Gare d’Orsay to Musée d’Orsay

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Gare d’Orsay, coupe transversale (1898). Plan de Victor Laloux.

The Google Art Project is currently featuring a slideshow history of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, showing the museum’s evolution from the world’s first all-electric rail terminal to its current status as a major repository of 19th-century art. The Gare d’Orsay was built to bring visitors to the Exposition Universelle of 1900, an event regular readers should be familiar with by now, a connection which only compounds the interest I have in the place. (See this recent post and the links below it for more on the subject.)

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Projet A.C.T. Architecture (Renaud Bardon, Pierre Colboc, Jean-Paul Philippon). Coupe perspective générale, Octobre 1979.

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The Trial.

In addition to the building being one of the few structures remaining from the exposition, its dishevelled splendour provided Orson Welles with a fantastically evocative (and cheap!) set for his 1962 film of The Trial. It’s surprising to read that people objected to this, believing the spaces to be too large. The disjunction of space in Welles’ film is one of its great strengths, as is the confusion of architectural styles and detail. Much of this was improvisation imposed by necessity—money not being available for the sets that were planned—but it makes the film all the more labyrinthine and disorienting.

Continue reading “Gare d’Orsay to Musée d’Orsay”

Weekend links 186

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One Hundred Lavish Months of Bushwhack (2004) by Wangechi Mutu.

I wouldn’t be so bold as to call Benjamin Noys’ contribution to the recent The Weird conference at the University of London a highlight, but it was a surprise to find Lord Horror in general and the Reverbstorm book in particular being discussed alongside so many noteworthy offerings. Noys’ piece, Full Spectrum Offence: Savoy’s Neo-Weird, is now available to read online, a very perceptive examination of the tensions between the Old Weird and the New.

• Le Transperceneige is a multi-volume bande dessinée of post-apocalypse science fiction by Jacques Lob & Jean-Marc Rochette. Snowpiercer is a film adaptation by Korean director Bong Joon-ho featuring John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. Anne Billson calls the director’s cut an “eccentric masterpiece” so it’s dismaying to learn that the film is in danger of being hacked about by the usual rabble of unsympathetic Hollywood distributors.

• This month marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Public Domain Review posted some of the paintings mentioned in Swann’s Way (or The Way by Swann’s as the latest translation so inelegantly has it).

How the Paris World’s Fair brought Art Nouveau to the Masses in 1900: a huge picture post about my favourite exposition.

• Mix of the week: “Sport of Kings” Mix by Ricardo Donoso. Related: Paul Purgas on five favourite records.

Ernst Reichl: the man who designed Ulysses. Related: Hear all of Finnegans Wake read aloud over 35 hours.

• “Why does Alain de Botton want us to kill our young?” A splendid rant by Sam Kriss.

• Love’s Secret Ascension: Peter Bebergal on Coil, Coltrane & the 70th birthday of LSD.

• Malicious Damage: Ilsa Colsell on the secret art of Joe Orton & Kenneth Halliwell.

• Just Say No to the Bad Sex Award, or the BS Award as Tom Pollock calls it.

• Lauren O’Neal’s ongoing PJ Harvey Tuesdays: One, Two, Three and Four.

Neville Brody on the changing face of graphic design.

A Brief History of the London Necropolis Railway.

Des Hommes et des Chatons: a Tumblr.

• At Pinterest: Androgyny

• Virgin Prunes: Pagan Lovesong (vibeakimbo) (1982) | Caucasian Walk (1982) | Walls Of Jericho (live at The Haçienda, Manchester, 1983; I’m in that audience somewhere)

A Trip to the Moon, 1901

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On the Airship Luna, visiting the Queer City of the Moon, and the wonderful Palace of the Man in the Moon.

An artist’s rendering of Frederic Thompson’s amusement ride created for the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 which is no doubt more impressive than was the earthbound reality. Thompson’s ride pre-dates Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune by a year, and while both lunar excursions owe something to HG Wells, whose The First Men in the Moon was published in 1901, the Wikipedia description of Thompson’s ride sounds very similar to the Méliès film:

The first version of the ride involved a simulated trip for thirty passengers from the fairgrounds to the Moon aboard the airship-ornithopter Luna, with visions displayed of Niagara Falls, the North American continent and the Earth’s disc. The passengers then left the craft to walk around a cavernous papier-mâché lunar surface peopled by costumed characters playing Selenites, and there visiting the palace of the Man in the Moon with its dancing “moon maidens”, before finally leaving the attraction through a Mooncalf’s mouth.

Thompson’s attraction was later relocated to Coney Island where it gave its name to the Luna Park created there, a name subsequently passed on to all the other Luna Parks worldwide. The illustration is from One Hundred Views of the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo and Niagara Falls (1901) which includes some views of the other attractions and exhibits. This exposition was on a smaller scale than some of those that came before and after, and includes a couple of features that appear plagiarised from earlier shows, notably “Roltair’s House Upside Down” which might have been inspired by the Upside-Down Manor at the Exposition Universelle in Paris the year before. I appear to have exhausted the Paris exposition as a subject but the fascination with these events persists, especially when they turn up oddities such as these. Browse the rest of the book here or download it here.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Le Voyage dans la Lune
A Trip to Mars
Lunation: Art on the Moon
Somnium by Steve Moore
Mushrooms on the Moon
Filippo Morghen’s Voyage to the Moon

Le Panorama Exposition Universelle

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One day I really will have exhausted this subject but for the moment here’s another look at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. I’d downloaded this photo album months ago from the excellent resources at the University of Heidelberg then promptly forgot all about it. The book is of interest for the variety of views it gives of the exposition; despite this being a world event that attracted a host of photographers and even (as we’ve seen) early filmmakers, the views you see are often the same remote shots of the major buildings.

Ludovic Baschet’s book compensates for this with photos by the Neurdein brothers, Étienne and Antonin (assisted by Maurice Baschet) which show many close views of the pavilions, including a couple I hadn’t seen before in any detail. The oddest thing about these views is that many seem to be composites, with figures from other shots dropped into the scenes; this may be more obvious to eyes schooled in the disparities of Photoshop. Baschet’s book also has the best views I’ve seen of the Swiss exhibit, a miniature village built in the 7th arrondissement complete with livestock, authentic milkmaids and a fake mountain. And is that a joke at Britain’s expense in the view of Edwin Lutyens’ surprisingly dull British pavilion? Philippe Jullian tells us that Paris endured a heatwave in the summer of 1900—there are many parasols in evidence—yet the British pavilion is shown with a rain-soaked pavement, and set against a mass of impending storm clouds.

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Continue reading “Le Panorama Exposition Universelle”

Weekend links 134

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Technological mandala 02 (The beginning) (2012) by Leonardo Ulian.

• The Yellow Magic Orchestra really were the Japanese equivalent of Kraftwerk in 1978. I’d not seen this video for Firecracker before. Same goes for the Technopolis and Rydeen videos. Related: YMO’s synth programmer, Hideki Matsutake, showing off his modular Moog on a Japanese TV show.

Sra is the final book in the Aedena Cycle by Moebius. It’s never been translated into English but Quenched Consciousness has just finished posting the entire book in an unofficial translation.

• “It’s better to have a small amount of good comics, than a big amount of mediocre comics.” Dutch comic artist Joost Swarte interviewed.

• From 2007: The Strange Lovecraftian Statuary of Puerto Vallarta (Thanks, Ian.) Related: More art by Alejandro Colunga.

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A novelty mechanical clock barometer in the form of a steam engine (c. 1885).

The MR-808: a room-size TR-808 drum machine by Moritz Simon Geist with real instruments played by robot hands.

• “Shoot us and dig the grave; otherwise we’re staying.” The women living in Chernobyl’s toxic wasteland.

Hotel Room Portraits 1999–2012 by Richard Renaldi, a new photo exhibition at Wessel + O’Connor.

Lane’s Telescopic View of the Opening of the Great Exhibition, 1851.

• “I’m the target market, and I don’t like it!” A Creative Catharsis.

Brian Eno’s new ambient album, Lux, is released on Monday.

Collages by Sergei Parajanov.

Techno City (1984) by Cybotron | Techno Primitiv (1985) by Chris & Cosey | Techno Dread (2008) by 2562.