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 What is Art?

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Meles meles
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What is Art? - Page 17 Empty
PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 17 EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 13:12

With regard to photographs, and in particular photo-journalism, as art ... we've encountered this forlorn little lad before on the Cecil Beaton war photography thread, albeit that it was taken by Toni Frissell.

What is Art? - Page 17 Toni-frissell-3

I was interested to see that there are at least two other versions of this image, clearly taken at the same time but with both the photographer and subject having slightly changed positions.

What is Art? - Page 17 Toni-frissel-5  

What is Art? - Page 17 Toni-frissel-4

Clearly someone - whether Toni Frissell herself, or a magazine editor or exhibition organizer, - thought each one was in its own way worthy of being made public (they are all now owned by the US Library of Congress). But in terms of this thread why does one work better than another? I have my preferences. And of course that decision may well depend on what we ourselves bring to the viewing, the circumstances of our seeing the image, and what use and message it is being used to portray to us. These particular photos are often used to illustrate the horror of the 1940 bombing Blitz on the eastend of London, although they were actually taken following a V2 missile strike on Battersea in 1945 just a few months from the war's end. Given his young age, all that lad will ever have known is rationing, shortages, bombing, blackout, disrupted schooling, uncertainty ... and probably also happily running wild over bombsites - like his own home has now become - playing 'war' and collecting shrapnel.
 
About the circumstances of when the photos were taken, Frissell said, "I was told he had come back from playing and found his house a shambles—his mother, father and brother dead under the rubble. ... he was looking up at the sky, his face an expression of both confusion and defiance. The defiance made him look like a young Winston Churchill."

The first image of the boy, with his stuffed toy and facing slightly towards his right, was used by IBM to publicize a show in London some years after the war - I'm guessing in the 1960s - because according to Frissell "... the boy grew up to become a truck driver after the war, and walking past the IBM offices, he recognized his picture."


PS - And regarding photojournalism, if anyone is down my way around the first two weeks of August, every year Perpignan hosts the International Festival of Photojournalism Visa Pour l'Image. The exhibitions are all free and are held in some of the city's best buildings such as the medieval cathedral, the old palace of the Kings of Majorca, the medieval Couvent des Minimes, the art moderne Hotel Pams, and with film screenings in the cathedral cloister and the grand courtyard of the palace, etc ... and I know a great little b&b place just a hour from the city centre. Wink
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 17 EmptySun 08 Dec 2019, 13:51

@Meles meles wrote:
every year Perpignan hosts the International Festival of Photojournalism Visa Pour l'Image. The exhibitions are all free and are held in some of the city's best buildings such as the medieval cathedral, the old palace of the Kings of Majorca, the medieval Couvent des Minimes, the art moderne Hotel Pams, and with film screenings in the cathedral cloister and the grand courtyard of the palace,

The television chef Rick Stein was pottering around French Catalonia in the most recent episode of his Secret France series. He didn’t mention the photojournalism festival in Perpignan but he did mention the Pablo Casals Music Festival in Prades. He visited the abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa (one of the venues of the festival) to buy and sample some fromage de brebis made from sheep’s milk by the monks there. He also pointed out something which I hadn’t appreciated about Pablo Casals which was that he was so long lived, and his career so extensive, that it spanned from having played cello for Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight in the 1890s to performing for President Kennedy in Washington in the 1960s. And he was still conducting orchestras in 1973 at the age of 96.

Stein also visited the fishing port of Collioure and a bar there which was frequented by another Pablo (artist Picasso) and also by writer Patrick O’Brian who made his home in the town. Mention of O’Brian prompted a memory of mine from my school days in which our rather pompous Latin teacher approved of those pupils who read O’Brian’s novels while frowning upon those who favoured C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series. I belonged to the latter group. We were informed that O’Brian’s books were more high-brow and intelligent and also that the author ‘really knew his stuff’. Forester’s work by comparison was dismissed as being frothy and of lesser value. Having a copy of, say, O’Brian’s The Golden Ocean (1956) on one’s desk was a sure-fire way of currying favour with said member of staff. The reality, however, is that neither O’Brian nor Forester was a genuine expert on 18th or 19th century maritime affairs which is, of course, why they were novelists and not historians.

The Golden Ocean is a story which follows the adventures of a young midshipman who joins the squadron of Commodore George Anson which undertook a somewhat piratical circumnavigation of the globe during the War of Jenkins’ Ear between Britain and Spain in the 1740s. During his lifetime, Anson approved a book called Voyage Around the World written by Richard Walter (his chaplain during the voyage) and published in 1749. This was undoubtedly the source material which was drawn upon by O’Brian. It’s strongly suspected that Voyage Around the World was actually ghost-written by mathematician and engineer Benjamin Robins but that Walter’s name was put on it because being a man of the cloth this might offset any negative publicity which Anson may have accrued from some of the more ghastly incidents which occurred during the voyage. Anson had become fabulously wealthy by dint of having captured a Manila galleon stuffed with silver and faced potential political opponents jealous of his new-found status and influence. He was keen to present the voyage not so much as a buccaneering rampage but rather as a noble venture of exploration and science and in the interests not only of Great Britain but indeed the wider world. And Voyage Around the World was duly published in English and also in French and Dutch.

The introduction of Voyage Around the World is especially interesting in that it makes much of the need for officers who are good at drawing and welcomes the fact that the admiralty has appointed a drawing master at Portsmouth. It says:

And though some have been so far misled, as to suppose that the perfection of Sea-officers consisted in a turn of mind and temper resembling the boisterous element they had do deal with, and have condemned all literature and science as effeminate, and derogatory to that ferocity, which they would falsely persuade us was the most unerring characteristic of courage: Yet it is to be hoped, that such absurdities as these have at no time been authorised by the Public opinion, and that the belief in them daily diminishes.

In short Anson and his officers are presented as thoughtful men of science, learning and progress. The book includes 42 drawings of Anson’s voyage made by Lieutenant Peircy Brett and these were then engraved onto copperplates by JS Muller and J Mason working with the printers John and Paul Knapton:

What is Art? - Page 17 Anson13

(Plate XL which depicts the engagement between HMS Centurion and the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Covadonga.)

This in turn was recreated in the following years by artists such as Samuel Scott and John Cleverly in varyingly romanticised and dramaticised paintings to suit the tastes of their 18th Century patrons:

What is Art? - Page 17 War-of-jenkins-ear-large-56a61c163df78cf7728b633f

(Samuel Scott's painting of the event.)
 
More than 200 years after the publication of Voyage Around the World and nearly twenty years after O’Brian’s novel, a factual account was offered by Canadian writer Leo Heaps in his 1974 book Log of the Centurion based on the personal account of captain Philip Saumarez from Guernsey and one of Anson’s ablest lieutenants. This book didn’t really do much to contradict what was in Walter’s authorized account but what is noteworthy about it is its dust-jacket. On it we see a stylized and colourised version of Brett’s drawing:

What is Art? - Page 17 Md18923640210

It is a detail focusing in on the ships Centurion and Covadonga. The background of the original, which faithfully depicted the coastline of Cape Espiritu Santo on the island of Samar in the Philippines, is omitted. This artwork reveals an essential truth about the voyage and public perception of it. Despite all the protestations and propaganda regarding science and learning etc, the fact remains that the most memorable aspect of the voyage was the seizing of the booty. Who cares where it happened? Just show us the action!
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 17 EmptySun 08 Dec 2019, 22:39

Vizzer, thank you very much for your mentioning of the circumnavigation...and also for your story of your Latin teacher. Youth rememberances are also dear to me...and I liked Captain Hornblower...

I just searched for a replica of a ship that was used in the Captain Hornblower series and that I visited in St. Malo complete with British crew... and I found a lot about the Hermione and that I only saw when it was built (took some years, while it was done with the old methods)

What is Art? - Page 17 Premiere_sortie_de_l%27Hermione_dsc3310E

But they spoke also about "l'étoile du roy but by that I came on the grand turk, which was the one in St Malo and now I see that I saw it in Ostend too with the international fleetdays.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89toile_du_Roy
What is Art? - Page 17 300px-Grand_Turk%2801%29



But again to the circumnavigations. Now I see that it was even before Bougainville

I mentioned it in my thread about the first French circumnavigation of the world:
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com/t1448-first-french-circumnavigation-of-the-world
 
and as mentioned above and in my thread Jeanne Baret was the first woman to circumnavigate the world.

Kind regards, Paul.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: What is Art?   What is Art? - Page 17 EmptyWed 11 Dec 2019, 09:11

@Vizzer wrote:
The television chef Rick Stein was pottering around French Catalonia in the most recent episode of his Secret France series. He didn’t mention the photojournalism festival in Perpignan but he did mention the Pablo Casals Music Festival in Prades. .... Stein also visited the fishing port of Collioure and a bar there which was frequented by another Pablo (artist Picasso) and also by writer Patrick O’Brian who made his home in the town.

I lived in Collioure for six months when I first moved here and I know the bar you/Rick mentioned: it's about the only one that stays open all year, although it was hardy 'throbbing' when last I was there (winter 2002/3). In size Collioure is really little more than a village but it is undeniably a very 'arty' town as it was where many of the 'Fauvists' gathered ... and it has certainly dined out on that reputation ever since.

At the beginning of the 20th century Collioure was suffering from the collapse of its two principal businesses, fishing and wine, so it tried to remake itself as a cheap Mediterranean holiday destination for those who couldn't afford the Côte d'Azure. Henri Matisse first came to Collioure because he was looking to escape the Parisian summer and he needed cheap lodgings for his wife, two little boys and his older daughter (by a former mistress). He was joined there by André Derain. Both artists were impressed by the quality of the light and the colour ... this short stretch of coast is unique in being the only east-facing coastline in France. They were followed by other artists and Collioure soon became the centre of the so-called fauvism movement. Today the formerly impoverished fishing village is a chic resort, its ancient winding streets sporting artists' studios and galleries; its medieval harbour full of luxury yachts, and its magnificent castle and defensive harbour walls crammed with amateur painters desparately trying to create (and sell) their own masterpieces.

But à propos of this thread ... around the town there is now a 'Fauvism trail', with over twenty reproductions of the works of Matisse, Derain and others, displayed excatly where the artists perched their easels, along with mounted metal picture frames through which you can also 'frame' the exact scene that these painters saw:

What is Art? - Page 17 Collioure-1

What is Art? - Page 17 Collioure-2
Matisse, 'Vue de Collioure - L'eglise', 1905.

What is Art? - Page 17 Collioure-3
Derain, 'Le Phare de Collioure', 1905.

..... and of course one can also view many of the original paintings in the local Musées d'Art Moderne, either in Collioure itself, or at Cérèt about 30 mins inland.

Collioure is still a lovely 'pittoresque' town, but it's either packed with tourists (summer) or completely dead and shut (winter). In fact the whole town is a mix of incongruity: crowded with tourists half the year; empty the rest ... in summer expect to pay well over the odds for an ice-cream or a beer, yet out of season I've eaten incredibly cheap, spanking-fresh fish at a seafront bar that would easily charge five times the price in summer. The town is a genuine shrine to modernist art, but it has also become a mecca for every mediocre 'painter'. 

And whilst the castle remains an iconic, romantic, medieval backdrop to everyone"s photos of the town, it is not some fossilized romantic ideal of the past ... rather, it is still very much an active military base. The upper levels of the castle are always open to the public and regularly host art exhibitions, theatrical performances and historical re-enactment displays. But the lower levels are still occupied, and are fully-used, as a training base by elite amphibious warfare commando units of the French army. It is not at all uncommon to be sat -  sipping one's pastis at a seafront bar and admiring the view across the bay (as you do) - only to have the castle's 'watergates' suddenly open and a line of inflatable dinghies and commandos come out, to do manoeuvres in the bay. 

Well, it certainly creates a bit of interest of a quiet, chilly, winter Sunday morning:

What is Art? - Page 17 Collioure-4

And I can well understand why Charles Rene Mackintosh preferred Port Vendres, just 5kms further west along the coast:

What is Art? - Page 17 Collioure-5
Charles Rene Mackintosh, 'The Little Bay, Port Vendres', 1927.

After Collioure, I lived in Port Vendres for two years: it's nowhere near as pretentious as Collioure, and, as it still a working deep-water port (most of France's Caribbean and African fruit imports come through here), the bars and shops remain open all year, as well as it generally being much cheaper than Collioure.
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