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


 

Liénard’s grotesques

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Yesterday’s book was from the Internet Archive scans of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library. The majority of the books in the collection are related to textiles or crafts but the archive has a few design books of which this is one example. Spécimens de la Décoration et de l’Ornementation au XIXe Siècle (1866) presents baroque designs by French sculptor Michel Liénard (1810–1870). Most of the book is familiar decorative work but the opening section contains some marvellous grotesques and animal designs. All the plates feature careful shading and detail, and are worth viewing at a larger size.

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The Book of Delightful and Strange Designs

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As is evident, the designs in question are Japanese stencils from a book of 100 stunning examples published in 1893. Author Andrew White Tuer adopts a surprisingly disingenuous tone in his explanatory introduction which is ”dedicated to that most capricious, never-to-be-understood, weathercocky, provokingly incorruptible, and absolutely necessary person, the gentle reader”. Leaving aside such eccentricity, the stencils are astonishing things, especially when many of them are not only finely detailed but also form repeating patterns. Once again, I recognise some of the designs from bad reproductions in cheap books so it’s good to find them in such high quality.

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The original Gandharva

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Cover art by Wilfried Sätty. Lettering by David Singer.

Collage artist Wilfried Sätty has been in my thoughts this month, it being ten years ago that Jay Babcock, Richard Pleuger and I drove up to San Francisco and Petaluma to talk to Walter Medeiros and David Singer about Sätty’s life and work. Looking today at the Sätty cover art for Gandharva (1971) by Beaver & Krause reminded me that the original pressing of this album came with the sleeve in a predominantly pink colouration rather than the more familiar blue. I have three copies of the album—vinyl and two CDs, one of which pairs it with Beaver & Krause’s In A Wild Sanctuary (1970)—but I’ve never seen one of the pink variations, and didn’t even know they existed until they started appearing on the web. The CD reissues favour the blue version, as do I, although this may only be a result of familiarity. I’ve enthused about Sätty’s cover a couple of times already but the music is worth hearing for its connections backwards to Cammell & Roeg’s Performance (for which B&K provided the ominous synthesizer tones), and forwards to Robert Fuest’s The Final Programme. Fuest asked Gerry Mulligan to score his film after hearing the Gandharva suite (described in the sleeve notes as “a score from a non-existent film”) which occupies side two of the album.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Occult Explosion
Wilfried Sätty album covers
Nature Boy: Jesper Ryom and Wilfried Sätty
Wilfried Sätty: Artist of the occult
Illustrating Poe #4: Wilfried Sätty
Gandharva by Beaver & Krause

 


Lovecraftiana calendar

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It may have been delayed by a week but the Coulthart calendar for 2016 arrives earlier in the year than some of its predecessors. A few months ago I had no idea what I was going to do for a calendar this year; I had a lot of work in progress, and more scheduled for the autumn, so creating all-new artwork wasn’t the best idea. Then on the plane back from Providence I thought, “Oh, yeah…Lovecraft…” So here’s a selection of Lovecraftian artwork old and new. The most recent pieces are from the front and back cover of the NecronomiCon convention booklet; among the older works there are two paintings which weren’t intended to be illustrative of The Weird but can be if you give them suitable labels, hence The Yellow King for February (see the pages at larger size here). The capitals on the cover are from the wonderful collaged set designed by Roman Cieslewicz, and which can be found in Dover’s Bizarre and Ornamental Alphabets.

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I’ve mentioned the problem caused by CafePress cancelling the line of portrait-oriented calendar templates that I’d been using for several years. The calendar templates at Zazzle didn’t quite match the old CafePress ones but with some fine-tuning of the options I’ve got as close as I could. There’s a slight disadvantage in the way the dates are overlaid on the artwork but then the artwork is already pierced by a hole at the top so this seems negligible. Zazzle’s template improves on CafePress by offering a range of coloured pages and coloured wire-binding so I’ve gone for a none-more-black interior. Zazzle also lets you design a back cover which means this is the first calendar where I’ve been able to provide credits and dates for all the pictures. Buyers also have the option of choosing their own regional holidays; CafePress is resolutely US-centric with all its products. The purchase page is here.

For the moment all the previous calendars, including the popular Psychedelic Alice ones, are unavailable although I’ll be moving them to Zazzle when I have a spare moment. Watch this space.

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Weekend links 276

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Beautiful Void: Holy Void II (2015) by Andy Diaz Hope.

• “Feeling like a woman. Looking like a man.” Rick Poynor on the cover art for Nightclubbing by Grace Jones. Related: A One Man Show, Jean-Paul Goude’s essential film of Jones’ 1982 tour where many of the songs are better than their album versions.

• Crammed Discs’ revival of the Made To Measure series continues with the release in October of Blue Velvet Revisited by Tuxedomoon & Cult With No Name, a soundtrack from the Peter Braatz documentary about David Lynch’s film.

• “We were learning from point zero; we created something that wasn’t around before…” Hans-Joachim Roedelius talking to Bruce Tantum about his work with Cluster and Harmonia.

• “In the Shangri-La pool there are no floating impurities. Apart from myself.” Iain Sinclair swims in “the highest pool in Europe” on the 52nd floor of The Shard, London.

• From 2012: “Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific” by Benjamin K. Tippett.

• After 23 years of delays and bootleg versions, Backwards by Coil is being given an official release.

• “Relaxed terror”, “perky dismay” and “unspecified uncertainty”: library music at Scarfolk.

• Mix of the week: a 4-hour collection of favourite music compiled by Autechre.

Masakazu Shirane and Reuben Young make a human-size kaleidoscope.

• “I always was a weird child,” says John Waters.

• A new version of Argent by Jane Weaver.

Chaos Magic (sic): The Fashion Trend

Void (2009) by Monolake | Void (2011) by Emptyset | Void (2014) by The Bug feat. Liz Harris

 


 



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“feed your head”

 

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin