Category Archives: Art

The Last of the Chelsea Hotel


Just got my copy of Colin Miller and Ray Mock’s book, Hotel Chelsea: Living in the Last Bohemian Haven, about the few remaining residents of the legendary hotel.

Legendary? Well, for starters, the Chelsea is the hotel where Sid Vicious (maybe) murdered Nancy Spungen, and where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. Mark Twain stayed there, and so did several survivors of the Titanic. Former residents include Bob Dylan and Madonna, Jackson Pollock and Bette Midler.

And Stanley Kubrick, Jimi Hendrix, Allan Ginsberg, and Patti Smith. And Jim Morrison. And Andy Warhol, but of course you probably already assumed that.

Oh, and the Chelsea is where Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jack Kerouac typed On the Road.

In 2011, the Chelsea was sold to a real estate developer who closed the hotel “for renovations”.  Residents protected by rent regulations were allowed to stay, but no new tenants were accepted. The disruption and health hazards caused by renovation construction were widely perceived as an attempt by the new owners to drive the protected residents from the building.

The attempt was largely successful. Nine years later, the “renovations” are still ongoing, and only a few of the old residents are still living in the building. And not just living, but living well, which is the best revenge.

Here are some of their homes. (All photos found online.)


Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel

Leonard Cohen had a brief, very 60ish thing with Janis Joplin at the Chelsea, and wrote two songs about it. Here’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”. (Mildly NSFW lyrics.)


Chelsea Girls and Lads All Must
As Chimney-Sweepers, Come to Dust

After Nico left the Velvet Underground, she released a solo album called Chelsea Girl which included a song about some of the speed freaks, debutantes, hustlers, drag queens, and heiresses who made up Andy Warhol’s assemblage of Superstars and who lived, sometimes, at the Chelsea Hotel. Here’s an audio-only recording of “Chelsea Girls”

“There Are Only 10 Types of Movies”

And Lee Steffen has figured out what they are. Here are the first two types on his list. You can find the rest on his Twitter feed.

1. Orange and Blue Action


2. Sexy Legs


The responses to Mr Steffen’s list are also worth a look. One commenter, for instance, pointed out that Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t allowed to face the camera on movie posters.

Another found this interesting case of twinning.

Much more at the site.

The Return of “The Far Side”

“The Far Side” website, which will post a “Daily Dose” of Gary Larson’s classic cartoons, launched yesterday. The site includes weekly sets of themed strips and doodles from Larson’s sketchbooks.

Best of all, Larson told the New York Times that “I’m looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.”

If you’re familiar with Larson and “The Far Side”, I don’t need to say anything more.

If you’re not, click that link right now! You won’t be disappointed.


You may be wondering why this post isn’t loaded with examples of Gary Larson’s brilliant art. It’s because I’m honouring the artist’s wishes, which he explains in A Letter From Gary Larson on the new website.

Added to My “Someday” List: A Stay at L’Hôtel in Paris

Oscar Wilde’s last words, as he lay dying in a shabby Parisian hotel, were “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”  At least that’s the official story, and who would want to question it.

Oscar Wilde has been dead since 1900, but the hotel, known simply as L’Hôtel, still exists. Wilde wouldn’t recognize it, though. It has been massively upgraded and enhanced, and now rates five stars and boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant (currently closed for renovation).

The wallpaper has been replaced, too.

The Oscar Wilde Suite

The Oscar Wilde Suite

If you’re in Paris in mid-April—which means you’re already living a charmed life—you can spend a night in the 35 sqm (377 sqft) Oscar Wilde Suite, for as little as €766 ($848). I can’t embed the hotel’s video tour of the suite, but you can watch it here.


Exploring L’Hôtel

L’Hôtel

L’Hôtel

Reception

Reception

Chic Room

Chic Room

Mignon Room

Mignon Room

Grand Room

Grand Room

Le Restaurant

Le Restaurant

Le Bar

Le Bar


All images from L’Hôtel.

Moving Sale Find of the Year

For decades, this 8½ x 11painting hung over a hotplate in a kitchen in Compiègne, a small city north of Paris. It had been in the family so long that the 90-year-old woman who lived in the house said she had no idea where the painting had come from or how it had come into the family’s hands.

Last summer, the woman decided to sell the house and move, so she called in an auctioneer to assess whether anything in the house was salable. Everything else would be hauled off to the dump.

Philomène Wolf, representing the Actéon auction house, noticed the painting immediately. She thought it was a work of Italian primitivism, and urged the owner to get an expert evaluation. If she was correct, the little painting might be worth as much as €400,000.

Infrared reflectography confirmed the age of the painting and identified the painter. It was part of a work created in 1280, and it was painted by Cimabue, the 13th-century Florentine painter who is known as the forefather of the Italian Renaissance.

Last Sunday, the painting, now known as “Christ Mocked”, was sold at an auction outside Paris for more than €24,000,000—the highest price ever for a medieval painting.

According to The Guardian, “About 100 other objects from the house were sold for around €6,000 and the remaining furniture and decorations were disposed of at the local dump.”