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Pieter Bruegel, Flemish, born almost 500 years ago, was a miracle of a painter who gave us images we can still understand and delight in without a thick book or an expert.

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Most of his pictures have their origin in the Christian Bible, but if you never saw a Bible in your life you would see and feel the humanity of what is staring you in the eye.

And you would see the children, somewhere in the frame.

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You need to look, sometimes, for the children.  But they are almost always there, busy, preoccupied, stocky/stubby, lovely.

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This is a detail of the Census of Bethlehem

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Wherever you find them, these, Bruegel’s children are identifiable as today’s children, even if so much around them is bizarre.

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Above, The Hunters in the Snow also known as The Return of the Hunters, is a 1565 oil-on-wood painting.

It is a quiet cold wonder in the palace of great art–thanks in part to those small boys and girls.

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Sometimes the best discoveries don’t require meticulous planning, a long journey, or special shoes.  Sometimes you just have to see what’s in front of you.

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This is some of what Belgian photographer Harry Gruyaert has been seeing and recording for the rest of us over the last 40 years.

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He is credited with helping to prove the point that European photographs could be in colour and still be taken seriously.  Not that there is anything wrong with black and white.

ITALY. Sardinia. Near the town of Cagliari. Poetto beach. 1998.

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SOUTH KOREA. Seoul. 2007.

Mr Gruyaert claims that he doesn’t think much about all this, and he avoids talking about it if at all possible.

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The British Journal of Photography did manage to get a few words out of him, which can be read here

All images © 2015 Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos

 

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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

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A note from Johannes Brahms

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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.

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Lots more here.

 

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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.

Music Monk-Thelonious-Sphere-Autograph-musical-manuscript-signed-Thelonious-M-Monks-Mood-detailAutograph 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.

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So, we give the last word to the visual artist who deeply understood the look of music.Music: stop Look listen.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Like Bruce, a sponge puppet, with quite a story to tell. Created by Australian company The Last Great Hunt

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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

The 18th International Istanbul Puppet Fest comes to town!

Chicago

Tehran

German, Spanish for Tehran puppet festival

France

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?

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G. Farmer.  Mlle Puppette.  Enchantee. Merci.