Category Archives: European culture

RIP Mel Ramos (1935 – 2018)

Touché Boucher (1972-73) is an oil on canvas by Mel Ramos, is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.

Touché Boucher (1972-73) is an oil on canvas by Mel Ramos, is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.

Mel Ramos was an American painter, specializing in paintings of female nudes.

He was one of the pop art erotica artists noted for his ‘flat light’ photorealism.

He also interpreted the female nudes of European masters in paintings such as Touché Boucher (1972-73) [above], which is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.

RIP Paul Virilio (1932 – 2018)

Paul Virilio was a French theorist, urbanist, and aesthetic philosopher.

He is best known for his book Bunker Archeology (1975), a book I discovered one lonely night in Brussels spent with a young woman at her place. She had acquired it that same afternoon.

One of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall was photographed by myself in 2007 [1].

I’v yet to hold a copy of this book in my hands.

RIP Claude Lanzmann (1925 – 2018)

Claude Lanzmann was a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985).

Above is a fragment of a Siskel and Ebert review of Shoah.

Siskel and Ebert show two scenes:

One of a Jewish Holocaust survivor standing next to a Polish church where Jews were held prisoner before being murdered.  The holocaust survivor is being ignored by the Polish who reminisce of the moaning and hungry Jews.

A second fragment is of the famous barber Abraham Bomba who cut the hair of women before being gassed. He had to lie to them that it was just procedure, knowing that they would soon be dead.

Update 10/7:

In this clip Abraham Bomba explains how he knew many of the women personally whose hair he had to cut because they were all from his hometown Częstochowa, even from his own street.

“I knew them. I lived with them in my town, in my street, and some of them were my close friends. And when they saw me all of them started hugging me, Abe, this and that, what are you doing here, what’s gonna happen with us? What could you tell them? What could you tell?”

Then, 13:30, the most gripping moment of the whole Shoah documentary:

“A friend of mine, he worked as a barber, he was a good barber in my hometown, when his wife and his sister… came into the gas chamber… I can’t. – Go on Abe, you must go…. You have to. – Cannot. It’s too hard. – Please… We have to do it. You know it … I won’t be able to do it … You have to do it. I know it’s very hard. I know, and I apologize …  Don’t make me go on please …  Please. We must go on … I told you today it’s going to be very hard … They were taking that … [hair] … in bags and transporting it to Germany … Okay, go ahead. What was his answer when his wife and sister came? … They tried to talk to him and the husband of his sister. They could not tell him this was the last time they stay alive, because behind them was the German Nazis, SS, and they knew that if they said a word, not only the wife and the woman, who were dead already, but also they would share the same thing with them. In a way, they tried to do the best for them, with a second longer, a minute longer, just to hug them and kiss them, because they knew they would never see them again.”

RIP Maria Rohm (1945 – 2018)

Rohm belongs to an age of cinema that died in the 1980s. She was one of the euro girls.

In the picture above you see her kissing Marie Liljedahl in Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey Into Perversion, one of Jess Franco’s Marquis de Sade film adaptations, in this case Philosophy in the Bedroom. In that book, Madame Saint-Age, the part played by Rohm, is responsible for the terrible maltreatment of Madame de Mistival.

Here is the trailer to that film.

In the documentary clip below you see how Christopher Lee was tricked into “doing” nude scenes.

Maria Rohm is the blond one.

Here is Rohm’s page from the original Jahsonic site.

RIP Mel Gordon (1947 – 2018)

Research occasioned by the death of Adam Parfrey (see prev. post) brought to my attention that one of the writers who were often published by Parfrey, Mel Gordon, also recently died.

Mel Gordon was a theatrical historian. He wrote on 1920s BerlinGrand GuignollazziHanussenDadadrugs and Expressionism.

From left to right: Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant (2001) The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber (2006) Horizontal Collaborations (2015) Voluptuous Panic (2006) The Stanislavsky Technique (2000)

From left to right:

One thing leading to another

Reading Roger Scruton’s “Flesh from the Butcher” for my thesis I noticed the word Tafelmusik. My encyclopedia brought up “Tafelmusik für König Ubu“. Anything with the word Ubu in its title piques my interest. “Tafelmusik für König Ubu” appeared to be a German version of Musique pour les soupers du Roi Ubu (1966), a musical composition by Bernd Alois Zimmermann.

I played it [above], it’s wonderful, it’s a sound collage. Not really. It’s a musical composition filled with quotations.

YouTube’s autoplay is on.

The next track [above] starts very sweet and gentle. At 4:55 the most wonderful waltz waltzes in.

Waltzes have these pauses that remind me of weightlessness.

The composition appeared to be “Der Waltzer (1969) by Alfred Schnittke.

I ended up listening to Alfred Schnittke’s music for most of the weekend.

Rodin’s eroticism

Les dessins de Rodin, part 1

Les dessins de Rodin, part 2

While researching my thesis, I came across the text “Les Dessins de Rodin” (above), in which Arthur Symons says:

“The principle of Rodin‘s work is sex-a sex aware of itself, and expending energy desperately to reach an impossible goal.”

Also new to me was Rodin’s Iris, Messenger of the Gods  and “Rodin’s Reputation“, Anne Wagner’s deft article on it.

All my research on Rodin and eroticism can be found at Eros and Rodin.

 Spanish Still Life @ BOZAR

There is a wonderful exhibition in Brussels right now. Spanish Still Life – Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Miró has two Cotáns, apart from Zurbarán, the crème de la crème of still life.

Sadly, behind glass, but seeing this is such a blast.

Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber (1602) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. This is the central piece of the exhibition. Jaw-droppingly beautiful. Below detail of the cucumber.

Still Life with Fruit and Vegetables (c.1600) by Juan Sánchez Cotán. Another Cotan, a little too full to my liking but still a top work.

Still Life With Bream, Oranges, Garlic, Condiments, and Kitchen Utensils (1772) by Luis Egidio Meléndez (detail)

Vanitas (Goya’s Skull) (1849) by Dionisio Fierros. This painting has a nice phrenology story behind it. Kind of similar to what happened to Sade’s skull.

There were two Goya’s: Still Life with Golden Bream and one with a bird (I was  unable to find the title, it’s this one). There were no Zurbaráns. I would have paid the price of the entrance for the two Cotans alone.