Friday, August 01, 2008

Weekend art dispatch

Very briefly, two worthwhile articles on art-related matters (with pictures) - surprisingly from papers I usually don't take that seriously:

The Torygraph has a nice article about Dick Bruna, the Dutch illustrator and designer who invented the "Miffi" character - a little rabbit tackling a variety of rather human problems. Miffi was already around when I was small and I've always felt drawn to the striking and simple design.

And so it's quite charming to read that the man behind Miffi seems to be a really pleasant sort of person, too:
It's hard not to be struck by Bruna's modesty and sweet nature. Even the details of his daily routine have a picturesque simplicity, and in his artless, unadorned English they take on an almost Zen-like purity. He rises every day at 5 or 5.30, squeezes a glass of orange juice for his wife, Irene, and draws her a picture. The pictures - all of which she has kept - are about things she has done, or reminders of things she is planning to do. He says that, on the morning of my visit, 'I did a little drawing about bridge, because she's going to bridge tonight'.

Die Welt writes about the German post-war architect Sep Ruf, whose work is currently on show in Munich's Pinakothek der Moderne. Among Ruf's many buildings is the Bonn "Kanzlervilla" (i.e. the German chancellor's official home), completed in 1964 - and a very ungerman building it is (see the pictures in the article).

Like the author of the article, I'm struck by elegance of Ruf's designs and the egalitarian optimism they radiate:
Die junge Bundesrepublik hatte mehr Vision, als man ihr heute hochmütig von den Apologeten der Berliner Republik zugestehen mag. Sie gilt als provinziell, kleinkariert und bieder. Wäre das Egalitäre nicht aus dem Geist des Neides erwachsen, sondern als Ausweis größtmöglicher humanistischer Souveränität entstanden, dann hätte ein Architekt wie Ruf diesem Land jenen Nationalstil geben können, wie dies Arne Jacobsen in Dänemark gelungen ist.
Arne Jacobsen, incidentally, did the city hall of a certain place not too far from here.

There's indeed a lot of good 1950s and 60s architecture around in Germany. For instance, I really like this house - although it's about ten years older than the chancellor's villa, not quite as slick and clearly needs a bit of work doing:

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