Monday, November 30, 2015

Unusual concertos [96]: Gamelan ensemble

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 90+ this time.

The ninety-sixth concerto deals with the gamelan ensemble (image credit). This traditional Indonesian group has slowly penetrated classical music, thanks mainly to American composers like Lou Harrison. I came across one concerto where it is used as the concertante "instrument" in combination with a classical Western symphony orchestra. It was composed by Matthew Martin, and a performance is available on YouTube.

Go here

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ruby and Sagan

A beautiful Art Deco illustration from the 1930s by Tito-Livio de Madrazo, depicting the dancers Ruby and Sagan. It was probably made for a poster or for a magazine.

web site

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 4. Goodnight Saigon (Billy Joel)

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 #4, we find Billy Joel with Goodnight Saigon (#1 in 1983). Its striking lyrics reflect on the Vietnam war. "And who was wrong, and who was right? It didn't matter in the thick of the fight." Right. The video was as impressive, focusing on war images and children playing with war toys. The song did not score highly in the USA, which could be due to the critical notes in an era when the Vietnam war was not fully digested. Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant song, one of the 200 best of all time).

YouTube

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pawn sacrifice

The recent Edward Zwick movie about American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer and his fight against the Soviet dominated chess world is a must-see for me. The poster is clever and effective, suggesting the turmoil in Fischer's brain when he plays Spasski for the world title.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Contemplation

Going through my Flickr archives, I found that I had not blogged this 2009 photograph of my wife in Shanghai yet. Time to correct it: not only do I like the shot very much, but with her staying with the family in Shanghai right now it is very appropriate.

Camera: Canon Powershot Pro1, handheld
Exposure: 0.033 sec (1/30)
Aperture: f/2.4
Focal Length: 7.0 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Leningrad Festival of Arts

A beautiful Art Deco poster from the Soviet Union, advertising the 1935 Leningrad Festival of Arts. Given the subject, it is of double interest for this blog of course. I could not find information on the designer.

Vintage Posters

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Polar ice

An artist who has not yet featured in the blog: Russian painter Alexander Borisov (1866-1934), whose main claim to fame is an abundance of polar landscapes. With winter arriving here in the Netherlands, this example from 1904 seemed a good choice for today. More about Borisov in the Wikipedia article linked to below.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Unusual concertos [95]: Chinese percussion

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 90+ this time.

The ninety-fifth concerto deals with Chinese percussion (image credit). Various Western tyoes of percussion have already featured in this series but with more and more Chinese composers turning to concertos, it was a matter of time before a concerto for Chinese percussion and orchestra appeared. I have one in my own collection, by Jia Daqun. It is a Chinese mini CD without further information on performers, unfortunately.

Go here

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Potpourri: Water Boat Fountain

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 14 May 2013.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 5. Nothing compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor)

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 #5, we find Sinead O'Connor with Nothing compares 2 U (#1 in 1990). This Prince song catapulted her to the top of the charts all over the world, including a four weeks spell at #1 in both the UK and the USA. The video clip helped - who can forget her shaven head and the tears on her cheeks? Whereas the clip admittedly bordered on kitsch, from a musical point of view there is nothing wrong with this beautiful love song, and certainly nothing wrong with the sincere personal heartfelt rendition. Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant song, one of the 200 best of all time).

YouTube

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mapped portraits by Ed Fairburn

Artist Ed Fairburn makes these beautiful portraits using maps as the background. The key trick of course is to use the features on the map and integrate them in the portrait themselves. Stunning work, more examples in the link. As usual, all rights retained by the artist.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vogue April 1924

A suitable vintage Vogue cover, given the awful November weather we've been having recently. The cover was made by Harriet Meserole, who was one of Vogue's most frequent cover artists of the twenties.

link

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Take it or leave it

Autumn inspired: a work my wife made earlier this year on a round canvas. By adding actual leaves later, she created a mixed media work that I find very appealing.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

To catch a mackerel

Flickr, once responsible for a large part of my on-line time, has been reduced to a footnote over the past year or so. There are a number of reasons for this, one being the departure from the site by many of my dearest Flickr friends. A case in point is jenny downing, who is still active on FaceBook but not on Flickr. I dug up an old favourite from her stream that I had not posted yet in my blog. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Monday, November 16, 2015

La Vie Parisienne July 1929

Triggered by the terrorist attack on Paris of Friday. The French joie de vivre must and will go on, in spite of such barbaric acts. This vintage magazine cover is a good way to express that.

link

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 6. Belfast child (Simple Minds)

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 #6, we find The Simple Minds with Belfast child (#1 in 1989). Based on the old Irish folksong She moved through the fair, recorded for instance by Loreena McKennit, this is one of a number of awesome songs inspired by the tragic situation in Northern Ireland ("and the war is raging in this Emerald isle"). It does end on a more hopeful note though ("The streets are empty, life goes on - One day we'll return here, when the Belfast Child sings again"). Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant song, one of the 200 best of all time).

YouTube

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sur-Fake

"Sur-Fake" is a photoart project by French photographer Antoine Geiger. In these images, he makes a powerful comment on the obsession many have with their handphones. All rights retained by the artist, as usual.

link

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Les feuilles mortes

Another example of my digital art, created with the free software SuperPhoto that came with my laptop. This autumnal tapestry is based on a picture I took eight years ago in the park near our house in Almere (which incidentally we finally sold last week). The link leads to the original photograph.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lest we forget

Over the past few years, I have made many posts inspired by the so-called Great War (1914-1918), on the occasion of Armistice Day (11 November) - lest we forget. Here (like last years, updated) I collect links to all of them rather than re-post one or two. If you want to click just one, I suggest the first one, which has some astonishing background information. The image above is sourced from here.

11-11-08 Poem: In Flanders' fields.
11-11-08 YouTube: Documentary on Britten's War Requiem.
11-11-08 Paintings: Returning to the trenches (Nevinson).
11-11-08 Flickr favourites: Lest we forget.
11-11-09 Vintage posters: In Flanders' fields.
11-11-09 Paintings: La guerre (Gromaire).
11-11-09 Photojournalism: Remembrance.
11-11-10 Paintings: Over the top (Nash).
11-11-10 En Vogue: Vogue May 1914.
11-11-10 Poem: Suicide in the trenches.
11-11-10 Photojounalism: The fallen.
11-11-11 Under cover: Motion Picture May 1918.
12-11-11 Photojournalism: Armistice day in London.
12-11-11 Photojournalism: Armistice day in Minsk.
11-11-12 Art-iculations: Artists who fell in the "Great" War.
11-11-13 Paintings: Armored train in action (Severini)
11-11-13 Flickr favourites: Poppy.
09-11-14 Miscellaneous art: Blood swept lands....
10-11-14 Paintings: Still life with poppies (van Gogh).
11-11-14 Flickr favourites: Voices fading on the winds of thought.
09-11-15 Vintage posters: Step into your place
10-11-15 Paintings: A star shell (Nevinson)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A star shell

There are many paintings that have been inspired by the Great War, but for consistent quality, one can always fall back on Christopher Nevinson (1888-1946). This chilling vision depicts the trenches lit up by an exploding shell. It dates back to 1916, shortly after he was invalided out of the Royal Army Medical Corps. More about Nevinson in the Wikipedia article linked to below.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Step into your place

The first of three posts inspired by the yearly memorial for the so-called Great War (1914-1918). This is one of the UK posters of the time that enticed young men to join the army. It looks stunningly modern, and the way the line fades into nothingness is chilling in retrospect.

Vintage Posters

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Aquatic ballet

A water reflection shot I took earlier this month near our home. Not a personal favourite, but it got a good response at Flickr. The title is courtesy of my Flickr friend Rainer Blankermann.

Camera: Canon IXUS 115 HS, 12 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/5.9
Focal Length: 20.0 mm
ISO Speed: 250
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The best Dutch #1 hits: 7. Angie (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 #7, we find The Rolling Stones with Angie (#1 in 1973). This song from the album Goats Head Soup was released as a single when I was 16, just at the time that I really started to get interested in pop and rock music. Nothing in their repertoire comes close to this world-wide number one hit, a heartfelt mournful ballad about a doomed love. The inspiration for the lyrics have speculatively been attributed to varied sources: Keith Richards' long time love, Anita Pallenberg, David Bowie's ex-wife, Angela Bowie, and even David Bowie himself, whom Angela claimed to have once found in bed with Jagger (it was in fact Keith Richards' daughter Angela who inspired the name choice). "Everywhere I look, I see your eyes...." Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant song, one of the 200 best of all time).

YouTube

Friday, November 06, 2015

Sheep may safely graze

News photography at its best: it captures a news moment very well, and the photograph itself is accomplished and interesting. This is a demonstration of Spanish shepherds in Madrid in defence of the threat against ancient grazing, droving and migration rights. As always, all rights retained by the photographer (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP).