Wednesday, 31 October 2018

IT'S HALLOWEEN! ROLL UP! ROLL UP!

A little Halloween treat from 1990 for my blog-readers...

THE AUTUMN PEOPLE : a musical fantasy

Music by DAVID HEWSON • Words by BRIAN SIBLEY

*Dedicated to Ray Bradbury in 1990 to mark his 70th Birthday*

Narrator and Voices of the Animals – Brian Sibley
Soprano – Jacqueline Bremar
Tenor – Richard Berkley-Steele
Flute – Georgina Roberts
Piano – David Elwin



HALLOWEEN BRADBURY-STYLE!


'HALLOWEEN'
from the portfolio Ten Views of the Moon 
Ray Bradbury and Joe Mugnaini

From a portfolio of ten color lithographs created by Mugnaini, with interpretive captions authored by Ray Bradbury. The prints were drawn on the plates by Mugnaini
and printed on an offset press by Kistler.

"From the sides of autumn barns rip sections of old circus posters, shreds of tigers' teeth, bits and pieces of shrieks and screams, glowers and grimaces - paste it all up on a frame, and go fly that kite, a wild bunch of boys for its tail!" 


Monday, 22 October 2018

MUMMY-FIXATION

Iconic 1932 horror film poster in unbelievably pristine condition, radiant with vibrant colours and totally fantastic is predicted to fetch up to $1.5 million at Sotherby's Halloween auction.


The background...
"This auction offers the opportunity to acquire one of the rarest, most highly-coveted film posters in existence: an original copy of the poster for 1932’s horror classic The Mummy.

"A stone lithograph printed to promote the film’s debut in 1932, this exceptionally well-preserved poster is a seminal example of the graphic design pioneered by Hollywood studios at the time.

"Designed by Karoly Grosz, Universal’s advertising art director, the poster is an early representation of the aesthetics that continue to influence poster design to this day: vivid, painterly splashes of color, a dynamic composition, and minimal white space.

"Depicting Boris Karloff, in the title role that cemented his place as a film icon, and Zita Johann, the subject of his mummy’s desire, the poster was exclusively created for theaters’ promotional purposes and never made available to the public. 

"Given the ephemeral nature of posters from this era — most were pasted over or discarded after a film’s run — this piece is incredibly rare: it is one of only three examples known to still exist and remains in its original, un-backed state. After setting the record for the highest price achieved for a film poster when sold by Sotheby’s in 1997, this piece was included in the Whitney Museum’s 1999 exhibition The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000.

"Among collectors, the posters for horror films of the 1930s are revered as the most desirable of all. This period, known as the Golden Age of Horror, ushered in a new genre of cinema and a new approach to marketing movies. As silent movies gave way to talkies, horror films employed all the latest technological innovations to craft movies that shocked and provoked. Universal set the template for horror as we know it with a trio of films: The Mummy, Frankenstein and Dracula. These movies tapped into the fears and societal unrest between the World Wars, using Hollywood magic to transport audiences to fantastical worlds where good fought evil.

"Posters from this era played a key role in horror films’ impact, defining the images that would haunt audiences and loom in the cultural memory. Released ten years after the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, The Mummy is not only an emblem of cinematic history but a relic of popular culture from the time. The film married the vogue for all things Egyptian with the allure of the supernatural, providing a snapshot of the nation’s fascinations. The Mummy was unique in utilizing ambiance and aesthetics to create a sense of foreboding, rather than relying on thrill-inducing gimmicks, which makes the poster such a landmark piece of design. Undoubtedly one of the finest posters produced during this groundbreaking era in Hollywood, and the single best-preserved example to ever come to market,The Mummy is an invaluable cultural artifact."

And, if you'll pardon the pun, that just about wraps it up!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

HELLO, DISNEY... HELLO, DALI!

I really thought I knew most of what there was to know about the associations between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali – but, somehow, I must have missed the fact that, in 1967, the artist included Walt in a suite of etchings entitled FIVE AMERICANS – the other four being George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

So, here's Disney as seen by Dali...

Saturday, 29 September 2018

SUMMER PAST


Very belatedly, I'm posting a selection of photographs that pretty much sum up the mood and look of the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2018 as curated by the wonder (and National Treasure) who is Grayson Perry.

By now all these and many, many other pieces have been sold or returned to their creators and the R.A.'s main galleries are now filled with the art of Oceania. But for me the memories of this year's art and art-watchers linger on, beginning with the monumental art of Anish Kapoor...


And here we are inside the Academy with a wall of Graysons...


And beyond...



















Photos: Brian Sibley & David Weeks

Thursday, 23 August 2018

HIGH TIDE

TIME's cover-artist, Tim O'Brien, produced two sequel cover paintings for the magazine: 'Nothing to See Here' and 'Stormy' February 16, 2017 and April 23, 2018)...


Now, the artist returns with a brilliant new and updated variation on his theme for the upcoming September 3, 2018 issue...


Tim O'Brien says: "As the never-ending flood of breaking news washed over the White House, and the firings, the scandals and the general mayhem filled each news cycle, I felt the storm metaphor was as relevant as ever." 


DARK MEMORIES

One day in 1964, my 15-year old self spotted this volume on one of those revolving book-stands outside a newsagent's shop...



I had no idea who Frank Belknap Long was, but the name intrigued me...

'Frank Long' wouldn't have been half as interesting, but Frank Belknap Long –– now that really was a name!

Then there was the title – THE DARK BEASTS – and those beguiling words "spine-chilling tales" and "science-fiction" (like many another 15-year-old, I was an obsessive consumer of both!) and another curious conjunction of words, THE HOUNDS OF TINDALOS...

Tindalos!  

Where was Tindalos? Or, then again, who was Tindalos? I had to know...

Obviously, I was in no small measure enticed by the 'dark beasts' depicted flying, clawing and scrambling across the cover. I didn't know it then, but I had – for the first time – encountered the bizarre, melancholic imagination of that brilliant illustrator (and writer), Edward Gorey.

So began another satisfyingly weird diversion in my youthful literary travels.

I won't bore you with facts about Frank Belknap Long – although his story is an interesting one...

I won't even attempt to suggest you might read any of his extensive output as a writer – although it is pretty much all available...

Nor will I try to seduce you into discovering the bizarre world of the man who drew the cover art for The Dark Beasts or his many books – although they are certainly worth a look...

It is enough if I have mildly, briefly, stirred your curiosity –– as mine was stirred, standing outside a newsagent's shop, looking at one of those revolving book-stands, that day fifty-four years ago...

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

MY FAVOURITE MARTIAN!

Today would have been the 98th birthday of my friend, that brilliant fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury...

Twelve days before his death in 2012, I had my last email from Ray – sent, like all his electronic communications via his daughter, 'Zee'. Ray had been in hospital and David and I had been through the huge upheaval of packing, storing and then (a year later) unstoring and unpacking our accumulated junk.

Ray wrote:

Dear Brian,

Thanks for your wonderful note; it's always great to hear from you.

Zee read your  email to me and I cannot believe what you and David
have to go through.  Of course now that you've had to dig through all
your treasures, perhaps we should get you two here to take care of
this out-of-control homestead of mine!!!!  I love this old house of
mine and even if I didn't, I think I'd be stuck here because there's
just so much stuff.

I'm glad to hear of your new book and I do hope you'll send me a copy
of it when it comes out.

As for the Folio edition of F451, I was quite pleased with the way it
turned out.

I think Zee told you that I had been in the hospital, but this old
Martian is doing fine, so don't you worry.

I send you and David much love,

Ray

Of course, I did worry...

Six years later I still miss my favourite Martian...




Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A CHILD FOR ALL SEASONS

Apologies to those readers who are Alice-phobes, but it is that day of the year again on which (in addition to saluting my American friends on their independence) I invariably draw attention to the fact that 4th of July is the day on which that rare and enchanted realm of Wonderland was discovered.

150 years ago today, on 4 July 1862, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known subsequently as Lewis Carroll) with his friend Robinson Duckworth rowed three young sisters up-river from Oxford for a summer picnic. As they rowed, Dodgson extemporised a fantasy about a young lady (called 'Alice', after one of the party) who followed a White Rabbit down a rabbit-hole into a land of wonders.

At the end of the outing, the real Alice (daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church) begged the storyteller to write out for her the story of her namesake's adventures. This Dodgson did in November 1864, entitling the story, Alice's Adventures Under Ground. A year later, expanded and embellished, it was published to the wider world as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The original handwritten manuscript, now in the British Library, contained illustrations by the author...


...but when it came to publication, Dodgson wisely engaged the services of a professional, the great illustrator and Punch cartoonist, Sir John Tenniel.

Despite Tenniel's consummate draughtmanship (and his ability to depict the characters in a way that has ever since been imprinted on our cultural psyche) Dodgson's efforts have their own charm as can be seen from his spirited visualisation of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle demonstrating the Lobster Quadrille...


...which has a quality of excited abandonment not found in Sir John's immaculately drawn (but somewhat staid) perambulation...


Many subsequent illustrators have depicted this – and all the other curious moments from Alice's bizarre dream – and, of course, it has been featured in theatrical, balletic, operatic, musical and filmic versions of the book.

One of the most imaginative and haunting interpretations (and I make no apology whatsoever, for mentioning it – yet again – on this blog) is Jonathan Miller's iconic 1966 TV film, Alice in Wonderland.


The film featured a star-laden cast – among them Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Leo McKern and (below) Michael Redgrave playing all the characters (human and talking-animals alike) as dotty Victorian ladies and gents.


One of the most memorable sequences (in a consistently unforgettable film) is Alice's encounter with the Gryphon (played by journalist, pundit and '60s TV celebrity, Malcolm Muggeridge) and the Mock Turtle (a world weary John Gielgud) that ends with the most enchanting Lobster Quadrille to ever be danced...


Happy 156th Birthday, Alice!



Monday, 2 July 2018

FOOTBALLED OUT?

Had enough of the World Cup?

If then why not head on over to Chris Beetles Gallery and savour Remembering Larry at the World Cup, a great selection World Cup cartoons by the late, great Larry (Terence Parkes) all of which are available at a tiny fraction of the price of an air ticket to Russia!



And while you are in the Gallery, or on its website, take a look at Chris' superlative Summer Exhibition 2018, filled with great landscapes and other subjects by these and many other artists...

Edward Lear – Bethany
 

Albert Goodwin – The Wharf at Arundel


Hercules Brabazon Brabaz – Philae, Egypt


Lesley Fotherby – Distant Poppies, Greenway


Keith Grant – Spring


Chris Beetles Gallery
8 & 10 Ryder Street
St James's
London SW1Y 6QB


Monday – Saturday
10:00-17:30


020 7839 7551