Thursday, May 22, 2014

Argo and Bloomsbury Tents

The 21st edition of George Theotokas' Αργώ, recently reprinted by Estia has ugly typography and an even uglier cover (and why was it split into two volumes, I don't know). Gone is the beautiful font from the original (1936) edition. Van Pelt Library has a copy of the 3rd edition (1957), which I copied above.

Browsing through Richard Stone's Bloomsbury Portraits (1976; rev'D 1993), I was captivated by a set of drawings by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell from 1913. They document camping trips at Thetford Forest, Norfolk. The tents are no different from the type used by the French Expedition in Greece in 1829 (see here). Grant's painting (above) is in a private collection. It speaks of a social indeterminacy and a bohemian attempt for ecological immersion. It seems that friends set up tents even when visiting the house in Charleston. Bell's work (below) is a screen that folds into three, now at the Victoria and Albert. Unlike Grant's painting that looks at the trio from the outside, Bell populates the folding triangular space with erotic figures, bending, turning, exposing breasts, thighs, faces. The same year, Grant hang out with Picasso in Paris, where they discussed ripping wallpaper to use in collages. I find an interesting resonance between ripping the paper of 19th-century interiors while also exploring the thinness of tent dwelling.

Zirwat Chowdhoury (Reed College) and William Tronzo (UC San Diego) are chairing a panel on "The Tent: One of Architecture's Many Guises" at the next annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians (see here). The bohemian expansion into tent space ca. 1913 would make an interesting topic. 

1 comment:

Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan said...

I totally agree with you about the Estia reprints: boring, unimaginative, even ugly as you described. I thought the same about the reprint of Venezis' "Land of America;" the cover of the first edition (1953) had been designed by Spyros Vasileiou as well as the drawings inside.

Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States

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