Artyčok Recommends

The lounge chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames is a classical piece of modern design. It was made in 1956 and its replica is still available in the catalogue of Vitra. The replica is slightly larger than the original because in the course of the past sixty years we have all grown and the average person is slightly bigger.

The bestseller Architecture of Happiness by the British author Alain de Botton was published in 2006, four years later it came out in Czech. In this charming book Botton makes us look in a sensitive way at architecture and things that surround us. His affectionate and slightly apologetic tone with which he looks at the chaos which occured when we no longer agreed on what is beauty arose is surpassed by his reference to Ruskin´s words saying we should concentrate on how things talk to us. He emphasises that the appearance of houses and things stems from values that are supposed to attract our attention and we create our own environment with view to values which we approve of. He shows the influence that things have on us (or the influence we expect them to have) and the role of anthropomorphic, metaphorical and evocative meanings which arise and change with every detail.

„…the same as changing one word changes the meaning of the whole poem, our perception of a particular building may change when straight sandstone lintels are changed and replaced by curved brick lintels.“
– Alain de Botton

Markéta Othová took photographs of the Lounge chair the way she usually takes photographs, which means that her photographs are based on documentary photography, in other words „ offering things to the eyes of humans“. When we can look at the lounge chair and ottoman from the distance and angle the photographer chose we see both the whole and individual details and we can imagine how the person who sits (or lies?) there feels, which is the closest to direct physical experience. Besides the photograph of the lounge chair the Gallery of Ferdinand Baumann presents anthropomorphic abstractions where an arch of white points recalls a string of pearls on a woman´s neck (an absent body again), two photographic flower still-lifes whose rorschach-like symmetry is at least as significant as the pink flowers in a simple vase, and two other concise abstact compositions.

Also those whose eyes will look above the gallery´s windows at the stone wall and who will wander along the arcade of Ferdinand Baumann´s house will be satisfied. Under a layer of colourful banners (rather desperately) trying to pass on the sellers´messages, under a layer of dust covering the glass ceiling, which tells us something about its present owner, we can see the old values on which the modern architect and owner agreed on in those days.
„We build for the same reason we write: to preserve everything that matters“ – Alain de Bottom

Jiří Ptáček

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