Spring is here, at The Royal Academy

royalAcademy.jpgSpring has arrived early at the Royal Academy of London: a triumph of Monet and his passion for gardens “blossomed” at a young age and “cultivated”( pardon the pun) until his last days in Giverny, for the exhibition “Painting the Modern garden”, inaugurated last January 30 and open until April 20th.

But the father of Impressionism was not the only one to adore green spaces: the exhibition brings together masterpieces by other great Masters such as: Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Manet, Sargent, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt and Klee, presenting an overview of the garden from modern times to contemporary.

An ascending climax that never fails to make us shine eyes, bathed in the colour and light of more than 120 works.
A little far from  Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus, ( jungle)  you will have  the privilege of strolling among the most sensual gardens ever portrayed,  the quiet (if you do not visit the exhibition at rush hour) and beauty. A unique opportunity to admire a sort of temporary London Orangerie .
monetIf in the “modern” section  the style is quite conformed to the Impressionist techniques, it is interesting that the same subject – the garden- is represented in so many different ways, almost contrasting, by contemporary authors. Just think of “the rose marble table” by Matisse, to notice the total de-structuralization of a natural element like the flower, or the Garden cottage of Klimt, whose recognizable pyramid shapes revoke the one of the most famous “kiss” of the twentieth century.matisse.jpg
Curated by Ann Dumas and William Robinson, the exhibition is studied in detail: juxtapositions of colors, subjects, including alternate sequences of poppies, roses, chrysanthemums, nymphs, and even a room with a real mini-greenhouse, circumscribed by manuals on gardening placed in elegant glass showcases.
gardenThe three-part panorama of water lilies reunited for the first time in decades at the end of this show is so overwhelming – magnificent. The bank has gone. All you see is water, flower, foliage, reflection, light, on and on, round and round. There is no up or down, no end to the beauty of these constellations of colour in liquid space and air. Monet’s garden is beautiful beyond measure: his field of vision is limitless.
A true oasis of peace  in the heart of the City, it would deserve a visit even just for this reason.



Learning how to cook with Lauren

Cooking Vacations was written up as the most trusted culinary tour company to Italy by National Geographic Traveler and featured among the leaders in culinary tours to Italy:

To paraphrase a famous quote by Virginia Woolf: behind every great project there is (always) a great woman.

laurenLauren Birmingham comes very often to  Capri, for work and pleasure. Italian American, Italian husband, she spends half a year in Boston and the other half (the summer season) in Positano.

Not bad, isn’t it ? I decided to interview her to see Capri through the eyes of a conscious visitor, and especially to learn more about her profession, focussed on Mediterranean flavors and traditions.

Lauren Birmingham, how is living half-year in Positano and the other half in Boston? You can find a balance between these two different realities? 

Yes for myself, an Italian American, living between two great places is the perfect combination.  Italy is a place of ancient culture, tradition and food; and in summer there is no other place I would rather be.  We work hard from sun rise and then take early evening to go for swim (the beach is a short walk and we overlook it every day while cooking and writing).


Living day-to-day with my Italian culture and tradition that I was raised with, having great parents, grandparents and parents, who kept and keep the Italian way of life alive, has been instrumental for me.  On the other hand, Boston is a place of culture, education, competition and ideas.  With all of the museums, colleges, universities and more, it is a hot bed for learning and succeeding- there is an incredible energy in this city.  The city of the Patriots who carved American history battling for their freedom.  I am very proud to be a Bostonian.  We have a great cosmopolitan city that is the headquarters of American history, freedom – it was were the US Constitution was signed and ratified.


Regarding Capri, I love every part of this enchanting Blue Island.  Each little corner offers something special and different.  I love going to Santa Sophia and seeing the statue of Sant’Antonio who seems real.  It’s a joy to walk through the gardens of Villa San Michele at sunset when the crowds have gone, the flowers sway in the breeze and quietness is very special.  I also love walking along the via Matermania to via Dentecala for a romantic dinner at Da Tonino, one of my favorite restaurants.  Another dreamy place is Monte Solaro, you feel like you are walking in the heavens. I visited Capri when I was a young girl, after reading about it in many great books by the old world writers such as Axel Munthe, Oscar Wilde, Grahm Green along with Shirley Hazard.  And of course, I love Peppino di Capri songs, its an old music era that will never go out of style.

Capri expresses its beauty in all four seasons, spring and summer the best, and winter too.  Spring and summer’s hustle is wonderful and so electric while winter’s bluesy atmosphere is cozy and intellectual.  Among my favorite restaurants in Capri: L’Olivo, Il Riccio, Da Tonino, Grottino and Da Giorgio, all for different reasons.


Tell us about your passion for food and gastronomic traditions? Which are the “must-try” ingredients of the Amalfi Coast? What makes them so special?  I grew up with my Italian grandmother and mom.  I make everything from scratch:  brodo, bread, pasta and desserts.  I grow my own vegetables and make our own olive oil.  I advocate organic vegetables, fruits, and grass fed – non hormone- fish and meat.  I almost no meat, and am fortunate enough to have the best fish on the Amalfi Coast.  Boston seafood, with its cold water fish, cod, lobsters, scallops and clams is good quality as well.  I love olive oil, lemons, basil and garlic.  With these few ingredients you can make just about anything.

citrus.jpgHow would you explain the importance of eating local food?   Eating good food and local is so imperative, and most do not understand this idea and overlook it completely.  Also eating in the season is a natural rhythm that our body needs and knows instinctively.  If your body is in a natural balance and well-being state, it will crave winter or summer fruits and vegetables, in their proper season and  when they are in season.  Read labels, read ingredients and stay away from white flour, sugar, pasta, bread and salt.  These are the 5 killer whites. Could you pick some of your favorite Italian ingredients?  Extra virgin first cold pressed olive oil  first cold pressed olive oil, lemons, garlic, basil and rosemary from the Amalfi Coast, then truffles from Savigno, Parmigiano Reggiano from Emilia Romagna, Ricci and Pistachio fromSicily, artichokes from Roma.

Do you think we ( in the Amalfi Coast) have  a wide range of good/healthy food at supermarket? ( Sometimes in big cities the choice is greater, even if the flavors are not the same)  Yes.  In Boston and across America, we are lucky to have Wholefoods.  This high end boutique super market works with natural growers of organic foods and from local artisans.  They advocate non GMO and buy foods without pesticides.  This is so important for our bodies and health.  We need to know what we are eating and eat clean!

My favorite market in Italy is La Tradizione, in Vico.  Owners Annamaria and Salvatore are the most talented purveyors of everything in season, high quality and made by caring artisans.  The cheese selection is amazing, their wood oven baked home made breads are works of art, a carefully selected wine collection and gourmet section from olive oils, teas, pasta, spices, and select products from Campania and all of Italy make it my absolute preferred market.


How would you educate people to choose the right food products? My first rule of choosing the right food produces is know your source.  Buy non GMO, foods without pesticides, and be aware of eating foods in season (non waxed vegetables and fruits, never farm raised).  Become familiar with food combining.  Personally, I have always followed the organic and well-being way of life along with incorporating lots of exercise and meditation.  At Cooking Vacations, we offer hands on cooking classes, food trips, market and wine visits and excursions to interesting food places.  Our cooking tours are a unique approach to Italian culture.  You will work alongside qualified chefs, cooks, bakers and pastry makers who share their Italian recipes, hospitality, traditions and culture with you in small groups of 2, 4, 6 or 8 people.

cooking2.jpgWe carefully respect your food allergies, likes and dislikes-along with your cooking level catering to vegetarian, gluten free and any special request.  Following each cooking class, everyone enjoys the foods that were prepared in the kitchen together at our table.

Our tours are unique and authentic because I continually travel throughout Italy to create each one with our family of chefs, food artisans, cheese and wine makers and certified guides. I am an Italian American who lives Positano, Italy with my Italian husband Rino.  Together with our professional team, we welcome guests from around the world, personally meet you upon your arrival at the airport or train station ( together with my husband company Italy Car Drivers) and are with you throughout your cooking program from check in to departure.  We are at your service all along the way, for questions and streamlining so you can enjoy your trip!

You’re writing your first book, could you give us a taste of it?


My first book, which will be out shortly, and is a compilation of short stories on the artisans, chefs and local people, with folkloric stories on food and the artisans who continue to make them.  Featured in my book, will be stories and recipes, with the leading feature story on Executive Chef Andrea Migliacco Michelin Star Chef of Capri Palace.

The story of how the Capri Cake was the island’s most fortunate mistake;  the nuns who made the first sfogliatella, how cheese dates back to ancient Pompeii over 2000 years ago, Italy-s premiere wine maker, Marisa Cuomo, and how her husband gifted her the vineyard as a wedding gift, Ravello’s ancient trattoria and the v.i.ps they served their poor man’s food to, sfumato lemons and how they got here;  eggplant and tomatoes are not Italian at all, to name a few.andrea.jpg

In cooking, good ingredients are essential, but chefs make the difference. In Italian we say “mettere il cuore” ( you have to put your heart into it ). How would you recognize a passionate Chef?

Mettere il cuore, is a term that we cannot really translate to English.  I see the feeling immediately in a chef when I meet and interview them.

I immediately sensed Chef Andrea Migliacco’s passion, dedication and determination on my first interview.  As I got to know him, I mentioned my book idea and he responded, “Che bello!”  I said when you have a question, who do you go to.  He responded, “I go to my Nonna.”  I said, ‘I wish I still had my Nonna to ask.?  He invited me to Ischia, his home town and from there the conversation lead to  a collaboration of him offering his recipes for my book..


We just have to wait for the date of publication and presentation of the book to immerse ourselves in the best gastronomic tradition Campana, remembering that the stories of our dishes are made of people, work and passion, as saying: Pane, Amore e Fantasia.

AnnaChiara Della Corte: acdellacorte@capripress.com

The Gagosian Gallery of London celebrates Avedon and Wahrol

gagosian3.jpgThe English critics defined it “effortlessy cool” , bringing together the iconicicity of Andy Warhol and the style of Richard Avedon in one exhibition, indeed, can only lead to a successful outcome.

Larry Gagosian. the contemporary art shark, bets on two bigs of the last century for the namesake impressive gallery of Britannia Street, London, where he boasts two other spaces, in Mayfair. Where else?

My camera and I, together we have the power to confer or to take away.

-Richard Avedon

They always say That Time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

-Andy Warhol


The exhibition opens with these two quotes of its protagonists, both rose to prominence in postwar America with parallel artistic output that occasionally overlapped. Their most memorable images are icons of the late twentieth century.

Many are the reasons why Gagosian chose to pair the two artists, often parallel not only in time.

minelli-review-warhollPortraiture was a shared focus of both artists, and they made use of repetition and serialization: Avedon through the reproducible medium of photography, and in his group photographs, for which he meticulously positioned, collaged, and reordered images; Warhol in his method of stacked screenprinting, which enabled the consistent reproduction of an image. Avedon’s distinctive gelatin-silver prints and Warhol’s boldly colored silkscreens variously depict many of the same recognizable faces, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Rudolf Nureyev and the self portaits of the artists themselves.

The new trend in the Contemporary Art is to stop using the captions, but in this case – due to the celebrity of subjects and authors- we won’t miss them.


Both came from modest background, but soon have tremendous commercial success working for major magazines in New York. The 1960s marked artistic turning points for both artists as they moved away increasingly from strictly commercial work towards their own mature independent styles. The works in the exhibition, which date from the 1950s through the 1990s, emphasize such common themes as social and political power; the evolving acceptance of cultural differences, and the glamour and despair of celebrity.

Meanwhile the other two London spaces of “art broker”, (which boasts galleries in the world’s best hot-spots), not surprisingly nicknamed “Larry Go-Go,” display the German Albert Oehlen and the American Harmony Korine. But if you are around Mayfair, take the opportunity to admire the Master of Bronze, Arnaldo Pomodoro, at Tornabuoni Gallery, and Piero Manzoni at Mazzoleni. Here, once in a while, we can feel proudly Italians.


Roxy in the box, il Rock travestito da Pop

RoxyinTheBox.jpg“La scatola è la mia casa, la mia testa, il mio cuore, il mio ventre.” Rosaria Bosso, in arte Roxy in the box, è un’artista ed una donna complessa: eterogenea ma mai difficile , Roxy non si nasconde. Per parafrasare un verso di Whitman(niana memoria): contiene moltitudini.

Rifuggendo da qualsivoglia etichetta, utilizza il pop come strumento ma con un sapiente occhio critico. Fino ad approdare lo scorso autunno alla Street Art con “ Chatting” : una chiacchierata (neanche tanto) immaginaria con 18 iconici personaggi legati al mondo dell’arte, politica, letteratura , tutti dipinti ed incollati ai muri dei quartieri spagnoli (di Napoli naturalmente) seguendo la tecnica della poster art.


Da Pierpaolo Pasolini a Marina Abramovic, passando per Amy Winehouse e Martin Luther King fino ad arrivare alla Gioconda e Frida Kahlo, nuovi illustri inquilini popolano i Quartieri , e fanno compagnia alle signore che hanno l’abitudine di prendere il caffè fuori casa – i caratteristici e folkloristici “vasci”. Una sorta di metateatro, quasi un progetto antropologico.


“La street art è stata una necessità, un forte bisogno di comunicare verso l’esterno in tutti i sensi. Non pensavo di ricevere tanta attenzione, ma la cosa che mi gratifica di più è che la gente comune, spesso quella non educata all’arte, mi ferma e mi ringrazia per quello che faccio. Prima di scendere per strada mai nessuno mi aveva ringraziato per quello che avevo fatto.”


Roxy, ti ho sentito dire che il Pop per te è la “crosta” della nostra società, puoi spiegarti meglio?

“Il pop non risparmia nessuno. Solitamente ha un linguaggio semplice, colorato, apparentemente leggero e fruibile a tanti. A volte snobbato e trattato con superficialità da chi invece usa o ama un linguaggio completamente opposto.

Se dovessi immaginarmi il pop, lo immaginerei come un grande parco giochi dove ci sono delle giostre bellissime e dove in tantissimi vorrebbero salirci, dietro di loro quelli che con una faccia un po’ disgustata restano a guardare la giostra e quelli che ci salgono su.”

Il pop è sociale, in quanto popolare.

L’arte di Roxy sembra vivace e ironica, ma sottende una velata malinconia. Ha dichiarato: “ Il colore copre il mio nero”. Spesso ha indagato temi difficili che poi ha ricoperto con dei colori vivaci.

L’arte attraverso il corpo. La tua presenza nelle opere non è mai autoreferenziale. Raccontaci del tuo trasformismo.

“Sono la persona che conosco meglio di tutti, quindi mi uso. E poi mi piace entrare fisicamente in alcune situazioni, e il trasformismo mi permette appunto di avvicinarmi maggiormente al tema trattato.”


Internet è il tuo terzo braccio?” Internet è la nostra seconda testa, ormai nessuno ne può fare a meno.”

Come ti rapporti alla cultura delle immagini?

“Io vivo di immagini, ferme e in movimento.

Quando entro in libreria, il mio tempo lo dedico alle copertine dei libri.

Una volta lo facevo spesso nei negozi di dischi, che soddisfazione quei 33 giri, belli grandi e quadrati, era come entrare in un museo a sfogliare opere. Youtube poi non ne parliamo.. passo ore incantata a guardare videoclip: musica ed immagini perfette insieme.”


Il tuo rapporto con la Napoli di ieri e quella di oggi.

Il mio rapporto con Napoli è meraviglioso. Amo questa città, è la lingua che ho nella mia bocca. Questo suo ritmo frenetico e morbido mi rende tutto meno difficile da affrontare. Qui sono al sicuro, so di vivere in una città aperta dove è quasi tutto possibile se ci sai fare almeno un po’.

Chiusa ironica: alla mia domanda, “può ancora un artista essere locale?” Roxy risponde:

Per me di locale sono rimaste le trattorie e le pasticcerie, da non sottovalutare mai!









Calder: La Scultura è Mobile

CALDER-TATE.jpgPuò una scultura essere mobile, quasi eterea? Performing sclulpture, la mostra che la Tate Modern ha scelto di dedicare ad Alexander Calder , ci dimostra di sì.

Un delicato equilibrio di fili di ferro ( pionieristici per la scultura degli anni 20) sospesi ai soffitti e ombreggianti sulle pareti che assumono le forme delle loro proiezioni. La realizzazione di un ossimoro: Calder libera e rende cinetica la scultura, fino ad allora pensata come stabile e robusta, ora leggera e fragile . Ed ecco che Marchel Duchamp consacra questa “rivoluzione” coniando il termine “mobiles”: forme danzanti, che ondeggiano al minimo flusso di corrente..

“L’arte di Calder è la sublimazione di un albero nel vento”. ( M.D.)


“Sandy” Calder, originario da una famiglia di noti artisti della Pennsylvania, studia come ingegnere meccanico presso il Stevens Institute of Technology di Hoboken, New Yersey.

Poco più che ventenne si sposta a Parigi. Qui viene da subito attratto dal mondo del circo, tanto da crearne uno tutto suo “: Le Cirque Calder”, smontabile e trasportabile in sole 5 valigie.. marionette, acrobati, personaggi sottili e aggraziati.


Il 1930 è un anno decisivo: Calder visita lo studio di Mondrian, folgorato dalle sue forme geometriche colorate, immagina e presto dà vita ad un arte astratta in movimento.

L’ingegnere ottiene esattamente quello che voleva l’artista.

Una scultura aerea, sciolta dell’immobilità statuaria. Oltre ai “mobiles”, che affascinarono persino Einstein ( pare che rimase a fissarne uno per circa 40 minuti), la mostra propone anche alcuni progetti che testimoniano le sperimentazioni di Calder in altri campi, quali cinema, teatro, musica e danza. Ma soprattutto include anche quelli che Jean Harp nominò gli “stabiles”: bisogna camminare intorno ad uno “stabile” – il “mobile” invece danza di fronte a noi. In sostanza, nei suoi “mobiles”, il più delle volte manca la base tradizionale o un piedistallo che ancori l’opera al pavimento. Gli Stabiles, invece , sono sculture rigide, rette da una base poggiata a terra. Alcune di esse ricordano le contemporanee lampade di design Pallucco..unnamed.jpg

Una trasformazione radicale del concetto di scultura, che da oggetto tridimensionale diventa quadrimensionale – grazie all’aggiunta della dimensione del tempo, dovuta al movimento – e che in seguito assume ulteriori sfaccettature con la possibilità di interazione (tramite mani, dispositivi elettrici, correnti d’aria o il solo respiro umano) o di generare suoni. ( Si pensi al Gong)


L’arte per Calder è sinonimo di spazio e movimento, sempre legata all’idea dell’Universo: volumi, masse, leggere, pesanti, di diversa taglia e colore, linee, vettori che rappresentano la velocità; forze, accelerazioni che creano angoli meravigliosi e ben studiati. Nulla è immobile, tutto può muoversi, oscillare, entrare in relazione con altri elementi.


Tra una cascata di dischi bianchi e colorati di metallo, Foliage verticali,sfere che ricordano corpi celesti, arriviamo a “Black Widow”: realizzata nel 1948 e donata all ‘ IAB (Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil), l’opera è una delle eredità più tangibili del viaggio di Calder in Brasile . Normalmente ammirabile all’interno in uno spazio centrale nella sede dell’Istituto di San Paolo, è anche visibile dalla strada attraverso le finestre. Black widow, in viaggio per la prima volta, dimostra che Calder era capace di ridefinire lo spazio architettonico, non semplicemente di occuparlo .


A guardare le dimensioni imponenti e le forme aguzze dei lavori esposti, ci viene naturale chiedere come siano trasportabili. Ebbene Calder ha reso possibile smantellare anche le più grandi sculture in modo che potessero essere spedite evitando problemi doganali. Ha essenzialmente progettato opere d’arte “Flat pack”, coordinate con dettagliate istruzioni codificate e colori numerati in modo da poter essere riassemblate correttamente una volta giunte a destinazione. Questa tecnica permette alle opere di Calder di viaggiare. E questa è una fortuna universale perché, come dicono numerosi critici: “Non si può descrivere il lavoro di Calder- si deve vedere “. Ebbene cosa aspettate? Performing Sculpture, ( oltre cento capolavori) , curata da Ann Coxon, è visitabile alla Tate Modern fino al 3 Aprile!


AnnaChiara Della Corte