On the Birthday Omnibus

September 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, FILM, HISTORY, MUSIC, OPERA, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Photo by Harry Whittier Frees

Photo by Harry Whittier Frees

September 5 Many happy birthdays to a range of historical and cultural notables!! 1638: Louis XIV The great empire-builder applied his zeal to the foundations laid by Cardinal Richelieu.  In the end, zeal undid much of his work but he still left a mighty legacy – he could little foresee on his 1715 deathbed that his great regal empire would last well under a century. Louis to the Duc d’Orléans on his deathbed: “‘You are about to see one King in his tomb and another in his cradle. Always cherish the memory of the first and the interests of the…

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Random Gallery Pieces

August 31, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, AUSTRALIANIA |
NGscene

Canberra, August 2017 We have used our pleasant stay in Canberra, in visits to the National and National Portrait Galleries, to fulminate about the decline of portraiture and the absurdity of abstract expressionism. But while The Varnished Culture sauntered between the rooms, talking of Michelangelo, we did pipe a bunch of interesting stuff, familiar and new. Some good old and new: A nice moony Streeton     …in fine silver, gold and steel. Some fine Filippino figurines (above) and the well-known Magritte… A beautiful piece of blown glass, “Cobalt Blue Venetian No. 9” by Dale Chihuly (1989), the same artist who…

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Abstract Expressionism Made Easy

August 25, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Ulalume |
"Blue Poles" by 'Jack the Dripper' (Jackson Pollock)

"Blue Poles" by 'Jack the Dripper' (Jackson Pollock)

National Gallery, Canberra, August 2017 Abstract Expressionism is easy, and fun! A child could do it, although it generally wouldn’t. It takes an adult with life-tempered chutzpah to attempt it and then whack a frame around it. Here’s a d-i-y trip down Memory Lane:                                       Now, The Varnished Culture can reveal how the high-profile practitioners make good, as evidenced in the world-class display seen recently at Canberra’s National Gallery. Take Frank Stella and his pantheon of floating, by-the-numbers pastiches of violent colour….

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Can Liberalism Fight Back?

August 23, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, POLITICS, Ulalume |
LT

Liberalism is a slippery label, misused ever since the God of the New Testament set the sheep to the right and the goats to the left.  Liberals traditionally have been put along the political spectrum at the ‘sensible centre,’ or perhaps the ‘mushy’ centre-left: at its most worthy, however, it has transcended the spectrum and concerned itself mostly with the freedom and protection of the individual. From the right, liberals were sneered at as ‘wet,’ from the left, socialism was held to be the logical next phase (and replacement) of liberalism. This pincer movement of the two extremes is what killed…

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National Portrait Gallery

Quentin

(Canberra, August 2017) Having breasted the paint-stripping wind blowing down the mountain and off Lake Burley Griffin, we wondered if this monument would rise to emblematise a great reference of images, or just amount to a pantheon of nonentities crowding Our Island Story? Actually, the galleries are small, but occasionally choice, and sometimes a laugh riot.  Little hordes of schoolchildren swept through on the hour (Canberra’s array of free stuff means almost every week there’s opportunity for a teaching free day or two) and little lessons were delivered by earnest folks who knew not what they were saying. Fortunately, P was…

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