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2006, Mar 30; 19:05 ::: Barthes on tautology

4. Tautology. Yes, I know, it's an ugly word. But so is the thing. Tautology is this verbal device which consists in defining like by like ('Drama is drama'). We can view it as one of those types of magical behavior dealt with by Sartre in his Outline of a Theory of the Emotions: one takes refuge in tautology as one does in fear, or anger, or sadness, when one is at a loss for an explanation: the accidental failure of language is magically identified with what one decides is a natural resistance of the object. In tautology, there is a double murder: one kills rationality because it resists one; one kills language because it betrays one. Tautology is a faint at the right moment, a saving aphasia, it is a death, or perhaps a comedy, the indignant 'representation' of the rights of reality over and above language. Since it is magical, it can of course only take refuge behind the argument of authority: thus do parents at the end of their tether reply to the child who keeps on asking for explanations: 'because that's how it is', or even better: 'just because, that's all'--a magical act ashamed of itself, which verbally makes the gesture of rationality, but immediately abandons the latter, and believes itself to be even with causality because it has uttered the word which introduces it. Tautology testifies to a profound distrust of language, which is rejected because it has failed. Now any refusal of language is a death. Tautology creates a dead, a motionless world. --Roland Barthes via Mythologies via http://xroads.virginia.edu/~DRBR/myth.html [Mar 2006]

See also: Roland Barthes - tautology

2006, Mar 29; 19:05 ::: Hans Bellmer and Unica Zürn

Hans Bellmer seems to have fed on Unica Zürn's illness:

"One can see me as the type of man with antennae that can pick up a potential woman-victim ... It remains to be seen if I immediately, from the first time we met, "sensed" that Unica was a victim. If Unica seriously asked herself this question, which she may have done, she would, I think, reply YES!"

--Hans Bellmer in a letter to Dr Ferdière, a psychiatrist, in 1964.

Text sourced via Surrealism: Desire Unbound (2001)[*]. This book examines the relationship of surrealism with the concept of desire.

Bellmer's letter reminds me of the 1999 film Girl on the Bridge by Patrice Leconte in which, at the beginning of the film, the character played by Vanessa Paradis is about to throw herself off a bridge when she is asked by Daniel Auteuil: "Why are you doing this?" Vanessa's character answers: "Because I am desperate" and than retorts: "What are you doing here?". Auteuil answers: "I am looking for desperate women."

See also: Patrice Leconte - victim - Hans Bellmer - Unica Zürn - 1964

2006, Mar 29; 19:05 ::: The Second Sex (1949) - Simone De Beauvoir

The Second Sex (1949) - Simone De Beauvoir [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Second Sex (French: Le Deuxième Sexe, 1949) is the best known work of Simone de Beauvoir and a seminal text in twentieth-century feminism. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and often regarded as a major feminist work. In it, she argues that women throughout history have been defined as the "other" sex, an aberration from the "normal" male sex. It helped lead the way of second-wave feminism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Sex [Mar 2006]

Second-wave feminism
Second-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was concerned with independence and greater political action to improve women's rights.

If the period associated with First-wave feminism focused upon absolute rights such as suffrage (which led to women attaining the right to vote in the early part of the 20th century), the period of the second-wave feminist movement was concerned with the issue of economic equality (including the ability to have careers in addition to motherhood, or the right to choose not to have children) between the genders and addressed the rights of female minorities. One phenomenon included the recognition of lesbian women within the movement, due to the simultaneous rise of the gay rights movement, and the deliberate activism of lesbian feminist groups, such as the Lavender Menace. The developments led to explicit lesbian feminist campaigns and groups, and some feminists went further to argue that heterosexual sexual relationships automatically subordinated women, and that the only true independence could come in lesbian relationships ("lesbian separatism").

The second wave is sometimes linked with radical feminist theory. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism [Mar 2006]

See also: Simone de Beauvoir - feminism - 1949

2006, Mar 29; 19:05 ::: The Agnew Clinic (1889) - Thomas Eakins

The Agnew Clinic (1889) - Thomas Eakins

See also: 1889 - Thomas Eakins - surgery

2006, Mar 29; 19:05 ::: Hysteria at the Salpêtrière hospital

A Clinical Lesson at the Salpetriere (1887) - André Brouillet

Professor Charcot was well-known for showing, during his lessons at the Salpêtrière hospital, "hysterical" woman patients – here, his favorite patient, "Blanche" (Marie) Wittman, supported by Joseph Babi?ski.

Jean-Martin Charcot (November 29, 1825 - August 16, 1893) was a French neurologist. His work greatly impacted the developing fields of neurology and psychology.


Charcot's most enduring work is that on hypnosis and hysteria. Charcot believed that hysteria was a neurological disorder caused by hereditary problems in the nervous system. He used hypnosis to induce a state of hysteria in patients and studied the results, and was single-handedly responsible for changing the French medical community's opinion about the validity of hypnosis (it was previously rejected as Mesmerism). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Martin_Charcot [Mar 2006]

Hysteria is a diagnostic label applied to a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. The fear is often centered on a body part, most often on an imagined problem with that body part (disease is a common complaint). People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to the overwhelming fear. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysteria [Mar 2006]

See also: 1887 - psychiatry - France

2006, Mar 29; 19:05 ::: Hysteria at the Salpêtrière hospital

Photographic Iconography of Salpêtrière.
Paris: 1876-1880
Image sourced here.

More images here, here and here.

The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital is a hospital in Paris. Salpêtrière was originally a gunpowder factory ("Saltpeter" being a constituent of gunpowder), but was converted to a dumping ground for the poor of Paris. Eventually it served as a prison for prostitutes, and a holding place for the mentally disabled, criminally insane, epileptics, and the poor; it was also notable for its famous population of rats.

During the French Revolutionary period, it was stormed by the mob and the prostitutes released, but others (probably madwomen) were less fortunate and were murdered. Since the Revolution, La Salpêtrière has served as an insane asylum and a hospital for women.

One of its most famous professors, Jean-Martin Charcot, is often credited as the founder of modern neurology. His teaching activities on the Salpêtrière's wards helped to elucidate the natural history and pathophysiology of many human illnesses including neurosyphilis, epilepsy, and stroke.

Diana, Princess of Wales died in the Salpêtrière. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piti%C3%A9-Salp%C3%AAtri%C3%A8re_Hospital [Mar 2006]

See also: 1870s - psychiatry - France

2006, Mar 29; 19:05 ::: Politics of Postmodernism (1989/2002) - Linda Hutcheon

Politics of Postmodernism (1989/2002) - Linda Hutcheon [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Few words are more used and abused in discussions of contemporary culture than the word 'postmodernism.'..."

Statistically Improbable Phrases (SIPs):
postmodern photography, historiographic metafiction, complicitous critique, postmodern parody, postmodern representation, parodic play, postmodern fiction, postmodern strategies, postmodern art, feminist artists, narrative representation, realist representation

Capitalized Phrases (CAPs):
Barbara Kruger, Victor Burgin, Angela Carter, Roland Barthes, Hans Haacke, Midnight's Children, New York, John Berger, Martha Rosler, Maxine Hong Kingston, Roa Bastos, Cindy Sherman, Christa Wolf, Hayden White, Sherrie Levine, South Africa, Ihab Hassan, Jeanne Duval, John Lee, Lennard Davis, Patterns of Childhood, Susan Sontag, Charles Newman, Don Giovanni, Fredric Jameson

See also: politics - postmodernism - Linda Hutcheon

2006, Mar 28; 19:05 ::: Grand Tour of Europe

View-master series of the Grand Tour of Europe.
Image sourced here.

The View-Master is a device for viewing seven 3-D images (also known as stereo images) on a paper reel. Although it is now considered a children's toy, it was not originally marketed as such.

View-Master was first introduced at the New York World's Fair of 1939. It was intended as an alternative to the scenic postcard, and was originally sold at photography shops, stationery stores and scenic attraction gift shops. The main subjects of View-Master reels were Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon.

The View-Master was originally constructed from bakelite, but the material of choice since 1959 has been plastic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viewmaster [Mar 2006]

See also: Grand Tour - Europe - tourism - dead media (view-master)

2006, Mar 28; 19:05 ::: Voyages en zigzag (1844) - Rodolphe Töpffer

Voyages en zigzag (1844) - Rodolphe Töpffer

Rodolphe Töpffer (January 31, 1799 - June 8, 1846) was a Swiss teacher, author, painter, cartoonist, and caricature artist. He is also considered to be the first modern comic creator.

Rodolphe is considered alternatively the father or at least an important precursor to the modern art form of comics. He is also considered to be an influence to younger comic artists such as Wilhelm Busch (April 15, 1832 - January 9, 1908), creator of Max and Moritz. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodolphe Töpffer [Mar 2006]

See also: Grand Tour (the Alps were a feature of it) - 1844 - comics - Switzerland - caricature - drawing

2006, Mar 28; 19:05 ::: Noah's Ark (1846) - Edward Hicks

Noah's Ark (1846) - Edward Hicks

Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was a folk and naïve (primitive) artist and devout Quaker (member of the Religious Society of Friends). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward Hicks [Mar 2006]

Naïve art
Naïve art is created by untrained artists. It is characterized by simplicity and a lack of the elements or qualities found in the art of formally trained artists. (See also, outsider art, with which it bears many similarities.)

The term naïve art presumes the existence (by contrast) of an academy and of a generally accepted educated manner of art creation, most often painting. In practice, however, there are schools of naïve artists. Over time it has become an acceptable style.

The characteristics of naïve art are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting; for example, difficulties with drawing and perspective that result in a charmingly awkward and often refreshing vision; strong use of pattern, unrefined colour, and simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of naive art. It has become such a popular and recognisable style that many examples could be called pseudo-naïve.

Primitive art is another term often applied to the art of those without formal training. This is distinguished from the self-conscious movement primitivism. Another term related to, but not completely synonymous with, naïve art, is folk art. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na%C3%AFve_art [Mar 2006]

See also: animals - outsider art - 1846 - USA

2006, Mar 28; 19:05 ::: Lise the bohemian (1868) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Lise the bohemian (1868) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (February 25, 1841–December 3, 1919) was a French artist who painted in the impressionist style. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Auguste_Renoir [Mar 2006]

See also: Impressionism - bohemianism - 1868 - French art

2006, Mar 27; 19:05 ::: Philistinism

Philistinism is a derogatory term used to describe a particular attitude or set of values. When a person is called a Philistine (in the relevant sense), he is said to despise or undervalue art, beauty, intellectual content, and/or spiritual values. Philistines are also said to be materialistic, to favor conventional social values unthinkingly, and to favor forms of art that have a cheap and easy appeal (i.e. kitsch).

Philistinism affords a contrast to Bohemianism, as the character of a smugly conventional bourgeois social group perceived to lack all the desirably soulful 'bohemian' characteristics, especially an artistic temperament and a broad cultural horizon open to the avant-garde. To the chosen few, the 'Philistines' embodied a smug, anti-intellectual threatening majority, in the 'culture wars' of the 19th century. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistinism [Mar 2006]

See also: art - beauty - intellectual content

2006, Mar 27; 19:05 ::: Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture As Social Decay (1983) - Patrick Brantlinger

Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture As Social Decay (1983) - Patrick Brantlinger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Bread and circuses is a derogatory phrase which can describe either government policies to pacify the citizenry, or the shallow, decadent desires of that same citizenry. In both cases, it refers to low-cost, low-quality, high-availability food and entertainment, and to the exclusion of things which the speaker considers more important, such as art, public works projects, democracy, or human rights.

It originated as the Latin phrase "panem et circenses" (literally "bread and circuses"), and is thought to have been coined by Juvenal, a Roman satiric poet of the 1st century AD, to describe the practice of Roman Emperors who gave unlimited free wheat to the poor and costly circus games as a means of pacifying the populace with food and entertainment. Juvenal bemoaned that it was a deplorable apathy towards heroism.

In fact, after Juvenal's time, the system of free or heavily subsidized food distribution was limited to a minority of Roman Citizens holding a special token (tessera) entitling them to a monthly supply of grain and olive oil from the reign of Septimus Severus. The rations were probably too small to feed a family and the receivers were not necessarily poor or in need of free food. This does not change the fact that the food supply to a city the size of Rome was of primary concern to the emperors in order to avoid popular unrest. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuses [Mar 2006]

See also: circus - working class culture - popular culture - mass society - Patrick Brantlinger

2006, Mar 27; 19:05 ::: The Revolt of the Masses (1930/1932) - Jose Ortega Y Gasset

The Revolt of the Masses (1930/1932) - Jose Ortega Y Gasset [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

José Ortega y Gasset (May 9, 1883 - October 18, 1955) was a Spanish philosopher. He is known for his cultural pessimism and elite tastes.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Ortega_y_Gasset [Mar 2006]

See also: cultural pessisism - mass society - revolution

2006, Mar 27; 19:05 ::: Mass Civilization and Minority Culture (1930) - F. R. Leavis

In any period it is upon a very small minority that the discerning appreciation of art and literature depends: it is (apart from cases of the simple and familiar) only a few who are capable of unprompted, first-hand judgment. They are still a small minority, though a larger one, who are capable of endorsing such first-hand judgment by genuine personal response. ….. The minority capable not only of appreciating Dante, Shakespeare, Donne, Baudelaire, Hardy (to take major instances) but of recognising their latest successors constitute the consciousness of the race (or of a branch of it) at a given time. For such capacity does not belong merely to an isolated aesthetic realm: it implies responisiveness to theory as well as to art, to science and philosophy in so far as these may affect the sense of the human situation and of the nature of life. Upon this minority depends our power of profiting by the finest human experience of the past; they keep alive the subtlest and most perishable parts of tradition. Upon them depend the implicit standards that order the finer living of an age, the sense that this is worth more than that, this rather than that is the direction in which to go, that the centre is here rather than there. In their keeping, to use a metaphor that is metonymy also and will bear a good deal of pondering, is the language, the changing idiom, upon which fine living depends, and without which distinction of spirit is thwarted and incoherent, By culture I mean the use of such a language. (pp. 1-2)

There seems every reason to believe that the average cultivated person of a century ago was a very much more competent reader than his modern representative. Not only does the modern dissipate himself upon so much more reading of all kinds the task of acquiring discrimination is much score difficult, A reader who grew up with Wordsworth moved among a limited set of signals (so to speak): the variety was not overwhelming. So he was able to acquire discrimination as he went along. But the modern is exposed to a concourse of signals so bewildering in their variety and number that, unless he is especially gifted or especially favoured, he can hardly begin to discriminate. Here we have the plight of culture in general. The landmarks have shifted, multiplied and crowded upon one another, the distinctions and dividing lines have blurred away, the boundaries are gone, and the arts and literatures of different countries and periods have flowed together, so that, if we revert to the metaphor of "language" for culture, we way, to describe it, adapt the sentence in which Mr. T. S. Eliot describes the intellectual situation: "When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not." (pp. 18-19) --http://courses.essex.ac.uk/lt/lt204/massciv.htm [Mar 2006]

Frank Raymond Leavis (July 14, 1895 - April 14, 1978) was an influential British literary critic of the early-to-mid-twentieth century. He taught and studied for nearly his entire life at Downing College, Cambridge. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.R._Leavis [Mar 2006]

See also: mass society - minority

2006, Mar 27; 19:05 ::: Understanding Popular Culture (1989) - John Fiske

Understanding Popular Culture (1989) - John Fiske [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See also: popular culture - cultural studies - culture theory - popular culture theory

2006, Mar 27; 19:05 ::: High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture (1990) - Kirk Varnedoe

High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture (1990) - Kirk Varnedoe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Publishers Weekly
Narrower in scope than its title suggests, this sprawling, visually riveting catalogue of a traveling exhibition traces the "dialogue" between "high" art (Picasso, Miro, Seurat, etc.) and the streetwise or commercial "low" media of graffiti, caricature, comics and advertising. Picasso transformed sly notebook caricatures into the "high" paintings of his primitive/archaic phase. Claes Oldenburg turned a lipstick tube into a colossal, totemic monument. From cubist newspaper collages to Jenny Holzer's electric-message installations, popular culture has served such modern artists as Jeff Koons, Joseph Cornell and Cy Twombly as a means of recovery of certain high-art traditions. Although the text may be swollen with hype, artspeak and farfetched comparisons, this tome entertains as it informs. Varnedoe is director of paintings and sculpture at New York's Museum of Modern Art; Gopnik is a New Yorker staff writer. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

See also: commercial art - high - "high" art - low - modern art - popular culture

See also: graffiti - caricature - comics - advertising

2006, Mar 26; 19:05 ::: Paradise

Paradise (ca. 1620) - Jan Bruegel

Place types commonly known by analogy as paradise include:

  • The ideal place on earth or utopia, which was once embodied by the Garden of Eden.
  • Heaven, which in some religions awaits the best, repentent or chosen people.
  • An enclosed garden, sometimes called a paradise garden.
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise [Mar 2005]

Darius the Great was said to have had a "paradise garden" and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were renowned as a Wonder of the World. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_gardening [Mar 2006]

See also: 1600s - fantasy - happiness - ideal - utopia - pastoral - landscape

2006, Mar 26; 17:05 ::: Arcadia

Et in Arcadia Ego (1618-22) - Guercino
Oil on canvas, 82 x 91 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Arcadia was a province of ancient Greece. It has become a poetical name for fantasy land (having more or less the same connotation as Utopia), a concept originating in Renaissance mythology of a land of outstanding natural beauty unspoiled by human civilisation, free of war & pain and offering boundless pleasures both spiritual and physical. It is also sometimes referred to in English poetry as Arcady. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcadia_%28paradise%29 [Mar 2005]

The historical Arcadia
According to Greek mythology, Arcadia of Peloponnesus was the domain of Pan, the virgin wilderness home of the god of the forest and his court of dryads, nymphs and other spirits of nature. It was a version of paradise, though only in the sense of being the abode of supernatural entities, not an afterlife for deceased mortals.

Arcadia has remained a popular artistic subject since antiquity, both in visual arts and literature. Images of beautiful nymphs frolicking in lush forests have been a frequent source of inspiration for painters and sculptors. Greek mythology inspired the Roman poet Virgil to write his Eclogues, a series of poems set in Arcadia. As a result of the influence of Virgil in medieval European literature (see, for example, The Divine Comedy), Arcadia became a symbol of pastoral simplicity. European Renaissance writers (for instance, the Spanish poet Garcilaso de la Vega) often revisited the theme, and the name came to apply to any idyllic location or paradise. Unlike the word "utopia" (named for Thomas More's book, Utopia), "Arcadia" does not carry the connotation of a human-designed civilization.

Of particular note is Et in Arcadia ego by Nicholas Poussin, which has become famous both in its own right and because of its (possible) connection with the gnostic histories of the Rosicrucians. In 1502 Jacopo Sannazaro published his long poem Arcadia that fixed the Early Modern perception of Arcadia as a lost world of idyllic bliss, remembered in regretful dirges. The play A Midsummer's Night Dream by William Shakespeare is set within an Arcadian realm ruled by a fairy king and queen. In the 1590s Sir Philip Sidney circulated copies of his influential heroic romance poem The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia establishing Arcadia as an icon of the Renaissance. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcadia_%28utopia%29 [Mar 2006]

Et in Arcadia Ego
The phrase Et in Arcadia Ego is a memento mori, which is usually interpreted to mean "I am also in Arcadia" or "I am even in Arcadia", as if spoken by personified Death. However, Poussin's biographer Andre Felibien interpreted it to mean that "the person buried in this tomb has lived in Arcadia"; in other words, that they too once enjoyed the pleasures of life on earth. The former interpretation is generally considered to be more likely. Either way, the sentiment was meant to set up an ironic contrast by casting the shadow of death over the usual idle merriment that the nymphs and swains of ancient Arcadia were thought to embody. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Et_in_Arcadia_ego [Mar 2006]

See also: paradise - fantasy - happiness - ideal - utopia - pastoral - landscape

2006, Mar 26; 17:05 ::: Nation of Rebels : Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture (2004) - Joseph Heath, Andrew Potter

Nation of Rebels : Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture (2004) - Joseph Heath, Andrew Potter [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed is the name of a popular non-fiction book written by Canadian authors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter in 2004. The claim of the book is that counter-cultural movements have failed, and that they all share a common fatal error in the way they understand society. Thus counter-culture is not a threat to "the system". (The U.S. release of the book is called Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rebel_Sell [Mar 2006]

Culture jamming
Culture jamming is the act of transforming existing mass media to produce negative commentary about itself, using the original medium's communication method. It is a form of public activism which is generally in opposition to commercialism, and the vectors of corporate image. The aim of culture jamming is to create a contrast between corporate image and the realities of the corporation. This is done symbolically, with the "detournement" of pop iconography.

It is based on the idea that advertising is little more than propaganda for established interests, and that there is a lack of an available means for alternative expression in industrialized nations. Culture jamming is a resistance movement to the perceived hegemony of popular culture, based on the ideas of "guerrilla communication".

Culture jamming's intent differs from that of artistic appropriation (which is done for art's sake) and vandalism (where destruction or defacement is the primary goal), although its results are not always so easily distinguishable. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_jamming [Mar 2006]

See also: rebellion - consumerism - counterculture

2006, Mar 25; 09:05 ::: The Shock of the New (1980) - Robert Hughes

The Shock of the New (1980) - Robert Hughes [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In 1981 (some sources claim 1979), Robert Hughes (author of The Fatal Shore) made a BBC television documentary series on modern art called The Shock Of The New. From that series came this book. In July 2004, the BBC re-aired this series as follows:

The Mechanical Paradise - Episode 1
Traces how developments in technology inspired art between 1880 and the end of WWI, leading to movements like cubism and futurism.
See also: Machine Age - Exposition Universelle (1889)

The Powers that Be - Episode 2
Hughes explores the interplay between art and politics, seeing how artists were affected by the development of mechanised warfare and ideologies like fascism and communism.
See also: art and politics

The Landscape of Pleasure - Episode 3
The French artists who attempted to reconcile man with nature, from the determination of the impressionists to paint outside to Matisse's vibrant use of colour.
See also: impressionism - landscape

Trouble in Utopia - Episode 4
How modern architects in the wake of the Bauhaus aspired to change societies with their designs, a move represented both by Le Corbusier and the plans for the city Brasilia.
See also: utopia - architecture

The Threshold of Liberty - Episode 5
The art movement that gripped its exponents with the fervour of a religion: surrealism. Artists like Di Chirico, Ernst, Miró and Dalí; brought the subconscious to the fore and attempted to tap into innocent and irrationality.
See also: Surrealism

The View From the Edge - Episode 6
Expressionism sprung out of the harsh, secular atmosphere of the 20th Century and evolved, through the strong colours and often sombre moods of artists like Munch, to the non-figurative work of Pollock and De Kooning.
See also: Abstract Expressionism

Culture as Nature - Episode 7
Artists began to take man-made images as their inspiration, leading to the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein as well as Stuart Davis' collages inspired by jazz.
See also: Pop Art

The Future That Was - Episode 8
The final episode in the series explores the decline of modernism and how various artists have reacted to the consequent commercialisation of their art.
See also: postmodern art

Notes: Robert Hughes fails to mention the influence of photography and illustrated newspapers on Impressionism. [Mar 2006] --http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/shock-new-eps.shtml [Mar 2006]

See also: new - shock - modern art

2006, Mar 24; 10:05 ::: site:http://drwagnernet.com

http://drwagnernet.com is one of the best online resources for modern and pre-modern design. More than 2,000 photographs.

DrWagernet.com Google gallery

D.R. Wagner is a visual artist, poet and musician. [...] He has lectured and/or given workshops at over twenty Universities and taught at most of the prominent Schools of Arts and Crafts.

See also: modern design - visual culture

2006, Mar 24; 10:05 ::: La Paresse (1924-25) - George Barbier

La Paresse (1924-25) - George Barbier
Image sourced here.

The Art Nouveau style appeared in the early 1880s and was gone by the eve of the First World War. For a brief, brilliant moment, Art Nouveau was a shimmering presence in urban centres throughout Europe and North America. It was the style of the age--seen on public buildings and advertisements, inside private homes and outside street cafés--adorning the life of the city. [...]

Art Deco belongs to a world of luxury and decadence, the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s. The very term conjures up a multitude of romantic images; huge ocean liners gliding effortlessly across moonlit seas; the sound of clinking cocktail glasses and the sound of a raucous jazz band emanating from a sumptuously decorated ballroom. [...]

Art Nouveau to Art Deco (2001) by Richard Whitehouse via http://www.modernsilver.com/artnouveaudeco.htm [Mar 2006]

See also: Art Nouveau - Art Deco - 1925

2006, Mar 24; 10:05 ::: Villa Paul Poiret (1921-1923) - Robert Mallet-Stevens

Villa Paul Poiret (1921-1923) - Robert Mallet-Stevens
Mezy-sur-Seine, France
Photograph sourced here.

La villa Paul Poiret située à Mézy-sur-Seine, 32 route d'Apremont, dans le département des Yvelines (France), est l'œuvre de l'architecte Robert Mallet-Stevens qui ne put cependant pas l'achever. Comme la villa Savoye, construite à Poissy par le Corbusier quelques années plus tard, cette villa appartient au courant de l'architecture moderne de l'entre-deux-guerres. Inhabitée, elle se trouve en très mauvais état. --http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Paul_Poiret [Mar 2006]

Robert Mallet-Stevens est un architecte et designer français né à Paris le 24 mars 1886, mort à Paris le 8 février 1945. --http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Mallet-Stevens [Mar 2006]

See also: Paul Poiret - Art Deco fashion - modern architecture - 1923

2006, Mar 25; 09:05 ::: Euro Deco : Graphic Design Between the Wars (2004) - Steven Heller, Louise Fili

Euro Deco : Graphic Design Between the Wars (2004) - Steven Heller, Louise Fili [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

First sentence:
"Early-twentieth-century Paris was a nexus of culture and commerce and a center for both modern painting and modern advertising..." (more)

From Publishers Weekly
One of the most beloved design styles of nostalgic collectors, Art Deco developed in France following World War I and quickly became popular around the world, proliferating in lively posters, typefaces and skyscraper designs. Borrowing from Modernism's austere simplicity, while incorporating flourishes that would appeal to a mass audience, Art Deco allowed manufacturers to boost consumer desire for new and fashionable products. A compilation of six now out-of-print books from Chronicle's Deco Graphic Design series, this volume offers lesser-known examples of Deco graphic design from six countries: France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and England. The playful advertisements and product labels, many created by unknown artists, demonstrate the breadth of the style's reach and its variation across Europe. Dutch beer posters, German cigarette packages and Italian book covers burst with color, allowing readers to slip back into a time in which the airplane was "a symbol of futuristic wonder" and inventions like furnaces and Pyrex pots were making their debuts. In each chapter, Heller, senior art director for the New York Times, and Fili, principal of a New York graphic design firm, introduce the historical context surrounding each country's Art Deco movement, noting prominent poster artists who influenced the field. Whimsical and informative, this volume should keep readers coming back for multiple perusals. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. via Amazon.com

Book Description
A sprawling compendium of Art Deco design from across Europe, Euro Deco features a broad range of exemplary graphic ephemera. Culled from Steven Heller and Louise Fili's popular International Deco series of inspirational reference books, the material in Euro Deco comes from Italy, Spain, the UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, primarily between WWI and WWII -- the time when the continent gave birth to modern graphic design. Well over a thousand images from posters, packaging, advertisements, menus, and brochures display the elegant geometry and harmonious marriage of typography and illustration that make deco a popular style to this day. A generous package at an attractive price, Euro Deco is poised to be a standard graphic resource for designers, collectors, and aesthetes alike. --from the publisher

See also: Art Deco graphics

2006, Mar 25; 09:05 ::: Tamara de Lempicka : A Life of Deco and Decadence (1999) - Laura Claridge

Tamara de Lempicka : A Life of Deco and Decadence (1999) - Laura Claridge [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

With her couture clothes and movie-star good looks (she was frequently mistaken for Greta Garbo), Tamara de Lempicka seemed too glamorous to be a serious painter. Even in the years of her greatest success, 1925 to 1935, the luscious colors and highly wrought finishes of her portraits--a suspect genre in any case to high modernists--linked Lempicka more closely to the Italian Renaissance painters she revered than to her cubist contemporaries. She was labeled an "Art Deco artist," someone whose work was more decorative than substantive. Feminist scholar Laura Claridge, a good guide despite her overuse of the phrase "gender politics," enhances readers' appreciation of Lempicka's work without scanting her enjoyably lurid personal life. Born (around 1895) in Russia of Polish and Jewish descent, Lempicka fled the revolution to set up shop in Paris during its avant-garde heyday; the Nazi threat sent her to America, where Hollywood proved a natural setting. Two husbands, one daughter, male and female lovers, manic-depressive illness--nothing ever really cramped her style or her dedication to art. She died in 1980, a venerable survivor still looking forward rather than back. Blending art history with psychological analysis, Claridge helps readers understand why this gifted painter, although commercially successful, has not enjoyed the critical respect she deserves. --Wendy Smith for Amazon.com

See also: Art Deco - Lempicka - decadence

2006, Mar 24; 08:05 ::: Fashion and modern art

Art and design were more closely tied at the turn of the twentieth century than they are today. Artists did not see the difference between creating an original work of art, such as a painting, and designing a textile pattern that would be reproduced many times over. Each was a valid creative act in their eyes.

The famed French couturier Paul Poiret moved in artistic circles, employed Parisian artists, and collected their work. He went to art galleries and showed his artistic sensibilities by preferring Impressionist paintings at a time when they were new and unappreciated by the public at large. Poiret became very interested in modern art and said, "I have always liked painters. It seems to me that we are in the same trade and that they are my colleagues."

The Fauvist painter Francis Picabia was his friend, and they shared a love of bright color with other painters Maurice Vlaminck and André Derain, whom he knew from sailing excursions on the Seine in Chatou. Among other artists whose work he collected were Picasso, Matisse, Dufy, Rouault, and Utrillo.--http://tirocchi.stg.brown.edu/514/story/fashion_art.html [Mar 2006]

See also: Art Deco fashion - modern art - fauvism - 1900s - 1910s - 1920s

2006, Mar 23; 20:05 ::: The Golden Fish (1925) - Paul Klee

The Golden Fish (1925) - Paul Klee

Paul Klee (December 18, 1879 – June 29, 1940) was a Swiss painter. He used many different art styles in his work, including surrealism and cubism. He and his friend Wassily Kandinsky were also famous for teaching at the Bauhaus school of art after World War One. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul Klee [Mar 2006]

See also: modern art - 1925

2006, Mar 23; 20:05 ::: Joie de vivre (1930) - Robert Delaunay

Joie de vivre (The Joy of Life) (1930) - Robert Delaunay

Robert Delaunay (April 12, 1885 – October 25, 1941) was a French artist. He was born in Paris, France, and died in Montpellier, France. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert Delaunay [Mar 2006]

See also: cubism - modern art - French art - art deco - 1930 - life

2006, Mar 23; 20:05 ::: Napoléon (1927) - Abel Gance

British artist Francis Bacon saw Abel Gance's Napoléon at the Paris Opéra on its premiere in April 1927.

Napoléon (1927) - Abel Gance

Napoléon is an epic (1927) silent French film directed by Abel Gance that tells the story of the rise of Napoleon I of France.

Ahead of its time in its use of handheld cameras and editing, many scenes were hand tinted or toned. Gance had intended the final reel of the film to be screened as a triptych via triple projection, or Polyvision. Planned to be the first of six movies about Napoleon Bonaparte, it was realised after the completion of the film that the costs involved would make this impossible.

It was first released in a gala premiere at the Paris Opéra in April 1927. Napoléon had only been screened in eight European cities when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer bought the rights to the film, but after screening it intact in London, it was cut drastically in length and only the central panel of the widescreen sequences retained before being put on limited release in the United States. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napol%C3%A9on_%28film%29 [Mar 2006]

See also: Abel Gance - 1927 - silent films

2006, Mar 23; 15:05 ::: Adorno vs. Benjamin

Essays on Music: Theodor W. Adorno - (2002) Richard Leppert (editor)[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

A paradigmatic example of Leppert’s sensitive commentary is his rich nine-page discussion (240-249) of Adorno’s 1938 essay “On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening” (288-317), in which he explores the relation between Adorno and Benjamin, particularly Adorno’s reception and critique of Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility.” Leppert reads Adorno’s “The Fetish-Character” as “the result of a critical exchange of ideas between Adorno and Walter Benjamin” (240), and astutely identifies the divergence between the two: “Both writers’ essays speak to issues of production and consumption, but […] Benjamin’s is more concerned with the question of audience consumption, whereas Adorno is more directly focused on production. Benjamin speaks in detail about how audiences receive mass art, Adorno speaks in detail about what they are given to consume” (245).

Leppert legitimates his claim by appeal to Adorno and Benjamin’s correspondence, in which the two thinkers discuss the ideas contained in the latter’s 1936 essay, and then identifies the fundamental themes being worked out in “The Fetish-Character” as subtle extrapolations from this discussion. -- Alexei Procyshyn via http://www.uwo.ca/theory/skandalon/skandalon/pdf_files/sk_rev_1_2h.htm [Mar 2006]

See also: Walter Benjamin - Theodor Adorno - The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility (1936)

2006, Mar 23; 15:05 ::: On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening (1938) - Theodor Adorno

Theodor Adorno was a central figure in the Frankfurt School of Critical Theorists.

Adorno's On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening is an influential 30-page essay originally published in 1938. Theodor Adorno's writing style has been variously characterized as "impenetrable" and "impossible." Most readers unfamiliar with Adorno's style and ideas find his writings challenging to read. The following is a distillation and simplification of Adorno's famous essay.

Complaints about the decline of musical taste started at the beginning of music history. Whenever the listener's peace is disturbed by agitation, there is talk of the decline of taste. In these complaints, certain motifs constantly recur. There is no lack of pouting and sentimental comments assessing the current musical condition of the masses as one of "degeneration." The most tenacious of these motifs is that of sensuality, which allegedly enfeebles and incapacitates heroic behavior. Such complaints can be found in Plato's Republic. Plato's ethical-musical program bears the character of an Attic purge in Spartan style. Other perennial themes of musical sermonizing are on the same level. What is attacked is chiefly progress.

The concept of taste is itself outmoded. To like a work is almost the same as to recognize it. Value judgments are fictional for the listener who finds him/herself hemmed in by standardized musical goods. The right to freedom of choice can no longer be exercised. People have learned to listen without hearing.

At one time, music, through impulse, subjectivity and profanation was the adversay of materialist alienation. In capitalist times though, music has become corrupted by the allure of commercial success and now it conspires with authority against freedom. Musicians, as representatives of the opposition to the authoritarian schema, have become witnesses to the authority of commercial success. In the service of success they renounce that insubordinate character which was theirs. Formerly, music attacked the cultural privileges of the ruling class. Now the function of all music has changed. Cultural "goods," by their very administration, are "transformed into evils."

--http://www.music-cog.ohio-state.edu/Music839B/Approaches/Adorno.html [Mar 2006]

See also: cultural pessimism - Theodor Adorno - 1938 - dance music - American music

2006, Mar 23; 15:05 ::: The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1908) - Gaston Leroux

The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1908) - Gaston Leroux [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Mystery of the Yellow Room is a locked room mystery crime fiction novel written by Gaston Leroux, first published in France in 1908.

Leroux weaves the tale of a diabolically complex and seemingly diabolically perpetrated crime in which the criminal appears to disappear into thin air. Such is the mechanical and logistic complexity of the puzzle that Leroux is obliged to provide the reader with detailed and precise diagrams and floorplans illustrating the scene of the crime. Further impossible problems emerge as the story progresses towards a dramatic and sensational denouement. The emphasis is firmly on the intellectual challenge to the reader, who will be hard pressed to unravel every detail of the situation.

John Dickson Carr, the master of locked-room mystery, named this as the 'finest locked room tale ever written' in his 1935 masterpiece The Hollow Man. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Myst%C3%A8re_de_la_chambre_jaune [Mar 2006]

See also: Gaston Leroux - 1908 - mystery - detective fiction

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