Weekend links 404


Magazine illustration of The Fallen Angel (1877) by Ricardo Bellver, a statue for The Fountain of the Fallen Angel in Madrid

• Obituaries of the late Stephen Hawking were obliged to concentrate on the professor’s disabilities and global celebrity while skirting around the trickier questions of what he actually spent the best part of his life thinking, writing and talking about. Roger Penrose was not only a friend of Hawking’s for many years but also one of his equally skilled professional colleagues. Penrose’s piece for the Guardian was notable for the way it provided a succinct but informed summary of Hawking’s work at the forefront of theoretical physics.

Brian Eno has announced a box set of old or previously unheard recordings for his artworks, Music For Installations. (Be warned that the various editions range from expensive to very expensive.)

• Flame 1 is the name of a collaboration between The Bug and Burial. The Quietus has an exclusive preview from the forthcoming album.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 533 by µ-Ziq, and Secret Thirteen Mix 249 by Eva Geist.

• Buy High, Sell Cheap: Elianna Kan interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky.

• At Dangerous Minds: Addams Family comic books from 1974.

• Advanced Creepology: Re-Reading Lolita by Michael Doliner.

• A Quietus list of the 40 best compilation albums of all time.

• At Spoon & Tamago: An anti-decluttering house.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: The Spheres.

Physical (1981) by Olivia Newton-John | (Let’s Get) Physical (1990) by Revolting Cocks | UK Girls (Physical) (2001) by Goldfrapp

MC Escher book covers


1963. Art: Other World (1947).

MC Escher’s prints have been touring the UK this year: a few months ago they were in Scotland, this month they can be seen at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. The renewed attention prompted the BBC to produce a documentary, The Art of the Impossible: MC Escher and Me, in collaboration with Professor Roger Penrose. One of the programme researchers saw my earlier post about the use of Escher’s work on album covers, and asked if I wanted to appear on camera talking about this, something I politely refused to do. I’m happy to hold forth from a keyboard, however, so here’s a post about some of the books that have used Esher’s work to decorate their covers. Most of these are fiction but there must be many more non-fiction titles—especially in the fields of science and mathematics—that borrow Escher’s prints.


The first edition of Calvino’s comic stories from 1965.


Art: Relativity (1953).

Not a book but editor Michael Moorcock has claimed that this was the first UK magazine to print any of Escher’s work.

Continue reading “MC Escher book covers”

The Fantastic World of MC Escher


An Italian documentary about the Dutch artist made in 1980 and directed by Michele Emmer. I don’t recall ever seeing a British TV documentary about Escher (although I’d be surprised if there were none) but this resembles the type of thing the BBC used to do so well. Shots of the Italian towns where Escher lived for many years show the influence of the vernacular architecture on Escher’s prints. Elsewhere, animated sequences bring to life his tessellations, while various mathematicians examine some of the structural principles at work in these very familiar images. Of greatest interest for me is mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose discussing his first encounter with Escher’s work, and the development with his father of the Penrose Triangle, an impossible object similar to those that appear in some of Escher’s prints. (I used a Penrose Triangle in my cover art for Zones by Hawkwind.) The Fantastic World of MC Escher runs for 50 minutes, and may be watched here.


Previously on { feuilleton }
MC Escher album covers
Escher and Schrofer

Weekend links 179


Summer Swell (2007) by Fred Tomaselli. The artist is interviewed at AnOther.

• Mixes of the week for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness: Forever Autumn Mixtape by The Outer Church, and celebrating what would have been Trish Keenan’s 45th birthday: Trish’s Toys & Techniques Birthday Tape (with cover art by Julian House).

Jirí Kolár: His Life, Work and Cultural Significance to the Czech Republic. Leah Cowan looks into the life and work of this influential Czech artist. Related: Jirí Kolár: poet and collage artist, and collages, rollages and prollages by Jirí Kolár.

• “Name any well-known poet from any age, any country. He or she wrote at least one poem about death, most likely several poems.” Russ Kick introduces his new book, Death Poems.

[M]any pictures in the splendid exhibition at the British Museum show men having sex with men. One of the earliest erotic handscrolls, from the 15th century, shows a Buddhist priest casting longing glances at his young acolyte. Indeed, among some samurai, male love was considered superior to the heterosexual kind. Women were necessary to produce children, but male love was purer, more refined.

The question is why were Japanese – compared not just with Europeans, but other Asians, too – so much more open to depicting sex? One reason might be found in the nature of Japanese religion. The oldest native ritual tradition, Shinto, was, like most ancient cults, a form of nature worship, to do with fertility, mother goddesses, and so forth. This sometimes took the form of worshipping genitals, male as well as female.

Ian Buruma on The joy of art: why Japan embraced sex with a passion. Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art is a forthcoming exhibition at the British Museum.

Harold Offeh on how the cosmic life and music of Sun Ra inspired the artwork decorating the Bethnal Green, Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove Tube stations in London.

• Fearful symmetry: Roger Penrose’s tiling by Philip Ball. Related: Penrose Tiles Visualizer, and lots more Penrose tiling links at The Geometry Junkyard.

Masculine / Masculine. The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day, a new exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay.

• Into the Croation Zone: more derives from Christina Scholz here, here, and here.

Stephen Eskilson on Heteronormative Design Discourse.

Applied Ballardianism

The Zero of the Signified (1980) by Robert Fripp | The League of Gentlemen (Fripp/Lee/Andrews/Toobad, 1981): Minor Man (with Danielle Dax) | Heptaparaparshinokh