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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Maximin: ein Gedenkbuch by Stefan George

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This is a strange and beautiful book, a loving paean to a dead boy-poet from another poet, Stefan George (1868–1933), published in 1907. The “Maximin” of the title was Maximilian Kronberger (1888–1904) who was around 14 when he met George; the older man was 34 at the time. George was apparently smitten by the boy, and devastated when he died from meningitis two years later. Maximin: ein Gedenkbuch (A Memorial Book) is the result, a collection of mournful poems, beautifully designed and illustrated by Melchior Lechter in that rectilinear Art Nouveau style which the artist made his own. The memory of the dead Maximin became for George a quasi-religious obsession which makes Maximin the bible of the homosocial cult that George subsequently encouraged.

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What’s most surprising about all this behaviour is that it did nothing at all to harm his reputation, even among the Nazis who later revered his poetry. George was a contemporary of Oscar Wilde but the pair were poles apart in character, George’s chilly, high-minded aestheticism preserving him from the brickbats aimed at Wilde and others. Nonetheless, the inherent camp that results from the combination of such a remote attitude combined with flagrant boy-worship secured for George a place alongside Wilde in Philip Core’s essential Camp: The Lie that Tells the Truth (1984):

Strangely enough his overtly (if classically) homosexual verses, his preference for beautiful youth, and his severe black-clad dignity, all became immensely popular in the land of brüderschaft (brothers’ love). The camp Classicism of his ‘academy’ of the spirit, in surroundings of neo-Classical kitsch, hit just the right middle ground between Edwardian sentimentality and Hitlerian Imperialism.

Maximin: ein Gedenkbuch may be browsed or downloaded at the University of Heidelberg. There’s a more academic examination of George’s homoerotics here. Further page samples follow.

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The Rock Machine Turns You On

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Discovered via the latest issue of The Wire magazine in a feature about compilation albums, The Rock Machine Turns You On (1968) was the first budget sampler album. Given the success of this release I’m sure I must have seen it over the years but that cover wasn’t familiar at all. I have to assume that the “Hey, pop kids!” title would have been enough of a turn-off to ensure the fingers kept flipping through the sleeves. Priorities change with the passing of time, however, and my attention was caught by the cover art alone, another example of the engraving-collage style whose evolution I’ve been tracing over the past few years. The only design credit on the sleeve is for the back cover photo by Wadham Artists. The front cover is credited online to Milton Glaser, some of whose album covers have already featured here. He was working for Columbia/CBS in the late 60s so it’s a possibility. If anyone out there has a copy of the vinyl then maybe they can tell me if that’s an artist credit in the lower right of the picture. A CD reissue in 1996 only copied the album credits.

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As to the music, it’s a pretty good compilation, lots of familiar names together with a track from cult favourites of mine The United States of America whose one and only self-titled album had been released that year. One of the few negatives about the superb United States of America album is the cover design which isn’t bad but does nothing to reflect the extraordinary musical invention within. It’s a shame that whoever designed The Rock Machine… couldn’t have worked on that sleeve as well.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

 


Swinging Britain, 1967

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My thanks to Jay for turning up this gem from the huge British Pathé archive which recently landed at YouTube. British Pathé provided short newsreel films for UK cinemas up until 1970. The flaws of these films have always been immediately apparent, chiefly an irritating editorial attitude manifested by patronising voiceovers and sequences staged for the camera. On the plus side, everything was being shot for cinema screens so 35mm film was used which means the footage always looks better than the TV news of the time.

Swinging Britain is an 8-minute jaunt from the Portobello Road and Carnaby Street, to the offices of Intro magazine (launched that year), Mary Quant’s boutique, a “happening” in a park, and various nightclubs (not the UFO, unfortunately). Most footage along these lines tends to concentrate exclusively on London but this one also includes scenes in Manchester and Newcastle. The voiceover is as sceptical as you’d expect, leavened with a few qualifying remarks: “It’s good business for Britain!” The event in the park was one of a number of happenings and art events staged by Keith Albarn (Damon’s dad). The Pathé archive has another film showing the interior of Albarn’s Fun City environment at Margate, Kent. Of more general interest is this film of one of the popular beat groups of the period, four young men who call themselves The Pink Floyd.

See also:
Woburn Love-In (1967)
Light Fantastic (1968)
Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 662 – Reel 1 Of 3 – Swinging Britain (1967)
Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 662 – Reel 2 Of 3 – Swinging Britain (1967)
Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 662 – Reel 3 Of 3 – Swinging Britain (1967)
Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 719 – Fun Palace, Air Cushion And Balloon Race (1968)

Previously on { feuilleton }
San Francisco by Anthony Stern
Smashing Time

 


L’Amour by Didier Moreau

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Didier Moreau is one of a handful of obscure artists whose work I go searching for now and then in the hope that more of it may have been posted somewhere. Moreau’s drawings first came to my attention via the marvellous Art Nouveau Revival 1900 . 1933 . 1966 . 1974 exhibition catalogue but details about either the artist or his work are scant, especially on Anglophone sites where more recent French artists tend to be marginalised at the best of times. Matters aren’t helped by there being several Didier Moreaus in the world, and the possibility that Didier the artist may not have produced a great deal of work after the early 1970s.

L’Amour, a portfolio of drawings from 1973 was discovered on an auction site. The drawings themselves date from 1970, and look very much like improvised pieces. The examples in Art Nouveau Revival were vaguely erotic in tone but distinctly Beardsley-like in style; the pieces here are much more erotic (hence the title) but with a style that’s closer to Hans Bellmer: all those fused bodies, multiplied limbs and sinuous, organic forms. If something like this can turn up out of the blue you have to wonder what else may come to light in the future.

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Weekend links 208

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The Blue Girl (2013) by Sungwon.

• “Meanwhile, in her parents’ room [Max] Ernst painted aardvarks eating ants and big human hands around the windows. ‘Sexual connotations, I think,’ she says shyly.” Agnès Poirier talks to Cécile Eluard about her childhood among the Surrealists.

• “Thrilling and prophetic”: why film-maker Chris Marker‘s radical images influenced so many artists. Sukhdev Sandhu, William Gibson, Mark Romanek and Joanna Hogg on the elusive director.

• At Dangerous Minds: Throbbing Gristle live in Manchester in 1980, and Brian Butler talks about the rediscovered early print of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising. There’s a trailer!

• From 1981: The Art of Fiction No. 69 at The Paris Review, an interview with Gabriel García Márquez. Related: Thomas Pynchon reviewed Love in the Time of Cholera in 1988.

• “Seven years ago, a stolen first edition of Borges’s early poems was returned to Argentina’s National Library. But was it the right copy?” Graciela Mochkofsky investigates.

• “What was Walter Benjamin doing with his shirt off in Ibiza?” Peter E. Gordon reviews Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life by Howard Eiland & Michael W. Jennings.

• A video by Marcel Weber for Måtinden, a track from Eric Holm’s Andøya album. Another album on the Subtext label that I helped design.

• More Ian Miller: Boing Boing has pages from his new book, The Art of Ian Miller, and there’s an interview at Sci-Fi-O-Rama.

Outrun Europa, a free compilation of 80s-style electronic music. There’s a lot more along those lines here.

• Praise Be! Favourite religious and spiritual records chose by writers at The Quietus.

Ralph Steadman illustrated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1973.

British Pathé is uploading 85,000 of its newsreel films to YouTube.

• Drawings by Lebbeus Woods at The Drawing Center, New York.

• At Pinterest: Ian Miller and Kenneth Anger.

Lucifer Sam (1967) by Pink Floyd | The Surrealist Waltz (1967) by Pearls Before Swine | Which Dreamed It (1968) by Boeing Duveen And The Beautiful Soup

 


 


 

Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

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The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire