socks

22 Jan. 2023

Contemporary Spanish painter Carlos Morago depicts realistic interior scenes that are mostly reduced to the bare minimum: light floors and walls and sporadical furniture. Empty corridors and rooms are framed through opened doors and walls while opening on uneventful exteriors through windows and balconies.

Ordinary, in-between environments are the silent protagonists of the scenes, with variations of light effects intervening to characterise the interiors. Like a modern-day V.Hammershøi, Morago inquires about the suspended moments before entering a space, its progressive discovery and the projection toward the outside. 

All images © of the artist. Courtesy of Carlos Morago.

11 Dec. 2022

The Toghrol Tower is a 20 meters high tower located in the city of Rey in Iran made of bricks and Sarooj, a water-resistant mortar. It was erected in 1063, and according to some sources, it was conceived as the tomb of Tuğrul Beg, the founder of the Seljuk dynasty. Other scholars report that it was used as a lighthouse to guide the travellers of the Silk Road during foggy days and nights.  

 

Pascal Coste – Monuments modernes de la Perse mesurés, dessinés et décrits, éd. Morel, 1867, Public Domain

The tower has a deep wall and a peculiar geometry: its internal surface is a smooth cylinder of 11m in diameter, while the external shape is a polygon of 24 angles, whose vertex compose a circle of 16m in diameter. The polygonal shape is useful both as it turns the wall into a sound earthquake-resistant structure – and as it transforms the building into a horological device, as the shadows cast by the sun rays tell the time of the day. When one of the angles lights up, an hour has passed from sunrise.

Pascal Coste – Monuments modernes de la Perse mesurés, dessinés et décrits, éd. Morel, 1867, Public Domain

The exterior of the upper section of the tower is characterised by a high muqarnas (or Ahoopāy) which leads to a cornice, a typical ornamental vaulting used in Islamic architecture. The stalactites composing the muqarnas motive allow the transition between the stellar plan and the circular cornice. The wall contains a set of stairs, and a door which leads to the centre of the cylinder, today left completely bare and open to the sky.

Eugène Flandin, Tour de Yezid et ruines de Rhey, près Téhéran, 1840

Picture in (CC) by Matthias Blume
Picture in (CC) by Zereshk
7 Nov. 2022

Sandrine Marc is a photographer and artist based in Paris with a specific interest in self-made editions. She investigates urban and suburban territories through slow, long walks immersing herself in mutating environments.

In December 2018, after the first demonstration by the gilets jaunes (“yellow vests”, a heterogeneous protest movement) a series of shops’ and restaurants’ windows in Paris was left shattered. Subsequently, the Paris municipality ordered shop owners in central areas to set up their own defence, placing barricades in front of their glass windows before new demonstrations would occur. 

Sandrine took three walks in the city, one between the neighbourhoods of Nation, Bastille and République, one between Trocadéro and Concorde and one between Châtelet, Opéra, Rue Saint Honoré and Madeleine. She photographed every shut shop window and documented an utterly unusual image of Paris. For a few days, the commerces were muted and expressed their defence through self-made barricades; instead of inviting and welcoming people from the street, they were hiding and repulsing them staging a confrontation. Les devantures (“The shop windows”) is a long series of photographs documenting this strange moment in time. The disappearance of shops also reveals how much the city devotes its ground floor to commercial activities, yet only their sudden disappearance makes this condition evident. 

Les devantures is currently on show at the Galerie du Crous 11, rue des Beaux Arts 75006 in Paris until November the 19th as a part of the beautiful show Paul Grund, Sandrine Marc & Xandre Rodríguez in the context of the Festival Photos Saint Germain.

All images © Sandrine Marc

(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk between Nation – Bastille – République)
(Walk Trocadero – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)
(Walk between Chatelet – Opera – Saint Honoré – Concorde)

Here is a view of the pictures exhibited in Paris:

A case of “Reality Imitating Art”: check Nicolas Moulin’s Vider Paris, a 2001 artwork as a series of images in which concrete walls cover several building up to the second floor of another Paris, transforming the usually lively streets into a mute setting.

23 Oct. 2022

American architect Claude Fayette Bragdon (1866-1946) was also an artist, writer and stage designer. He was based in Rochester, NY where he built his masterpiece, the New York Central Railroad Station in 1909. His design work and philosophy were influenced mainly by theosophy, a form of esoterism that preached the soul’s spiritual emancipation. Bragdon wrote architectural theory texts influenced by his spiritual beliefs and technological discoveries like the x-ray vision.


An extremely skilled draftsman, Bragdon associated his texts with complex illustrations in pen and ink inspired by Japanese drawings with an emphasis on a balanced composition and on the relevance of lines. His texts fostered a vision of projective and fourth-dimension geometry as tools able to reach beyond the limits of the three-dimensional world and outside the mental constraints of human perception.

We can never see, for instance four-dimensional pictures with our bodily eyes, but we can with our mental and inner eye.


In A primer of higher space (1913) he attempted to provide a visual representation of the fourth dimension through two-dimensional projective drawings. In 1915, he published Projective Ornament, an essay focusing on ornament as a capital subject for the development of modern architecture, following Louis Sullivan’s research. Bragdon proposed an ornament derived from the two-dimensional projections of the fourth-dimensional space. A series of decorative patterns appear from folded-down axonometric representations of four-dimensional figures.

Following is a selection of illustrations from these two books.

Check out the research work by Jonathan Massey, author of Crystal and Arabesque, Claude Bragdon, Ornament, and Modern Architecture (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009) and of a series of articles on the architect.

16 Oct. 2022

The second album by British new wave band XTC did not feature any images. Instead, a written essay about how buyers are attracted by album covers to buy records was used.

The paragraph, which begins with: “This is a record cover.” occupies the whole 12″x12″ of Go2 (1978) in a way that was somewhat similar to the cover of Lucy Lippard’s seminal work Six Years. The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, a book published only five years earlier. Both covers are conceptual observations about their respective roles in the album and the book and provide information on their content.

Music albums are artworks whose material and immaterial natures are strictly intertwined: the object with its own design, the supporting format (physical or otherwise) and the content. Despite the floridity of music production and critical literature, apart from regular publications on classic or best record covers, little or no serious study seems to be done on the artistic value of album covers, their historicization, their possible classification in a typological manner, or even on the research and peculiarities of the very designers (one of whom we already featured on this site).

The “reduction” of an album cover to its essential textual information is a practice found in hundreds of album covers. This fascinating category is the subject of a new spin-off Instagram account from Socks, which we titled like this very post. Here it is: this.is.a.record.cover.

Following is a selection from the first entries.

XTC – Go2, 1978

Michael Snow – Musics for Piano, Whistling, Microphone And Tape Recorder, 1975

Gastr del Sol / Tony Conrad – The Japanese Room At La Pagode, 1995

Robert Ashley – Perfect Lives (Private Parts): the Bar, 1980

Henning Christiansen, Abschiedssymphonie, 1988

Christian Marclay – Record Without A Cover, 1999

Faust – The Faust Tapes, 1973

Various Artists – Klankteksten ? Konkrete Poëzie Visuele Teksten, 1970

Jérôme Joy – #29, 1995

John Cage – John Cage Talking To Hans G. Helms On Music And Politics, 1975

Jay-Z – 4:44, 2017

Thanks, Maxime Guitton, for your suggestions!

9 Oct. 2022

James Lipnickas is a New Haven-based artist and graphic designer. He creates highly evocative scenes representing small architectural stages in axonometric projection. Suspended stairwells, excavated blocks, and plinths separated, or all combined are located in deserted territories in a surrealist fashion. 

The technique employed is graphite filling the entire surface of the paper. At first, the artist draws the contours of the volumes in grey, and later he fills the different faces with different hues of graphite to highlight the volumes. 

The compositions are simple and effective, suggesting that the scenes extend beyond the visible frame.

Returning by Remembering, 2022

The End Is The Beginning, 2022

They Never Told Us That This Was Forever, 2021

You Were The One, 2021

Lost Between, 2021

Everything That Matters, 2021

Another Version of You Exists, 2022

Daily Battles, 2019

Time Was So Long Ago, 2022

There Is No Other, 2020

All images: © James Lipnickas.

2 Oct. 2022

The palace of Charles V in Granada was built starting in 1527 as a summer palace for the emperor. The Renaissance building is located inside the Alhambra, the former Nasrid complex on Sabika hill, a notable example of Islamic architecture. 

The structure is built in stone and is based on rigid geometrical control. It represents a unique type characterised by a square plan of 63 meters per side and a circular interior courtyard. The combination of square and circle becomes a recurring formal principle and is also found in the interior spaces and the staircases.

The façade is made up of two levels and is 17 meters high. The courtyard, with a diameter of 30 meters, is surrounded by a two levels portico with 32 Doric columns. 

The architect of the building, Pedro Machuca, is said to have trained under Michelangelo. After his death in 1550, his son Luis completed the facades and built the internal courtyard.

Aerial view of the Palace in the context of the Alhambra complex. Photo courtesy of Web Gallery of Art.

While born out of a different architectural logic than the rest of the Alhambra complex, the palace dialogues with the preexisting buildings, completing its sequence of courtyard spaces.

The palace was left unfinished and completed only in 1956.

Study for the West Façade of the Palace of Charles V, The Alhambra, Granada, drawing, attributed to Juan de Orea (MET, 1981.1213)

José de Hermosilla y Sandoval, Planta del palacio nazarí y del de Carlos V en la Alhambra, 1766-1767. (Courtesy Academia Colecciones)

José de Hermosilla y Sandoval, Plano general de la fortaleza Alhambra y sus contornos, 1766-1767. (Courtesy Academia Colecciones).

12 Jun. 2022

Bernard Moninot is a French multimedia artist. Over the 1970s and the 1980s, he produced a series of drawings, (inks, crayons and acrylics) of greenhouses based on various modes of representation, from axonometric projections, to outside central perspective or interiors views.

The greenhouses are shown as autonomous realms sporting a striking contrast between the geometric form of the transparent skin and the organic nature of its content, the plants.
The greenhouses are never represented in their larger context, nor as symbols of contemporary industrialized agriculture. They rather appear as slightly decadent, isolated cathedrals whose interior order is provided by regular metallic structures.

Peinture, 1979

Intérieur de serre, 1979

Les semis, 1976

Serre n°5, 1975

Châssis n°1, 1975

Entrelacs n°4, 1977

Entrelacs n°2, 1976

Entrelacs, 1976

Serre n°2, 1975

Quartz, 1977-79

Culture n°1, 1977

Intérieur de serre, 1978

Serre, 1977

All images © Bernard Moninot.

24 Apr. 2022

As a follow up to the latest post on Norman Bel Geddes’s stage set design for Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, here we feature the six maps drawn by Michelangelo Caetani in a book titled La materia della Divina Commedia di Dante Alighieri dichiarata in VI tavole, Roma (1855).

A duke and a politician, Caetani was well versed in drawing and fine arts and as a respected intellectual, his house in Rome was a meeting place for international scholars. As Dante’s scholar, he published relevant interpretative works on the trecento author and designed six topographic maps in multiple colours to be used by students of the Divine Comedy.

Michelangelo Caetani, The Divine Comedy Described in Six Plates 1855. Cover

Overview of the Divine Comedy, 1855(Plate I)

The Ordering of Hell, 1855 (Plate II)

Map of Hell and Dante’s itinerary, 1855 (Plate III)

Cross Section of Hell, 1855 (Plate IV

The Ordering of Paradise, 1855 (Plate VI)

All images are in Public Domain. Collection: Cornell University Library, Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections: Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Mode Collection.

6 Mar. 2022

American stage and industrial designer, director and producer Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958) worked on a theatrical staging of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy to be performed in Madison Square Garden in 1921 on the sexcentenary of Dante’s death. Geddes planned the dramatization, the set design, and the production script for the play at the same time. The performance never took place, but in 1924 Geddes published A Project for a Theatrical Presentation of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, a book that testifies Geddes’ creative efforts put into this project and his design method.

Geddes started his work by analysing Charles Eliot Norton’s translation of Dante’s book and selecting a series of scenes from the Inferno, the Purgatory and the Paradise that could be visually and spatially translated. He would then spend approximately two years developing a full-scale wooden model of the set for the Divine Comedy production to test the different scenes, the lighting, the effects. Photographs by Francis Bruguière documented the scenes as staged on the model.

The stage would be circular, with concentric, stepped layers; four stairs, symmetrical by groups of two, would be hidden into mountainous forms.


The set would thus be a monumental device (41 by 50 m) aimed to follow and reinterpret a series of visual and spatial visualizations of Dante’s Divine Comedy. In these, concentric steps are extruded at different heights to represent the descending and ascending logics of the circles of hell and heaven. The stage form acquires a symbolic meaning through mirroring Dante’s narrative structure and his description of hell’s and heaven’s topography. The stage would allow the unity of space through the whole play and dramatic background for the ever-changing movements of the actors.

Far from being a purely descriptive backdrop, the set was influenced by the expressionist theatre as it is particularly evident in the sketches and in the models’ photos, with a particular emphasis played, in the design, on lighting and on the abstract and symbolic meanings.

Norman Bel Geddes.
Project for a theatrical presentation of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Sketch plan.
New York, Theatre Arts, 1924

Norman Bel Geddes.
Project for a theatrical presentation of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Plan and axonometric section.
New York, Theatre Arts, 1924

Norman Bel Geddes.
Project for a theatrical presentation of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Drawing.
New York, Theatre Arts, 1924

Norman Bel Geddes.
Project for a theatrical presentation of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Drawing,.
New York, Theatre Arts, 1924

Francis Bruguière
Lighted model for Divine Comedy
Ca. 1924
Gelatin silver print

Francis Bruguière
Lighted model for Divine Comedy
Ca. 1924
Gelatin silver print

Antonio Manetti’s and Sandro Botticelli’s depictions:

Antonio Manetti, Everything Reduced to One Plan, in The Content of Dante’s Divine Comedy Described in Six Plates, 1506

Antonio Manetti, Overview of Hell, in The Content of Dante’s Divine Comedy Described in Six Plates, 1506

Antonio Manetti, The Lair of Geryon, in The Content of Dante’s Divine Comedy Described in Six Plates, 1506

Sandro Botticelli, The Map of Hell, c.1485
6 Feb. 2022

Madeleine de Boullogne, (1646-1710), was a baroque artist born and raised in a family of painters. Extremely pious, she remained unmarried and lived a semi-monastic life entirely dedicated to working and teaching. Among the most important commissions, she produced a set of four canvases for the antechamber to the King’s Grand apartment at the Palais des Tuileries in Paris, and another at Versailles for the Queen’s apartment antechamber. Apart from a series of still-lives and paintings of trophies, most of her works has been destroyed after the burning of the Paris’ Palace during the Commune and for the construction of the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles.

Despite getting progressively forgotten, she is still known for her documentation of the Abbey in Port-Royal des Champs, a series of fifteen gouaches on vellum where she depicted the nuns, their daily activities and the religious ceremonies in the abbey and that reflect her strict Augustinist and Jansenist beliefs.

The paintings are executed in a style that seems to anticipate naïve art. Among them, there is a group of architectural plans of the monastery, depicting every building, room, and garden. A second group consists of central perspective depictions of the nuns’ activities. Although the building’s features are here carefully detailed, the nuns appear as groups of identical veiled figures.

Madeleine de Boullogne, Vue perspective de l’abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs.

Madeleine de Boullogne, Vue de l’abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs du côté de l’Orient

Madeleine de Boullogne, Avant-choeur et autel des reliques de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Cloître de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Vue de l’abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Eglise de l’abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Derniers sacrements à Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Réfectoire de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Distribution des aumônes au-dehors de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Solitude de Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Choeur des religieuses à Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Pansement des malades à Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Chapitre des religieuses à Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Procession à Port-Royal des Champs

Madeleine de Boullogne, Enterrement des religieuses à Port-Royal des Champs

De Boullogne’s work for the Abbey was later used by another artist, the engraver Louise-Magdeleine Hortemels, as a model for the famous series of reproductive plates dedicated to the same subject. Born in a family of engravers, Louise-Magdeleine Hortemels (1686-1767) was among the most respected artists of her time in this field. During her life, she authored more than 60 plates and contributed to many others (often in collaboration with her sisters, signing their work by the name “Marie”).

Most of this work consists of the reproduction of past paintings, drawings, and design, in a way she tended to suppress individual style to enhance other artists genius.

Originally from the Netherlands, the Hortemels converted to Roman Catholicism and had links with the Jansenist abbey of Port-Royal des Champs near Paris. The nuns, their daily activities and the religious ceremonies in the abbey became the subject of 22 plates (15 originals and the other copies) engraved by Magdeleine during the first decade of the XVIII Century.

(The following images are courtesy of Gallica.bnf.fr – Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Source: Plans et vues de l’abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs gravés par Hortemels).

Magdeleine Hortemels, Plan de l’Abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Veüe de l’Abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Vue perspective de l’Abbaye de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Eglise de l’Abbaye de Port-Royal dedié à la Sainte Vierge l’an 1230. Sous Gregoire IX

Magdeleine Hortemels, Choeur de Port Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Avant choeur et auteuls des reliques de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Processions des religieuses de Port Royal à la feste du S.Sacrement
Magdeleine Hortemels, Les religieuses de Port-Royal de Champs pansant les malades

Magdeleine Hortemels, Le chapitre de Port-Royal des Champs
Magdeleine Hortemels, Les religieuses de de Port-Royal des Champs faisant la confer.ce dans la solitude

Magdeleine Hortemels, La distribution des aumosnes de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Cloistre de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, Refectoire de Port-Royal des Champs

Magdeleine Hortemels, L’administration du saint viatique

Magdeleine Hortemels, L’enterrement des religieuses de Port-Royal des Champs

Notes and further reading:

Misattribution of the original paintings seems to be widespread, especially because they were left unsigned: in some cases (even on Wikipedia) the paintings are attributed to M.Hortemels. In others, it is indicated they have been produced “after a print by Hortemels” although the paintings have supposedly been made earlier.

In the most accurate document we have retrieved (and which served as a source for this post), an article titled “Louise-Magdeleine Horthemels: Reproductive Engraver” (Woman’s Art Journal, Autumn, 1985 – Winter, 1986, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 20-23), the author, Elizabeth Poulson writes: “It has been suggested that a series of 15 views of Port-Royal in gouache on vellum now in the Musée National du Chateau de Versailles served as models for Horthemels’s prints of the abbey. Although unsigned, the gouaches have been attributed to Madeleine de Boullogne (1646-1710) (…). In fact, members of the Boullogne and Horthemels-Cochin-Tardieu-Belle families were acquainted and are known to have collaborated on several works”.

If you are a Boullogne or Hortemels expert and you are able to confirm the attributions, you are welcome to write in the comment section or send us an email.

For more information on the Abbey of Port Royal and Jansenism: Port-Royal et le Jansénisme (Editions Albert Morancé, Paris, 1925), a book that was published on the occasion of an exhibition held at the Sainte Geneviève Library in Paris, from May 16 to June 16, 1925.

On Madeleine de Boullogne’s life.

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