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As we noted a while back: “Music, good music, SOUNDS good, of course. But we’ve noticed that the best music also LOOKS good.” This time, we’ve turned our eyes to music on the page, music made with pen and ink (or whatever) for other musicians to read and play. Above image from the cover of Stravinsky the Music-Maker seen here
A note from Johannes Brahms
Even if you can’t read music, you can tell this is music and you know it sounds pretty good. Henry Purcell at the British Library
This too. It is Robert Schumann @ Yale
Music on the page goes as far back as words on the page. In either case, it’s all about letting other people know what you hear in your head (and your heart), whether it is a thought about Spring or the sound of Springtime.
Lots more here.
This old beauty found at Oxford Early Music Festival.
Coming back closer to our time, you can see the music loosen up, take chances, leap, fly.
This lovely thing lives at Yale.
Autograph musical manuscript signed (Thelonious M), Monk’s Mood, 1 Page, New York, c.1956-7
Apart from the divine Mr Monk, 20th century music makers have shied away from showing us their direct hand-i-work. Keyboards and computers come between the fingers and the page. But with the digital tools available, new ways of showing our eyes the look of music have sprung up.
This video give us Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as an animated score. Of course Nijinsky basically did that a hundred years ago, with bodies and fabric and genius.
So, we give the last word to the visual artist who deeply understood the look of music.Music: stop Look listen.
Puppets have been with us for a very long time. Amusing us, sometimes scaring us or making us mad–and by “us”, we mean people of just about any age in any country. Small figures made of simple materials become actors in a play. This is theatre the way we all like it. We laugh, we cry. Applause applause.
The above 200-year-old puppet troupe, supporting cast to the beloved character Guignol, is from Lyon, France, found here.
But happily, puppets are as much a part of the present as they are a reminder of the past. Today, right now, puppet making and puppet theatre are as widely appealing and inventive as ever.
This is one (of dozens) of small figures imagined and made by Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer for a show called The Surgeon and the Photographer. Each is made of cloth and paper cut out of magazines and books. Are they “puppets”? They are to us, and the room full of them was, by a long shot, the best thing we saw in an art gallery in 2015.
Above, Mr Farmer’s puppets on parade at the Barbicon in London in 2013. Happily, all these little people have been gathered in a book.
Whatever their actual age, puppets seem to belong to a time all their own. This lad, who is Italian and just waiting for the show to go on, is about 300 years ago.
This past August, many of the fine performances at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival featured puppets and puppetry of the highest and most hilarious order, the most absurd, unsettling, laugh-in-spite-of- yourself kind of stuff you’ll find in any theatre anywhere…
Like Bruce, a sponge puppet, with quite a story to tell. Created by Australian company The Last Great Hunt
And Foxy, one of the stars of Sing for your Life, a “Hideously hilarious taxidermy puppet cabaret”written by taxidermy performance artist (!) Charlie Tuesday Gates. Don’t look toooo close.
Puppet festivals thrive today in many cities–like Istanbul, below
Montreal Festival Casteliers Afternoon of a Foehn.
So we encourage you to get off your hands and head out to a puppet show near you or way over there in Istanbul. Near or far, the delight remains supreme. We love these little creatures, don’t we?
G. Farmer. Mlle Puppette. Enchantee. Merci.
These days, not many of us stop and take note of what we are walking on or where we stand. But over the years, lots of talented people have been putting lot of thought and creativity into the stuff that goes under our feet.
Treat your feet and feast your eyes: Viva Terrazzo…..
Above is just a peek at the bedazzling variety of patterns produced by the terrazzo process–part construction part sculpture pure elegance that lasts a lifetime
If your two feet happen to prefer wood to stone, but you still want the visual variety of Terrazzo, you need to budget for Parquet wood floors.
Above selection, tip of the parquet iceberg, found here
The idea certainly appealed to the folks at the St Petersburg Winter Palace–the Hermitage, nice photo from here.
But what do you do in 2015 to satisfy the floor fetish in your own contemporary home?
Well here’s one idea:
Grey wood is all the rage. It seems we now favour a neutral background for our lives and ourselves, a bare stage on which to strut our stuff.
But what does that say about us and how we value ourselves relative to the things around us? Have we lost a step or two in always clambering to be the centre of attention? If Princes and High Priests were willing to share their habitat with the likes of this…
Santa Maria della Salute, Venice
Why can’t we just suck it up and give ourselves a floor worth dancing on?
But, hang on, you don’t have to run out and replace your floor; what a waste. The truth is you can dramatically raise the creative temperature of any room by covering parts of it with a piece of hand-woven cloth. Oh yes you can…
Zoe Luyendijk gets it and she’s got it, woven by hand in silk and wool to slip nicely between your foot and the floor while your eyeballs explode. Fall in love here:
Surely we are ready to revive the art of the floor. Why should fridges, counter tops, and faucets get all the attention. Look down, imagine the possibilities. Imagine your personal terrain.
Floor of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Don’t stand for anything less.
And what about that ceiling?
Music, good music SOUNDS good, of course. But we’ve noticed that the best music also LOOKS good.
That’s Edythe Turnham and her Band up there, lookin’ good. photo Dorothy Hilbert Collection seen here
Small music groups, particularly, seem to have great visual appeal. This is something like a family portrait–the resemblance is there–but where everyone has their own special piece of equipment and job to do. Found here.
When we go to see live music, we go to watch as much as to listen. What we experience at the time, and what we take away, has a lot to do with what we looked at, what we saw.
Artists of every era have used musicians as subjects. It’s just natural.
Fernand Leger, two performances, same band, new look. See here.
Jan Miense Molenaer painted this portrait of a family musical event in Haarlem, Holland, in the 17th century.
Lots of paintings of musicians at work here
This scene of how to walk like an Egyptian while playing a tune is from the Metropolitan Museum collection, found here
In our time, some of the most eye-appealing performances, we think, are given by the string quartet.
Performers at the Kairos chamber music festival, go here.
But for our money, nothing quite beats the genius solo performer deeply in tune with the music and the moment
Miss Holiday, the song, the look, none before or since quite like that.
Mr Hendrix was an eye magnet as well as an incomparable musician. Fine photograph by Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal, lots more here
Glenn Gould, Joni Michell. Music like no one else. Looking like no one else.
Listen up and look on.
The world is (still) full of wild things, plenty of them pretty weird in appearance and habits. Yet we humans have never been satisfied with nature’s menagerie. Since way back when, we have imagined things even more wild and more weird. Like this unnerving critter photographed by Nhung Dang (spotted here).
No surprise the Japanese have been heavily into conjuring up unusual creatures from the imagination. There was a whole show of them in London.
The USA can claim many producers of eye-poppng imaginary animalia, sometimes under the banner of Folk Art, sometimes Outsider Art, sometime…Art. This wild dog was here.
And in the USA, there is no shortage of well produced, well attended shows featuring objects and drawings of creatures who have never actually roamed the earth, but which are very much alive in the minds of some artist.
And then there is England, which might hold the all time record for the number of its citizens who have turned their imagination and their natural skills to the rendition of new life forms. The above drawing is a collaboration of two sisters born in the 1840’s with time on their hands and wonderful, playful minds. Here’s the story.
Kate Bradbury, a current artist from England, emerged late, blossomed quickly, makes things no one else could never dream of. This is her Angel. More
Let’s give the last word and image to the Asians. Eunmi Chun is Korean, and she makes animal figures out of dried intestinal skin and human hair (sometimes gold-leafed), beautiful forms sewn together, see here.
Wild. Thing. You make my heart sing.
Nature is the crucible, churning out an infinite variety of living things. And still, some of us turn our heads and minds to the invention of things that, so far, never were.