Weekend links 610

durer.jpg

Pillow Studies (1493) by Albrecht Dürer.

• “Without ever writing a song, without ever fronting a group, Khan changed the face of British music.” Michael Hann talks to Morgan Khan about bringing New York Electro to the UK with his Streets Sounds label.

James Balmont offers “an introduction to Japan’s visceral cyberpunk cinema in five cult films”. This reminds me that I’ve not seen Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo films for years. Time to reacquaint myself.

• At Aquarium Drunkard: 15-minutes of Alice Coltrane from 1970, talking about her music and performing with Pharoah Sanders et al. Amazing.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins presents Beauty & Beast, an animated fairy tale made to showcase his toy theatre design.

• Carl Dreyer’s horror masterpiece, Vampyr (1932), is released on blu-ray by Eureka in May.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine explores the mysteries of the Egg Language.

• DJ Food unearths paintings by Syd Mead for a Celcon Steel brochure, 1965.

• Jamie Sutcliffe enters The Strange World of Junji Ito.

• Mix of the week: Isolatedmix 117 by Refracted.

Keeley Forsyth‘s favourite music.

Electrocharge (1980) by Blackbeard | Electrodub1 (1980) by Chris Carter | Ano Electro (Andante) (1993) by The Sabres Of Paradise

The other Carceri

carceri12.jpg

Dark prison with a courtyard for the punishment of criminals (c.1750) by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. (NB: not one of the Carceri d’Invenzione although it is another imaginary prison.)

Piranesi’s etchings of imaginary prisons, the Carceri d’Invenzione, are his most celebrated and influential works but they’re not the only such views to be found in 18th-century art. What you see here are some of the prison settings designed for the theatre and opera of the time, where incarceration or unjust imprisonment was a recurrent theme. Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, is one of the more famous examples, with all the action taking place inside the walls of a Spanish prison.

carceri08.jpg

Prison Courtyard with Figures (c. 1720). Attributed to Francesco Galli Bibiena.

Many of these designs are by various Galli Bibienas, a multi-generational family of Italian artists and architects who included theatrical designers among their talented number. The Galli Bibienas’ prisons lack the invention and menace of Piranesi’s etchings—many of them look as neat and tidy as their designs for colossal gardens and palaces—but I enjoy the dramatic perspectives all the same.

carceri01.jpg

Prison Interior (c.1725–1730) by Antonio Galli Bibiena.

carceri01.jpg

Print depicting the Prison scene in the opera-ballet Cerere placata at the Royal Palace of Jove (1772). Carlo Bibiena (artist) and Giovanni Battista Nolli (etcher).

carceri03.jpg

Design for a stage set: the interior of a prison. School of Francesco Galli Bibiena.

Continue reading “The other Carceri”

Bruges-la-Morte, 1978

blm1.jpg

What we have here is a very creditable 67-minute film adaptation of the Symbolist novel by Georges Rodenbach. Ronald Chase directed, co-wrote the screenplay with Pier Luigi Farri, and also photographed the production with a small company of English actors in the city of Bruges. The film has recently been given a high-definition restoration and made available on the director’s Vimeo page. Chase describes his adaptation as a low-budget affair, the footage being originally intended for screening during performances of Die Tode Stadt by Eric Korngold, but it doesn’t come across as cheap or amateurish thanks to a professional cast and authentic locations. Rodenbach’s novel is distinguished by its early use of photographic illustrations, most of which are views of the canals of Bruges. Here we get to see the church steeples and crow-step gables from the viewpoint of a camera drifting along the same swan-filled waterways.

It’s a long time since I read Rodenbach’s novel so I can’t judge this version in any detail although my memories are of a dreamier narrative than the one the film delivers. Chase credits the story as being “suggested” by the novel but the broad outline follows Rodenbach, with a grieving widower (Richard Easton, whose character is unnamed in the film) meeting a dancer (Kristin Milward) who seems to be the double of his recently deceased wife. The dancer works with a troupe of performers who stage a nocturnal masque for the tormented man, an event which fails to alleviate his confusion or his anguish.

blm2.jpg

Chase’s film resembles one of the literary adaptations the BBC used to make throughout 1970s and 80s, modest and serious, and certainly of a quality that it could have been broadcast as a part of the Omnibus arts strand or in a late slot on BBC 2. Among the performers are a Pierrot character played by Anthony Daniels, an actor most people will know for his role as a gold robot in a space opera, and Nickolas Grace, who appeared as Oscar Wilde a decade later in Ken Russell’s Salomé’s Last Dance. There’s a touch of the diabolical Russell (and James Ensor) in the later masque scenes when the performers don papier-mâché masks, and a nun gets chased around a church. The mask-making is credited–very surprisingly–to Winston Tong, an artist and musician best known for his association with Tuxedomoon. I was hoping we might see more of the gloomy canals and equally gloomy architecture but the buildings and bridges that we do see look just as they would have done in Rodenbach’s day. If you want more there’s always the paintings and drawings of Fernand Khopff and Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, or the photographs in the novel itself.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Bruges in photochrom
Bruges panoramas
Bruges-la-Morte

The art of Pinckney Marcius-Simons, 1867–1909

marcius-simons13.jpg

Vision of the Demon.

The Symbolist movement in painting never really took hold in America the way it did in Europe so it’s a surprise to find a new name to add to the very small list of American Symbolists. Pinckney Marcius-Simons painted his share of 19th-century genre pictures but these give way in his later career to canvases that show a distinct Gustave Moreau influence, or perhaps Turner in those nebulous volumes of illuminated vapour. Marcius-Simons was born in New York but lived in Europe for most of his life; he studied in Paris so he would have been able to see Moreau’s work first-hand. A few of his later pictures are rather vague fantasies but his real obsession was with Wagner’s operas, and he spent the last few years of his life working as a set designer at Bayreuth while also creating a series of paintings intended to illustrate the entire run of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. His most remarkable creation isn’t a canvas, however, but a French edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which he painted over entirely, even decorating the binding. I’m surprised again that such a unique work isn’t more widely known. Happily the entire book is available online at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

All the usual caveats apply here with regard to the accuracy of titles and dates. There’s even some dispute about the artist’s birth year which is occasionally given as 1865. Most of these pictures have been found on auction sites where larger reproductions may be seen.

marcius-simons03.jpg

Port City.

marcius-simons04.jpg

marcius-simons05.jpg

Sunrise.

marcius-simons12.jpg

The City of Dreams.

Continue reading “The art of Pinckney Marcius-Simons, 1867–1909”

Weekend links 598

lucier.jpg

The Wire, July 2004. Illustration and design by Non-Format. Christopher Cox’s interview with Lucier is available to read here.

• “I went into experimental overdrive. Lyrical motifs became literal imagery. A hammer shattering a plate of glass. A lyrical maze of geometric tunnels and formations.” Chris Mosdell talking to Aquarium Drunkard about writing lyrics for Yellow Magic Orchestra and others (you can hear his voice on YMO’s Citizens Of Science), plus the recording of his own debut album, Equasian.

• At Public Domain Review: “…this short, odd book confronts a question that has vexed naturalists for thousands of years: how do we account for the precipitation of animals?” Odd Showers; or, An Explanation of the Rain of Insects, Fishes, and Lizards (1870) by George Duncan Gibb.

• “…few writers on our list could have functioned in the culture that, today, sees literature as a profession for which you prepare like any other: going to the right school, meeting the right people.” Francine Prose on her encounters with the literary strange.

• “Where was glass first fashioned? How was it worked and coloured, and passed around the ancient world?” Carolyn Wilke presents a brief scientific history of glass.

• RIP Antony Sher and Alvin Lucier. In 1969 Lucier was sitting in a room different to the one you are in now. Elsewhere: Alvin Lucier at Ubuweb.

• New/old music: Zeitgeist: Ambient Music from 2012 to 2020 by Marco Simioni & Mattia Saviolo.

James Balmont on five unmissable films from the Japanese New Wave movement.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Illuminated paintings of Tokyo after dark by Keita Morimoto.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 724 by Laura BCR, and Isolatedmix 115 by HVL.

• At Strange Flowers: part two of James Conway’s Secret Satan end-of-year list.

• “Jony Ive’s first major design since leaving Apple isn’t what you’d expect.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Yasuzo Masumura Day.

Glass (1968) by Sagittarius | Glass (1979) by Joy Division | Glass (2009) by Bat For Lashes