Weekend links 560

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The Fallen Angels Entering Pandemonium, from ‘Paradise Lost’, Book 1 (c.1841) by John Martin.

• “Hergé’s heirs sue artist over his Tintin/Edward Hopper mashups.” The complaint is that the paintings of Xavier Marabout besmirch Tintin’s character by making him seem…human? Silly. I’d sooner complain that Hergé’s ligne claire drawing style is an awkward match for Hopper’s realism. And besides which, isn’t Tintin gay? There’s a lot of wish-fulfilling slash art showing Tintin and Captain Haddock in a closer relationship than Hergé ever would have wanted. This Canadian magazine cover by Normand Bastien dates from 1987.

• “Everyone wanted to make products that looked fast and angry and maybe wanted to lay eggs in your brain.” Alexis Berger tells S. Elizabeth how she avoided years stuck in a design office by becoming a jeweller instead.

• New music: Chiaroscuro by Alessandro Cortini, and Frequencies For Leaving Earth Vol. 4 (One-Hour Loop) by Kevin Richard Martin & Pedro Maia.

The Willows is less a flight of fancy and more an attempt to articulate the ways in which what we dubiously still call “nature” is at once an object of human systems of knowledge and yet also something that undermines those same systems. Thus if The Willows is indeed a classic of “supernatural horror” (as HP Lovecraft would famously note), we might also be justified in calling it “natural horror” as well. In Blackwood’s wonderfully slow, patiently constructed scenes of atmospheric suspense, there is the sense of an impersonal sublime, a lyricism of the unhuman that shores up the limitations of anthropocentric thinking, as well as evoking the attendant smallness of human beings against the backdrop of this deep time perspective.

Eugene Thacker on how Algernon Blackwood turned nature into sublime horror

• Women of Letters: John Boardley talks to Lynne Yun, Deb Pang Davis, Coleen Baik and Duong Nguyen about their typographic designs.

• At Google Arts & Culture: Music, Makers & Machines: A brief history of electronic music.

• At The Public Domain Review: The Universe as Pictured in Milton’s Paradise Lost (1915).

• Beyond the Perseverance drone: Chloe Lula on the sounds of space.

• At Wormwoodiana: Colour magazine (1914–1932).

Wyrd Daze Lvl.4 FOUR STAR is here.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Hell.

O Willow Waly (1961) by Isla Cameron And The Raymonde Singers | Cool Iron (1972) by The Willows | The Willows (2005) by Belbury Poly

London ruins

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Soane’s Bank of England as a Ruin (1830) by Joseph Gandy.

Joseph Gandy’s painting of the Bank of England does indeed show the building as a ruin but the painting was also intended to show the architectural layout of the place, hence the intact quarters in the lower left. The architect, John Soane, was a friend of Gandy’s, and owned the painting which usually hangs in the Soane Museum, one of my favourite places in London. Gandy’s painting is currently on display at Tate Britain as part of a new exhibition, Ruin Lust, which also features some other favourites of mine including John Martin’s The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1822), and Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), a work which really needs to be seen in situ. Soane’s Bank of England, incidentally, had a less Romantic ending when it was demolished in the 20th century to make way for a newer building.

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The New Zealander (1872) by Gustave Doré.

Also included in the exhibition is Gustave Doré’s surprising view of London in the distant future, the last plate in London: A Pilgrimage (1872). Visitors to Italy and Greece in the 18th and 19th century were fascinated by the idea that a city with the former splendour of Rome could have been reduced to a handful of marble ruins. This prompted the obvious thought that equally splendid cities such as London—in Doré’s time the most populous city in the world—would themselves be reduced to ruin one day. Doré’s picture illustrates a fleeting reference in Blanchard Jerrold’s text to a passage by Thomas Babington Macaulay concerning the longevity of the Roman Catholic Church. At the end of a lengthy paragraph Macaulay writes:

And she [the Church] may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

I hadn’t traced this quote before but can see now that Doré was evidently familiar with it since he’s given his future New Zealander a sketch book. It’s typical of Doré to expand on a tiny detail in this way. There are plenty of recent views of London in ruins but this is a rare example from an earlier century. If anyone knows of any others then please leave a comment.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Mérigot’s Ruins of Rome
Pleasure of Ruins
Vedute di Roma

Albert Goodwin’s fantasies

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Viriconium (Millennium/Gollancz, 2000). Painting: The Gates of the Inferno (no date).

The web continues to be an incomparable treat for anyone interested in art history. One of the great advantages of the BBC’s Your Paintings site is having the opportunity to see pictures by artists whose output would rarely be deemed important enough to appear in a book. Albert Goodwin (1845–1932) is one such artist, a painter of landscapes and seascapes with a sideline in fantastic scenes, some of which may have been inspired by the apocalyptic canvases of John Martin. The cover of the Viriconium anthology was my first sighting of anything by Goodwin. That particular painting appears to be in private hands so to date this is the only copy I’ve seen. The combination of minatory architecture and a nebulous atmosphere is just the kind of thing I enjoy so it’s disappointing to not find him producing anything similar.

The paintings below show some of Goodwin’s other forays into the fantastic, mostly illustration of one sort or another. The two final pictures wouldn’t be out-of-place on a collection of William Hope Hodgson sea stories; the devastated Armada isn’t fantastical per se but it reminds me of Hodgson’s descriptions of the Sargasso Sea.

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Apocalypse (1903).

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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1901).

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Sinbad Entering the Cavern (1879).

Continue reading “Albert Goodwin’s fantasies”

Witches

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Scene of Witchcraft (1510) by Hans Baldung Grien.

Earlier this year Pam Grossman declared 2013 to be the Year of the Witch, so in honour of that (and the season) here’s a handful of sorceresses through the ages. Most can be found in higher quality at the Google Art Project but a couple are from other sources. I’ve taken the liberty of attributing the drawing below to Hans Baldung Grien, not Albrecht Dürer as Google has it. Not only is this the attribution I’ve always seen for this picture but Baldung’s “HBG” monogram is clearly visible beneath the sprawling woman.

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New Year’s Greeting with Three Witches (1514) by Hans Baldung Grien.

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The Witches’ Sabbath (c.1640–1649) by Salvator Rosa.

Salvator Rosa specialised in lurid depictions of bandits, executions and—as here—witches. The excessive imagery appealed to later generations, especially the Romantics. This painting is even more grotesque than usual with its flayed-bird abominations (below) looming out of the shadows.

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Continue reading “Witches”

The art of Thomas Cole, 1801–1848

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The Titan’s Goblet (1833).

Thomas Cole’s Titan’s Goblet isn’t featured at the Google Art Project, unfortunately, but the following paintings are, and all benefit from being able to explore their details. Cole’s colossal vessel predates Surrealism by a century, and is one of many paintings which always has me mentally labelling him as the American John Martin (1789–1854). Having thought of him for years as an American artist–not least because he founded the Hudson River School–it’s a surprise to learn he was born in Bolton, a town not far from Manchester, with his parents emigrating to the US when he was 17. John Martin also grew up in the north of England so there’s another similarity, although the more important comparison concerns their use of painting to convey the spectacularly vast and unreal scenes common to the imaginative side of Romantic art. The Titan’s Goblet is unusual in not having any particular symbolic or moral significance, unlike the pictures below, it’s Magritte-like in its careful depiction of the impossible. The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge, on the other hand, could be exhibited beside Francis Danby’s The Deluge (1840) for a “before and after” effect. Like Martin, Cole enjoyed painting architecture of an exaggerated scale. The Architect’s Dream features an Egyptian temple of stupendous size, while the pyramid looming in the background is closer to William Hope Hodgson’s seven-mile-high Last Redoubt than any structure on the Nile plain.

Of equal interest are Cole’s two well-known series: The Course of Empire (1833–36) and The Voyage of Life (1842), both of which I’d love to see at Art Project size.

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Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (1828).

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The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge (1829).

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The Architect’s Dream (1840).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
John Martin’s musical afterlife
Albert Bierstadt in Yosemite
Danby’s Deluge
John Martin: Heaven & Hell
Darkness visible
Two American paintings
The apocalyptic art of Francis Danby