Willy Pogány’s Rubáiyát

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Willy Pogány’s work is no stranger to these pages, and I did once link to scans of his illustrated Rubáiyát although the site where those images were posted has since migrated. Pogány’s edition, which dates from 1909, presents the quatrains in beautifully lettered and decorated pages separated by watercolour plates. The Persian details may be Pogány’s own approximations but he thanks Arabic scholar Dr Julius Germanus for his assistance with the book. Some of the pages at the Internet Archive are the worse for wear but this is one edition where every page is worth seeing. Browse the rest of the book here or download it here. (There’s also a second Pogány edition from 1930—not 1900 as the site claims—which is worth looking at but seems crude in comparison to the earlier book.)

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Weekend links 96

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Sin título (monstruas) (2008) by Marina Núñez.   

• Salon asks Christopher Bram “Is gay literature over?” Bram’s new book, Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America, is reviewed here.

Robert Montgomery is profiled at the Independent as “The artist vandalising advertising with poetry.”

In addition to aesthetics, McCarthy noted a deeper link between great science and great writing. “Both involve curiosity, taking risks, thinking in an adventurous manner, and being willing to say something 9/10ths of people will say is wrong.” Profound insights in both domains also tend arise from a source beyond the limits of analytic reason. “Major insights in science come from the subconscious, from staring at your shoes. They’re not just analytical.”

Nick Romeo meets Cormac McCarthy at the Santa Fe Institute.

• For FACT mix 316 Julia Holter mixes radio broadcasts, street recordings and music.

• This week in the Tumblr labyrinth: fin de siècle art and graphics from Nocnitsa.

“There’s a widespread cultural barrenness across art and political culture. But there are some pockets of resistance on the extreme margins, like the techno-savvy protest movements, small press, the creator-owned comics, that seem to be getting some signs of hope for the future,” he says. “All of the genuinely interesting work is being done on the margins, with independent companies, self-producing, and alternative distribution networks.”

Alan Moore on Watchmen’s “toxic cloud” and creativity v. big business.

Stone Tape Shuffle, a 12” LP of readings by Iain Sinclair. Limited to 400 copies.

Monolake on how we cope with death: mythologies, rituals, drugs and Ghosts.

Kraftwerk perform at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in April.

Kathy Acker (in 1988?) interviewing William Burroughs.

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Willy Pogány’s erotica: illustrations for a 1926 edition of The Songs of Bilitis by Pierre Louÿs.

• Nicholas Lezard on David Lynch: director of dreams.

Did otherworldly music inspire Stonehenge?

Coilhouse has an Eyepatch Party.

Tanzmusik (1973) by Kraftwerk | The Model (1992) by the Balanescu Quartet | Trans Europe Express (2003) by the Wiener Sinfonie Orchestra & Arnold Schönberg Choir.

Franz Stassen’s illustrated Hoffmann

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Endpaper design with an ex libris plate by the artist.

Another prolific illustrator with a clear-line style, Franz Stassen (1869–1949) here decorates the pages of Musikalische Schriften, a book devoted to the musical works of writer ETA Hoffmann. I haven’t checked but I’m fairly sure that Stassen was featured in Jugend magazine a few times, his florid style in this undated volume would certainly complement the work of the other artists there. Like some of those artists, Stassen was enthused by Teutonic nationalism during the First World War, a path that led eventually to work for, and plaudits, from the Nazis. We’re also told (via an unsourced Wikipedia detail) that he ended his days in a gay relationship, something the Third Reich would have either overlooked or conveniently ignored.

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Alastair’s Carmen

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“The artist at home” from Alastair: Illustrator of Decadence (1979) by Victor Arwas.

More Beardsley derivations in the form of some illustrations by Hans Henning Voigt (1887–1969), better known as Alastair, and an artist who more than anyone carried the Beardsley style and the fin de siècle ethos into the 20th century. If the photograph above is anything to go by he seemed to take Beardsley’s effete and languid characters as role models for an equally effete and languid manner.

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The drawings here are a selection from twelve pieces for a 1920 edition of Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen, the novel upon which Bizet based his opera. Alastair for me has always been an artist whose enthusiasm for his subject matter outpaced his technique, his figure drawing can be rather weak at times which perhaps explains some of his more eccentric costume designs. Every so often the weakness becomes a virtue when it provides a surprising composition. Carmen didn’t seem to inspire him as much as other works, his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé are a lot better and I may post some of them here if I can find a way of scanning my Victor Arwas book without spoiling it. There still isn’t much else of his work on the web but S. Elizabeth did make a start recently with her post A Decadent Parade of Outrageous Fancies at Coilhouse.

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Schloss Neuschwanstein

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This weekend’s film viewing was a DVD of Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig (1972), something I’ve seen in parts before but don’t recall ever having watched all the way through. I enjoyed it on the whole although Visconti’s “hose-piping” camera style and crash zooms are frequently annoying. Helmut Berger was very good as the tragic King of Bavaria and the subject was given additional interest by my reading earlier this year of a number of Philippe Jullian books. Ludwig II was camp enough to have interested Jullian whatever age he lived in but the way his life connects to the Symbolist period lends him a special significance. He can’t quite be described as a Symbolist monarch but his tireless support for Symbolist god Richard Wagner, and his lavish construction projects, made him a hero to Verlaine and others, who saw in the realisation of his fantasies the actions of an artist working on the grandest scale.

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Of all the palaces, Schloss Neuschwanstein at Hohenschwangau is easily the most spectacular, and Wikimedia Commons has a great selection of photos of which the two here are examples. The first picture is a 1900 photochrome print originally from the Library of Congress collection and the large version makes a great desktop picture. The helicopter view shows how the apparent isolation of the castle depends on where you place the camera. Visconti’s film makes use of all the King’s buildings although we never see a full exterior shot of Neuschwanstein possibly because the castle was unfinished at the time of Ludwig’s death in 1886. While he was alive Ludwig’s palaces were regarded as outrageous extravagances by a government dismayed by his patronage of Wagner, his scandalous homosexual behaviour, and his lack of interest in the nation’s political squabbles. Over a century later, Wagner’s music receives endless performances around the world while Schloss Neuschwanstein is the most popular tourist destination in Germany. Bavaria’s wars are long forgotten yet it was the King they declared to be “mad”. There’s a moral there.

The Neuschwanstein pool at Flickr

Previously on { feuilleton }
Temples for Future Religions by François Garas
Willy Pogány’s Lohengrin
Dallamano’s Dorian Gray