The Life and Nudes of Egon Schiele

Dead glamorous Egon Schiele obsessively sketched the genitalia of skinny sluts while his artistic father Gustav Klimt smothered his blondes in gilt half a century before Bond villains were invented.

The father and son of erotic art are inseparable from Vienna at that moment when fin-de-siècle decadence was reinventing itself as avant-garde innovation. But despite Freud, and Expressionism, and an ugly new ring road, Vienna never lost its bourgeois core. Likewise, Klimt and Schiele both aspired to success, while maintaining their outsider status.

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Nov 20, 2018 19:03:00
Frida Kahlo at the V&A

The Secrets of Frida Kahlo's Bathroom

The confident handwriting of Frida Kahlo's diary watches over the entrance to the display of her possessions at London's V&A in Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up (until November 4, 2018). It almost doesn't matter what's written in Spanish; the words themselves seduce you. There is something evocative about ink on paper concealed within the pages of a journal.

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Jun 28, 2018 14:29:00
Perfume, Somerset House, photo Peter MacDiarmid

Shallow Not Stupid

When I grow up, I want to be a professional nose. Sniffing away until the nose on my face, which is big enough for a family of five to move in up there with their furniture, invents a perfume like Vilhelm's The Oud Affair, inspired by Ava Gardner and her bullfighter boyfriend.

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Aug 16, 2017 17:08:00
The Maybe of Sleeping Tilda Swinton, Cornelia Parker

Shallow Not Stupid

It's a strange world and we're living in it. Who needs slasher movies when you have 24-hour news? The POTUS reality show is played out on Twitter while the vampiric British PM, who could give Dracula's granny a run for her money with her wine lipstick and hungry laugh, chickens out of a pre-election debate with her rival.

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Jun 05, 2017 22:26:00
Wear and Tear: The Threads of My Life

Shallow Not Stupid

This week Mr. Lash went to Sierra Leone, the setting for Graham Greene's love triangle The Heart of the Matter. I love visiting the settings of my favorite books and can still hear Mr. Greene asking if I'm "as beautiful as my voice" back when I had a job flirting with writers on the phone at Granta magazine.

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Feb 28, 2017 23:12:00
Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ

Shallow Not Stupid

Caravaggio was a celebrity before fame was fashionable, an artist in a world where the brothel and the church were the social spaces — both selling sex and death, but with different currencies.

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Oct 17, 2016 16:34:00
Stanley Kubrick on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Shallow Not Stupid

At the exhibit Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick (Somerset House, London), I kept expecting to see a chocolate log covered with custard or a big trifle with the director's bearded face bending towards it. This is a memory, not a daydream, of the silent dessert-eating contests I had with Stanley Kubrick when I lived in his caravan.

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Jul 16, 2016 14:18:00
The Brontë Sisters, by Branwell Brontë (circa 1834)

Shallow Not Stupid

On April 21, Charlotte Brontë celebrated her 200th birthday. Of course the toothless dwarf who created Jane Eyre isn't alive, but nearly two centuries after her death, her fans pore over her tiny shoes and size-zero dresses — recently displayed at Manolo Blahnik's favorite London museum, Soane's House.

It wasn't considered ladylike to write fiction in the 19th century, so the Brontë sisters pretended to be men, submitting their manuscripts as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

The skinny sisters were ahead of their time in other ways, each manifesting signs of an eating disorder long before they died of consumption. Emily was the innovator, starving for days in order to levitate and be closer to God, or his evil twin, on the ceiling of her bedroom.

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May 09, 2016 14:50:00
The Second Age of Beauty is Glamour, Cecil Beaton (1946)

Shallow Not Stupid

The theory that fashion magazines spawn eating disorders is exposed to ridicule by the fat ladies poring over the pictures at Vogue 100 in London's National Portrait Gallery (until May 22, 2016), a show celebrating a century of UK Vogue. Conde Nast bought Vogue for his wife, but while the marriage ended in divorce, the magazine is still expanding with sexy young readers in China who compensate for the widening readers in England.

Patrician models from the 1930s, like my great-grandmothers with their wasp-waists and tailored clothes; the pushy glamour of 1980s creation Princess Diana facing Juergen Teller's 1990s portrait of young David and Victoria before betrayal and botox; and the war years in a room painted Vreeland-red as a backdrop to the magnetic photography of Lee Miller, Clifford Coffin, and Cecil Beaton tell the story of Vogue in a dazzling visual history.

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Feb 20, 2016 12:10:00

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