Europe and the Spirit World


The Temptation of St Anthony (c. 1470) by Martin Schongauer.

From one lot of devils to another, and also another art exhibition with an occult theme. Are curators running out of ideas or becoming more adventurous? The answer probably lies somewhere in between. Europe and the Spirit World, or the Fascination with the Occult, 1750-1950 is currently showing at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg, France, and the art on display ranges from early pieces like Schongauer’s famous engraving to more recent works by artists such as Victor Brauner, one of whose Chimeras is featured. The website is sparse but there is a 450-page catalogue for those interested. The exhibition runs until February 12th, 2012.

Ken Russell, 1927–2011


May–September 1970, Ladbroke Grove: Ken asked me what would most upset an English audience. Louis XIII dining al fresco, carelessly shooting peacocks on the lawn between courses. “Impossible,” said Ken. “How would you do that?”

“Make some dummies, stand them on the lawn and detonate them.”

“No, you’d have to shoot real peacocks. It wouldn’t work otherwise.”

Derek Jarman, Dancing Ledge (1984)

It hardly seems worth adding to the Russell eulogies when The Guardian over the past few hours has been so profligate with their stories you might think they’d offed the director in order to boost their readership. For my part I’ll keep it brief and say I used to be guilty of taking Ken Russell for granted, he seemed so ubiquitous when his feature films were turning up all the time on British television. He was fortunate to make the most of that brief moment when American studios were nurturing a handful of world-class talents in the UK. A shame it didn’t last. Derek Jarman, after working on The Devils and Savage Messiah, designed a production of Stravinsky’s The Rake Progress that Russell directed in 1982. Discussing that period in Dancing Ledge he says: “Ken is deeply disillusioned with the cinema, the end of a love affair. Whenever the subject comes up there is sadness, tales of betrayal and hopes dashed.” About British cinema in general, Jarman had this to say:

The English film world is mesmerized by Oscars, and almost any project has to pass the Hollywood test. All indigenous work has to be historic and “quaint” – Brideshead or Chariots of Fire, a dull and overrated TV film, fit the bill. All the rest take their chances.

The BFI is finally releasing The Devils on DVD in March 2012. Unlike The King’s Speech it never won any Oscars. No need to guess which one I’d rather watch.

Guardian obituary | Ken Russell: a career in clips
• The Independent: Farewell to the wild man of cinema
Telegraph obituary
Fuck Yeah Ken Russell

Previously on { feuilleton }
Salome’s Last Dance

Los Bikers by Dënver


What’s going on here then? An epigraph from Yukio Mishima…an Air-like song…a pair of boys stripping down to their underwear to play bondage games…gorgeous dancers in white briefs performing amid statuary… Yes, it gets my vote.

Dënver are from Chile, and the song is Los Bikers from their 2010 album Música, Gramática, Gimnasia. I’d tell you who directed the video but they’re not very clear about that themselves. There’s more video and music on the inevitable Dënver Myspace page. Via Homotography.


Previously on { feuilleton }
The Lady Is Dead and The Irrepressibles
Forbidden Colours
Mishima’s Rite of Love and Death

Weekend links 86


Salammbô by Alastair (Hans Henning Voigt) from Harry Crosby‘s Red Skeletons (1927). Dover published a new collection of Alastair’s drawings in September.

A Taste of Honey showed working-class women from a working-class woman’s point of view, had a gay man as a central and sympathetic figure, and a black character who was neither idealised nor a racial stereotype.” RIP Shelagh Delaney. Related: Shelagh Delaney’s Salford (1960), directed by Ken Russell, and all 47 minutes (!) of The White Bus (1967), Lindsay Anderson’s strange, pre-If…. short, written by Shelagh Delaney, filmed in and around Manchester.

Since birth I’ve craved all things psychedelic, the energy and beauty of it. The pleasure… […] But in the US the exploration of consciousness and its powers—or really any curiosity about anything at all—is actively discouraged, because the system is so corrupt that it depends on people being virtually unconscious all the time. Burroughs cracked that code long ago. Spirituality here equals money; no one seems to be able to think, never mind explore their own consciousness.

Laurie Weeks: Making Magic Out of the Real

• Ian Albinson shows us The Title Design of Saul Bass while Ace Jet 170 has a copy of the new Bass monograph.

Kris Kool (1970) at 50 Watts, Philip Caza’s lurid, erotic, psychedelic comic strip.


Götz Krafft by EM Lilien from a collection at Flickr.

Serious Listeners: The Strange and Frightening World of Coil.

The Octopus Chronicles, a new blog at Scientific American.

• We now live in a world where there are Ghost Box badges.

Kilian Eng interviewed at Sci-Fi-O-Rama.

Dalí Planet


A Taste of Honey (1962) by Acker Bilk | A Taste of Honey (1965) by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass | A Taste of Honey (Moog version) (1969) by Martin Denny.

A London Street Scene


A London Street Scene (1840) by John Parry.

If any painting requires the attentions of the Google Art Project it’s this depiction of a bill poster going about his work by John Orlando Parry (1810–1879). I know this from a cropped view (see here) which shows the care Parry applied to details of typography and the layering of the posters. There’s also some humour with the pickpocket boy on the left, and the artist himself as the subject of one poster in the centre of the picture. Wikipedia has a large version here but it’s too washed-out and blurred to be any use. For a view of the genuine article at work, see this LSE Library photo.

A note about the painting’s date: online sources give 1830 but the copy I have in a book from the V&A says 1840.