The art of Gregorio Prieto, 1897–1992

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Predicadors del be i del mal (c. 1928–1930).

My thanks to Will at 50 Watts for sending these experimental photos by Spanish artists Eduardo Chicharro (1873–1949) and Gregorio Prieto, neither of whose work I’d looked at before. Prieto is of most interest here (that’s him in photo five with the metalwork wrapped around his head) for the homoerotic quality of his other work, a quality which no doubt explains why some of these pictures set the gaydar bells ringing. I thought that Javier at Bajo el Signo de Libra might have featured Prieto already but it seems not.

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Iluita (c. 1928–1930).

The photos are from Les avantguardes fotografiques a espanya, 1925–1945. The superimposed images are reminiscent of those that Emil Cadoo was producing in the 1950s albeit with more of a deliberate Surrealist flavour; the ruins and Classical references are also a feature of Prieto’s paintings, some of which can be seen here. (Also a coloured print of the first photo above.) The homoerotics is most evident in his line drawings, some of which can be seen here. His reclining youths and embracing sailors look rather Cocteau-like but they probably owe more to the etchings of Picasso’s Vollard Suite which were being produced around the same period. There’s more Picasso-esque Prieto at Flickr including a drawing dedicated to Lorca.

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Metamorfosi (c. 1928–1930).

Continue reading “The art of Gregorio Prieto, 1897–1992”

Jean Genet… ‘The Courtesy of Objects’

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Jean Genet… ‘The Courtesy of Objects’ is an exhibition by Anglo-French artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz currently running at The Gallery at Norwich University College of the Arts. Chaimowicz presented a show entitled Jean Cocteau in Norwich last year; this new exhibition will include “works on paper, theatrical props, furniture, slide projections, documentation and an imaginary casting session for Genet’s 1947 play The Maids and videos charting Chaimowicz’s pilgrimages to the author’s childhood home in Burgundy, France, and to his grave on the Moroccan coast.” (More.) About Genet, Chaimowicz has this to say:

Jean Genet, in his fashion, loved Jacky Maglia. Jacky was the stepson of Genet’s lover Lucien Senemand. Genet was generally attracted to heterosexual men, often delinquents or petty criminals… and Jacky stole cars… Genet actively encouraged Jacky to take up motor racing and later managed his fledging career. In Norfolk he bought Maglia a Lotus Elan… They grew very close, travelling widely together and illicitly entering the US to cover the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention for Esquire. Fame and critical success were suddenly and violently echoed by financial gain… Genet was at one point Gallimard’s highest-earning author… This having the converse effect in that the more rich and famous he became, the less he was able to write. For so long the outsider and now the literary celebrity, it was as though he felt alienated from his own unique and cherished sense of alienation.

The exhibition is free and runs until May 21st when it will move to Nottingham and then New York. See here for opening times and other details.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Querelle again
Saint Genet
Emil Cadoo
Exterface
Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal
Un Chant D’Amour by Jean Genet

Querelle again

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Jean Genet is never far away, this photo being from a Querelle-themed feature for Schön magazine. The model is Sebastian Sauve, the photographer is Dimitris Theocharis, and it’s no surprise that all the clothes are by Jean Paul Gaultier. Homotography has the rest of the series while the photographer has plenty of other fine work on his website, including this striking picture of Luke Worrall.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Saint Genet
Emil Cadoo
Sailors
Mikel Marton
Exterface
Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal
Un Chant D’Amour by Jean Genet

Saint Genet

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Miracle of the Rose (1965). Photo by Jerry Bauer, design by Kuhlman Associates.

[William Burroughs is] without a doubt…the greatest American writer since WWII. There are very, very few writers in his class; I think Genet is about the only one whom I’d put in the same category. All the British and American writers so heavily touted—the Styrons and the Mailers and their English equivalents—it’s just not necessary to read anybody except William Burroughs and Genet.

JG Ballard, RE/Search interview, 1984.

Jean Genet (the “Saint” was a gift from Jean-Paul Sartre) was born on December 19th, 1910 so consider this a late centenary post. Some of Ballard’s debt to William Burroughs can be found in writings such as The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) and his early text experiments. Genet’s influence, if we have to look for such a thing, I usually see in the use of metaphor to transform an uncompromising reality. Like the moment at the beginning of Crash (1973) when the crushed bodies of package tourists are compared to “a haemorrhage of the sun”. Genet’s writings effected similar transformations from squalid prison environments, turning the sexual assignations and passions of the inmates into ceremonial acts which assume the lineaments of a new religion. He used to claim in later life to have forgotten all his works but we haven’t forgotten him. A small selection of Genet links follows.

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Esquire, November 1968.

RealityStudio:

Burroughs’ most famous and most widely read piece for Esquire remains his coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, “The Coming of the Purple Better One,” which was included in Exterminator! Burroughs was hired to cover the convention along with Terry Southern, who was a pioneer in New Journalism with his “Twirling at Ole Miss” (which appeared in Esquire in February 1963), John Sack, who wrote on the experiences of Company M in Vietnam for Esquire (with the legendary cover “Oh my God — We hit a little girl”), and Jean Genet, an authority on oppression who turned increasingly politically active after the events in Europe in May 1968. (Continues here.)

Ubuweb:
Un Chant d’Amour (1950): Genet’s short homoerotic drama which he later disowned. The film’s masturbating prisoners and naked male flesh made it notorious and, for later generations of filmmakers, a pioneering and influential work.
Le condamné à mort (1952): A reading of Genet’s poem (in French) with electroacoustic accompaniment.
Ecce Homo (1989): A short film by Jerry Tartaglia which cuts scenes from Un Chant d’Amour with gay porn.

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Bibliothèque Gay:
Vingt lithographies pour un livre que j’ai lu, Jean Genet, Roland Caillaux, 1945. A sequence of twenty pornographic drawings.

YouTube:
The Maids (1975): Glenda Jackson and Susannah York in a film by Christopher Miles based on Genet’s play. There’s also Fassbinder’s Querelle (1982) but YouTube’s limitations don’t do it any favours.
Jean Genet (1985): an extract from the BBC interview where the writer makes a fool of interviewer Nigel Williams. This captured Genet a few months before his death and he remains the stubborn outsider to the last, questioning the conventions of the television interview which he compares to a police interrogation. A transcript of the whole fascinating event can be found here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Emil Cadoo
Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal
Un Chant D’Amour by Jean Genet

Brion Gysin let the mice in

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Brion Gysin—autoportrait (1935).

“A shaman to me is always a pansexual being,” says the gay Canadian filmmaker. “These guys all came out of that period where queer was really hardcore, it was part of their radical art — and of course it was illegal.” (more)

The filmmaker in question is Nik Sheehan discussing FLicKeR, his 2007 documentary about artist and writer Brion Gysin. Sheehan’s film is available for viewing at Ubuweb although I haven’t got round to watching it yet so I can’t say much about it. (Reality Studio has a review.) Gysin’s life and work is certainly worthy of study, however, his art and writing—which encompassed novels and experimental poetry—often having been overshadowed by his close association with William Burroughs. He gets a raw deal in Ted Morgan’s curiously bad-tempered biography of Burroughs, for example, despite having given his co-conspirator the cut-up technique, collaborated with him on The Third Mind, and so on. FLicKeR‘s title refers to Gysin’s Dreamachine, the first sculpture which needs to be experienced with the eyes closed, being a homemade hallucination engine which works by flickering light and shadow at a rapid rate on the closed eyelids. I made some Dreamachines of my own in the mid-1980s by carefully studying photos in RE/Search #4/5, and they certainly do work. It’s a shame that 78rpm record players are more difficult to find than they used to be since the original template devised by Gysin and Ian Sommerville needs a high speed in order to create the optimum flicker rate. As you might expect, various psychonauts have since created their own variations such as this one for a 45rpm player.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the New Museum in NYC is staging the first US retrospective of Gysin’s work, an exhibition which they happen to call Dream Machine, and which opens on July 7th. The New York Times ran a piece about Gysin in advance of that. Ubuweb has further Gysin materials, such as this Burroughs piece about Gysin’s invention of the cut-up method, and some recordings of the permutated poems. Finally, if you’re wondering about the title of the post, it’s a reference to this.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
Emil Cadoo
The Great God Pan
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire