Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pattern, again

Two weeks ago I shared some of the jaw-dropping (to me, anyway) tile patterns I enjoyed at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.  I was amazed at how the artisans had piled pattern upon pattern upon pattern and managed to create a lively, graceful, enchanting environment rather than an overwhelmingly busy one.  Our trip took us to various cities on the eastern Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, and everywhere I looked I saw fascinating patterns.

In the ruins of the ancient Roman city at Ephesus, Turkey, we saw intricate patterns in the mosaic floors of the Terrace Houses, where the richest citizens lived.

Some patterns were so bold and geometric, they reminded me of quilt block patterns.

As you can see, excavation in the Terrace Houses is ongoing.  Some mosaic floors combined both figurative imagery and pattern:

Venice was another city where the profusion of pattern was striking.  I was struck by the rhythmic repetition of columns and windows in the Doge's Palace in St. Mark's Square.  Large arches on the bottom level are surmounted by smaller, more ornate arches on the second level which are punctuated by quatrefoils, and then the facade of the upper level is decorated in a diamond pattern, with more arched windows.  This architectural cake is frosted with a lacy edging along the top. 

The architect of this building used a similar strategy:

It would be hard to beat this building, the Procuratie Vecchio, also on St. Mark's, for the sheer power of the repetition of columns and windows on its long facade:

My favorite example of pattern on pattern was on a much smaller scale, and it occurred at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.  This is an impressive assemblage of art by every modern master you've ever heard of, and many that were new to me, housed in the villa on the Grand Canal in which the heiress herself lived.  The windows are covered with decorative grates:

This is cool enough--to see the Grand Canal through this patterned grille.  But displayed in one window is a collection of blue glass sculptures (by Egidio Costantini, inspired by some sketches by Picasso), creating another layer:

The glass work, the grate, the facade across the canal--layer upon layer of  blue-inflected pattern.  I felt I had come full circle since Istanbul.

I'm still processing how this surfeit of pattern will influence my work.

Where do you enjoy pattern in your life? 

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