Weekend links 521

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Au Lion d’or (1965) by Mimi Parent.

• After the recent announcement of Jon Hassell’s health issues it’s good to see he has a new album on the way at the end of July. Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) follows the form of the first volume, Seeing Through Pictures (2018), in reworking elements of earlier recordings into new forms. Not remixes, more reimaginings, and a process that Hassell has been applying to his own work for many years, most notably on his collaboration with Peter Freeman, The Vertical Collection (1997). The latter is an album which is impossible to find today and really ought to be reissued, together with more scarcities from the Hassell catalogue.

• Death of a typeface: John Boardley on Robert Granjon’s Civilité, a type design intended to be the national typeface of France but which fell out of favour. It wasn’t completely forgotten however; I was re-reading Huysmans’ À Rebours a couple of weeks ago, and Civilité is mentioned there as being a type that Des Esseintes chooses for some of his privately-printed books.

• At Plutonium Shores: Kurosawa versus Leone in A Fistful of Yojimbo. Christopher Frayling makes a similar analysis in his landmark study, Spaghetti Westerns (1981), but I didn’t realise that Leone had based so many of his shots on Kurosawa’s film.

• More lockdown art: Seen from Here: Writing in the Lockdown is a collection of new writing edited by Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat. A PDF book whose sales will go to support the Trussell Trust, a UK food bank charity.

• The week’s culture guides: Ben Cardew on where to start with the back catalogue of Miles Davis, and Hayley Scanlon on where to begin with the films of Yasujiro Ozu.

• “We can no longer ignore the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat depression,” says Robin Carhart-Harris.

• At Dangerous Minds: Laraaji returns with a new album, Sun Piano, and a preview of the same, This Too Shall Pass.

• Mixes of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XXI by David Colohan, and XLR8R Podcast 647 by The Orb.

Penelope Rosemont on the humorous Surrealism of Mimi Parent.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jeff Jackson presents Free Jazz Day.

The Golden Lion (1967) by Lomax Alliance | Dread Lion (1976) by The Upsetters | Gehenna Lion (1982) by Chrome

Howard Pyle’s pirates

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The Buccaneer was a Picturesque Fellow by Howard Pyle (1905).

Seeing as how Johnny Depp and co. are sailing the Spanish Main once more (to mixed reviews, unfortunately), now is perhaps a suitable moment to note the genesis of our popular conception of buccaneers. The famous characters of the Wild West were being mythologised while many of them were still alive and some survived long enough to be consulted by filmmakers such as John Ford when the first of the silent Westerns were being made. Pirates had their exploits recounted in tabloid fashion via books like The Newgate Calendar but our romantic image of the pirate comes primarily from Robert Louis Stevenson and artist/writer Howard Pyle (1853–1911).

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Keith Richards by Paul Karslake (1998).

Pyle’s articles for Harper’s Monthly Magazine in the early 1900s were later collected as the very popular Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates, “Fiction, Fact & Fancy concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners of the Spanish Main”. The considerable gulf between fact and fiction can be see in early pirate portraits, most of which are crude woodcut renderings. Pyle ignored these for the most part, relying on imagination to exaggerate details of worn-out 18th century clothing in much the same way that Sergio Leone and others exaggerated certain qualities of 19th century garb for their Westerns, turning what would have been a rather sorry reality into something more visually thrilling. Hollywood costume designers have used Pyle’s paintings as source material for pirate characters ever since so it’s perhaps fitting that Johnny Depp’s conception of Jack Sparrow’s character also came from a painting, Paul Karslake’s portrait of Keith Richards posing as a pirate. And now Richards is in the latest film playing Sparrow’s father…

Howard Pyle at 100 Years of Illustration
A Pyle pirate gallery

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Coming soon: Sea Monsters and Cannibals!
Seamen in great distress eat one another
Druillet meets Hodgson
Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys
Davy Jones