Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Kaspar's at the Savoy and Jonty Hurwitz's Anamorphic Art

Jonty Hurwitz with Kaspar (and bib) and his anamorphic sculpted version of Kaspar
for Kaspar's Seafood Bar and Grill at the Savoy Hotel
all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell 
Yesterday I was introduced to the anamorphic art of Jonty Hurwitz and the art collection of the Savoy Hotel which I'm going to write about in two parts:
  • today - artistic contributions by Jonty Hurwitz and Robert Angell to Kaspar's - the new revamped restaurant at the Savoy Hotel
  • tomorrow - the art collection of the Savoy Hotel.  Plus an insight into what Monet was looking at when painting those bridges on the River Thames! (This will now be next week due to eye surgery - see Normal vision will be resumed as soon as possible)
The reason I'd been invited to the Savoy was to hear about newly commissioned art - for both the hotel and the relaunch of the restaurant.  The Savoy has had long associations with Arts and Music.  It was built by the D'Oyly Carte family and was financed by the profits from the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership.  It's also been very popular with artists from the days when both Monet and Whistler stayed at and drew and painted from the hotel - and it has entertained many entertainers over the years - but more of that tomorrow!

You can read about its history here
Kaspar - the Savoy's lucky black cat
Sculpture by Basil Ionides


The River Restaurant becomes Kaspar's


Tomorrow, 2nd May, the old River Restaurant - on the Thames side of the hotel - is being re-launched as the new Kaspar's Seafood Bar and Grill.  It's certainly extremely well placed for anybody visiting the theatre or Opera in this part of London

It's been called Kaspar's after "the 14th guest:.  An art deco sculpture of a lucky black cat was created in 1926 by Basil Ionides, the original architect of the Art Deco makeover for the Savoy Hotel.  This was to create a replacement if anybody dropped out of a party of 14 and there was a prospect of 13 sitting down to dinner.  He's become quite an institution over the years - with Winston Churchill developing a particular fondness for him.

Here's the new menu and the cheese menu for those who would like to think about a visit.

Kaspar's Seafood Bar with Glass Smoked Fish lighting decoration

Scales in the tiles and ripples in the carpet

Design by Robert Angell


I had the pleasure of sitting next to Robert Angell, the designer of the Restaurant at lunch yesterday.

The transformation of the restaurant was achieved in six weeks - and it looks brilliant.  The sense of the river has been combined with the art deco period feel of the Savoy.  The fish are echoed in the fish scale effect on the tiling around the bar and the ripples of the Thames are in the carpet throughout.

You can read more about it here in a Design Week article about the new restaurant

I was particularly taken with the smoked fish art form masquerading as a glass chandelier in the centre of the bar.  It's extremely impressive and demonstrates convincingly that designs for glass chandeliers need not be conventional.

Anamorphic Sculpture by Jonty Hurwitz


Anamorphic Sculture of Kaspar by Jonty Hurwitz
Kaspar by Basil Ionides in the background
I have seen the future of art - and it's in 3D!
"I don't think physical art is massively relevant any more"
Jonty Hurwitz
Yesterday I saw it in action in terms of the computer generated anamorphic sculpture of Kaspar  the black cat which Jonty Hurwitz has created as a feature artwork installation for the new Kaspar's.

The picture of Kaspar which appears on the cylinder is a reflection of the extended curvy metalwork which appears to its right in the above photograph.  In other words you can't see the image of Kaspar unless the two pieces appear together

The new sculpture is emphatically a talking piece and I imagine it will have restaurant guests lining up to view it just as people visit the National Gallery to see the anamorphic memento mori skull in Holbein's painting of the The Ambassadors

Jonty Hurwitz and anamorphic sculture


The artwork of Jonty Hurwitz has a very curious background.  Having talked to him at length yesterday, Jonty Hurwitz is very clearly a polymath in the same vein as Da Vinci.  He's one of the very few people I've met who integrates science and art in a convincing way and who also has an imperative which involves developing new ways of doing and new ways of seeing.

He works in 3D and starts from science.  He didn't start out as an artist and has actually been working with new technology and the Internet for a very long time, was one of the original dot.com millionaires age 28, is a co-founder of wonga.com and has won a considerable number of top awards for technology and the algorithms he devises.

Round about 2008 he started to get more interested in how he could use his knowledge and skills to devise artwork and in particular 3D sculpture through using mathematics and data to inform the engineering of different forms.

In 2010 he started to make 3D sculptures in 2010.  Back in January of this year, his website went viral after a blog post on This is Colassal.  The Skewed, Anamorphic Sculptures and Engineered Illusions of Jonty Hurwitz provides a very good illustration of the type of art he produces.

That's viral as in some 20 million hits to the various sites about his art across the Internet.  It's at this point that it occurs that this number is way in excess of the largest number of visitors to any exhibition held in the UK last year (at which point we divert to a long conversation about art and virtual art exhibitions on the Internet!)

Back to the commission!  Two months ago he was commissioned to be an Artist in Residence at the Savoy and to produce an anamorphic artwork for the relaunch. (His agency is Go Figurative - and I've secured an interview with the wonderful Sally to find out more about what it takes to be an artist who works with commercial clients for artwork)

Two weeks ago his sculpture for the Savoy melted when taken out of the mold!  However yesterday, the sculpture was in place and looked superb.

Jonty described the artistic production process to me - but it's extremely technical and he must be one of the very few artists around today who can be absolutely 100% confident nobody is going to be able to copy his artwork easily - if at all.  All I know is it involves a lot of new technology and a phenomenal number of calculations - and won't suit those who don't like numbers!
  • he starts with a 3D scanner which renders the subject into microns of detail
  • he then uses digital software to convert this into a 3D sculpture as a digital file
  • he then uses film-making software to manipulate and morph (this is where it gets very technical and the image files go off the scale)
  • it then progresses into a 3D jigsaw puzzle using resin and powder
  • the final process involves plating and coating
In creating the curves and precision involved he also uses advanced car design technology and the cylinder was created using the type of precision and specification which normally relates to aircraft manufacture!

He works in editions - with 5 being the normal size of an edition. As I said this is very much art of today and it seems to me to be very much the type of art which will be of great interest to major contemporary art collections.

I think the next development in his artwork has got to relate to scale and positioning - and I'm thinking here of the nature of the 'landmark' installations produced by Antony Gormley and Henry Moore as the closest analogy.

I know I'm going to be very much looking forward to what happens next!

1 comment:

Roger Brown My Botswana Art said...

Thanks for sharing ,first time I have heard about Jonty Hurwitz and is original unique art.Really enjoyed my visit to his site!



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