• innerspace | interior design blog

my husband, bob, and i recently visited barcelona, spain.  a city synonymous with the modernisme architecture of antoni gaudí (1852-1926).

during the late 19th century, barcelona was the center of the modernisme art movement, which occurred simultaneously with the renaissance of catalonia.  during this period, catalonia, which succeeded to castilian spain in 1714, began the political process of re-establishing their national identity.  a process that still continues today.

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festival (festa) | the national day of catalonia (la diada nacional catalunya) | barcelona, spain | 11 september 2016

photo credit financial times (ft)

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | torre bellesguard | 1900-1909

the colors of the red and yellow striped mosaics symbolize the catalonian flag.  the mosaics were painted grey during the franco regime (1939-1978).

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

modernisme is the catalonian equivalent of art nouveau, the transitional style that linked the 19th century classic revival styles to 20th century modernism.  the leading modernisme architects, including domenech i montaner (1850-1923), puig i cadalfach (1867-1956), and gaudí, used architecture, the decorative arts, and the applied arts to differentiate the city of barcelona from the rest of spain and the rest of the world.

like art nouveau architecture, modernisme architecture has a curvilinear structure.  with organic, plant, or animal forms.  plus, rich and colorful decoration.  sometimes, the structure, form, or decoration has a subliminal symbolic meaning.

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | roof top terrace | casa milà | also known as la pedrera (the quarry) | 1906-1912

for casa milà, gaudí designed a two-wing apartment building with an innovative figure eight shaped floor plan.  even though they share a common facade, each wing has a separate entrance and a separate courtyard that provides light and ventilation.  the stairwells, chimneys, and ventilation towers on the roof top terrace conceal the circulation and mechanical systems.  the building has been restored.  part of it is still used as an apartment building.  the other part is now used as a cultural activities center, exhibition space, and event venue.

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | serpentine bench | park güell | 1900-1914

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | the column room (la sala hipòstila) | park güell | 1900-1914

did you notice that some of the 86 doric inspired columns aren’t perpendicular?

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | salamander fountain | park güell | 1900-1914

gaudí was commissioned to design park güell as a garden community of 60 homes.  but, only two of the homes were ever built.  so, the housing development was never completed.  work on the project stopped in 1914.  in 1922, the city of barcelona acquired the property, which opened as a public park in 1926.

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | roof top terrace | palau güell | 1886-1890

palau güell was built to extend an adjacent family home.  the palace is noteworthy for the innovative use of materials, space, and light.  particularly, the three story parabolic dome that gaudí designed for the central hall.  the oculus and skylights that illuminate the dome are visible from the roof top terrace, which has 20 chimneys.  ownership of palau güell was transferred to the barcelona provincial council in 1945.  the building has been restored, but remains unaltered, and is now a museum.

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

do the roof top terraces seem like the most distinguishing feature of gaudí’s modernisme buildings?  actually, some of the other reoccurring features may seem more surprising.  did you notice the salamander on one of the palau güell chimneys?  another one of the palau güell chimneys has a dragon weathervane.

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | dragon weathervane | roof top terrace | palau güell | 1886-1890

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

and, the pavilions güell have a dragon gate.  the dragon gate is not only an allusion to ladon, the dragon with 100 heads that guarded the golden apples in the garden of the hesperides for the mythological greek goddess hera, but also to l’atlàntida, a catalan poem about the legend of hercules, written in 1877.

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | dragon gate | pavilions güell | 1884-1887

the pavilions güell were originally the gatehouses to an estate.  presently, they are the headquarters of the gaudí chair of the school of architecture at the polytechnic university of catalonia.

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

since i have an asian art background, the dragon gate also seemed like an allusion to ancient china.  especially, since we saw a ming dynasty art exhibition at caixaforum during our visit to barcelona.

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imperial yellow dragon brocade fabric | ming dynasty (1368-1644) | ming: the golden empire | caixaforum | barcelona, spain | 15 june-2 october 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

you can see the dragon that gaudí incorporated into the architecture of torre bellesgard from the southwest corner of the roof top terrace.  the gables and the dormers are the dragon’s face.  the stone masonry, the scales.  the ridge of the roof, the back.  and, the tower, the tail.

the dragon is an allusion to saint george (sant jordi), the patron saint of catalonia.  according to the golden legend, saint george slew a dragon to free a princess.  the kingdom was so grateful, that the entire population converted to christianity.  saint george is most often depicted as slaying the dragon with a sword while riding a white horse.  so, the tower could also represent saint george’s sword.

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | torre bellesguard | 1900-1909

gaudí designed the torre bellesgard, a private estate built on the ruins of a medieval castle, in a combination of the gothic revival and the modernisme styles.  the family that currently owns the estate acquired it in 1944.

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace, lisa walsh | innerspace and trip advisor

casa batlló is also known locally as casa del drac (house of the dragon).  the roof top tower with the four-armed cross represents the hilt of saint george’s sword, which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.  the roof, with scales of ceramic tiles with a metallic glaze in graduated colors, represents the back.  below the roof, the 60 parabolic arches in the loft form the dragon’s ribs.  the eaves of the roof form the spine, which descends through the building as a spiral staircase.

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antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | casa batlló | also known as casa del drac (house of the dragon) | 1905-1907

when gaudí renovated the exterior and the interior of casa batlló, which was originally a neoclassical style apartment building built in 1877, he created his most unique, most imaginative, most artistic design.  the building has been restored, and is now used as a cultural center and event venue.

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace, (c) casa batlló, lisa walsh | innerspace and (c) casa batlló

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casa batlló | before and after

photo credit casa batlló

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travel tips:

seven gaudí buildings are now unesco world heritage sites.  so, they are crowded with tourists.  following the advice of friends and colleagues who have visited or lived in barcelona, we were able to minimize the amount of time that we spent standing in tourist queues by purchasing timed tickets in advance.  whenever available, we also purchased the ‘fast pass’ that allows you to bypass the queue.  we also planned our itinerary strategically, visiting many of the most popular sites along the modernism route (ruta del modernisme) early in the morning, before the tour groups arrived.

interesting modernisme architecture:

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | casa vicens | 1883-1888

casa vicens is gaudí’s first residential building, which was recently purchased by mora banc, and is currently undergoing restoration.  the estimated opening date is 2016.

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | pavilions güell | 1884-1887

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | palau güell | 1886-1890

josep puig i cadalfach (1867-1956) | casa amatller | 1898-1900

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | torre bellesguard | 1900-1909

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | park güell | 1900-1914

we thought that the installation of decorative materials from gaudí buildings in the garden of casa museu gaudí was the most interesting exhibit at the museum.  the museum is located in the show house, which is one of the two houses built in park güell.  gaudí lived in the show house from 1906-1925.  we thought that the museum was interesting, but not as interesting as the buildings that gaudí designed.

lluís domènech i montaner (1850-1923) | casa lleó i morera | 1902-1906

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | casa batlló | 1905-1907

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | casa milà (la pedrera) | 1906-1912

our suggestion would be to ride the lift to the roof top terrace.  and then, to walk down the stairs to the lobby.  our suggestion would also be to bypass the visit to the pedrera apartment, because the halls of the apartment are so crowded with tourists.

antoni gaudí (1852-1926) | sagrada familia | 1882-

gaudí designed and built the nativity facade and the crypt of the sagrada familia.  the architecture of the rest of the cathedral is an interpretation of gaudí’s design concept, based on surviving documents and models.  the sagrada familia is still under construction, with an estimated completion date of 2026.

a friend, who recently visited barcelona, suggested not purchasing the supplemental tickets to visit the sagrada familia towers.

a colleague from barcelona recommended watching sagrada: the mystery of creation, a video by stefan haupt.

are you a garden person?

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best show garden | the telegraph garden | designed by andy sturgeon | 2016 chelsea flower show

photo credits jonathan brady/pa | irish times, rhs, and the telegraph

or, a plant person?

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diamond jubilee award | great pavilion | ashwood nurseries | 2016 chelsea flower show

photo credits ashwood nurseries, ashwood nurseries, and michael perry | plantgeek

financial times newspaper columnist, robin lane fox, thinks that even though the show gardens receive more press coverage, the real chelsea flower show occurs in the plant pavilions.

of the four case museo di milano (milan house museums), the casa museo boschi di stefano and the villa necchi campiglio are the most exceptional.

the casa museo boschi di stefano has the best salon style art installations that i have ever seen.

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salon style installation of works from the spazialisti (spatialist) and nucleari (nuclear) art movements

casa museo boschi di stefano | milan, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

architecture

both the necchi campiglio villa and the boschi di stefano apartment building were designed by architect piero portaluppi (1888-1967) during the 1930’s.

click here to read my previous post about the villa necchi campiglio.

portaluppi designed the apartment building in 1929-1931 for property developer, francesco di stefano.  at the time, di stefano was building a new development of apartment buildings in the neighborhood surrounding corso buenos aires.  as part of the development, di stefano built a five-story apartment building for his family.  the building included a one floor apartment for each of his five children.  his daughter, marieda di stefano (1901-1968), and her husband, antonio boschi (1896-1988), lived in the apartment on the second floor.

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piero portaluppi (1888-1967) | staircase in the di stefano family’s apartment building | via giorgio jan, 15 | milan, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

furniture

most of the furniture was purchased by the fondazione boschi di stefano, and is not original to the apartment.  consequently, most of the rooms are no longer furnished according to their original function.  instead, they are furnished with pieces from the same time period as the architecture and the art collection.

the foundation considers the credenza, dining table, and six chairs, designed by italian artist mario sironi (1885-1961) for the 1936 triennale di milano exhibition, as their most important acquisition.  other notable purchases include an art deco desk, bookcase, table, and bar (circa 1930), designed by sicilian architect ernesto basile (1857-1932), and six chairs (circa 1930), designed by portaluppi.

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mario sironi (1885-1961) | credenza, dining table, and six chairs | walnut, bronze, parchment, and ebony | designed for the 1936 triennale di milano exhibition

room 5 | sironi room | originally a study | casa museo boschi di stefano | milan, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

lighting

 the light fixtures acquired by the foundation for the apartment include the ‘who’s who’ of the italian glass industry.  most are classic murano glass light fixtures from 1925-1940 by barovier, giacomo cappelin (1887-1968), venini, or napoleone martinuzzi (1892-1977) for venini.  some are more modern, but from the same time period, such as the ceiling light in the sironi room by piero chiesa (1892-1948) for fontana arte.

art collection

boschi and di stefano collected over 2000 works of twentieth century italian art, which they donated to the city of milan in 1974 and 1988.  part of the boschi di stefano collection is on exhibit at the museo del novecento, a contemporary art museum established by the city of milan in 2010.

about 300 works of art from the boschi di stefano collection are chronologically displayed in their apartment, according to art movement.  there are entire rooms filled with works by novecento (1900’s) movement co-founder mario sironi (1885-1961) and spazialisti (spatialist) movement co-founder lucio fontana (1899-1968).

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lucio fontana (1899-1968) | concetto spaziale, attese | 1958-1960

lucio fontana (1899-1968) | concetto spaziale, attese | 1958-1960

lucio fontana (1899-1968) | concetto spaziale | 1956

lucio fontana (1899-1968) | concetto spaziale, crocifissione | 1956

photo credits massi_most via instagram, massi_most via instagram, lisa walsh | innerspace, and lisa walsh | innerspace

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salviati | 14 light chandelier | glass | 20th century

piero portaluppi (1888-1967) | six chairs | walnut | 1930

room 9 | fontana room | originally antonio boschi’s study | casa museo boschi di stefano | milan, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the boschi di stefano collection includes works by other well known artists, such as giorgio morandi (1890-1964) and giorgio de chirico (1888-1978).

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giorgio de chirico (1888-1978) | la scuola dei gladiatori: il combattimento | 1928

giorgio de chirico (1888-1978) | facitori di trofei | 1925-1928

photo credits sauvage27.blogspot.com via arte.it and lisa walsh | innerspace

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napoleone martinuzzi (1892-1977) for venini | 11 light chandelier | pagliesco (mercury) glass | 1925-1930

barovier | pair of floor lamps | pulegoso (bubbled) glass | 1935-1940

modern suite of upholstered furniture based on a design by piero portaluppi (1888-1967)

room 7 | paris school room | originally the living room | casa museo boschi di stefano | milan, italy

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

plus, works from the gruppo di corrente (current group), the scuola di parigi (paris school), and the chiaristi (clear), nucleari (nuclear), and informale (informal) art movements.

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salon style installation of works from the spazialisti (spatialist) and nucleari (nuclear) art movements

giacomo cappelin (1887-1968) | six light chandelier | glass | 1925-1930

room 10 | spatialist and nuclear room | originally marieda di stefano’s studio | casa museo boschi di stefano | milan, italy

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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salon style installation of works from the informale (informal) art movement

gino levi montalcini (1902-1974) | table | oak with ceramic top | 1950

room 11 | informal room | originally the master bedroom | casa museo boschi di stefano | milan, italy

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

aren’t the salon style art walls exceptional?

visiting the fondation louis vuitton (flv) was a highlight of our recent visit to paris.  the private contemporary art museum was created at the initiative of bernard arnault, the chairman and chief executive officer of luxury business group moët hennessy louis vuitton (LVMH), for his personal and corporate art collections.  the museum is located in the jardin d’acclimation, an amusement park in the bois de boulogne, which was converted from a royal hunting ground into a public park in 1860.

arnault collaborated with american architect, frank o. gehry, who also designed the guggenheim museum in bilbao, spain and the walt disney concert hall in los angeles, CA, to design a museum that epitomized the corporate image of LVMH as a patron of the arts, culture, and heritage.

the architecture of the museum was inspired by 19th century glasshouses, such as le palmarium that was built in the jardin d’acclimation in 1893, and demolished in 1934.

‘the idea of using glass…was essential in making the fondation a true bois de boulogne building, in the spirit of a children’s park.’  -frank o. gehry

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frank o. gehry | sketch of the fondation louis vuitton building preceding the initial architectural models | april 2006

photo credit (c) gehry partners, llp and frank o. gehry via fondation louis vuitton

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gehry partners, llp | architectural model | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credit (c) fondation louis vuitton via archdaily

 architectural digest (ad) magazine compared gehry’s architectural masterpiece to one of the masterpieces of hellenistic sculpture.

‘the structure alights in the park with the delicacy of the ‘winged victory’ perched at the head of the daru staircase in the louvre.  -mayer rus, architectural digest

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the winged victory of samothrace | parian marble and gray lartos marble | samothrace, greece | circa 190 BC

louvre museum | paris, france

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

the current chinese contemporary art exhibition at the fondation louis vuitton, bentu: chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation, even includes a replica of the winged victory of samothrace.

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xu zhen | eternity-tianlongshan grottoes bodhisattva, winged victory of samothrace | fiberglass, steel, cement | 2013

a replica of the winged victory of samothrace balanced on top of a buddha from the tianlongshan grottoes (21 buddhist cave temples from the eastern wei-tang dynasties (534-907), located in shanxi province, china)

bentu: chinese artists in a time of turbulence and transformation | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france | 27 january-2 may 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

along with a sculpture by ai weiwei, who reportedly visited the fondation louis vuitton while he was in paris for the installation and opening of er xi: air de jeux (child’s play or playground), his recent exhibition at le bon marché department store, which is also owned by by LVMH.

click here to read my previous post about ai weiwei @ le bon marché.

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ai weiwei | tree | fragments of dead wood | 2010

in the background:  huang yong ping | fifty buddha arms | metal, terra cotta, resin, various objects | 1997-2013

 the structure of the museum is actually a building within a building.  the ‘iceberg’, the interior core of 11 irregularly shaped art galleries, is clad in 19,000 panels of white fiber-reinforced concrete.  a network of steel trusses and wood beams support the verrière (canopy), the exterior shell of twelve sails constructed from 3600 glass panels.

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the ‘iceberg’ and the verrière (canopy) | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

you can see the structure of the canopy more closely from the west, east, central, and high terraces, which are accessible from the second, third, and forth floors of the museum.

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verrière (canopy) | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace
the panoramic views of paris from the rooftop terraces are spectacular!
to the west, la défense, one of the major business districts in paris.

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views of la défense from the fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

in the background:  la défense | under construction in the foreground:  the location for the louis vuitton women’s autumn/winter 2016 fashion show

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

and, to the east, the eiffel tower.

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view of the eiffel tower from the fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

the building is brilliantly sited not only to capture the views, but also to comply with local zoning ordinances.  to comply with height restrictions, the site was excavated so that the lower ground floor of the museum could be built below grade.  the fondation louis vuitton commissioned inside the horizon, a site specific installation, from danish-icelandish artist olafur eliasson for the grotto behind the underground reflecting pool.

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olafur eliasson | inside the horizon | stainless steel, aluminum, LED light system, colored glass, mirror, sound | 2014

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the terraced waterfall flows into the subterranean reflecting pool.

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the terraced waterfall | fondation louis vuitton | paris, france

photo and video credits lisa walsh | innerspace

going to a department store isn’t usually our highest priority when we visit paris.  but this time, our visit coincided with an art exhibition by chinese contemporary artist, ai weiwei, at le bon marché.  so, my husband, bob, and i made an exception.

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux (child’s play or playground)

le bon marché rive gauche | 24, rue de sèvres | paris, france

16 january-20 february 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

le bon marché commissioned the art exhibition as a promotion for their annual winter white sale.

does that seem surprising to you?

did you know that le bon marché is owned by luxury business group moët hennessy louis vuitton (LVMH)?  LVMH, who is a corporate patron of the arts, culture, and heritage, recently opened the the fondation louis vuitton, a private contemporary art museum in paris.  so, it doesn’t seem unusual for them to sponsor an art exhibition.  their only requirement of ai weiwei was the white color scheme.

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exhibition program | ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

the exhibition, which was his first exhibition in a retail environment, included five installations:  windows 1 to 10, ten narratives installed in the ten windows along rue de sèvres; dragon in four pieces, a silk and bamboo sculpture installed in the gallery on the ground floor; selfie wall, a video installation on the first floor; and escalating dragon, drawings in the style of chinese ink paintings applied to the railings of the central escalator.

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ai weiwei | escalating dragon

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

the song of white, the atrium installation, was the most fantastic with 22 kites of mythological characters from the ancient chinese text, classic of mountains and seas (shan hai jing), suspended like mobiles over the cosmetics department.

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ai weiwei | the song of white

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

for the entire exhibition, ai, along with a master kitemaker and his team of artisans from shandong province, china, hand crafted about 100 kites.  they left the bamboo frames of some kites uncovered.  and, covered the bamboo frames of other kites with white silk, which is less fragile than rice paper, the traditional material.  they illuminated some of the silk covered kites from the interior, so that they glowed like lanterns.

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ai weiwei | the song of white | heluo

heluo | a fish with one head and ten tails | barks like a dog

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | shuyu

shuyu | a fish with four heads, three tails, six chicken feet, and red feathers | chirps like a magpie

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | chunaio

chunaio | the ‘sixheadrook bird’ | a green bird with a yellow body, red feet, and six heads

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

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ai weiwei | the song of white | tianwu

tianwu | ‘sky cry’, the lord of the waters | a diety with eight human heads, eight feet, and eight tails

ai weiwei: er xi, air de jeux | le bon marché rive gauche | paris, france | 16 january-20 february 2016

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

according to women’s wear daily (wwd), one of the kites may be acquired by the fondation louis vuitton (FLV).  if you were the curator, which one would you choose?

click here to read my post about the fondation louis vuitton.