Friday, 5 August 2016

A New Film and Book Seek the True Hieronymus Bosch

http://hyperallergic.com/315836/a-new-film-and-book-seek-the-true-hieronymus-bosch/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=A%20New%20Film%20and%20Book%20Seek%20the%20True%20Hieronymus%20Bosch&utm_content=A%20New%20Film%20and%20Book%20Seek%20the%20True%20Hieronymus%20Bosch+CID_a9fa610810b358ee1cdff1f313cc888a&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=A%20New%20Film%20and%20Book%20Seek%20the%20True%20Hieronymus%20Bosch

A New Film and Book Seek the True Hieronymus Bosch

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Matthijs Ilsink, art historian with Hieronymus Bosch’s “Saint Christopher” (1490–1505) at the Rotterdam Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (image courtesy Kino Lorber)
Roughly 30 minutes into Pieter van Huystee’s first feature-length film, Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil, Gabriele Finaldi, former deputy director of conservation and research at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, gives a sterling, succinct answer as to why El Bosco (as the Dutch artist is known in Spain) and his works are a source of continual fascination and study:
One of the reasons why Bosch is so successful and so admired is precisely because his work goes beyond that of a mere illustrator. Here is a fertile, inventive mind who is doing new things with traditional subjects and it’s that charge of originality, of invention. … [He’s] an artist who is extraordinarily brilliant and provides a new vision of things.
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Cover of ‘Hieronymus Bosch: Visions and Nightmares’ by Nils Büttner (Reaktion Books, 2016) (image courtesy Reaktion Books) (click to enlarge)
Bosch and his unique vision have certainly endured. This year marks the quincentenary of his death (c.1450–1516), and widespread interest in the Old Master and his oeuvre shows no sign of waning. Currently playing at New York City’s Film Forum, Touched by the Devil (2015) goes behind the scenes of preparations for a celebratory, large-scale exhibition in the artist’s hometown of ’s-Hertogenbosch at the Noordbrabants Museum. (It was on view from February 13 through May 8, 2016.) The film investigates the process of authenticating Bosch’s artworks — a premise it shares with art historian Nils Büttner’s new book, Hieronymus Bosch: Visions and Nightmares (Reaktion Books, 2016). Büttner delves especially into what might have motivated the Dutchman to paint his signature imagery of puckish demons and the expanses between paradise and purgatory. Both the film and the book seek to find the true Bosch, the enigmatic figure whose portrayals of the afterlife, whether serene or infernal, serve as admonitions to mortals concerned for their souls. His transcendental visions of heaven and hell have saturated the consciousness of admirers for over 500 years.
The documentary begins with the Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP), as its members travel to multiple sites across Europe and the United States in an attempt to properly attribute 25 works to the artist and bring them home, so to speak, for display; ’s-Hertogenbosch does not have a permanent collection of art by its native son.
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Hieronymus Bosch, “The Garden of Delights” (circa 1494–1516) (detail), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (image courtesy Kino Lorber)
The team of scholars, conservators, and scientists has adopted a “standardized approach” for its mission, using advancements in modern technology, conservation, and art history to scrutinize the paintings. They rigorously inspect the works to create typologies that form the basis of a comparative analysis: Do the brushstrokes that compose “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (c. 1503) match those observed in “The Last Judgment” (c. 1505)? How are owls, ears, or staffs standard or dissimilar across each of Bosch’s canvasses?
Through techniques such as infrared photography and reflectography, X-radiography and dendrochronology, members of the BRCP are able to carefully examine both the surface paintings and underdrawings, noting discrepancies between layers and often across different areas of one piece, leading some scholars to suspect the involvement of multiple hands in the creation of a single artwork.Touched by the Devil immerses its audience in these processes through close-up shots of the team as they photograph, polish, and slice the wood that frames the masterpieces under review. In the end, the team dismisses two works previously recognized as Bosches, while the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City learns that “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” (1500–10) it holds is legitimate.
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Ron Spronk, technical art historian, with Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Delights” (circa 1494–1516), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (image courtesy Kino Lorber)
At times, we follow the team members, observing their discussions amongst each other in the archives and galleries they visit. We’re also privy to meetings among curators and phone calls between museums’ staff. But in a way it is van Huystee’s camera that is the most compelling character, as it assumes the role of auxiliary team member while simultaneously becoming a careful observer. The opening sequence immerses the viewer immediately, as the camera zooms in on the cracks and fissures in the surface of the paint. Some of the most thoughtful scenes are slow pans over particular elements of a canvas, allowing the viewer to get a sustained look at a mischievous demon or saint’s face. Given that Bosch’s works are often highly detailed cacophonies of figural shapes, the time to narrow in on select images and focus is appreciated.
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Johannes Wierix (?), Hieronymus Bosch (1572), engraving (image courtesy Reaktion Books) (click to enlarge)
In Visions and Nightmares, Büttner gives particular weight to the techniques employed by the BRCP, as he aims to give a comprehensive overview of Bosch’s life and insight into the artist’s motivations for his paintings, based solely on those that have been definitively authenticated. Büttner looks to information that can be traced back to historical record, and is clear about this from the first chapter, stating that “although the large body of surviving material evidence, the pictures, records, and documents, do not determine what can or should be said about the historical context, they do determine what cannot be said. What follows can be said.”
Mythology surrounding Bosch has incorrectly labeled him a heretic or practitioner of witchcraft. In his introductory biography of the artist, Büttner mines previous research to dispel theories about Bosch’s life and work that portray interpretation as fact and look for evidence of impious behavior in the bizarre scenes of depravity he conjured. Büttner’s dense prose informs and educates in a manner typical of academic texts, though the illustrations and relatively short length keeps its verbosity from becoming intolerable, placing importance on Bosch’s relationship to religion and his membership within the Brotherhood of Our Lady, a confraternity comprised of clerics and the socially connected. His artworks emerged from an environment imbued with theology and his patrons’ commissions were variations on religious narratives. Known for visually representing the choice humans face when confronted with the temptation of sin, or what might await a soul in limbo, as in “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” “Adoration of the Magi” (c. 1485–1500), or “St. Jerome at Prayer” (c. 1495), Bosch actually incorporates more realism than the fantastical into his scenes.
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Matthijs Ilsink, art historian, with Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Flood and Hell,” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (image courtesy Kino Lorber)
Bosch’s innovative approach to his art spawned countless imitators and assumptions about what it all might mean, but both van Huystee’s film and Büttner’s book attach more importance to his life and work. The paintings are instructive, divulging what might happen to people consumed by sin and those who fight it. Bosch’s style set him apart from his contemporaries precisely because of the speculative nature of the work. Who knows for sure what happens to a soul in hell? One could only imagine what horrors would await. But Bosch made visual this “what if?” in such idiosyncratic ways that scholars continue to try to pinpoint, to confirm what makes Bosch really a Bosch, a question that continues to captivate viewers centuries after his death.
Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil by Pieter van Huystee is screening at Film Forum (209 W Houston St, West Village, Manhattan) through August 9. Hieronymus Bosch: Visions and Nightmares by Nils Büttner, out from Reaktion Books, is available on Amazon and other online booksellers. 

A Deep Dive into the Legacy of LA’s Surrealists

http://hyperallergic.com/315313/a-deep-dive-into-the-legacy-of-las-surrealists/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=A%20Deep%20Dive%20into%20the%20Legacy%20of%20LAs%20Surrealists&utm_content=A%20Deep%20Dive%20into%20the%20Legacy%20of%20LAs%20Surrealists+CID_22572fdffbb4eb824b16ae8d5b158502&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=A%20Deep%20Dive%20into%20the%20Legacy%20of%20LAs%20Surrealists


A Deep Dive into the Legacy of LA’s Surrealists

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Cameron, “Sebastian (Imaginary Portrait of Kenneth Anger)” (1962), ink and gouache on paper, 20 x 30 inches (all images courtesy the artist and Richard Telles Fine Art)
LOS ANGELES — The official Made in L.A. show is at the Hammer Museum, but a felicitous counterpoint is currently at Richard Telles in the Fairfax district. Made in L.A., the third in a biannual exhibition at the museum, features artists who are already highly regarded, or else anointed as up-and-coming, whereas Telles presents a historical group show of 20th-century LA surrealists who, in many cases, were never much known outside their own circle. Curated by Max Maslansky (himself a Made in L.A. alumnus from 2014), Tinseltown in the Rain is a deep dive into an important aspect of this city’s art history that has much to offer to our present moment.
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Robert Williams, “Ernestine and the Venus of Polyethylene” (1968), oil on canvas with ground fish-scale highlights, 50.25 x 29.5 inches (click to enlarge)
Made in L.A. includes a lot of artists addressing Los Angeles and its film industry in particular, most obviously Daniel Small’s excavation of Cecil B. DeMille’s destroyed set for The Ten Commandments. Telles’s small, focused show demonstrates how Surrealism permeated Hollywood, presenting a selection of videos including Loony Tunes and Disney animations, as well as films including “Meshes of the Afternoon” by Maya Deren and her husband at the time, Alexander Hammid. Oskar Fischinger’s synesthetic/psychedelic “Optical Poem” (1937) is a stop-motion animation of colorful geometric shapes set to Franz Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody. It feels a lot like early special effects on MTV and has a strong kinship with Kandinsky’s fusion of music and visual art. Maslansky’s well-researched exhibition essay recounts how Walt Disney hired European émigrés, including artists in this show, who inflected the company’s visuals with the surreal imagery they brought with them from the continent.
Sharing the video room are mostly photographs, of which I was particularly taken with William Leavitt’s “Random Selection: Bag, Glove, Fire, Mice” (1969), consisting of three photographs of unrelated items arranged to imply peculiar narratives — the middle picture shows two stuffed mice seemingly escaping from a paper bag along with two gloves that have come to life, one of them bursting oddly into flames. Edmund Teske’s two images titled “George Herms, Topanga Canyon” (1962) find Herms standing naked in the chaparral like a dazed amnesiac. The single painting in this room is a knockout by Robert Williams (who also made art for Zap Comix), “Ernestine and the Venus of Polyethylene” (1968) depicting a nude woman standing below a towering red female statue, seen from below and balloon-like in form, appearing to be made of highly reflective stainless steel. In this bizarre image Williams anticipates both Jeff Koons and John Currin (Currin seems to have learned the figure from Williams as much as from the van Eyck brothers). The impressively shiny highlights on the balloon-woman are made with ground fish scales, a material I would not have expected to survive for half a century.
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Installation view of ‘Tinseltown in the Rain: The Surrealist Diaspora in Los Angeles 1935–1969’ at Richard Telles, Los Angeles
All the other paintings and drawings are hung in the main gallery, on a single wall beginning at eye level and ascending toward the ceiling, salon-style. I felt as though I had walked into Gertrude Stein’s Parisian home, which was fun, though I had a crick in my neck by the time I left the gallery (we must suffer for art). On this wall the influence of Picasso looms large, with a few other canvases taking after Dalí or Klee. The work in this room clarifies that these LA artists, though many hailed from Europe, were not your mother’s (or grandmother’s) Surrealists. You will not find dream-like scenes à la Max Ernst, for example, but will instead see less familiar strains of Surrealism that grew out of the original experiments in the Continent.
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William Leavitt, “Random Selection: Bag, Glove, Fire, Mice” (1969), unique black and white photos (3 parts), 15.5 x 19.5 inches each (click to enlarge)
Cameron’s work stuck in my mind with its witchy mystery. Her ink drawing “Sebastian (Imaginary Portrait of Kenneth Anger)” (1962) portrays Anger, her husband, as both female and male, melting into the earth while a house sits either atop or behind him. Her untitled drawing of a demon is alive with elusive energies. Cameron at times burned her work sacrificially, “not as a symbolic gesture,” Maslansky writes, “but as a means to reach deities.” Noah Purifoy has a smashed metal canteen in a wooden frame, simple and forceful, with the well-chosen title “Pressure” (1966). An assemblage piece by Ed Kienholz, “My Mother Was an Antique Table” (c. 1956), is a tall rectangular panel pierced by a semicircle of dowels toward the top, which are encircled by looping skeins of paint that trickle down. The work retains power despite the abundance of such work ever since Rauschenberg, a signal that Kienholz had a tremendous visual instinct. Beatrice Wood’s ceramic bas-relief “Three Buttocks” (ca. 1960s) is exactly what its title suggests, and feels uniquely fitting to our present moment in American presidential politics in which our Republican presidential candidate’s statements sound mostly like flatulence. I am reminded of the Mike Judge 2006 satire “Idiocracy,” which imagines the latest hit movie to be a two-hour close-up of somebody’s ass periodically farting.
Why look at Surrealism now? Far from being a throwback exhibition, the concerns of this period speak with sharp urgency. Fifteen of the exhibited works were made just before or during World War II, the remainder as the US was ramping up to the social upheaval of the 1960’s and ‘70s. Our 21st century has much in common with both these periods. Fascism and hate-based politics are gaining global ground in a manner reminiscent of the late 1930s, and the American social fabric seems to be wearing as disenfranchised populations demand overdue justice. It’s not that any works in this exhibition address these issues, but rather that the deep premise of Surrealism offers a cogent response to political coercion, technocratic authority, and violence. The surreal, with its irrational heartbeat, slips beyond the grasp of enforcement, creating a small space for alternative cultures to whisper their secrets.
Tinseltown in the Rain: The Surrealist Diaspora in Los Angeles 1935–1969 continues at Richard Telles through August 13.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

David Bowie – See Emily Play (Pink Floyd Cover)

http://pinkfloyd.eu/videos/david-bowie-see-emily-play-pink-floyd-cover.html

David Bowie – See Emily Play (Pink Floyd Cover)


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See Bowie Play…

Bowie, when he covered “See Emily Play” for Pin Ups, followed this darker path, making the song a schizophrenic nightmare occasionally broken by moments of clarity and restraint. While Bowie sings the verses plainly, even languidly, the chorus is overwhelmed by a choir of ghouls (see our old friend “The Laughing Gnome” or “The Bewlay Brothers”): Bowie overdubs that were altered, via varispeed, to lurk an octave beneath his lead vocal.
Bowie’s cover is also a sonic tribute to Barrett, the one artist covered on Pin Ups who had been a direct influence on Bowie, from Barrett’s singing voice with its unaltered English accent to his fevered, shambling stage appearances (Bowie said Barrett was the first man he saw wearing make-up on stage). Mick Ronson’s guitar echoes Barrett’s own playing on early Pink Floyd tracks (take the descending, twisting lead riff of “Lucifer Sam,” which is close to surf music, or the harsh chording of “Astronomy Domine”). Mike Garson, on piano and synths, provides the color, while Trevor Bolder and Aynsley Dunbar’s backing is more solid and fluid than the original track’s.
The track ends with the taste of a sprightly arrangement for strings, suggesting either that the madness has abated for now, or that it’s become all-consuming, blotting out reality forever and leaving the singer stranded in a permanent dream (the psychotic varispeed voices bleeding into the final verse, eating away at Bowie’s lead vocal, suggest the latter). Despite its bizarre, garish trappings, “See Emily Play” is the only Bowie cover on Pin Ups bold enough to be nuanced.
Recorded July-early August 1973.

Download All 8 Issues of Dada, the Arts Journal That Publicized the Avant-Garde Movement a Century Ago (1917-21)

http://www.openculture.com/2016/07/download-all-8-issues-of-dada.html

Download All 8 Issues of Dada, the Arts Journal That Publicized the Avant-Garde Movement a Century Ago (1917-21)

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Surrealism, Discordianism, Frank Zappa, Situationism, punk rock, the Residents, Devo… the anarchists of counterculture in all their various guises may never have come into being—or into the being they did—were it not for an anti-art movement that called itself Dada. And like many of those anarchist countercultural movements and artists, Dada came about not as a playful experiment in “disrupting” the art world for fun and profit—to use the current jargon—but as a politically-charged response to rationalized violence and complacent banality. In this case, as a response to European culture’s descent into the mass-murder of World War One, and to the domestication of the avant-garde’s many proliferating isms.
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The explicit tenets of Dada, in their intentionally scrambled way, were ecumenical, international, anti-elitist, and concerned with questions of craft. “The hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated,” wrote poet Hugo Ball in his 1916 Dada manifesto, “And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality.” Ball conceived Dada as a means of reaching back toward primal origins, “to show how articulated language comes into being…. I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it.” Risking a lapse into solipsism, Ball sneered at “The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident limitedness.” And yet, he concluded, “The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.”
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Two years later, artist Tristan Tzara issued a more bilious Dada manifestowith similar intent: “a need for independence… a distrust toward unity.” At once intensely political and anti-theoretical, he wrote, “Those who are with us preserve their freedom…. Here we are dropping our anchor in fertile ground.” How right he was, we can say 100 years later. “However short-lived,” writes Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in a New York Timescelebration of Dada’s 100th anniversary, “Dada constitutes something like the Big Bang of Modernism.” Both Ball and Tzara positioned Dada as a collective, international movement. As such, it needed a publication to both centralize and spread its anti-establishment messages: thus Dada, the arts journal, first published in 1917 and printing 8 issues in Zurich and Paris until 1921.
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Edited by Tzara and including his manifesto in issue 3, the magazine “served to distinguish and define Dada in the many cities it infiltrated,”writes the Art Institute of Chicago, “and allowed its major figures to assert their power and position.” Dada succeeded a previous attempt by Ball at a journal called Cabaret Voltaire—named for his Zurich theater—which survived for one issue in 1917 before folding, along with the first version of the cabaret. That year, Tzara, “an ambitious and skilled promoter… began a relentless campaign to spread the ideas of Dada…. As Dada gained momentum, Tzara took on the role of a prophet by bombarding French and Italian artists and writers with letters about Dada’s activities.” Whatever Dada was, it wasn’t shy about promoting itself.
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The first issue (cover at the top), contained commentary and poetry in French and Italian, and artwork like that above by important Romanian Dada artist, architect, and theorist Marcel Janco. Issues 4 and 5 were published together as an anthology, then World War I ended, and with travel again possible, Tzara, several Dada compatriots, and the journal moved to Paris. The final issue, Number 8, appeared in a truncated form. You can download each issue as a PDF from Monoskop or from Princeton University’s Blue Mountain Project, which also has an online viewer that allows you to preview each page before downloading.
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Ball and Tzara were not the only assertive disseminators of Dada’s art and aims. The Art Institute of Chicago notes that in Berlin a “highly aggressive and politically involved Dada group” published its own short-lived journal, Der Dada, from 1919-1920. Download all three issues of that publication from the University of Iowa here.
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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Monday, 11 July 2016

Fairy Pictures Of Fireflies in Japan

http://www.fubiz.net/2016/07/08/fairy-pictures-of-fireflies-in-japan/
Fairy Pictures Of Fireflies in Japan

Bored Panda a réuni les plus beaux clichés de lucioles à travers un top 10 qui se concentre sur l’été 2016 au Japon. La meilleure saison pour visiter le Japon reste l’été, pour l’atmosphère dans les rues, les arbres fleuris, les lumières et bien sûr les lucioles qui sortent de leur cachette pour éclairer les nuits enchanteresses des japonais dans les parcs, les forêts et grands espaces verts.
By Yu Hashimoto.
By Hiroyuki Shinohara.
By Yume Cyan.
By hm777.
By Nomiyama Kei.
By Asuka I.
By fumial.
By hm777.
By Daisuke Aochi.
By zabby.