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


 

The South Bank Show: Talking Heads

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Like many UK arts documentaries, The South Bank Show seldom repeated its films so you had to watch them when they were broadcast or you might never see them at all. This Talking Heads feature from 1979 is one that I missed, a great portrait of the band shortly after the release of their third album, Fear Of Music. Shots of the group performing songs from the first three albums are intercut with interviews and montages of American TV. You also get to see a very young-looking David Byrne writing (or attempting to write) some lyrics. The most revelatory aspect of the film now is the discussion of the ordinariness of both the band and their lyrics. In 1979 being resolutely mundane had become a radical position.

 


Shadowland covers

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Not the horror magazine, this is an earlier American title that ran from 1919 to 1923. Shadowland covered the arts in general with a preference for stage and film. The thing that immediately sets it apart from other film magazines of the period is the cover art by AM Hopfmuller; many of the paintings resemble theatre backdrops or backgrounds for animated films. The Internet Archive doesn’t have a complete run, unfortunately—the examples here are from volumes 1, 7 and 8—but more of Hopfmuller’s work may be found on other sites. The magazine interiors are also worth a browse for their colour plates and art photographs. (Thanks to Kristian for the tip!)

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Leo Visser calendar, 1903

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Leo Visser (1880–1950) was a Dutch artist who created a number of calendars in addition to other decorative designs featuring plants and animals. This example is one of the earliest, combining both flora and the fauna in a series of attractive Art Nouveau plates. You don’t see monkeys very often in Art Nouveau designs, for some reason they were more popular during the Art Deco period.

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The art of Tatsuji Okawa, 1904–1994

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More from Japan. I found some of Tatsuji Okawa’s bondage drawings on a website some years ago but there was no information about the artist other than his name. The reproductions were also poor quality, being grainy scans from books. These drawings are from the excellent Japanese Gay Art site, a wonderful resource that also sells the work on display. Most of the drawings deal with bondage and/or humiliation—popular themes in Japanese porn—but there are a few portrait-style pieces like the ones below. No surprise to read that Yukio Mishima enjoyed Okawa’s work.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

 


Foreign appearances

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My work has appeared in a couple of foreign collections recently, each approaching popular culture from very different directions. The volume above is called Steampunk Japan Fashion Book according to a German bookseller although the title may read differently to Japanese speakers. This was published at the end of last year, and features my ever-popular covers for the Angry Robot editions of two steampunk novels by KW Jeter, Infernal Devices and Morlock Night. The book is the work of a collective who call themselves The Japanese Steampunkers.

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Meanwhile in France, Imaginaires #19: Les cultures populaires aujourd’hui is a collection of academic pieces about popular culture published by ÉPURE, Éditions et Presses universitaires de Reims. Inside there’s an essay by Xavier Giudicelli (University of Reims Chamapgne-Ardenne), The Picture of Dorian Gray et la culture populaire: du texte à la bande dessinée, which compares Wilde’s novel to various graphic adaptations. Xavier wrote to me some time ago about my Dorian Gray adaptation for the Russ Kick-edited Graphic Canon (2012) so the piece includes some of my remarks about my interpretation together with two of the pages.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Picturing Dorian Gray

 


 



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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin