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

Penetration

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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Microsculpture - Insect portraits of Levon Biss

The linked site is a fascinating interactive show of highly-detailed photographs of bugs. And what beautiful creatures they turn out to be. You can zoom in on each image, opening a micro-world full of fascinating colours and shapes. The above is a screenshot of part of a tricoloured jewel beetle at maximum zoom. Addictive.

Copyright statement: image is a very small part of original photograph, deemed fair use.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Autumn princess

Topical and beautiful, this magazine illustration from the heydays of Art Deco by William Henry "Haskell" Coffin (1878–1941). Coffin was a famous illustrator, whose work consisted inter alia of posters commissioned by the US government. He was one of the most highly paid illustrators of his era.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene is one of the early film classics. The original German version from 1919 came with a fascinating poster, clearly influenced by expressionist artists.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Big TV

White Lies is an Indie rock band from the UK. I have never heard any of their music, but their album covers are excellent. This is their third album, released in 2013, with a cover that has won a number of prizes. It is based on a painting by New York City-based artist Michael Kagan.

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The storm

The special exhibition of works by Russian expressionist Alexej von Jawlensky in the City Museum of The Hague last month featured a number of works by related other artists as well. Of course, one of them was Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938), his compatriot and long-time companion. This painting in her characteristic expressionist style impressed me a lot.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Geometry

One of my favourite shots of recent weeks. This colourful geometrical abstract is a detail of a wall decoration in the City Museum of The Hague. Good reactions at Flickr, although I had hoped for more.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/3.6
Focal Length: 4.5 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Join the Royal Air Force

One more post about the Great War. This recruitment poster dates from April 1918, half a year before the war ended. I simply love the biplanes from those days (a throwback to my childhood when I devoured the Biggles pockets).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Verdun

Today is Armistice day, and this year we remember that it is exactly a century ago that one of the worst wars in the history of mankind finally ended. The misnamed Great War that took the lives of over 20 million people, including many great artists. For the occasion, this 1917 painting of the Verdun battlefield by Swiss/French painter Félix Vallotton (1865-1925).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Louise Brooks

Louise Brooks is one of the faces of the jazz age, and a personal favourite of mine. This must be one of the best shots of her, but unfortunately I could not find information on the photographer or the year it was taken (other than "1920s").

Copyright statement: image by unknown photographer, likely to be in public domain.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Spotted

Another dazzling abstract by my Flickr friend tapatim. Her photostream is a real treasure trove of unique abstractions.

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

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The temper trap

The second album of the Australian Indie band The temper trap, bearing the same title and released in 2012, comes with a cover that has been recognized as one of the most beautiful of all time at the Art Vinyl site. Alberto Seveso is credited with artwork and photography.

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