Sunday, June 14, 2015

Monica Vitti's existential crisis and my grandfather's long johns - it's hot and cold in "The Red Desert".

The Girl on the Beach clip from "The Red Desert"


Monica Vitti in a still from Michelangelo Antonioni's film The Red Desert (Il Deserto Rosso), 1964.
The blocks of color, lines, and fabrics in this photo inspired the pillow design.


           Fabrics used include my grandfather's woolen long johns-- ca. 1960 or earlier-- with his last name, Hermes, handwritten on waistband; 1970's corduroy Levis;  red cotton batik remnants from the lapel of   the poppy robe I designed and made . Other scraps include digital print silk I made into a scarf, an orange cotton print sample brought from India years ago by the husband of a friend of mine, 1980's curtain fabric from my sister, and red plaid silk upholstery sample.


The random sizes and shapes of the scraps form the basis of the composition.

A few weeks ago I stitched together pieces of the Levis to make a pigment sheet with no idea how I would use it;  the irregular piecing and layers reminded me of Serge Poliakoff  's paintings, which I love:

in progress 

The first mock-up was a series of mostly vertical lines, much like the film photo.

The texture and color of Monica Vitti's sweater made me think to add in my grandfather's woolen long johns-- the triangular shape of the waistband shifted the composition, broke up the grid.
The manufacturer's label and my grandmother's handwriting inside were a surprise that begged to be exposed.

Hans Hofmann

I was thinking of Hans Hoffman 's early to mid-1960's color block paintings, which he was doing at the same time Antonioni was making this film.  In the photo below, you can see how art of the period was influencing film set design, in the use of blocks of color, and even the attention to the paint-- the unevenness of the layers, and the texture of it peeling away from the surfaces.

Here's Tillycat doing her best Monica Vitti impersonation.