Monday, 17 December 2012
Like the author on his return to the USA during World War II, 'It was a Paris of visions in which I took my walks now, a Paris that, though intensely real, was imperceptibly migrating from flesh to spirit.' In her idiosyncratic yet incisive introduction, Lila Azam Zanganeh rightly challenges Green's nostalgia and even his tendency to exclude others from experiencing 'the Paris of the Parisians'.
In my favourite chapter, 'Museums, streets, seasons, faces', Green contends: 'The posers you could set, even for teachers, just by running through the history of our city (what happened to the mummies brought back from Egypt, where were they buried, what lies beneath the column on which the spirit of the Bastille is forever taking wing, where did they divert the Phantom of the Opera's underground lake, who posed for the statue of Pierre de Wissant, who lived in the château des Brouillards?), but in Paris you may always be sure there will be someone, secretly in love with his city, who will know all the answers.' That must be true of London nowadays, too.
(The answers to Green's posers can be found at the back of the Penguin Modern Classics Paris.)
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Monday, 15 October 2012
Just over 80 years ago, the city was the setting for another detective, a child: Emil Tischbein. In Emil and the Detectives (1931), Erich Kästner's plucky hero teams up with local kids to retrieve his stolen money after Emil takes the train to Berlin. Kästner is as careful in his description of the boys' attempts to recover the cash as he is in his portrayal of the city:
'The noise was indescribable, and on the pavements crowds of people kept hurrying by. Out of every turning vans and lorries, trams and double-decker buses swarmed into the main thoroughfare. There were newspaper stands at every corner, with men shouting the latest headlines. Wherever Emil looked there were gay shop windows filled with flowers and fruit, books, clothes, fine silk underwear, gold watches and clocks. And all the buildings stretched up and up into the sky. So this was Berlin!'
The chase leads the gang from Friedrichstrasse station, along Kaiserdamm, Trautenaustrasse, to Nollendorfplatz. In a sentiment that might be replicated by Hans Fallada, Emil initially believes, 'No one has time for other people's troubles in a city. They've all troubles enough of their own.'
Writing just one year after Emil..., in Little Man, What Now? Fallada has 'little man' Pinneberg trudge the city's streets in a pattern also recognisable from Alfred Döblin's earlier Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929), which was adapted as a 15-and-a-half hour film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1980. In the latter books it is not children who dominate the streets but the unemployed, hopeless and hucksters.
Pinneberg realises Berlin is not the place for him following an altercation with a policeman on Friedrichstrasse: 'Then Pinneberg went on his way, one step at a time, through Berlin. But nowhere was completely dark, and going past policemen was particularly difficult.'
Thursday, 13 September 2012
Prime among them is Bill Brandt, born in Munich, and moved to London in 1933. The handful of his works chosen here, from the Eric and Louise Franck London Collection, are symptomatic of the exhibition as a whole: they're all exterior shots.
As if to underline the outsider status of these emigrés and visitors, the vast majority of the photos show familiar landmarks and everyday characters but rarely scratch beneath the city's surface. James Barnor's 'Mike Eghan at Piccadilly Circus, London' (c1967) is typical, and full of incidental information (posters in the background advertise Doctor Zhivago, Michael Caine in Funeral in Berlin and Lionel Bart's Oliver!, 'London's longest running musical'), although there is no explanation of who Mike Eghan is, unless I missed it.
Ghanaian Barnor (Eghan is a compatriot broadcaster) has one of the few indoor shots on show - 'Flamingo cover girl Sarah with friend, London' (c1965) - and how atmospheric it is: we all know these stairwells of shared accommodation. Eve Arnold goes one step further and invades the bathroom for 'One of four girls who share a flat in Knightsbridge' (1961). Along with Willy Ronis' 1955 interior of a barely changed French House, these are the exhibition's best images.
I've always been troubled by Bill Brandt's latent sadism, but how I longed for one of his nudes - 'The Policeman's Daughter, Hampstead' (1945), say, or 'Eaton Place Nude' (1951). The Eaton Place images are unforgettable to anyone who has ever visited any of the central London townhouses, while the former hints at the perversions perpetrated behind our close doors.
And if not these, why not his 'Late night coffee stall' (1939), 'Alice at the Crooked Billet' (1939), 'Young woman at Charlie Brown's' (1946) or Brandt's 1941 portrait of Dylan Thomas in the Salisbury pub. In his work, perhaps more than in any of the images on show, the German was someone who never lost his outsider's eye, but was part of British life, exactly as he wanted.
Monday, 10 September 2012
The emphasis does shift between the National Gallery and Tate shows, and not just because the former included a version of The Scream - notably from the figure of Tulla Larsen, with whom Munch had a relationship from 1899 to 1902, to Rosa Meissner, a model who came from Berlin in 1907, along with her sister, Olga. And while the exhibition at the National Gallery was preoccupied with an incident in which Munch accidentally shot himself after an argument with Tulla (presumably the source of the X-ray of a bullet in Munch's hand, which goes unexplained at the Tate), the Tate survey concentrates on an incident at a party when the artist threatened to shoot a younger artist, Ludvig Karsten.
While the National Gallery catalogue contains contemporary photographs of Munch's exhibitions, the Tate makes much more of the artist's photographs, in line with the current vogue. The main exhibit could be said to be a photograph of Rosa Meissner naked in a room, which inspired the series Weeping Woman. (Interested in auras and spiritualism - as well as blurs and odd angles - Munch creates a spooky shadow in the photo, reminiscent of Francesca Woodman's self-portraits, although the spectre is Rosa's sister, Olga.)
'Edvard Munch belongs to a generation of artists - that of Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Félix Vallotton... and others - all born around 1860, who achieved their first stylistic maturity in the final two decades of the nineteenth century, at the time of the great boom in amateur photography,' writes Clément Chéroux in the Tate catalogue. This overlaps with a recent exhibition, 'Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard', whose companion published by Easton is well worth snapping up, however: 'What fundamentally distinguishes Munch from the other painters who practised photography at the same time is the quantity of self-portraits he produced.'
Many of them are included in this exhibition; they form a sort of autobiography. While he painted himself with deliberation in such wonderful works as Between the Clock and the Bed (1940-3) - one of my favourite self-portraits of any artist - in these snaps he seems to have been looking for answers to questions he didn't know how to pose.
Though the National Gallery may have presented visitors with the broader survey of Munch's work, this great show at Tate Modern has touches of Paul Gauguin, 'who Munch considered to be the greatest artist of his time' (Arne Eggum in the Tate catalogue) - see Red Virginia Creeper (1898-1900) - and Vallotton (check out the shapes in The Kiss, 1897, or the figures in the doorway of Jealousy, 1907, inspired by Munch's unhappy relationship with Tulla Larsen). His influence can even be found, more recently, in the work of another wonderful storyteller: Peter Doig - compare Ashes and Summer Night's Dream: The Voice with Doig's Echo Lake (1998) and 100 Years Ago (Carrera), 2001.
Monday, 3 September 2012
It made me return to one of my favourite pen portraits of an artist: W Somerset Maugham's fictional take on the life of Paul Gauguin, The Moon and Sixpence (1919). Maugham's novel is just as reflexive as The Map... as it is told by another writer, an acquaintance of the subject, Charles Strickland (the fictive Gauguin).
Maugham reflects on the narrator's early days as a writer in a manner that seems little changed: 'Then it was a distinction to be under forty, but now to be more than twenty-five is absurd.' Although the venues may have returned to type: 'Chelsea and Bloomsbury have taken the place of Hampstead, Notting Hill Gate, and High Street, Kensington.'
Nor is Maugham any less sharp than Houellebecq: 'Mrs Strickland had the gift of sympathy. It is a charming faculty, but one often abused by those who are conscious of its possession: for there is something ghoulish in the avidity with which they will pounce upon the misfortune of their friends so that they may exercise their dexterity. It gushes forth like an oil-well... There are bosoms on which so many tears have been shed that I cannot bedew them with mine.'
And, later: 'I had not yet learnt how contradictory human nature is; I did not know how much pose there is in the sincere, how much baseness in the noble, or how much goodness in the reprobate.'
W Somerset Maugham's 1928 play The Sacred Flame is at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, 13-22 September.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
Thomson first came to attention in 1987 with Dreams of Leaving, his vision of a police-run village, New Egypt. There followed a terrific run - The Five Gates of Hell (1991) and Air & Fire (1993) - before probably my favourite work of his: The Insult (1996). It's a tremendous celebration of imagination: a blind man goes in search of the invisible man, who's disappeared!
I've written before about how his Divided Kingdom (2005) reflected my emotional history growing up, while Thomson's most recent work - The Party's Got to Stop (published by Granta), is a retelling of his own relationship with his brothers. Like Geoff Dyer, Thomson is in part inspired by living in different places - The Book of Revelation grew out of a stint in Amsterdam and more recently he moved to Barcelona. The Book was also reflected in his last novel, Death of a Murderer (2007), inspired by Myra Hindley, which he told me was another work about 'a man in a room'.
Nine books isn't a bad return over 25 years. His next, Secrecy - a historical novel set in Florence - is due next spring and I can't wait.
Monday, 16 July 2012
Monday, 9 July 2012
Monday, 2 July 2012
There's a reassurance as to the books' provenance: 'His Amsterdam Cops series that features Adjutant Grijpstra and Sergeant de Gier... was conceived when the author served with the Amsterdam Reserve Constabulary.' And fun, too: 'His joys are an ongoing study of nihilism, keeping a wooden lobster boat afloat and getting older.'
Georges Simenon's biographies on the back of old Penguins also acknowledge the great crime writer's boating activities: 'He has travelled all over the world, and at one time lived in a cutter, with his wife as second-in-command, making long journeys of exploration round the coasts of northern Europe.' I particularly like the line: 'His recreations are riding, fishing and golf.'
My favourite biography, however, has to be that for Giovanni Guareschi (again in Penguin); 'His father had a heavy black moustache under his nose: Giovanni grew one just like it. He still has it and is proud of it. He is not bald, has written eight books, and is five feet ten inches tall.
'"I also have a brother," Guareschi says, adding "but I prefer not to discuss him. And I have a motorcycle with four cylinders, an automobile with six cylinders, and a wife and two children."' Now don't you want to read his Don Camillo series of books? You should!
Monday, 18 June 2012
Hitchcock is a master of the everyday-man wrongly suspected of a crime scenario, but here we're looking for clues that Charlie's a wrong 'un. Quick to pick up the trail is his adoring niece, played by Teresa Wright, who's so close to her uncle she's known as 'young Charlie'; she even believes there's an extrasensory link between them and he's come to town precisely because he sensed she was bored.
Young Charlie's sharper than the rest of her family - including dad, who discusses amateur criminology with his neighbour, a young Hume Cronyn, and is taken in by the gift of a watch - but also smitten with her uncle. The interest is reciprocated, but it's only when one of the detectives falls for her that the case begins to fall into place - when Uncle Charlie gives his niece a stolen ring in a cod wedding scene.
Much is made of the film's small-town setting - Thornton Wilder worked on the script - but I particularly like the opening scenes in Philadelphia, which so cleverly set up Uncle Charlie's character, and are filled with rundown fire escapes and desolate city streets that presage the start of Psycho seven years later.
Best of all is the sense of restrained, almost insouciant, menace in Cotten's performance. This was a year or two after Orson Welles had cast the stage actor - and one-time theatre critic - in Citizen Kane (1941). Cotten made his name as a romantic lead but this is one of his most compelling performances - his slyness contrasts nicely with the character he was to take on in Welles's The Third Man (1949).
When he's found out, Hitchcock even gives Cotten a speech to match Welles's famous outburst atop the ferris wheel in Vienna. 'The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows,' Charlie tells his niece, 'husbands dead, husbands who've spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. And then they die and leave their money to their wives, their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women?
'You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands, drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge, playing all day and all night, smelling of money, proud of their jewellery but of nothing else, horrible, faded, fat, greedy women... Are they human or are they fat, wheezing animals, hmm? And what happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?'
There's a great piece of mathematical business in Shadow of a Doubt ('1888! Fifty-three years ago') that places the action on the eve of the USA's entry into World War II and it's initially tempting to suspect Uncle Charlie may be a Nazi spy; he's unwilling to have his picture taken, mysterious about the source of his money - and his sister, the sweet-as-apple-pie matriarch, seems too good to be true. Even her efforts to place Charlie in their family history seem suspicious.
Six years later Max Ophüls visited small-town America for The Reckless Moment. This is a less-innocent world - closer to the big city - where reputation is all. This time the mother (Joan Bennett) does try and protect her child, by covering up the death of her daughter's no-good boyfriend. There are lots of stairways again.
In both films, it's left to the women to get the better of their tormentors - the threats to their family lives. Hitchcock thought Shadow of a Doubt the best of his American movies, and who am I to disagree?
Monday, 11 June 2012
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
It's a line Laurent Binet could be said to riff on in HHhH - much as the book's cover draws on Gerhard Richter's portraiture - when he dreams of writing the phrase: 'A black Mercedes slid along the road like a snake.' Mercedes cars recur in the young French writer's book about World War II's Operation Anthropoid and its target, Reinhard Heydrich, known as the Hangman, the Butcher of Prague or - by his own men - the Blond Beast.
I'd be loath to drag Geoff Dyer into yet another post if such work as The Missing of the Somme weren't an obvious touchstone for this 'personal' portrait. Dyer's non-fiction is the writing of the book he would have written if he hadn't written about writing that book instead. Or, as he puts it in Out of Sheer Rage, his book about writing a book about DH Lawrence: 'There are people who like to complete all the reading, all the research, and then, when they have attained complete mastery of the material, then and only then do they sit down and write it up. Not me. Once I know enough about a subject to begin writing about it I lose interest in it immediately.'
There are episodes that preempt Binet: Dyer finds he can't work without his copy of Lawrence's Complete Poems, 'crammed with notes and annotations', which he has left in Paris. Having regained it thanks to a friend, Dyer then leaves the 'talismanic' book in Rome. Unable to work in Greece he could blame his 'inability to get started on having left my copy of The Complete Poems in Rome', except: 'At the last possible moment, with the taxi rumbling downstairs, I had dashed back up, retrieved my copy...'
Binet recounts how he regrets not having snapped up, for 250 euros, a book called Leben mit einem Kriegsverbrecher (Living with a War Criminal) written by Heydrich's wife, Lina, after the war : 'I've reached the point in the story where I have to recount Heydrich's first meeting with his wife. Here more than for any other section, that extremely rare and costly tome would undoubtedly have been a great help.' Later he tells us, parenthetically, however: 'I admit it, I ended up buying the book.'
Nevertheless Binet and Dyer are meticulous in their research, even if the former seems to garner much of his inspiration from films, notably Hitler's Madman (directed by Douglas Sirk and starring John Carradine) and Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die! (1943). There's more recent fare, too, including Conspiracy ('only five euros [on DVD] - postage and handling included'), Downfall, The Pianist, The Counterfeiters, Black Book and Eric Rohmer's Triple Agent - 'Heydrich in a Rohmer film! I still can't get over it.'
Binet's girlfriend, Natacha, teases that he may be turning into a fascist, as if he were the obsessive narrator at the centre of Roberto Bolano's war-gaming novel The Third Reich. Binet wields his real-life characters deftly but if I have one quibble about HHhH, it's in the editing: at times the construction means the reader is missing certain important facts, while at others the detail is repetitive.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
With the help of an expert, Jonas tries to separate the real deal from fraudsters: '...outsider art is overrun by thieves and hacks and opportunists and corrupters... The difference here is that the artists themselves can't be corrupted by it.' He's advised a good test is to meet the artist and, in this case, the artist turns out to be a true wacko, someone with a 'total absence of self-consciousness'.
It's a definition that could apply to Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy, who died last year aged 85. A student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague he suffered first when the communists came to power in 1948 and then, in 1957, when he had a mental breakdown.
He moved back to his hometown, Kyjov, and began taking pictures using homemade cameras. I'll leave it to a biography for the Wilkinson gallery, which hosted an exhibition of his work soon after his death, to take up the story: 'He mainly photographed the local women; the curvaceous contours of a body in motion, captured moments of sartorial revelation, smooth calves truncating from underneath full skirts... He worked with a homemade camera that he fashioned from used materials, such as shoeboxes, rubber bands and tin cans, complete with makeshift telephoto lenses, polished with toothpaste and ashes.'
'He honoured women in bikinis' according to the gallery or, as writer Geoff Dyer has it: 'he spent the 1960s and '70s perving around Kyjov.' The local swimming pool was a favourite haunt - from the outside of the mesh fence - or, if not that, a line of bras hanging to dry would do.
There's something of Victorian artist Edward Linley Sambourne here, who would hang around in Kensington taking pictures of schoolgirls using a camera that took pictures at a right angle to the direction in which it was pointed. Dyer links Tichy's pictures with an unrequited summer of longing in Paris, images that are no doubt conjured again in these hot days. The oddest part of Tichy's pictures is that there's something nostalgic about his unguarded moments, of unlikely hairstyles and retro costumes.
Like the artist in Dee's book, Tichy was apparently oblivious to his own work: he used a homemade enlarger to print his images, sometimes scribbling in the detail. Then he might use them as beer mats or drop them onto the floor, where they were nibbled by rats.
Monday, 7 May 2012
At the age of 20, Breslauer went to Paris to study photography under Man Ray who decides she has nothing to learn from him but extends her the use of his studio. In photographing the banks of the Seine and the Jardin du Luxembourg, she inevitably invokes Jacques Henri Lartigue (there's also something of his albums here), Ilse Bing, ubiquitous Atget and, of course, Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Her work tends to series: best of all is a set taken at an art auction, Vente S&S, attended by Pablo Picasso and Ambroise Vollard, among others. The spirit of two shots of Berlin's Lützowbrücke (1930) is revisited from 1932-36 when Breslauer photographs the same Amsterdam canal: two shots have the same laundry hanging on the same boat with the same car parked alongside (there's even a reverse shot from the canal side, though this time it's a different boat decorated with different laundry).
Circus, Berlin 1931 is a series of six pictures of the same androgynous child; a year later, writer and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach is similarly androgynous in two striking portraits. The portraits become increasingly mature, from the cover shot (Ruth von Morgen, Berlin 1934, pictured) to delicate images of Oskar Kokoschka and Albert Barnes, but the key to her oeuvre must be the self-portraits.
In an essay, Marion Beckers and Elisabeth Moortgat make a great deal of a 1929 image the photographer took of herself, looking askance, hair pulled over one eye. In 1933 she is naked in a dressing gown and again not looking at the viewer but into her camera, which looks out at us (and at her). She is the only nude in the book in a manner reminiscent of another young prodigy, Francesca Woodman - in such short careers, the catalogue of both inevitably leans on student work.
The changing situation in Europe notwithstanding, Breslauer seems to have felt she had exhausted all she could achieve as a photographer and laid down her camera some time around 1937. 'If I had worked longer in this area, I would have gone into film,' she said. 'I'd had enough of photography.' The final snaps here date from 1938, and there's Breslauer, again in her housecoat, partially exposed, but bearing her camera.
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Hergé had decided to stay in Belgium following the country's invasion by the Nazis, and continued to produce comic strips for the German-run Le Soir newspaper. During World War II, he retreated into the apolitical fantasies of The Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham's Treasure (recently made into a film by Steven Spielberg, of course) and The Seven Crystal Balls.
The Shooting Star (1942) is undoubtedly anti-semitic but its apocalyptic atmosphere can surely only have been informed by the arrival of the Nazis, while the pre-war King's Ottokar's Sceptre is decidedly anti-fascist (though only Tintin in America and The Black Island were banned by the Nazis).
Nevertheless, the first form of official pardon for Hergé came as late as 1958, when he was met by the Belgian ambassador on a visit to London. According to biographer Harry Thompson, the author 'remained bitter at the treatment meted out to those who - as he saw it - had stuck with Belgium in her hour of need.'
One of the reasons Hergé gave for remaining in the country was because his beloved king (Leopold III) had also stayed and, indeed, urged his subjects to work as usual. Another possibility may be that Hergé was not disposed to living in another country, as was the case with German Hans Fallada - real name, Rudolf Ditzen - currently much celebrated for Alone in Berlin and A Small Circus.
Fallada had any number of opportunities to leave Germany during the Nazis' rise, but decided to stick it out. In 1944 he wrote: 'I am a German, I say that today with pride and sorrow, I love Germany, I don't want to live or work anywhere else in the world. I probably couldn't live or work anywhere else.' (Quoted in Jenny Williams' biography More Lives than One.)
His novels show a fine judge of the human spirit, though whether his political judgement was so sharp remains open to question. In November 1937 he accepted an approach to write a novel 'dealing with the fate of a German family from 1914 until around 1933'.
When Fallada brought Iron Gustav to a close in 1928, Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, intervened to ensure the writer fulfilled the detail of his contract, which meant Fallada had to cover the rise of the National Socialists. Williams writes: '[Fallada] later tried to justify his capitulation in the following terms: "I do not like grand gestures, being slaughtered before the tyrant's throne, senselessly, to the benefit of no one and to the detriment of my children, that is not my way."'
He may have found some sympathy from Vasily Grossman, the Russian celebrated for Everything Flows and Life and Fate, his massive novel centred on the battle for Stalingrad. For three years from 1943, Grossman contributed to an astounding narrative of Jewish massacres in Poland and the Soviet Union - informing some of Life and Fate - and yet, in 1952, he signed an official letter condemning Stalin's Jewish doctors for a plot to kill the dictator.
Perhaps only someone who has experienced such extremes can write, as Grossman does in Life and Fate: 'Does human nature undergo a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence? Does man lose his innate yearning for freedom? The fate of both man and the totalitarian state depends on the answer to this question. If human nature does change, then the eternal and worldwide triumph of the dictatorial state is assured; if his yearning for freedom remains constant, then the totalitarian state is doomed.'
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Unusual, too, to choose to copy this particular image, rather than paying homage to Jarre's early Oxygène (1976) and Equinox (1978) albums, which are granted a grudging pioneering status for fans of electronica, though no way on a par with Kraftwerk, or Depeche Mode for that matter. Perhaps it's not surprising, given the British electronic artist's age that he should be attracted to Magnetic Fields.
It's a melodic, enchanting work, no doubt inspired by Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express (1977), the Düsseldorf quartet's best work. After that moment, Jarre became involved in the development of the ungainly, sci-fi laser harp and was set to perform track Rendez-Vous 6 with Ron McNair playing the saxophone live in space, before the astronaut was killed in the Challenger explosion.
A pioneer of the ambient scene - it's difficult to imagine The Orb existing without him, for instance - there have been sporadic attempts to restore Jarre's reputation, not least some stonking Slam remixes in 1994. His influence can be heard in Pet Shop Boys' soundtrack for silent film Battleship Potemkin (notably on track Full Steam Ahead) and in work by other French artists, such as Air.
In 2000, Jarre returned the compliment, on the noticeably Air-y Metamorphoses album, which features Natacha Atlas, Sharon Corr and Laurie Anderson. Anderson had previously featured on oddity Zoolook (1984), with its sample-heavy soundscape, for which the American musician complained she'd never had to sing so high.
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
The works are notably of their time - Lloyd Webber's music derivative of choral and classical music, plus the worst '70s rock - but the book for Evita is surprisingly representative of historical events. And what an unusual subject to choose, especially compared with Lloyd Webber's later projects, including Starlight Express and The Phantom of the Opera.
Some 20 years after the 1976 musical, Tomás Eloy Martinez tackled Argentina's sainted leader in novel Santa Evita, which was heaped with praise though it didn't add to what I'd learned from Rice-Webber. Perhaps because of this, when I saw Terrence Malick's cold take on the story of Captain John Smith, The New World (2005), I regretted not having seen Disney's Pocahontas (1995), which I hope might be a more emotionally fulfilling version of history. (I still haven't had a chance to see it.)
Monday, 16 April 2012
The Musée d'Orsay (pictured) is home to one of his most recognisable works, The Ball (1899), as well as Manet's Olympia, upon which Vallotton riffed in The White Woman and the Black Woman (1913). If you happen to visit before 6 May, the gallery is also currently hosting Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela's icy Lake Keitele (1905), which is owned by the National Gallery, London, and broadcaster Jon Snow's favourite painting.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
In 2004, Laibach released a greatest hits compilation, Anthems, which included a booklet featuring 'essential' paintings. The accompanying sleevenotes posited their work - bombastic cover versions of such pop fodder as The Final Countdown, Life is Life and Queen's One Vision - as 'ready mades', and now they're appearing at Tate Modern, home to Marcel Duchamp's Fountain.
Monday, 2 April 2012
After Replicas, The Pleasure Principle (both 1979) and Telekon (1980), Dance - the last thing you're likely to do to this album - represented something of a sidestep, artistically and financially. In his 1997 autobiography, Praying to the Aliens, Numan notes that he'd made something like £4.5m by this point. 'Although experimental and atmospheric, commercially speaking, Dance was the wrong album to release at a time when I badly needed to pick momentum,' he says.
Monday, 26 March 2012
Monday, 12 March 2012
Monday, 5 March 2012
Thursday, 1 March 2012
The new edition of Little White Lies features an interview I did with fantastic Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. We start off by talking about his latest film, Le Havre, which was inspired by TV documentaries about people trafficking into Europe. 'Lots of crooks cheated people to come here with a dream,' he explains.
Despite its dispiriting origins, Le Havre is lovely and uplifting - the type of film I could watch every day of the week and be a happy man. It reminds me of Mystery Train (Jarmusch is the only director whose work Kaurismäki will go out to see), Tarr's The Man from London and The Young Ones; there are elements of Carné, Fassbender, Melville, Sirk...
A confirmed cinephile, the director eulogises when we meet about the work of fellow Finn Teuvo Tulio, whose work stretches from the silent period through the 1950s. According to Kaurismäki, half of Tulio's work was destroyed in a laboratory accident; the director made his last film in 1973 and died in 2000 aged 87. I wish I'd caught a retrospective of his work at the ICA in December 2011, now. (Pictured: a still from one of Tulio's films, The Cross of Love, 1946, featuring his partner - and regular star - Regina Linnanheimo. She looks like my kind of trouble.)
Le Havre is out 6 April for the Easter weekend - and do check out the latest issue of LWL, it's ace!
Monday, 20 February 2012
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Monday, 13 February 2012
Friday, 10 February 2012
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Monday, 6 February 2012
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
'You fellows are amazing,' the sweaty cook roared over the stoves. 'Everything happens to you only. Each time you come here, you have a new adventure story to entertain us.'
'It's not us, it's the city,' said Om. 'A story factory, that's what it is, a spinning mill.'