A new evocative collection for Glenn and me, we bought our second “ghost” last weekend.  The vendor is a friend and wanted to simply give the thing to us, but that would have diminished its value.  We had to pay him something.

1-car body

We value what others do not.  Perfection?  No.  Complete, complex?  No.  Less is more.  Does it express a time period?  Has it been used, loved?  More a simple mass than anything else, this piece expresses the 1930s, with speed, and the art deco aesthetic very simply.

We have been talking for a year about this topic and how and why “the oval” was used in automobile and truck design in the thirties and the forties.  It makes one think of Eadweard Muybridge and time/motion photography.  And the Futurists in painting and sculpture.


Muybridge did his work first.  In the 1880s he photographed animals and humans in motion, and described movement that could not be isolated by the human eye.  He composed movement as a series of “parts” of a movement, something that could not have been understood without photography.  A whole new idea.  And when there is a new technology, artists want to use it or define it.  The Futurists wanted to capture this motion somehow and place it on a picture plane (which today to us seems odd).


Futurism emerged in Italy early in the twentieth century, although Malevich, above, was Russian.  It dealt with contemporary ideas of the future, and emphasized speed and motion with the new ideas of the automobile and the airplane.  In their images, one can see the influence of a movement in parts, or cells, kind of layered, one cell upon another.

This leads us into the discussion between Glenn and me.  Is an oval meant to be a moving circle?  The Art Deco Society of Palm Beach states that “technology allowed for construction to be built with rounded corners.  In the 30s and 40s, the design of trains, airplanes, ships and automobiles influenced architecture.  Rounded corners made buildings look sleek and fast”.  That was their goal, the new modern “fast”, made up by images of isolated movement.

1-orange truck

Look at this truck and the fenders housing the circle of the wheels.  Were these housings for the tires expanded into ovals, in other words, a repeated circle to express speed?  The fenders could certainly have been concentric circles over the wheels, and have been in other years of truck design.  Was the circle repeated in metal the way the Futurists would do, only not in separate cells, yielding the oval shape?

Autorennen im Grunewald, Berlin

Look at this old German photo found in Wikimedia!  I rest my case.

It seems like a no-brainer to me, but my research is not deep.  Harry?


We got married in Rome (Italy, not Georgia).  Went there in February, 2009, before the season.  I had been there before in February when the weather was lovely.  This year it was colder than normal.  Didn’t matter.  We rented a Vespa and toured around for two days like teenagers, one with bad hat hair (that would be me;  Glenn has no hair).

We visited the American embassy and many Italian government offices.  We were prepared to be married there.  The officials were surprised at how good our paperwork was.  We started the process, as necessary, by taking two friends to the Italian embassy in Chicago to swear that we were not married to others.  Chicago was the closest presence Italy had to St. Louis in the United States.  It was a fine but cold day, and when we were done swearing at Italians we went to the Obama’s favorite restaurant there for lunch.

It is interesting to do things in another country which are not the habits of tourists.  Sit in waiting rooms, try to talk to bureaucrats.  You get a different feeling for a place.  Already Rome divides itself between the ancients and the Renaissance in terms of art and architecture.  For a morning you can hover around the year 72 on our calendar, and then in the afternoon revel in the enlightenment of the Renaissance, around the year 1500.  Or, if you intend to do something significant in Rome, you can visit solid stone buildings with renovated interiors that look like the 1960s.

Our planning went well.  We found a venue for the wedding, an ancient Roman relic of a building which was used just for such things, and booked it for an hour on a Friday.  It was a shame that we were just two, with no families;  it looked like a storybook.  Translation was a huge expense throughout the whole process, from Chicago to the actual wedding.  The Italians wanted us to know what we were doing, and we wanted to know what they were doing.  It made sense.  The charming girl who checked us into our room at the hotel served as our translator and therefore was part of our ceremony.

By Wednesday of that week, we were ready.  Of course, early in that week, we sandwiched tourist visits between bureaucratic visits.  Wednesday and Thursday could be just tourist fun.  It was on Wednesday that we went to the Palazzo del Popolo, to see the almost twin churches, and the great Caravaggio painting “The Conversion of St. Paul“.

the conversion

It is a breathtaking Baroque style painting where Caravaggio appeals to what is human in us, as Saul, the Roman soldier falls from his horse, his breath knocked out of him.  It is as if Caravaggio is saying to us, “this is the power of conversion; it is like being flat on your back wondering if you will get your breath back or not”.

detail conversionCaravaggio used known street people for his models and created quirky compositions like this one, which in large part features a horse’s huge be-hind.

twin churchesAbove are the almost twin churches.  They are not exact twins because of a space problem.  The basis of design of one is a circle; the other, an oval.  Someone, somewhere screwed up.

It is here at the Palazzo del Popolo that we begin to discuss healthcare.  On Wednesday of our wedding week, we came to visit.  Not a long walk from the hotel.  We had bought stuff for our kids, we were laden.  Glenn saw an Egyptian guy renting out Segways to tourists.


He HAD to do this.  The Egyptian guy quizzed him until he was convinced that Glenn could handle the machine.  Then he was off.  Across the plaza, I viewed him through my camera, taking pictures.  Suddenly, Glenn was flying, landing flat on his back on the bricks.  He caused a scene.

By the time I got there from my picture taking distance, heavy with gifts, two women had already called an ambulance.  An Israeli father and son, both docs, came to look.  The father asked Glenn, on the ground, where he was.  He replied very precisely, “Palazzo del Popolo, Rome, Italy”.  The he asked him to squeeze his right hand and then his left.  Glenn could do that.

He was loaded into the ambulance, I followed in a cab.  We went to a nearby hospital in a Renaissance building.  I began to worry about insurance cards, fumbling through Glenn’s wallet.

Glenn was seen immediately.  Sticking out like a sore thumb,  I noticed the setting around me.  Filled with middle class people, the setting was not like emergency rooms here.  One woman in a wheel chair spoke English.   Do all use this facility?  Some of the very rich might not, they might pay to go somewhere else.

The hospital was just fine.  It had a drab interior again from the 1960s, and an exterior from 1500.  Glenn had an x-ray, and all examinations necessary to determine that he would hurt for our wedding, but not permanently.  We left with a prescription. He had had a shot and felt better.

There was no business office in the hospital.  We did not pay for this care, no one does.