Bob's World of Blobs: The RW Russell House Tour

Imagination is both free and priceless. I was never more inspired by this than on a visit to Bob Russell's private sanctum a few weeks ago. (Click here to see Bob's dazzling chandeliers which I posted on here last week.)

Although located only a few blocks from Sotheby's on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Bob's apartment couldn't be further from Park Avenue style than if it were on the moon - and, indeed, if you thought you were on another planet, you wouldn't be mistaken - it is truly out of this world.

Out of posterboard, wine cartons, and elbow grease, Bob has created an extremely original environment whose only boundaries are what he can dream up. No concessions to conventional notions of "good taste" here - Bob is fearless!

Mounted on the wall of Bob's living room are all manner of brightly colored free forms. "I am fascinated by blobs," Bob told me matter-of-factly over red wine and guacamole. The free forms are in fact flagella, just one of the different types of blobs to be found here....

...such as this mobile of a group of sperm. Because sperm always swim together in one direction, Bob ingeniously affixed magnets to them so they would all point northwards.

His patience to complete projects is staggering. Here is one of many pen and ink drawings that he's been working on for years. He documents the date and location of every session.


This alien blob is having an affair with a nearby jade plant.

I fell in love with this driftwood and shell low table. Bob said he collected these shells over a two year period from the beaches of Fire Island, where he used to have a house. He glued them to a piece of wood and mounted it on driftwood also scavenged from the shore.


The Great Gatsby as sculpture

In the kitchen are a series of illustrated menus. It was the tradition at Bob's Fire Island house for house guests to make up a menu to commemorate the evening. Wine corks signed and dated by all sit atop. This reminded me of Cecil Beaton at his weekend house Ashcombe....


where in the Circus Room, various guests such as Rex Whistler, Salvador Dali, and Oliver Messel each painted a figure in a niche...



In the bedroom,


Bob takes tablescaping to new heights....



If one is good, one hundred is better....


Bob has several of these hanging from the ceiling. They are inspired by Dorothy Draper's chandeliers at the "Dorotheum" restaurant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They are made out of wine boxes which limits their size. (Somebody send this man a jeroboam!)




Yes, Bob is afraid of nothing, not even the large size of this Water Buffalo head....


A print of the Lusitania sails over Bob's desk....

Photo #1,3, 5, 7, 14, and 15 courtesy of Nephi Niven; #9 and 10 the Cecil Beaton Archive at Sotheby's Picture Library