Archive for July, 2009

Pierre Gagnaire, Paris

There was a hard, dark side to my family,’ begins the chef whose face is now synonymous with a smile. ‘[My father] was an introverted man, not at all expressive. He was orphaned and had been brought up by a strict and authoritative grandmother.’ Jean-Claude Gagnaire, an Apinac native, ran a one-starred restaurant in Saint-Étienne. ‘The motto in my family was do your duty…I was the eldest in the family of four and I knew what I had to do.’
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The Flemish Primitives, Bruges

During the fifteenth century, Bruges was an affluent centre of culture and sophistication. Residence to the dukes of Burgundy, a major trading hub, home to the Order of the Golden Fleece and the focus of Italian banking in the North, the town was plump with prosperous patrons looking to indulge their artistic impulses (and to show such fancies off). Attracted by this – as well as the city’s cosmopolitan charm – artists from across the area collected here.

Coincident with the start of the Renaissance further south, this migration spawned an independent creative movement characterised by realism, empirical perceptions and the physical illustration of man as opposed to one inspired by older art and concentrating on ideal beauty and perfection. Early Netherlandish, late Gothic, Ars nova…it took society three hundred years to settle on an apt title for these men: Flemish Primitives.
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