Monday, June 26, 2017

Celebrating the Great Madeline Weinrib and the Beauty of Ikat

New York artist/designer Madeline Weinrib pioneered traditional ikat designs in vibrant and chic and gorgeous modern colors over a decade ago.

Today, her iconic Ikat pillows are the favorites of top interior designers around the world. Her Ikat weave designs have become a cult--and it seems every creative interior today has to have at least one Madeline Weinrib Ikat pillow or textiles or outdoor fabrics.

With silk and cotton—and her vibrant artist’s eye—Madeline spins beauty and style that add vibrant life to all interiors.

This week, in conversation with Madeline about her Ikat patterns, we hear her ideas, inspirations, and news. Madeline’s insights and knowledge add so much to an understanding of the intricacies and beauty of Ikat weaves.

Come with me to learn everything about Ikats below.

Madeline Weinrib in her New York studio where many designers commission custom-made carpets and Ikat fabrics in a rainbow of colors. Among my favorite tones in her swatches—fresh cornflower blue, radiant indigo blue, the prettiest raspberry pink, a blue-tinged black of great depth, a rich espresso brown, and her vivid Matisse-influenced golden yellow. 

“I’ve always loved the craft of Ikat, and the tradition of hand-dying and hand-weaving. It’s a very ordered way of working, and the finished designs are like a miracle. Each one is different. I’ve working with Ikats for almost two decades, and I am still in awe of how each weaver masters this craft.” — Madeline Weinrib

“In Central Asia where my Ikats are custom woven in my colors, the dyers and weavers are experts of the most refined abilities. In this Silk Road region with centuries of rich textile history they are considered masters. And because of the particular style of hand-dying the silk/cotton yarns—each pattern is slightly different and all are richly beautiful.” — Madeline Weinrib

“My colors are modern and new. They are not at all traditional in Ikat weaving. I work constantly with my weavers and dyers to keep track and identify the specific dyes so that they are re-created exactly as I design them. This is my biggest challenge as I am obsessed with the precise shades I design. My shades are my signature, and they must be reproduced exactly as I see them.” — Madeline Weinrib

“In traditional Ikat weaving of remote Central Asia, where nomads and city weavers prized their crafts, favored colors are very vivid. The weavers love emerald and crimson and chrome yellow and rose pink. They find my colors a bit dull, and are puzzled when I specify indigo with ivory. For them, the more colors they weave, the more valuable is the fabric. I use colors in a minimal way and I’ve distilled the woven patterns to show the mysterious beauty and allure of Ikat. That’s my signature.” — Madeline Weinrib

“My palette is modern, contemporary and fresh—in different styles of handwoven authentic Ikats. For me as an artist and designer it is important to reflect colors and styles of today, and this period of design. Today, now, but with a timeless feeling. It’s my ideology to work with current ideas. If in 100 years or 500 years people are looking at pictures of my textiles, I want them to look beautiful still, and to be immediately identified as made in the early twenty-first century.” 
— Madeline Weinrib

“Traditional looms that my fabrics are woven on are 18 inches wide, so my pillows always have seams. At first I though it was a mistake, but now the mis-matched patterns and the seam are signatures of my pillows. I treat them as paintings or sculpture. For my customers, they will be come heirlooms. That makes my very happy.” — Madeline Weinrib

All About Madeline Weinrib Ikat Pillows

Madeline is constantly adding new patterns of Ikat into her collection and each one boldly offers permutations of color and pattern that define her work. 

Each pillow has been hand-sewn in New York and finished with stitched suede piping, Belgian linen backing, and mother- of-pearl buttons.

70% silk, 30% cotton. Goose down filler.

Variation in color or texture is inherent to Madeline’s handmade, handwoven ikats.

Each pillow is individual and one-of-a-kind. 

News: Madeline Weinrib Introduces Camilla Cotton Carpets

New multi-colored floral carpets in ten different styles are inspired by traditional Persian flower paintings and classical Moghul floral motifs. The pretty flowers are also reminiscent of Botticelli’s delicate floral embellishments. Colors range from ivory and beige to pale blue, red, and green.


Photography in this feature courtesy of Madeline Weinrib.
Where to Find Madeline Weinrib:

126 5TH AVE, FLOOR 2


Monday, June 19, 2017

Venetian Dream: My Venice Biennale Report

The Highlight: Axel Vervoordt’s Thrilling and Inspiring New Exhibition at the Palazzo Fortuny

I was very fortunate to travel on assignment to Venice at the end of May, just after the jubilant opening of this year’s Venice Biennale of Art.

The dealers and collectors and artists and performers had left, and I wandered with just a few art devotees through the Accademia and the Guggenheim in Dorsodoro, and the splendid new VAC show in a redesigned palazzo on the Zattere. Bliss.

But by far my favorite experience was Axel Vervoordt’s latest curated presentation of art and ideas at the Palazzo Fortuny.

Come with me this week for a wander around the Fortuny museum, see Axel’s new show, ‘Intuition’ and make plans to get to Venice before November 26, when this show closes.

Scoping Out the Biennale

I will tell you a secret. Before my visit to the Venice Biennale this year, I conducted intense research at the opening of the Biennale.

I read all of the New York Times critics’ reports, and then went in-depth with Jackie Wullschlager, the highly admired critic for the Financial Times.

My strategy based on many reports: I spent time creating my own art tour, mostly of the off-site and unofficial exhibits, and especially loving the Philip Guston and the Poets show at the Accademia.

I discovered the divine Golden Tower installation by James Lee Byars, near the Guggenheim.

The Guggenheim is always a thrill, familiar and bracing and fresh.

I also discovered the V-A-C foundation, a new Russian initiative on the Zattere with a show called Space Force Construction. It’s loosely about Russian art and architecture post 1917, and concepts of art and design, architecture, creativity and ideas, as well as the encouragement of ‘free expression’ in a totalitarian state. It’s low-key…informative and fascinating.

A favorite much-pondered display among many: a ‘worker designed’ cotton curtain with a border graphic pattern of a hydro-electric dam.

Go in the afternoon. The light bouncing off the water along the Zattere makes the galleries here luminescent.

Palazzo Fortuny

My favorite exhibit in the Venice Biennale: Axel Vervoordt’s last and final show in Venice at the Palazzo Fortuny.

Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti presented Intuition at the Palazzo Fortuny at the 2017 Venice Art Biennale:

This exhibition explores how intuition has, in some form, shaped art across geographies, cultures and generations. It brings together historic, modern and contemporary works related to the concept of intuition, dreams, telepathy, paranormal fantasy, meditation, creative power, hypnosis and inspiration.

Organised by the Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation and the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Intuition is the sixth, and final, in a highly acclaimed series of exhibitions at the Palazzo Fortuny, which included Artempo (2007), In-finitum (2009), TRA (2011), Tàpies. Lo Sguardo dell’artista (2013) and most recently, Proportio (2015).

“Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence, or conscious reasoning: a feeling that guides a person to act in a certain way without fully understanding why,” noted Axel Vervoordt.

The show, which includes Anish Kapoor’s new works, covers millennia, and a multitude of materials and approaches, and is spread over all floors of the palazzo. Some rooms are entirely black.

In a thought-provoking room, mists of fog blow across a courtyard, and in a delightful and mysterious dark room a series of ghostlike abstract images waft across the wall.

It’s all wonderfully experiential, mysterious, moving, emotive, and full of upclose charm and colorful drama and wit. Axel provided his famous linen-covered sofas and lots of pillows so that visitors may ponder, rest, repose, think, and gaze.

Modern works by Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Twombly, Basquiat, Hilma af Klint and more highlight the intuitive experience and feeling that drives the creative process, and led to the rise of abstract art.

The importance of the spatial and temporal research undertaken by the Gutai, Cobra, Zero, Spazialismo and Fluxus groups are illustrated with works by Kazuo Shiraga, Pierre Alechinsky, Günther Uecker, Lucio Fontana, Mario Deluigi and Joseph Beuys.

The Surrealists’ interest in the unconscious is an important focus of the exhibition. Their fascination with dreams, automatic writing and drawing, collective creations and the state of alteration of the ego is represented with the ‘dessins communiqués’ and ‘cadavres exquis’ of André Breton, André Masson, Paul Eluard, Remedios Varo, Victor Brauner amongst others, along with experiments in camera-less photography by Raoul Ubac and Man Ray, and works on paper by Henry Michaux, Oscar Dominguez and Joan Miró.

“Intuition aims to provoke questions about the origins of creation, and is intended to be viewed as a ‘work in progress’. Selected leading contemporary artists create a dialogue with the historic works and the unique character of the Palazzo Fortuny. Kimsooja, Alberto Garutti, Kurt Ralske, Maurizio Donzelli, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Gilles Delmas and Nicola Martini will all create site-specific installations as part of the exhibition - a direct, and intuitive, response to the spaces within. –Axel Vervoordt

Above, images I shot of art collections and rooms, view out the windows, and exteriors, at the Palazzo Fortuny.

Art News

Axel Vervoordt announces his newest initative, and the end of his involvement with Palazzo Fortuny

Vervoordt’s news: At the start of December Axel Vervoordt Company will open Kanaal, a former C19th distillery and malting complex on the banks of the Albert Canal, just outside of Antwerp.

This remarkable ‘island’ has been conceived and designed by Axel Vervoordt as a “City in the Country”, in collaboration with the Belgian architects Stéphane Beel, Coussée & Goris and Bogdan & Van Broeck, and the French landscape designer Michel Devisgne.

It brings together residential, commercial and cultural spaces, and the natural world, within a shared community.

At the heart of Kanaal will sit a complex of exhibition spaces, housing the permanent collection of the Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation and the Axel Vervoordt Gallery, as well as a revolving programme of temporary exhibitions. 

Credits and information:


Palazzo Fortuny and the Axel Vervoordt exhibit: 
Closed Tuesdays. Last entry, strictly enforced, is at 5pm. Open through November 26, 2017.

Images of the Palazzo Fortuny art and collections courtesy Axel Vervoordt, used here with permission.

Additional Palazzo Fortuny exterior and art images by Diane Dorrans Saeks.

Where to Stay Now in Venice

I was fortunate to stay at the Hotel Splendid Venice, Venezia. At my end of May visit to Venice this year, hotels were 92 per cent booked, and I advise art lovers heading to Venice to book early.

The newly updated Splendid is located in a series of former palazzi overlooking a quiet canal. You can arrive at the hotel landing by water taxi from the airport.

Splendid is centrally located near Saint Marks Square. It’s also perfectly close to the La Fenice opera house, and a few moments’ walk to the Palazzo Fortuny.

While San Marco can be bustling with visitors, and it’s on a popular route from Saint Marks to Rialto, the hotel provides an oasis of quiet and elegance.

Favorite rooms and suites overlook a quiet canal, with gondolas gliding by and water taxis slowly negotiating the narrow waterways. 

The hotel restaurant, Le Maschere, with an open courtyard in summer, is particularly excellent with updated Venetian cuisine. My friend Sandrina Rubelli often enjoys breakfast here.

I had the best fritto misto late one evening at Le Maschere, and enjoyed the international mix of guests, some small special interest groups, and a sense of the hotel as a cosmopolitan crossroads, in the centuries-old Venetian tradition.

One evening as friends gathered in the Splendid Lounge Bar, a young Chinese woman with a group of friends spontaneously gave a Chopin recital at the restaurant piano. Glorious.

Later, my friends and I took the elevator up the the hotel’s roof deck (rare in Venice) where we gathered for drinks into the night. Highly recommended.

Location in Venice is everything and Harry’s Bar is a five-minute walk, and four or five Vaporetto stops are not far from the Splendid. The Accademia is a ten-minute walk.

This hotel is a wonderful discovery, fresh and newly designed and classical and modern, with wit.

The Splendido is one of the luxury Italian Star Hotels group, which is privately owned and managed. Star Hotels are also notable in Rome and Florence.

Image by Diane Dorrans Saeks from the window of her accommodations at the Splendid hotel, early morning.

Hotel Splendid Venezia
San Marco Mercerie, 760
30124 Venezia