The art of Aleksandr Kosteckij


This is the kind of fantastic art I like a great deal: nebulous landscapes whose vast forms may be some kind of hybrid architecture; implications of the alien and mystical that retain some ambiguity; dreamlike without slipping into post-Surrealist cliché. Monsieur Thombeau at Full Fathom Five (whose excellent eye I have to thank once again) describes the paintings of Aleksandr Kosteckij/Kostetsky (1954–2010) as being “like Gustave Moreau, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst put in a blender and left out in the rain.” I’d place them somewhere between Ernst Fuchs and Bruce Pennington but Moreau’s chimeras are certainly present. You’d think an artist of this calibre with a large body of work would be better known, most of the attention at the moment seems to be on Russian websites. Let’s hope that changes soon.

Update: Thanks to Joe for pointing the way to this dedicated website, something I missed in my haste.

Examples chosen from these sites: (139 images)




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Weekend links 171


Jeune moine à la Grecque (1771) by Benigno Bossi. Via Monsieur Thombeau.

Victoriana: The Art of Revival is an exhibition which will run throughout the autumn at the Guildhall Art Gallery, London. Some of my steampunk work will be included. Related: Rick Poynor on Soft Machine’s Dysfunctional Mechanism.

• “The egg glows and hovers in the middle of a field of mesmerizing color. The spell is broken when the guard finally says, “Everybody up off the floor.'” Morgan Meis on Aten Reign by the amazing James Turrell.

• Mix of the week: a “heatwave mix” of psychedelic songs compiled by Jaime Williams. Anything that includes Vacuum Cleaner by Tintern Abbey gets my vote.

Because sex is so compartmentalized — it’s often considered separate from the rest of life and hidden away — porn performers, who have sex publicly, are in a unique position to consider and talk about integrating private and public aspects of life.

Writer and porn performer Conner Habib on the issue of nomenclature in the porn business.

• Still Hopscotching: Peter Mendelsund posts some unused cover designs for Julio Cortázar.

A Hymn For Megatron, an hour-long drone work, and a free download, by The Black Dog.

• Vagrancy and drift: Sukhdev Sandhu on the rise of the roaming essay film.

• A Flickr set of Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson’s musical instruments.


“Whether flower-pressing in the garden, hallucinating in the summerhouse, fainting inside stifling sites of historical interest, pirouetting along the promenade, or even sea-cruise thalassophobia complications, barely a moment will pass that isn’t made all the sweeter by obsessively listening to Down to the Silver Sea.”

The TM Research Archive: sate yourself on Swiss graphic design.

• A Lecture on Johnson and Boswell by Jorge Luis Borges.

• Words, sounds and robots from Sarah Angliss.

Never Built Los Angeles

Nautilus (2012) by Anna Meredith | Nature Of Light (2012) by Isnaj Dui | Popcorn (Ealing Feeder Mix) (2012) by SpacedogUK (Sarah Angliss)

Flamboyant excess: the art of Steven Arnold


Invitation to Yin and Yang by Steven Arnold.

“Less is NOT more, MORE is more, less is less.”

Steven Arnold

Thanks to Monsieur Thombeau for pointing the way to The Steven Arnold Archive, a respository of biographical and career detail about Steven Arnold (1943–1994):

…a California-based multi-media artist, spiritualist, gender bender, and protégée of Salvador Dalí. His work consisted of drawings, paintings, rock and film posters, makeup design, costume design, set design, photography, and film.

Arnold’s work with outrageous performance troupe The Cockettes seems to receive more attention today than his other creations so it’s good to see the balance being redressed. It was a surprise, for instance, to find he’d drawn a poster in 1967 for The Matrix club, San Francisco. Similar works are mentioned but the site doesn’t have any examples and I’ve yet to see any elsewhere.



And I haven’t seen the Cockettes film, Luminous Procuress (1971) either. Salvador Dalí unsurprisingly responded with enthusiasm to its atmosphere of androgynous weirdness:

Luminous Procuress is an altogether extraordinary, individualistic phantasmagoria. It was filmed entirely in San Francisco over a two-year period, and describes the adventures of two wandering youths in San Francisco who visit the home of a mysterious woman, the Procuress. She is an elegant emblem of sorcery, her vivid features glowing under bizarre, striking maquillage, and one is not certain who she is or where she intends to lead the protagonists. Although the language she speaks is vaguely Russian, it appears that the Procuress has psychic powers. She discerns a sympathetic response to her on the part of the youths, and by magical means, conducts them through fantastic rooms, on a psychic journey… (more)

Definitely one for the future viewing list. Meanwhile, one of Arnold’s tableaux photos, The Advantages of Modern Marriage, is currently on display in Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles. The exhibition runs to April 1st, 2012.

Previously on { feuilleton }
James Bidgood

Weekend links 63


Polish poster by Andrzej Bertrandt for Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film of Solaris.

• Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris receives its first ever direct English translation by Bill Johnston (only on Audible for the moment), all previous editions having been sourced from a poor French translation. An all-too-common state of affairs for non-English fiction where bad or bowdlerised translations persist for years.

• Now that Minnesota politician Michelle Bachmann is running for US president it’s a good time to examine her views when (theoretically) her actions could one day impact on us all. The Daily Beast gathered together some of her worst pronouncements, including the following about gay people: “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay.” Her husband describes his attempts to counsel (ie: cure) gay teenagers with the words “Barbarians need to be educated.” It’s no surprise that both these people find confirmation of their views in the usual narrow interpretation of Christian doctrine. Not all American Christians are this ignorant or offensive, of course. The Heartland Proclamation calls for “an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression”.

Journalist Andrew Sullivan in 2003 proposed a label for people like Bachmann: “I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.” It’s a term that ought to have more widespread use.


Czech poster for Solaris. No designer credited.

• Probing the secrets of psilocybin: “Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have zeroed in on the dose levels of the ‘sacred mushroom’ chemical capable of yielding positive, life-changing experiences, while minimizing the chance of transient negative reactions in screened volunteers under supportive, carefully monitored conditions.”

• Rick Poynor relates a visit to the Frederic Marès Museum, Barcelona, home to the 50,000 objects Marès collected over his lifetime. Further details of the collection can be found at the museum website.

In her 1969 essay “The Pornographic Imagination,” [Susan] Sontag insisted that Story of O could be correctly defined as “authentic” literature. She compared the ratio of first-rate pornography to trashy books within the genre to “another somewhat shady subgenre with a few first-rate books to its credit, science fiction.” She also maintained that like science fiction, pornography was aimed at “disorientation, at psychic dislocation.”

If so, that aim is far more interesting than what most generic “mainstream” novels set out to do. No one could describe O as predictable or sentimental. Its vision was dark and unrelenting; everything about it was extreme. Sontag also compared sexual obsession (as expressed by Réage) with religious obsession: two sides of the same coin.

Carmela Ciuraru on the story of The Story of O by Pauline Réage.

• “No hay banda! There is no band. It is all an illusion.” David Lynch will be opening a Club Silencio in Paris (Montmartre, of course). Facebook pages here and here.

• Sad to say that Chateau Thombeau is now closed but Thom has begun a more personal journal here.

• Picture galleries of the Vorticists at the Tate here and here. Related: Into the Vortex.

• Illuminated Persian pages from 1604 at BibliOdyssey.

• Tape drawings by Chris Hosmer.

• Miles Davis and co. at the Isle of Wight Festival, 1970: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4

The art of Mario Laboccetta


Tales of Hoffmann (1932).

Another great illustrator about whom information is scant; I need better reference books, the web is often no use at all. Monsieur Thombeau posted the cover to Laboccetta’s edition of Les Fleurs du Mal (below) which had me looking around for other work by the artist. VTS has pages from a 1932 edition of Tales of Hoffmann while more of the Baudelaire pictures can be found on various bookdealers’ sites. As to the artist, we’re told he was an Italian living in Paris, and this French site has a small list of his illustrated editions. It’s frustrating to see that Les Paradis Artificiels is among these; what did he make of Baudelaire’s opium visions?


Tales of Hoffmann (1932).


Tales of Hoffmann (1932).

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