Weekend links 514


Athanasius Kircher welcoming two guests to the Collegio Romano, a detail from the frontispiece to his Romani Collegii Societatis Jesu Musaeum celeberrimum (1678).

Opium (1919) by Robert Reinert: “A Chinese opium dealer takes revenge on Westerners who have corrupted his wife.” With Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt a year before their pairing in The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.

Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain: in which the gallery thinks that 7 minutes is enough to give us a taste of a major exhibition that we can’t otherwise see.

Joe Pulver (RIP): His Highness in Yellow. A memorial piece that includes artist Michael Hutter talking about his paintings of Carcosa.

Court Mann on the strange history of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, 50 years old this month.

• “Invisible Little Worms”: Athanasius Kircher’s Study of the Plague by John Glassie.

Sophie Monks Kaufman on why literary lesbians are having a moment on screen.

• Photographer Ryan McGinley: “I was taught to believe in Satan. It scared me.”

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Ellen Burstyn Day, and the ghostly novels of WG Sebald.

Dorian Lynskey on where to start with Nina Simone’s back catalogue.

• Wie funktioniert ein Synthesizer? (1972). Bruno Spoerri explains.

• Banham avec Ballard: On style and violence by Mark Dorrian.

John Boardley on the most dangerous book in the world.

Improvisation for Sonic Cure by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

• The Strange World of…JG Thirlwell.

Diet Of Worms (1979) by This Heat | Stomach Worm (1992) by Stereolab | Heartworms (1998) by Coil

Dorothea Tanning, 1910–2012


Birthday (1942) by Dorothea Tanning.

In pre-internet days it always used to surprise me to read that Dorothea Tanning was still alive when one seldom heard much about her; Leonora Carrington seemed positively hyperactive by comparison. In the end Dorothea outlasted all her Surrealist contemporaries, and the announcement of her death this week sees the passing of that generation of art revolutionaries. Birthday became an immediate favourite when I first encountered it in art books some thirty-odd years ago, and it remains my favourite among her works. John Glassie interviewed her for Salon ten years ago when she had this to say about the painting:

Well, excuse me for this, but “Birthday” is among other dreamlike things, a topless self-portrait. Is it fair to say that at that time, 1942, people thought you were immodest?

Well, I was aware it was pretty daring, but that’s not why I did it. It was a kind of a statement, wanting the utter truth, and bareness was necessary. My breasts didn’t amount to much. Quite unremarkable. And besides, when you are feeling very solemn and painting very intensively, you think only of what you are trying to communicate.

So what have you tried to communicate as an artist? What were your goals, and have you achieved them?

I’d be satisfied with having suggested that there is more than meets the eye.

She also offered a piece of sound advice:

Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads and idiots and movie stars, except when you need amusement.

New York Times: Dorothea Tanning, Surrealist Painter, Dies at 101
• Coilhouse: “My work is about leaving the door open to the imagination.”
New York magazine: Jerry Saltz on Dorothea Tanning
Guardian obituary | From 2004: “I’ve always been perverse!”

Previously on { feuilleton }
Leonora Carrington, 1917–2011
Marsi Paribatra: the Royal Surrealist
Dorothea Tanning: Early Designs for the Stage
Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism
The art of Leonor Fini, 1907–1996
Surrealist women