Weekend links 607


Jerry (1931) by Paul Cadmus.

• “I wanted to photograph naked young men as opulently and as attentively as those professional ladies appearing in Playboy-type magazines.” RIP James Bidgood, photographer and director of no-budget gay-porn classic Pink Narcissus. Also in the obituary notices this week: Monica Vitti and John Appleton, composer of electronic music and inventor of the Synclavier sampling keyboard.

• “…the Sola Busca deck is limited in its use for divinatory purposes today, and yet, since its enigmatic imagery irresistibly invites decoding, the deck nonetheless beckons twenty-first century cartomancers into a game of high imagination.” Kevin Dann on the mysteries of the world’s oldest complete Tarot deck.

• “This Missouri company still makes cassette tapes, and they are flying off the factory floor.” Jennifer Billock reports.

He attended to his own talent, not in the interest of bombast or self-aggrandisement, but rather like a faithful watchman. He had the fixity of the great and therefore no need of vanity. He estimated that three shillings would be a reasonable price for Ulysses. A tiresome book, he admitted. At the same time he was dogged by fear that the printing house would be burnt down or that some untoward catastrophe would happen. He assisted Miss Beach in wrapping the copies, he autographed the deluxe editions, he wrote to influential people, he hawked packages to the post office. He knew that the illustrati would change their minds many a time before settling down to a final opinion and that many another would know as much about it as the parliamentary side of his arse.

Edna O’Brien on James Joyce

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Secret Glory by Arthur Machen, another novel now in its centenary year.

• At Aquarium Drunkard: It Is Not My Music, (1978) an hour-long Swedish TV documentary about Don Cherry.

• At Bandcamp: The transportive psychedelia of Moon Glyph records.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 844 by A Psychic Yes.

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Show.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Guitar.

Mumblin’ Guitar (1960) by Bo Diddley | Electric Guitar (1979) by Talking Heads | Impossible Guitar (1982) by Phil Manzanera

Happy Bloomsday


A page from Ulysses with amendments by James Joyce.

That time of year again and for your delectation Ubuweb has tapes of the soundtrack from Joseph Strick’s semi-successful 1967 film of Ulysses featuring the voices of Milo O’Shea, Barbara Jefford and others. The film is frequently a series of illustrated voiceovers so this isn’t as purposeless as it might seem. Somewhere I have a vinyl recording of Milo O’Shea and Barbara Jefford reading from the Nausicaa and Penelope chapters and somewhere else a reading of passages from Finnegans Wake. For the latter Ubuweb also has Sylvia Beach’s recording of Joyce himself reading from Anna Livia Plurabelle.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Jerry by Paul Cadmus
Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake
Books for Bloomsday

Jerry by Paul Cadmus


Jerry (1931).

A few weeks too early for Bloomsday, this painting by Paul Cadmus was in the news this week after being acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art. The subject is Jerry French, one of the artist’s regular models and also his lover during this period. I hadn’t seen this picture before and wonder whether this is the first painted representation of Joyce’s Ulysses, a book which at the time was still banned in the USA. The ban was overturned in 1933 following some enlightened deliberation by Judge John M Woolsey.

Jerry takes its place as part of the Toledo Museum’s permanent collection next month. Via Towleroad.

Paul Cadmus gallery at Ten Dreams

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Paul Cadmus, 1904–1999

Czanara: The Art & Photographs of Raymond Carrance


Untitled photo print.

A fantastic exhibition of photographs, drawings and engravings by Raymond Carrance, aka Czanara, opens today at Wessel + O’Connor Fine Art, New York, running until June 21, 2008. For those of us who can’t get to see it there’s a selection of the works on show at their site which immediately increases the web visibility of this artist by several orders of magnitude.

Carrance was a photographer and book illustrator who, working mostly in the 1950’s and 60’s, created a private body of homoerotic dreamscape’s under the pseudonym ‘Czanara’. The exhibit shines new light on Carrance’s art, which is certainly courageous and innovative, especially for its time.

One of the last great unknown erotic artists of the 20th century, his work is somewhat reminiscent of the magic realism style of the painters Paul Cadmus and Jared French, yet done in a photographic medium. Using overlays of abstract graphics over dreamy images of languid young men at play, his work is a meditative pondering of the artist’s psyche. The work is reverential, distinctly European, yet never exploitative.

Carrance, who lived from 1921–1998, was also responsible for illustrating with elaborate etchings and lithographs the works of Jules Renard and Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as an edition of Henry de Montherlant’s 1951 gay classic La Ville dont Le Prince est un Enfant (The Land Whose King is a Child). There will be examples of this riveting work, as well as his compelling drawings, on view as well. Having died with no heirs, his work was sold at auction by the French state, but luckily fell into the hands of a bookseller who we have to thank for it finally seeing the light of day.


Untitled engraving (c. 1950s).

Among the items worthy of note is the above engraving which is another version of the hermaphrodite angel picture I posted in March last year. The other engravings are equally fascinating, looking at times like gay equivalents of Hans Bellmer.


May 4, 1953.

There’s also the drawing above which raises a curious artistic conundrum by being very reminiscent of the work of comic artist Burne Hogarth. A couple of weeks after posting the Czanara angel picture I pointed out the similarity between the film poster for Premonition and one of Hogarth’s panels from Jungle Tales of Tarzan, both of which use the trick of making faces out of tree branches. (I also noted that Dalí was doing similar things before almost everyone else.) Czanara’s 1953 drawing not only contains very Hogarthesque figures but does the same thing with the branches to make a skull face. The curious thing here is that Czanara’s picture predates Hogarth’s Tarzan book by more than twenty years. It’s very unlikely that Hogarth would have seen Czanara’s work; given that Hogarth was made world famous by his Tarzan strips of the 1940s it’s more likely that Czanara knew Hogarth’s work although none of his Sunday strips contained these kind of pictorial tricks and I’ve not seen any example of Hogarth doing this in the 1950s. I also haven’t yet seen the recent book about Czanara so can’t say what light has been shed on his artistic influences. If anyone can solve this mystery (which may simply be coincidence, of course), please leave a note in the comments.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The skull beneath the skin
A premonition of Premonition
Czanara’s Hermaphrodite Angel
The art of Paul Cadmus, 1904–1999