Max Ernst’s favourites

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The cover for the Max Ernst number of View magazine (April, 1942) that appears in Charles Henri Ford’s View: Parade of the Avant-Garde was one I didn’t recall seeing before. This was a surprise when I’d spent some time searching for back issues of the magazine. The conjunction of Ernst with Buer, one of the perennially popular demons drawn by Louis Le Breton for De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, doubles the issue’s cult value in my eyes. I don’t know whether the demon was Ernst’s choice but I’d guess so when many of the De Plancy illustrations resemble the hybrid creatures rampaging through Ernst’s collages. Missing from the Ford book is the spread below which uses more De Plancy demons to decorate lists of the artist’s favourite poets and painters. I’d have preferred a selection of favourite novelists but Ford was a poet himself (he also co-wrote an early gay novel with Parker Tyler, The Young and Evil), and the list is still worth seeing.

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Poets: Charles Baudelaire, Friedrich Hölderlin, Alfred Jarry, Edgar Allan Poe, George Crabbe, Guillaume Apollinaire, Walt Whitman, Comte de Lautréamont, Robert Browning, Arthur Rimbaud, William Blake, Achim von Arnim, Victor Hugo, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lewis Carroll, Novalis, Heinrich Heine, Solomon (presumably the author of the Song of Solomon).

Painters: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Giovanni Bellini, Hieronymus Bosch, Matthias Grünewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Georges Seurat, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Baldung, Vittore Carpaccio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Cosimo Tura, Carlo Crivelli, Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Rousseau, Francesco del Cossa, Piero di Cosimo, NM Deutsch (Niklaus Manuel), Vincent van Gogh.

I’ve filled out the names since some of the typography isn’t easy to read. Some of the choices are also uncommon, while one of them—NM Deutsch—is not only a difficult name to search for but the attribution has changed in recent years. The list of poets contains few surprises but it’s good to see that Poe made an impression on Ernst; the choice of painters is less predictable. Bruegel, Bosch and Rousseau are to be expected, and the same goes for the German artists—Grünewald, Baldung—whose work is frequently grotesque or erotic. But I wouldn’t have expected so many names from the Italian Renaissance, and Seurat is a genuine surprise. As for Ernst’s only living contemporary, Giorgio de Chirico, this isn’t a surprise at all but it reinforces De Chirico’s importance. If you removed Picasso from art history De Chirico might be the most influential painter of the 20th century; his Metaphysical works had a huge impact on the Dada generation, writers as well as artists, and also on René Magritte who was never a Dadaist but who lost interest in Futurism when he saw a reproduction of The Song of Love (1914). Picasso’s influence remains rooted in the art world while De Chirico’s disquieting dreams extend their shadows into film and literature, so it’s all the more surprising that this phase of his work was so short lived. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Viewing View
De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal
Max Ernst album covers
Maximiliana oder die widerrechtliche Ausübung der Astronomie
Max and Dorothea
Dreams That Money Can Buy
La femme 100 têtes by Eric Duvivier

Weekend links 467

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Artwork by Kuldar Leement (maybe…I’ve yet to see a credit for this).

In Search Of Hades: The Virgin Recordings 1973–1979, is a retrospective box set comprising 16 CDs and 2 blu-ray discs devoted to the first phase of Tangerine Dream’s output on the Virgin label. For enthusiasts of the group’s Virgin recordings (myself among them) this is very welcome, especially for the albums being given the Steven Wilson remix treatment, and the wealth of rare and unreleased material. In addition to several live concerts the box will include the complete Oedipus Tyrannus theatre soundtrack, the overture of which appeared on a compilation in 1975 but has since been unavailable outside bootlegs. Baroque 2 is a taster of the unheard soundtrack. The box itself will be released on 14th June. Related: Edgar Froese interviewed on a US radio station in 1974. Among the topics of discussion are German music of the time, Tangerine Dream’s dissatisfaction with Ohr Records, and their happiness at moving to Virgin.

• “As the witch-burning begins, the image gradually dissolves into a stroboscopic onslaught of neon colours accompanied by rapid, high-pitched ringing and a thundering drone.” Don’t come to Gaspar Noé for social realism. Lux Aeterna is his new thing.

• An ode to the ultimate camp film: Nathalie Atkinson on Boom!, Joseph Losey’s adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, and (unsurprisingly) one of John Waters’ favourites.

“Adhesive,” a term borrowed from phrenology, was Whitman’s synonym for homosexuality. According to gay studies pioneer William A. Percy, “the term became part of the special vocabulary of the emerging homosexual subculture of the nineteenth century,” which Whitman and his coterie would have understood. Despite Whitman’s private vows to resist temptation, and to be more aloof, he continued to court young men until he died. One of the final photos of Whitman, taken at the Camden docks in 1890, shows the poet with his handsome male nurse Warren Fritzinger. “I like to look at him—he is health to look at: young, strong, lithe,” Whitman told Traubel.

Jeremy Lybarger on Walt Whitman’s boys

Psychedelic Promos & Radio Spots: 8 volumes, over 500 tracks, all free downloads. Hear many of the most popular groups of the late 60s shilling for commercial radio stations.

Hildur Gudnadóttir used only sounds from a nuclear plant in her score for Chernobyl.

• US museums of the week: Poster House, NYC, and The Moogseum, Asheville, NC.

• “Yes, witches are real,” says Pam Grossman, “I know because I am one.”

• Photos by Chas Gerretsen from the set of Apocalypse Now.

• Geeta Dayal on the brainwave music of David Rosenboom.

• Mix of the week: Self-Titled NE285 Mix by Kevin Martin.

• RIP Roky Erickson

Boom Boom (1961) by John Lee Hooker | Boom Stix (1962) by Curley & The Jades | Boom! (1992) by The Grid

Weekend links 465

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The Star (1970) from The Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini.

• Artist David Palladini died in March but I only heard the news this week. His poster for Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu has been a favourite of mine ever since the film’s release, while some of his other works have featured here in the past. Still popular among Tarot users is the Aquarian Tarot (1970), a deck published a few years after Palladini had helped with the production of the Linweave Tarot. From the same period as the Aquarian deck is a set of Zodiac posters, all of which exhibit Palladini’s distinctive blend of Art Nouveau and Deco stylings. In addition to posters, Palladini produced book covers and illustrations, and even a few record covers. A book collecting all of this work would be very welcome.

Erotikus: A History of the Gay Movies (1974? 75? 78?): Fred Halsted presents a 90-minute history of American gay porn, from the earliest beefcake films to the hardcore of the 1970s, some of which Halsted also helped create. Related: Centurians of Rome [sic]: Ashley West and April Hall on the bank robber who made the most expensive gay porno of all time.

Peter Bradshaw reviews Too Old to Die Young, a Nicolas Winding Refn TV series described as “a supernatural noir”. Sign me up.

Naomi Wolf’s Outrages establishes the context for [John Addington] Symonds’s desperate efforts to justify his own sexual feelings. Since he was born in 1840, he was 15 when the first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass appeared, the same year that legislation in Britain streamlined the laws against sodomy and ensured that men found guilty of it served long prison sentences. With intelligence and flair, Wolf uses the various responses to Whitman to show the levels of intense need in the decades after the publication of Leaves of Grass for images and books that would rescue homosexuality from increasing public disapproval.

Colm Tóibín reviews Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love by Naomi Wolf

• Record label Dark Entries has discovered 40 more reels (!) of music by Patrick Cowley dating from 1974 to 1979.

• “Is Stockhausen’s Licht the most bonkers operatic spectacle ever?” asks Robert Barry.

• Sex, Spunk, Shoes and Sweet Satisfaction: A Q&A with artist Cary Kwok.

• Tripping his brains out: Eric Bulson on Michel Foucault and LSD.

• Paul O’Callaghan chooses 10 best Dennis Hopper performances.

• “More obscene than De Sade.” Luc Sante on the fotonovela.

• Karl Blossfeldt’s Urformen der Kunst (1928).

• The Strange World of…Gong

Neonlicht (1978) by Kraftwerk | Brüder Des Schattens, Söhne Des Lichtes (1978) by Popol Vuh | Lichtfest (2017) by ToiToiToi

Nightmare: The Birth of Horror

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Nightmare: The Birth of Horror (1996): Dracula (and Louis Jourdan again).

Christopher Frayling, like Marina Warner, is that rare thing: a British academic with an enthusiasm for popular culture, and a talent for communicating that enthusiasm to a general audience. Both writers also have more than a passing interest in the darker areas of fiction, whether that means Gothic romance or contemporary horror films. One of Frayling’s first books was The Vampyre: Lord Ruthven To Count Dracula (1978); the same year he contributed an excellent Lovecraft essay, Dreams of Dead Names, to George Hay’s The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names, one of the two Necronomica published in the 1970s (three if you count Giger’s art book). Frayling’s essay, and another by Angela Carter are among the highlights in Hay’s curious volume.

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Nightmare: The Birth of Horror was both a book and a television series produced by the BBC in 1996. The year before, Frayling had written and presented Strange Landscape, an examination of the culture and philosophy of the Middle Ages. Nightmare looks at the creation of four British horror novels: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Two of these stories—Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde—were famously the product of nightmares so Frayling stretches this coincidence to include the others; I’m still not sure the case is properly made for Bram Stoker but it hardly matters.

Another aspect of Frayling’s thesis is the extraordinary power of these works, all of which have had a lasting global influence. The book is naturally more detailed than the TV series, delving into the fiction for the subtexts that contribute to the power of the stories. The Dracula section is a tour-de-force of condensed information, sketching a history of fictional vampires then looking at Stoker’s career as assistant to actor Henry Irving, a man whose outsize personality was an inspiration for that of the vampiric count. There’s also some interesting speculation about Stoker’s sexuality; a letter he wrote to Walt Whitman is (to borrow a phrase from Sherlock Holmes)…suggestive. The rest of the chapter looks in detail at the slow creation of the novel. In the TV series what you lose in the literary specifics you gain in visits to some of the locations mentioned in the story, so for Dracula that means windswept Whitby on the Yorkshire coast. The same applies to the other novels: for Frankenstein there’s a visit to the Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva, a journey to Dartmoor for Hound of the Baskervilles, and so on.

I was hoping the whole series might be on YouTube but for the moment the Frankenstein episode seems to be missing. The Dracula one is the best quality, the other two look a little rough. In the meantime copies of the book may still be found at reasonable prices.

Nightmare: The Birth of HorrorDracula | Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde | The Hound of the Baskervilles

Weekend links 176

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This week PingMag was looking at Czech film posters. This one by Bedrich Dlouhy is for the belated 1970 release of Kurosawa’s Rashomon.

• In October Alison Goldfrapp curates an exhibition for The Lowry, Salford, featuring her favourite art. Examples will include work by Leonora Carrington, Lotte Reiniger and Henry Darger so I’ll definitely be seeing this one. The new Goldfrapp album, Tales of Us, is released this week. Alison Goldfrapp & Lisa Gunning’s film for Annabel is here.

Michael Glover profiles artist Tom Phillips who has a new show of his paintings at the Flowers Gallery, London. The indefatigable Phillips also talked to Tracy McVeigh about his design for the new 50 pence coin which celebrates the centenary of Benjamin Britten.

Get Carter director Mike Hodges remembers re-teaming with Michael Caine for the island-set crime thriller Pulp, and shares a letter that JG Ballard wrote to him in admiration of the film.

Dismantling the surveillance state won’t be easy. Has any country that engaged in mass surveillance of its own citizens voluntarily given up that capability? Has any mass surveillance country avoided becoming totalitarian? Whatever happens, we’re going to be breaking new ground.

Bruce Schneier on how to deal with the total surveillance state.

• Babel/Salvage presents The Midnight Channel, the newest montage of poetry by Evan J. Peterson, inspired by cinema of the horrific, fantastic and bizarre.

• Mixes of the week are from composer Amanda Feery at The Outer Church, and Pinkcourtesyphone (Richard Chartier) at Secret Thirteen.

• At Dangerous Minds: Kimberly J. Bright on the psychedelic poster art of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. Related: LSD may not be bad for you, says study.

Queer Zines: a 400-page study edited by AA Bronson & Philip Aarons.

• Justin Abraham Linds on The Walt Whitman of gay porn.

• Designs for theatre and print by Oskar Schlemmer.

Beautiful Mars: a Tumblr.

Catleidoscope!

• Goldfrapp: Lovely Head (2000) | Strict Machine (2003) | Caravan Girl (2008)