Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Rakewell is acutely aware of the pleasure of admiring other people’s interiors. We have fainted at the beauty of Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment on rue de Babylone, melted at the sight of Pauline de Rothschild’s Albany set and deliquesced when confronted by Michael S. Smith’s dining room lined with Chinese wallpaper.
Imagine our delight at the announcement that Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘tranquil Montecito home’ would grace the pages of Architectural Digest. It does not disappoint, though tranquil might not be the word we would use to describe it. Where, amid the sculptural Alexander Díaz Andersson ‘lounge chairs’ and swinging hammocks, is there to sit? These seats are as nothing when compared to the Jan Ekselius ‘lounge chairs’ in Ms Paltrow’s living room. But surely she must long for a comfy chair to sit upon?
I’m irrationally angry that Gwyneth has a Ruth Asawa pic.twitter.com/hRyHonHV7h
— Alexandra Lange (@LangeAlexandra) February 2, 2022
A photograph of Ms Paltrow, resplendent in a Chanel dress, provides the answer. She can conquer any piece of furniture and comfort is clearly overrated. What really caught Rakewell’s attention, however, was the response to this photo. Design critic Alexandra Lange tweeted ‘I’m irrationally angry that Gwyneth has a Ruth Asawa’. Art writer Melanie Gerlis retweeted, adding, ‘Agree. And what looks like Ed Ruscha. Annoyingly good taste.’ We are no stranger to coveting beautiful things and fully endorse these messages – though secretly we wonder if the Ed Ruscha might have slipped into that other category of ‘Ghastly Good Taste’.
Then something surprising broke out. According to some tweets, the caption to this photograph on the Architectural Digest website changed. It transpired the wire ‘sculpture’ is not an Asawa at all, but a work by D’lisa Creager. Can it be that we have finally reached the point where an artist’s work is not about the work but about the ‘look’? Where carefully crafted aesthetic is just something to be commodified? Andy Warhol of course confronted this throughout his soup can-lined career, but for someone who works in delicate wire sculptures it seems particularly rough. Rakewell is always delighted by the work of set designers who ape an artist’s style for a film, but to see a Hollywood star continue this approach in her own home seems a surprisingly untranquilising proposition.
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