Tuesday, April 26, 2011


As an art historian and vintage enthusiast, one of the most interesting things about vintage clothing is understanding the context in which it was created and worn.

When I found this skirt, I was immediately reminded of the geometric Minimalism of the 1960s-1970s, reflected by the work of Frank Stella (discussed here) and Kenneth Noland, among others.

Noland (1925-2010), a proponent of the Washington Color Field movement, is well-known for his target and chevron paintings, pictured here.

He was a product of the famed Black Mountain College in North Carolina, a hotbed of artistic development from 1933-1957.

Noland was extremely interested in the relationship of the image to the size and shape of the canvas.

Works like these became synonymous with the prevailing aesthetic style of the 1960s and into the '70s.

"For me context is the key - from that comes the understanding of everything." --Kenneth Noland

I'm wearing a vintage Diane von Furstenberg blouse from Wasteland in San Francisco, vintage skirt thrifted in NYC, vintage suede belt thrifted in Virginia, and Johnny Wujek x Modern Vintage heels.

Thanks to Kathy for taking these photos on her Brooklyn rooftop. Hooray for spring weather in New York!

[Noland images from,,, and, respectively.]

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I've been inspired by Abstract Expressionism many times in the past (here, here, and here, for example). I always come back to the movement, because of the way the various artists truly encapsulate the act of painting.

Although he resisted being categorized as an Abstract Expressionist, Mark Rothko is one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century.

Rothko (1903-1970) was born in what is now Latvia, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1913.

At the New School of Design in New York, Rothko studied under Arshile Gorky, and influences of Gorky's individualized style can be seen in Rothko's early canvases.

Rothko's mature artistic style, evidenced by the works shown here, harbors themes of intimacy, transcendence, and the unknown.

The viewer was meant to experience these large works at a close proximity so as to feel spiritually surrounded by the paintings.

Some critics have noted a sad sense of winding down in the works near the end of Rothko's life, preceding his suicide. Though he used less color during this time, they evoke spirituality possibly even more than his earlier work.

"Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete its varied quickness and stillness." --Mark Rothko

I'm wearing a Dimri silk blouse from T.J. Maxx, thrifted snakeskin jeans, Steve Madden shoes, vintage leather purse, and my grandmother's gemstone necklace.

[Rothko images from,,,, and, respectively.]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


If I had to choose one artist whose work I could live with for the rest of my life, it would undoubtably be Henri Matisse. His body of work features such a wide range of styles, but he always stayed true to what he viewed as the most important aspect--color.

For this ensemble, I was inspired by my very favorite Matisse painting--Femme au Chapeau or Woman with Hat, 1905.

When the painting, a portrait of Matisse's wife, Amélie, was exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1905, the color scheme caused an outrage.

Another painting of his wife, Madame Matisse ("The Green Line"), 1912, shows Matisse's further exploration of abstraction without any loss of color.

In yet another portrait of his wife, also from 1912, the face becomes strictly a portrait of black and white value. I've always found it interesting to see the variations in the ways Matisse portrayed the same subject--in this case, Amélie Matisse.

Click here to read a provocative article from the Smithsonian magazine on the importance of models, including Amélie, to the ouevre of Matisse.

Originally inspired by Woman with Hat, I combined a bright blouse and hat in the colors of Matisse's painting. I added the green bag as a nod to The Green Line, and denim to reflect the cool blues of the final portrait of Amélie.

I'm wearing a Zac Posen for Target blouse, BCBG hat, Cheap Monday jeans, Castaner wedges, my mother's vintage frog belt, and a Marc by Marc Jacobs leather tote.

[Matisse photos from,, and, respectively.]

Friday, April 15, 2011


Growing up, I was always fascinated by Degas's ballerinas. I loved the romantic, gestural paintings of young girls and women, and adored the painterly depictions of crinoline and pointe shoes.

I still love the works, and appreciate them even more as I now know their art historical significance. Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is often lauded as the founder of Impressionism.

However, he considered his work to be Realism, and championed history painting and the Masters as high art.

Over half of Degas's works depict his favorite subject--dancers.

These highly emotive compositions are beautifully arranged psychological portraits of the ballerinas--each figure is carefully studied and represents an individual personality.

These paintings and pastels are arranged more like snapshots of life than traditional compositions, which was a significant effect of the birth of photography on painting.

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." --Edgar Degas

This romantic, feminine ensemble reminded me of Degas's ballerinas, so I added painterly tights and ladylike pumps to complete the look.

I'm wearing a Rodarte x Target skirt and blouse, tights from Urban Outfitters, Bally patent leather pumps, Marc by Marc Jacobs jacket, vintage clip-on abalone earrings, and a leather Lauren Merkin clutch.

[Degas images from,,, and, respectively.]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


An important lesson I've learned from art is how to discern color where, at first glance, there appears to be none.

This is, of course, a metaphor for being able to discern the positive aspects of life--whether personally or in the world at large.

An artist whose work represents this idea beautifully is Wolf Kahn (b. 1927).

Kahn is an American artist, whose poignant landscapes combine color field abstraction with realism.

Kahn studied under Hans Hofmann, whose students produced some of the greatest art of the 20th century.

Most of Kahn's works are executed in pastel or oil, both mediums which provide highly saturated hues, and imbue common landscape depictions with keen emotion.

Kahn's work has been said to combine "the palette of Matisse" with the abstraction of Rothko.

I was inspired by the way Kahn utilized highly saturated neon colors, and found a suitable backdrop that reminded me of Kahn's linear depictions of the landscape.

Though my surrounding landscape was a bit grey, my favorite neon skirt and bright accessories became all the color I needed for a cloudy afternoon.

I'm wearing a vintage skirt, vintage silk blouse, Johnny Wujek x Modern Vintage wood & leather heels, socks from the drugstore, and a Dannijo necklace.

If you can't recognize the color in your landscape, why not become the color yourself?

[Wolf Kahn images from,,, and, respectively.]

Maxi | Everybody, Everywear