Fantasmagie

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Another post with a Belgian theme (a coincidence despite my present preoccupation with Franco-Belgian culture), and another that has to be filed under “further research required”. The splendidly titled Fantasmagie was founded by author Serge Hutin and artist Aubin Pascale, and was the newsletter/review for the Centre International pour l’étude de l’Art Fantastique et Magique. 52 issues were published from 1959 to 1979 charting the Belgian continuation of the Surrealist project.

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I’d been hoping there might be a collection of all the issues online somewhere but this isn’t the case to date. However, the first 11 issues may be browsed in full at Scribd or downloaded if you use one of the PDF scrapers (search for “Scribd free”). Each issue showcases art by contemporary Surrealists or practitioners of what Ernst Fuchs called Fantastic Realism, all of which was of little interest to the art establishment of the time so from our perspective the artists are fresh discoveries. Issue 8, which is a collage special, is especially good.

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Trois peintres visionnaires, a film by Fabienne Strouvé

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Another gem of an arts documentary, Trois peintres visionnaires is a companion film to Mati Klarwein, peintre Américain: both films feature Klarwein and Ernst Fuchs, while this one also includes another artist, Austrian Arik Brauer (credited as Eric in the titles). As with yesterday’s film there’s a small extract from Popol Vuh’s Hosianna Mantra on the soundtrack plus one of the Cluster and Eno recordings. The three painters are shown performing an impromptu Tibetan (?) chant inside Mati Klarwein’s Aleph Sanctuary then talking together inside Fuchs’ resplendent museum where the Aleph Sanctuary was housed for several years. As before, the conversation is in French but you also get to see Fuchs at work, and there’s a roaming closeup of one of his jewelled paintings.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Mati Klarwein, peintre Américain, a film by Fabienne Strouvé
Ernst Fuchs, 1977
The art of Mati Klarwein, 1932–2002

Mati Klarwein, peintre Américain, a film by Fabienne Strouvé

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And speaking of the 1970s and Ernst Fuchs and Mati Klarwein… Fabienne Strouvé’s Mati Klarwein, peintre Américain is a 25-minute portrait of Mati Klarwein and family made in 1979. Despite being filmed in New York City most of the conversation is in French—the Klarweins being fluent speakers—but if you like Klarwein’s art this is still a wonderfully insightful film. I always wonder about the size of paintings and other technical details so it’s good to see that, yes, many of Klarwein’s later works are larger than you might expect from reproductions, and it’s also instructive to see him at work with a portion of his painting covered by masking tape. Ernst Fuchs makes a couple of appearances (speaking French—”psychédélique!”), and you get a brief Mati guide to some of the paintings that comprise the incredible Aleph Sanctuary.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ernst Fuchs, 1977
The art of Mati Klarwein, 1932–2002

Ernst Fuchs, 1977

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I try to avoid buying even more big art books when I already have shelves groaning under the weight of the things but this one was unavoidable. I’d been after Draeger’s Ernst Fuchs (1977) for some time but whenever I went searching for a copy all the available ones were prohibitively expensive. The news of Fuchs’ death earlier this month prompted a new search which revealed a copy that was astonishingly cheap: £17.50 (!) for a large, heavy and very lavish art book that’s been out of print for years. Even with the postage this was still a remarkable bargain.

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After taking delivery of it today I’m even more surprised since the book is better than expected, with heavy paper throughout and numerous colour plates. The text is in German, of course, but that’s not a problem when there are so many beautiful reproductions of favourite pictures. An exceptional production with a dust jacket of deep metallic gold beneath which you find a Fuchs design blocked onto the boards, front and back.

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Something I realised looking through the pages is that this is yet another of the art books that provided pictures for the early issues of Omni magazine. Mati Klarwein’s God Jokes was published in 1976; Giger’s Necronomicon had its first English edition in 1977, the same year as the Fuchs book; Bob Venosa‘s Manas Manna appeared in 1978; Omni showcased work by all these artists and others like them, and was the first place where I and many other readers would have seen their paintings. One of the pictures in this Fuchs collection appeared on the cover of Omni #6 in March, 1979. The 1970s was, among other things, a great period for this type of fantastic art.

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Keiichi Tanaami record covers

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After Bathing At Baxter’s (1968) by Jefferson Airplane (front).

More psychedelia, although Ernst Fuchs could be considered psychedelic to some degree, and I did give him a mention in the piece I wrote for Communication Arts earlier this year. Keiichi Tanaami is less well-known in the west than Tadanori Yokoo despite the pair being contemporaries. This is only a partial discography, there may be more to find as Tanaami’s cover work isn’t always credited properly on Discogs. The Jefferson Airplane and Monkees covers were done specially for the Japanese releases. In the case of the Airplane one I much prefer the cover to Ron Cobb’s literal drawing of an aircraft.

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After Bathing At Baxter’s (1968) by Jefferson Airplane (back).

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Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (1968) by The Monkees.

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Psychedelic Sounds In Japan (1968) by The Mops.

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