Art & Culture

Montblanc Presents: The 24-Hour Plays on Broadway

Montblanc Presents The 13th Annual 24 Hour Plays On BroadwayMontblanc held the 13th annual performance of The 24-Hour Plays at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway in New York City on Monday, November 18, 2013.

An annual benefit event produced by the 24 Hour Company and Freestyle Picture Company for Urban Arts Partnership, The 24-Hour Plays on Broadway attracts some of entertainment’s biggest names as they join forces to participate in an extreme rite of theater: writing, directing, and performing 6 original short plays, all in just 24 hours. Proceeds from the evening’s performance will support Urban Arts Partnership, NYC’s largest arts educational organisation in their efforts to close the achievement gap in the city’s under-served public schools.

Montblanc Presents The 13th Annual 24 Hour Plays On Broadway - After Party“The production of The 24-Hour Plays on Broadway, presented by Montblanc, is a demonstration of our continued commitment to the under-served public schools in New York City,” said Jan-Patrick Schmitz, President and CEO of Montblanc North America. “For 8 years now, Montblanc and Urban Arts Partnership have joined forces to ensure arts education programs are continued to be integrated into students’ curriculum and we proudly celebrate this year’s production.”

The creative process for The 24-Hour Plays on Broadway begin at 10PM on Sunday, November 17th – the night before the show – when a group of six writers, six directors, 24 actors, two musical guests, and a production staff gather at the American Airlines Theatre. After each of the cast members share a costume, prop, their special skills and stage desires – each writer is tasked with composing a ten-minute play by 7AM the following morning, when the directors return to read and select their piece. The cast meet for the first time at 9AM and, over the next 12 hours. the plays are rehearsed and produced for a live presentation. At 8PM, ink barely dry, the six new plays – interspersed with six musical acts – are performed in front of a live audience.
Montblanc Presents The 13th Annual 24 Hour Plays On Broadway - After Party

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Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations

May 7 2012 – Press Release: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada’s Impossible Conversations at Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute – May 10–August 19, 2012

Gala Benefit May 7, 2012, with Honorary Chair Jeff Bezos and Co-Chairs Carey Mulligan, Miuccia Prada, and Anna Wintour; Baz Luhrmann Serves as Exhibition Creative Consultant with Nathan Crowley as Production Designer.

The spring 2012 exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. The exhibition, on view from May 10 through August 19, 2012 (preceded on May 7 by The Costume Institute Gala Benefit), explores the striking affinities between these two Italian designers from different eras. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias’s satirical “Impossible Interviews” for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, curators Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton orchestrate conversations between these iconic women to suggest new readings of the designers’ most innovative work.

The exhibition is made possible by Amazon. Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.

“Given the role Surrealism and other art movements play in the designs of both Schiaparelli and Prada, it seems only fitting that their inventive creations be explored here at the Met,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Schiaparelli’s collaborations with Dalí and Cocteau as well as Prada’s Fondazione Prada push art and fashion ever closer, in a direct, synergistic, and culturally redefining relationship.”

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Museum’s Costume Institute Benefit takes place on Monday, May 7, 2012. For the first time in its history, red carpet arrivals will be live streamed from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on,, and The evening’s Honorary Chair is Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Co-Chairs are actress Carey Mulligan, designer Miuccia Prada, and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. This fundraising event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

The exhibition is organized by Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, and Andrew Bolton, Curator, both of the Met’s Costume Institute. Film director, screenwriter, and producer Baz Luhrmann is the exhibition’s creative consultant, and has created a series of filmed elements for the exhibition. The production design for the films is by Luhrmann’s longtime collaborator, Catherine Martin. The exhibition design is realized by Nathan Crowley, who serves as production designer (he was creative consultant for the Met’s exhibitions Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy and American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity). All mannequin head treatments and masks are designed by Guido Palau.

The design for the 2012 Costume Institute Gala Benefit is created by Crowley and Raul Avila (who has produced the Benefit décor since 2007) with Luhrmann as creative consultant.


All celebrities dressed by Prada
All pictures courtesy of Prada

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Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs Exhibition at the Arts Decoratifs in Paris

Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs Exhibition at the Arts Decoratifs

Date: 9 March – 16 September 2012
Address: Les Arts Decoratifs, 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

Press release:

The exhibition is opening on Wednesday 7th March 2012 (to the public from the 9th) and will show how with over a century between them, both Louis Vuitton, founder of the house of Louis Vuitton in 1854, and Marc Jacobs, its artistic director since 1997 were able to fully discern their specific era and take advantage of all the possibilities offered

The exhibition space, curated by Pamela Golbin and designed by Gainsbury and Bennett, is spread over two floors, each dedicated to the creators.

The first floor, devoted to Louis Vuitton, explains how, under the Second Empire, he was able to develop his packing company in a rapidly growing district. The industrial revolution brought about new technical possibilities, while giving rise to affluent customers: an increasingly high number of aristocrats, bourgeois and rich tourists were beginning to travel more frequently, yet the expanding number of garments required made transportation more difficult.

The second floor explains how, since 1997, in a world of fashion that has expanded on an international level, Marc Jacobs has adopted the Louis Vuitton cultural codes and added his own personal touch. And so, quite naturally Marc Jacobs, who perfectly embodies today’s contemporary creator, called upon artists like Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince – associations between art and fashion that have become textbook examples for the industry.

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Azam – ‘Art Below Zero’

Ginza line, Shibuya, Tokyo and Central Line, Liverpool Street, London
11th – 25th April 2011

Art Below have collaborated with the London-based contemporary artist Nasser Azam (cover story, September 2009,) to stage a two week public exhibition of the artist’s ground-breaking Antarctica project.

Hosted simultaneously in the Tokyo Subway and London Underground, Azam will be showing a series of paintings, photography and video footage from his trip to Antarctica in February 2010, which was preceded by his equally ground-breaking ‘Life in Space’ project in July 2008, which saw him complete two triptychs in zero gravity as a homage to Francis Bacon.

The exhibition shows the results of Azam’s expedition in which he endured extreme weather conditions to produce 13 large abstract oil paintings responding to different landscapes, including ice lakes, caves, glaciers and ice deserts, all documented by an accompanying camera crew. And, as part of the video projection, a short film made in collaboration with BAFTA-nominated British Film Director Ed Blum, will also be shown on loop.

“I wanted to expose the desolate, silent, spacious and empty environment of the South Pole in a diametrically opposite and probably the most crowded, hectic, busy and noisy space in the world”, commented Azam. Passengers on the Ginza line platform in Shibuya, Tokyo and the Westbound Central Line in Liverpool Street, London can view the simultaneous poster displays as well as a time-lapse film on the public activity going on around them on the projection screens.

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Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A

Victoria & Albert Museum
12 March – 10 July 2011

Yohji Yamamoto by Koichi Inakoshi

One of the must-see exhibitions of the year that’s currently taking place is the Victoria and Albert museum’s retrospective on Yohji Yamamoto. Very little needs to be said of this enigmatic and celebrated designer, who has challenged, provoked and inspired the fashion world since his Paris debut over thirty years ago.

Yamamoto’s visionary designs will be exhibited on mannequins spread amongst the treasures of the V&A, thus creating a dialogue between the designer’s work and the various spaces in which they’ll be shown. The exhibition is designed by Yamamoto’s long-time collaborator, Masao Nihei, and will showcase over 60 garments from his womenswear and menswear collections, which will also be accompanied by a mixed-media timeline showing excerpts from his fashion shows, films and performances.

Yohji Yamamoto, born in Tokyo in 1943, is widely regarded as an avant-garde designer, who has constantly pushed the boundaries of accepted convention in fashion. His collaborations span across the fashion and luxury divide, including Hermés, Mikimoto, Elton John, Jean-Michel Jarre and of course the film world, with Kitano Takeshi for films such as Dolls and Brother.

Admission price: £7 (free for V&A members). For more information, visit:

Photography by Nick Knight, Art Direction by Peter Saville

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Edouard Martinet

Edward Martinet

The artist - Edward Martinet

Sladmor Gallery, 32 Bruton Place, W1J 6NW
4th May – 10th June 2011

The Sladmor Gallery in Mayfair will be hosting a month-long sculptural exhibition of insects by Edouard Martinet from next month. A twenty-first century ‘Animalier’, Martinet creates a range of unusual and unique works of art using only discarded car parts with astonishing life-like results.

Each sculpture is meticulously assembled, polished and finished to such a high standard, using a variety of ‘found’ materials, that they almost resemble the real thing at first glance from afar. Martinet lives and works in Rennes, near Brittany in France, where he teaches art at L’institut des Arts Appliqués.

For more information, visit:

Dragon Fly

Dragon Fly

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Harrods – Millionaire Gallery

The Godfather

The Godfather

Harrods have recently opened their newest department, which specialises exclusively in celebrity and historical memorabilia. Whether it’s a rare and original document with Abraham Lincoln’s signature, Elvis Presley’s autograph on a vintage copy of Photoplay magazine or the more recent hand-signed publicity master-print of Black Swan by Academy Award winner Natalie Portman or The King’s Speech by our very own Colin Firth, another Academy Award winner at this year’s Oscars, it’s all available from the store that has everything.

If you ever thought about acquiring something that has a historical significance or association with your favourite movie star, musician or politician, and didn’t quite know how to go about it, then this is where you should be heading! But don’t let the name scare you off, as not everything is going to cost you a million, in fact we didn’t see anything remotely that costly on our recent visit (but it’s still early days, so we’ll see what turns up!).

There’s plenty to choose from and suit all budgets, especially with prices ranging from a mere couple of hundred pounds to the thousands, so there is ample choice to start that collection you’ve always wanted. All items come ready-framed, along with certificates of authenticity, so all the verification headaches are taken care of. You just have to pick and choose and have it delivered to take pride of place in your cabinet or wall…

For more information, visit:

Harrods Millionaire Gallery

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The Art of Guerlain

As an artist, you may not be familiar with her work, but chances are you have worn a fragrance or used a cosmetic product bearing her family name!

Marie Guerlain is a sixth generation descendent of the legendary Guerlain perfume and cosmetics dynasty. Having studied fine art at the prestigious Parsons School of Design, Marie is now settled in London, where she is juggling her art with motherhood and her humanitarian pursuits. A gentle soul by nature, Marie has that rare fragile quality that you can’t help but instantly warm to. You are drawn to her down-to-earth demeanour, a trait which belies the determination of a woman who clearly knows what she wants out of life. The passion with which she speaks of matters close to her heart, and the warmth of her personality, shine through immediately and endear her to you even more.

Art is Marie’s first passion in life. “I’ve always wanted to be an artist ever since I could hold a pencil. And when I left art school, I immediately began working as a professional artist” says the surrealist painter, who counts Picasso, Matisse and Frida Kahlo amongst her heroes. And it is with her art that Marie is looking to involve and inspire others through the humanitarian causes she is involved with, namely Innocence in Danger, a children’s charity which is already established in many countries worldwide. For the past few years, Marie has been busy in her Chelsea studio producing paintings for future exhibitions. As well as these, Marie is using her
celebrity name to raise much needed funds and awareness for the IID, which will no doubt bring her to the public consciousness even more.

Woman pretty and grooming 2010

As Chairman of the UK arm of Innocence in Danger, Marie is actively involved in the setting up and running of the operation in the UK; which helps rehabilitate sexually
abused children using art therapy. “Innocence in Danger is an organisation that operates in 29 countries. Our aim is to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation which includes child trafficking, paedophilia and child images of sexual abuse on the internet. I chose to work with this organisation because it’s something I felt a real connection with.”

The charity works closely with the families of abused children, as well as leading
psychologists, doctors and artists to provide a support structure in a trusted and safe environment. Creative therapies like art, drama and music are used to aid with the healing process of affected children. “As a mother it is deeply upsetting to know that there are approximately 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys being sexually abused before the age of 16. I have a strong urge inside me to help affected children recover from their experiences.”

The charity is already getting a lot of attention including the backing of luxury jewellers Adler, which is holding a two-week exhibition of her art in their Bond Street shop in February. Expect to see more of Marie; the Guerlain girl who’s calling in life is perhaps a lot more than just skin deep…

For more information on Marie Guerlain or Innocence in Danger, log on to: or

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The Queen: Art and Image

National Portrait Gallery – 17 May – 21 October 2012

Lightness of Being by Chris Levine

2012 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Her Majesty, The Queen. And to celebrate the occasion, the National Gallery is organising a unique touring exhibition which will showcase 60 of her most iconic images, some of which will be on public display for the first time.

The exhibition starts with the National Gallery Complex in Edinburgh in June, followed by the Ulster Museum in Belfast, the National Museum in Cardiff and finally ending up at the National Portrait Gallery in London in May of next year (2012). On show will be a
wide selection of mixed media images; official portraits, photographs and media pictures, including a significant selection of unofficial portraits of the British Monarch by some of the 20th century’s most important artists. From Beaton and Leibovitz to Annigoni and Warhol, The Queen: Art and Image will be the most wide-ranging exhibition of images in different media devoted to a single royal sitter.

NPG: Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding

Collectively, the exhibition celebrates and explores the startling range of artistic creativity and media-derived imagery that The Queen has inspired. It also probes the relation of this imagery to a world of changing values during a reign that has engaged the attention of millions. Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “The Queen is the most portrayed person in British history, reflecting her long reign and also the respect and affection which is felt towards her. The Diamond Jubilee is a wonderful celebration and the National Portrait Gallery is very pleased to be sharing this exhibition with our other national partners in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue featuring over 60 portraits, with essays by historian and writer Sir David Cannadine and curator Paul Moorhouse. Published by the National Portrait Gallery, London, priced £30 (hardback). Available June 2011.

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Objet d’Art – Nathalie Vranken

Art lover and head of the Pommery Champagne empire, Nathalie Vranken talks to Urban Life about the upcoming Frieze Art fair.

Art, fashion and film have always been entwined, one creative field inspiring the other, but nowhere is this more evident than at Frieze, the UK’s largest contemporary art fair. Following hot on the heels of London Fashion Week, it’s the most eagerly awaited event on the end of summer calendar. And who better to explore this symbiotic relationship with than the Champagne house which champions contemporary art as one of its most ardent supporters? So, just as LFW finished, I jumped on the first train to Paris for a one-to-one with the ambassadress of Domaine Pommery, Madame Nathalie Vranken; philanthropist and matriarch of the Vranken household.

Sitting in her third floor office tucked away in a courtyard nestled between Avenue Montaigne and the Champs Elysées, Nathalie Vranken greets me with a warm smile upon my arrival. She catches me glancing around her office. “We’re re-decorating”, she assures me with her charming Parisian accent, “which is why the walls are a bit bare so you’ll have to excuse us. It’s a busy time of year with the start of Experience Pommery and the Frieze Art fair coming up and, you know, I’m also a full time mother and wife, so things take a little time” she chuckles. Indeed they do, but I couldn’t spot anything out of place or a speck of dust anywhere to suggest there was any work going on. Sure the walls were a little bare, but there was order everywhere I looked.
We sat down to begin the interview. It was as if we had been talking for hours. A natural conversationalist, she has a charm and effortless elegance that belies the steely business mind in charge of an empire. It was re-assuring to hear her speak with such jovial candour because, given her international status as a major supporter of the arts, she, along with her husband Paul-François Vranken, certainly could have afforded to engage in a different manner. It was this earnest, down to earth nature that I found most intriguing.

The Vranken family have just embarked on their annual six-month long exhibition, the aforementioned Experience Pommery, which is now in its 8th year, and this time they will be celebrating a rich past full of memories. Curated by Régis Durand, a former Director of Jeu de Paume, the event has nostalgically been titled, Nos Meilleurs Souvenirs, and will bring together a stellar line up of artists to honour the many collaborations between Durand and Madame Vranken which started with Printemps de Septembre in Cahors. Pommery have been sponsoring the event for the past 20 years, which has led to a number of other key fairs, such as the FIAC, the Armory Show and, of course, Frieze.
As the conversation flowed I wondered what prompted her involvement in contemporary art. “Well, we are not engaged in contemporary art simply because it’s fashionable. Madame Pommery was a great supporter of art during the late nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, so we have a great tradition in the field. We even have some very important pieces stored in the cellar. What we want to do is to continue with her [Madame Pommery’s] traditions, and to do that we have to have an interest in what’s new and combine that with what she built. This is the view of the Domaine Pommery”.

This philosophy of continuing with the traditions of Madame Pommery is clearly important to Madame Vranken and every year Experience Pommery attracts tens of thousands of visitors over its six months duration. “The opening day is always a spectacle to behold. We commission a special train for Pommery at the Gare de l’Est (Paris East Train Station) and we have artists, families of artists, curators, museum directors and clients – a lot of people all arriving at the Domaine on the same train at the same time. It’s a lot of fun!”
Over the past seven years Experience Pommery has hosted well over two hundred artists, a clear indication of its success. I ask Nathalie how she chooses which artists to invite to showcase their work during the event. “I always find a curator! I am not interested in the choice of artists by the curator. I mean, I have an idea and it starts from there, so I choose a curator who I know will pull in the right group of artists of the right calibre and we go from there. I don’t choose the artists, but of course I keep an eye on them. If one of them decided to paint everything yellow I will say, ‘thank you very much, but it’s not possible’. I am here to be the protector of what’s possible. I am the common sense”.

As we talk about the evolution of the shows our discussion steers back to Pommery’s involvement with Frieze. “We were partners with the Armory Show in New York and the FIAC in Paris. So we thought it would be interesting for us to partner with Frieze as then we would have two of the most important fairs in Europe, in my opinion – FIAC for the French part of the world and Frieze for the English. When you are a Champagne brand it is very easy to make friends and find partnerships”, she says with a smile, “But you need to have a purpose and have an exchange of ideas. You can imagine what can be produced at these shows; it’s out of this world”.

Click here to read the full article online.

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