The Elgin Marbles

January 7, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, LIFE, TRAVEL, Ulalume |

Image courtesy Andrew Dunn

‘And so this is Christmas and what have we done?’  Have we been friends of the earth and enemies of the people; open to change and closed to knowledge; fighting for peace and appeasing terror?  Tu se’ pagliaccio! The squabbles over the Elgin marbles continue.  There are many arguments pro and con; some ingenious, some tosh.  Legally, you can paraphrase Mr Gutman from the ‘Maltese Falcon’ and say clear title rests with Pheidias, so how can another claim prevail except by right of possession? The only edifying aspect to squabbles over title is that it reveals a hitherto latent love…

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National Gallery of Victoria

December 12, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Ulalume |

December 2014 TVC wandered mainly in the European wing this trip but the floating wooden Japanese village by Takahiro Iwasaki was a highlight, as were hardy perennials ‘The Garden of Love’ by Vivarini (1465-70), with its formal marble fountain bordered by trellised fruits (tomatoes? pomegranates? Triffids?); Jan Brueghel’s ‘Calvary’ (c. 1610) with its blue oils on copper and a harsh landscape with dogs and prurient audience watching the faith-man suffer; a little ‘St Jerome’ (c. 1540) peering into the blue distance in which birds wheel like bomber-planes; Poussin’s ‘The Crossing of the Red Sea’ (1632-4) and its choppy sea and…

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Ariadne & Theseus at the Mortlock Chamber

Picture courtesy of Dr Daniela Kaleva

To the Mortlock Chamber in the State Library of SA, to hear L’Arianna abbandonata e gloriosa and Lamento d’Arianna (1608), works reconstructed from Monteverdi’s fragmented scores, with solo voice and harpsichord, accompanied by the odd stage effect to evoke waves crashing on lonely Naxos, where (failed Argonaut) Theseus has parked Ariadne to show his gratitude for her help surviving the labyrinth on Minos. This paring away eschews the go-for-baroque approach that could overwhelm the purity of the harmonics, which are quite reminiscent of Purcell’s Dido pieces…

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The Empire of Death

(B. Koudounaris) Those who have gone before well outnumber those of the transitory present and are more swiftly forgotten.  It is now overwhelmingly the fashion in Australia to incinerate the dead – burial is a considerable ongoing expense and the real estate is rented (in due course, urban cemeteries will reclaim the space).  This incredible book shows and tells us of the veneration of the dead in 17C-19C catholic Europe (and parts of South America and south east Asia) in ossuaries and charnel houses. The pictures have to be seen to be believed: mountains of bones; garlands of skulls, cages…

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Nazi Philistines – Arthur Boyd – The Brians

November 24, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, Modern Music, MUSIC, POLITICS, Ulalume, WW2 |

Pyjamas

The Wall Street Journal reports that the art collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, who died on 6/5/14, has been bequeathed to a museum in Bern.  The collection included works looted by the Nazis and ‘assayed’ under the stewardship of Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand: Matisse, Franz Marc, Monet and Renoir (which last perhaps suggests the basic philistine nature of the national socialists). German authorities famously carried out a home invasion of Gurlitt’s Augsburg home in 2012 and confiscated the art as, according to the WSJ, “Gurlitt sat shocked in a corner wearing his pyjamas.” This property was never returned to him but the…

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