Books I Want: Visite Privee by Francois Halard

Francois Halard is perhaps the interiors photographer of which I am most jealous. He's the guy who takes the pictures that make me go, damn! I wish I had made that. It's not just that he's a gifted seer of light (the most important aspect of any good photograph), but that he also has taste and style. He takes interesting projects in interesting places, and renders them with a unique painterly touch. I can almost always spot his work without knowing beforehand who took the picture. Check out my favorite home from his new book, Visite Privee:

Carlo Mollino was a mid century architect, a photographer, a novelist, a furniture designer, and apparently a decorator. He worked on his home in Turin over the course of eight years, but he never even lived there.

Filled with antiques, an avant garde collection of photography (featuring works by Man Ray, among others), and decorated with a contemporary spin on classic design, it could easily pass for the current work of a very eclectic and talented designer.

Hello Stejnar chandelier, Japanese lanterns, and Saarinen dining set -- plus there is a giant clam on the wall. What's not to love?

And is the leopard wallcovering not insane (in a good way)? Other details include:

A peeping butterfly in a portal between rooms.

Wallpaper reminiscent of offerings by Zuber et Cie.

A Mollino designed chair set atop Italian ceramic tiles.

I want this book. Chock full of amazing homes occupied by extraordinary people -- Cy Twombly, Julian Schnabel, and Robert Rauschenberg, just to name a few -- it has a respect for the handmade that I find very refreshing.

Let me get arty on you for just a second (sorry in advance): famed philosopher Walter Benjamin pointed out that photography's most important quality was its mechanized reproducibility, its sameness, its democracy, but Halard appears to employ antique photographic processes to create images as intimate and one of a kind as Twombly's paintings.

Of course the only way to access the images is through the internet or the book, which takes us back to the whole reproduction issue, but that's besides the point. Mostly.

Forget the lecture and buy the book. It's pretty.