February 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
An animated collaboration between Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. 1946.
February 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
Ukiyo-e, or ukiyo-ye (浮世絵, Japanese: [u.ki.jo.e], “pictures of the floating world”), is a genre of art that flourished in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica. Source: wiki
Exquisite and free. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has digitized their collection of 19th Century Japanese woodblock prints. The artists in the collection were masters in the ukiyo-e tradition during the 19th century in Japan. Make space on your hard drive! The images are in high resolution, there are more than 500, and they available for free to download. Big thanks to Open Culture for the tip.
The prints in this collection specifically represent Japanese art contemporary to period in which Van Gogh worked. The tradition originated several hundred years earlier as monochromatic text, heavily used for diseminating Buddhist scriptures. Once color techiques were developed, the genre expanded in subject and flourished as prized decorative art for prosperous individuals – not just for the wealthy and powerful. I imagine the numbers of pieces produced were countless. By the late 19th century, prints were reproduced from a woodblock until the woodblock wore down.
19th Century Art, Ukiyo-e, and Japonism
We are very familiar with the style and visually reference it as “Japanese Art”. The ukiyo-e genre was introduced to the west in the 19th century. Classical and contemporary Japanese art was well-known among artists in salons of Paris and influenced western art movements of the period, especially Art Nouveau. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec reflected the ukiyo-e genre heavily in his work, from subjects to composition. By the turn of the 20th century it was wildly popular in the West, visual aethetics of anything possible incorpoated aspects of ukiyo-e. Influence of Japanese aesthetics in the 19th century on the West was known as Japonism.
…artists such as Manet, Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, James McNeill Whistler, Monet, van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gaugin, Aubrey Beardsley and Klimt were all influenced by Japanese art [of the Edo period].”
“Ukiyo-e with it’s lack of perspective, clean lines and flat areas of colour influenced many Western artists. Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Modernism all drew inspiration from traditional Japanese art. The work of artists such as Hokusai and Utamaro were to have a profound and lasting affect upon Western art.” – Katsushika Hokusai, Ukiyo-e & Edo Period Japan – hokusaionline
- Artist: Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
- Title: La Courtisane
- Date: 1887
- Media: Oil paint on canvas
- Notes: van Gogh produced ‘copies’ of works by Hiroshige and Kesai Eisen.
- Artist: Mary Cassat (1844-1926)
- Title: Maternal Caress
- Date: 1891
- Media: Drypoint and soft-ground etching
- Notes: Mary Cassat was influenced by Japanese prints she saw in Paris in 1890. Her work clearly shows her interpretation of the line and form so indicative of ukiyo-e prints by artists such as Utamaro
- Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
- Title: Divan Japonais
- Date: 1893
- Media: Lithographed poster
- Notes: Toulouse-Lautrec’s appreciation for Japanese prints can clearly be seen in his famous images of the Parisian nightlife. Flat areas of colour and asymmetrical compositions featured strongly in his work.
“Edo (modern Tokyo) became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century. The merchant class at the bottom of the social order found themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the city’s rapid economic growth. Many indulged in the entertainments of kabuki theatre, courtesans, and geisha of the pleasure districts. The term ukiyo(“floating world”) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted “ukiyo-e” images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century and were popular with the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with them.” Source: wiki
“During the Edo Period (1615-1868), a uniquely Japanese art from developed known as ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.” A Buddhist concept, ukiyo originally suggested the sadness (uki) of life (yo). But during the peace and prosperity of the 17th century, another ideograph, also pronounced uki but meaning “to float,” emerged. Instead of connoting sadness, ukiyo came to be associated with the momentary, worldly pleasures of Japan’s rising middle class. Unable to alter their social standing and regulated in nearly every aspect of their lives, from behavior and dress to the sizes of their houses, wealthy commoners found escape in licensed pleasure quarters and Kabuki theaters. There, they could watch handsome actors performing the latest plays or spend time with beautiful courtesans known for their sparkling wit, musical accomplishments, and poetry.”
“Paintings of people from this world became a specialized type of genre painting in the 17th century. For the first time in Japan’s history, commoners had enough money to commission works that reflected their own interests and activities. They patronized artists who created a new style based on sinuous lines and bright colors that featured subjects wearing the most up-to-date fashions.”
“The realization of any print, however, depended on a collaboration: of a publisher, who funded the project; an artist, who designed the image; and block carvers and printers, who produced it. This division of labor, in fact, led to a high degree of technical perfection. While demand for images of beautiful women and dashing Kabuki actors remained strong throughout the 18th century, artists in the 19th century expanded the ukiyo-e repertoire to include landscapes, birds-and-flowers, legendary heroes, [historic scenes] and even ghoulish themes.”
February 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
Moving, famous, opera arias performed by equally well-known legends. The second video below, “the best of opera”, is a great opportunity to experience the truly exceptional. Do try a few pieces. They are single songs, not entire operas. You will recognize a few. Sit back and listen on a quiet day, distraction free. Consider it meditation. Until it gets loud.
But first…I prefer Placido Domingo’s “Nessun Dorma” much more than Pavarotti’s, and in general. I am not a big Lucianno Pavarotti fan. His voice is too piercing to my ear. I prefer a full, warmer, voice – the first video below, I love Placido Domingo:
Per gli amanti dell’Opera Turandot, ascoltiamo questa imperdibile uscita Live del grandissimo Tenore Placido Domingo
1. Norma: “Casta Diva” – Antonino Votto, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria #Callas
2. Il trovatore: “Condotta ell’era in ceppi” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
3. Turandot: “Nessun dorma” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
4. Don Carlos: “O’ Don Fatal” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
5. Il trovatore: “Tacea la notte placida” – Orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas, Antonino Votto
6. Gianni Schicchi: “O mio babbino caro” – Rai Symphonic Orchestra, Tullio Serafin, Maria Callas
7. La traviata: “Ah, forse è lui. Sempre libera” – Orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas, Carlo Maria Giulini
8. Tosca: “E lucevan le stelle” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
9. Pagliacci: “Vesti la giubba” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
10. La favorita: “O mio Fernando” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
11. Rigoletto: “Caro nome” – Tullio Serafin, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas
12. Lucia di Lammermoor: “Spargi d’amaro pianto” – Berlin Rias Symphonic Orchestra, Herbert Von Karajan, Maria Callas
13. La Pace di Mercurio: “La Pace di Mercurio” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
14. Maruzza: “Ei viene” – Dnepropetrovsk Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Natalia Margarit
15. Luisa Miller: “Quando le sere al placido” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
16. Tosca: “Vissi d’arte” – Victor De Sabata, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas
- Standard YouTube License
- “Norma: “Casta Diva”” by Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas Listen ad-free with YouTube Red
December 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the first in a series of the sharpest views of Pluto it obtained during its July flyby – and the best close-ups of Pluto that humans may see for decades.
Surreal. It is difficult for my mind to process this image of Pluto. Pluto has always been there, as a spot of light in a telescope. To see textures and color in photographs of it is epic. I had to save one.
December 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
One of my all time favorite films, if not top favorite: “Hero”, with #Jet Li. Chinese, with subtitles. An epic visual and aural masterpiece. A compelling story centered around the unification of #China.
This post is for the music. This is a tiny segment of the film score with a small, important but almost minor to the entire story, sequence of scenes for the love story. An anomaly for me in that I am greatly moved and love it (their saga within the film) – as I generally am bored, highly irritated, or disinterested in love stories in film.
You won’t be able to glean their saga from this. Nor the significance. Impossible. Just watch and listen. And yes, it is a #Kung fu movie. Operatic ballet. Beautiful, epic, ethereal, with outstanding cinematography, choreography, and kickassery…
That is what I expected from “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. Not boredom. This film is so much, much, better. I do need to see “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” again. It was beautiful, great Fu, but I saw it in the theater when it came out. I remember being bored for periods of time and not liking their wire work much (people on wires). But it is epic, I love epic.
Anyway, a tiny but moving portion of the music from “Hero”. It stirs my heart almost to tears…