Category Archives: avant-garde

The Cut-Ups is World Cinema Classic #108

The Cut-Ups is World Cinema Classic #108

The Cut-Ups

Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello!
– Look at that picture – Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello!
Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.- does it seem
to be persisting? – Yes? Hello!
Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! – Good!
– Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! – Thank
you – Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes?
Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes?
Hello! – Look at that picture – Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes?
Hello! – Does it seem to be persisting?
– Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello!Yes, hello. Yes? Hello! Yes,
hello. Yes? Hello! – Good! – Yes, hello.
Yes? Hello! Yes, hello. Yes? Hello!
– Thank you!

The Cut-Ups[1] is an experimental film by British filmmaker Antony Balch and American writer William Burroughs, which opened in London in 1967. It was the second time Balch and Burroughs had collaborated after their earlier Towers Open Fire. The Cut-Ups was part of an abandoned project called Guerrilla Conditions meant as a documentary on Burroughs and filmed throughout 1961-1965.

The film contains 19 minutes of someone saying “Yes, Hello?”, “Look at that picture,” “Does it seem to be persisting?,” and “Good. Thank you,” accompanied by a repetition five or six basic film clips shot in New York City and featuring Brion Gysin.

Inspired by Burroughs’ and Gysin’s technique of cutting up text and rearranging it in random order, Balch had an editor cut his footage for the documentary into little pieces and impose no control over its reassembly. The film opened at Oxford Street’s Cinephone cinema and had a disturbing reaction. Many audience members claimed the film made them ill, others demanded their money back, while some just stumbled out of the cinema ranting “its disgusting”.

Included in The Cut-Ups are shots of Burroughs acting out scenes from his book Naked Lunch. The idea of bringing Naked Lunch to the big-screen was Balch’s dream project. First developed in 1964, a script was completed in the early 1970s which would have adapted the book as a musical. Personal differences between Balch and the film’s would-be leading man Mick Jagger caused the project’s collapse.

For an indepth description of the films of William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Antony Balch, see brightlightsfilm [1] by Rob Bridgett.

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)

RIP Stanley Chapman (1925 – 2009)[1]

via www.tate.org.uk RIP  Stanley Chapman (1925 - 2009)  Fig.3 Stanley Chapman Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December              1965enlarge

via www.tate.org.uk

Cover illustration for Subsidia Pataphysica, no.1, 19 December 1965

Stanley Chapman (19252009) was a British architect, designer, translator and writer. His interests included theatre and pataphysics. He was involved with founding the National Theatre of London, was a member of Oulipo of the year 1960, founder of the Outrapo and a member also of the French Collège de ‘Pataphysique, president the London Institute of ‘Pataphysics and the Lewis Carroll Society. His English translation of Hundred Thousand Billion Poems was received with “admiring stupefaction” by Raymond Queneau.

I was three years old when May 68 happened

May 1968

burning Citroën DS during May 68 from here.

I was three years old when May 68 happened. May 68 was the direct precursor of the hippie movement here in Western Europe. Most of our teachers had been brought up in the “hippie” climate.

Yesterday E-L-I-S-E posted this burning Citroën DS (the photo is new to me and is unsourced at E-L-I-S-E). It brings me to repost one of my favorite quotes on art and politics.This is from one year before May 68.

The juvenile delinquents — not the pop artists — are the true inheritors of Dada. Instinctively grasping their exclusion from the whole of social life, they have denounced its products, ridiculed, degraded and destroyed them.

A smashed telephone, a burnt car, a terrorised cripple are the living denial of the ‘values’ in the name of which life is eliminated. Delinquent violence is a spontaneous overthrow of the abstract and contemplative role imposed on everyone, but the delinquents’ inability to grasp any possibility of really changing things once and for all forces them, like the Dadaists, to remain purely nihilistic.

They can neither understand nor find a coherent form for the direct participation in the reality they have discovered, for the intoxication and sense of purpose they feel, for the revolutionary values they embody. The Stockholm riots, the Hell’s Angels, the riots of Mods and Rockers — all are the assertion of the desire to play in a situation where it is totally impossible.

All reveal quite clearly the relationship between pure destructivity and the desire to play: the destruction of the game can only be avenged by destruction. Destructivity is the only passionate use to which one can put everything that remains irremediably separated. It is the only game the nihilist can play; the bloodbath of the 120 Days of Sodom proletarianised along with the rest. —Timothy Clark, Christopher Gray, Donald Nicholson-Smith & Charles Radcliffe in The Revolution of Modern Art and the Modern Art of Revolution (1967) via http://www.notbored.org/english.html

Jean Marembert, and, Icon of Erotic Art #41

Nude by Marembert

Nude (c.1930) by Jean Marembert [source]

Icon of erotic art #41

Au carrefour étrange uncovered a 1947 edition of Petrus Borel‘s Champavert [1] and presents us with the exceptional work of Jean Marembert.

Jean Marembert (19041968) was a French artist who is tangentially connected to such people as Louis Cattiaux, Jean Crotti, Suzanne Valadon, Kees Van Dongen, Paul Colin, Moise Kisling, Man Ray, Leonor Fini and Labisse. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon des Tuileries. His biography can be found in the 2004 book on figurative painting, Modern Figurative Paintings: The Paris Connection. Modern Figurative Paintings: The Paris Connection (2004) is a book by Martin Wolpert and Jeffrey Winter on modern figurative painting.

Modern Figurative Painters (2004) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From the blurb of Modern Figurative Paintings: The Paris Connection:

“The first half of the 19th Century spawned one of the most exciting concentrations of artists and artistic innovation in history. The French impressionists opened the door to creative freedoms never before experienced, and a community rich in artistic and intellectual talent coalesced to forever change the direction of art. This book documents more than 150 artists who worked, studied, and exhibited in Paris between 1890 and 1950. Many of them have been completely overlooked by scholars and art historians. Their work encompasses the La Belle Époque, Postimpressionist, Cubist, and School of Paris movements. More than 375 color images of their paintings document this fabulous cultural explosion, and also present a visual time capsule, showing the populace at work and at play in bars, cabarets, and jazz clubs, even scenes of the artists’ own studios. This book has been a labor of love; many years in the making. Collectors, curators, and historians will find it an invaluable tool for understanding the art of this period. By documenting artists who have not been written about for many years, the authors offer insight to their paintings, which can still be acquired at equitable prices.”

Artists in this book include Jean Crotti , Grigory Gluckmann, Louis Icart, Louis Legrand, André Lhote, Jean Marembert and Marie Vassilieff.

Fred Katz @90

Fred Katz @90

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrFE1NMtgAs&]

Katz  on cello on gay anthem jazz standardMy Funny Valentine” by the Chico Hamilton band.

Fred Katz (born February 25, 1919) is an American composer, songwriter, conductor, cellist, and professor, perhaps best-known as the composer and lyricist of “Satan Wears a Satin Gown[1].

Folk Songs for Far Out Folk by Fred Katz

Folk Songs for Far Out Folk (1958)

Katz was classically trained at the cello and piano and began his career in a number of classical and swing orchestras. In the early 1950s, Katz accompanied singers such as Lena Horne, Tony Bennett and Frankie Laine. From 1955 through 1958, he was a member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet. He also recorded several solo albums such as Folk Songs for Far Out Folk[2] labels including Pacific Jazz, Warner Bros., and Decca Records.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Katz scored a number of films for Roger Corman, including A Bucket of Blood, The Wasp Woman, Creature from the Haunted Sea and The Little Shop of Horrors. He also composed a number of pieces of classical music. Katz went on to become a professor of cultural anthropology at the University of San Fernando, specializing in ethnic music.

His cello can also be heard on Ken Nordine‘s Word Jazz projects, on Dorothy Ashby‘s The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, and Billy Bean‘s Makin’ It.

Musidora @120

Musidora by you.

Musidora in Les Vampires (1915)

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_fdUROaJYo&]

Musidora in Les Vampires (1915)

Musidora (February 23, 1889December 11, 1957) was the stage name of a popular French silent film actress of the early 20th century. She is best-remembered for her vamp persona in the roles of Irma Vep and Diana Monti in the early motion picture crime serials Les Vampires (1915) and Judex (1916), respectively.

Poster for Les Vampires

Adopting the moniker of Musidora (Greek for “gift of the muses“) and affecting a unique vamp persona that would later be popularized in the United States of America by actress Theda Bara, Musidora soon found a foothold in the nascent medium of moving pictures. With her heavily kohled dark eyes, somewhat sinister make-up, pale skin (see the heroin chic aesthetic) and exotic wardrobes, Musidora quickly became a highly popular and instantly recognizable presence of European cinema.

Beginning in 1915, Musidora began appearing in the hugely successful Feuillade-directed serials Les Vampires as Irma Vep (an anagram of “vampire”), a cabaret singer, opposite Edouard Mathé as crusading journalist, Philippe Guerande. Contrary to the title, the Les Vampires were not actually about vampires, but about a criminal gang cum secret society inspired by the exploits of the real-life Bonnot Gang. The somewhat surreal series was an immediate success with French cinema-goers and ran in ten installments until 1916. After the Les Vampires serial, Musidora starred as ‘Diana Monti’ in another popular Feuillade serial, Judex, filmed in 1916 but delayed for release until 1917 because of the outbreak of World War I. Though not intended to be “avant-garde,” Les Vampires and Judex have been lauded by critics as the birth of avant-garde cinema and cited by such renowned filmmakers as Fritz Lang and Luis Buñuel as being extremely influential in their desire to become directors.

I’ve previously mentioned Les Vampires[1].

Futurism @100

Futurism @100

Futurist Manfisto in the Figaro of February 20, 1909 by you.

Tomorrow, February 20, 1909, it will have been 100 years since the Futurist Manifesto was published in the French conservative newspaper Le Figaro.

Futurism is now known as a early 20th century avant-garde art movement focused on speed, the mechanical, and the modern, which took a deeply antagonistic attitude to traditional artistic conventions.

Centrale elettrica (1914) – Antonio Sant’Elia

The Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and even gastronomy. The Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was the first among them to produce a manifesto of their artistic philosophy in his Manifesto of Futurism (1909), first released in Milan and published in the French paper Le Figaro (February 20). Marinetti summed up the major principles of the Futurists, including a passionate loathing of ideas from the past, especially political and artistic traditions. He and others also espoused a love of speed, technology and violence. The car, the plane, the industrial town were all legendary for the Futurists, because they represented the technological triumph of man over nature.

Photograph of intonarumori: “intoners” or “noise machines”, built by Russolo, mostly percussion, to create “noises” for performances. Unfortunately, none of his original intonarumori survived World War II.

Marinetti’s impassioned polemic immediately attracted the support of the young Milanese paintersBoccioni, Carrà, and Russolo—who wanted to extend Marinetti’s ideas to the visual arts (Russolo was also a composer, and introduced Futurist ideas into his compositions). The painters Balla and Severini met Marinetti in 1910 and together these artists represented Futurism’s first phase.

Mina Loy (1909), photo by Stephen Haweis

Futurism’s misogyny is illustrated by article 9 (below): we will glorify scorn of woman

It was one of the few art movements to be initiated by a manifesto.

In fact, manifestos were introduced with the Futurists (not entirely true, there were the Symbolists and the Decadents with their manifestos) and later taken up by the Vorticists, Dadaists and the Surrealists: the period up to World War II created what are still the best known manifestos. Although they never stopped being issued, other media such as the growth of broadcasting tended to sideline such declarations.

Full text of the manifesto

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.
  2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
  4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.
  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.

Maybe?

Scatole d’amore in conserva by you.

Scatole d’Amore in Conserva

Maybe Marinetti‘s 1927 book Scatole d’Amore in Conserva (boxes of love conserved) later inspired Piero Manzoni so famously to can his own excrement. “Conjecture, your honor!”

Merda d'Artista by Piero Manzoni by [AMC]

Merda d’Artista” by Piero Manzoni by Flickr user  [AMC]

Introducing Iliazd

Espantapajaros - Oliverio Girondo by Iliazd

Espantapajaros – Oliverio Girondo

Jahsonic added this as a favorite on 27 Jan 09.

A Journey Round My Skull added this as a favorite on 26 Jan 09.

AJRMS found this on the incredible flickr photostream of Iliazd.

Iliazd is the compiler of the following photostream[1], in its own words interested in “art, architecture, books and the Kabbalah,” with a special focus on various subdocumented avant-gardes.

Its name is probably inspired by Georgian writer Ilia Zdanevich, who adopted the pseudonym Iliazd in 1919.

Ilia Mikhailovich Zdanevich (April 21, 1894December 25, 1975, Georgian ილია ზდანევიჩი) was a Georgian writer and artist associated with the Dada movement. He was born in Tbilisi, to a Polish father and a Georgian mother. His father was a French teacher, and his mother, V. Gamkrelidze, was a pianist and student of P. Tchaikovsky. In 1919 he adopted the pseudonym Iliazd. Zdanevich’s 1923 poster for his and Tristan Tzara‘s Soirée du coeur à barbe [Evening of the bearded heart] is a widely-known example of avant-garde typography and graphic design. Ilia Zdanevich died in Paris.

Introducing Gaston Burssens (1896 – 1965)

DSC02544

Fabula rasa (1945) by Gaston Burssens (this edition 1964)

I am not much of a fiction reader, nor have I ever been much of a poetry reader. My favorite literature is books about books. Literary criticism or literary theory.

I make exceptions.

The best work I read last year was Michaux’s Plume[1] which happens to be a work of prose poetry, a genre which can be traced most readily to Baudelaire and Poe. A genre which is plotless but nevertheless more concrete than pure poetry.

Saturday I bought the work above. It is worth its price for the introductory notes alone.

Gaston Burssens (Dendermonde, February 18 1896January 29 1965) was a Flemish poet, usually classified as an expressionist. He died age 68 in Antwerpen en was buried at the Schoonselhof cemetery. He was a member of the “Activists” and studied at the University of Ghent. He also published previously unpublished work by avant-garde poet Paul Van Ostaijen after the latter’s death.

Fabula Rasa by Flemish writer Gaston Burssens is a collection of prose poems and random notes. It is inscribed by two mottos: “Rien n’est plus grave au monde que la bêtise” (Louis XIV) en “Rien n’est plus bête au monde que la gravité” (Stendhal).

The collection was first published by De Sikkel in 1945, and went by largely unnoticed, only appreciated by such writers as Louis Paul Boon. It was augmented and republished by de Bezige Bij in 1964.

Literary critic Paul de Wispelaere reviewed it in the chapter “De groteske wereld en de wereld van de groteske,” in his collection Het Perzische Tapijt (1966). In this essay de Wispelaere juxtaposes Fabula Rasa with the paraprose of Gust Gils, another Flemish writer who wrote in the tradition of the literary grotesque. Fabula Rasa’s Belgian-French counterpart is Plume by Henri Michaux.

While researching this post I also stumbled upon prose by Flanders’ cult poet par excellence Paul Van Ostaijen: De bende van de stronk (The stump gang, 1932, grotesques). I will want a copy of that.