Tuesday 15 February 2011

Broken chandeliers and Italian curses

Merisi's post yesterday, over at Vienna for Beginners (go and check it out, it's a daily visual treat), on a window display of broken china in a Viennese porcelain shop, reminded me of the first time I saw this amazing chandelier at Waddesdon Manor. 

This is  Ingo Maurer's "Porca Miseria!" chandelier, constructed with broken china, commissioned by Lord Rothschild to hang in the dining room at Waddesdon. 

Photo source: http://www.theresasimon.com

I love those moments of surprise, of seeing something so unexpected in a given context that you stop dead and look at everything differently. I love how this modern explosion of smashed plates looks in the centre of this classical 18th century French-style dining room.

source: http://www.theresasimon.com

German designer Ingo Maurer made this chandelier in 1994 in response to what he felt to be the slick, overly-designed look of contemporary furniture. He initially called it 'Zabriskie Point', after the slow-motion explosion in Antonioni's film, but when some Italians came to its first showing and muttered "porca miseria!" in amazement, he changed the name. 
Maurer makes about ten of these a year.  Porcelain plates are smashed with a hammer or dropped on the floor, the chance, random pieces determining the final arrangement. So yes, you too can buy one of these, providing you have the ceiling height and a Rothschild-size budget (Christie’s sold one in 2008 for a bit over £37 000). You might want to settle instead for a cute little winged Maurer desk lamp from the Conran shop, at £400-ish ...

Waddesdon Manor is the Rothschild family estate in Buckinghamshire, built in the style of a French Renaissance château. It was used for a lot of the interior and garden scenes in The Queen, with Helen Mirren.

source: http://www.theresasimon.com

Although bequeathed long ago to the National Trust, it is still the personal project of the current (4th) Lord Rothschild, Jacob (below, painted by Lucian Freud) who lives nearby, and thanks to him an accessible venue for an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional art.   

source: http://www.theresasimon.com
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