Arcimboldo’s Four Elements


Water (1566).

After yesterday’s post it’s necessary—mandatory, even—to follow it with a similar series of paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527–1593). For my own attempt at the Arcimboldo style, see this post.


Fire (1566).


Earth (c. 1570).


Air (undated).

Previously on { feuilleton }
My pastiches
Fantastic art from Pan Books

Weekend links 41


Being an inveterate Kubrickphile I was naturally pleased to hear that some of the excised scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey have survived in a watchable form, even though I’m often ambivalent about the restoration of such material. While it was good to see at last the missing French compound sequence of Apocalypse Now, for example, that sequence added nothing to the film as a whole and its inclusion was spoiled by music which Coppola used for sentimental reasons. In Kubrick’s case, there’s a longer version of The Shining which the director allowed to be screened on UK TV in the 1980s but, again, most of the unseen material was incidental and added nothing to the film.

• Related: Roger Ebert’s review of 2001 from 1968; Olivier Mourgue, designer of the Djinn chairs seen in the film’s space Hilton scenes; Magnificent obsession, a Vanity Fair piece from 2002 about the search for the missing scenes from The Magnificent Ambersons. Meanwhile, the trailer for Terrence Malick’s new film, The Tree of Life, features some surprising cosmic moments among its scenes of family life.

The separate history [of gay and lesbian artists] has been kind of edited out of art history but in fact art history is very much interwoven with gay or queer history. In a way the two can’t be separated. America doesn’t like anything uncomfortable. I find in my dealings with museums that if I ask a question and the answer is ‘no,’ they don’t answer. If the answer is ‘yes,’ I get these amazingly enthusiastic responses. I find it sort of strange sometimes, not being American myself. In a way what they’re doing is editing out the uncomfortable. David Wojnarowicz’s work can make you uncomfortable — and they’ve edited out that possibility in the show.

Canadian artist AA Bronson (see below).

• More on the Smithsonian versus David Wojnarowicz affair: Frank Rich examined the train of events in a comment piece, Gay Bashing at the Smithsonian, for the NYT; the Andy Warhol Foundation threatened to withdraw their funding for future Smithsonian events unless the work is reinstated, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation will be doing the same; another artist featured in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition, AA Bronson, requested that the gallery withdraw his work from the show in protest; the NPG refused, citing a contractual arrangement; among the increasing number of galleries showing support for Wojnarowicz, Tate Modern, London, will host an event in January which will feature a screening of the contentious video; lastly, there’s a protest event in New York City today (Sunday, December 19th) at 1.00pm, details here.

• More censorship in America: Jeffrey Deitch Censors Blu’s Political Street Art Mural. In the book world, writer Selena Kitt finds her erotic incest stories removed from Amazon’s Kindle store. Other authors, Jess C Scott and Esmerelda Green, have had their erotic titles removed from the store. Selena Kitt says:

When some of my readers began checking their Kindle archives for books of mine they’d purchased on Amazon, they found them missing from their archives. When one reader called to get a refund for the book she no longer had access to, she was chastised by the Amazon customer service representative about the “severity” of the book she’d chosen to purchase.

Can you imagine buying a paper book and the bookstore then paying you a visit to forcibly reclaim it? To date no adequate explanation from Amazon has been forthcoming but they’ll be happy to sell you a Kindle edition of the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom.


Galaxy M51 aka The Whirlpool. One of the Top Astronomy Pictures of the Year from a selection by Bad Astronomy. Photo by the Hubble Heritage Team & Robert Gendler.

• More cosmic events: there’ll be a total lunar eclipse this coming Monday, visible in much of the Northern Hemisphere.

• “Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses!” The Raspberry Reich (2004), a film by Bruce LaBruce.

New editions of Borges poetry. Fine so long as you accept that the translations can never truly satisfy.

• Just the thing for the winter weather, illustrations for Pushkin’s Queen of Spades from 1966.

• Another Ghost Box download: Radio Belbury Programme 1: “Holidays & Hintermass”.

Monsters, Inc: Arcimboldo and the Wunderkammer of Rudolf II.

• Silent Porn Star found some burlesque lamps.

Giant airship powered by algae.

Space Oddity (1969) by David Bowie.

The art of Jessica Harrison


left: Maria (2010); right: Dawn (2010).

British artist Jessica Harrison undermines the saccharine innocence of porcelain figurines in a manner which would no doubt appeal to a Surrealist and black humorist like Jan Svankmajer. As well as these recent pieces, her website features further contemporary takes on Surrealism including a number of pencil drawings, one of which is a self-portrait alluding to that Svankmajer favourite, Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Surrealism, graphic design and Barney Bubbles
Jan Svankmajer: The Complete Short Films

Marsi Paribatra: the Royal Surrealist


La Menace (1994).

Two paintings by Princess Marsi Paribatra, a member of the royal family of Thailand who lists Dalí, Arcimboldo and Titian among her artistic influences. If it seems surprising that a princess should not only be an accomplished painter but also be possessed of a distinctly vivid imagination we might ask why this is the case. There’s no reason why a member of a royal family shouldn’t be as good a painter as anyone else although it’s the case that here in Britain our views of royalty are inevitably tainted by the uninspiring members of the current House of Windsor. Prince Charles in particular is a singularly dreary and frequently philistine figure, and also a painter whose daubs would never have received any attention at all were it not for his being born into the right family.

This hasn’t always been the case. It used to be that being an aristocrat gave you the free time and the wealth to indulge no end of manias and eccentricities. The British Isles are littered with architectural follies of various kinds built to appease the whims of rich landowners; William Beckford (1760–1844) is renowned for having written the Gothic melodrama Vathek and also for having built the lavish (and unfortunately short-lived) pile of Fonthill Abbey. In the 20th century we had Edward James (1907–1984), a lifelong champion of Surrealism who spent much of his later life building Las Pozas in the Mexican jungle at Xilitla, a concrete fantasia which looks like something dreamed up by Antonio Gaudí and JG Ballard. James collected the work of Leonora Carrington and Dorothea Tanning and I’d imagine him being equally entranced by some of Marsi Paribatra’s paintings. The recurrence of skeletal figures in her work invokes the Mexican Day of the Dead traditions which always excited the Surrealists.


No title or date available.

Dali House has more about Marsi Paribatra’s life and art while further examples of her paintings can be found here and here. Thanks again to Monsieur Thombeau for pointing the way!

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism
Return to Las Pozas
The art of Leonor Fini, 1907–1996
Surrealist women
Las Pozas and Edward James