Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winter

An appropriatedly titled painting with Holland covered in a layer of early snow. American artist Patrick Nagel (1945-1985) may not be the most revered artist of the century, but I love his neo art deco style, which we have encountered before in the beautiful album covers section for a Duran Duran LP. This little known masterpiece is typical of his style, more often than not featuring beautiful women with dark short hair. More on Nagel in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Narrow escape indeed

A few contributions were pre-posted, but I have been out of internet due to a heart attack last Thursday.

I was feeling uncomfortable in the chest region, and although the symptoms were not that typical for heart problems, in the end I decided to walk to the hospital for a quick check, and they refused to let me go. Spent the next four days there, turned out I had had a heart attack before I came in. There is no direct threat anymore right now, thanks to the medication.

I might as well have decided not to go to be honest - in which case a second attack Thursday night would have been likely and possibly lethal.

Please, especially those of us in the dangerous age bracket, be aware that any pain on the chest should be checked. ASAP.

The blogs will go slow for a while.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The talisman

When I first came across this beautiful painting by French artist Paul Serusier (1864-1927), I was intrigued by the strong colours and abstract feeling - I expected it to be created around 1910, just after the best years of fauvism and at the start of the abstract movements. I was even more intrigued to learn that it actually dates back to 1888. Talk about being ahead of your time! More on Serusier in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Abstraction in yellow, black and blue

One of my own favourites of the year. It is actually a detail of a bridge I drive over every day, near the office. Last week I walked there with the dog during lunch break, and took the opportunity to click this one.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/11.0
Focal Length: 28 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Celine Beaute

I spotted and photographed this beautiful logo in Beziers (Southern France), on a hairdresser's shop. Simple, but very effective, its curves suggesting both the curls of female hair and the female shape in general.

web site

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Child Life November 1928

Thanksgiving is of course a very American holiday, but the blogger stats show that about one third of the views on this blog come from the States, so here is one especially for the Americans: a vintage magazine cover on the thanksgiving theme. Have a great day, y'all!

link

Tim Flach

Thanks to Jenny Downing for drawing my attention to this artist. The British photographer Tim Flach (born 1958) is best known for his highly individual and often humorous portraits of animals, particularly dogs and horses. Although he is listed in wikipedia, I link to his web site, because I love the animation on the main page.

All rights retained by the artist.

link

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mendelssohn's symphonies

Between 1986 and 1999 I built up a considerable collection of classical music CD's (exceeding 2000 CD's in total). For various reasons I have played them a lot less in the past decade, but I am embarking on a rediscovery tour that I intend to share in this blog. In the ninth installment, I re-examine the symphonies of German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), one of the most popular composers of the romantic era.

Symphony 1 in C minor (op.11, 1824)
My version: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Masur (Teldec, 1990, 26 min)
An astonishing confident work for a 15 years old composer - who had already composed 12 symphonies for string orchestra only, to exercise his skills. The opening Allegro di molto is as expected with this composer melodic, though with a clear influence still of Weber. Hints of the Midsummer night dream music, but also some foreshadowing of the famous Italian symphony. The Andante puts elegance ahead of passion in a way that is not in line with the romantic ideals - more in line with the classical musical philosophy. A scherzo-like Menuetto follows, in which Mendelssohn shows more originality than in the first two movements. The final Allegro, with a wonderful moving part for clarinet over pizzicato strings, rounds off a work that may not be remembered as one of the essential romantic symphonies, but which deserves to be heard.

Symphony 5 in D minor "Reformation" (op.107, 1832)
My version: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Masur (Teldec, 1990, 29 min)
Although numbered #5, this was his second, and one that he was so dissatisfied with that he did not allow publication of the score. The opening is slow, turning to fast (andante/allegro con fuco), revolving around the sequence of notes known as the Dresden Amen, with fanfares and string frenzies battling for our attention - almost as a very light version of Bruckner. The scherzo (Allegro Vivace) comes next against conventional wisdom, but it is very effectively placed. A quirky mixture of light hearted feelings and march-like rhythms, this is the best movement of his first two symphonies. The short Andante serves as an introduction for the final, based on the hymn Ein' feste Burg ist under Gott, from which the work got its subtitle. Its strength (the recognizable melody) is also its potential downfall, but Mendelssohn manages to keep it interesting throughout its 8 minutes, although the lackluster finale is somewhat disappointing. All in all, another well-crafted and interesting symphony, but not quite a step-up in quality from the first overall.

Symphony 4 in A major "Italian" (op.90, 1833)
My version: Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Solite (Decca, 1986, 30 min)
Mendelssohn himself considered this the jolliest piece he had ever written, and indeed, right from the exuberant opening bars of the Allegro Vivace, the sun shines through this symphony as befits its nickname. The Andante is somewhat more restrained - it was actually inspired by a religious procession the composer witnessed in Naples. Given the nature of the final movement, a scherzo would have been quite ineffective, so Mendelssohn opted for a graceful and charming Minuet as third movement. The Saltarello final movement incorporates dance figurations from the Roman saltarello and the Neapolitan tarantella, and closes out this delightful symphony in the optimistic style that is so characteristic of this work. One of the highlights of the romantic symphonic repertoire.

Symphony 2 in B flat major "Lobgesang" (op.52, 1840)
My version: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Masur with Bonney, Wiens, Schreier and the Rundfunkchor Leipzig (Teldec, 1989, 59 min)
This was actually the very first numbered symphony composed after Beethoven's ninth to use the human voice, unless we include Berlioz' hybrid Romeo et Juliette symphonic drama. Its structure is unique: a three part orchestral Sinfonia followed by nine parts for orchestra and soloists or choir. The first movement of the Sinfonia immediately introduces the main theme, the chorale Let every living creature praise the lord, with a series of variations on it. The scherzo-like Allegretto is an elegant interlude with the subsequent solemn Adagio religioso paving the way to the vocal parts. This Sinfonia is accomplished music, as expected, but a far cry from the beauty of the Italian and Scottish symphonies. Then the voices join the orchestra for the remaining 36 minutes, a moment I feared when I played this CD again. You see, I am in the minority who considers the vocal part of Beethoven's ninth absolutely awful - for me, Mahler was the first to really skillfully integrate the human voice into the orchestral symphonic sound scape. Mendelssohn tries, and for what it's worth, I think he does better than Beethoven, but still..... for me the whole is definitely not better than the parts, and this might as well have been published as a separate symphony and cantata. And unfortunately, neither part really impresses me.

Symphony 3 in A minor "Scottish" (op.56 1842)
My version: Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Solite (Decca, 1986, 40 min)
Although its first sketches date back to 1830, this Scotland-inspired masterpiece was the final symphony that Mendelssohn completed. Right from the start, the 16 minutes opening movement (Andante con moto - Allegro un poco agitato) engulfs the listener in some of the most beautiful and moving melodies written between Schubert and Mahler, whilst also conveying a feeling of strength as befits the rugged landscape that inspired it. Unusually for that time, Mendelssohn follows up with a short Scherzo as second movement, a delightful jaunty movement based on a distinctly Scottish sounding theme. The following restrained and solemn Adagio features some of the most moving music he ever composed, and in some ways foreshadowing Bruckner. The upbeat Finale introduces one sterling melody after the other in a contrapuntal feast. One of the ten best symphonies of all time for me, and a jewel of the romantic era.

Summarizing recommendation, based on my own taste:

Hors concours: Symphony 3
Essential: Symphony 4
Important:
Good to have: Symphonies 1,5
Not required: Symphony 2

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eyes

I came across this wonderful striking owl shot by fellow Flickrite Peterhdr in the Flickr group Learn composition by example, where he was the deserved winner of a recent biweekly competition, this one on the theme "eyes". Brilliant variation on the common owl shots, thanks to the unusual diagonal take. Good control of dof, with razor like sharpness in the owl and beautiful blurred (and suitably coloured) background. A gem.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

48 Crash

I came across this video by chance and was transported back to 1973 when this teenager had an immense crush on Suzy Quatro. It is a sobering thought that she celebrated her 60th birthday just a few months ago.... This rocker is one of her early hits, that went top 10 in most European countries and sold over a million copies.
Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player)

YouTube

Monday, November 22, 2010

Avedon for sale

Once more, a great combination of photojournalism and art, in this case the photography of one of the masters of the genre, Richard Avedon. The famous Christie's auctioned some of his most prized photographs recently in their Paris branch, to raise money for the foundation set up by the influential American portrait and fashion photographer before his death in 2004. This is a great shot from that event, with a spectator admiring his 1957 take on/of Marilyn Monroe.

All rights retained by the photographer (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters).

web site

Still alive body art by Alexa Meade

Body painting, no matter how well executed, will typically land you in Art's Potpourri rather than here. However, young artist Alexa Meade takes this principle so much further that it turns into a real art form. She paints bodies in a style that fits the painted background that she puts her living canvas models in - thus turning her creations into a fascinating mix of 2D and 3D art.

All rights retained by the artist.


web site

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Still climbing

One of my favourite shots from the recent holiday. This candid was taken in the castle of the Portuguese city of Braganca. A lovely moment, with lots of potential philosophical interpretations.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 134 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Always coca cola, even when you're blue

More photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is a shot created by their member JohnDoeIII for the The Blues 3 contest - introducing blue where you would least expect it. I find it intriguing how alien this image is - we have been so conditioned to associate Coca Cola with red that this is simply wrong.

All rights retained by the creator.

Worth1000

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pebbledash

This is such a wonderful shot, with that line of waves and deliciously shimmering bokeh. A real gem by my dear Flickr friend jenny downing.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Andrew Roussak

Andrew Roussak is a 42 year old composer, keyboard and piano player, born in Russia and working in Germany. He has won several prestigious awards, plays in the progressive metal band Dorian Opera, and has released two solo albums, both of which I have reviewed on the Magle music site: No Trespassing and Blue Intermezzo. Especially his second CD, just released, is a beautiful album, highly artistic soft jazz, with his prog and classical roots shining through as well. Warmly recommended.

Photobucket

With our eyes open

Sweden's newest sensation Boccanegra clearly takes the example of their compatriots Opeth to heart - even to the extent of almost copying the style of the band logo. However, instead of combining death metal with progressive rock, they opted to combine it with psychedelic rock - think sixties' style Pink Floyd with typical death metal grunts and riffs. It should not work - yet, it does. Fascinating and unique, and highly recommended.

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 Boccanegra.
[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. The random quote that came up was by Jawaharlal Nehru: There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Eyes without a face, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were informal Roman 70 white and Parchment 180 white, 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.

Art Inconnu

One of the most interesting art blogs I have come across in recent weeks. A showcase for artists from all over the world who were just short of real greatness - and hence did not make an impact with the larger audience. A real treasure to dive into.

web site

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cross

Most of the Flickr favourites that I post come from the streams of my 100 or so Flickr friends, because I pay most attention to them. Once in a while I encounter an image elsewhere that is so good that I love to share it. A case in point is this shot by fellow Flickrite walker.dylan, one of my admin picks of the day in the group Life thru a Lenz. I love the stark minimalism of this shot, further enhanced by the black and white treatment. And for those who equal good photography with having the best equipment: this was shot with a cell phone.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Vanity Fair October 1927

In April of this year, I started a new subject in the blog titled En Vogue - wonderful vintage Vogue covers mainly from the twenties and thirties. I have decided to start a new topic in parallel for other great magazine covers from those decades. We kick off with a magazine which will feature frequently, Vanity Fair. This particular one was created by Eduardo Garcia Benito, a masterpiece of cubist Art Deco.

link

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Those eyes

Sheer perfection, this glamour shot of a highly attractive model (JeSs), whom we have encountered before in this blog in the shot Rock chick. Let me quote its creator, my Flickr friend word artist: "I have seen many a time glamour photos where the model's eyes glowed with an amazing intensity of colour. It felt - so often - unnatural. All the pictures I had taken, the eyes, while occasionally colourful, never leapt out at me with such vibrancy and detail. Then, this shot of Jess."

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

iPhone 3G

Maybe not super-creative, but highly effective and a real feast for the eye in terms of composition and colour explosion. Even though I will never own an iPhone (an iPad on the other hand...), I love this advertisement.

Creative Ads

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Philosophical photography by B. Romain

I came across this stunning art via a post in the Acid Cow blog, but I will link to the creator's Flickr set below. Belgium's B. Romain is not only a very accomplished photographer, but he lifts his work to a higher artisitic level by combining them with appropriate quotes.

All rights retained by the artist.

web site

Splash (Sculpture by the Sea 2010)

The yearly modern sculptures exhibition at the beaches of Sydney (Sculpture by the Sea) always offers some very suitable shots for this blog, combining journalism and art in one shot. This example is by Tomas Misura. Perhaps more fun than profound, but definitely eye catching.

All rights retained by the photographer (Media Mode / Rex Features).

web site

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cefalu

A textbook example of top notch black and white landscape/cityscape photography. Wonderful range of contrast. A masterpiece by my Flickr friend Philipp Klinger.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Digital body art by Kim Joon

Fascinating digital art by Korean artist Kim Joon. The images he create may look like body paintings, but they are not. He creates everything from scratch in a 3D computer programme of the type that is also used to create animation films like Shrek.

All rights retained by the creator.

link

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rooster gas

Time to revive the fractal art subject, which has been dormant for a while in my blog. Here is another master piece by Manas Dichow, with a stunning colour combination and an intriguing title.

All rights retained by the creator.

Flickr