Fines Amnesty


This is a great opportunity to clear any outstanding overdue library fines. Donations of non - perishable food, including packaged or canned goods, a skein of wool or knitted squares will be accepted at Camden or Narellan Library between Friday 1 - Saturday 30 July.

Creative Writing Workshop

Artists and Writers Time-Warped

The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern liked it, John Podhoretz at The Weekly Standard didn't (no link available). Me? I seldom go to movies. But when I do, it's usually because of the concept or subject. The last Woody Allen movie I remember seeing was his 1975 "Love and Death," demonstrating that I'm not a big fan. But his latest flick, "Midnight in Paris" (IMDb link here) intrigued me due partly to its time-travel gimmick and mostly because it includes writers and artists of Paris in the 1920s, a period I've read a fair amount about (that's the movie's Zelda Fitzgerald at the left in the photo above). So I went.

Read Morgenstern's review for details about the movie. I'll just name-drop. There are major speaking parts for Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, lesser ones for Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí (who is obessing on the concept of "rhinoceros"), Luis Buñuel (in need of movie ideas), Man Ray, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (she attempts suicide at one point), T.S. Eliot, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas (the last three in a secondary time-warp), and a singing part for Cole Porter.

The casting director did a good job finding actors who could be made up to look a lot like the originals. Since you can't win 'em all, there were some compromises. For example, Picasso might have been a bit too tall and slender, and Man Ray definitely was too tall. But you watch it and find more near-misses, though that probably won't interfere with your experience.

A character in the 2010 part of the movie is a know-it-all who disputes facts with the guide at the Rodin museum; that one hit pretty close to home. The guide, by the way, was played by France's femme No. 1, Carla Bruni.

There also were some temporal ambiguities. Hemingway was encountered after his first novel (1926) but before he wrote much more. Dalí was in Paris in 1926, but Surrealism was largely a literary movement at that time, its better-known painting/visual aspect was only starting to emerge even though much is made of it in the movie. Those points and others make it difficult to pin down just when in the 20s the action takes place. But again, that's minor because Allen is trying to evoke a short, rich era rather than any particular time within it.

So if you like arts and letters and have more than passing knowledge of Paris and the 1920s, you'll likely find much in this movie to enjoy.

Recomendados del fin de semana
Diario "Ámbito Financiero" 24 de junio del 2011 

Chaco en Buenos Aires:

Homenaje a los Maestros

El Gobierno de la provincia, a través de la Agencia de Inversión, Comercio Exterior, Relaciones Internacionales y Representación Provincial, AICER, trabaja para poner en valor la enorme riqueza del Chaco y su gente. La remodelación de la representación provincial en la Capital es parte de este esfuerzo de proyectar la provincia a nivel nacional e internacional.

Chaco en Buenos Aires es la ventana que desde dicha provincia se abre al país para mostrar su acervo cultural y artístico, el potencial productivo y la fortaleza de sus empresas y sus emprendedores. Iniciando la serie Homenaje a los Maestros, se presenta la obra de Ricardo Jara (Quitilipi 1943-Resistencia 2001), un artista con mayúsculas, que abordó todos los lenguajes, soñador incansable que con paciencia de pescador y fuerza de hachero, con habilidad de domador e instinto de baqueano, moldeó un patrimonio artístico de valor incalculable, legado singular para las generaciones de todos los tiempos.

Coordinadora general de AICER: Dra. Theresa Durnbeck; curador, Leonardo Gotleyb. Se tata de una muestra con más de 50 obras, donde podrán verse sus xilografías más representativas, dibujos, pinturas y esculturas de diferentes períodos, como también dos importantes murales de madera tallada y policromada.

Los murales «Chaco mítico» y «Espíritu de progreso», ambos de 2001, realizados por el maestro Ricardo Jara junto con los muralistas Gerardo Cianciolo y Marcelo Carpita, fueron restaurados y re acondicionados especialmente para ser exhibidos en esta abarcativa exposición del artista, que podrá observarse hasta el 31 de agosto inclusive, en Callao 328, de martes a jueves, de 14 a 19.
Finalizada la muestra, el proyecto incluye la evaluación de un lugar permanente para su exhibición en la ciudad de Resistencia, convirtiéndose en un nuevo atractivo para el disfrute de los habitantes de nuestro país y del mundo.

sección del mural xilograbado realizado junto a M.Carpita

Art Tent Needed

My Summer Studio

My vision is to be in my backyard the rest of this summer making art. I have art supplies, a yard, ideas, and papier-mache sculptures in progress all over the first floor of my house.  Yikes! Would you consider donating money to help me purchase this tent? This one is great because it will allow light in,  and protect the sculptures from rain & wind.  You can see the cost and info by Clicking HERE . I will have to figure out a way to anchor it down so the wind doesn't take it away.  If I can get 14 people to gift me $10 each, I will be able to get my 'free studio' up and running! I will send each sponsor an 8 x 11" signed color reproduction of my work with a personal note written on the back!  Thank you so much! Questions? Encouraging words? 

Renault Streamlined Cars - 1934

I wrote about automobile streamlining in both the technical and stylistic senses here and here. Now I'd like to mention a body style introduced by Renault at the October 1934 Paris auto show that was a first tangible step in the streamlining direction, a step roughly in line with what a few American manufacturers were doing at the time. (I exclude the larger step made by Chrysler with its Airflow that was introduced for the 1934 model year.)

I said "tangible step" because effort was made to go beyond essentially cosmetic streamlining features such as fender skirts and slightly inclined radiator grilles such as appeared a year or two earlier; I'll explain in the photo captions below.

One side-detail I find interesting is the fact that Renault was able to afford to put these changes into production, given their total output in those days -- about 55-60,000 cars per year. And that production was divided amongst three different body/chassis types: the low-end "Quatre," the mid-high range "Stella," "Nerva" and "Viva" lines (variations on the same package) and the semi-streamlined "Grand Sport" shown below. I don't have enough data at hand, so my guess is that French cars, small and large, were relatively more expensive than American equivalents. Otherwise, how could Renault and other firms remain in business and keep up with the technological and styling theme times?

Let's look at the Renault Grand Sports that were designed in 1933 or thereabouts.


Here's a 1935 Nerva Grand Sport at one of the concours popular in France at the time. Note the sloped, V'd windshield, the sloped grille and the blending of the headlights into the fenders. These features surely improved aerodynamic efficiency somewhat. The sides of the car had partial streamlining despite what the swoopy fender line might suggest.

Another concours, this featuring a convertible version of the Grand Sport (note the English spelling of "Grand").

This side view shows that even though traditional fender profiling was preserved, fenders and running boards were in low relief compared to nealy all contemporary automobiles.

The view from above is useful because it shows that the front, hood and top were indeed noticeably more aerodynamically efficient than previous designs featuring vertical fronts, detached headlights and so forth.

This is a fragment of a publication I include to show what the rear windows looked like. Click to enlarge.

Compare the Renault to this 1935 Hupmobile. The Hupp also features embedded headlights and a sloping grille and windshield. However, the latter is a three-pane "wraparound" style rather than a two-pane vee. The sides of the Hupp are high-relief, typical styling practice until near the end of the decade.

This is Studebaker's Land Cruiser for 1934. Its curved rear and multi-pane back window design is in advance of nearly all 1934 competition and in the same spirit as the Renault. The rest of the car is conventional.


El 4 de Junio de este año nos llegaba la noticia de la muerte del artista chileno Claudio Bravo acaecida Marruecos en donde se había instalado hacía ya unas décadas. Posiblemente debido a esa estancia en este hemisferio, las últimas exposiciones y noticias del artista estaban más presentes aquí que en la tierra que le vio nacer. ¿O fue su vida cosmopolita la que, al igual que a Matta (este blog 31 mayo 2011), le llevó a alejarse de su Chile natal, haciendo que fuera un artista más reconocido fuera de su tierra? Lo cierto es que Claudio Bravo, chileno o ciudadano del mundo, ha sido uno de los pintores hiperrealista más solicitado de los últimos tiempos.


Recuerdo la última vez que tuve ocasión de visitar una exposición de Bravo. Fue en Biarritz en la sala La Bellevue que el ayuntamiento de la ciudad balnearia dedica, sobre todo en época estival, a exposiciones de grandes acontecimientos de Arte.


Incluso los no amantes del hiperrealismo no pudieron evitar caer rendidos ante la belleza que emanaban los lienzos allí expuestos. Y es que si algún artista hiperrealista vivo (esta exposición se realizó hace unos años) tenía poder para atraer a todo tipo de público, este era Claudio Bravo.


En esa retrospectiva 50 obras de Bravo que procedían de colecciones privadas fueron colgadas en La Bellevue. Una exposición que se realizó con la colaboración de la Marlborough Galerie de Nueva York.


A los temas, clásicos del artista, como bodegones, naturalezas muertas, retratos, etc. se añadían paisajes, sobre todo de sus últimos tiempos en Marruecos.


Sus encuadres perfectos, sus figuras bien encajadas, su paleta de colores eran una característica de su obra, pero sobre todo, lo que hacía de Bravo un artista extraordinario, era ese dominio de las luces y las sombras. La maestría de “dibujar con la luz”.


Magistral en su profesión, llegaba a límites extremos sobre todo en los grandes formatos de naturalezas muertas y retratos. Un mundo artístico delicado, refinado, lleno de poesía y totalmente fascinante que lamento que no se aprecie en toda su belleza en las fotografías que adjunto.


Claudio Bravo nació en 1936 en la ciudad chilena de Valparaíso. De familia de agricultores. parte de su infancia la pasaría en Melipilla, pequeña población rural de Chile.


Parece ser que su familia no apoyaba demasiado las habilidades artísticas de un niño que ya con once años dibujaba a la perfección, pero finalmente logró tomar clases de pintura y dibujo en el taller de Miguel Venegas Cifuentes.


Su primera exposición en Santiago con tan solo 17 años, sería el principio de un éxito como pintor que iría de la mano de su éxito económico. Éste fue de tal magnitud que pudo adquirir un avión con el que recorrería Chile. Pero su espíritu viajero y cosmopolita pronto le impulsaría a salir del país y viajar a Madrid.


Sus años en la capital española los dedicó a desarrollar el retrato y sobre todo a estudiar las obras del Prado, siendo Velázquez y Zurbarán los maestros que más iban a influir en él.


A principios de los años sesenta expone por primera vez en Madrid y su obra permanecería presente durante toda la década en España.

Nueva York sería la siguiente gran urbe que se rendiría a sus pies recibiendo numerosas condecoraciones en esa ciudad. Precisamente fue la Marlborough Gallery de la ciudad neoyorquina la que le representaría internacionalmente desde su primera exposición en ese país.


En 1994, una gran exposición individual en el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes en Santiago de Chile le transforma en un fenómeno social y el artista se reencuentra con su patria. Se instala en la bella región de los lagos, en el Sur chileno, y viaja de nuevo por todo el país.

Pero en 2000 vende sus posesiones y sale de Chile rumbo a Marruecos.


En Marruecos se había establecido por temporadas en una antigua casa del siglo XIX que había reformado tirando las paredes y pintándola de blanco para incrementar más aún la luz del Mediterráneo. Finalmente este sería su lugar de residencia permanente.

Los habitantes del país, los objetos diarios, los textiles, todo es atrapado por la luz y los colores de Bravo.


También en ese año 2000 recibió de manos de los reyes de España la Cruz de la Orden de Alfonso X el Sabio.

Claudio Bravo había sido diagnosticado de una epilepsia hacía un año, enfermedad que le llevo a la muerte el 4 de Junio de 2011. En Marruecos el artista poseía varias mansiones. La muerte le sobrevino en su residencia de Taroudant.


Al igual que Roberto Matta que fue enterrado en Italia, a Claudio Bravo también le llegó la muerte en tierras extrajeras. Ambos murieron lejos de su Chile natal y ambos fueron ciudadanos del mundo. Nos dejó un gran artista pero nos regaló su arte que permanecerá entre nosotros.


NOTA: Para mejor visualizar la fotografía “picar” con el ratón encima de las que interesen.

Para la lectura de entradas anteriores, ir a la ventana de la derecha y “picar” en los años y meses. Se desplegarán los títulos correspondientes a cada fecha.

Fuentes consultadas:

Sotheby’s Latin American Art. New York Nov.2001

Arte Latinoamericano del siglo XX. Edward Lucie-Smith. (Edic.Destino)

Prensa nacional: El País y El Mundo Junio 2011.

La red

Para la fotografía: las mismas

Harry Beckhoff: Starting Small

When I'm out having a cup of coffee I usually grab four or five extra paper napkins to make use of while I'm sipping. Sometimes I'm making lists of potential blog topics or, if I already have a subject in mind, I might outline or list items I could include.

Other times, I might sketch car designs or poses nearby people assume. And I've found that fine-point ball point pens work just fine on napkins provided there is more than one napkin layer (some cushioning helps prevent the pen from gouging through the paper).

These drawing are small, seldom exceeding two inches (5 cm) in the longest direction. And because they're small, I can't get hung up with details -- a good practice that counteracts tendencies to make images more "complete" than they should be.

Harry Beckhoff (1901-1979) was an illustrator who worked in thumbnail sketch mode. He didn't make large, sweeping-gesture sketches and then boil them down to production size. Instead, he had his thumbnails enlarged and then traced them as the basis for the final job.

Leif Peng mentions this unconventional practice in this post about Beckhoff. Another take on him is here. Otherwise, there seems to little information about him on the Internet.

I find Beckhoff's work charming, and hope you too will like the following examples.


This is the only thumbnail I could discover on the Web, but it gives us a pretty good idea of what Beckhoff was up to.

Nearly everything he did had a touch of humor. This was supported by his technique which was a blend of cartooning and straight illustration.

I don't have titles for most of the examples, so I'll invent my own where I can. This one I call "Snow-Fallen."

Here Beckhoff presents an interest dramatic situation: fill in the blanks.

Perhaps this is half of a spread, but it still works as an illustration.

This is a 1950 illustration for a Collier's story titled "The Third Level." It shows New York's Grand Central Terminal with one fellow 40 years out of synch with the other fashions. Might have been an interesting story.

Here's a early 1940s vintage illustration I'll call "Running Late."

Inspiration for Tea Cosies

Not sure what to do with for your fabulous entry to our Tea Cosy Competition? Never fear- check out these blogs with fantastic ideas and great pics to get your started! Don't forget to ask for photocopies of patterns from our display books for the crazy examples on show.

Kroyer's Tranquil Denmark

Denmark has been an essentially tranquil place since Lord Nelson turned his blind eye to his commander's signal flags and devastated the Danish fleet at Copenhagen. Even the German invasion of April, 1940 was nearly bloodless.

So too was the work of one of Denmark's most famous painters, Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909). His Wikipedia entry notes that he was born in Norway to an unstable women and a nameless father, dying in Copenhagen aged 58 of the effects of syphilis after becoming largely blind. Perhaps that disease coupled with his own unstable personality drove his beautiful, talented wife Marie into the arms of another man and divorce from the painter. Although Denmark may be tranquil, it seems not all Danish lives follow suit.

Nevertheless, Krøyer's subjects centered on portraits, beach scenes and social get-togethers of various kinds, often set in Skagen, an artist summer colony town at the northern tip of the Jutland peninsula in mainland Denmark.

I find Krøyer's paintings skilfully done and pleasant. They don't interest me much beyond that, but perhaps you might like some of them; take a look at this sampling.


Sommeraften på Skagen Sønderstand - Summer evening on the Skagen beach - 1895
This is perhaps Krøyer's most famous work.

Hip, hip, hurra!
This is a study for the 1888 painting.

Danish bar interior

Ved frokosten. Kunstneren og hans hustru med forfatteren Otto Benzon. Skagen. Peder and Marie lunching with Otto Benzon, Skagen
Marie was the subject of a number of paintings while the marriage was going well. She also appeared as a member of the cast of social scenes, as can be seen here.

Photo of Peder and Marie Krøyer
I include this so that you can judge how well Krøyer was able to capture Marie.

Marie Krøyer - 1889

Marie Krøyer - 1890

Sommeraften ved Skagen - Marie in Skagen, summer evening

Albert Kahn: Versatile Architect

Perhaps I wrote too soon. I've always liked the work of architect Raymond Hood and made a modest case for him here, stating "I base my contention on Hood's ability to do outstanding work in several styles: traditional, Deco and modernist."

So what did I do a few weeks later than pick up a book I bought in Detroit a few years ago and thumb through it. What I saw was strong evidence that there was another guy who could (or maybe guys in his firm under his direction could) do what Hood was doing at a similar level of competence for a lot more structures. He was Albert Kahn (1869-1942). His Wikipedia entry that includes a list of his buildings is here.

One difference between the two architects is that modernists generally embraced Kahn more than Hood thanks to the industrial buildings he did during Detroit's boom days. They featured simplified shapes and little or no decoration, catnip to functionalist theorists circa 1925. His traditionally styled works ... well, they were conveniently set aside.

For what it's worth, Henry Ford had his anti-semitic moments, yet hired this rabbi's son to design his most important factories.

Here are some of Kahn's buildings.


Dodge Brothers plant, Hamtramck - 1910

Angell Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor - 1922

General Motors (Durant) Building, Detroit - 1922

Fisher Building - 1927

Albert Kahn House, Detroit - 1907

E. Chandler Walker House, Windsor, Ontario - 1905

Cranbrook (George Booth) House, Bloomfield Hills - 1907

Edsel Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores - 1926

The Edsel Ford House, conceptually a cluster of Cotswold cottages, is open to the public and well worth the effort to get there. (It's in one of Detroit's poshest suburbs, so rent a car and enjoy checking the neighbor's digs en route.) Most of the rooms are decorated in late 1920s style. Exceptions are bedrooms used by Edsel's sons which were redecorated in a Moderne mode around 1940.