Newsletter - February 2012
You’re the tops…
Mary Alexander took us on a entertaining visit to the two Waldorf-Astoria hotels in New York; the first – ‘the unofficial palace of New York’, on 5th Avenue – was originally two buildings owned by the cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV who loathed each other! We were introduced to some of the characters that made the Waldorf-Astoria such a success, such as Oscar, who knew about fine wine and fine dining and catered for the international clientele that included royalty and the ‘old money’ of New York. The décor was inspired by the Paris Exhibition of 1925 – which Mary Alexander had explored with our Society three years ago.
As fashionable areas moved uptown, the first hotel ceased to be in a prime location and it was demolished in 1929 and the Empire State Building was erected on the site. The second building was much larger and taller with its iconic ‘twin towers’ and was built on Park Avenue. This became the resort of ‘new royalty’ – Hollywood, and Fred Astaire, Greta Garbo, Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra were all patrons as well as Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and JFK. Celebrity entertainers such as Maurice Chevalier and Lena Horne could be found there, Lena Horne breaking the hotel’s colour barrier for the first time.
The decorative details of metalwork, both outside and inside the building, and wood- and stonework were all of the highest quality and everywhere you looked there were sculptural friezes, inlayed wood, or mosaic floors that dazzled the eye. The sculpture over the main entrance portrays ‘the Spirit of Achievement’ – which, when we remember that the building was erected during the Great Crash, certainly embodies the triumph of its architecture and design.
We do hope you will bring a long a guest to one of the next two lectures on your green ticket; but please remember to bring the ticket with you to claim your free guest admission. It does help us check in our visitors at the desk in the foyer.
Our visits committee has been busy planning trips for this year. We start off with a trip to Northamptonshire to see three interesting – and diverse sites – the 16th century manor where the ancestors of George Washington lived; the Palladian pavilions at Stoke Bruerne; and tea at the Aviator Hotel, Sywell aerodrome, which has a wonderful 30s art deco interior. Booking forms will be circulated at the time of the March lecture.
Our New Year
Our programme for the new NDFAS year ahead should have already reached you, and also a form inviting your renewal of membership. We hope you find our forthcoming lecture topics interesting; as usual we have tried to find a variety of subjects, some new lecturers, and some speakers who are old favourites. We look forward to seeing you at many of our monthly meetings.
We do hope you use our website to keep up to date with what is happening in the Society. We have made what we hope is a useful change to our Lectures page – when you click on this tab the first thing you will see is information on the next lecture; to navigate to past or future lectures use the arrows at the bottom of the page.
Our new 2012/13 is now up on our website with a little more detail than in your printed flyer with a colour picture relating to the subject of the evening. Go to future lectures and then the box on the left headed Lectures 2012/13.
The Events page is being updated as and when visits are finalised, and details will also be on membership cards, which will be distributed at the April meeting to members who have renewed. We hope to provide outings to interesting buildings, gardens and galleries in 2012, and that you will join us on these trips. Our Special Interest Day is also announced on our Events page with further details to follow nearer the time.
In addition to the list of exhibitions in our January newsletter, a lot of which are still current, here are some more exhibitions to note:
Sainsbury Centre, Norwich
Mary Webb: Journeys in Colour
extended to 26 February
Kettles Yard, Cambridge
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska: Vorticist!
until 1 April
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Grey Matters: Graphite
until 11 March
Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam
until 15 April
Mondrian/Nicholson in Parallel
until 20 May
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Van Dyck in Sicily: Painting and the Plague
until 27 May
Ragamala Paintings from India: Poetry, Passion, Song
until 27 May
Damien Hirst Retrospective
4 April - 9 September
Metamorphosis: Titian 2012
11 July - 23 September
V & A
British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age
31 March - 12 August
Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton
8 Feb - 22 April