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  1. Artist Post Link List (Donald) - 2
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Artist Post Link List (Donald) - 2
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Here is a link-index of my posts about artists as of mid-June, 2009. It updates a list posted early this year. Please let me know of any errors or omissions. Anglada-Camarasa, Hermen Bama, James Bastien-Lepage, Jules Beaux, Cecilia Bischoff, Franz Boldini, Giovanni Casas, Ramon Chéret, Jules Curtis, David (England) Detaille, Édouard Dewing, Thomas Wilmer Edelfelt, Albert Frazetta, Frank Foujita Fuchs, Bernie Gajoum, Kal Gallén, Axel Goldbeck, Walter Dean Grün, Jules-Alexandre Herter, Albert Henry, George & Hornel. E.A. Hohlwein, Ludwig Kline, Franz Lambert, George de Laszlo, Philip Alexius Leffel, David Levitan, Isaak Leyendecker, J.C. Macchiaioli (Italian group) Malczewski, Jacek Mathews, Arthur de Neuville, Alphonse Pino Putz, Leo Schjerfbeck, Helene Serov, Valentin Situ, Mian Sloan, John Sloan, John (update) Solomon, Solomon J. Stuck, Fanz von Thayer, Abbot Handerson Thompson, Tom Tiepolo, Giavanni Battista Vettriano, Jack Vrubel, Mikhail Zorn, Anders This list will be updated from time to time. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at June 20, 2009 | perma-link | (0) comments

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Architecture and Urbanism Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * New England architect Katie Hutchison conveys an awful lot in one simple sentence when she writes, "To me, residential architecture extends beyond the built structures of our homes to the spaces around, in between, and within sight of them." Now that's the kind of architecture theory I respect and resonate to. Her blogposting is a lovely, short appreciation of a very moving space. Fun to see that Katie is now selling prints and notecards of her photographs. She shows the same love of natural materials and processes, simple and direct experience, and the varieties and qualities of light and color in her photographs that she shows in her building-design work and her blogging. * Large office towers -- that's "skyscrapers" to you civilians -- are doing as poorly in the recession as McMansions are. * Nicola Linza explains beautifully why he's committed to architectural classicism. * What a mess. * Time's Richard Lacayo offers a well-done visual tour through Renzo Piano's new addition to the Art Institute of Chicago. Lacayo is impressed, and for all I know the place works well. But to me Piano's structure looks like a genteel version of a 1960s airplane terminal. Here's a talk with Piano. * Has the building frenzy in Dubai finally come to an end? (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin) * Nathan Origer takes a walk through his beloved hometown and wonders why so many of the newer buildings are so awful. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 18, 2009 | perma-link | (6) comments

Detaille was Detailed, de Neuville was Better
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- During my scamper around Paris last month I visited the Musée de l'Armée in the Invalides complex (the Wikipedia entry is here, but is skimpy and somewhat off-topic). The late-19th century display section included a number of works by noted military artist Jean-Batiste-Édouard Detaille (1848-1912) who had a hand in the establishment of the museum's collection; he'd collected a good deal of militaria as reference material for his genre. More information about him can be found here (extremely brief) and here (a little longer, but still sketchy). Among the paintings were impressive fragments from a panorama painted by Detaille and Alphonse de Neuville (1835-85). Notes (in French) about part of this work are here and, with an illustration intact in PDF format, here. Two snapshots I took are below. (The color is way too orange; I need to shop for a camera that does indoor non-flash photography better than my little three-year-old Nikon.) And here is a fragment of the same panorama that I found on the Web. The artists painted two panoramas during 1881-83: the 16 August 1870 battle at Rezonville and the 30 November 1870 battle at Champigny during the siege of Paris. The fragments shown above are from the Rezonville work. More on the panoramas can be found here and here. What impressed me was the "painterly" quality -- simplified, bold brushwork combined with color selection yielding a satisfying image when seen a ways away, important items for murals and panoramas. Some of this can be seen in my close-ups above, though the original art is much better. Detaille was the lead artist on the projects, so I assumed his style dominated the cooperative effort. But after doing a little research, I'm not so sure. Let's look at some evidence. Gallery: Detaille As the pun in the title of this piece and similar comments elsewhere indicate, Detaille is noted more for his precision and attention to detail than to other artistic qualities. Nevertheless, while much of his work is indeed "tight," some is more "free." This shows Napoleon in 1806. It's an example of Detaille's tighter painting style where details of uniforms and equipment predominate. La Salue aux Blessée (Saluting the Wounded) is less tight, probably because the figures are so relatively small that detail became much less important than atmosphere. "Charge at Mosbronn" is an action scene, one of many Detaille painted. Again, thanks to its subject matter, it too can serve as a basis for comparison with Neuville's work shown below. Gallery: de Neuville Titled "Attaque d'une maison barricadée à Vellersexel," we see a free, nearly sketch-like impression of a skirmish's aftermath. Compare the buildings here with those in the Detaille painting immediately above. "La cimetière de Saint-Privat" is an example of Neuville's work that seems more tightly done. But that might be due to its scale: the Musée d'Orsay's web site contains comments on it and his work here along with close-ups of fragments that indicate painterly rather... posted by Donald at June 18, 2009 | perma-link | (1) comments

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In France, History is Everywhere
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Since World War 2, differences between Europe and the United States have been evaporating at the practical, everyday life level. Time was, you could distinguish European men from Americans by haircut and clothing. Nowadays, one sees European kids wearing jeans, baseball caps and Dallas Cowboys tee shirts while eating at the town's McDonald's . Cars there average a little smaller and motorcycles and motor scooters are more prevalent, but these are differences in degree, not kind. There is one large difference, however, and that is in what architectural academics like to call the "built environment." You know, man-made structures of all kinds. What you see in Europe is a lot of really old stuff. This is especially obvious to tourists such as I was a few weeks ago. But it's there for the locals to see as well. In much of the continent apart from postwar suburbs and glitzy resort areas where development pushed aside low-rise dwellings, it's hard to escape seeing buildings erected 200 and more years earlier. Here in the States, aside from scattered places along the eastern seaboard, buildings older than 150 years are rare or non-existent. It's hard to sense history on a daily basis here, whereas in Europe history in the form of structures is almost inescapable. That might induce a subtle difference in mindset from Americans even for Europeans born after the war (everyone less than age 65) who have grown up in a relatively prosperous, technologically modern environment. Just for kicks, here are examples of older structures that are right in a Frenchman's face or, failing that, perched atop that hill or over there in the next valley. For starters, here's a Paris scene not far off the boul' Raspail. At street level are pedestrians, cars and modern shopfronts. Above are buildings built in the late 1800s or early 1900s (though the brick-covered one just might be more recent). Paris has some really old structures (Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, etc.), but they don't dominate the local scene. That's not the case in some other places. Carcassonne, for instance. To the left is the new city and brooding above it is the old, walled city whose conical tower tops are part of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc's creative resoration. Another brooder is the chateau in Amboise with some newer, but not new, buildings below. Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years in Amboise, but in another chateau as guest of François Premiere. Or you might be driving along the Rhone River in Avignon and to the right are the grounds of the Palais des Papes (Papal Palace). That palace can be hard to avoid when navigating nearby streets and passages. Many cites have an old town district. Here is a Rouen street leading to its Horloge and, beyond, the cathedral that Monet famously painted at different hours of the day. Small cities also often have old districts. This is the market place in the touristy Norman port town, Honfleur. An even... posted by Donald at June 17, 2009 | perma-link | (10) comments

Praised / Damned
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- That ambitious audiobook The Wife and I have written and produced? We were thrilled to receive news the other day that the script for one of the episodes in it has been chosen by Maxim Jakubowski to be included in his next "Best Erotica" anthology. That's quite an honor -- Jakubowski is a supersmart and sophisticated guy, as well as a great figure in the genre-writing world. We couldn't be more pleased that he was tickled by our work. In its usual way, though, reality is ensuring that our egos don't balloon up too hugely. Word also just arrived that a reviewer at a prominent audiobook-reviewing outlet didn't enjoy our work, not one little bit. S/he found the characters horrifying, the acting uneven, and the sex scenes "unarousing." Panned -- ouch! Oh, well: Can't please -- let alone turn on -- all of the people all of the time. Two other wound-licking reactions: 1) The reviewer gives no indication of recognizing that our audiobook is intended to be funny. It's a satire! Jakubowski certainly understood that. How could the reviewer have missed it? 2) Still, it's very cool that some mainstream outlets are starting to take note of the kind of thing our production represents: independently created and produced, and more than a little wild and experimental. If you'd like to give our audiobook a listen, or even if you're just curious to explore the nifty website we've created for it, drop me an email at michaelblowhard at that gmail place. I'll send you a link pronto. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 17, 2009 | perma-link | (1) comments

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Courbet, Seen Darkly
Donald PIttenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Maybe I was just seeing things. Or maybe not. No doubt many of you have seen reproductions such as the one below of Gustave Courbet's The Artist's Studio. When I visited Paris' Musée d'Orsay a few weeks ago I didn't see all that much of it. That's because it was so darkened -- seemingly darker than the reproductions I'm familiar with including the one above -- that it surprised me. According to this blog (scroll down), the painting was refurbished and reinstalled last fall; their photo of the reinstallation is below. Yes, this recent photo suggests that the painting isn't as dark as it seemed when I saw it eight months later. But for what it's worth, other nearby Courbets struck me as being pretty dark, too. Ditto a Rousseau. So am I wrong? Was the lighting for the painting bad? Is my eyesight failing? Or was the painting always a rather dark affair? Perhaps it originally was brighter and, as often happens, its varnish yellowed it. If so, then why didn't the museum strip off the varnish to restore the original colors? Or were there technical reasons they couldn't? I'm clueless, so I hope a few mavens and recent Orsay visitors will hop into Comments and help me out on the facts and assuage the disappointment I felt that day even if the conclusion is that I have lousy vision. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at June 16, 2009 | perma-link | (4) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- That Cirque du Soleil crowd really knows how to party: here, here, here. Why wasn't I invited? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 16, 2009 | perma-link | (20) comments

From the WSJ
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A couple of good pieces from the Wall Street Journal: * Paul Starobin takes stock of secessionist rumblings, and wonders what a devolved U.S. might look like. * Paul Berkowitz argues that, if poli-sci departments can spare resources to teach feminist and postmodern political theory, they ought to do a better job of teaching the history of conservativism. * MBlowhard Rewind: I confessed that I've gotten a lot out of wrestling with rightie thought. * Bonus links: Don't miss our interview with the brilliant traditionalist conservative Jim Kalb: Part One, Part Two, Part Three. Buy Jim's fab book here. Best, Michael UPDATE: Rick Darby volunteers some smart reactions to Paul Starobin's secession piece.... posted by Michael at June 16, 2009 | perma-link | (7) comments

Monday, June 15, 2009

People Pix -- France, 2009
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Some of you thought I was simply going to France for a vacation. Well, HA!! I had my camera set to low pixel density specifically to capture images for our beloved blog. It was a working vacation. Got that? I insist. Honest ... Having cleared that matter up, I thought my first photo essay will be about people-related stuff I encountered. No theme other than that. And the photos are in nearly the same order they were taken. As usual, no cropping or other Photoshop alterations. Here are people who are either striking about hunger or are on a hunger strike -- the banner is obscured, so I'm not sure. The French, including immigrants, seem to love strikes. This was taken along the Quai d'Orsay near the Pont Alexandre III. We're on Paris' Montmartre, half a block from the Place du Tertre where tourist crowds head after visiting the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. Shown are street artists plying their trade. This business of sketching off a clipboard is something new to me, as is the large number of artists doing so -- and only near the Sacre-Coeur. I hadn't been to Paris in five years, and never noticed this before. Typically, a sketch artist or caricaturist will have a setup where both he and the subject are seated and he works off an easel. At any rate, I saw a dozen or more clipboard guys in action that morning; something to do with the economy? I was a few minutes late deciding to shoot this ironworker in action (he's the one with suspenders). Just before, he was shaping a cold iron bar on a portable anvil using only a hammer, eyeballs and skill. At this point, the iron has been shaped and he's making final adjustments before installing it as part of a handrail next to a few steps. The location? At a door to Claude Monet's large studio in Giverny where he painted his famous water lily murals for Paris' Orangerie. Market days are still popular in France. A large one takes place in Sarlat in the Dordogne; I show only a fragment of it here. Weather permitting, restaurants and cafes feature outdoor dining. This is in the picturesque hill town of St-Cirq-Lapopie above the Lot River a short ways southeast of the Dordogne. The diners are almost surely tourists. Cannes, near the beach. France's cities attract street vendors from the "former" colonies. I'm guessing the policeman is trying to determine if the vendor is licensed; from the look of things, he isn't. More al fresco dining, this time in the Place Rossetti in the old, Italian part of Nice. It's not yet seven, so the tables have yet to fill. Nancy liked this restaurant so much we ate dinner there three times. In the right background is a gelato shop with a large assortment of flavors, so we had dessert there. This is in Monaco near the entrance to the Monte Carlo casino's... posted by Donald at June 15, 2009 | perma-link | (6) comments