Richard Neutra, the quintessential California modernist architect, has made my stay in downtown Los Angeles worthwhile.

richard neutra self portrait in blue green michele roohani

Los Angeles’ main library has an exhibition of Neutra’s sketches and drawings and I was able to take some pictures to share with you—these are my interpretations of his work:

neutra Lovell Health House michele roohani

I love these largely horizontal airy structures; they are so “modern”, you forget they were designed in 1920′s…

I admit that I had to leave California to miss it and nothing says more Los Angeles than this beautiful photo of the Stahl House by Pierre Koenig, another modernist architect:

Pierre Koenig stahl house michele roohani

the photographer, Julius Shulman, became famous by this one black and white shot from 1960 (above) and its color version (below):

julius shulman Pierre Koenig stahl house michele roohani

Born in Vienna, Neutra (1892 – 1970) was influenced by his fellow Austrians, Gustav Klimt and  Egon Schiele (both died in 1918 when Neutra was 26 years old); this little painting of his could have been created by Klimt himself:

neutra horse and snake painting michele roohani

Another great influence on the young Neutra was Frank Lloyd Wright who invited Neutra to work in his studio in Taliesen. They rank him second only to the great Lloyd Wright in American architecture. Other early influences were Louis Sullivan (he coined “form follows function”), Otto Wagner  and Erich Mendelsohn.

neutra heller house michele roohani

This sketch is the Van der Leeuw House solarium (complete with bathing beauties) that Neutra envisioned to build for himself:

The  VDL house neutra solarium michele roohani bathing beauties

Chairs (this one from 1919) weren’t the only things besides buildings that Neutra designed,

palais couvoisier neuchatel neutra michele roohani

he even designed aluminum buses!

alcoa aluminum buses neutra michele roohani

Richard Neutra, the romantic engineer,  was passionate about art, technology and architecture—I love this drawing of a cellist playing Bach:

neutra bach cellist michele roohani

Leaving the cold winters and the world wars of Europe, Neutra took refuge in the sunny climate and rich landscape of Southern California; with his cool and sleek modern style he coined the term biorealism: “the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature.”

richard neutra kaufmann desert house michele roohani

To see my favorite architects go here

neutra la library richard michele roohani

Catch the exhibition at the L.A. Library here

Being Iranian, I am fascinated by Persian rugs and the exquisite uniqueness that defines them. The art of carpet weaving in Iran is deeply connected with the culture and the customs of the country.

persian rug michele roohani

Being away from California,  surrounded by snow in Switzerland and far from my natural  “soft fascinations” (read flowers, sunshine, rustling trees) I am experiencing a funny sense of “ecoanxiety” that may be cured by writing about my favorite permanent garden: the Persian Rug…

cartoon drawing naghsheh persian rug michele roohani

The designs (naghsheh or cartoon—a grid on paper with spaces colored to guide rug weavers in selecting pile yarns) are still mostly drawn by hand even though computers are doing wonders in this field.

Iranians are literally conceived, born and brought up on Persian rugs! Warmed by their soft and comfortable texture,  touching, caressing,  lying down and relaxing on them, comes naturally to Persians. The rugs add warmth underfoot like my favorite red carpet with these gorgeous Shah Abbasi patterns (with floral and leaf motifs mainly in the form of lotus blossoms):

shah abbasi motif esphahan persian rug red michele roohani

The density of tightly woven Persian knots (or guereh) are the calibrating tool for the quality of the rug,

knot count on nain rug michele roohani

a good Nain rug may have 500 kpsi or 500 knots per square inch (farsibaaf,  asymmetric or Persian pile knot.)

persian knot ardabil carpet michele roohani

This is how a flower looks on the back of this Nain (Na’in):

persian knots rug nain michele roohani

and the same carpet from the front:

michele roohani naiin persian rug shah abbasi

Like most textiles, carpets consist of warps  (tar) and wefts (pud). The warps are the threads running the length of the carpet. The wefts are the threads that run across its breadth. This is the same carpet spread out:

glenroy sunset nain rug michele roohani

Persian rugs go by region (cities mostly— like Tabriz, Esfahan, Nain, Kashan, Kerman, etc…) and each region has its MasterWeaver brand. A small encased signature can usually be found in the minor border like Habibian in Nain, Pirouzian in Tabriz and Taghavi in Bijar.

ardabil carpet cartouche hafez maqsud kashani micheleroohani

The most important signature must be Maqsud Kashani’s (from 1540) on the famous pair of Ardabil Carpets. A poem of Hafez is woven into the cartouche:

“Except for thy threshold, there is no refuge for me in all the world.
Except for this door there is no resting place for my head.”

جز آستان تو‌ام در جهان پناهی نیست

سر مرا بجز این در حواله گاهی‌ نیست

ardabil carpet central medallion micheleroohani

The Ardabil Carpets  have an interesting story:  the lower field and border of one of them has been used to restore the other (now in Victoria and Albert Museum in London). The used and abused twin sister was kept in the dark (not to outshine the V&A version) until 1931 and finally found her way to Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1965.

ardebil ardabil carpet lacma micheleroohani

After exhaustive restoration done to the dazzling beauty, the LACMA sister was finally shown last year (look at how they had to wash it!)

washing of ardabil carpet lacma

The Ardabil carpets are the world’s oldest dated and historically important carpets in the world. This is the twin sister in Victoria and Albert museum in London:

ardabil carpet V&A museum Richard Wait micheleroohani
It all comes down to this fundamental design that I just finished reproducing for the blog:

michele roohani persian rug layout glossary toranj

A love for fine Farsh (rug in persian) may be one of the few things that Shahs and Mullahs have always agreed upon!

cheese and wine in the garden michele roohani

Even though I have visited the great Manufacture des Gobelins some years ago,

manufacture des gobelins paris michele roohani women tapestry

I am dying to see the real thing in Iran,

chris lisle carpet weaving iran michele roohani

and take some great pictures.

loom metier a tisser michele roohani natural dyes

I will leave you with this superb painting of my favorite Orientalist painter, Gerôme, called The Carpet Merchant (ca 1887):

jean leon gerome carpet merchant marché du tapis michele roohani

A great site to get acquainted with Persian rugs: Farsh Mashad

Weaving Art Museum here

About different motifs and style here

Strasbourgers in the Alsace region of France claim that they are the “Christmas Capital” of Europe so as a good muslim I went there to check.

strasbourg  christmas ornaments michele roohani

Well, they keep saying it everywhere:

strasbourg capitale de noel michele roohani

It was a very cold day but thousands of poeple were swarming the streets of this beautiful Alsatian city:

strasbourg christmas street michele roohani

walking up and down narrow streets,

strasbourg streets christmas 2009 michele roohani

They have no pity for their babies fighting the cold,

strasbourg  christmas cold baby michele roohani

maybe because they drink this mulled wine called “Vin Chaud” (hot wine) or “Gluehwein” (in german): a concoction usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. They sell it in every other stand on the big Christmas market in Strasbourg:

strasbourg  christmas vin chaud gluewein michele roohani

I saw my first chocolate covered “strawberry  kababs”:

strawberry kabab chocolate michele roohani

Strasbourg is home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe:

strasbourg cathedral blue sky michele roohani

where Jesus’ birth will be celebrated this year with pomp and thousands of little ornaments made in Alsace (read China):

strasburg marche de noel ornaments micheleroohani

The market is not close to the big church but right at its feet with Santa Claus himself selling some of the stuff:

strasbourg  christmas ornaments santa seller michele roohani

Here is Alsace in all its glory (albeit in miniature):

strasbourg christmas alsace miniature homes michele roohani

and colors,

strasbourg christmas candles michele roohani

with little chefs baking for the big birthday (Jesus’, remember?)

strasbourg christmas ornaments chefs michele roohani

and big chefs of course making macaroons:

strasbourg christmas macaroon baker michele roohani

but for people with a weakness for great pastry I have a better treat:

strasbourg christmas buche christian patisserie michele roohani

The above are Christmas Buches but Christian Patisserie—that I discovered a couple of years ago on my first trip to Alsace—is known for its chocolate:

strasbourg christmas chocolate cakes christian patisserie michele roohani

and anything related to it:

strasbourg christmas chocolate christian patisserie michele roohani

Chocolate not being on my repertoire much, I opted for the fabulous chestnut cream “Mont Blanc”:

michele roohani strasbourg mont blanc christian patisserie

I went to the cathedral where a thousand Santas were busy clicking away on their cameras,

michele roohani strasbourg cathedral santa taking picture

and a thousand candles promised to fulfill wishes…

strasbourg cathedral candles micheleroohani

By the end of the day, I was one of the few without a red hat,

santa hats michele roohani

Alsace’s emblem is a stork—you see them everywhere:

 

strasbourg storks michele roohani

I couldn’t resist buying my first real mistletoe:

mistletoe michele roohani

and looking at the holly,

christmas holly michele roohani

I went to see the Fine Arts Museum:

fine arts museum strasbourg waiting benches michele roohani

where I revisited “the beautiful woman from Strasbourg”:

belle strasbourgeoise largilliere fine arts museum michele roohani

and the fabulous dutch still life paintings and my favorite Kessel insects of course:

insects and spider kessel michele roohani fine arts museum

By the time I got out it was getting dark but the market was still hustling and bustling,

michele roohani strasbourg cathedral night christmas

This whole trip almost made me forget Copenhagen’s climate summit, the American Health Bill disaster and the Swiss minarets…

Have a golden Christmas everybody!

bernardo daddi saint agnes christmas 2009 card michele roohani

The Quai Branly Museum presents the second PhotoQuai, the trendsetter biennial event dedicated to non-Western photography until November 22, 2009. Catch it if you can.

I was inspired to create this poster here and the clip at the end of the post:

ahmad ali photoquai iranian green poster paris michele roohani

Some of the images were breathtaking and I would like to share them with you.

abbas kowsari photoquai iranian photography

The above image is from Abbas Kowsari; I call the next one by Gohar Dashti, “tea and tank”!

gohar dashti tea and tank michele roohani photoquai

The Artistic Director of the Photoquai biennial is my friend, Anahita Ghabaian Etehadieh, Iranian founder and owner of the Silk Road Gallery, the only establishment in Iran dedicated exclusively to photography.

anahita ghabaian photoquai 2009 artistic director michele roohani

These two women were photgraphed by Bahman Jalali, one of the two curators of the exhibition:

bahman jalali musician women photoquai michele roohani

More ambitious than the biennial itself, is the homage given to a sample of 165 years of Iranian photography, in the museum. It gives an overview of Iranian photography from the end of the 19th century, with the portraits from the Qajar era, up until the most contemporary works by major Iranian photographers. An uneven, discontinuous road full of great surprises…

qajar women naser el din shah michele roohani photoquai iranian women 19th century

The above photos were taken by Naser Al Din Shah himself, a photography enthusiast, and the following ones are by Armenian-Iranian photographer Antoine-Khan Sevruguin:

photoquai iranian qajar women Antoni Sevruguin michele roohani

I love this shy Tar player:

photoquai iranian photography Antoni Sevruguin tar player michele roohani

The exhibition was especially interesting to me in its depth if not breadth of the older photos. I love these cute children photographed with their father in early 20th century peeking out of their hejab:

photoquai iranian photography family Antoni Sevruguin michele roohani

The  exhibit spills into 20th century with masterpieces like Kaveh Golestan’s images of Iran Iraq war:

kaveh golestan iran iraq war soldier with quran photoquai michele roohani

This visual storytelling will continue in the Musée de la Monnaie, museum of the French Mint and Treasury until December 20th. The exhibition is called “between Hope and Chaos” dedicated to 30 years of Iranian photojournalism, the three most recent generations of Iranian photographers between the 1979 Islamic Revolution and 2009.

I would look for my favorite works exhibited by Newsha Tavakolian:

newsha tavakolian photoquai naghsh rostam snow michele roohani

I prefer this one that I got from her site—there is something otherworldly about Persepolis under snow…

newsha tavakolian persepolis under snow michele roohani

and Jamshid Bayrami’s:

iranian women parying jamshid bayrami michele roohani photoquai

Photoquai tries to highlight and promote artists unknown or little known in Europe encouraging cross-cultural dialogue across the globe.

reza deghati photoquai biennale commissaire de l’exposition pour l’asie micheleroohani

A promenade along the Seine at quai Branly had been transformed into an open-air exhibition of photography where 50 photographers, chosen by the likes of Reza Deghati, the phenomenal Iranian photographer, exhibit their work.


Watch a great clip in TV5 here (even if you don’t speak french!)

165 years of Iranian photography here

PhotoQuai, Quai Branly Museum here

Iran, between Hope and Chaos here

A NY weekend —short and sweet just the way I like it.

chrysler building dusk michele roohani

The Chrysler building is still magnificent—I like the upper east side best.

manhattan subway lexington and 51st street michele roohani

sometimes photographers have to take some risks,

yellow cab madison avenue manhattan michele roohani

New York is a walking city and the shop windows are fabulous—I have dedicated an entire future post to it—Bergdorf Goodman’s window displays are so sophisticated, they are like mini-exhibitions.

window shopping manhatan marie antoinette michele roohani

India is big on Fifth Avenue:

manhattan fifthe avenue store display michele roohani

so is the cathedral

saint patrick cathedral manhattan michele roohani

Manhattan is a “hall of mirrors” with a maze of old and new architecture to dazzle you:

manhattan skyline michele roohani

Brownstones are beautiful in springtime,

ochre brownstone new york michele roohani

so are bluestones!

brownstone manhattan NY blue michele roohani

Prepare yourself to eat half a cow at Carnegie Deli,

carnegie deli pastrami michele roohani

and then the other half:

carnegie deli cheescake michele roohani

Jim Dine’s Venus on the 6th avenue,

jm dine venus manhattan michele roohani

The upper west side is younger and hipper—Amsterdam avenue leads you to a little gem of a café,  good enough to eat.

amsterdam avenue ny traffic light michele roohani

A hole in the wall, Zibetto espresso bar, is an ideal place to get you going again,

zibetto espresso bar manhattan ny michele roohani

to see some more of this beautiful city:

audrey hepburn marilyn monroe NY michele roohani

its buildings,

manhattan skyline grisaille michele roohani

and its skyline.

manhattan skyline traffic light michele roohani

I visited the Metropolitan museum and the Frick Collection as my usual pilgrimage but the most exciting show was at the New York Public Library. I have two great exhibitions to tell you about but that’s got to be in the next post.

Related and Suggested Posts and Resources

Babooshka dolls and Franz Kafka in Prague

The Art of Jazz

April 13th, 2009

These are the most interesting jazz images i’ve seen! The exhibition in Quai Branly museum in Paris was amazingly rich with visual complements to my favorite genre of music. Catch it if you can but if you don’t, here’s my report:

Birth of the cool Miles Davis 1949 michele roohani

Miles Davis remains one of my favorites—the following are mostly LP covers from the mid 20th century:

Bud Freeman,

Bud Freeman michele roohani

To go through all of my images and get inspired to prepare them for this post, I’ve been  listening to Mingus’ “better get it in your soul”.

Just look at this super cool Count Basie cover by Andy Warhol:

Count Basie michele roohani

Benny Carter plays pretty:

benny carter michele roohani

Sidney Bechet in Paris in 1952:

Sidney Bechet paris 1952 michele roohani

Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet,

Dizzy Gillespie michele roohani

Daddy plays the horn,

daddy plays the horn michele roohani

The beautiful music of Charlie (the Bird) Parker,

Charlie Parker michele roohani Bird

I like these very 50′s percussion disc covers,

persuasive percussion michele roohani

I am listening to Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane’s “Nutty”,

Thelonious Monk San francisco michele roohani

Now some posters from the 1920′s forward—Cary Hauser’s Jonny Mene La Danse from 1928:

Jonny Mene 1928 michele roohani

Look at the musicians here:

victoria attraction poster michele roohani

Grand Bal de Nuit,

Grand Bal de Nuit poster michele roohani

Jan Mara’s Mezze Mezzrow is soooo not “Kenny (my middle name is boring) G”!

Jan Mara Mezz Mezzrow michele roohani

A relatively more recent poster from the Lincoln Center:

jazz Lincoln center poster michele roohani

Now some paintings—Harlem Jazz by Winold Reiss, 1925:

harlem Jazz Winold Reiss 1925 michele roohani

The Lindy Hop by Miguel Covarrubias, 1936:

the Lindy hop Miguel Covarrubias 1936 michele roohani

James WeeksTwo Musicians;

two musicians james weeks 1960 michele roohani

Nicolas de Stael‘s Musicians:

musicians Nicolas de Stael michele roohani

Blues by Archibald J. Motley Jr, 1929

Blues Archibald J. Motley Jr 1929 michele roohani

Bernard Buffet‘s light drawings:

Buffet jazz drawings michele roohani

This Coltrane image is haunting:

sound of Coltrane michele roohani

and a very politically incorrect piece here called “cake-walk”—can’t imagine an American museum showing this:

le cake walk michele roohani

Last but not least was this fabulous Fred Astair’s homage to Mr Bojangles on a huge screen that I manipulated of course!

fred astair shadow  Bojangles michele roohani

to see him dance watch this absolutely great clip here.

century of jazz quai branly michele roohani

It was very hard to take these pictures (some were on very fast slide shows!) and to clean and edit them later but it was a labor of love; I’ve been wanting to do a post about Jazz for the longest time but where to start? Where to end? Who to cover? This was the shortest way I could record my visit to the Land of Jazz. Thank you Daniel Soutif!

jazz exhitbition quai branly ticket michele roohani

Voilà! Now you know…I have not even started talking about some of my other favorites: Louis Armstrong, Bill Evans, Fats Waller, Keith Jarrett, Ahmad Jamal, Lionel Hampton, etc…

To see some cool clips from the coolest of them all, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, go here

for a taste of the great Monk, go here

to hear the Bird,  click here

to see the genius of Fred Astaire here.

Alone in Paris

April 6th, 2009

Just came back from a brief stay in Paris and these are some of my pictures:

glorious morning paris michele roohani louvre

The Louvre is glorious in early morning,

morning at the louvre michele roohani

some jet-lagged tourists were the only people around,

from Rio to Paris michele roohani

early birds can witness the majesty of an empty Louvre Court.

lonely louvre michele roohani

When you wake up that early in the morning, everything is beautifully calm even in the nauseatingly crowded Paris,

paris penishe seine michele roohani

Another lonely hyper-connected dude:

computer dude in paris michele roohani

I met Jon Stewart at Deux Magots for breakfast that day—he made me laugh…

jon stuart at deux magots michele roohani

Angelina still has the best Mont Blanc of the city and it’s my duty to check the quality every time I am in town:

mont blanc angelina paris michele roohani

Of course my favorite is always “un petit noir au comptoir” (a quick small espresso at the cafés’ counter):

petit noir au comptoir michele roohani

Paris is a movable feast…

heart paris michlee roohani

Couldn’t resist adding this image of Maryam from a couple of years ago…

maryam louvre paris michele roohani

These are scary times and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t bring myself into making a light post about the beauties of the old world…

eiffel tower paris michele roohani

I watched the debates in awe, witnessed the bickering over the financial bailout with disbelief and then Paul Newman died and I had the Paris Blues… Watch this magnificent trailer of Newman and Sidney Poitier in Paris of the 60′s.

paul newman dies michele roohani

Did anybody looked cooler than this guy? Beautiful man with a more beautiful heart. Smoking killed him.

Paris remains splendid in spite of all the bad news I have been getting from home—a walk through Place des Vosges at night washed away some of that.

place des vosges at night stop sign michele roohani

The infernal crowds finally went home and left Isle Saint Louis in peace:

brasserie isle saint louis michele roohani

The best remedy— albeit temporary —for the blues is a visit to the Patisserie. Just looking at them can send you to the hospital…

dalloyau strawberry cakes michele roohani

I am not a chocolate or a strawberry person but I would kill for a Religieuse Café!

dalloyau religieuse cafe chocolate michele roohani

Window watching is a pleasure in this “walking city”,

red chandelier michele roohani

Nobody has the money to buy any of these overpriced un-necessities anymore.

prada avenue montaigne prada bag michele roohani

United States is trying to absolve itself from its sins and Europe will follow…

prada shoes michele roohani

This one reminds me of the “poustines” we were wearing as kids back home:

window fur coat with dogs michele roohani

Beautiful Mansard roofs are breathtaking:

mansard rooftops paris michele roohani

but not enough to make me forget this:

drilling sarah palin

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. Einstein

With these shameless gas prices, it’s less painful to look at cars than driving them. I went to an auto show today and two hours and 100 pictures later, I was about to over-dose on beautiful antique cars, gorgeous vintage sports cars and even the vulgar Ferraris and Maseratis…

race cars michele roohani

I’ve never seen so many shades of red outside the cosmetic counter’s lipstick section! A good name for a shade of lipstick would be a “Ferrari red” – a “Corvette carmine” for a nail polish:

corvette carmine michele roohani

Amazing tires:

car tires michele roohani

Lovely 1956 Chevrolet Bel Airs:

blue chevrolet belair michele roohani

Great interiors and fins:

red chevrolet belair michele roohani

It was Rolls Royce galore in Rodeo Drive today but that will be for another post.

This 1938 Dubonnet Hispano Suiza is out of this world:

hispano suiza michele roohani

or this Delahaye:

Delahaye michele roohani

To see more about fast cars, go here. Happy Father’s Day!

haute wheels hat michele roohani

Beautiful naked bodies

May 12th, 2008

I saw these naked bodies last week in the science museum. I’ve been trying to see this exhibition for a long time. Gunther von Hagens‘ lifetime work is awe inspiring to say the least.

Gunther von Hagens lovers closeup michele roohani

It’s all about real human bodies preserved through Plastination. It takes more than 1500 hours of work to transform a corps into a plastinate – the near perfect representation of a once living human body. It’s interesting to see  how each body has it own unique features, even on the inside.

Gunther von Hagens lovers michele roohani

We usually forget that beneath even the most beautiful bodys’ skin lies a skeleton, muscles, several feet of intestines and lots of other goodies!

joey house michele roohani celestial bodies

This whole experience reminded me of a great rainy day last year when I visited the small Dupuytren museum in the school of medicine in Paris. Just look at the skull of this man hit by a rifle stick in 1807 – he died after two days.

Dupuytren skull michele roohani

And if you are (unlike me) into mythology, you may enjoy seeing a real Kyklōps (cyclops). After being exposed to all of the above, I listened today to my favorite podcast about the history of Brain.

Dupuytren cyclops michele roohani

I am not all flowers and poetry after all, am I?

To see more of the beautiful Joey House go to my post sex, sex, sex here.

added on September 15th 2009:

I have thousands of visitors to this post; can somebody please let me know, who/what is sending you here aside the hunt for beautiful naked bodies?