Monday, December 10, 2018

Vogue January 1919

A well-known winter-themed vintage Vogue cover that apparently has not appeared in the blog yet. It was created by the famous Georges Lepape.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Lucky turtle

Once more I used the on-line program at the DeepArt site (blogged here), mixing a photograph I took myself of  our lucky animal, the turtle, in a Shanghai pond (link), and a painting by Marc (Blue fox). The result matched my expectations.

Copyright statement: image created via the DeepArt site from one of my original images. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Friday, December 07, 2018

How creative people find their best ideas

The linked art-icle presents some of the results of a survey under 10000 creative people, trying to determine what triggers or affects their creativity. Some surprising answers here, such as the need for silence and a neat environment, and the best ideas coming in the morning. An interesting read.

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

LuOne shopping mall roof

Continuing this topic with an image from our recent trip to Shanghai. This is the roof of a new shopping mall, LuOne - a nice play on words as it is situated near our Shanghai home in the former LuWan district.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170 handheld
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal length: 7.5 mm
Exposure time: 1/320
ISO speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Another web site where one can find plenty of high quality images that are in the public domain. The shot above came up when I searched for "art".

Copyright statement: image by Mike Petrucci, in public domain.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Goodbye Flickr

I've been using picture-sharing host Flickr since April 2007, and the site has featured frequently in this blog, mainly under the headings My photography and Flickr favourites. It has changed ownership a few times, but the latest owner has now decided that a free Flickr account (which used to allow about 30000 images) should be limited to 1000 pictures, and anyone who wants more should hand over 50 USD per year. I have currently over 3400 photographs on the site, and I will not be bullied into paying for that privilege. So I'm quitting Flickr, which means the Flickr favourites subject will stop as well. I have opened a dedicated "My photography" blog (link)to share my efforts on-line, with the best shots featuring in this blog as well.

Copyright statement: image created on Photofunia site.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Bather at Deauville

I would have never guessed that this 1920 painting is by one of my favourite artists, Kees van Dongen (1877-1968). My wife was right at the first try though. Anyway, it is beautiful.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Bohemian rhapsody

During our recent Shanghai trip, my wife took part in the prestigious yearly Lang Jingshan Photography Competition (named after the famous Chinese photographer, whose work has featured in this blog before) organized by the Shanghai Overseas Chinese Photographers' Association. She won a Golden Award for one of her entries, a beautifully edited image of a shot taken in the Czech republic.

Copyright statement: image created by Lu Schaper. Copyright Lu Schaper.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Digitized Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world's leading museums, sporting many masterpieces. A considerable part of their collection is now available on their site in high-resolution digitized form, allowing browsers to zoom in on details, like above. This is of course from Hopper's most famous painting, Nighthawks at the diner, which we saw recently in Shanghai as part of an impressive temporary Americana exhibition in the Shanghai Fine Art Museum.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Vore damer October 1927

Vore Damer was a magazine that I assume was issued in Denmark, the title most likely meaning For Ladies. This beautiful cover was created by the famous Danish artist Gerda Wegener (1886-1940).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Poster exhibition at Geneva 1915

Personally, I found it fascinating that already over a century ago, the artistic values of posters was recognized by showing them in an exhibition. Nice design for the poster announcing the exhibition as well.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Stonehenge in art

Well, with an internet name like Art Rock, I had to post the linked art-icle about the appearance of Stonehenge in art. Mostly unknown names (like John William Inchbold (1830–1888), shown above), but also famously John Constable.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Escape room

Escape room is an Adam Robitel movie scheduled for release early 2019. This poster shows actress Taylor Russell in an intriguing variation on the jigsaw puzzle effect.

Copyright statement: lower resolution images of movie posters considered fair use.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Back home

We arrived back home yesterday evening after a four weeks' holiday in Shanghai - this seemed a fitting song (Golden Earring, 1970, pre-Radar love). I have been able to pre-post about 30 daily contributions by the end of October to keep the blog going in my absence. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

Copyright statement: screenshot from the video - deemed fair use.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The kid

Often quoted as one of the best album covers of 2017, this is the sixth studio album by USA electronic pop/rock artist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. In the credits, two names possibly responsible for the design of this awesome cover are mentioned: Timothy Saccenti (Photography) and Alex Trochut (Design).

Copyright statement: low resolution pictures of album covers deemed fair use.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The pink fan

German artist Georg Tappert (1880-1957) is not exactly a household name (he does not even have a page in the English-language Wikipedia - the link is to the German version), but he had a considerable influence on the German expressionist movement as organizer and professor, and was a great artist himself. This work dates from 1910.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Abandoned places photography by James Kerwin

I love a recent BoredPanda post about the art of British photographer James Kerwin. His shots of abandoned places, especially in combination with his model/girlfriend Jade Stacy Maria, are fascinating and beautiful. My personal favourite is the one above, taken at a huge former power plant in Hungary. Do click the link to see more.

Copyright statement: posted with explicit permission of the creator who retains all rights.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Das Lied von der Erde - unusual versions

Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth), composed in 1908-1909, is my favourite piece of music of all time. It is a symphony for two vocal soloists and orchestra after Hans Bethge's poem The Chinese Flute. There are six movements, the odd-numbered more up-tempo for tenor, the even numbered more slow for alto or baritone. I made an extensive post about my CD's of this masterpiece over seven years ago (link). Since then I've collected dozens more versions of this work in the two alternative versions endorsed by Mahler. In the present post though I will focus on five unusual versions, two recent ones and three of which that have been part of the original post.

Orchestral version for tenor and alto with Cantonese text
Singapore symphony orchestra under Lang shui with Warren Mok (tenor) and Ning Liang (alto)
BIS records, 2007, 70 min (Amazon link)

The German texts of Das Lied von der Erde were based on translated versions of Chinese poems by Li Bai, the famous Tang dynasty wandering poet. In 2005, a Cantonese version was prepared by Daniel Ng. The Cantonese language was chosen as it bears closest resemblance to the lost 8th Century Northern Mandarin dialect in which the original texts were written. I had been trying to get hold of this version for a while, but when I finally succeeded, I was disappointed. The Cantonese lines do not really add something, and indeed distract as we are used to the German lines. This holds especially for the tenor. The sheer class of the composition is still undeniable, but all in all, this is an interesting but in the end superfluous experiment.

Orchestral version for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone
Munchener Bach-Orchester under Hansjörg Albrecht with Sibylla Rubens (soprano), Renee Morloc (alto), Markus Schafer (tenor) and Markus Eiche (baritone)
Oehms records, 2011, 62 min (Amazon link)

Partially based on Mahler's first drafts, partially based on own ideas, Albrecht created a new interpretation of this work, in which four different singers are used. The tenor tackles movements 1 and 5 as usual, but he is replaced by a soprano for movement 3. For the even-numbered movements, he chooses a blend of Mahler's approved choices, giving 2 and 4 to the alto, and the monumental final movement to the baritone. Does it work? Actually it does, although I would love to hear this version by a stronger ensemble.

Orchestral version for tenor
Wiener Philharmoniker under Jonathan Nott with Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)
Sony records, 2017, 61 min (Amazon link)

If someone can go from two to four soloists, why not the other way? Kaufmann, on paper as a leading Wagner-tenor eminently suitable for the tenor part of this work, came up with the idea to sing all six movements. Undeniably a tour de force in concert, but more easily realizable in the studio. Also here, does it work? Frankly, no. He makes a gallant effort, and comes of remarkably well in the even numbered movements, but the missing contrast in voices from one part to the next cannot be overcome.

Chamber music version for tenor and alto
Ensemble Musique Oblique under Philippe Herreweghe with Hans Peter Blochwitz (tenor) and Birgit Remmert (alto)
Harmonia Mundi records, 1994, 63 min (Amazon link)

Das Lied von der Erde is scored for a massive orchestra. Arnold Schoenberg began to arrange it for chamber orchestra, reducing the orchestral forces to string and wind quintets, augmented by piano, celesta, harmonium and percussion. Schoenberg never finished this in his lifetime, and the arrangement was completed by Rainer Riehn in 1980. This severely reduced version has two obvious advantages: it is easier to arrange a performance, and there are more choices available for the singers. In particular the tenor, who does not have Wagner Heldentenor qualities to combat the usual stunning orchestral forces, and can show more expression than usual - as demonstrated very well on this recording by Hans Peter Blochwitz. And as good as Christa Ludwig's performances are, with Birgit Remmert I have less problems actually hearing the words. The disadvantage is of course that some of the lusciousness of Mahler's orchestral tapestry is unavoidably lost. On the other hand, it is stunning how much of the atmosphere of the original work is maintained in this bonsai version. In the end, I still clearly prefer the fully orchestrated versions, but this is well worth listening to.

Piano version for tenor and mezzo
Markus Vorzellner with Bernhard Berchtold (tenor) and Hermine Haselböck (mezzo)
Cavi-Music label, 2009, 72 min (Amazon link)

When I read that a version had been recorded where the piano replaces the orchestra, two thoughts crossed my mind: [1] that is utterly ridiculous; [2] I want to hear it. Well, the result is astonishing. The orchestral colours are translated surprisingly well to the piano, and the singing is even more clear than in the chamber version. Both singers are very good (if not superb) and the piano playing is excellent. If the orchestral version did not exist, this would definitely make it to my short list of  hors concours compositions.

Copyright statement: image in public domain - album covers depicted as thumbnails, deemed fair use.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I had good hopes for this abstract - but the results were far better still. Just over a year after my previous shot in Flickr Explore (the 500 most interesting shots uploaded that day world-wide), this one became my 79th to achieve this feat, peaking at around #70 of 500. Within 2 days after posting, it had gathered over 17000 views and over 280 faves (to give an idea: for an average shot of mine those numbers would be around 50 and 3), making it my best received photograph in 11+ years of being on Flickr. Oh yes, what is it? A detail of an outdoor sculpture by Morgan Betz at the City Museum The Hague (see here for a picture of its installation ).

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/7.0
Focal Length: 54 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.