The Jabberwock (2010).

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

The past month has been inordinately busy which has meant all the fine plans for a 2011 Coulthart calendar have been set back further than intended. No prizes for guessing the theme this year. This picture made its web debut last weekend at Alicenations, a Brazilian site devoted to all things Carrollian. Lots of splendid artwork on the rest of their page, including some of Jan Svankmajer’s Alice collages and some familiar bestiary hybrids. As to the calendar, I’m pleased to say the series of pictures is starting to feel halfway finished so I may have the whole thing completed and uploaded to CafePress sometime next week. Keep your vorpal blades crossed. In the meantime, here’s a picture detail, and while we’re on the subject, let’s not forget Terry Gilliam’s first feature film or the 1968 single from Boeing Duveen & The Beautiful Soup. (Given a choice I prefer the B-side, Which Dreamed It?)


Previously on { feuilleton }
Alice in Acidland
Return to Wonderland
Dalí in Wonderland
Virtual Alice
Psychedelic Wonderland: the 2010 calendar
Charles Robinson’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Humpty Dumpty variations
Alice in Wonderland by Jonathan Miller
The Illustrators of Alice

Carceri, thermae and candelabra


Piranesi’s etching which purports to show a statue gallery at Hadrian’s Villa was published in 1770 as part of the artist’s Vedute di Roma series, and conveniently provides a themed link for a pair of new exhibitions. The artist’s attribution of statue gallery was a mistaken one, the structure is actually the remains of Hadrian’s thermae, or baths, but archaeology was still in its infancy in the 18th century so mistakes were inevitable. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Venice during the next two months the Fondazione Cini has a major exhibition of Piranesi’s work, The Art of Piranesi: architect, engraver, antiquarian, vedutista, designer. On display are over three hundred prints which no doubt include many of the Vedute di Roma.


Ornamental candelabrum created by Factum Arte from a design by Piranesi.

Good as that sounds, what’s especially notable about this exhibition is a presentation of three-dimensional works specially created from Piranesi’s designs for candelabra, fireplaces, and other objects based on his studies of artefacts from the ancient world. These pieces have been produced by Factum Arte who have a great website showing the finished pieces and also a page detailing the production of the objects. Also on that page is one of the exhibition’s other features, a 10-minute video by Gregoire Dupond which cleverly joins together and animates a journey through several of Piranesi’s Carceri d’invenzione (Imaginary Prisons). The music accompaniment is Bach’s Cello Suite 2 which happens to be the piece played by Yo-Yo Ma in an earlier animation of the Carceri, so it’s a reasonable guess that the earlier film was an inspiration for this new work. The exhibition runs to November 21, 2010.


Jack’s Bath (2010) by Danny Jauregui. Gouache on canvas.

Hadrian’s obsession with his doomed lover Antinous makes the Emperor a gay icon which explains the connection between Piranesi’s view of the ruined baths and an exhibition of work by American artist Danny Jauregui. There Goes the Neighborhood is at the Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, New York, and features a selection of Jauregui’s paintings of tiles from the bathhouses which were a feature of gay life in the days before AIDS.

I make paintings of bathhouses in ruin. Moldy, disheveled and abandoned, the paintings are memorials to the absence of memorials – indexes of the traumatic erasure inflicted on the radical gay sexuality of the past. They are paintings of what I imagine those spaces to look like, had they not been disguised and hidden from sight. (More.)

The exhibition runs until October 30, 2010. By coincidence gay news blog Towleroad had a post yesterday about New York’s first anti-gay police raid on the Ariston Baths in 1903.


Time Bandits.

Seeing as I posted the picture of Hadrian’s baths I have to also post this shot from Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981) showing the interior of the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. Here we see the Piranesi’s ruined baths incorporated into a vast and gloomy space which must surely be inspired by the Carceri, the views of Rome being absorbed by the artist’s darker imaginings. And for a final piece of trivia, writer Marguerite Yourcenar is not only the author of Memoirs of Hadrian (1951), a novel about the Emperor’s passion for Antinous, but also penned an essay about the Carceri. I haven’t read either of those works so I think it’s time to add them to the shopping list.

Update: For those in the UK, there’s also Piranesi’s Prisons, an exhibition at the Mead Gallery, Warwick, from now until December.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
La Tour by Schuiten & Peeters
Set in Stone
Hadrian and Greek love
Piranesi as designer
Vedute di Roma
Aldous Huxley on Piranesi’s Prisons
The Cult of Antinous

Karel Zeman


Inspiration (1949).

Karel Zemen (1910–1989) is a filmmaker I’m often telling people about but whose work isn’t easy to see, so it’s good to find that YouTube has gained some clips of his animations and examples of the partly-animated adventure films he made in the Fifties and Sixties. Zeman was yet another great Czech animator, and the YouTube collection includes his most celebrated short, Inspiration, which gives life to glass figurines, an unyielding medium that he moves as expressively as if it were clay or plasticine.


The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1961).

The adventure films are predominantly based on Jules Verne and place live actors into animated settings, many of which are taken directly from (or intended to imitate) the engraved illustrations of the original novels. The animation enabled Zeman to fill his films with dirigibles, submarines and various steam contraptions which would be too expensive to create otherwise. Zeman’s The Fabulous Baron Munchausen took the Gustave Doré illustrations for its visual style which is something this particular Doré enthusiast appreciates, and the film is closer to the spirit of the Raspe novel than the Nazi adaptation of 1943 or Terry Gilliam’s later version. The results are a lot more artificial than the seamless blend of animation and live action attempted by Ray Harryhausen in his own Jules Verne film, Mysterious Island, but the artificiality gives the films a distinctive charm.

A Deadly Invention aka The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958)
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne trailer (1958)
Excerpts from Baron Munchausen (1961)
The Special Effects of Karel Zeman pt. I | pt. II

Previously on { feuilleton }
Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls
Jan Svankmajer: The Complete Short Films
Taxandria, or Raoul Servais meets Paul Delvaux
Barta’s Golem
The Hetzel editions of Jules Verne

Short films by Walerian Borowczyk


Les Astronautes (1959).

A nice collection of shorts by Walerian Borowczyk (1923–2006) at Ubuweb including this animated piece from 1959 which was co-directed by Chris Marker. The style is immediately reminiscent of that employed by Raoul Servais in Harpya and other films; it’s also not far removed from Terry Gilliam’s animation but it predates both. Also of note is Une Collection Particulière from 1973, a brief but fascinating look at a collection of antique pornographic toys and other adult items from the collection of Pieyre De Mandiargues. And L’Amour Monstre de tous les Temps from 1977 is a portrait of contemporary erotic Surrealist painter Ljuba Popovic at work. Borowczyk spent the Seventies making soft porn features such as Immoral Tales and The Beast, so the subject matter of the later films isn’t so surprising.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Taxandria, or Raoul Servais meets Paul Delvaux
Monsieur Chat
The Brothers Quay on DVD
Sans Soleil
Barta’s Golem
The art of Ljuba Popovic

Sans Soleil


Chris Marker might be considered the Borges of cinema if that designation didn’t seem limiting, with its implication that literature is superior to cinema, that filmmakers only receive true qualification as artists through comparison to more venerable creators, and so on. Marker, then, is Marker, although who Marker is remains obscure, as this article notes:

Some say his father was an American soldier, others that he (Marker) was a paratrooper in the Second World War. Still others, that he comes to us from an alien planet. Or the future. Throughout his career, he has rarely been interviewed, and even more rarely photographed. It is said that he responds to requests for his photograph with a picture of a cat – his favorite animal.

The possibility that he comes from the future is a compelling conceit when his most famous work, La Jetée, is a very subtle film about time travel (later remade with a huge budget and no subtlety at all by Terry Gilliam as Twelve Monkeys). JG Ballard and others have enthused about La Jetée for years but my favourite Marker film remains Sans Soleil, a meditation on time, memory, travel and culture, blending documentary images with a semi-fictional (?) voice-over narrative that resists easy summary. In this respect it parallels some of Borges’ essays or “ficciones”; like many of Borges’ best works it manages to be both personal and universal, drawing connections which seem obvious until you realise that no one has pointed them out in quite that way before. An equally fascinating companion to Sans Soleil is Marker’s CD-ROM, Immemory, a Mac-only release that’s already out-of-date in software terms (and since Classic stopped working on my Mac even I can’t use it for the time being).

This site presents a critical reading of Sans Soleil as a rather disjointed web experience. And you can read the text of the film here. Needless to say, none of these are very satisfying at all without the accompaniment of Marker’s images.