Moody girls with shiny noses……..and…..Jazz!

“Inesvigo” (Inconsequential) on YouTube is a constant source of pleasure. The combination of paintings with a musical backing gives a short journey into the imagination and concerns of each artist that he chooses to portray. For instance, I have just discovered the bohemian, metropolitan world of Milt Kobayashi.

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These paintings by Kobayashi give a glimpse of what I assume to be New York and perhaps Hawaii. They are interesting as a documentation of a historical and social context which is as vivid of the era as, for instance, Christian Schad is of the Weimar Period. The execution is quite different however and very expressive and not dissimilar from the Plymouth painter, Robert Lenkiewicz. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lenkiewicz 

It is clear that his work is much influenced by the famous French Painters like Degas, Lautrec and Manet. Perhaps indeed some were painted in Paris as the bottles and tablecloths seem to intimate. Often the subjects, treated with moving sympathy seem filled with melancholy -that the Germans call “Wehmutig”.

This is what Inesvigo writes:-“He was born in New York but soon moved to Oahu, Hawaii with his family. At age eight he went to Los Angeles. After graduating from the University of California in 1970, he began working as an illustrator. In 1977 he returned to New York and when he visited the Metropolitan Museum his artistic career changed when he saw a portrait of Velazquez’s Juan de Pareja. He began to study the work of Whistler, Chase and Sargent, who had Velazquez’s influence. Then he studied Japanese painting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The perspective of Japanese art provided harmony in color, composition and drawing – Kobayashi has received two important awards: the National Academy of Design’s Ranger Purchased Award and the Allied Arts Silver Medal. His work has appeared in the magazines Forbes, Fortune and Reader’s Digest”

Philby, Zoltan Kodaly and István Szegedi Szüts

First let us get ourselves into the right mood with some Hungarian Music –from :-Szegedi Szűcs Judit: Három sós perec

Now translated from the Hungarian version of Index against Censorship by means of the partially garbled Google translate we read of a certain man -István Szegedi Szüts being bound up somehow with the Fourth Man, Kim Philby:-

“Probably never know how mixed up next to each other Szűts Szeged and Philby because Philby one word did not remember the incident, as a later joint útjaikról not, in fact never down either by Szegedi Szűts name, just “Hungarian” referred to as hinted. Nevertheless Szűts Szegedi could play a significant and important role in his life, has recently come of age since the 1930 Easter led Philby’s first trip to Hungary. Motorcycle arrived, but that where you’ve been, shrouded, but much seems certain that Szűts Szegedi’s company reached the Low Countries and Subotica surroundings, where the Black Country is very similar conditions met, but are not industrial workers, but the manual peasants life seen with your own eyes.

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Philby same year appeared again in Budapest, this time in the company of Tim Milne, who first hired King Street apartment and a car repair shop encamped, which was for the owner than George Szűts Szeged. Philby and Milne very well felt in the capital: fried meat ate, swam the Danube, which have been removed and used at the time, watched the Blue Angels (was Marlene Dietrich’s first major success in 1930, the German sound film made Heinrich Mann’s novel, first pool by way of ), they walked along the Margaret Island and Milne’s memoir, according to Philby never once gave signs of increasing political beliefs. Szegedi Szűts not name popped up ever again; if there was a secret painter mid-thirties established in England in 1959 when the death took to the grave with him. Philby’s commitment towards the working class and communism found it a few years later confirmed in Vienna, where two Hungarian also participated actively in the consciousness of Philby spy and of becoming.”

Which is very interesting and suggests the possibility that to an unknown extent, Philby was involved with a Hungarian painter who knew the Russian spy and was possibly a contact in his activities. This was not just any painter but an artist who has been compared with Paul Nash, was an excellent woodcut printer and also a talented writer, István Szegedi Szüts. He was born in Budapest and lived for a large portion of his life in the small south Cornwall fishing village of Mullion. István Szegedi Szüts was a member of an Olympic fencing team in 1912 and a brave officer fighting the Russians in the Carpathians during the First World War. It was at this time that he was ordered to shoot any straggelers among his own men to prevent a more horrid death from persuing wolves. His fascinating prints recording his experiences in the K and K forces can be seen at http://www.bhandl.co.uk/articles/2013/03/19/viewer.aspx.

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István Szegedi Szüts, a self-portrait at the age of about 32
István Szegedi Szüts, a self-portrait at the age of about 32

Images from the First World War may be seen at Barnes, Hampton and Littlewood where they say:”Szuts first visited England in 1929 and held a solo exhibition at the Gieves Gallery, London in the same year. In 1936 he moved to Cornwall with his partner Gwynedd Jones-Parry, whom he married in 1937. The couple lived at Caunce Head near Mullin on The Lizard and remained there for the rest of their lives. Szuts exhibited with The Newlyn Society of Artists and The Penwith Society of Arts.” The link is at http://www.bhandl.co.uk/articles/2013/03/19/viewer.aspx

Wordless Book,"My War" showing a village during WW1
Wordless Book,”My War” showing a village during WW1

 

A teacher and educational philosopher he was also a friend of a friend of the composers Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and György Ránki.

 

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Paintings of Refugees by Maurice Minkowski(1881-1930) and Frances Hodgkins(1869-1947)

The paintings of Jewish refugees from Odessa and Bialystock by Maurycy Minkowski around 1910 are haunting, heartbreaking and evocative. Yet both in their colourful lyricism and moving composition they are a reminder that the refugee crisis is by no means a new phenomena; they are also pointers to some sort of categorical imperative that it requires urgent action still today. These are art works which demand that the fight for peaceful refuge and against racism is taken seriously now and once again.

Translating from the IWO in Buenos Aires, where it states:-

He was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Warsaw in 1881. At five years old he was deaf as a result of an accident. Having shown artistic vocation, he studied art at the Art Academy of Krakow where he graduated with honors. In his early years he painted portraits of local personalities and impressionistic landscapes.
His experience Pogrom of Bialystok (1905) was decisive in the course of his life: he abandoned his specialty as a landscape and portrait painter to devote himself almost exclusively to painting scenes of religious and secular Jewish life in Eastern Europe. 
Minkowski rejected the new artistic movements of the early twentieth century to put his painting in the service of a style that could be defined as “ethnographic” and became the portraitist of anonymous Jews, refugees, and the impoverished masses. 
His large canvases showing the victims of the pogroms attracted the attention of the European public, and despite the barriers imposed their origin and communication difficulties, his paintings were exhibited in Antwerp, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Paris and other cultural centers in Europe .mm1
in addition to painting many scenes of the suffering of the Jews in Russia and Poland in the early twentieth century, Minkowski devoted much of his work to exalt the role of women in Judaism,
At http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/suplementos/las12/13-2747-2006-07-06.html we read that of  his work  in Buenos Aires, where this deaf and dumb painter, the critics Silvia Bronstein Wilkis and Zachary M. Baker wrote:-
“Soon Minkowski will present to the Argentine public in his simple and beautiful  work. Undoubtedly and without prejudice, the heart will appreciate a work that only the heart has dictated, ” Julio E. Payró.wrote from Belgium in the newspaper La Nacion, in June 1926, “No violence, no scene of lethal fire, brutal invasion, but the memory and the threat of pogrom weigh in the atmosphere of the work of Minkowski (…) Thus, in his immense tenderness, the artist’s gesture Leasehold the horizon of Poland and embraces all suffering humanity, “said the Belgian art critic in another part of his article.”mm2
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Frances Hodgkins (see these two above images of Belgian Refugee children painted in St Ives in 1916) was a significant New Zealand painter of whom David Tovey has written in his interesting book Sea Change Fine and Decorative Art in St Ives 1914-1930. During World War I she spent some time in Zennor, Cornwall, where she worked with the Swansea painter, Cedric Morris, who painted her portrait in 1917.She herself began to paint in oils in 1915.
As the website at the New Zealand Museum, http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/935 states:- “The outbreak of World War One forced Hodgkins to move from Paris to St Ives, a small fishing village in Cornwall, England. Here she found it difficult to travel or earn money and endured considerable hardship. However, it also meant that she had time to paint, and she experimented with larger works, using oil and tempera as an alternative to watercolours. Her works from this time show the influence of Post-Impressionism. “
Tovey points out that under the proactive approach of Gussie Lindner that St Ives took in some 99 refugees from Belgium of whom something like 62 remained in 1915. The large oil which is in the Christchurch,NZ gallery, the upper of these two above was called “Unshatterable” and was exhibited at the International Exhibition in 1916. He quotes from curator Ken Hall at Christchurch who mentions how in this painting the grey swirling area in the top left represents the absent father. Moffat Lindner felt these paintings showed considerable talent and he was to provide for her and encorage her in various ways. More information on Lindner who was a key figure in the St Ives Society of Artists may be found at http://cornwallartists.org/cornwall-artists/moffatt-lindner
 In 1915 St Ives was a small town but played its part in taking in those in dire need-surely now we can maintain this enlightened tradition particularly for those who are victims of the devastating weaponry and ferocious assault.
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Wilhelmina and Stanley in St Ives

The current exhibition in the Penlee Museum in Penzance lasts until 19th November and is certainly worth seeing for many reasons: its variety of styles, the contrasts between her life in Scotland and St Ives, the photographs, her green transparent glaciers and the more abstract endeavours of her later years. There are paintings which are reminiscent of Christopher Wood, bright touches that are reminiscent of Cezanne and the harmonies of Paul Klee can be glimpsed in the waves and beach scenes. wbg6

The view above was painted in 1940 http://www.barns-grahamtrust.org.uk/ -and features the Catholic Church on the left as well as the Church of St Ia almost in the middle. The buildings are vertically elongated which gives them an interesting attenuated quality, The grass of the Island and the roof tiles appear in orange against the predominate blue of the sea. The tide is half way in and the crane on the West Pier is just about visible.

Just a few years before, in early summer 1937, much the same scene was painted by Sir Stanley Spencer. It is interesting to compare the resulting works.stan2

The foreground in Spencer’s painting show palm trees and in general the perspective is given a detailed treatment. There is a large boat alongside the pier. The West Pier is shown in full from this angle and the Island and Downalong shown in considerable detail. The tide level is just a little further inshore. The Mariner’s Church and slipway are both clearly delineated. Spencer became a member of the St Ives Society of Artists. He painted other pictures of the town including this atmospheric painting evidently from the promenade.stan3

Here too is a painting showing the coluration of the rocks and fishing boats equipped with sails along with the coast beyond Hayle in the background. Perhaps painted from the rocks on the town side of Porthgwidden. The lighthouse at Godrevy as made famous by Virginia Woolf in 1927.ssfishing-boats-st-ives-1937

Barns- Graham excels in her sketches which are often interesting in their composition and dabs of spare but effective colour. The palette of yellow against grey below shows this in a view crested by The Island.

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Summer in West Penwith in Black and White

Inspired by this Youtube clip of Berlin taken in 2015 in black and white, I decided to take a look at some, mostly “street” photographs I have taken  out and about in Penzance, Newlyn and St Ives this Summer.

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There are two analogue photography websites i would like to recommend:-

www.ishootfilm.de

and for the forthcoming Newlyn Arts Festival

http://www.homemadeproject.net

the latter will be at the Newlyn Art Gallery

Heidegger Reframed by Barbara Bolt

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976 is renowned for the complexity and subtlety with which his thoughts on the philosophy of being (ontology) is expressed. His ideas are inspired by numerous sources from the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle and much of his thought dependent upon his early training as a Jesuit. He read and imbibed St Augustine and Duns Scotus. He trained under the phenomenologist, Edmund Husserl at Freiburg and his approach is deeply engaged with German philosophers like Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He also read Kierkegaard with close attention.

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His ideas about the nature of being are in stark contrast with those of Descartes which involve a split between consciousness and the external world. This Cartesian framework or dualism is embedded in modern science and Western thought generally. One result of Descartes philosophy is that Nature is subject by the mind to measurement and calculation and also to manipulation. This borders on what is termed instrumentalism and indeed the consequent exploitation of the environment. This, Heidegger with his alternative view of the direction of philosophy, he deeply and radically opposed. The implication of Heidegger’s thought for the creative artist and the making and meaning of art forms the thrust of Barbara Bolt’s text. His project is illustrated with specific reference to international artists like Sophie Calle, Anish Kapoor and Anselm Kiefer.

 

Generally considered as a great classic of Twentieth Century philosophy Sein und Zeit, 1927 is not an easy book to read even if you are thoroughly fluent in German. Concerned with existence and the nature of being, it is equally interested in associated questions about time. This central text focuses on the nature of reality and the being-right-there of existence for which Heidegger uses the term Dasein. Part of the difficulty of understanding this central work is that language almost seems to break down under the pressure of difficulty in communicating the awesome nature of human existence, which many would see as essentially spiritual. Barbara Bolt provides a thoroughly useful glossary to such terms in support of her guide.

 

This glossary contains some eighty terms; it is relatively clear but illustrates some of the difficulties in expounding Heidegger’s collected work,Gesamtausgabe, which itself runs to more than eighty volumes. Barbara Bolt explains in her early chapters concepts associated with Dasein which involvecare for the self and other beings, Sorge, and in the face of personal and certain knowledge of death, the termination of existence on Earth, anxiety or Angst. For Heidegger there are two possibilities, it seems either falling into immersion in the day to day, which he terms ontic existence or striving with resoluteness for authenticity. This bears upon artistic endeavour in several ways; the acceptance of strife when faced with unsettling artworks, the necessity of praxis in art education and research which hopefully produces a practical and respectful understanding of materials by a heuristic approach. Bolt is interesting and thought-provoking in her exposition on this.

 

A perhaps greater difficulty in appreciating Heidegger, which Bolt mentions, perhaps too briefly, continues in current debate. This was his active involvement with Nazism and his eulogy of Hitler involving praise for his moral regeneration of the Fatherland. This has been, not surprisingly, a sticking point in the appreciation of the Heidegger canon. A discussion of this may be found inInauthenticity: Theory and Practice, contained in JP Stern’s essays on literature and ideology, The Heart of Europe. There is particular concern over his treatment of his German-Jewish teacher, a Christian convert and former colleague, the proponent of phenomenology Husserl, to whom Sein und Zeithad initially been dedicated. He also took a renowned student, Hannah Arendt as his mistress and she it was who later to testified on his behalf at a denazification hearing in opposition to Karl Jaspers.

 

In a key chapter, Barbara Bolt uses two central concepts of Heidegger to evaluate particular art works. These are ‘enframing’ (Gestellung) and ‘poiesis’-a Greek term for making from which the word poetry is derived. Enframing, according to Heidegger, has negative connotations and is applied to methods like those of modern technology which treats nature solely as a means to an end and shows Heidegger to be an early proponent of environmentalism and certainly a critic of agribusiness. This seems to be echoed by concerns about the manner in which the business of art has been cheapened and debased by commercialisation and celebrity culture. There is, she explains an unholy alliance developing between advertising in late capitalism as evidenced, for instance, by Tracey Emin selling Bombay Sapphire Gin. Enframement also appears to include a criticism of managerialism; disapproval of the manner in which humans are treated often with statistical techniques as mere available resources. Before examining the concept of ‘poesis’, it is worth noting that this book is actually entitled ‘Heidegger Reframed’ and is one in a general series. This tends to give framing a different, presumably positive connotation that sits uneasily with the particular use of the term by Heidegger. Unfortunately, there appears to be no general series editor that could add guidance and cohesion to this demanding project of applying the thought of modern philosophers to art.h1

 

Bolt sometimes writes convoluted sentences in a somewhat orotund style which may be an understandable effect of propounding the concepts of this demanding, intriguing philosopher. Nevertheless, the style invites the reader to question some of the propositions expounded. There is no doubt that Heidegger had a particular view about the dominance of the scientific method as he conceives it. Also mathematics seems deemed uncongenial, whereas language, and also history with its different conception of time and certainly etymology are viewed by Heidegger as more relevant to his project. It is interesting to speculate how much he might have responded to philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn whose views on paradigm shift, and those too of Paul Karl Feyerabend, might have influenced him had he been fully aware of them. Heisenburg, a contemporary and also a controversial figure, might have influenced Heidegger on his notion of how preconceived theories operate in science.

 

Heidegger as Bolt explains was inspired by poetry and must have been sensitive to its lyricism. This makes the reader question his apparent failure to respond to the beauty of mathematics which is in a sense a universal language. In general he was at pains to oppose certain notions of aesthetics associated particularly with the Enlightenment and Romanticism and the artist as an inflated, self-dramatising subject. In his conception of poesis, Heidegger approaches another mode of artistic appreciation and indeed gratitude which is guided by sympathy. The term, as Bolt makes clear is Greek in origin and involves openness to the bringing-forth or unconcealment of being. It is, for example, the sense of wonder when a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis or in the transformation when a flower blossoms from a bud. Heidegger spent a year in 1942 lecturing on Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” which relates to the Danube and examined the limitations of a metaphysical interpretation of art and appears to argue the case for spiritual values in art together with a feeling for place attained by intimate journeying. George Steiner emphasises elsewhere how Heidegger’s titles are those of peregrination and comments, “He has been an indefatigable walker in unlit places”.

 

Barbara Bolt has written an interesting book on a difficult topic. The publishers might have supported her with somewhat better illustrations than the few disappointing images provided. However, she has shown how Heidegger can illuminate the work of prominent international artists. She has provided an introduction to a highly influential and controversial thinker supported with a sound biography. This work encourages the reader to bravely question art and promote radically innovative ways of observing and researching related issues.

 

 

 

Some German Photographers of the 1930s

 

More than twenty years ago there was an excellent bookshop at the bottom of Station Hill in Truro. It was manned by a man who looked like a taller version of Alan Bennet who wore a white pullover and so the shop became known in our family as the “White Man’s”. He may well have read English at University because there was an excellent stock of poetry, criticism and literary collections. It was in the front part of the shop that art and photography books were stocked. It was here that I discovered a magnificent book of photographs by Roman Vishniac. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_VishniacI }that was called “Children of a Vanished World” and was more than I could then afford. It was, however, quite stunning to peruse and an astonishing invocation of the past. As one reviewer on Amazon writes:-

“In this book we can see the faces of the children who disappeared a few years later in the Shoah. Just look at them, they are children like all the others in the world; beautiful, funny, playing, studying, and so on. Lives which were brutally cut in the most monstrous way in human history. If they had lived, they would have been merchants, rabbis, doctors, lawyers; some of them would have been known as novelists, scientists, and so on. Why had the world to live without their talents they wanted to show us?”

Roman Vishniac
Roman Vishniac

Vishniac photographed many subjects including microscopic biological specimens but it is this collection about the Shtetel which made him famous. In a way it provides a complement to the magical paintings of Chagall. Also I started to read “Shtetel” by Eva Hoffmann which is also interesting on this topic.p2

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However, more recently,it is the Berlinische Galerie which opened my eyes to two further interesting photographers in their collection-http://www.berlinischegalerie.de/en/museum-berlin/forschung/grant/ These are Steffi Brandl and Erich Salomon. Brandl’s work is remarkable for it’s portrait and figure photography. Her compositions are unfailingly interesting and captivating. So captivating that I made sketches whist viewing them.p4p5 These are sophisticated photographs that work to capture the essence of the subjects in the lens. She was born in Vienna in 1899 as Stephanie Olsen and trained there under Trude Fleischmann and then married an architect, Ernst Brandl   moving to Berlin in 1926. She had a studio at 211 on the Kurfurstendamm and was forced to emigrate to England in 1933-she moved to New York where she died in 1966.

Erich Salomon’s work is similarly of great interest. In talking of his technique, wikipedia.de says the following:-

Übliche Arbeitsgeräte der Pressefotografen waren seinerzeit unhandliche Plattenkameras für Glasnegative bis 13 × 18 cm. Salomon erwarb wenige Monate nach seinen ersten fotografischen Erfahrungen eine Ermanox-Kamera. Diese war ein neu entwickelter, relativ kleiner Fotoapparat mit dem seinerzeit lichtstärksten serienmäßig hergestellten Objektiv (1:2) und einem Schlitzverschluss, der Belichtungszeiten von 1/20–1/1000 sec erlaubte. Mit der Ermanox waren Momentaufnahmen auch bei schwachem Licht, Fotos in Innenräumen ohne Stativ und Blitzlichtmöglich. Als fotografisches Bildmaterial dienten Glasplatten von 4,5 × 6 cm in Einzelkassetten, von denen man problemlos eine größere Anzahl bei sich tragen konnte. 1930 kam eine Leicahinzu – noch leichter und unauffälliger als die Ermanox.

Esentially this says that press photographers used to have to use large glass plates 13x18cm in size, However, Salomon developed the technique by using a newly developed Ermanox camera which was small with a mass produced lens that allowed exposure times of 1/20 to 1/1000 sec and could therefore be used in low light conditions i.e. indoor photography using flash so that the size of the plates were considerably reduced.and a number of plates could be stored in the box which the photographer manhandled. Hence a series of shots might be made.By the 1930s the even smaller and less conspicuous Leica was developed.

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Much more can be said about the dramatic life of this photographer who would indeed make a good subject for a film. Among the images which interested me that Salomon made was a photograph in 1938 taken in the Austrian Embassy in London. It shows, of course King George and the young Queen but also the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg whose attempts to keep Austria independent were just about to fail before the Anschluss. After the invasion by Nazi Germany he was arrested, kept in solitary confinement and eventually interned in various concentration camps. Salomon’s fate was worse- as a Jew attempting to escape he was caught in 1940 in the Low Countries and died in Auschwitz in 1944. erich