The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 24 February 2018


Portrait of the artist

A new book shines a light on Mexico’s most prominent muralist who’s often eclipsed by his famous wife.

It’s said that behind every great man is a woman but the fame of Frida Kahlo has long outshone that of Diego Rivera, her husband – until now, perhaps. The Mexican mural maestro’s work is captured in a new book that showcases the past, ritual and politics. In this Taschen-published title (itself the size and weight of a modest coffee table), Rivera’s dizzyingly detailed works depict the history of his country, from perplexing indigenous rites to the daily plight of workers and contemporary politics. Diego Rivera, The Complete Murals is a tad scholastic at times but does delightful justice to the expressive, bold and naïve style that defined the artist’s five-decade career. It’s an intriguing oeuvre that mingles pre-Hispanic pageantry with the turbulence that beset Mexican society in the first half of the 20th century.


Image: Rafael Pinho

Take the plunge

A retrospective in the Côte d’Azur is perfect for people who love swimming but can’t face doing it in freezing February.

Mediterranean sun-lounging may still feel unbearably far away but in Hyères on the Côte d’Azur it’s not too early to take a peek at the pool. The town’s modernist Villa Noailles is hosting one of its yearly retrospectives dedicated to architecture that’s designed for the purpose of entertainment. This winter the focus is swimming pools: 20 examples from 1920 to today have been picked to showcase the pool’s evolution in architectural – and societal – history. It’s a subject we’ve often dipped in and out of, exploring watery architectural wonders in Reykjavik, Paris and Sydney. From Adolf Loos’s never-completed project for Josephine Baker’s villa in Paris to a wondrous Alvar Aalto design from the 1940s, this exhibition is suitably refreshing – and might even tempt you into an off-season dip.


Get your skates on

Craig Gillespie finds the farce in ‘I, Tonya’ but also reveals the brutality behind the glitter.

I, Tonya is tough stuff because Tonya was tough and Tonya was tough because her mother made flint seem like sponge. The new film from Craig Gillespie stars Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, the figure skater from the backwoods – the best and the baddest on the ice – and the first American woman to execute a triple-axel in international competition. She became infamous after her (close) association with an amateurish but vicious attack on her Olympic rival Nancy Kerrigan. The film is farce in part and funny with it, but also a dark family story about scant love hiding under layers of recurring violence. All that toughness? It wasn’t all about athletic courage and competitive rigour: there were black eyes beneath the ice-rink warpaint. I, Tonya is a fast, fierce study in not being allowed to skate from the past.


Image: Getty Images

State of the art

A fair in San Francisco is finding the places where art and technology meet in order to lure Silicon Valley’s big spenders.

Art fairs are heading west. Frieze has just announced that it will be launching in Los Angeles next year, while If So, What? (ISW) will debut in San Francisco this spring in the hope of luring Silicon Valley’s wealthy tech players to the art market. Founded by former Artsy head of finance Sho-Joung Kim-Wechsler and Linda Helen Gieseke, ISW will be a three-day event at the neoclassical Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District aimed at merging art, design and technology through cross-industry panels and presentations. ISW is one of many art fairs that have recently landed in San Francisco – including Untitled, Photofairs and Fog Design+Art – but so far it’s the only one that’s made the shrewd move of placing the interaction between art and technology at its core.

From Monocle 24

Image: Merie Wallace

From the silver screen to the small screen

The Monocle Arts Review

Laura Snapes tells us why we should see Lady Bird and Alice Vincent talks us through the latest American Crime Story season, which focuses on the assassination of Gianni Versace.

From Monocle Films

Sydney Residence: Harry and Penelope Seidler House

Far removed from the skyscrapers and residential towers for which architect Harry Seidler became known, the house he designed with his wife is governed by Bauhaus aesthetics that are just as forward-thinking today as they were in the 1960s. Monocle Films visits Penelope Seidler in her dream home.






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