completely redo the sculpture. 'He was at this time,' wrote Condivi, 'in a despondent frame of mind, unable to apply himself to anything, or, when so doing, working without enthusiasm.'

However, the benefactors were very pleased, and the figure of Christ Risen was received rapturously by the masses. So much so, their perpetual kissing of the right foot required a brass sandal to be made to stop the marble being completely worn away. Vari said that he was entirely satisfied with the statue. He regarded and esteemed it 'as a thing of gold'.

The Christ became very famous. Francis I had it cast and sent to Paris, to be repeated in bronze. What is more strange, it has long been the object of a religious cult.

The nakedness of the resurrected Jesus in the garden of Gesthemne became a topic of religious and philosophical discussion at the time, and the Dominicans wanted Latin truth and realism rather than Germanic mysticism. Although not explicitly stated in the bible, the assumption was that, since the linen shroud with which his dead body was encased was found in the cave after the resurrection, he must have been naked when discovered by Mary Magdalene.

Art critic Waldemar Januszczak wrote:
There way of testing the health of Christianity is to examine Michelangelo's Risen Christ. Note whether Christ is wearing a loincloth. If Christianity is healthy, there is no loincloth. If Christianity is experiencing one of its turns for the worse, there is. Michelangelo did not intend his Risen Christ to have a loincloth. The first time I saw the sculpture, in 1975, Catholicism was progressive and the Risen Christ stood naked, and his impact was profound. Next time I visited, Christ had acquired a bronze loincloth with no fastenings, baroque style. The ghastly loincloth was manufactured many popes ago, and it comes on or off depending on the prevailing Catholic orthodoxy. Today, the artist's 500-year-old vision is again considered too progressive and shocking for the modern worshipper. The fake loincloth has been slapped back on. [Sunday Times 23 April 2000]

Art historian Leo Steinberg wrote:
Michelangelo’s Risen Christ portrays Jesus shortly after the Resurrection. In a style reminiscent of the artist’s David, Christ stands fully nude, his arms wrapped around a small cross. While the nudity is disconcerting, Michelangelo is using the brazenly naked body of the risen Christ to make a particular theological point. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans that Jesus lived as the second Adam; where the first Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. By leading a sinless life, embracing a sacrificial death, and finally being raised from the dead, Christ reversed the effects of the fall, conquering the penalty of sin, and removing the curse of shame. Biblically, the taboo against nudity was inherited as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, who previously lived together “naked and not ashamed.” After the fall, God killed animals to make clothes and cover their bodies. Therefore Christ, as the triumphant and perfect Adam, is able to stand naked without shame. In Michelangelo’s sculpture, Christ’s resurrected nakedness also provides a foreshadowing of the reality he will bring upon his return—where the resurrected bodies of the faithful will again dwell together without sin, and consequently, without shame, literally and profoundly shameless. [The sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion]

In Michelangelo's time another fiery Dominican held sway: Girolamo Savonarola insisted on strict cleanliness and purity, was excommunicated, and preached against vanities bred in a world of hypocrisy, domination and greed. In 1497, Savonarola organised a giant bonfire of all those things that proclaimed vanity - masks, gowns, gluttonous consumption, art that portrayed nudity - in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Even Botticelli threw what might have been some of his greatest works onto the 'Bonfire of the Vanities' as it came to be known. Michelangelo did not join this purging extravagance. But the fad was short-lived and Savonarola and two fellow monks were put on another bonfire in the same square the following year.

The head of the Dominican order was Thomas Cajetan, who was the Roman cleric who met and condemned Martin Luther, and sent Henry VIII the news that Holy Roman Emporor Charles V would not permit Henry to divorce Charles' aunt, Catherine of Aragon. Charles and Henry then fell out and England switched sides in the war against France at the meeting with Francois, where the two courts were dressed so fabulously it became known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Catejan was a follower of Thomas Aquinas, a classical realist, theologist and saint, who loved clarity and subtlety of thought, and was repulsed by Germanic and Slavic mistiness and formless mystification. The Latins believed in natural reason and realism, and disliked irrational romanticism of thought. Hence the naked Jesus, a simple concept imbued with meaning, but not understood by the church nor the world of art.

Risen Christ by Michelangelo with knees 'worth more than all Rome together'. It is located in Santa Maria sopra Minerva next to the headquarters of the Dominican Order in Rome. The brass or bronze perizoma, or drape, is not original. [Photo Web Gallery of Art]

Risen Christ without the perizoma. Unknown film clip and commentary [Encyclopedia Britannica]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reclaimed bricks help Cavern club celebration

Footage from 1962 of the Beatles at the old Cavern club from which the bricks were saved after its demolition in 1973

Liverpool, Merseyside UK - THE Cavern Club in Mathew Street is celebrating its 50th birthday with a thirteen hour party. The Beatles played hundreds of gigs at the Cavern Club between 1961 and 1963. The original club was located in the cellars of a Victorian warehouse and was demolished in 1973 to allow a shaft to be built for the Mersey underground railway Link improvement. In 1983 it was decided that the Cavern should be rebuilt, following the death of John Lennon, a few yards away from its original location, reusing some of the bricks reclaimed from the original demolition. Over 15,000 bricks from the old Cavern were reused in the reconstruction.

Some bricks were taken by locals and 5,000 were sold by site owners the Royal Life company in 1983 for £7 each. A plaque certifying their authenticity was glued to each brick with the proceeds being donated to a local charity. All of the bricks were sold and in the late 1980s one was said to have been resold for over £500 by Sotheby's. [The true story of the Cavern]

Authenticated brick from the original Cavern club. One was sold at Sotheby's for £500

Monday, January 15, 2007

Reclaimed wood gets bigged up in lalaland bash

Beverly Hills, California USA - Hollywood luvvies are throwing a Golden Globes bash for celebs, with organic food, recycled paper decorations and tables made of reclaimed wood, today. Actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eva Longoria, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel Weisz and Paris Hilton are going. "Green living has become a way of life for many of today's celebrities," said Debbie Levin, Environmental Media Association president. "We are proud to be the first ones to step up and create a party that unites talent and social responsibility." Hmm.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Flash face creator

Germany - SOMEONE has done a nice flash programming job to produce a web site with which anyone can create faces, along the old-fashioned police indentikit lines, but using modern tweaks. The site is very clever. Try creating your own face using their standard tools.

Ultimate Flash Face

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sandy Springs goings on

Sandy Springs, Georgia USA - KENNY Rogers and Paul Brown have been in the news in Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta.

Kenny Rogers, ageing singer songwriter, bought and then demolished his $2.3 million home, planning to build a dream property on the 7.5 acres, but instead then decided to sell the empty plot for $4 million. This has upset neighbours who put up with months of demolition, tree-cutting and granite blasting, transforming the view from dense woods to dirt mound. Rogers said he was sorry for any inconvenience but you can't live your life for other people.

Paul Brown, son of Bob Brown of Red Baron Architectural Antiques, sold his old gallery and recently bought a redundant Slavic Church with a view to setting up a new auction gallery, which would entail its rezoning from dwelling to business. Neighbors feared this would mean monthly art viewings and auctions that could bring more noise and traffic. The Planning Commission recommended denial of Brown's application, citing its deviation from the city's Comprehensive Land Use Plan and its potential effects on the neighborhood.

Red Baron's next sale is on 18 Feb 2007.

Sony paint pyrotechnics in Glasgow flats

Glasgow, Scotland UK - THE demolition of the blocks of flats, used in Sony's giant paint advertising campaign, has been postponed. The stunt, which used 70,000 litres of paint and 54km of copper wire, taking four months, orchestrated by 200 people, that culminated in a paint explosion and a lone running clown in July 2006, was designed to advertise Sony's new Bravia TV. The Queen's Court flats in Toryglen were built in 1968 and are due to be demolished soon as part of Glasgow Housing Association's regeneration plans.

The 70 second ad was made by Jonathan Glazer, who also did the Guinness Surfer and Swim Black ads, and is a keen Arsenal fan. Here is the ad:

and here is how it was made:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Vitrolite needed for deco theater refurb

Part of the front elevation in 2003

The front elevation in the 1930's or 40's


Detail of Art Deco Egyptian style

Augusta, Kansas USA - THE Augusta Historical Theatre was built in 1935 to designs by Carl and Robert Boller (aka Boller Bros) in the Art Deco Egyptian style. It pioneered the use of neon both inside and out, installed by Lite Craft Neon Co.

The web site of the Augusta Historic Theatre (spelt the English way) says:
The Theatre is a two-story art deco, brick and glass building in the center of downtown Augusta. It was one of the first theatres in the world to use neon illumination entirely throughout the interior. The neon lighting and fixtures were designed and built by the Lite Craft-Neon Company of Joplin, Missouri, the first company to introduce neon theatre illumination and neon decorations for theatre facades. The exterior of the building is covered with individual tiles of opaque Vitrolite glass. Above the decorative neon marquee, the tiles are pale green with an ornamental design in black and silver. The ornamental design was sandblasted and painted on the exterior of the glass. The glass on the upper section of the building was removed in the 1950s or 1960s and covered with a corrugated metal facade. The interior walls are covered throughout with hand-made ornamental plaster designs in black, silver, salmon and green. The entire ceiling of the 633-seat auditorium is covered with individual hand-painted fiberboard panels. Elaborately painted murals cover the north and south walls of the theatre. Doors, grills, switch plates and other details give the theatre an Egyptian appearance. The theatre's opulent interior treatments are hallmarks of the movie palaces that were built across America in the 1920s and 1930s.

The theater is undergoing a $300k renovation, part of which will be spent finding original green vitrolite tiles for restoration of the external facade. Director of Augusta Arts Council, DeAnn Triboulet, said, "We are replacing cracked and broken black and green Vitrolite panels on the facade which we are sourcing from architectural salvage companies."

Vitrolite is a structural pigmented glass, invented in the USA in 1900 and famously used in the 1913 Woolworth Building, New York, by architect Cass Gilbert. Although the glass was originally produced only in white, the range of colors from which architects could choose soon included black, beige, and ivory. By the 1930s, more exotic colors such as tropic green, forest green, robin blue, suntan, and jade were offered by the principal manufacturers in addition to the stock colors of gray, yellow, and tan. Tim Dunn, a Vitrolite specialist, says, "Even though the architectural glass industry has continued to expand its production of different types of glazing, the imaginative innovations of Carrara Glass, Sani Oxyx, and Vitrolite in the early part of this century have not been surpassed. New technology, combined with human artistry, produced exteriors and interiors alive with color and dimension. Glittering movie palaces, sparkling restaurants, and streamlined storefronts as well as the more mundane kitchens, restrooms, and laboratories exemplified the extensive variety and potential of pigmented structural glass."

Vitrolite is commonly rescued in the UK from bathrooms, usually in green, black and yellow. Tim says, "Removal of Vitrolite is an exacting operation. The mastic used may have become hard and difficult to separate from the ribbed backing of the glass. Solvents which are capable of softening the hardened mastic are methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and acetone. They can be worked into the cavity behind the glass with a crook-necked polyethylene laboratory squeeze bottle or a large syringe without a needle. After the mastic has softened, two people using a taut piano wire sawing down from the top can safely and efficiently separate the glass from the wall.

Augusta Arts: Tel (USA) 316.775.2900 Email Augusta Historic Theatre

Tim Dunn: Tel (USA) (314) 645-4317. Email Vitrolite Specialist