The US Postal Service to Release Stamp Collection Featuring the Photography of Ansel Adams

The US Postal Ser­vice will be class­ing up the joint, with the planned release of 16 stamps fea­tur­ing the pho­tog­ra­phy of Ansel Adams. They write:

Ansel Adams made a career of craft­ing pho­tographs in exquis­ite­ly sharp focus and near­ly infi­nite tonal­i­ty and detail. His abil­i­ty to con­sis­tent­ly visu­al­ize a sub­ject — not how it looked in real­i­ty but how it felt to him emo­tion­al­ly — led to some of the most famous images of America’s nat­ur­al trea­sures includ­ing Half Dome in California’s Yosemite Val­ley, the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, and Denali in Alas­ka, the high­est peak in the Unit­ed States.

Due to be unveiled on May 15th, the stamps will fea­ture icon­ic US land­scapes, includ­ing Half Dome in Yosemite Nation­al Park, Mon­u­ment Val­ley in Ari­zona, the Grand Tetons, the Snake Riv­er and more. Find more infor­ma­tion on the stamps here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent

Ansel Adams Reveals His Cre­ative Process in 1958 Doc­u­men­tary

The Cap­ti­vat­ing Sto­ry Behind the Mak­ing of Ansel Adams’ Most Famous Pho­to­graph, Moon­rise, Her­nan­dez, New Mex­i­co

200 Ansel Adams Pho­tographs Expose the Rig­ors of Life in Japan­ese Intern­ment Camps Dur­ing WW II

How French Artists in 1899 Envisioned What Life Would Look Like in the Year 2000

Atom­ic physi­cist Niels Bohr is famous­ly quot­ed as say­ing, “Pre­dic­tion is very dif­fi­cult, espe­cial­ly if it’s about the future.” Yet despite years of get­ting things wrong, mag­a­zines love think pieces on where we’ll be in sev­er­al decades, even cen­turies in time. It gives us com­fort to think great things await us, even though we’re long over­due for the per­son­al jet­pack and moon colonies.

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._Whale_bus

And yet it’s Asi­mov who appar­ent­ly owned the only set of post­cards of En L’An 2000, a set of 87 (or so) col­lectible artist cards that first appeared as inserts in cig­ar box­es in 1899, right in time for the 1900 World Exhi­bi­tion in Paris. Trans­lat­ed as “France in the 21st Cen­tu­ry,” the cards fea­ture Jean-Marc Côté and oth­er illus­tra­tors’ inter­pre­ta­tions of the way we’d be living…well, 23 years ago.

The his­to­ry of the card’s pro­duc­tion is very con­vo­lut­ed, with the orig­i­nal com­mis­sion­ing com­pa­ny going out of busi­ness before they could be dis­trib­uted, and whether that com­pa­ny was a toy man­u­fac­tur­er or a cig­a­rette com­pa­ny, nobody seems to know. And were the ideas giv­en to the artists, or did they come up with them on their own? We don’t know.

France_in_XXI_Century._Farmer

France_in_XXI_Century._Water_croquet

One of the first things that stands out scan­ning through these prints, now host­ed at The Pub­lic Domain Review, is a com­plete absence of space trav­el, despite Jules Verne hav­ing writ­ten From the Earth to the Moon in 1865 (which would influ­ence Georges Méliès’ A Voy­age to the Moon in 1902). How­ev­er, the under­wa­ter world spawned many a flight of fan­cy, includ­ing a whale-drawn bus, a cro­quet par­ty at the bot­tom of the ocean, and large fish being raced like thor­ough­bred hors­es.

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._Helicopter

There are a few inven­tions we can say came true. The “Advance Sen­tinel in a Heli­copter” has been doc­u­ment­ing traf­fic and car chas­es for decades now, fed right into our tele­vi­sions. A lot of farm work is now auto­mat­ed. And “Elec­tric Scrub­bing” is now called a Room­ba.

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._Electric_scrubbing

For a card-by-card exam­i­na­tion of these future visions, one should hunt out Isaac Asimov’s 1986 Future­days: A Nine­teenth Cen­tu­ry Vision of the Year 2000, which can be found on Ama­zon right now. (Or see the nice gallery of images at The Pub­lic Domain Review.) And who knows? Maybe next year, your order will come to your door by drone. Just a pre­dic­tion.

Note: Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2015.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In 1922, a Nov­el­ist Pre­dicts What the World Will Look Like in 2022: Wire­less Tele­phones, 8‑Hour Flights to Europe & More

Author Imag­ines in 1893 the Fash­ions That Would Appear Over the Next 100 Years

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

Isaac Asi­mov Pre­dicts the Future in 1982: Com­put­ers Will Be “at the Cen­ter of Every­thing;” Robots Will Take Human Jobs

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

“Hello Vincent”: A Generative AI Project Brings Vincent Van Gogh to Life at the Musée D’Orsay

?si=aoRK422gthc62UZE

If you attend the “Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise” exhi­bi­tion at the Musée D’Or­say, in Paris, you can spend time with “Hel­lo Vin­cent,” a gen­er­a­tive Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence project that allows vis­i­tors to have “a unique, per­son­al­ized encounter” with Vin­cent van Gogh. Accord­ing to CBS Sun­day Morn­ing, whose report we’ve includ­ed above, “Hel­lo Vin­cent” allows muse­um vis­i­tors to con­verse with Van Gogh and ask him ques­tions. His respons­es draw on a cor­pus of 900 let­ters where Van Gogh talks about his life and work. And appar­ent­ly “the more ques­tions you ask, the more the AI learns and improves.”

The “Hel­lo Vin­cent” project was devel­oped by Jum­bo Mana, a start­up spe­cial­iz­ing in gen­er­a­tive AI that brings char­ac­ters to life.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

A Com­plete Archive of Vin­cent van Gogh’s Let­ters: Beau­ti­ful­ly Illus­trat­ed and Ful­ly Anno­tat­ed

Down­load Hun­dreds of Van Gogh Paint­ings, Sketch­es & Let­ters in High Res­o­lu­tion

Vin­cent van Gogh Vis­its a Mod­ern Art Gallery & Gets to See His Artis­tic Lega­cy: A Touch­ing Scene from Doc­tor Who

Mar­tin Scors­ese Plays Vin­cent Van Gogh in a Short, Sur­re­al Film by Aki­ra Kuro­sawa

Watch the Trail­er for a “Ful­ly Paint­ed” Van Gogh Film: Fea­tures 12 Oil Paint­ings Per Sec­ond by 100+ Painters

Architect Breaks Down the Design Of Four Iconic New York City Museums: the Met, MoMA, Guggenheim & Frick

Con­text may not count for every­thing in art. But as under­scored by every­one from Mar­cel Duchamp (or Elsa von Frey­tag-Lor­ing­hoven) to the jour­nal­ists who occa­sion­al­ly con­vince vir­tu­oso musi­cians to busk in dingy pub­lic spaces, it cer­tain­ly counts for some­thing. Whether or not you believe that works of art retain the same essen­tial val­ue no mat­ter where they’re beheld, some envi­ron­ments are sure­ly more con­ducive to appre­ci­a­tion than oth­ers. The ques­tion of just which design ele­ments make the dif­fer­ence has occu­pied muse­um archi­tects for cen­turies, and in New York City alone, you can direct­ly expe­ri­ence more than 200 years of bold exer­cis­es and exper­i­ments in the form.

In the Archi­tec­tur­al Digest video above, archi­tect Michael Wyet­zn­er (pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his exege­ses of New York’s apart­ments, bridges, and sub­way sta­tions, as well as Cen­tral Park and the Chrysler Build­ing) uses his expert knowl­edge to reveal the design choic­es that have gone into the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um, and the Frick Col­lec­tion. No two of these famous art insti­tu­tions were con­ceived in quite the same peri­od, none look or feel quite the same as the oth­ers, and we can be rea­son­ably sure that no sin­gle piece of art would look quite the same if it were moved between any of them.

Occu­py­ing five blocks of Cen­tral Park, MoMA is less a build­ing than a col­lec­tion of build­ings — each added at a dif­fer­ent time, in a style of that time — and indeed, less a col­lec­tion of build­ings than “a city unto itself,” as Wyet­zn­er puts it.  (No won­der Clau­dia and Jamie Kin­caid could run away from home and go unno­ticed liv­ing in it.) The com­par­a­tive­ly mod­est MoMA has also grown addi­tion-by-addi­tion, begin­ning with a “stripped-down form of mod­ernism” that stood well out on the West 53rd street of the late thir­ties. It opened as the first of the many “clean white box­es” that would appear across the coun­try — and lat­er the world — to show the art of the twen­ti­eth and twen­ty-first cen­turies.

The orig­i­nal MoMA build­ing remains strik­ing today, but it’s now flanked by expan­sions from the hands of Philip John­son, Cesar Pel­li, Yoshio Taniguchi, and Jean Nou­v­el. Much less like­ly to have any­thing attached to it is the Guggen­heim, with its instant­ly rec­og­niz­able spi­ral design by Frank Lloyd Wright. Based on an idea by Le Cor­busier, its nar­row atri­um-wrap­ping gal­leries do present cer­tain dif­fi­cul­ties for the prop­er dis­play of large-scale art­works. Wyet­zn­er also men­tions the oft-heard crit­i­cism of Wright’s hav­ing “cre­at­ed a mon­u­ment to him­self — but it’s one hell of a mon­u­ment.”

Last comes “the orig­i­nal build­ing for the Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art, which lat­er became the Met Breuer, which now has become the Frick. Who knows what it’ll become next.” The sec­ond of its names refers to its archi­tect, the Bauhaus-trained Mar­cel Breuer (he of the Wass­i­ly chair), whose mus­cu­lar design “slices off” the muse­um from the brown­stone neigh­bor­hood that sur­rounds it. With its “open, loft-like spaces,” it pro­vides a con­text meant for the art of its time, much as the Met, MoMA, and the Guggen­heim do for the art of theirs. But all these insti­tu­tions have suc­ceed­ed just as much by carv­ing out con­texts of their own in the open-air muse­um of archi­tec­ture and urban­ism that is New York City.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Archi­tect Breaks Down Five of the Most Icon­ic New York City Apart­ments

The 5 Inno­v­a­tive Bridges That Make New York City, New York City

How Cen­tral Park Was Cre­at­ed Entire­ly By Design & Not By Nature: An Archi­tect Breaks Down America’s Great­est Urban Park

An Archi­tect Breaks Down the Design of New York City Sub­way Sta­tions, from the Old­est to Newest

A Whirl­wind Archi­tec­tur­al Tour of the New York Pub­lic Library — “Hid­den Details” and All

A 3D Ani­ma­tion Shows the Evo­lu­tion of New York City (1524 — 2023)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Brian Eno’s Beautiful New Turntable Glows & Constantly Changes Colors as It Plays

When we think of Bri­an Eno’s work, we first think of his records. These include not just his own clas­sics of “ambi­ent music” — a term he pop­u­lar­ized — like Dis­creet Music and Music for Air­ports, but also the albums he’s pro­duced: Devo’s Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Talk­ing Heads’ Remain in Light, U2’s The Joshua Tree, David Bowie’s Out­side. Yet even before he got into music, Eno was paint­ing, and in some sense, he’s nev­er stopped. He was describ­ing his work with sound as the cre­ation of “imag­i­nary land­scapes” even in the nine­teen-eight­ies; in this cen­tu­ry, he’s con­tin­ued to put out records while cre­at­ing ever-more-high-pro­file works of a more visu­al nature, from instal­la­tions to apps.

A few years ago, Eno even got into the busi­ness of func­tion­al sculp­ture, design­ing a turntable that emanates LED light of var­i­ous, grad­u­al­ly shift­ing col­ors while it plays records. “The light from it was tan­gi­ble as if caught in a cloud of vapor,” said Eno about his ear­ly expe­ri­ence with the fin­ished prod­uct, quot­ed at design­boom upon the announce­ment of its lim­it­ed pro­duc­tion run in 2021.

“We sat watch­ing for ages, trans­fixed by this total­ly new expe­ri­ence of light as a phys­i­cal pres­ence.” Now comes the sequel, Eno’s Turntable II, which will be pro­duced in equal­ly restrict­ed num­bers.  “Those who can afford one of the 150 lim­it­ed units also receive the musician’s sig­na­ture and edi­tion num­ber engraved on the side of the neon turntable’s base,” says design­boom.

Eno’s turntable design recent­ly drew atten­tion as the inspi­ra­tion for U2’s stage set dur­ing their res­i­den­cy at Las Vegas’ brazen new venue The Sphere. In the home, it serves mul­ti­ple func­tions: “When it doesn’t have to do any­thing in par­tic­u­lar, like play a record, it is a sculp­ture,” Eno says, “and when it’s in action, it’s a gen­er­a­tive art­work. Sev­er­al over­lap­ping light cycles will keep pro­duc­ing dif­fer­ent col­or bal­ances and blends — and dif­fer­ent shad­ow for­ma­tions that slow­ly evolve and nev­er exact­ly repeat.” Die-hard fans who know how long Eno has been fol­low­ing this artis­tic and intel­lec­tu­al thread may con­sid­er Turntable II’s £20,000 (or more than $25,000 USD) price tag almost rea­son­able. And next to the $60,000 Linn Son­dek LP12 Jony Ive redesigned last year, it’s prac­ti­cal­ly a bar­gain.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Bri­an Eno Explains the Ori­gins of Ambi­ent Music

Watch Bri­an Eno’s “Video Paint­ings,” Where 1980s TV Tech­nol­o­gy Meets Visu­al Art

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

Bri­an Eno Shares His Crit­i­cal Take on Art & NFTs: “I Main­ly See Hus­tlers Look­ing for Suck­ers”

World Records: New Pho­to Exhib­it Pays Trib­ute to the Era of Vinyl Records & Turnta­bles

Piz­za Box Becomes a Playable DJ Turntable Through the Mag­ic of Con­duc­tive Ink

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Ten of the Most Expensive Arts & Art Supplies in the Worlds: Japanese Bonsai Scissors & Calligraphy Brushes, Tunisian Dye Made from Snails and More

A few years ago, we fea­tured a $32,000 pair of bon­sai scis­sors here on Open Cul­ture. More recent­ly, their mak­er Yasuhi­ro Hira­ka appeared in the Busi­ness Insid­er video above, a detailed 80-minute intro­duc­tion to ten of the most expen­sive arts and art sup­plies around the world. It will come as no sur­prise that things Japan­ese fig­ure in it promi­nent­ly and more than once. In fact, the video begins in Nara Pre­fec­ture, “where for over 450 years, the com­pa­ny Kobaien, has been mak­ing some of the world’s most sought-after cal­lig­ra­phy ink” — the sumi you may know from the clas­si­cal Japan­ese art form sumi‑e.

But even the most painstak­ing­ly pro­duced and expen­sive­ly acquired ink in the world is no use with­out  brush­es. In search of the finest exam­ples of those, the video’s next seg­ment takes us to anoth­er part of Japan, Hiroshi­ma Pre­fec­ture, where an arti­san named Yoshiyu­ki Hata runs a work­shop ded­i­cat­ed to the “no-com­pro­mise crafts­man­ship” of cal­lig­ra­phy brush­es. One of his top-of-the-line mod­els, made with rig­or­ous­ly hand-select­ed goat hair, could cost the equiv­a­lent of $27,000 — but for an equal­ly uncom­pro­mis­ing mas­ter cal­lig­ra­ph­er, mon­ey seems to be no object.

How­ev­er ded­i­cat­ed its crafts­men and prac­ti­tion­ers, by no means does the Land of the Ris­ing Sun have a monop­oly on expen­sive art sup­plies. This video also includes Tyr­i­an pur­ple dye made in Tunisia the old-fash­ioned way — indeed, the ancient way — by extract­ing the glands of murex snails; the sơn mài lac­quer paint­ing unique to Viet­nam that requires tox­ic tree resin; long-last­ing ultra-high-qual­i­ty oil paints rich with rare pig­ments like cobalt blue; and Kolin­sky’s Series 7 sable water­col­or brush, which is made from hairs from the tails of Siber­ian weasels, and whose process of pro­duc­tion has remained the same since it was first cre­at­ed for Queen Vic­to­ria in 1866.

This world tour also comes around to non-tra­di­tion­al art forms and tools. One oper­a­tion in Ohio turns the muck of indus­tri­al pol­lu­tion — “acid mine drainage,” to get tech­ni­cal — into pig­ments that can make vivid paints. The stratos­pher­ic prices com­mand­ed by cer­tain works of “mod­ern art,” broad­ly con­sid­ered, have long inspired satire, but here we get a clos­er exam­i­na­tion of the con­nec­tion between the nature of the work and the cost of pur­chas­ing it. “What looks sim­ple can be the cul­mi­na­tion of a life­time’s work,” one exam­ple of which is Kazmir Male­vich’s Black Square, “the result of twen­ty years of sim­pli­fi­ca­tion and devel­op­ment.” If you don’t know any­thing about that paint­ing, it will seem to have no val­ue; by the same token, if you don’t know any­thing about those $32,000 bon­sai scis­sors, you’ll prob­a­bly use them to open Ama­zon box­es.

Relat­ed con­tent:

What Makes the Art of Bon­sai So Expen­sive?: $1 Mil­lion for a Bon­sai Tree, and $32,000 for Bon­sai Scis­sors

How Ink is Made: The Process Revealed in a Mouth-Water­ing Video

Behold a Book of Col­or Shades Depict­ed with Feath­ers (Cir­ca 1915)

Why Renais­sance Mas­ters Added Egg Yolk to Their Paints: A New Study Sheds Light

Dis­cov­er Harvard’s Col­lec­tion of 2,500 Pig­ments: Pre­serv­ing the World’s Rare, Won­der­ful Col­ors

Watch Artist Shep­ard Fairey Pre­tend to Work in an Art Sup­ply Store

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A Cultural Tour of Istanbul, Where the Art and History of Three Great Empires Come Together

Imag­ine a grand tour of Euro­pean muse­ums, and a fair few des­ti­na­tions come right to mind: the Rijksmu­se­um, the Pra­do, the Uffizi Gallery, the Lou­vre. These insti­tu­tions alone could take years to expe­ri­ence ful­ly, but it would be an incom­plete jour­ney that did­n’t ven­ture far­ther east — much far­ther east, in the view of Great Art Explained cre­ator James Payne. In his lat­est Great Art Cities video, he makes the case for Istan­bul, adduc­ing such both artis­ti­cal­ly and his­tor­i­cal­ly rich sites as the İst­anb­ul Archae­o­log­i­cal Muse­um, the Basil­i­ca Cis­tern, the Zeyrek Çinili Hamam, Istan­bul Mod­ern, and of course — as pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture — the unig­nor­able Hagia Sophia.

Payne intro­duces Istan­bul as hav­ing been “the cap­i­tal of three great empires, Roman, Byzan­tine, and Ottoman.” In the con­ti­nent-strad­dling metrop­o­lis as it is today, “both ancient and mod­ern art blend ele­ments from Europe, Asia, and the Mid­dle East, reflect­ing its geo­graph­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal posi­tion­ing as a bridge between the East and the West.”

The works on dis­play in the city con­sti­tute “a visu­al embod­i­ment of its com­plex his­to­ry,” from the Hel­lenis­tic to the Roman to the Islam­ic to the styles and media of the twen­ti­eth and twen­ty-first cen­turies, with all of which “mod­ern-day Turkey is now cre­at­ing its own artis­tic lega­cy.”

That lega­cy is also deeply root­ed in the past. Vis­it the Archae­o­log­i­cal Muse­um and you can see the Alexan­der Sar­coph­a­gus from the fourth cen­tu­ry BC, whose aston­ish­ing­ly detailed carv­ings include “the only exist­ing depic­tion of Alexan­der the Great cre­at­ed dur­ing his life­time.” The under­ground Basil­i­ca Cis­tern, built in the sixth cen­tu­ry, counts as much as a large-scale work of Byzan­tine art as it does a large-scale work of Byzan­tine engi­neer­ing. From there, it’s a short tram ride on the Gala­ta Bridge across the Gold­en Horn to the brand-new, Ren­zo Piano-designed Istan­bul Mod­ern, which has paint­ings by Cihat Burak, Fahrel­nis­sa Zeid, Bedri Baykam. You may not know those names now, but if you view their work in the unique cul­tur­al con­text of Istan­bul — in which so many eras and civ­i­liza­tions are man­i­fest — you’ll nev­er for­get them.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Ancient World Comes to Life in an Ani­ma­tion Fea­tur­ing Istanbul’s Islam­ic, Ottoman, Greek & Byzan­tine Art

Istan­bul Cap­tured in Beau­ti­ful Col­or Images from 1890: The Hagia Sophia, Top­ka­ki Palace’s Impe­r­i­al Gate & More

Watch Dig­i­tal Dancers Elec­tri­fy the Streets of Istan­bul

An Intro­duc­tion to Hagia Sophia: After 85 Years as a Muse­um, It’s Set to Become a Mosque Again

How Lon­dini­um Became Lon­don, Lute­tia Became Paris, and Oth­er Roman Cities Got Their Mod­ern Names

Great Art Cities: Vis­it the Fas­ci­nat­ing, Less­er-Known Muse­ums of Lon­don & Paris

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A Look Inside David Bowie & Iman’s Beautiful Mountain Home

It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine Iman and David Bowie invit­ing Vogue read­ers to join them on the above vir­tu­al tour of their moun­tain­top home near Wood­stock, New York when the rock leg­end was alive.

Grant­ed, short­ly after their 1992 wed­ding, he gave Archi­tec­tur­al Digest a peek at their ultra-lux­u­ri­ous, Indone­sian-style hol­i­day digs on the Caribbean island of Mus­tique, but, as reporter Christo­pher Buck­ley not­ed, “role changes have always been part of David Bowie’s per­sona.”

By the time they bought prop­er­ty and start­ed a fam­i­ly in New York, they had honed tech­niques for fly­ing under the radar in pub­lic, allow­ing them to lead a fair­ly reg­u­lar life in both Man­hat­tan and Ulster Coun­ty where the house they built on their 64-acre plot of Lit­tle Ton­shi Moun­tain is locat­ed.

Even the most ded­i­cat­ed city slick­er should be able to appre­ci­ate the beau­ty of their floor-to-ceil­ing Catskills views.

“It’s stark, and it has a Spar­tan qual­i­ty about it,” Bowie said pri­or to break­ing ground on the house:

The retreat atmos­phere honed my thoughts. I’ve writ­ten in the moun­tains before, but nev­er with such grav­i­tas.

WPDH in Pough­keep­sie report­ed that “the moun­tain­top retreat was kept “secret” from fans and paparazzi as much as any­thing can be hid­den in the age of the Inter­net and TMZ:”

Locals, how­ev­er, are well aware of Bowie’s moun­tain­top home. Although many knew of his address, the rock icon’s requests for pri­va­cy were most­ly hon­ored by his neigh­bors and fel­low Ulster Coun­ty res­i­dents. Bowie was spot­ted around town but rarely has­sled by strangers.

By and large, his neigh­bors left him in peace to pick up Chi­nese take out, browse the indie book­shop, and cel­e­brate his daughter’s birth­day at a near­by water park.

Bowie record­ed his final album, Black Star, on the moun­tain. Soon after, friends and fam­i­ly gath­ered to scat­ter his ash­es there too.

Iman con­fides that she found it dif­fi­cult to spend time at the house fol­low­ing his 2016 death, but spend­ing time there dur­ing the most intense part of the pan­dem­ic helped her come to terms with grief, and rejoice in the many con­tents that remind her of him.

Some high­lights:

  • Bowie’s 1980 paint­ing, Mus­tique, one of many self-por­traits he paint­ed over the years.

I feel like when I look at his eyes and I move around the house, it’s like it’s fol­low­ing me.

  • Lynn Chadwick’s sculp­ture “Ted­dy Boy and Girl”

Art con­sul­tant Kate Cher­ta­vian recalls how Iman enlist­ed her to help her track it down in the sum­mer of 1993 to mark the couple’s first wed­ding anniver­sary:

David had shared with her a small draw­ing of a sculp­ture by Lynn Chad­wick… a ver­sion of his Ted­dy Boy and Girl that had won the Inter­na­tion­al Sculp­ture Prize at the 1956 Venice Bien­nale. Although I didn’t yet know David, his inter­est in this sculp­ture, with its musi­cal ref­er­ences and incred­i­ble ener­gy, made per­fect sense. Ted­dy Boy and Girl is one of Chadwick’s best-known bod­ies of sculp­ture that helped rock­et the artist to inter­na­tion­al fame. The series elo­quent­ly embod­ies the emer­gent 1950s British Pop cul­ture as they depict post-war music-mad teens in their Edwar­dian frock coats danc­ing with arms in the air.

…way before David and I met, this was one of his favorite books. And actu­al­ly, he told me some of the lyrics from his song “Heroes” were actu­al­ly inspired by this book. And then of course, final­ly, when we meet, we can’t believe that we both adore the same book, but that also the whole sto­ry hap­pens from where I come from, Soma­lia.

  • A self-por­trait by their then-fif­teen-year-old daugh­ter Alexan­dria Jones, in which she and her moth­er are depict­ed inclin­ing gen­tly towards each oth­er:

It’s me and her and, of course, the black star. That’s David… she paint­ed this in 2016, which was the first year with­out David.

Of per­haps less imme­di­ate inter­est to those uncon­nect­ed to the world of high fash­ion is a pricey black croc­o­dile Her­mès Birkin bag, a sou­venir of a Parisian hol­i­day ear­ly in the couple’s romance. This item does come with an endear­ing sar­to­r­i­al sur­prise for Bowie fans, how­ev­er:

…and he bought him­self, you won’t believe it, san­dals.

Round­ing out the tour are a lim­it­ed edi­tion porce­lain pitch­er by Kara Walk­er and gifts from fash­ion design­er and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Hedi Sli­mane and fel­low for­mer mod­els Bethann Hardi­son and Nao­mi Camp­bell.

(Are we wrong to wish those san­dals had been Crocs?)

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Behold The Paint­ings of David Bowie: Neo-Expres­sion­ist Self Por­traits, Illus­tra­tions of Iggy Pop, and Much More

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

The Art Col­lec­tion of David Bowie: An Intro­duc­tion

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

 

More in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.