RIP Ginger ‘Cream’ Baker (1939 ‚Äď 2019)

Ginger Baker showing off ūüėČ

Ginger Baker was an English drummer best known for his work with Cream (“Sunshine of Your Love“, 1967).

Sunshine of Your Love” (1967). which sounds a lot like Jimi Hendrix

More importantly, he also played with Fela Kuti on Fela’s London Scene (1971), Why Black Man Dey Suffer (1971), Live! (1972) and Stratavarious (1972):

Fela’s London Scene ( 1971)
Why Black Man Dey Suffer (1971)
Live! (1972)
Stratavarious (1972)

He also recorded two albums with Bill Laswell: Horses & Trees (1986) and Middle Passage (1990):

From Horses & Trees (1986)
Middle Passage (1990)

RIP Vlasta Chramostov√° (1926 ‚Äď 2019)

Vlasta Chramostov√° was a Czech actress perhaps best-known for her part in The Cremator (1969), one of several Central European films that dealt with the Holocaust.

The Cremator is featured in Film as a Subversive Art (1974).

The Cremator (1969)

In this film, Vasta plays Lakmé, the wife of the delusional cremator who prepares for the endlösung.

Below is the OST by¬†Zdenńõk LiŇ°ka.

OST to The Cremator (1969)

RIP Kim ‘muff’ Shattuck (1963 ‚Äď 2019)

Kim Shattuck was an American musician and singer, best known for her work with her band The Muffs.

Having basically lost my interest in the pure rock idiom, I did find a connection between Kim and my universe:

The first season of¬†Theme Time Radio Hour¬†played The Muffs’s song “Laying on a Bed of Roses” (1995) in 2007.

From top to bottom: Metaphor (1972) by Hawkes, Shipwreck With Spectator (1979) by Hans Blumenberg, The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936) by I. A. Richards, A Grammar of Metaphor (1958) by Brooke-Rose and Paradigms for a Metaphorology (1960) by Blumenberg.

Studies in metaphorology

It’s good to live in a city.

From the UA library on 3/10/19:

From top to bottom: Metaphor (1972) by Hawkes, Shipwreck With Spectator (1979) by Hans Blumenberg, The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936) by I. A. Richards, A Grammar of Metaphor (1958) by Brooke-Rose and Paradigms for a Metaphorology (1960) by Blumenberg.

RIP Sid Haig (1939 ‚Äď 2019)

Sid Haig¬†was an¬†American actor¬†known for his parts in Jack Hill’s exploitation fare (Spider Baby¬†(1968),¬†Coffy¬†(1973),¬†Foxy Brown¬†(1974)). He also had a part in¬†THX 1138¬†(1971), the science fiction film directed by George Lucas in which in a¬†dystopian¬†future the populace is controlled through mandatory use of¬†drugs that suppress emotions.

Spider Baby (1968)

Cult Movie Stars (1991) describes Haig as:

“Ugly, ruddy faced, usually bald, and occasionally bearded — he looks like an original member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention — Haig has been a seedy presence in low-budget, sex- and action-packed drive-in movies since the mid-sixties.”

Above is Spider Baby (1968) in which Haig is Ralph, one of three inbred, demented, and dangerous siblings. Ralph is a sexually advanced, but mentally deficient simpleton who moves through the house via the dumb-waiter. Unable to speak, Ralph communicates with only grunts and leers.

The siblings are introduced by their guardian as:

“Well, no. It’s more than a retardation. It’s sort of a regression, a progressive deterioration of the mental faculties, a rotting of the brain, so to speak. It begins in late childhood and progresses rapidly, ultimately resulting in physical deformity, rather like the last stages of paresis […] The unfortunate result of … inbreeding.”

The full film is on YouTube.

RIP Wim ‘New Alphabet’ Crouwel (1928 ‚Äď 2019)

Wim Crouwel was a Dutch graphic designer, type designer, and typographer.

Warsaw”¬† by Joy Division, lettering by Crouwel, using the ‘New Alphabet’ (1967

F. alerted me to the death of this design icon.

Crouwel is perhaps best-known for his typeface New Alphabet (1967), as used on the above Joy Division record.

The typeface is in the tradition of geometric reductionism of the Architype Van Doesburg (1919).

While researching this post, it suddenly occurred to me that Crouwel is perfectly and absolutely antithetical to Luigi Colani, the previous entry in this growing collection of necrologies.

What Colani was to the curvilinearity of biomorphism, Crouwel was to the geometric reductionism of the straight line.

Both Colani and Crouwel were born in 1928.

They both stand for one end in a major ‘Straight lines vs curvilinearity’ faultline of 20th century aesthetics.

I have long been fascinated by three major faultlines in 20th century art. Or four if you split up the third.

One may be tempted to map these fault lines onto the earlier Catholic‚ÄďProtestant schism.

RIP Luigi ‘biomorph’ Colani (1928 ‚Äď 2019)

Luigi Colani was a German industrial designer, known for his use of curvilinear biomorphism.

wished him happy 80th birthday in 2008 and did a post on biomorphism in in 2007.

Car Styling brought four special issues on his work:

  • Designing Tomorrow (1978)
  • For a Brighter Tomorrow (1983)
  • Bio-Design of Tomorrow (1984)
  • Concept-Design of Tomorrow (2010)

I own ‘Designing Tomorrow ‘ the first of these booklets, in the magazine edition, in very good condition. I’m selling it for 100 euros, contact me if you are interested.

This is a good occasion to delve into the historiography of biomorphism:

The term biomorph was coined in 1895 by anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon in his book Evolution in Art, in which he stated that “the biomorph is the representation of anything living in contradistinction to the skeuomorph, which […] is the representation of anything”.

One year later, British writer Geoffrey Grigson uses the term biomorphism in two essays: in the short “Comment on England” (1935) he notes that “abstractions are of two kinds, geometric […] and biomorphic,” and observes that the way forward are the biomorphic abstractions; in the chapter “Painting and sculpture” in The Arts Today (1935), he describes the term biomorphic as “no bad term for the paintings of Miro, H√©lion, Erni and others, to distinguish them from the modern geometric abstractions and from rigid Surrealism.”

Another year later, in 1936, New York art historian Alfred H. Barr Jr. in the catalogue of his 1936 exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art, borrowed Grigson’s term without acknowledgement and noted that there is a secondary current in abstract art wich stems from Gauguin and Matisse and is “intuitional and emotional rather than intellectual; organic or biomorphic rather than geometrical in its forms; curvilinear rather than rectilinear, decorative rather than structural, and romantic rather than classical in its exaltation of the mystical, the spontaneous and the irrational.” He mentions the work of Joan Mir√≥ and Jean Arp and concludes: “the shape of the square confronts the silhouette of the amoeba.” Barr elegantly points to the major faultlines in 20th century art, which run along the axes ‘straight lines vs curvilinearity’, ‘wit vs seriousness’, and ‘cult of beauty vs cult of ugliness’ (or sexuality vs asexuality).

For a historiography of these early beginnings of biomorphism, consult Biocentrism and Modernism (2017).

Colani is dead. The last persons in my database alive in 1928 are philosopher Noam Chomsky, anthropologist Desmond Morris, musician Ennio Morricone and photographer William Klein.

RIP Ric ‘Car’ Ocasek (1944 ‚Äď 2019)

Ric Ocasek was an American musician famous for his work with The Cars.

I have no connection with the man, nor with his music, it’s just too much bombast for me. However, my database shows that one of their songs was featured in a film I liked in the 1990s.

The song is “Moving in Stereo” and the film¬†Fast Times at Ridgemont High¬†(1982).

De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but … the problem with this kind of music is, in the words of music critic Bill Flanagan:

“Bit by bit the last traces of¬†Punk¬†were drained from¬†New Wave, as New Wave went from meaning¬†Talking Heads¬†to meaning¬†the Cars¬†to¬†Squeeze¬†to¬†Duran Duran¬†to, finally,¬†Wham!”.

Just What I Needed” (1978)

Anyway, to end on a good note, their song “Just What I Needed” (1978) is in the¬†The Pitchfork 500.

RIP Robert “snapshot aesthetic” Frank (1924 ‚Äď 2019)

Robert Frank was a Swiss photographer, best-known for his photo book The Americans (1958) and his documentary on The Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues (1972).

Three gay men from ‘The Americans’

Of that book, which was¬†criticized¬†at the time with the words “meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness” by mainstream media, a criticism that by the way, became the hallmark of a new aesthetic in photography: the new¬†snapshot aesthetic.

My fave picture of that collection is the photo of three gay men, looking defyingly into the camera. Behind them is a sign which reads ‘Don’t Miss Mister Instin …’.

This particular photo is reminiscent of the work in Naked City (1945) by Weegee, of the photos of Paris de Nuit (1933) by Brassai and is also a precursor to Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin.

And then there is Cocksucker Blues.

Cocksucker Blues pt. 1
Cocksucker Blues pt. 2