Les Maîtres de l’Affiche was a multi-volume guide to the state of poster art in the 1890s, published in five volumes from 1896 to 1900. Being a French publication, the contents are mostly by French artists but other nations are represented—Britain, Germany, Italy, the United States—although fewer contributions than you might expect given the quantity of pages to be filled. The chief attraction of these books is the attention they give to each design, all of which are printed in colour on a full page, and the time of publication which coincides with the birth of Art Nouveau. In addition to the great Alphonse Mucha there are designs by Eugène Grasset, Henri Privat-Livemont, Georges de Feure, Will Bradley, Louis Rhead and others. There’s also a lot of cabaret stuff from Montmartre which has never been to my taste (although I like the Steinlen posters) but those designs were the typical ones of the period.
The first four volumes in this set may be found at Gallica (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4) but not the fifth volume—isn’t a national library supposed to be more thorough than this?—which may be seen at NYPL. For those who prefer paper reproductions, there’s a reprint in Dover Publications’ Pictorial Archive series, The Complete “Masters of the Poster”: All 256 Colour Plates from “Les Maîtres de l’Affiche”.
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Gevatter Tod (Godfather Death, 1905) by Heinrich Lefler. Via Beautiful Century.
An inevitable hangover from Halloween this week. At 50 Watts: A Modern Dance of Death (c. 1894) by Joseph Sattler, Harry Clarke Revisited, and more Ex Libris Mr Reaper | At Design Observer: Keith Eggener on When Buildings Kill: Sentient Houses in Fiction and Film | At Dangerous Minds: An interview with horror soundtrack composer Fabio Frizzi | Clive Hicks-Jenkins on illustrating the ghost stories of MR James.
• Punk 45: The Singles Cover Art of Punk 1976–80, a book by Jon Savage & Stuart Baker with an accompanying compilation album on Soul Jazz Records. Savage & Baker selected a handful of favourite covers here.
• De humani corporis fabrica by Vesalius is back in print as a beautiful two-volume hardback edition. See sample pages here.
…the business of the writer is to find something out for yourself and to stick by it. To forge a new mythology out of materials pertinent to the moment. Otherwise you’re at the mercy of their mythology, which is a destruction of language, above everything else. This non-language, this bureaucratic-speak of the global corporate entities, is a horror in the world. So that strange language we started with – that piece of Kerouac – I think is more valuable than ever.
Iain Sinclair (yes, him again) talking to James Campbell about his new book, American Smoke.
• Bob Mizer & Tom of Finland, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
• From 2010: The Bridget Riley Look, The Bridget Riley Sound, Bridget Riley’s Rolling Papers.
• The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board. Related: Ouija Boards at Pinterest.
• Highway 62 posted some close-ups of my adaptation of The Call of Cthulhu.
• “This is not a coincidence”: Max Dax talks to Andrey A. Tarkovsky.
• Anthony Lane‘s Foreword to The Big New Yorker Book of Cats.
• At AnOther: Nicolas Roeg on Mirrors and Memory.
• Toys and Techniques: a blog.
• Death And The Lady (1970) by Shirley & Dolly Collins | Clang Of The Yankee Reaper (1975) Van Dyke Parks | All And Everyone (2011) by PJ Harvey
Continuing the delve into back numbers of Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, the German periodical of art and decoration. Volume 12 covers the period from April 1903 to September 1903, and this edition opens with a feature on the French Art Nouveau artist and designer George de Feure. This is followed by more from sculptor Franz Metzner including some of his designs for Germany’s many Bismarck monuments. Earlier volumes of DK&D have featured similar Bismarck designs by other architects but they tend to be as ponderous as you’d expect, the kind of thing which nationalists of the time would have found grand but which to our eyes look either pompous or—at their worst—quasi-fascist. Another feature on artist Paul Bürck finishes the edition. As before, anyone wishing to see these samples in greater detail is advised to download the entire volume at the Internet Archive. There’ll be more DK&D next week.
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Pan teaching Daphnis to play the panpipes; Roman copy of a Greek original from the 3rd-2nd centuries BCE by Heliodoros.
“The worship of Pan never has died out,” said Mortimer. “Other newer gods have drawn aside his votaries from time to time, but he is the Nature-God to whom all must come back at last. He has been called the Father of all the Gods, but most of his children have been stillborn.”
So says a character in The Music on the Hill, one of the slightly more serious stories from Saki’s The Chronicles of Clovis (1911). Saki’s Pan is a youthful spirit closer to a faun than the goatish creature of legend. But being a gay writer whose tales regularly feature naked young men (surprisingly so, given the time they were written) I’m sure Saki would have appreciated the Roman statue above. There’s nothing chaste about this Pan with his “token erect of thorny thigh” as Aleister Crowley put it in his lascivious 1929 Hymn to Pan, a poem which caused a scandal when read aloud at his funeral some years later. The Roman statue was for a long while an exhibit in the restricted collection of the Naples National Archaeological Museum where all the more scurrilous and priapic artefacts unearthed at Pompeii were kept safely away from women, children and the great unwashed. These are now on public display and include the notorious statue of a goat being penetrated by a satyr.
Continue reading “The Great God Pan”