04 October 2010

Living with Castaing: John Woodrow Kelley

Madeleine Castaing has inspired so many people and what I find fascinating is how different all these people are and how each one resonates to something quite different.  Charlotte Moss brought to life MC's retailing skills, Jacques Grange gave me an entirely new lens when he said it was all about architecture, and my new friend John Woodrow Kelley, a classicist through and through, surprised me completely.

The Allegory of Classical Architecture, 1998, by John Woodrow Kelley
After training as an architect, John continued on to become a painter whose work is a contemporary interpretation of the Classical tradition.  It can be no coincidence that he hails from Tennessee, whose capital Nashville is home to the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon in the world. 

MC's bath in her Paris apartment
 When John heard of my MC book, he didn't enthuse over the coffered vaulting above her bath reminiscent of the Baths of Caracalla or some such Classical detail. No - what John astonished me by saying was that Madeleine Castaing gave us permission to be romantic!  Indeed the creation of a mood, of atmosphere, is just as important in the experience of a space as pleasing proportions and scale are.  So for those of you who think Classicism or Classical architects are hardened to the possibilities of the picturesque, think again.

John found this pair of lamps complete with Coolie shades a la Castaing at a flea market

A mantelpiece arrangement in Castaing's rue Jacob shop - in the center is a photograph of a young Madeleine looking adoringly at her husband Marcellin; photo by Jean-Francois Jussaud 

Click here to visit John's Brooklyn residence courtesy of New York Social Diary.

A view of John's sitting room where he is magically able to arrange 6 people for dinner around the center table

Top photo with John sitting next to a Castaing blue shade found at Just Shades and bottom photo by Jeff Hirsch courtesy of nysocialdiary.com


Karena said...

Really gorgeous Emily. It is so special to have these images as inspiration!

Art by Karena

Dovecote Decor said...

I need some help. I might be wrong, but I am beginning to see the first image: "The ascension of classical architecture" in the clockwise manner of classical ascension depictions. I see the sphere, the laurel, the wings and the steel beam on the bottom right. I almost getting there, but know I have voids. I need more insight than little me can summon.

The Down East Dilettante said...

This is wonderful! I nearly died and went to heaven when Kelly's apt. was in New York Social Diary a few weeks ago.

'gave us permission to be romantic'. Marvelous, and yes.

home before dark said...

I agree about the "permission to be romantic." But I think I would have said "permission to be our truest selves." While notables warn that the style of the house should rule the decor, I always defer and said one must honor the heart of the hearts. So looking forward to the MC book coming to my house soon. I know, at least, she would like my carpet.

ps I think it would make a great piece of fiction to write about the stumble oners of MC's works in flea markets and how these pieces "magically" changed their lives. Just saying...

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Home - May I "just say" beautifully said.

Dovecote - I'll see if I can get John to weigh in on his Allegory.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

yes, that sums it up PERFECTLY!! So glad you linked to his house tour on NYSD as well, such a truly personal space. I look forward to those NYSD tours every friday: really makes my day!

John J. Tackett said...

J.W. Kelley is a great painter whose work I discovered just earlier this year. What a great post!

Laura Casey Interiors said...

I especially enjoyed the last photo of the dining table - very clever arrangement indeed!

the paris apartment said...

Hi Emily, I just discovered your blog and am just loving it! Did you work on the Madeline Castaing book that's about to come out?

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Thank you, Paris Apartment! And why yes, c'est moi.

Dovecote Decor, Forgive me for the silence on John's Allegory. The painting depicts Fama and Fortuna giving a young architect the gifts of Classical architecture. On the lower right, is a modernist with his spartan steel beam.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Loved this NYSD interior and yes didn't MC's husband give her Leves for just being MC? I would have been romantic too.