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  • feedwordpress 08:01:40 on 2018/08/11 Permalink
    Tags: art, , Fernando Arrabal, , , , , , , ,   

    “A graceful taunt is worth a thousand insults”*… 

     

    cards

    Bumblepuppist

    Definition – a bad whist player

    Every so often you need a specific insult, and bumblepuppist is about as specific as they get. We will grant you that the game of whist is not as popular as it once was, having been edged out by newfangled card games such as euchre and canasta, but once upon a time whist was the most deucedly popular card game in the land. This ranks pretty high on the list of words which are likely inapplicable in your life, but imagine how excited you will be if you do meet someone who not only plays whist, but is bad at it, and you have the appropriate descriptor.

    Bumblepuppist is also sometimes rendered as bumblepupper, and the word for “whist played poorly or without regard for rules” is bumblepuppy (from bumble and puppy).

    “Bumblepuppy,” as defined by a renowned authority upon whist, is a game played by people who imagine that they are playing whist, but who in reality know nothing of that intricate game.
    — The New York Times, 1 Jul. 1883

    Just one in a collection of put-downs bigger than the sum of their parts: “8 Insults Made Up of a Noun and a Verb.”

    * Louis Nizer

    ###

    As we test the limits of civility, we might send fascinating birthday greetings to Fernando Arrabal Terán; he was born on this date in 1932.  A playwright, screenwriter, film director, novelist, and poet, the New York Times’ Mel Gussow has called him the last survivor among the “three avatars of modernism.”  In 1962, Arrabal co-founded the Panic Movement with Alejandro Jodorowsky and Roland Topor, inspired by the god Pan.  In 1990 he was elected Transcendent Satrap of The Collège de ‘Pataphysique, a “society committed to learned and inutilious research” (“inutilious” = “useless”).  Forty other Transcendent Satraps have been elected over the past half-century, including Marcel Duchamp, Eugène Ionesco, Man Ray, Boris Vian, Dario Fo, Umberto Eco, and Jean Baudrillard.  Arrabal spent three years as a member of André Breton’s surrealist group and was a friend of Andy Warhol and Tristan Tzara.  A chess fanatic (a passion he shared with Duchamp), Arrabal wrote a chess column for the French weekly L’Express for over thirty years.

    200px-Fernando_Arrabal,_2012 source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:03 on 2018/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , art, Betty Boop, , , Dizzy Dishes, , Max Fleischer, sugar,   

    “I went to the bank and asked to borrow a cup of money. They said, ‘What for?’ I said, ‘I’m going to buy some sugar.”*… 

     

     

    sugartown_final_lw_smaller.0

    Sugar is sprinkled everywhere in our language. When children are good and happy, they are cutie pies. Cool stuff can be “sweet, man.” Our crush is a sweetheart, and our sweetheart might be our honey. “A spoonful of sugar,” as Mary Poppins croons, is a bribe, something to help “the medicine go down.” Sugar is leisure and celebration — what British birthday would be complete without the stickiness of cake frosting on fingers? It is, according to Roland Barthes, an attitude — as integral to the concept of Americanness as wine is to Frenchness. In the 1958 hit song “Sugartime,” to which Barthes was referring, the sunny, smiling McGuire Sisters harmonize sweetly, filling their mouths with honey: “Sugar in the mornin’ / Sugar in the evenin’ / Sugar at suppertime / Be my little sugar / And love me all the time.”

    And like anything pleasurable, sugar is often characterized as a vice. The flood of industrial sugar into packaged food has real public health consequences, but predictably, the backlash has taken on a puritanical zeal far beyond reasonable concerns. Sugar is “America’s drug of choice,” one headline claimed. “Is sugar the world’s most popular drug?” wondered another. Even those selling sugary food winkingly parrot the language of addiction — consider Milk Bar’s notoriously sticky, seductively sweet Crack Pie. A drug that decimated predominantly poor, black American communities is now a punchline for middle-class white indulgence.

    For black Americans, sweetness was an essential ingredient in Jim Crow-era stereotypes designed to keep newly emancipated people from their rights. Those stereotypes persist — and even generate profit — today…

    Sugar is survival. It is a respite for palates swept clean of childish joy for too long. It is sexual desire and pleasure, and also temptation and sin. And it is a commodity, one historically produced with some of the most brutal labor practices on the planet. In the Western imagination, sugar is pleasure, temptation, and vice — and in modern history, it is original sin…

    How a taste for sweetness, developed for survival, became a stand-in for everything good — and evil — about our culture: “Sugartime.”

    * Steven Wright

    ###

    As turn to the tart, we might send bodacious birthday greetings to that most fabulous of flappers, Betty Boop; she made her first appearance on this date in 1930.  The creation of animator Max Fleischer, she debuted in “Dizzy Dishes” (in which, still unevolved as a character, she is drawn as an anthropomorphic female dog).

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:24 on 2018/08/08 Permalink
    Tags: , art, , , genre painting, , Lucas van Leyden, ,   

    “Beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple, the ordinary, whilst ugliness is something extraordinary”*… 

     

    ernst_ludwig_kirchner_-_czardas_dancers_-_google_art_project

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, CZARDAS DANCERS, 1908

     

    Ugliness has never been the subject of much scrutiny. For the most part, artists and thinkers have treated ugliness as an immutable category, filled with things they simply didn’t like. These included dangerous landscapes, people with disabilities, and objects that showed signs of too much use. When survival was a number one priority, people viewed anything potentially threatening as ugly. And for the most part, ugly works, particularly pieces that were unintentionally ugly, were forgotten to history.

    As a result, the most significant ugly works created before the nineteenth century were intentionally ugly, created by technically skilled painters who decided, for whatever reason, to depict an ugly subject. Often, ugly art was created as a warning. There but for the grace of God go I, screams the gargoyle clinging to a medieval facade. To contemporary eyes, the art of the Dark Ages looks ugly as a whole (consider this great Vox explainer about ugly babies in medieval paintings.) At the time, however, people didn’t consider the malformed dogs or awkward hat-wearing crows to be ugly, though they did know that doom paintings, which depict the worst-case afterlife scenarios, were hideous. Doom paintings highlight the difference between heaven and hell in order to strike fear into the heart of viewers and thus discourage them from, say, coveting their neighbor’s hot spouse or lying when the tax official came around to collect coins. Sometimes these paintings function like the medieval version of Jonathan Edward’s hellfire-and-brimstone sermons: they actually make the afterlife look interesting, stimulating, and perhaps even a little bit appealing…

    A consideration of the less-than-beautiful in Western art through the ages: “Ugliness Is Underrated: In Defense of Ugly Paintings.”

    * “Beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple, the ordinary, whilst ugliness is something extraordinary, and there is no question but that every ardent imagination prefers in lubricity, the extraordinary to the commonplace”  -Marquis de Sade

    (Echoed by Umberto Eco: “Beauty is, in some ways, boring. Even if its concept changes through the ages, nevertheless a beautiful object must always follow certain rules … Ugliness is unpredictable and offers an infinite range of possibilities. Beauty is finite. Ugliness is infinite, like God.”)

    ###

    As we agonize over aesthetics, we might spare a thought for Lucas van Leyden; he died on this date in 1533.  A seminal Dutch artist, he was among the first Dutch exponents of genre painting and is generally regarded as a very accomplished engraver.

    220px-Durer-Lucas-Van-Leyden

    A portrait of Lucas van Leyden by Albrecht Dürer, June 1521

    source

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:34 on 2018/08/03 Permalink
    Tags: art, , found photos, , , Magnum Photos, , photojournalism,   

    “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”*… 

     

    banana

    Doug Battenhausen spends much of his working hours searching for pictures no one else cares about.

    They’re the kind taken by people would never be considered ‘photographers’, the kind that no one has even thought about for years, where any sense of artistry is purely accidental.

    Instead they’re pictures of drunk friends at grotty house parties or silly sleepovers, landscapes snapped from car windows on boring drives, and assorted images that Doug can only describe as “strangely mundane”…

    drunk

    relection

    Learn more– and see more abandoned images– at “The internet’s forgotten shit pics are accidentally amazing,” and then visit the motherlode: Battenhausen’s Tumblr, Internet History.

    * Henri Cartier-Bresson

    ###

    As we smile at serendipity, we might spare a thought for the source of today’s title quote, Henri Cartier-Bresson; he died on this date in 2004.  A master of the candid and pioneer of street photography, he was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.  With other luminaries (Robert CapaDavid Seymour, and others), he founded Magnum Photos. a photographers’ co-op that covered the world for news outlets and other publishers.  His Magnum coverage of of Gandhi’s funeral in India in 1948 and the last stage of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 brought him international acclaim.

    View his Magnum portfolio here.

    220px-Henri_Cartier-Bresson source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2018/07/27 Permalink
    Tags: art, Dostoevsky, , , Lermontov, , Pushkin, Russian literature, toast,   

    “Toast cannot be explained by any rational means”*… 

     

    toast

    Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” rendered on toast by @ClaireLarsson

     

    Twitter is largely an echo chamber of gamers and white supremacists and white supremacist gamers, howling with the ceaselessness of a puppy chasing its tail. It wasn’t always like this. People used to have fun on the internet, according to the old tales.

    For a few minutes today, you can return to a state of innocence. This week, a charming hashtag has sprung out of Germany: #KunstGeschichteAlsBrotbelag, which according to my expertise (Google Translate) comes out as “Art History as a sandwich.” The premise is pretty simple: classic works of art reinterpreted as pieces of toast. That’s it! And the people doing it are really very good…

    Samples at “Enjoy these classic works of art reinterpreted as toast“; the thread is here.

    * Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

    ###

    As we take a bite, we might spare a thought for Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov; he died on this date in 1841.  A writer, poet and painter, sometimes called “the poet of the Caucasus,” he was the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin’s death in 1837 and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism.  His influence on later Russian literature is still felt in modern times, not only through his poetry, but also through his prose, which founded the tradition of the Russian psychological novel (and was, this hugely influential on Dostoevsky, among others).

    Mikhail_lermontov source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:38 on 2018/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: art, , , imagery, , monsters, , Roman Inquisition, ,   

    “Life swarms with innocent monsters”*… 

     

    MS H.8, Fol. 191 verso, St. Martha taming the tarasque. St. Martha preaching (margin), and initial O, “Hours of Henry VIII”MS H.8, "Hours of Henry VIII,” book of hours, France, Tours, ca. 1500

    “The Taming the Tarasque,” from Hours of Henry VIII, France, Tours, ca. 1500

     

    From dragons and unicorns to mandrakes and griffins, monsters and medieval times are inseparable in the popular imagination. But medieval depictions of monsters—the subject of a fascinating new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan [which includes the image above]—weren’t designed simply to scare their viewers: They had many purposes, and provoked many reactions. They terrified, but they also taught. They enforced prejudices and social hierarchies, but they also inspired unlikely moments of empathy. They were medieval European propaganda, science, art, theology, and ethics all at once…

    Finding the meaning in monsters: “The Symbols of Prejudice Hidden in Medieval Art.”

    * Charles Baudelaire

    ###

    As we decode dragons, we might recall that it was on this date in 1542, with Pope Paul III’s papal bull Licet ab initio, that the Roman Inquisition formally began.  In the tradition of the medieval inquisitions, and “inspired” by the Spanish Inquisition, the Roman Inquisition gave six cardinals six cardinals the power to arrest and imprison anyone suspected of heresy, to confiscate their property, and to put them to death.

    While not so much in the prudish spirit of Savonarola’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,”  the Roman Inquisition– which lasted in the 18th century– was ruthless in rooting out what it considered dangerous deviations from orthodoxy.  Copernicus, Galileo, Giordano Bruno, and Cesare Cremonini were all persecuted.  While only Bruno was executed, the others were effectively (or actually) banished, and in the cases of Copernicus and Galileo, their works were placed on  the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books).

    inquisition source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:52 on 2018/06/25 Permalink
    Tags: art, ETA Hoffmann, , , , mass hysteria, , Offenbach,   

    “We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it”… 

     

    42161447614_4686c7beb7_z

    The human body is a miraculous piece of machinery. Try as they might, scientists can’t always seem to understand its power — and susceptibility — to the strangest situations throughout history. What happens when a meteorite causes a mental health calamity? Or a laughing epidemic? From ye old French dancing fits [evoked above], to an entire village of ‘sleeping beauties’, the lesson we’ve learned from the majority of these epidemics is this: viruses are terrifying, but the mind is the most dangerous thing of all…

    A curious (and captivating) collection of collective compulsion: “The Unexplained Dancing Plague & Other Epidemics of Yore.”

    * Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

    ###

    As we muse on madness, we might spare a thought for Ernst Theodor Amadeus (“E.T.A.”) Hoffmann; he died on this date in 1822.  A key figure in the German Romantic period, Hoffmann was an author of fantasy and horror– a phantasist and proto-surrealist– a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist.  While some of his compositions survive in the canon, he is probably better remembered for his stories: they form the basis of Jacques Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffmann appears (heavily fictionalized) as the hero. He is also the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which the famous ballet The Nutcracker is based.  The ballet Coppélia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote, while Schumann’s Kreisleriana is based on Hoffmann’s character Johannes Kreisler.

    Hoffmann also influenced 19th century musical opinion through his music criticism. His reviews of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 (1808) and other important works set new literary standards for writing about music, and encouraged later writers to consider music as “the most Romantic of all the arts.”

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:29 on 2018/05/05 Permalink
    Tags: art, , , Flashman, George MacDonald Fraser, historical novel, , , ,   

    “Bad artists always admire each others’ work”*… 

     

    Woody Allen, Picasso… now Kanye West: Can one separate the artist from the art?

    [The] disappointment with West’s flirtation with right-wing politics, whether genuine or just a publicity stunt for his new album, raises an age-old debate about the separation (or lack thereof) between art and the artist—specifically, in this case, between the politics of art and the politics of the artist. As Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall tweeted last week:

    This comparison might seem outrageous. Pound, the legendary American poet, stained his reputation by advocating for Benito Mussolini and broadcasting fascist messages on Italian radio during World War II. Trump, despite his authoritarian tendencies, is hardly Mussolini, nor are West’s tweets in the same category as Pound’s rants, which were laced with anti-Semitism.

    But it’s a useful comparison precisely because Pound’s actions were so extreme: The stillrunning debate surrounding him—about whether an artist’s political views should shape how an audience views their work—can help clarify the new debate surrounding West…

    Consider more completely at “Is Kanye West ‘the Ezra Pound of Rap’?“; then see “The Picasso Problem: Why We Shouldn’t Separate the Art From the Artist’s Misogyny” and “Can you separate the artist from the art?

    Meantime, see a series of Kanye’s infamous recent tweets, reproduced as New Yorker cartoon captions, e.g.:

    Then, for a very different point-of-view, see “The Overground Hell Road: The Similarities Between Kanye and Gandhi Are Scary.”

    * Oscar Wilde

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    As we govern our glance, we might send (notional) birthday greetings to Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC, KCB, KCIE; he was (notionally) born on this date in 1822.  Originally created as a minor character by Thomas Hughes  in his semi-autobiographical Tom Brown’s School Days— Flashman is a bully who torments Tom Brown– Flasman got a second– and much more expansive life when George MacDonald Fraser decided to write his “memoir.”  The result runs to 12 hilarious historical novels– collectively known as “The Flashman Papers“– in which Hughes’ bully becomes an illustrious Victorian soldier while remaining “a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward—and, oh yes, a toady.”

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:30 on 2018/03/25 Permalink
    Tags: art, Flannery O'Connor, , illustrations, , , , Richard Breton, Southern Gothic,   

    “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”*… 

     

    In 1565, twelve years after the death of François Rabelais (1494-1553) — the French Renaissance author best known for his satirical masterpiece The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel, the bawdy tale of two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel [see here] — the Parisian bookseller and publisher Richard Breton brought out Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel (The drolatic dreams of Pantagruel). The slim volume, save a short preface from Breton, is made up entirely of images [like the one above] — 120 woodcuts depicting a series of fantastically bizarre and grotesque figures, reminiscent of some of the more inventive and twisted creations of Brueghel or Bosch…

    More of the backstory and more of the illustrations at “The Drolatic Dreams of Pantagruel.”  See the original, in full, at The Internet Archive.

    * Edgar Allan Poe

    ###

    As we explore the extraordinary, we might send mysterious birthday greetings to a master of grotesque characters: Mary Flannery O’Connor; she was born on this date in 1925.   The author of two novels and thirty-two short stories (as well as a number of reviews and commentaries), she was an exemplar of the Southern Gothic movement in American literature.  Her posthumously compiled Complete Stories, which won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction, has been the subject of enduring praise.

     source

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:20 on 2018/03/05 Permalink
    Tags: achive, art, , Center for Advanced Visual Studies, , , , ,   

    “With a library it is easier to hope for serendipity than to look for a precise answer”*… 

     

    At first, the new website for the collection of MIT’s influential Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) seems like a straightforward web page. But as it scrolls down, through the introductory text and into randomly selected works from the archive, it becomes clear that the content is warping into three dimensional space, and branching into spiraling trees of related work, organized by creator and medium — an experience designed to evoke the sensation of wandering through the center’s physical archive.

    “Someone might be coming in to do research on environmental sculpture, and then they see all these images on, I don’t know, holography, and then they’d say ‘oh, I really want to check that out,’” said Jeremy Grubman, an MIT archivist who spearheaded the project. “So I wanted to find a way to produce that in a digital space, to produce that concept of serendipitous browsing.”

    50 years of art across three-dimensional space; as Jon Christian explains, “This MIT archive will be your trippiest scrolling experience today.”

    Check it out.

    * Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), When Did You See Her Last?

    ###

    As we prepare for pleasant surprises, we might send cartographically-correct birthday greetings to Gerardus Mercator; he was born on this date in 1512.  The most renown cartographer of his time, he created a world map based on a new projection– the Mercator Projection— which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines, an approach still employed in nautical charts used for navigation.

    While he was most esteemed as the foremost geographer of his day, Mercator was also an accomplished engraver, calligrapher and maker of globes and scientific instruments.  And he studied theology, philosophy, history, mathematics, and magnetism.

     source

     

     
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