Friday, January 30, 2015

Remain in light

One of the best albums of all time with one of the most striking covers as well: the 1980 album Remain in light by the Talking Heads (we brought this album to a vinyl evening at the local record store this week). The cover image of the distorted faces of the band members is one of the first computer-designed record jackets in the history of music, at a time when computers were still huge and slow (full story in this very informative Wikipedia entry).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The American Legion Monthly February 1933

This magazine has not featured yet in the blog, but the cover makes it very suited for this time of year. The American Legion Monthly was popular in the twenties and thirties, although the covers were usually more military themed than this one.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Once more one of my attempts at digital art based on my own photographs, created with the free software SuperPhoto that came with my new laptop. This creation was triggered by yesterday's memorial for the 70th year of liberation of the most infamous Nazi death camp. One of the most emotional moments in my life was our 2008 visit to the remains of this site in Poland. The image is of an art installation in one of the camp houses. The link leads to the original photograph.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nationaal Monument Westerbork by Ralph Prins

The holocaust is remembered in many pieces of art around the world. Here is an impressive one in the Netherlands. It was erected in 1970 in Kamp Westerbork, a concentration camp run by the Nazis between 1942 and 1945, from where in total 93 transports left for the death camps such as Auschwitz (including Anne Frank in one of these trains). The monument was designed by one of the few survivors, Ralph Prins.

Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. For the occasion, a self-portrait by one of many artists who were killed by the Nazis: German-Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum (1904 – 1944). This was painted one year before his death in Auschwitz. More about Nussbaum in the Wikipedia article linked to below.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Death by celebrity

It has taken the Slovakian pop group Sponvika three years to come to terms with the tremendous success of their debut album, which sold millions of copies all over Europe. The sudden superstar status of singer Josip Dvorak led to severe arguments within the group, a number of cancelled tours, and repeated postponement of the studio sessions of their second album. Well, that album finally arrived on my desk yesterday, and the title, obviously meant to be ironic, is unfortunately quite to the point. Gone are the catchy rhythms and beautiful tunes, and there is not much else that has come in its place. A pity.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Sponvika.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album (from 2014 onward: any part of a random quotation will do). The random quote that came up was by Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine: Here's a tip to avoid death by celebrity: First off, get a life. They can't touch you if you're out doing something interesting.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, The long sleep, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Algerian 35 black and Madison Square Incised 50 black, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let it snow

Friday and Saturday we were pleasantly surprised in the Netherlands with a cover of snow - after none at all last winter. This is a beautiful photograph of the port of Rotterdam, albeit taken two years ago. As always, all rights retained by the photographer (Robin Utrecht/EPA).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 48. Pretend (Alvin Stardust)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. At #48, we find British retro-rocker Alvin Stardust with his catchy cover of the 1953 song Pretend (#1 in 1981). Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).


Friday, January 23, 2015

Unusual concertos [84]: String quartet

Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - realizing 80+ this time.

The eighty fourth concerto is the third to deal with a larger group of players rather than a single instrument. The string quartet (two violins, viola, cello, image credit) is generally seen as the most beautiful combination of instruments for chamber music. Several composers have written a concerto for string quartet and orchestra, including Schoenberg, Yannatos, Schulhoff and Lees. I have selected the concerto by Martinu, in the version by the Endellion String Quartet and the City of London Sinfonia under Richard Hickox. It is available on a Virgin CD.

Go here

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Safety net

More and more, my photography tends to be on the abstract side. This is a recent example, fishing nets used for decoration during the Christmas celebrations in Kampen, reduced to an abstract line play. It did not make Flickr Explore, but given the many reactions and faves, that must have been a close shave.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.100 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.0 mm
ISO Speed: 1600
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ice Flowers by Makoto Azuma

The latest art project by Japanese artist Makoto Azuma is both beautiful and intriguing. He takes a number of stunning flower bouquets, encases them in large blocks of ice, and then allows these to melt in an exhibition hall. As time proceeds, the initial beauty fades with the melting ice leaving behind withered flowers and puddles of water. As always, all rights retained by the artist.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chocolaterie de Swaen

This specialized chocolate shop just opened last week, a few meters away from our gallery (oh, the temptation...). De Swaen is old Dutch for the swan. In their beautiful logo, the swan is present as a letter S, but the nice twist is the way this shape is leaking chocolate.

web site

Monday, January 19, 2015

Boy A

This 2007 movie directed by John Crowley came with a poster that is simple but beautiful. As usual though, I could not find information on the designer.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


I like this picture for several reasons: the art angle, the quality of the photograph, and the way it illustrates how simple things get blown out of proportions in a country as populated as China. It shows teachers examining paintings by candidates for the provincial entrance examination for colleges of fine arts. As always, all rights retained by the photographer (Undisclosed/Reuters).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 49. Paint it black (Rolling Stones)

As posted here, the Dutch top40 chart celebrated its 50th birthday in January this year. When I posted about that event, I included my top50 songs that made the top40 chart in the past. I was intrigued how few of my favourite songs actually made the #1 position, so the rest of the year I will be posting at a rate of one a week (on Saturday, the day the top40 was broadcast) my countdown of fifty favourite #1 hits. At #49 we find the Rolling Stones with one of their biggest hits (#1 in 1966). Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).


Friday, January 16, 2015


Almost a year after her previous appearance in this blog, here we have another mesmerizing abstract by my Flickr friend sannesu. Glad she posted again on Flickr after such a prolonged absence. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


One of the outstanding album covers of recent years, even though I have never heard the music, and with Derek Minor being described as a Christian rapper, never will. The album cover designer is not easily retrieved, but in the credits "photography" is ascribed to Robby Klein.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Potpourri: Canyon abstract

From time to time I will be highlighting some of my own favourite posts in my parallel blog, Art's Potpourri. These can be recent or from some time ago. This one was originally posted 26 June 2014.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vogue November 1933

A beautiful stylish Vogue cover from the thirties, created by the justly famous Georges Lepape.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Then and now

This takes Photoshopping to master level: these are two examples of dead pop/rock stars as they might have looked today if they would still be a live. Aside from Elvis Presley and Karen Carpenter, the linked site includes Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, John Lennnon, Bob Marley, Keith Moon, Dennis Wilson and Bobby Darin. No credits were given to the creator(s).

web site