Weekend links 499

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Wild Things – Hachilympic, a poster by Tomoko Konoike for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

• Hidden Jewels in ‘The Garden of Orchids’: Steve Toase on Der Orchideengarten (1919–1921), the German magazine of fantastic art and literature. Since the article doesn’t mention it, I’ll note again that the first Anglophone appraisal of the magazine (and also the place where it was drawn to the attention of myself and 50 Watts) was in Franz Rottensteiner’s The Fantasy Book (Thames & Hudson/Collier, 1978).

• “In its furtive, sotto-voce way, Gorey’s work is in conversation with gay history, gay literary influences, and, now and then, the gay-straight tensions of his time.” Mark Dery on the attempts by Edward Gorey’s readers and critics to ignore the obvious signs of a personal sexuality in his work.

• The Apotheosis of the Grotesque: illustrator Sidney Sime interviewed by Arthur H. Lawrence in The Idler, January 1898.

Goff would experiment with form, material, structure and ornament to almost absurd degrees. Materials he used in his buildings included aviation parts, goose feathers, oil rig equipment, orange artificial turf (on the roof), lumps of coal, and any kind of glass he could get his hands on. His 1948 Ledbetter House, also in Oklahoma, features a recurring motif of vertical lines of diamond-shaped glass studs set into doors and columns. In fact they are dime-store glass ashtrays.

Steve Rose on the restoration of “outsider architect” Bruce Goff

• At the BFI: Adam Scovell on where to begin with Delphine Seyrig; Kat Ellinger on giving Fellini’s later films their due; and Matthew Thrift on 10 great Acid Westerns.

• RIP Ivan Passer and Neil Peart. A reminder that John Patterson described Passer’s Cutter’s Way as a cinematic masterpiece. So it is.

Geeta Dayal on musician/composer Arthur Russell and yet another posthumous release.

Haunted And Known, a new recording by Six Organs Of Admittance.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Hidden.

2112 (1976) by Rush | Xanadu (1977) by Rush | La Villa Strangiato (1978) by Rush

An unseasonable bloom

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It’s a strange thing to compare the covers of Der Orchideengarten in Franz Rottensteiner’s The Fantasy Book (1978) with the facsimile of the first issue which has just been published by Zagava. For years the two covers and Rottensteiner’s laudatory description were all I knew of a magazine that nobody else seemed to write about. As with all such enigmas, this made the magazine all the more intriguing. Der Orchideengarten was short-lived, running from 1919 to 1921, and German, which no doubt did little to aid its post-war reputation. Whatever reputation it may have had was quickly eclipsed by Weird Tales and a host of other Anglophone publications some of whose creations still dominate the fantasy landscape today. One of the many services Rottensteiner’s study provided was to treat fantasy as a genre with manifestations all over the world, not only in Britain and America.

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The visibility of Der Orchideengarten began to change in 2009 when Will at the now-defunct A Journey Round My Skull, having also had his curiosity piqued by Rottensteiner’s book, acquired a few copies of the magazine. I ran some of the interior illustrations here, the sight of which was genuinely revelatory since these weird and macabre drawings had been buried for 90 years. The situation changed again late last year when the entire run of the magazine was made available at the University of Heidelberg’s remarkable online archive.

What struck me in 2009—and what continues to strike me today—is the difference in tone between the illustrations, covers included, of Der Orchideengarten with its later Anglophone counterparts, especially Weird Tales. The latter presented itself very much in the pulp tradition, and many of the illustrators of the early issues were just as happy working with adventure or detective titles as they were with fantasy or horror. The German artists are less illustrational and much more grotesque, closer at times to Expressionist painting than anything you’d find in an American magazine. I continue to wonder how fantasy as a genre might have developed if it had owed less to Britain’s ghost stories and America’s adventure idioms.

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Any speculation is easier now we have this facsimile of the first issue which (as I mentioned in a weekend post) contains a translation into English by Helen Grant of the complete contents of the magazine. This has been cleverly achieved by interleaving narrower pages of translated text with the originals so the integrity of the magazine is maintained. The facsimile is a quality production with superb printing of all the illustrations and graphics. One of the ironies of our connected world is that contemporary magazines continue to be killed off while the easier accessibility of so much culture from the past makes resurrections like this one more likely.

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Whether we see more facsimile issues will no doubt depend on the success of this first number which may be ordered here. A few more page samples follow.

Continue reading “An unseasonable bloom”

Weekend links 382

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Raven (2015), a metal sculpture by Taiichiro Yoshida.

• “Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light [at the Smithsonian American Art Museum] restores Thomas Wilfred (1889–1968) to his rightful place in the history of modern art.”

• At Brown Noise Unit: a fascinating, lengthy interview by Philip Kaberry with Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) et al, with particular focus on O’Malley’s work with Japanese musicians.

• Erik Davis talks to scholar, writer, and mythographer William Rowlandson about Jorge Luis Borges, magical trees, Yankee mysticism, and the power of the weird and murky.

• The first issue of the world’s first magazine of fantastic art and literature, Der Orchideengarten (previously), has been reprinted in full with additional English translation.

• At Muddy Colors: the month in covers for September/October which includes my cover for Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng (and which is on sale now).

• At 3:AM Magazine: Adam Scovell talks to horror author Ramsey Campbell about the ghost stories of MR James.

Paralysis: Live at Silent Night #8, a new release on (limited) cassette and digital by The House In The Woods.

• At Dangerous Minds: Jozef van Wissem buries the dead in his new video, Virium Illarum.

PKD Files — A podcast about the life and work of Philip K. Dick.

• Russell Cuzner on The Strange World of Nurse With Wound.

Clark Collis on the rise and fall of Fangoria.

• The North Star Grassman And The Ravens (1971) by Sandy Denny | Flight Of The Raven (1979) by Emerald Web | Kill The Great Raven (1979) by Snakefinger

The art of Rafael Romero Calvet, 1885–1925

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Recent picture research turned up another illustrator whose work I hadn’t seen before. Rafael Romero Calvet was Spanish, and the dates above aren’t necessarily accurate (he may have been born in 1884). He did die young, however, and probably too soon to make more of an impact outside the magazines he was working for. The covers here are all from Los Contemporáneos, a Spanish publication that ran from 1909 to 1926. Many of Calvet’s covers—dating from 1909–1910—are grotesque and macabre enough to suit Der Orchideengarten, although that magazine wouldn’t be launched for another ten years.

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There’s more of Calvet’s work at Wikimedia Commons, while this feature at Collectors Weekly has a glimpse of his cover for Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.

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Continue reading “The art of Rafael Romero Calvet, 1885–1925”

Weekend links 371

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• My cover design for the Doug Murano-edited story collection, BEHOLD! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, appeared here last December but a repost is in order since the book has been published this week by Crystal Lake. Back in December I didn’t have a list of the featured authors but I do now: Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner, Stephanie M. Wytovich, John Langan, Erinn L. Kemper, John FD Taff, Patrick Freivald, Lucy A. Snyder, Brian Hodge, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Coake, Sarah Read and Richard Thomas. The foreword is by Josh Malerman, and the interior illustrations are by Luke Spooner.

• “How do you memorialize an artist who refused to remain identical to himself? How do you remember one of the great philosopher-artists of memory?” Ben Lerner on the elusive Chris Marker.

Diabolical Fantasia: The Art of Der Orchideengarten, 1919. A welcome reprinting of art from the German magazine of weird fiction compiled by Thomas Negovan. (Previously)

• Coming in September: Conny Plank: The Potential of Noise, a documentary by Reto Caduff and Stephan Plank about the great record producer.

The Roman Roads of Britain mapped by Sasha Trubetskoy in the style of Harry Beck’s London Tube Map.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Julia Kristeva Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1980).

Ian Shank on the trove of erotic Roman art that scandalized Europe’s royals.

• At Haute Macabre: Biblio-alchemy: The Liquid Library of Annalù Boeretto.

• What makes a French film noir? Andrew Male has some suggestions.

David Shariatmadari on how 1967 changed gay life in Britain.

• Mix of the week: Gated Canal Community Radio.

• A Gallery of Moods by Mlle Ghoul.

Loe And Behold (1970) by Sir Lord Baltimore | Behold The Drover Summons (1983) by Popol Vuh | Beholding The Throne Of Might (2014) by The Soft Pink Truth