Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Art

Unboxing a book of Vermeer

Saturday, 25 March, 2017 0 Comments

The trend of making videos of the unpacking of a newly-purchased box containing a desirable gadget has given dictionary makers the word “unboxing.” Example: “Did you see Juan’s unboxing of the new super-thin Asus ZenBook UX305?”

A book can be unboxed, too. Here, Vermeer — The Complete Works by Taschen, the art book publisher based in Cologne, is unboxed by Annie Quigley, owner of Bibliophile.

Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) painted during that extraordinary period of exploration, trade and creativity that occurred during the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century. The modern eye is tempted to compare his works to photographs, but deeper observation reveals far more. His paintings are, in fact, exquisitely designed compositions of light and shadow, colour, contours and shapes.


Portraits and Profiles of warriors and senators

Friday, 3 March, 2017 0 Comments

After leaving the White House in 2009, George W. Bush found inspiration in painting. This has now resulted in a book of 66 portraits of post-9/11 US veterans called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. The proceeds from the book will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, “a non-profit organization whose Military Service Initiative works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.”

Portraits of Courage

Note: Portraits of Courage echoes Profiles in Courage, a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Senator John F. Kennedy. Profiles consisted of short biographies describing acts of courage and integrity by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate’s history. The book became a best seller, but in his 2008 autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, Kennedy’s speechwriter Ted Sorensen claimed that, while the senator had provided the theme, the speechwriter wrote most of the book.


Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, 1 March, 2017 0 Comments

“In Young Mother, the ash is used to portray anonymous woman, her humble and demur demeanour is reminiscent of depictions of the Madonna.” — Zhang Huan

A founding member of Beijing’s conceptual artists movement in the 1990s, Zhang Huan moved to New York in 1998 and developed a unique style that mixed East and West. Upon returning to China a decade later, he had an epiphany, which he described as the “magic” of prayer and the power of the incense ashes. For him, ash has a metaphoric connection to memory, the soul and the spiritual. “Everything we are, everything we believe and want are within these ashes,” says Zhang Huan.

Your mother


Dylan city map

Wednesday, 7 December, 2016 0 Comments

“Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
‘We’ll meet on edges, soon,’ said I
Proud ‘neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.”

My Back Pages from Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964).


In His Own Words: Bob Dylan paints

Sunday, 13 November, 2016 0 Comments

“I believe that the key to the future is in the remnants of the past. That you have to master the idioms of your own time before you can have any identity in the present tense.” So writes Bob Dylan, the recent Nobel laureate in Literature, in the introduction to Bob Dylan, The Beaten Path, an exhibition of his landscapes at the Halcyon Gallery in London. The exhibition is on view until Sunday, 11 December.

Bob Dylan


Here’s a health to Bunclody

Sunday, 23 October, 2016 0 Comments

Before he became a wandering minstrel, Sam Lee was a wilderness survival expert. Now, he spends time among marginal communities and uses his iPhone to save the remnants of their ballad culture, with its rich trove of stories about love, hate, wealth, poverty, parting, exile and sorrow. He collected the The Moss House in Wexford from an Irish singer called Sally Connors and it concludes his album The Fade In Time. My mother sang a version titled The Streams of Bunclody that included this verse:

“That’s why my love slights me, as you may understand
For she has a freehold and I have no land
She has a great store of riches and a fine sum of gold
And everything fitting a house to uphold.”


Emmys for The Night Manager

Monday, 19 September, 2016 0 Comments

Good to see that Susanne Bier won the Best Directing award for The Night Manager at the Emmys in Los Angeles last night. It beat out HBO’s All the Way, directed by Jay Roach; Fargo, directed by Noah Hawley and The People v. O.J. Simpson directed by Ryan Murphy. At last weekend’s Creative Arts Awards portion of the Emmys, composer Victor Reyes picked up the Outstanding Music Composition award for The Night Manager.

“It’s a very rare thing, Jonathan Pine, for me to trust a person, but you were special. You were from the first moment I saw you. Saved my son, risked your life. Should’ve known something was wrong.” — Richard Roper

“Promise to build a chap a house, he won’t believe you. Threaten to burn his place down, he’ll do what you tell him. Fact of life.” — Richard Roper


The Great Phatsby

Friday, 26 August, 2016 0 Comments

Just in time for our annual reading of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic jazz age novel comes news that The Simpsons will hit their 600 episode milestone later this year and the series will celebrate with a 60-minute special titled “The Great Phatsby”, which will be shown in January. The story focuses on Mr Burns and his friendship with a hip-hop mogul called Jay G (a nod to Jay Gatsby and Jay-Z). The action will take place in the Springfield Hamptons with Homer providing the narration in a Nick Carraway manner.

“This was just going to be a regular episode but the table read went so well, in a fit of passion and excitement and ambition and excess, we decided to supersize it,” executive producer Matt Selman told Entertainmnent Weekly.

The Great Phatsby will also see Marge open her own boutique store and Lisa snag a rich Bae, while Empire‘s Taraji P Henson will voice a “Simpsons version of Cookie” called Praline who helps Homer, Bart and the gang take their revenge on Jay G after he takes over the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Until then, there’s the timeless original.

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that registered earthquakes ten thousand miles away.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


The triumph of Usain Bolt foreseen

Friday, 19 August, 2016 0 Comments

American artist Jacob Lawrence was one of a number of illustrators invited to design posters for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. He created this image to celebrate the involvement of black athletes in the Olympics, as track and field is an area in which they have excelled. This had a particular historical significance for Lawrence because Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, where Hitler had planned to demonstrate the superiority of German “Aryan” athletes.

Munich Olympics poster


#Brexit: Michel Houellebecq makes his move

Tuesday, 21 June, 2016 0 Comments

10 September, 2001: The publishers of Michel Houellebecq’s novel Platform, Groupe Flammarion, who had been charged with hate speech in France, publicly apologized for any offense its anti-Islamic themes might have caused. The book ends with an Islamist terror attack on a resort in Thailand. On the following day, an Islamist terror attack did take place, not in Asia, but in the USA. However, the 2002 Islamist atrocity in Bali was remarkably similar to the one described in Platform.

7 January 2015: Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission is published. It depicts a not-too-distant Europe losing the cultural civil wars and France drifting towards an Islamic takeover. As fate would have it, the publication date coincided with the Islamist massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

23 June 2016: The day Britain votes on whether to leave the European Union, Michel Houellebecq’s exhibition of his own photography opens in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo. Houellebecq is cheering for Brexit: “I’d love it. I’d love it if the English gave the starting signal for the dismantling. I hope they won’t disappoint me. I’ve been against the [European] idea from the start. It’s not democratic, it’s not good,” he says in a Financial Times profile published at the weekend.

“I really like England, I really like the fact of it having been the only country, for quite a while, to have resisted Hitler. I’d really like it to leave, to signal the independence movement.” Michel Houellebecq

The first picture in his Rester vivant exhibition shows a angry reddish dusk seen from his apartment. A line from of his one of his poems: “Il est temps de faire vos jeux” (“It’s time to place your bets”) is superimposed onto the gory sky. Another image, France #014 (1994), shows the word “Europe” carved in concrete. With Houellebecq, the timing is always significant. Place your bets.

Irlande


Nobody does Eurovision like Sweden does Eurovision

Saturday, 14 May, 2016 0 Comments

Vikings, IKEA, Absolut Vodka, ABBA, Stieg Larsson, H&M… The Swedes are good at lots of things. Then, there’s the Melodifestivalen, the national event through which Sweden’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest is selected. Held every February and March, it unites the country during the long winter nights and offers endless opportunities for small talk during the ritual morning fika at the office.

The Swedes are especially good at hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, so we’re in for a delight from Stockholm tonight. A hint was provided in the interval of the second semi-final on Thursday evening with a show that took the audience through the history of modern dance, but with a very Swedish touch. Three humans were joined by three assembly-line robots in a medley that paid homage to ’70s disco (Bee Gee-style), a Thriller zombie routine, 50 Cent’s In Da Club and a version of Beyonce’s Single Ladies. The hosts described the performance as exploring the “contrasts that divide and the similarities we share with our metallic friends.” The Swedes share the same planet with the rest of us, but they are in a world of their own when it comes to Eurovision.