Weekend links 269

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Grosses Wasser (1979) by Cluster. Cover art by Dieter Moebius.

• RIP Dieter Moebius: one half of Cluster (with Hans-Joachim Roedelius), one third of Harmonia (with Roedelius and Michael Rother), and collaborator with many other musicians, including Brian Eno and Conny Plank. Geeta Dayal, who interviewed Moebius for Frieze in 2012, chose five favourite recordings. From 2008: Cosmic Outriders: the music of Cluster and Harmonia by Mark Pilkington. At the Free Music Archive: Harmonia playing at ATP, New York in 2008. Live recordings of Cluster in the 1970s have always been scarce but in 1977 they played a droning set at the Metz Science-Fiction Festival, a performance that was broadcast on FM radio (the Eno credit there seems to be an error).

• “I’ve since had the feeling that, if the attacks against The Satanic Verses had taken place today, these people would not have defended me, and would have used the same arguments against me, accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority.” Salman Rushdie on the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo killings.

• “The effect of these memories is to make you think you know the film better than you do, and wonder what it’s like actually to sit down and watch it.” Michael Wood on rewatching Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958). Related: Tipping My Fedora on the film’s source novel, Badge of Evil (1956).

“To me, it’s simple,” he says. “Fantasy became as bland as everything else in entertainment. To be a bestseller, you’ve got to rub the corners off. The more you can predict the emotional arc of a book, the more successful it will become.

“I do understand that Game of Thrones is different. It has its political dimensions; I’m very fond of the dwarf and I’m very pleased that George [R R Martin], who’s a good friend, has had such a huge success. But ultimately it’s a soap opera. In order to have success on that scale, you have to obey certain rules. I’ve had conversations with fantasy writers who are ambitious for bestseller status and I’ve had to ask them, ‘Yes, but do you want to have to write those sorts of books in order to get there?’”

Michael Moorcock talking to Andrew Harrison about fantasy, science fiction, the past and the present.

• “Architects love Blade Runner, they just go bonkers. When I was working on the film, it was all about, let’s jam together Byzantine and Mayan and Post-Modern and even a little bit of Memphis, just mash it all together.” Designer and visual futurist Syd Mead talking to Patrick Sisson.

• “Lucian of Samosata’s True History reads like a doomed acid trip,” says Cecilia D’Anastasio, who wonders whether or not the book can be regarded as the earliest work of science fiction.

• Mixes of the week: A Tribute to Dieter Moebius by Vegan Logic, and another by Totallyradio.

• The Phantasmagoria of the First Hand-Painted Films by Joshua Yumibe.

Islamic Geometric: calligraphic tessellations by Shakil Akram Khan.

Michael Prodger on The Dangerous Mind of Richard Dadd.

A chronological list of synth scores and soundtracks.

Touch Of Evil (Main Theme) (1958) by Henry Mancini | Badge Of Evil (1982) by Cabaret Voltaire | Touch Of Evil (2009) by Jaga Jazzist

Midsummer

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A statue of the Great God Pan looks down on the teeming chaos of Joseph Noel Paton’s The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1849), one of many 19th-century paintings based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Paton’s canvas gives Richard Dadd a run for his money in its wealth of incident and grotesque detail (see the big version at Wikipedia), and the artist returned to the theme a few years later with the equally excessive Fairy Raid (below). The later painting presumably depicts the kidnapping of the Changeling which Oberon and Titania quarrel over.

While we’re on the subject, a couple of years ago I wanted to link to the amazing fairy scene in William Dieterle’s 1935 film (which supposedly features Kenneth Anger as the Changeling) but it wasn’t on YouTube. Now you can watch it here.

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The Midsummer Night’s Fairies (detail, 1847) by Robert Huskisson.

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The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1849) by Joseph Noel Paton.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (c. 1860) by W. Balls.

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The Fairy Raid: Carrying Off a Changeling, Midsummer Eve (1867) by Joseph Noel Paton.

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Midsummer Morn, Bushy Park (1905) by George Dunlop Leslie.

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Midsummer’s Eve Bonfire on Skagen’s Beach (1906) by PS Krøyer.

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Midsummer Night, Lofoten, Norway (no date) by Adelsteen Normann.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Max Reinhardt’s Dream
The Midsummer Chronophage
Another Midsummer Night
A Midsummer Night’s Dadd
William Heath Robinson’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

Weekend links 74

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Johnny YesNo video cover, 1983. Design by Neville Brody.

Being a Cabaret Voltaire enthusiast of long standing it was good to hear last week about the imminent reappearance of Johnny YesNo, an hour-long film by Peter Care for which the Cabs provided the soundtrack. Mute Records will be releasing Care’s debut on DVD in a set which includes two versions of the film together with two music CDs. I never got to see the original release on CV’s VHS label, Doublevision; for most of the 1980s I didn’t even have a colour TV never mind a video recorder so I missed all CV’s videocassettes aside from Gasoline In Your Eye. The new edition will be available in November. Brainwashed has a list of the contents while The Quietus posted a clip from the new “redux” version. (And before anyone tells me it’s on YouTube…yeah, everything is on YT in shitty quality and barnacled with the misanthropy-inducing drivel which passes there for comment. If I’m going to watch something for the first time I’d prefer it to be on a shiny disc, thanks.)

• The world has noticed Terrence Malick again following the release of The Tree of Life. Malick’s second feature is returning briefly to UK cinema screens, an event which prompted David Thomson to ask Is Days of Heaven the most beautiful film ever made?

• This week in imaginative art: S. Elizabeth on The Fantastical Fairy Tale Art of Sveta Dorosheva, AS Byatt on the strange paintings of Richard Dadd (there’s another Dadd article here), and Rick Poynor on Chris Foss and the Technological Sublime.

Ethan Hein demonstrates how Alan Lomax came to have copyright control over many songs he had nothing to do with simply by recording traditional music.

Visual Vitriol:  The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generation, a book by David Ensminger.

• More Club Silencio: Inside David Lynch’s Paris nightclub and a gallery of photos.

Histoire un-Naturelle, selected works by Ruth Marten.

Come hither: The deceptive beauty of orchids.

Facsimile Dust Jackets.

• More Peter Care: Just Fascination (1983) by Cabaret Voltaire | Sensoria (1984) by Cabaret Voltaire | Rise (1986) by Public Image Ltd.

A Midsummer Night’s Dadd

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Contradiction: Oberon and Titania (1854–58).

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Richard Dadd painting Contradiction, c. 1856.

Of all the paintings based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream my favourite is this one by Richard Dadd (1817–1886), the artist who famously murdered his father in a fit of psychosis and spent the rest of his days as an inhabitant of Bethlem Royal Hospital in London. Dadd painted a number of fairy pictures while incarcerated, giving a popular Victorian genre a taste of his own unique vision. The most well-known of these is The Fairy-Feller’s Master-stroke (1855–64), an unfinished work rendered in minute detail. Contradiction is a more coherent composition and even more finely-detailed, so much so that any web reproduction is bound to be a disappointment. I’d post a larger view but the copy I have in Patricia Allderidge’s 1974 monograph is spread over two pages. She says of it there:

Painted in Bethlem for Dr W Charles Hood, physician superintendent of Bethlem Hospital. Some of the hordes of tiny figures swarming through the foliage are nearly invisible to the naked eye. At the bottom they are mainly soldiers with shields and winged fairies in voluminous robes; at the top, among the weird but exquisite still life and architectural contrivances, are a group of revellers with the body of a deer and various other individuals, all highly fantastic. The details are painted with almost incredible precision, epitomized by the perfectly formed features of the smallest fairies and the dewdrops lying thickly on every surface and hanging from every leaf. Although this is in most ways utterly different from the early fairy paintings, a number of features are developed from Titania Sleeping (below), notably some of the plants, and the overall structure of the composition. A striking contrast is between the dainty moon-born Titania of the first work and the hulking Amazon who here tramples elves underfoot.

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Titania Sleeping (1841).

Titania Sleeping resides now in the Louvre. I read some years ago that Andrew Lloyd-Webber, a big collector of Victorian art, owned Contradiction but can’t say whether this is still the case.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
A Madmen’s Museum
The art of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, 1736–1783

Fantastic art from Pan Books

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Fantastic Art (1973).
Cover: Earth by Arcimboldo.

I’d thought of writing something about this book series even before I started this weblog since there’s very little information to be found about it online. I can’t compete with the serious Penguin-heads—and I’m not much of a dedicated book collector anyway—but I do have a decent collection of the art books that Pan/Ballantine published in the UK throughout the 1970s. These were published simultaneously by Ballantine/Peacock Press in the US and nearly all were edited by David Larkin, with Betty Ballantine overseeing the American editions. Two of the series, the Dalí and Magritte, were among the first art books I owned. Over the years I’ve gradually accumulated almost the full set and I always look for their distinctive white spines in secondhand shops.

Continue reading “Fantastic art from Pan Books”