Monthly Archives: June 2008

Giambattista Vico @ 340

“The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.” —Giambattista Vico, The New Science

New Science (1775) by Giambattista Vico

depicted is a revised 1744 edition

Giambattista Vico or Giovanni Battista Vico (June 23, 1668January 23, 1744) was a Counter-Enlightenment Italian philosopher, best known for his New Science. Vico was an outsider genius, who lived in near poverty and never met a thinker of equivalent magnitude.

Vallotton’s nudes + IoEA #27

Félix Vallotton (December 28 1865December 29 1925) was a Swiss painter and graphic artist, an important figure in the development of the modern woodcut; his work was recently celebrated in the 2007-08 retrospective Félix Vallotton: An Idyll at the Edge held in Zürich and Hamburg.

Self portrait, 1885, oil on canvas, by Félix Vallotton

Self portrait, 1885, oil on canvas, by Félix Vallotton

I’ve mentioned Swiss painter and woodcutter Félix Vallotton before here, he is one of the most interesting painters of the early 20th century. Tip of the hat to “Femme, femme, femme“, the blog, for bringing the crouching woman to my attention. The work of Vallotton is plentiful, varied and in the public domain and his edginess foreshadows the palatable work of art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka, and I have reason to imagine that Balthus was not averse to his work.

From my Flickr set:

vallotton_ballon_512x400FelixVallotton_3_Women_1907Felix Valloton Sitting woman with cat
Vallotton Femme nue regardant dans une psycheFelix-Vallotton woman with one naked breastvallotton moonlight

The “Crouching Woman with Cat” (4th painting from the left) reminded me of the opening “kitty milk” scene in Story of the Eye, the novel by Georges Bataille, which was analyzed by Roland Barthes in his essay, “Metaphor of the Eye”, published within Bataille’s own journal Critique, shortly after Bataille’s death in 1962. Barthes’s analysis centers on the centrality of the eye but also traces a second series of liquid metaphors within the text, which flow through tears, cat’s milk, egg yolks, frequent urination scenes, blood and semen, an analogy which might not be out of place in this painting.

Here are some of your favorites from other Flickr members.

Paris, Pompidou by iarasette Art tag from never_summer (Switzerland) by paolagaidolfi The Toilette -  Félix Vallotton by erikarivera1019 félix_vallotton by janvaneyck

The woman in red is quite strange, the corpse very macabre.

As a final encore, let me give you the work that introduced me to Vallotton:

Vallotton, Abuction of Europe

Abduction of Europe (1908) by Félix Vallotton

Update 22/6/08

Two more of his paintings

Valloton's Abandon


Vallotton's study of buttocks

The “bottom” one represents Icon of erotic art #27 ( IoEA #27),

One of the more beautiful depictions of the female posterior.

Anecdotal nightlife histories and erotic dictionaries

Histoire anecdotique des Cafés & Cabarets de Paris (1862) Alfred Delvau

Histoire anecdotique des Cafés & Cabarets de Paris is a book on Parisian cafés by Alfred Delvau with illustrations by Gustave Courbet, Félicien Rops and Léopold Flameng.

Delvau also wrote Dictionnaire érotique moderne (1864):

This edition printed by Gay et Doucé in 1876 for the members of the “Biblio-Aphrodiphile Société” with an engraved frontispiece by Chauvet after Félicien Rops. With a “Glossaire érotique” by Louis de Landers (= August Scheler). The volume was also published by Editions 10/18.

Entomology of the Pin-Up Girl

FIRST, LET us not confuse the pin-up girl with the pornographic or erotic imagery that dates from the dark backward and abysm of time. The pinup girl is a specific erotic phenomenon, both as to form and function. –Bazin

Ingrid_Bergman Yank Army Weekly

A public domain photo of Ingrid Bergman

André Bazin‘s 1946 essay “Entomology of the Pin-Up Girl,” was first published as “Entomologie de la pin-up girl “, L’Écran français issue 77, September 1946.

It starts thus:

Definition and Morphology

A wartime product created for the benefit of the American soldiers swarming to a long exile at the four corners of the world, the pin-up girl soon became an industrial product, subject to well-fixed norms and as stable in quality as peanut butter or chewing gum. Rapidly perfected, like the jeep, among those things specifically stipulated for modern American military sociology, she is a perfectly harmonized product of given racial, geographic, social and religious influences.


Entomology of the Pin-Up Girl” is featured in Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?

Solstice and WMC #50


Round about this time tomorrow, I mean somewhere around an hour and a half before midnight tomorrow, or 23 hours from now, it will be solstice, the longest day of the year.

Aristotle quotes the solstice as a moment of self-reflection:

For all men begin, as we said, by wondering that things are as they are, as they do about self-moving marionettes, or about the solstices or the incommensurability of the diagonal of a square with the side.Aristotle

The music I will be remembering this solstice is American jazz singer Andy Bey‘s “Round Midnight”[1], which some of you may know in Amy Winehouse‘s version [2]. The song, in Bey’s version is WMC #50. “River Man” of my previous post reminded me of Andy Bey, who did his own interpretation of “River Man,”


Andy Bey‘s “Round Midnight”[1]

Amy Winehouse‘s version [2]
But it really gets bad,
’round midnight.

Incidentally, here is Bey’s version of “River Man” mentioned in my previous post.

Nick Drake @ 60


“River Man” from Nick Drake‘s 1969 album Five Leaves Left

Nicholas Rodney Drake (June 19, 1948November 25, 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician best known for his acoustic, autumnal songs. Although he failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, Drake’s work has since grown steadily in stature, to the extent that he is now widely considered one of the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. He commited suicide aged 27.

“River Man” is World Music Classic #49. The track is also featured on the 2005 compilation album Late Night Tales: The Flaming Lips.

Introducing Kati Heck

In Belgian magazine Focus Knack June 2008, Els Fiers reviews German-born contemporary Belgian artist Kati HeckGoogle gallery at the occasion of Heck’s first museum expostion. Fiers likens her to Eija-Liisa Ahtila“Dog Bites”, Sam Taylor-Wood “A Little Death,” [YouTube] and Léopold Rabus Two girls and a mushroom.

Wood’s work I’ve learned to appreciate via dmtls a month or two ago, Ahtila and Rabus are so-so on first impression, and Heck, I’ve been a bit of a fan for some time. If placement she deserves, I will locate her in the tradition of the German Comic Grotesque, a category which Pamela Kort recently examined in her eponymous book and of which the earliest practitioners are Lovis Corinth, Paul Klee, Max Klinger, Otto Dix, Alfred Kubin, Kurt Schwitters, Emil Nolde, and the greatest of them all (and with Klinger and Corinth, the only ones in the beloved public domain), Arnold –“Isle of the Dead” —Böcklin.

Please notice the word comic in Comic Grotesque. If Heck is a great painter or not is not for me but for the market to decide, but I can say this: she has a sense of humor, and it’s a rosy kind of insouciance, of a cynical variety perhaps, but nevertheless one which invites genuine (as opposed to ironic) laughter.

Speaking of comic, I would like to offer you this piece of eye candy:

Sly as a fox, or, picaros avant la lettre

One more film for Paul Rumsey’s cinematheque: Le Roman de Renard.

The Tale of the Fox, as the film is known in English, was stop-motion animation pioneer Ladislas Starevich‘s first fully-animated feature film. It is based on the tales of Flemish picaro avant-la-lettre Renard the Fox.


Le Roman de Renard

Lords, you have heard many tales,
That many tellers have told to you.
How Paris took Helen,
The evil and the pain he felt
Of Tristan that la Chevre
Wrote rather beautifully about;
And fabliaux and epics;
Of the Romance of Yvain and his beast
And many others told in this land
But never have you heard about the war
That was difficult and lengthy
Beween Renart and Ysengrin

Jeffrey Lee Pierce @50 and WMC #48

Jeffrey Lee Pierce (June 27, 1958March 31, 1996) was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was one of the founding members of the 1980s punk band The Gun Club. He would have turned 50 today if he hadn’t exchanged the temporary for the eternal in his late thirties.

The Gun Club injected punk rock with doses of blues and country music. Pierce’s wailing vocals were an ideal delivery for his songs, which generally had a spooky, haunted quality.

Fire of Love was their debut album from whence came “Sex Beat,” released in 1981 on Ruby Records. “Sex Beat” is World Music Classic #48.

“Sex Beat” by The Gun Club

Choreography by Dipsetmuthafucka.

I’ve mentioned “Sex Beats” before here and the most memorable line of the song is: “We can f*** forever but you will never get my soul.”