Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lunch with Carlo Stanga

What could be better on a grey, rainy, humid day in New York than a visit from distinguished illustrator, architect Carlo Stanga from Milan. The minute he walked into the studio he lit up the room, charming, gregarious and funny it was a delight to sit in his company. Usually it is all work and no play around here but today was different, for a good three hours we were entertained more than being the entertainers.

When asked how he learned to speak such good English, he commented that he taught himself--movies were a big help but also the cultural influences of music and literature played its part; his English was so perfect it sounded as if he lived in the States. Based in Milan Carlo spends at least a week out of every month in Berlin. Fascinated by the art and architecture scene there, he has settled into an apartment of his own but has yet to master the Germanic tongue--and may never. Fortunately most speak English though he admits their English is a different than here; one thing they speak slower than most New Yorkers.

Carlo had come over to New York to meet some friends from Rio as well as to spot his new subway platform poster for the MTA which is featured in the current issue of 3x3. Of course another stop was with his agents, the lovely Vicki Morgan and Gail Gaynin. And we were pleased that he put us on his schedule on his way to the airport--another reason it's good to have a studio in Brooklyn, close to all three airports, JFK and Newark in particular.

Lots of discussion about art, illustration, art supplies and architecture and he was one of the rare guests to recognize our collection of mid-century furniture by name. He was only in the city for a short time be he shared his views on both art and architecture: Impressed by an exhibit on Afghanistan at the Met, the architecture of the New Museum and disappointed by the the new MAD museum on Columbus Circle, it was an interesting discussion on architecture in America. We shared with him our images from our trip to Philip Johnson's Glass House last week which got him excited about the next trip to New York.

In relating the current illustration market in Italy he says that he's never been busier, that editors have found a new-found interest in illustration, replacing well used photography with drawn visuals. And he's picking up assignments within even more traditional markets--his work for a Italian law firm has him busy with dozens of portraits and conceptual spots--all to be used online. Talking about technique he prefers the tools of an architect over the use of a tablet; his poster of the skyline of New York done for the MTA was actually completed in pieces, each building hand-drawn with a Rotring pen and then assembled and colored on the computer.

Lunch consisted of Sarah's Bombay Chicken Salad served with kiwi, peaches, plums, toasted coconut and almonds with chicken, curry and sour cream served over a bed of watercress. An architectural masterpiece in presentation. Desert was a literal flop, the Chocolate Walnut Cookies failed to rise and stay firm--probably the humidity--but were served in pieces eaten with a spoon. Embarrassed to make Espresso for a true connoisseur, it seems our guest was nevertheless impressed as we sent him off to catch his flight home. Ciao, Carlo.

Pictured above: Carlo and Jessica, at left dueling photographers