Tag Archives: luxury

Beauty and Beast: Venice and the rhino

In 1751 Pietro Longhi painted this portrait of the rhinoceros, Clara, brought to the Venice Carneval that year. He depicted the animal eating quietly, indifferent to its owner (carrying the horn which had rubbed off) and to the masked and other spectators in the casotto behind it. Nearly three centuries later the rhinoceros returns to Venice in the form of a symposium, Beauty and the Beast: Venice and the Rhino, on 24 November and an accompanying exhibition, Rhinoceros: Luxury’s Fragile Frontier, 24 November – 21 December, both at the Palazzo Contarini Polignac. The exhibition title reveals the central theme. Both Venice and the rhinoceros are now luxury objects and both are threatened by the desire they evoke. The symposium brings together artists, conservationists, poets, writers, and historians to explore the unexpected intersections between these two endangered objects of luxury consumption. The exhibition presents the works of two artists concerned about issues of fragility and identity in relation to their personal and wider worlds and that of the rhinoceros. Their sculptural creations will be framed against the background of a ‘demand reduction’ marketing campaign which targets the consumption of rhino horn.

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Palaces, skyscrapers, villas, follies ….. and six styles of architectural luxury

9781409433217.PPC_Layout 1Today luxury and its celebration are hardly confined to European élites and the American leisure class. Apart from the adornment of the body, the displays of luxury surround us most visibly in built and unbuilt environments. In The Architecture of Luxury (2014) Annette Condello focuses on a range of contexts in Italy and Western Europe, Latin America and the United States to trace the myths and applications of luxury in architecture, interiors and designed landscapes. Moving from antiquity to the modern era, she identifies six historical categories of luxury – Sybaritic, Lucullan, architectural excess, rustic, neoEuropean and modern – and relates them to their different historical periods and cultural contexts.

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Luxury and its underside

Rosa Salzberg   University of Warwick

Luxury is one of the concepts most closely associated in the popular mind with Italy today and in the Renaissance period which I research and teach.

A diamond is forever

‘A diamond is forever’ (Don Draper, 1948, after Anita Loos, 1925)

But the precise value and consequences of luxury – of the skills it preserves and innovation it generates, but also of the social inequalities it reflects and arguably exacerbates – are still matters of heated debate. I am part of a recently-launched International Network entitled Luxury & the Manipulation of Desire which aims to explore these questions anew, linking the contemporary agenda to scholarship on the history of global luxury from the Renaissance to the present. It focuses on three key areas: the production of luxury, the regulation of luxury and the geography of luxury.

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The architecture of luxury

Annette Condello   Curtin University

120px-08653_Palacio_de_Bellas_Artes

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Begun by Adamo Boari in 1901.

The idea of luxury – how it can be defined and what forms it takes in different cultural contexts and historical periods – is the theme of an earlier post. My own interest is in the application of luxury in the field of architecture. Building on my previous research, which examined Francesco Venezia’s contemporary architectural spolia in Italy and France and Adamo Boari’s early modern designs in Mexico and the USA, I am developing a project which examines the meaning and application of luxury. Luxury has become a contentious issue in architecture: is it an unqualified benefit or something that should be present only within strict limits? The project’s scope spans from antiquity to modern (and contemporary) times.  Continue reading

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