13 February 2010

Dateline New York

Every time I come to New York I tell myself that I am going to take it slow and not have every second accounted for. Without fail, that never happens.

I met up with my friend Tom early this morning for breakfast and then a visit to the Morgan Library. The Morgan Library was the private library of financier H. P. Morgan and it's now a museum.

On display now are the Hours of Catherine of Cleves in an exhibit called Demons and Devotions. Catherine's Hours was her personal prayer book and it was finished in 1440 or so. It survives as one of the greatest examples of an illuminated manuscript ever created.

The artist is known only as The Master and to see these pages up close and personal is to touch those times. The colors are shockingly bright and the scenes from every day life that surround Catherine's prayers allow on e a glimpse into the personal, everyday life of a noblewoman in pre-Ranaissance northern Europe.

From an art history context, you can see the beginnings of a return to perspective in western art and to modern eyes, it's easy to see how the Master fell short of showing true perspective. To modern eyes too, it's amazing to see a move in the direction that would reach full flower a hundred years later in Florence. It's amazing stuff.

Next up is a run over to the Cell Theater in Chelsea to see my great friend Janine in an Italian Play, Tosca e le altre due (Tosca and the two downstairs).

I love this town. Really. Where else in the US can you spend the morning poking through six hundred year old manuscripts and then spend the afternoon at a matinee performance of a contemporary Italian play?

I'm flying home to St. Pete tomorrow afternoon and once there I'll spend some time reviewing some of the design-related things I've seen and learned over the last few days. The bloggery conclave was by all counts an incredible success and it has been a pleasure I never thought would happen. I got the chance to meet in person a group of people I've been corresponding with for what seems like ages. Such times are these that I could befriend a group of people I've never met. Curiouser still is the experience of already knowing someone I'm meeting for the first time. Social media is an amazement and I have the great people at Brizo to thank.


  1. The Master was the James Cameron/Clive Barker of his day. Amazing stuff.

  2. What was most thrilling about those illuminated manuscripts was their clarity and brilliant color. They were nearly fluorescent they were so bright. What was even more thrilling about that trip to the Morgan is that Catherine of Cleves' Hours is but one of hundreds of these manuscripts they have in their collection. Oh there were stacks and stacks of them. Next time you're in new York, be sure you add the Morgan to your itinerary. Amazing stuff!


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