Monthly Archives: October 2006

Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894)

The Impressionist and patron of other artists Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894) painted the Boulevard Haussmann under many aspects of seasonal and daily change.

Gustave Caillebotte: Urban Impressionist (1995) – Anne Distel
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Caillebotte’s vivid representations of Parisian life bridged the gap between Realism and Impressionism during the 1870s and early 1880s. His Paris Street: Rainy Day and Floorscrapers–each the subject of a fascinating, extensively illustrated analysis in this book–have become icons of the Impressionists’ devotion to scenes of modern urban life.

Prepared by an international team of scholars to accompany the major 1994-95 retrospective organized by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and The Art Institute of Chicago, Gustave Caillebotte: Urban Impressionist reproduces 89 of his paintings and 28 of his drawings and studies, many of them from little-known private collections. Thoughtful essays examine both his work and his crucial role as an early patron and promoter of Impressionism. A chronology, list of exhibitions, and selected bibliography provide additional invaluable information.

See also: French artrealismimpressionismArcades Project

Girish on Archiveology

I know the blogosphere values currency, so as a small gesture against our impulse to only highlight the links du jour, I’m starting up a new feature called Archiveology devoted to unearthing valuable writing on the web that is not brand new. Today: an homage to five voracious [what a lovely word, it is also featured in V’s opening speech in V for Vendetta] cinephiles whose curiosity, open-mindedness, energy, intelligence and appetite I find truly inspirational. Reading them is like catching a bug that galvanizes me: to watch more, read more, think more, write more. Now to share that bug with you—in alphabetical order: —Girish

Girish then highlights the work of the following cinephiles: Zach Campbell, Raymond Durgnat, Adrian Martin, Olaf Möller and Michael Sicinski.

I could not agree more with Girish’s post (see The past is a much bigger place than the present)


Related: roadcarBaron HaussmannParis

Works with boulevard in title: Hollywood Boulevard (1976)

Avenue de la Grande Armée, one of Haussmann’s twelve grand avenues radiating from the Arc de Triomphe. La Défense and the Grande Arche (the hollow white cube) can be seen on the horizon. [Oct 2006]
Image sourced here.

Picture of Boulevard Haussmann during the Paris flood of 1910, photo by Pierre Petit (1832-1909)
Image sourced here.

1800s photograph of Printemps (meaning “spring” in French), a French department store (or a grand magasin, literally “big store”). I grandi magazzini Printemps in una foto d’epoca
Image sourced here.


Boulevard (French, from Dutch Bolwerkbolwark, meaning bastion) has several generally accepted meanings. It was first introduced in the French language in 1435 as boloard and has since been altered into boulevard.

In this case, as a type of road, a boulevard is usually a wide, multi-lane arterial divided thoroughfare, often with an above-average quality of landscaping and scenery.

Baron Haussmann made such roads well-known in his re-shaping of Second Empire Paris between 1853 and 1870. The French word boulevard originally referred to the flat summit of a rampart (the etymology of the word distantly parallels that of bulwark). Several Parisian boulevards replaced old city walls; more generally, boulevards encircle a city center, in contrast to avenues that radiate from the center.

Boulevard is sometimes used to describe an elegantly wide road, such as those in Paris, approaching the Champs-Élysées. — [Oct 2006]

Haussmann’s boulevard

Boulevard Haussmann running from Paris VIIIe to Paris IXe arrondissement, 2.53 km long, is one of the wide tree-lined boulevards driven through Paris during the Second French Empire by Baron Haussmann, who retained the complete confidence of Napoleon III.

The department stores (“grands magasins”) Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps are sited on the Boulevard Haussmann, which is mostly lined with apartment blocks, whose regulated cornice height gives a sense of regularity to the Boulevard.

At No. 102 lived the great French novelist Marcel Proust (1871 –1922) a martyr to asthma spent much of his life writing through the night hours in the famous cork-lined bedroom of his ornate townhouse. Alan Bates starred in 102 Boulevard Haussmann a 1991 made-for-television docudrama written by Alan Bennett [1].

At 158 and 158 bis the Musée Jacquemart-André presents a private collection of French furnishings.

The Impressionist and patron of other artists Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894) painted the Boulevard under many aspects of seasonal and daily change. — [Oct 2006]

Soul Jazz presents: Give Me Your Love (2006) – Sisters Love

Soul Jazz presents: Give Me Your Love (2006) – Sisters Love
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Tommy’s disco delivery blog features audio of this new Soul Jazz compilation and good commentary:

The people at Soul Jazz Records have done it again. After having their Tom Moulton Mix compilation on my changer constantly for several months, they release this collection compiling many of the singles released by The Sisters Love (mostly on A&M and Motown from 1968-1973). So far, this is the first time any of their material has been assembled together in one place, let alone on CD.. After hearing about them on various forums, but never actually hearing them, I decided to take a chance and buy this thing. So far, the featured track “Give Me Your Love” from 1973 has become one of my absolute favourite proto-disco tracks ever. —Tommy at discodelivery blog [Oct 2006]

Approaching Nowhere: Photographs (2006) – Jeff Brouws

Approaching Nowhere: Photographs (2006) – Jeff Brouws
[FR] [DE] [UK]

Jeffrey T. Brouws (born 1955) is an American photographer whose work captures the social experience and cultural relevance of classic American iconic images, from highway landscapes of run-down motels and neon-lit gas stations to carnival scenes of small-town sideshows. — [Oct 2006]

Like many Americans who grew up during the spread of sprawl – with its predictable landscape of housing developments, shopping malls, interstate highways and big-box construction – acclaimed photographer Jeff Brouws is drawn to places that still embody the vernacular past as well as to those that starkly portray the soulless, franchised American landscape. This collection of evocative images of buildings and places seen from the American road began as a cultural geography of Main Streets and became a visual critique of the myth of upward mobility that created this car-centred, paved-over universe. Some images look outward to the edges of suburbia where sprawl is encroaching upon nature. Others turn inward, documenting the devastated inner cities. All of them reflect the complex beauty and desolation of visual life in America today.

Introducing The Laughing Bone

The Laughing Bone: an American blog run by Scot Casey, who calls himself the literary executor of Bonesy Jones (who wrote his first post in May 2004 and died in December 2005). I’ve mentioned their blog before in Indeep, Penguin covers, Youtube and Don Quixote and Colin Wilson.
Digression 1: I juxtapose Scot’s Notes On Difficulty post to my complexity page (prompted by my musing on volutes and convolutes).

The Painting Monkey (1740) – Jean Simon Chardin

Again via The Laughing Bone.

Arcades Project blogathon


Galeries St. Hubert (1846), Brussels

Arcades Project (1927 – 1940) – Walter Bejamin

3. One book you would want on a desert island? Something large, omnivorous, digressive, its curiosity knowing no boundaries, a sort of uber-Merzbau that might serve as a microcosm of the world I left behind, “the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas,” Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project. –girish
The Arcades Project site was created and is maintained by Heather Marcelle Crickenberger.

“It is part of a doctoral dissertation that is scheduled to be completed May 2006 at the University of South Carolina. Much of the bibliographic infomation required of such a project is yet to be included.” [Oct 2006]

Here is the list of convolutes she features.

Convolute is a multifaceted word that connotes “To make something unnecessarily complex; to fold or coil into numerous overlapping layers; to twist someone’s words to fit a desired meaning that was not intended by the speaker.”

If I understand correctly (without direct access to a paper copy (mine is on the way from Germany)), Walter Benjamin used the concept in his Arcades Project ; konvolutes were sections in a collection of thousands of index cards on which he transcribed quotations and notations. It was a cross-referenced system not shying away from ambiguity and ambivalence; seeking its power in opposition and confusion, an early version of fragmented modernity and harbinger of postmodernity.

I would like to call for an Arcades Project blogathon. There is no deadline. By way of inspiration I offer you the following concepts

in praise of convolution

in praise of variety

in praise of flânerie

in praise of juxtaposition

in praise of multifacetedness

and …

“Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show.”
(Passagenwerk (1927 – 1940) – Walter Benjamin)

The “rhizome” allows for multiple,
non-hierarchical entry and exit points
in data representation and interpretation.
Mille Plateaux – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari,
volume 2 of Capitalisme et Schizofrénie (1980)

Un pauvre honteux – Xavier Forneret

In the 1992 British horror film, Tale of a Vampire, a centuries-old vampire and scholar (Julian Sands) approaches an occult-specialist librarian (Suzanna Hamilton) when he sees her reading an antique volume of Forneret. He tells her that his favorite poem by Forneret (1809-1884) is “Le pauvre honteux”–about a starving man who eats his own hand.

Below is the poem in question:

Un pauvre honteux

Il l’a tirée
De sa poche percée,
L’a mise sous ses yeux ;
Et l’a bien regardée
En disant : ” Malheureux ! “Il l’a soufflée
De sa bouche humectée ;
Il avait presque peur
D’une horrible pensée
Qui vint le prendre au coeur.Il l’a mouillée
D’une larme gelée
Qui fondit par hasard ;
Sa chambre était trouée
Encor plus qu’un bazar.

Il l’a frottée
Ne l’a pas réchauffée
A peine il la sentait ;
Car, par le froid pincée,
Elle se retirait.

Il l’a pesée
Comme on pèse une idée,
En l’appuyant sur l’air.
Puis il l’a mesurée
Avec du fil de fer.

Il l’a touchée
De sa lèvre ridée. –
D’un frénétique effroi
Elle s’est écriée :
Adieu, embrasse-moi !

Il l’a baisée,
Et après l’a croisée
Sur l’horloge du corps,
Qui rendait, mal montée,
De mats et lourds accords.

Il l’a palpée
D’une main décidée
A la faire mourir. –
– Oui, c’est une bouchée
Dont on peut se nourrir.

Il l’a pliée,
Il l’a cassée,
Il l’a placée,
Il l’a coupée ;
Il l’a lavée,
Il l’a portée,
Il l’a grillée,
Il l’a mangée.

Quand il n’était pas grand on lui avait dit : Si tu as faim, mange une de tes mains.

Xavier Forneret (1809-1884) was a French dramaturge, poet and journalist. In the 1830s, he was a member of the Bouzingo, a group of poets which advocated a radical bohemian romanticism in life and art; contemporaries and kindred spirits included Gerard de Nerval and Theophile Gautier. His reputation was partly rehabilitated by Andre Breton, who included some of Forneret’s poems and aphorisms in his Anthology of Black Humor (1940).

1979 in music

E=MC2 – (1979) Giorgio Moroder [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Via Dadanoias come two tracks off (scroll down) of Giorgio Moroder ‘s 1979 E=MC2 album. This album is one of the highlights in European camp/gay sensibility in music. I bought this in the Brussels Harlequin shop in the early nineties; in fact it is one of the first pieces of vinyl I ever bought. My issue is on Durium records and altogether much nicer (qua cover art) than the album above. The only album of Giorgio to rival the level of kitschiness is the Knights in White Satin effort of 1976, picture here.

Here are the tracks.
Giorgio Moroder – Baby Blue.mp3 (+;)
Giorgio Moroder – What A Night.mp3

See also: 1979