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Darfur/Darfur Exhibit

"I couldn't face the prospect of my child growing up and asking me, years later, what I had done, and having to say: 'Nothing.'" Last spring Leslie Thomas, a Chicago-based architect, read a story detailing the fallout of hostilities between the Sudanese government and the rebels -- more than 200,000 dead, 2.5 million made homeless -- and decided to put together DARFUR/DARFUR: a traveling exhibit of digitally-projected changing images. The goal: to raise $1m with at least 24 venues in 24 months. The photographs have been taken in Darfur by photojournalists Lynsey Addario, Mark Brecke, Helene Caux, VII's Ron Haviv, Magnum Photos's Paolo Pellegrin, Ryan Spencer Reed, Michal Safdie, and former U.S. Marine Brian Steidle. On a sidenote, Pellegrin has just been awarded the W. Eugene Smith Grant.
posted by matteo on Nov 2, 2006 - 13 comments

The Epistemologist of Despair

Drama is impossible today. I don't know of any. Drama used to be the belief in guilt, and in a higher order. This absolutely cruel didactic is impossible, unacceptable for us moderns. But melodrama has kept it. You are caged. In melodrama you have human, earthly prisons rather than godly creations. Every Greek tragedy ends with the chorus — "those are strange happenings. Those are the ways of the gods". And so it always is in melodrama.
His career as a film director lasted more than 40 years, but Douglas Sirk (1900-1987) is remembered for the melodramas he made for Universal in Hollywood between 1954 and 1959, his "divine wallow": Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), The Tarnished Angels (1958, William Faulkner considered it the best screen adaptation of one of his novels), Imitation of Life (1959) -- all considered for decades little more than a camp oddity. Now audiences are beginning to look deeper at the films of Douglas Sirk, at how, in megafan Todd Haynes' words, they are "almost spookily accurate about the emotional truths". Now, lucky Chicagoans can enjoy "Douglas Sirk at Universal", matinees at the Music Box. More inside.
posted by matteo on Apr 29, 2006 - 14 comments

"To all our sisters who have committed suicide or who have been institutionalized for their rebellion."

"To all our sisters who have committed suicide or who have been institutionalized for their rebellion."
Throughout her career, but especially in her latest and most wrenching work— Sisters, Saints, & Sibyls, the 39-minute three-screen lamentation that is a duel memoir of her sister's suicide at the age of 19 and her own mortifications of the flesh and battles with addiction—the photographer Nan Goldin has been one of the great living suicides of recent art history... Charles Baxter wrote that novelist Malcolm Lowry captured "the way things radiate just before they turn to ash." At her best Goldin does this too.
posted by matteo on Apr 7, 2006 - 10 comments

"Ten Favorite Offbeat Musicals"

"Ten Favorite Offbeat Musicals" by Jonathan Rosenbaum
posted by matteo on Apr 4, 2006 - 30 comments

Other loves
still breathe deep inside me.
This one's too short of breath even to sigh.
"First Love", by Wislawa Szymborska. (via the Daily Poems of poems.com)
posted by matteo on Mar 29, 2006 - 19 comments

He has cavorted naked with Charlotte Rampling [this is VERY NSFW] and covered himself in caviar for Marc Jacobs, but Jürgen Teller thinks "fashion is a wank". Teller's first solo show in Paris is entitled "Nurnberg", it consists of a sequence of images (annoying Flash site, sorry) taken at the infamous Zeppelintribune parade ground, site of Nazi propaganda rallies, which was designed by Hitler's favourite builder, Albert Speer. Over several months, Teller (.pdf) has photographed the monument, the podium and the steep, ruthless steps, all of which have been left to decay. Or not. "It wasn't really maintained, but if there was a broken step, or a smashed wall, it would be mysteriously replaced with a new one." Teller's photographs show the delicate weeds, flowers and lichen [NSFW] that have grown up around the stone blocks. "In Germany, there is a saying about letting the grass grow over things, meaning that events will eventually be forgotten".
posted by matteo on Mar 22, 2006 - 19 comments

William Blake's Grave.

William Blake's Grave. Museums and galleries only have a few weeks left to save William Blake’s long-lost watercolour illustrations accompanying Robert Blair’s poem “The Grave”, before they are dispersed at auction in New York on 2 May.
posted by matteo on Mar 17, 2006 - 25 comments

Lon Chaney's power to terrify

"He was someone who acted out our psyches ... He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen... the history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from."
A Valentine for Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces. (BugMeNot for the first link; more inside)
posted by matteo on Feb 18, 2006 - 14 comments

Irie Takako: Establishing Oneself and Entering the World

In the Twilight of Modernity and the Silent Film (.pdf) Irie Takako was the most popular actress in 1930s Japan: film scholar Tanaka Masasumi locates the turning point of Japanese modernity in 1933, the year Kenji Mizoguchi's The Water Magician was made, arguing that Irie's transformation from radiant embodiment of moga(modern girl, the Japanese version of the flapper)-hood to suffering beauty in a kimono (.pdf) epitomized modernism's (modanizumu) defeat by nationalism in 1930's Japan. (via Camera Obscura; more inside)
posted by matteo on Feb 15, 2006 - 5 comments

Rise Stevens

For all the hoo-ha about Callas first bringing real acting to the operatic stage, one has only to view the footage of Risë Stevens legendary 1952 “Carmen” to see what kind of Method she brought to the Met. Stevens was the definitive gypsy wanton, and her performance has it all— fire, ice, and that impossible balance between elegance and sluttiness. Her technique is superb—licking her fingers before extinguishing the candles in what will be her death chamber, then flicking off the wax; flinging her unwanted lover’s ring at him, spitting out a contemptuous “Tiens!”.
The Metropolitan Opera Guild honors the Bronx-born singer, now 92. More inside.
posted by matteo on Feb 9, 2006 - 9 comments

Jean-Luc Godard's 'Histoire(s) du Cinéma'

The Man With The Magnétoscope.
"How marvelous to be able to look at what you cannot see... cinema, like Christianity, is not founded on historical truth. It supplies us with a story and says: Believe — believe come what may."
Jean Luc Godard's 'Histoire(s) du Cinéma' at UCLA.
posted by matteo on Feb 7, 2006 - 8 comments

"Myrna Loy, Luminous Activist"

“Wouldn’t you know, the kid they pick to play tramps is the only good girl in Hollywood.”
Before Myrna Loy rose to stardom with Manhattan Melodrama and The Thin Man (both 1934), she was often relegated to playing vamps, mistresses, and other assorted flavors of wicked women. Then, after 80 movies playing mostly bad girls, Montana native Loy became “the perfect wife.” “Men Must Marry Myrna Loy” clubs were formed around the country. She and Clark Gable, in a poll conducted by Ed Sullivan, were voted by 20 million of the nation’s moviegoers as The King and Queen of Hollywood. She was FDR's favorite actress, and John Dillinger died just to see her new movie. A staunch anti-Nazi since the mid-Thirties (to MGM's dismay, Hitler promptly banned her films from the lucrative German market), wondered aloud in the press why blacks were always given servants' roles, and was the first major star to buck the studios in a contract dispute (the issue: equal pay for equal work. She was making half what William Powell was, didn't like it and quit work for nearly a year until MGM capitulated). When WWII broke out she quit Hollywood and worked full time for the Red Cross, and helped run a Naval Auxilary Canteen. More inside.
posted by matteo on Feb 3, 2006 - 27 comments

Donald Richie shares his movie memories

And suddenly, in my memory, everything turns real: the summer breeze of Izu, the lazy sun of an early afternoon, the stale smell of water standing in the rice fields. For a moment it is that day in 1956, 37 years ago, and I am standing there, 33 years old myself. See—just to the left of the camera, just out of range. Here comes Mifune running, and there stands my younger ghost, right of that pillar, just off screen... And the summer sun beats down and the fresh breeze of Izu bathes my face, and then the story continues and the film ends and the lights go up and the students open their notebooks and I stand up and began talking about the influence of the Noh.
Donald Richie (previous post), the worldwide authority on Japanese film, shares his movie memories.
posted by matteo on Feb 1, 2006 - 9 comments

Giovanni Boldini, the Master of Swish

In 1872, influenced by the Impressionists at the Exposition Universelle, Italian painter Giovanni Boldini permanently settled in Paris. There, he quickly developed a reputation for his elegant depictions of fashionable society women executed with bold, fluid brushstrokes that made the model appear to be thrown onto the canvas -- the "Master of Swish". By the turn of the century Boldini had become the most sought after portrait painter of the 'La Belle Epoque'. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jan 27, 2006 - 9 comments

Mimmo Rotella's decollages

The World in Pieces. During the early 1960s, Mimmo Rotella (who just died in Milan at age 87) went around Europe collecting strips of advertising posters that had been pasted over and torn away many times. He also tore at posters (warning: big file) himself in a rebellious act of desecration to create the works he called decollages. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jan 14, 2006 - 4 comments

National Center for Jewish Film

"One could go on, and one will -- praising (...) the National Center for Jewish Film for releasing all four of Edgar Ulmer's Yiddish films in restored editions. But the DVD player is beckoning, and I think it is time for me to get back to the couch".
The National Center for Jewish Film (NCJF) is a unique nonprofit motion picture archive, distributor and resource center housing the largest, most comprehensive collection of Jewish-theme film and video in the world. In their archives you can discover the works of Leo Fuchs, the "Yiddish Fred Astaire", restored gems (scroll down) like "Motl the Operator" and re-releases like "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg". (More on Greenberg, the Jewish kid who challenged Babe Ruth’s homerun record here, more on the NCJF inside).
posted by matteo on Jan 9, 2006 - 9 comments

Andrzej Munk: Wry Smiles, Suspicious Glances

Eroica. Film director Andrzej Munk’s tragic death at age thirty-nine might have formed the plot for one of his own darkly sardonic works: a Polish Jew and an active resistance worker during the war, he was returning home from shooting his film Passenger at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1961 when an oncoming truck struck his car. He left behind only four feature films, but his influence was prodigious. As one of the key figures of the postwar “Polish School” of filmmaking, along with Wajda and Kawalerowicz, he helped to shape a vision that broke with the official social realist optimism of Eastern-bloc dogma and cast a skeptical eye on official notions of heroism, nationalism, and life in the Stalinist-occupied state. Mentor to Roman Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski, his influence can be felt even in the films of a later generation of Polish filmmakers — directors like Zanussi and Kieslowski. More inside.
posted by matteo on Dec 7, 2005 - 7 comments

Michael Haneke, a Cinema of Disturbance

"... we are sweeping everything under the carpet, but the oddness is cropping up all over the place. And then, the carpet starts to move…".
Michael Haneke, "le manipulateur" who introduced his latest film, Caché, at Cannes with a half-amused “I wish you a disturbing evening”, is the proponent of a "cinema of disturbance". A cinema of loving self-mutilation, where time is non-linear and everything happens in long take shots; in Haneke's world, guilt destroys lives decades after the original sin. All his male characters are "Georges" and his female characters are either "Evas" or "Annas", "because I lack fantasy". Unsurprisingly, he is a Bresson and Tarkovsky fan. He'll direct "Don Giovanni" at the Paris Opera in early 2006: "In 20 years of working in the theater, I only staged one comedy, and that was my single failure".
posted by matteo on Nov 18, 2005 - 19 comments

The MacDowell Colony

"The spiritual, physical, intellectual, social or economic well-being of the general public".
Within the MacDowell Colony's rustic stone and clapboard cottages, Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, Aaron Copland composed Appalachian Spring and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward wrote Porgy and Bess. Jonathan Franzen finished writing The Corrections and Alice Sebold worked on The Lovely Bones. For decades, the town considered the colony a tax-exempt charitable organization. Not anymore.
posted by matteo on Nov 14, 2005 - 9 comments

Caravaggio's lost painting

The Caravaggio Trail: "The Lost Painting". (BugMeNot for the New York Times). more inside
posted by matteo on Nov 13, 2005 - 9 comments

Henri Rousseau at Tate Modern

When Henri met Pablo. Wandering through the rue des Martyrs in 1908, Picasso stopped beside an upholstery shop. "A head peered out, the face of a woman, hard eyes, a penetrating look, decisiveness and clarity. The canvas was huge. I enquired about the price. 'A hundred sous,' replied the dealer. 'You can paint over it.' It was one of the truest portraits ever of the French psyche."
Henri Rousseau's five-franc, life-size woman in Van Dyck black stayed at Picasso's side until his death, longer than any flesh-and-blood muse. A century later, she towers over us at Tate Modern's Rousseau retrospective as imperiously as a Velázquez monarch. More inside.
posted by matteo on Nov 5, 2005 - 21 comments

What I learned from Sergiu Celibidache

Music is nothing.
Sound could become music.
The end must be in the beginning,
and the beginning in the end.
I am here because I am not here.
Music lives in the eternal now.
Music is the now becoming now.
What I learned from Sergiu Celibidache, by Markand Thakar. More inside.
posted by matteo on Oct 14, 2005 - 6 comments

Beethoven's Ninth: the Score

Beethoven's Ninth -- the score.
posted by matteo on Oct 11, 2005 - 42 comments

Germaine Greer on posing for Diane Arbus

Wrestling with Diane Arbus "She set up no lights, just pulled out her Rolleiflex, which was half as big as she was, checked the aperture and the exposure, and tested the flash. Then she asked me to lie on the bed, flat on my back on the shabby counterpane. I did as I was told. Clutching the camera she climbed on to the bed and straddled me, moving up until she was kneeling with a knee on both sides of my chest. She held the Rolleiflex at waist height with the lens right in my face. She bent her head to look through the viewfinder on top of the camera, and waited".
posted by matteo on Oct 8, 2005 - 25 comments

Harold Pinter at 75: "Voices"

Harold Pinter at 75. In One for the Road, the protagonist is Nicolas, a whisky-sodden interrogator who has brought in a family for questioning (and, it is implied, raping and torturing). In the short, sharp shock of The New World Order, we eavesdrop on a conversation between two torturers, held over the top of their mute, blindfolded victim's head ("We haven't even finished with him. We haven't begun."). In Ashes to Ashes, the interrogation of Rebecca by Devlin takes a sinister turn as we learn that her ex-lover participated in state-sponsored violence. In Mountain Language, a sadistic guard plays power games with a group of mountain dwellers, who are forbidden from speaking in anything but the language of the state. In Party Time, Pinter lampoons the smug security of the middle classes, portraying an insufferably élite party which carries on regardless of the violence and terror on the streets outside.
Now, for Pinter's 75th birthday, some of the tormentors and the tormented so potently etched in his later plays are assembled together in a new dramatic work with a musical setting by the composer James Clarke.
posted by matteo on Oct 7, 2005 - 12 comments

Italo Calvino, 1923-1985

"If time has to end, it can be described, instant by instant," Mr. Palomar thinks, "and each instant, when described, expands so that its end can no longer be seen." He decides that he will set himself to describing every instant of his life, and until he has described them all he will no longer think of being dead. At that moment he dies.
In memoriam of Italo Calvino, who died exactly 20 years ago.
"Calvino's novels" by his friend Gore Vidal. Calvino's obituary by Vidal, il maestro William Weaver's essay on Calvino's cities, Jeanette Winterson on Calvino's dream of being invisible, and Stefano Franchi's philosophical study on Palomar's doctrine of the void. More inside.
posted by matteo on Sep 18, 2005 - 18 comments

Aleksandr Sokurov's "The Sun"

The Emperor's Bunker. "The Japanese, with sadness and irony, stressed that Hirohito couldn't even speak properly. This was partly to do with the fact that he didn't have to speak - people spoke in his name and he was isolated from real life". "The Sun", the third part in Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov's 'Men of Power' tetralogy after the gloom of Moloch (1999), about Hitler and Eva Braun, and the despairing tones of "Taurus" (2001), focused on the wheelchair-bound Lenin in his death throes, "The Sun" seems almost upbeat. This, after all, is a film about reconciliation. More inside.
posted by matteo on Sep 13, 2005 - 21 comments

Wagner, the repulsive giant

Wagner, the repulsive giant If, on one hand, you ever wanted to know what a swine Richard Wagner was, this is the book to tell you. It does so at length, in reliable detail, calmly, without prurience, perfectly backed with documentation, and in a translation whose only fault is in giving no Translator’s Notes for in-house German references. Joachim Köhler sustains his story with new ideas, revises other interpretations and modestly deconstructs Cosima née Liszt’s creation of “Richard Wagner Enterprises Inc”. (This she developed so far as to keep Parsifal exclusive to Bayreuth, prompting George Bernard Shaw to remark in 1889 that it “would almost reconcile me to the custom of suttee”!).
posted by matteo on Sep 3, 2005 - 11 comments

William Eggleston in the Real World

"I am at war with the obvious", photographer William Eggleston once said, explaining his attraction to a ceiling lightbulb engulfed in a shock of red or an old Gulf gasoline sign sprouting like a giant weed against a rural skyline. Attempting to understand that battle, filmmaker Michael Almereyda trailed the photographer in action and in repose over a period of five years. The resulting film is "William Eggleston in the Real World". More inside.,
posted by matteo on Sep 1, 2005 - 14 comments

Singing, Painting and the Holocaust: Interview with Leon Greenman

you'll then have a grave in the clouds where you won't lie too cramped
"No, no, I never met Paul Celan. This poem is too CLASSIC, too cold, and too difficult to follow. It does nothing to me".
Singing, Painting and the Holocaust: Interview with Leon Greenman, Auschwitz Survivor 98288
posted by matteo on Aug 29, 2005 - 9 comments

"There was no one ever in American life who was remotely like Truman Capote", says Norman Mailer

Truman Capote's Blood Work Two soon-to-be released films on Truman Capote's life, Capote and Have You Heard? begin as the novelist drops into rural Kansas to begin work on what became "In Cold Blood". More inside.
posted by matteo on Aug 18, 2005 - 11 comments

Fazel Sheikh's Refugees

Fazal Sheikh's photographs have documented the plight of refugees in camps across Central and East Africa and the Middle East. However, his photographs are distinctly different from the images of refugees we commonly see in printed news articles. Sheikh's photographs implicitly assert that the individual refugees share humanity with their oppressive rulers. He does so by depicting the individuals in portraits rather than as victims of a social and political drama. Sheikh, an American citizen, was just awarded the Grand Prix International Henri Cartier-Bresson.
posted by matteo on Jun 24, 2005 - 5 comments

Rembrandt at the Getty

Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits. No one knows why Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn began painting half-length portraits of religious figures late in his life. The subject was uncommon in Protestant Amsterdam, where he lived. Paintings and sculptures, deemed idolatrous by Luther's followers, were not permitted in churches; existing images were removed and often destroyed. In 1681, a local authority described Rembrandt as the "foremost heretic in the art of painting." In Los Angeles, the Getty Center brings together, for the first time, 16 of these mysterious paintings. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jun 18, 2005 - 11 comments

Lee Friedlander: "I only wanted Uncle Vern standing by his new car"

Little visual miracles. For more than forty years that most American of photographers, Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters Lee Friedlander, has recorded modern American urban life -- with its jumble of people, signs, buildings, and cars, and television sets. He likes to turn a common blunder of amateurs -- photographing something nearby with one's back to the sun -- into a leitmotif. His shadow plays the role of alter ego, sticking to the back of a woman's fur collar, clinging to a lamppost as a parade of drum majorettes passes by, reclining like a stuffed doll on a chair. Clever jigsaw puzzles, his pictures frequently reveal themselves to be laconic, austere poems to what Friedlander has termed "the American social landscape',' meaning mostly ordinary places and affairs. "Friedlander," an exhibition of more than 480 photographs and 25 books covering decades of work, runs at MoMA through Aug. 29, before traveling to Europe until 2007. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jun 14, 2005 - 8 comments

The Photographs of Paul Strand

Strand's roving gaze "My work grew out of a response, first, to trying to understand the new developments in painting; second, a desire to express certain feelings I had about New York where I lived; third...I wanted to see if I could photograph people without their being aware of the camera."
Three Roads Taken: The Photographs of Paul Strand. more inside.
posted by matteo on May 30, 2005 - 5 comments

William Gedney, photographer

What Was True. From the mid 1950s through the early 1980s, William Gedney (1932-1989) photographed throughout the United States, in India, and in Europe, and filling notebook after notebook with his observations. From the commerce of the street outside his Brooklyn apartment to the daily chores of unemployed coal miners, from the lifestyle of hippies in Haight-Ashbury to the sacred rituals of Hindu worshippers, Gedney was able to record the lives of others with clarity and poignancy. Gedney's America is a nation of averted eyes, and broken automobiles, and restlessness, a place Edward Hopper would recognize, but so, also, Walt Whitman.
posted by matteo on Apr 27, 2005 - 11 comments

Jack Spencer -- Photographs of the Rural South and Mexico

Aparicioñes. Somewhere along the back roads of small towns dotting the Louisiana and Mississippi and Mexico landscape is Jack Spencer, a self-taught photographer, searching for beauty. More inside.
posted by matteo on Apr 24, 2005 - 17 comments

"He suggests living is language".

The Language of Saxophones At 55, L.A. musician and poet Kamau Daáood is finally beginning to acknowledge the possibility of his own place in local letters with his debut book of poetry, The Language of Saxophones, a 30-plus-year retrospective published by City Lights. Though he’s recorded a solo CD and read nationally and internationally, Daáood had never seen fit to collect his material in a book. Until now. “I never liked the idea of poetry sitting on a shelf somewhere, lost in all those book spines”.
posted by matteo on Apr 17, 2005 - 2 comments

Larry Clark: Punk Picasso

The Cheerful Transgressive Ever since 1971, when Larry Clark published Tulsa, an austere series chronicling his meth-shooting pals in sixties Oklahoma, Clark has made it his mission to document teenagers at their most deviant, their most vulnerable, their most sexually unhinged (possibly NSFW). And now “Larry Clark” the first American retrospective of Clark’s work, currently on display at the International Center of Photography, demonstrates the richness with which he’s mined this single subject (NSFW). More inside.
posted by matteo on Mar 31, 2005 - 48 comments

The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Ar

The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Art. Images from Japanese psychiatric medication advertisements: 1956-2003 (via Absent without leave)
posted by matteo on Mar 9, 2005 - 14 comments

La Feline

"You can fool everybody, but landie dearie me, you can't fool a cat. They seem to know who's not right". The psychoanalyst calmly explains to his patient that her idea that she is turning into a member of the cat family is a fantasy; she silences him with fang and talon.
Val Lewton made his name as a producer with the horror film Cat People, produced for RKO on a minuscule budget and directed by Jacques Tourneur. The star? French actress Simone Simon, who died today in Paris aged 93. More inside.
posted by matteo on Feb 23, 2005 - 6 comments

James Whitlow Delano, photographer

A Tale of Two Chinas, by photographer James Whitlow Delano. Whole swaths of cities have vanished, to be transformed with developments that have quickly made them look more like Houston, Qatar, or Singapore than the ancient China of our mind's eye. The old hutong, or alleyways, of Beijing that once formed a mosaic of passageways and the siheyuan, or walled courtyard houses, have been largely razed. The old brick rowhouses of Shanghai, are now being leveled and replaced by modern high-rises. Traditional marketplaces, residential neighborhoods, streets where medicine shops or bookstores bunched together, are now either gone or have been rouged up as tourist destinations, part of a new synthetic, virtual version of China's incredible past. The energy fueling this transformation bespeaks a powerful but often blind, unquestioning faith in an inchoate idea of progress that takes one's breath away, often literally. (Unrestrained growth has left China with the dubious honor of having 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world). Delano's new book is "Empire: Impressions from China". More inside.
posted by matteo on Feb 17, 2005 - 23 comments

Sylvia Plachy

'Falling in love with the truth'. On Dec. 10, 1956, exactly one month after Soviet troops crushed the last hopes of the Hungarian Revolution, 13-year-old Sylvia Plachy lay hidden in a farm cart that was carrying her toward the Austrian border. That night, Plachy and her parents escaped, finally making their way to the United States. The family settled in Queens, New York, where the teenager grew up to become one of the most incisive photographers of her generation. Many of the photographs will be displayed this spring at the Rose Gallery in Los Angeles, and are on view now at New York's Hunter Fox Gallery, where Plachy (scroll down) recently talked about the book and her career. Her pictures "have to do with what memory looks like,' she explains. "How you remember things. Not so much how they are, but how they get translated." Oh, she's Adrien Brody's mom and she uses a Holga.
posted by matteo on Feb 8, 2005 - 15 comments

A film about Klaus Nomi, who dressed like an alien and sang like an angel

"His voice was otherworldly — you couldn't believe the sound". Everyone who ever heard Klaus Nomi's voice had the same comment: "It can't be real." You hear that response throughout "The Nomi Song," the documentary about the obscure German-born artist who was a fixture on the New York music scene in the late '70s-early '80s, and a legitimate pop star in Europe. He was also a mystery, even to those who knew him. The film primarily covers the years between his 1978 New York club debut - which was captured on film - and his AIDS-related death in 1983 at age 39. Nomi never had an album officially released in the U.S. but was wildly popular among New York clubgoers as well as in France and his native Germany. More inside.
posted by matteo on Feb 3, 2005 - 59 comments

Lee Miller: The Real Surrealist

From muse to master Lee Miller started out as a Vogue model, but by 1930 she had moved behind the lens to take piercing photographs -- culminating in her rage-fuelled portraits of Nazi kitsch. The "Lee Miller: Portraits" exhibit is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from February 3 until May 30. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jan 22, 2005 - 15 comments

"For my part I don't need Japanese pictures here, for I am always telling myself that here I am in Japan"

I envy the Japanese for the enormous clarity that pervades their work. It is never dull and never seems to have been made in haste. Their work is as simple as breathing and they draw a figure with a few well chosen lines with the same ease, as effortless as buttoning up one's waistcoat.....
--Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, 24 September, 1888
The term "Japonisme" came up in France in the seventies of the 19th century to describe the craze for Japanese culture and art. Van Gogh, like so many other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, was one of the admirers (and collectors) of Japanese art. He defined himself as “a simple worshipper of the eternal Buddha”, and the most peculiar among his many self-portraits is "Self-Portrait as Buddhist Monk" (see a comparison here and here), painted in 1888 and dedicated to Paul Gauguin. More inside.
posted by matteo on Jan 17, 2005 - 10 comments

A Wounded Apparition

Into the realm of Henry Darger When Henry Darger died in Chicago on April 13, 1973, he was a destitute man whose final days were spent at a home for the elderly. Now, 30 years later, Darger ranks among the greatest outsider artists America has ever seen. Found in the astounding clutter of Darger's one-room apartment was a 15,000-page fantasy epic, bound by hand in 15 volumes, titled "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion." Along with this were three separate volumes filled with 300 drawings, including 87 multi-sheet horizontal panels, some 12 feet long with drawings on both sides. The discovery of Darger's NSFW work spawned numerous books, a play, a British rock band (the Vivian Girls), and an excellent y2karl MetaFilter post. And now there's also Jessica Yu's documentary "In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger," a portrait of the reclusive artist that has been shortlisted for the upcoming Academy Award nominations. Again, Darger's art can be disturbing and must be considered not safe for work (more inside)
posted by matteo on Jan 14, 2005 - 30 comments

Christian Cravo's Backlands

Irredentos. The sun beats down insufferably on the rust coloured landscape, stretching for mile after mile under a cobalt blue sky. In the distance, a convoy of rented farm trucks packed with thousands of penitents kicks up a serpentine cloud of dust that rises and then dissipates over the land. Through the dry air comes a jingling of chimes and a clicking of rosaries, a shuffling of processions, and with eyes heavenward, a ceaseless chanting of invocations. This is a holy and sun-scorched land, the Backlands of Brazil's northeast - the Sertão. Some believe Jesus is buried here.
Christian Cravo, the photographer, is Mario Cravo Neto's son.
posted by matteo on Nov 7, 2004 - 7 comments

The Aztecs at the Guggenheim.

Memento Mori. The Aztecs made war almost tenderly, wielding wooden swords that were edged with bits of obsidian or flint and, in face-to-face combat, endeavoring not to kill their enemies but, commonly by striking at their legs, to disable and capture them. Later, the captives—thousands of them for a rededication of the Great Temple at Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City) in 1478—were led to high platforms, where priests tore out and displayed their still-beating hearts. An especially respected prisoner might be allowed to fight for his life against Aztec warriors, at the last, with clubs and a sword, but his sword was edged with feathers.
The Aztec Empire,” at the Guggenheim in New York, is advertised as the most comprehensive exhibition of Aztec art ever mounted outside Mexico. More inside.
posted by matteo on Nov 6, 2004 - 16 comments

"Wwhy should we remember anything? There is too much to remember now, too much to take in."

In search of lost time It was Jack Kerouac who first defined Robert Frank's genius, who found in it some echo of his own vision of a vast, broken-down, but still epic, America, peopled with restless and lonely dreamers. 'Robert Frank, Swiss, unobtrusive, nice,' wrote Kerouac in his now famous introduction to Frank's collection The Americans , 'with that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America on to film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world'.
Frank's exhibition, Storylines, opens this week at the Tate Modern in London.
posted by matteo on Oct 27, 2004 - 6 comments

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