Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Droste has been a leading Dutch chocolate and cacao brand since 1863. It is best known internationally for the Droste effect, a picture appearing within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear - based on a famous poster of a nurse holding a Droste chocolate box, depicting the same nurse and so on (image). The one I picked is a less famous Art Deco masterpiece designed in 1931 by Emiel Wagner.

Vintage Posters

Monday, September 29, 2014

True Colours by Faber-Castell

True colours is a beautiful imaginative advertisement campaign by German company Faber-Castell, depicting their coloured pencils in combination with images of the same colour. These gems (several more in the link) were created by Germany advertising agency Serviceplan.

Creative Ads

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Links [48]

Once more an overview of interesting links on topics related to the blog, that I encountered recently, but that will probably not make the blog as separate entries. The picture above is by myself.

The Sublime Beauty of 19th Century China.
The 40 Best Space Movies.
Abstract Art Timeline: Colour and Shape.
Oxford Photography Festival.
The Best Actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Photography and Architecture.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Olaf Heine

German photographer Olaf Heine (born 1968) is probably best known as director of music videos such as one of my all-time favourite songs, Nur zu Besuch by Die Toten Hosen. He is also a well-known photographer of stars and album covers. I came across his more recent work in a MyModernMet post, with black and white pictures of Brazil, published in a hardcover photo book by teNeues. Especially the architecture shots such as the one above appealed to me a lot. More about Heine in the (German) Wikipedia entry linked to below.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Unusual concertos [77]: Erhu

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 70+ this time.

The seventy seventh concerto deals with the erhu (image source). It is probably the most famous of the Chinese instruments, also known as the Chinese fiddle. With a long tradition in Chinese folk and popular music, understandably it took a while before it penetrated the realm of classical music. Concertos are not widespread, and as far as I know limited to Chinese composers of classical music. I have selected the erhu concerto Legends Of Kelaxin Grassland by Zhou Cheng-Long. It is played by Min Hui-Fen and the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra conducted by Xia Fei-Yun, available on a Hugo CD.

Go here

Thursday, September 25, 2014


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. The Valk (Falcon) windmill of Zalk, part of the municipality of Kampen, is a classic example of the iconic Dutch windmill. I converted my shot to digital art by the lithprint module of the mentioned software. The link leads to the original photograph.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mode Pratique March 1929

Mode Pratique was a French fashion magazine that first appeared in the 19th century. It is surprisingly difficult to find more information on it, but they did have great covers in the twenties, which have appeared on several blogs.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Abstracting reality part 4: wear and tear

Of the recurring topics in my photography, abstract images tend to stand out. This has inspired me to write a series of blog posts on the subject, as seen through my lay-man's eyes (I never received any formal training on photography). In these posts, I will tackle the following six (not mutually exclusive) themes: distorted reflections, architectural abstracts, wear and tear, zooming in, abstracted art, and miscellaneous situations. A general introduction was posted here; the first contribution (on distorted reflections) was posted here, the second contribution (on architectural abstracts) was posted here.

Wear and tear (the third of the themes), the effect of time on materials like stone, wood and metal, can create beautiful abstract images, often resembling abstract paintings. Like with most of these themes, it is essential to keep an eye open for suitable subjects. As an example, every time I come into an old European church, I look at the pillars and the walls, for possible abstracts. Another example one frequently encounters is rust, especially when it occurs in combination with painted metal around it. Although there may be shapes and line play at work here, more often than not, the abstract effect comes from combining different colours, so black and white conversion is almost never a good idea for this theme. On the other hand, pushing the natural colours to extreme levels often lead to excellent results. Please click here to see 12 selected examples from my Flickr photostream with some background information.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Dark eyes

A really beautiful sheet music cover from 1929: Dark eyes by A. Salami, originally a famous Russian song with lyrics by a Ukranian poet. The Art Deco design was made by Barbelle.

web site

Sunday, September 21, 2014


This poster for the 2013 movie by Lars von Trier is as minimal as they come, and manages to be subtle and unsubtle at the same time. Apparently it was judged too risky by some, as other versions have been made in which the symbol is only used small in the title (instead of the letter o).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bored at the museum

The premise of the site Bored at the museum is interesting, even if the site's lay-out is cumbersome. It contains hundreds of photographs of museum visitors imitating the art behind them. The problem is that all of them are visible on the first page in excerpts of a few pixels, which you need to click to see the pictures. That said, it is still fun (and you get to see a lot of art as well).

web site

Friday, September 19, 2014

Into a full and clear light

Chances are that you are really not interested in new age music - apart from a select group of lovers of this genre, a lot of people can't stand it. Chances are that you are really not interested in Christian pop music - apart from a select group of lovers of this genre, a lot of people can't stand it. Well, enter The Missionary from Double Springs, Alabama. This new band combines the two genres in a unique way: soothing string sounds, supported by the occasional flute and harp, are used in combination with singing Christian lyrics in a style that may be best described as Enya on Ritalin. Not my cup of tea.

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 The Missionary.
[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 Isaac Newton: I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Artificial moon, 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 80 yellow and Arabolical 55 light gray, 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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Born under punches

Thirty years ago today, I got my Ph.D. in Chemical Technology from the Delft University of Technology. My thesis had a quote on the inner front page: Don't you miss it! Don't you miss it! Not your usual fare, where most candidates picked a religious or philosophical quote. Mine came from Born under punches, a track from the brilliant Talking Heads album Remain in light. And it produced a bottle of wine, courtesy of a bet with my colleague and friend Paul. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vogue October 1929

A vintage Vogue cover that is up there with the best of that splendid decade. No wonder, since it was designed by the famous Georges Lepape.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


The 2014 album Familiars by the Antlers from New York (their fourth) has a really outstanding cover design - it inspired me to check out their music, and I am glad I did. The photograph is by  Louise Lemercier, and the absence of any text only strengthens the image.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kara grill

I am not a grill/barbecue person myself, but I can appreciate the beauty of its design. The Kara grill that is produced by French company Cesarre is a piece of art in itself. At a cost of about 5000 euro, though.

web site

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ladies from Shanghai

This post is based on a few things happening last week. I was reading Lisa See's novel Shanghai girls (to be followed by the sequel Dreams of joy). I can heartily recommend everything she has written so far, by the way - she really brings China to life (from the 17th century to the current age). Since there are several paintings by my wife in our living room with the same theme (Shanghai girls), I got the inspiration to photograph the book covers with two of these paintings. My wife liked the result, and asked me to elaborate on the difference in these two paintings as well. This was actually triggered by a critique in a Dutch newspaper last week on the current exhibition of the paintings of Marlene Dumas, widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary Dutch painters, The critic complained that the bodies in her paintings are not depicted in an anatomically correct way... well, in the same article he claimed that for that reason Isaac Israels was a better painter than his contemporary compatriot Vincent van Gogh. It makes you wonder why people get paid to spew nonsense like this to the public. Anyway, it reminded us of the criticism that my wife gets once in a while, because she tends to paint the figures in her work without a face (like the two Shanghai ladies on the left). No, this is not because she does not know how to paint a face, as the painting on the right proves. That one was painted ten years earlier, with the express purpose to demonstrate her ability to paint the details - but it is a once-off in her oeuvre. As an artist, she has selected to omit these details from most of her work, giving the viewer the chance to fill in the facial contours in his/her mind.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Der Ring der Nibelungen by Anna Russell

Wagner's masterpiece, the opera cycle Der Ring der Nibelungen, takes about 15 hours spread over four consecutive evenings. I try to listen to it at least once a year. The linked video is a hilarious summary of the story and the music by English–Canadian singer and comedian Anna Russell from a famous 1953 sketch, taking just under 22 minutes. I love it.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Ann Blyth (glamour manga)

More photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced Photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is a shot created by their member kr43m0r for the Vintage Hollywood Manga 5 contest. Ann Blyth, famous for many musical films, is a great choice for the manga treatment. As always, all rights retained by the creator.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Morning mood

It did not reach Flickr Explore, but it must have been a close miss: based on reactions and faves, this is one of my most popular shots of recent months. It is the bridge over de IJssel near our home, taken on a foggy morning walk with the dog.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.0031 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/13
Focal Length: 128 mm
ISO Speed: 160
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Messerschmitt KR200

A beautiful vintage poster from the fifties, depicting the Messerschmitt KR200 three-wheeled bubble car in an autumnal alpine landscape. The car's cockpit-like bubble reminds us of the fact that a decade earlier, Messerschmitt was producing some of the best fighter planes of the second world war.

Vintage Posters

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Potpourri: Minimal celebrities

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 3 February 2014.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Repost: Maleonn

A re-post from the artchives (original posting date 27 October 2008) - with the blog in its current form over four years old, I intend to dig up some of the older posts once in a while. I selected this one because the Shanghainese photographer Maleonn featured in two of the links of yesterday's post.

During our 2008 visit to Shanghai, we had the good fortune to meet one of my wife's former class mates. Maleonn has become a well-known name in contemporary art photography and deservedly so. His style, although with hints of Jan Saudek at times, is still distinctly his own and has that unique blend of Chinese themes and western approaches that I also see in my wife's oil paintings. A fascinating artist, and in spite of his busy schedule, also a great host. You can see more of his art on his website linked to below.

Maleonn web site

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Burning Embrace

The art installation Embrace goes up in flames during the Burning Man Caravansary arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada end of August. About 65,000 people attended the festival, which has been held annually since 1990. More pictures of this happening in the link. As always, all rights retained by the photographer (Jim Urquhart/Reuters).