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


 

Gérard Trignac’s Invisible Cities

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I wrote a short appreciation of French artist Gérard Trignac back in 2006, and he’s been mentioned a few times since, so it would be remiss of me to not include his etchings in this week’s illustration series. Trignac is a favourite of mine among the current crop of French etchers and engravers for his superb renderings of fantastic architecture. Most of this work is from his own imagination but he’s also illustrated Borges (The Immortal) and Calvino, producing plates for expensive limited volumes. Les Villes Invisibles was published in 1993 by Les Amis du Livre, Paris, in an edition of 200. The combination of a small print run with a series of ten etchings makes this a costly volume; the cheapest edition on Abe.com just now is going for €1500.

Scarcity aside, these are marvellous depictions of Calvino’s cities, as detailed and meticulous as any of Trignac’s other works. One thing that becomes apparent when you start looking at illustrations of Calvino’s novel is that artists tend to pick the same few cities. So in Trignac’s case we have more views of Armilla, Octavia, Zenobia and so on. All of these may be seen at Trignac’s website, while one of the expensive volumes is for sale here. For those who can’t afford the latter I recommend Les Portes du Silence (2004), a collection of Trignac’s work that includes all the plates for Les Villes Invisibles, the Borges’ illustrations, and much more besides.

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Thin Cities 2: Zenobia.

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Trading Cities 5: Esmeralda.

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Colleen Corradi Brannigan’s Invisible Cities

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Cities and Memory 5: Maurilia.

Colleen Corradi Brannigan’s multimedia project was linked here back in 2011 when news of her endeavours reached a number of high-profile websites. These artworks are another attempt to depict all of Italo Calvino’s cities, this time using a range of media that includes sculpture. I like the variety of this series; some of the depictions approach the more rigorous perspectives of MC Escher while others are as loose as Expressionist paintings. The website also includes extracts from Calvino’s descriptions.

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Trading Cities 4: Ersilia.

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Thin Cities 3: Armilla.

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Le Città In/visibili

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Thin Cities 3: Armilla by Luca Enoch.

Sergio Bonelli Editore, an Italian comics publisher, staged an exhibition of art based on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities at the Triennale Milano in 2002. The drawings for Le Città In/visibili head in the opposite direction from Mikhail Viesel’s depictions, and in several pictures push the cities towards generic fantasy and science fiction. These images are from an extinct page on the publisher’s website although they may also be seen on the current site with a little searching. The publisher doesn’t offer much information, however, so while the artists are identified it’s less clear which cities are being depicted. I’ve noted the more obvious ones; Calvino obsessives can have fun guessing which the others might be.

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Laura Zuccheri.

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Thin Cities 2: Zenobia by Maurizio Dotti.

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Mikhail Viesel’s Invisible Cities

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Thin Cities 2: Zenobia.

I’ve a lot of work to get through this week so the theme will be illustrated Calvino, and that means looking at various renderings of the Invisible Cities. Calvino’s novel has many attractions for illustrators, at least superficially: all those descriptions, the endless variety and invention. Whether the book should be illustrated at all is another matter. The conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan that bracket each chapter return continually to the veracity of the Venetian’s descriptions; this in turn places each city in a nebulous zone where the reader may see the places described as being simultaneously an actual place and a fabrication. And then there’s the question of Calvino’s anachronisms, with mentions of railway stations and the like… Visual adaptations of elusive fictions have a tendency to literalise the subject in a manner that isn’t always to the benefit of the book.

With that proviso in mind, this first selection of drawings are by a Russian artist, Mikhail Viesel, who illustrates each of the cities. All may be seen at this page with section titles in English although the text for each picture is in Russian.

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Cities and Eyes 3: Baucis.

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Thin Cities 5: Octavia.

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Hidden Cities 4: Theodora.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Bookmark: Italo Calvino
Crossed destinies revisted
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
Tressants: the Calvino Hotel

 


Weekend links 265

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The White House, Washington DC, on the evening of June 26, 2015.

I can remember that after the cops cleared us out of the bar we clustered in Christopher Street around the entrance to the Stonewall. The customers were not being arrested, but a paddy wagon had already hauled off several of the bartenders. Two or three policemen stayed behind, locked inside with the remaining members of staff, waiting for the return of the paddy wagon. During that interval someone in the defiant crowd outside called out “Gay Power”, which caused us all to laugh. The notion that gays might become militant after the manner of blacks seemed amusing for two reasons—first because we gay men were used to thinking of ourselves as too effeminate to protest anything, and second because most of us did not consider ourselves to be a legitimate minority.

At that time we perceived ourselves as separate individuals at odds with society because we were “sick” (the medical model), “sinful” (the religious model), “deviant” (the sociological model) or “criminal” (the legal model). Some of these words we might have said lightly, satirically, but no amount of wit could convince us that our grievances should be remedied or our status defended. We might ask for compassion but we could not demand justice. Many gays either were in therapy or felt they should be, and the words gay liberation would have seemed as preposterous to us as neurotic liberation (now, of course, Thomas S. Szasz in the United States, RD Laing in Britain and Felix Guattari on the Continent have, in their different ways, made even that phrase plausible enough).

What I want to stress is that before 1969 only a small (though courageous and articulate) number of gays had much pride in their homosexuality or a conviction that their predilections were legitimate. The rest of us defined our homosexuality in negative terms, and those terms isolated us from one another. We might claim Plato and Michelangelo as homosexuals and revere them for their supposed affinities with us, but we could just as readily dismiss, even despise, a living thinker or artist for being gay. Rich gays may have derived pleasure from their wealth, educated gays from their knowledge, talented gays from their gifts, but few felt anything but regret about their homosexuality as such. To be sure, particular sexual encounters, and especially particular love relationships, were gratifying then as now, but they were explained as happy accidents rather than as expected results.

Edmund White writing on The Political Vocabulary of Homosexuality (1980). Reprinted in The Burning Library: Writings on Art, Politics and Sexuality (1994).

• “…after seeing Don’t Look Now, The Wicker Man looked just so dull and flat. What Don’t Look Now has that The Wicker Man doesn’t is a complete mastery of cinema. Don’t Look Now is almost a silent movie, a brilliant, coherent, original and fantastic film that has an enormous emotional impact.” Bernard Rose emoting at length about Nicolas Roeg. Related: Wild Hearts Run Out Of Time, the Roy Orbison video that Rose mentions directing.

• “The male sex organ is depicted not so much as a body part, but more as a fetish object in its own right—a thing independent of the male body, worthy of intense, delirious veneration.” Jason Farago reviewing Tom of Finland: the Pleasure of Play. Related: Same-sex desire through the ages at the British Museum.

• “Sphinx is a typical love story only in the way that it’s the tale of two people who have fallen in love, and things don’t go smoothly. Beyond that…as reader, you have no idea of the gender of either half of this romantic equation.” Chris Clarke reviewing Sphinx, a novel by Anne Garréta.

• “To give space to the musical elements was really a thrill—how far can you get without using too much stuff?” Moritz von Oswald on “the sounds of emptiness”.

• “The problem is not always Helvetica but that Helvetica is all too often the default, the fall-back, the I-really-can’t-be-arsed choice,” says John Boardley.

• Mix of the week: Shaft’s Old Man: An Imaginary Soul Jazz Soundtrack by Aquarium Drunkard.

• “What is the Cut-Up Method?” Ken Hollings explains in a BBC magazine piece and radio feature.

• Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass, the final TV serial, will be released on Blu-ray next month.

• Relevant to the week’s reading: an archived Italo Calvino site.

Drÿad: a Tumblr.

Sphinx (1989) by Syd Straw | The Sodom And Gomorrah Show (2006) by Pet Shop Boys | Pattern 1 (2009) by Moritz Von Oswald Trio

 


 


 

Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

Previously on { feuilleton }

    dkd03-04.jpg   darkness2.jpg

 


 

{ feuilleton } recommends


Z (aka Bernard Szajner) presents Visions of Dune

 

I Am The Center--Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990

 

Cosmic Machine--A Voyage Across French Cosmic & Electronic Avantgarde (1970-1980)

 

Why Do The Heathen Rage? by The Soft Pink Truth

 

School Daze by Patrick Cowley

 

The Art of Gothic by Natasha Scharf

 

Somnium by Steve Moore

 

Strange Attractor Journal Four

 

Clive Hicks-Jenkins

 

A Humument by Tom Phillips

 

Schalcken the Painter

 

Berberian Sound Studio

 

Under the Skin

 

The Stone Tape by Nigel Kneale

 

Beasts by Nigel Kneale

 

A Field In England

 

Nosferatu

 

Enter the Void

 

David Lynch Collection

 

Children of the Stones--The Complete Series

 

BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas (Box Set)

 

The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome

 

L'Ange by Patrick Bokanowski

 

Piotr Kamler--A La Recherche du Temps

 


 




 

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin