Recent Doublespeak

War in Iraq used to refer to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Unlawful combatants – a meaningless phrase intended to allow trial without due process, which turns back the legal clock in a developed country by at least 100 years.
Rendition has been substituted for kidnapping.
Freedom has been substituted for economic exploitation and corruption.
Globalization has been substituted for corporate rule.

From David Byrne’s Journal

Mark Tansey

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Triumph Of The New York School

Mark Tansey uses paint to describe the end of painting.

Packed with irony, wit, and erudite references, his pictures continue in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp to create a eulogy for representational painting.

Theory and Artspeak aside, he’s also very funny.

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Picasso and Braque

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Derrida Queries de Man

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The End of Painting

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The Innocent Eye Test

From an early age, Mark Tansey was exposed to pictures of works of art by way of his art historian parents, who were authorities in the field.

His approach to painting reflects a deep knowledge of art, as many of his motifs are either lifted from historical paintings or depict important artists and philosophers.

The recognizability of his illustrative images, however, is accompanied by allegories of his own devising about the meaning of art and the mystery of the human impulse to make images.

Each painting is carefully calculated both in terms of technique and meaning.

The single hue in which his paintings are rendered acts as a constant reminder of the essential falsehood of all painting, and as a means to focus on the ideas presented.

Tansey achieves the precise photographic-like quality of his canvases by a complicated set of maneuvers involving the application of gesso and either washing, brushing and/or scraping the monochromatic paint into it.

The specificity of his technique extends to the ideas probed. Tansey’s subjects are fantastic, sometimes surreal scenes in which intellectual theories about art are dramatized, often complete with portraits of “characters” drawn from art history.

Link to Artcyclopedia entry

Link to Uncommon Sense‘s collection of images.

Link to the Artchive page for Mark Tansey.

Dr Seuss’ Commercial Work

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Bock Beer

Theodore Seuss Geisel before he got famous!

Before Theodore Seuss Geisel found fame as a children’s book author, the primary outlet for his creative efforts was magazines. His first steady job after he left Oxford was as a cartoonist for Judge, a New York City publication.

In 1927 one of these cartoons opened the way to a more profitable career, as well as greater public exposure, as an advertising illustrator.

This fortuitous cartoon depicts a medieval knight in his bed, facing a dragon who had invaded his room, and lamenting, “Darn it all, another dragon. And just after I’d sprayed the whole castle with Flit” (a well-known brand of bug spray).

According to an anecdote in Judith and Neil Morgan’s book Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel (Random House, 1995), the wife of the ad executive who handled the Standard Oil company’s account saw the cartoon. At her urging, her husband hired the artist, thereby inaugurating a 17-year campaign of ads whose recurring plea, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!,” became a common catchphrase.

These ads, along with those for several other companies, supported the Geisels throughout the Great Depression and the nascent period of his writing career.

What the Terrorists Want

( Thanks to John Sinteur at The Daily Irrelevant for the link.)

Bruce Schneier is a very level headed commentator about all facets of the security industry.
Suffice it to say that he knows what he is talking about. Here he talks about the latest excesses in the climate of fear that is currently being whipped up by vested interests.

It is worth your while to read this piece in full and deeply contemplate its implications.

What the Terrorists Want

On Aug. 16, two men were escorted off a plane headed for Manchester, England, because some passengers thought they looked either Asian or Middle Eastern, might have been talking Arabic, wore leather jackets, and looked at their watches — and the passengers refused to fly with them on board. The men were questioned for several hours and then released.

On Aug. 15, an entire airport terminal was evacuated because someone’s cosmetics triggered a false positive for explosives. The same day, a Muslim man was removed from an airplane in Denver for reciting prayers. The Transportation Security Administration decided that the flight crew overreacted, but he still had to spend the night in Denver before flying home the next day. The next day, a Port of Seattle terminal was evacuated because a couple of dogs gave a false alarm for explosives.

On Aug. 19, a plane made an emergency landing in Tampa, Florida, after the crew became suspicious because two of the lavatory doors were locked. The plane was searched, but nothing was found. Meanwhile, a man who tampered with a bathroom smoke detector on a flight to San Antonio was cleared of terrorism, but only after having his house searched.

On Aug. 16, a woman suffered a panic attack and became violent on a flight from London to Washington, so the plane was escorted to the Boston airport by fighter jets. “The woman was carrying hand cream and matches but was not a terrorist threat,” said the TSA spokesman after the incident.

And on Aug. 18, a plane flying from London to Egypt made an emergency landing in Italy when someone found a bomb threat scrawled on an air sickness bag. Nothing was found on the plane, and no one knows how long the note was on board.

I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we’re doing exactly what the terrorists want. Continue reading What the Terrorists Want


Good news for all you avid picture hunters! have released FlickrStorm

They call it a Flickr search tool with some *Magic*

A few screenshots: (Click to enlarge)

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Screenshot 1

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Screenshot 2

I entered the search term: “Japanese lanterns”

The “Advanced” search option allows you to filter results by the type of repro Licence.

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Screenshot 3

OK, now go and hunt pictures!

Cuba Chronicles

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House With Bicycle, Havana 2000

Elaine Ling presents a folio of black and white photos: Cuba Chronicles

Amazing work.

I came to work on this portfolio through shouted invitations to visit people’s homes as I wander down the streets carrying my 4×5 camera on a tripod.

Each home lead to the neighboring home and each one-room casa holds stored-away treasures of gold trimmed porcelain, doll collections, photos of Che and Fidel when they were young men and memorabilia of a widow of his wife.

Despite the cramped conditions of a whole family living in a small space, there is always an entire room reserved for the altar of the family patron saint. One pays tribute by shaking the rattle and placing an offering in front of the santos.

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Grand Staircase Mirror, Havana 2002

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Havana Bayan, Havana 2002

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Family Room, Trinidad 2002

Painters I Should Have Known About (006) William Orpen Part 3

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Self Portrait in Uniform 1917

Part 3. William Orpen, The War Artist.

You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Despite being born an Irishman, Orpen threw in his lot with the English during the First World War.
In the early days, he took part in the auctioning of blank canvases on which the purchaser’s portrait would be later painted, and the money went towards the Red Cross.

By the end of 1915, however, Orpen felt driven to take a more active role in the war effort.

He was recruited as an official war artist at the end of 1916 along with Muirhead Bone, Eric Kennington, Francis Dodd, James McBey, Paul Nash, and C. R. W. Nevinson and Wyndham Lewis.

At the end of this wartime commission, 138 paintings and drawings of blasted landscapes, dead soldiers in trenches and billets behind the lines found their way back to the Imperial War Museum in London.

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My Workroom at Cassel June 1917

The British Army Quartermaster-General, Sir John Cowans, whose portrait Orpen was painting at that time, promoted Orpen to Major and sent him to France in 1917, where he was to paint portraits of senior military figures.
It was thought that Orpen would be treated more seriously if he held a higher military rank.

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Ready To Start June 1917

On June 10th 1917, the date of this painting, Orpen displays an almost jaunty attitude to the war, openly displaying the symbols of pleasure ( furs, whiskey bottle, soda syphon, etc.) indicating that it might be possible to have a good time not too far from the front.

His attitude was to be profoundly altered by the reality of trench warfare, however.

Lurid and disturbing colours appear in several of Orpen’s paintings of the aftermath of battle, and his work often combines this desolation with a strange sense of beauty and an unexpected decorative quality that was criticised at the time.

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Lt. Col. A.N. Lee, DSO, OBE, TD Censor in France of Paintings and Drawings by Artists at the Front. 1919

Lee was the operative link between official war artists on the Western Front and their subjects, controlling both their movement and the censorship of their work. Lee and Orpen became good friends and drinking companions, and this is reflected in the informality of the portrait above.

Stylistic changes

What is immediately noticeable from Orpen’s paintings from this period is that he deliberately adopts an almost graphical simplification in his painting style.

He seems to be posterising all the blended gradient areas that would normally have been lovingly rendered as smooth transitions of colour.
This stylistic approach must have been influenced, at least in part, by the lack of time available for painting in these wartime conditions.

Orpen also seems to me to be working with a very limited palette of seven, maybe eight colours.
I’d suggest that this mix of short palette and unfussy flat painting style made for some impressively quick pictures.

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Brigadier-General H J Elles, CB, DSO

Orpen was frequently obliged to go to Paris to paint the portraits of important military Top Brass.
Circumstances often meant that there was no chance for a second sitting, so Orpen had to work fast.
Even though Orpen had adopted a very stripped down approach to this type of portraiture, it’s almost certain that this one has been left unfinished (as is evident from his colour notes in the upper left), which happily gives us a very good insight into his technique of this time.

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The Big Crater

We may not be aware of how much warfare was conducted underground through the use of tunnels and mines. Subterranean warfare allowed each side to make big advances at a relatively low cost in casualties.
The result of a (sometimes truly enormous) explosion was a very large crater that would rapidly change the physical layout of the battlefield, and allow new ground with its own new firing redoubt built in, to be gained with maximum surprise.
Orpen painted many of these cratered, lunar landscapes with their startlingly bright soil heaps.

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Mines and the Bapaume Road, La Boisselle

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A German Gunners Shelter, Warlencourt

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Dead Germans in a Trench

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Field Marshal Douglas Haig
There’s a startling three dimensional quality to the head in this portrait. Orpen became very good friends with Haig, whom so many later referred to as one of the “Donkeys“.

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Marechal Foch
Foch was CIC of the French Army.

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The NCO Pilot, RFC. (Flight Sergeant W G Bennett)

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Girls College, Peronne

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German Sick, Captured at Messines, in a Canadian Hospital

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Mascot of The Coldstream Guards

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The Main Street, Combles

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Soldiers and Peasants, Cassel

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The Household Brigade, Ypres Salient

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Cellar, Amiens
Captain R Maude, DAPM, who was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Authorities, and Colonel du Tiel, Commandant d’Armes Amiens.

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Members of the Allied Press

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Signing of the Peace Treaty in The Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

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Peace Conference, Quai d’Orsay

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To the Unknown British Soldier In France (Original version)

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To The Unknown British Soldier In France (Final accepted version)

He was knighted in 1918 ‘for services in connection with the war’, and his war pictures, amounting to some fifty oil paintings and seventy drawings, were exhibited at Agnews in May 1918, and seen by 10,000 people. The following year he received a further commission from the Ministry of Information, supported by Lloyd George, to record the Peace Conference in Versailles.

Following the armistice Orpen was appointed the official portrait artist at the Paris Peace Conference and was responsible for the The Signing of the Peace.

However he courted controversy when, in To the Unknown British Soldier in France, he painted a coffin flanked by winged putti and two wraith-like figures from the trench set against the splendid backdrop of the Paris Peace Conference. This comprised Orpen’s protest at the conduct of the political elite in Paris at the expense of the efforts of the common soldier in the trenches.

Unsurprisingly Orpen’s painting provoked a storm of criticism. Before it could be hung at the Royal Academy (and it was only belatedly accepted by the Imperial War Museum in London) Orpen was required to paint out the image of the dead soldiers.

In 1921 Orpen wrote a memoir of his time in France called ‘An Onlooker in France’. It included a withering criticism of the politicians responsible for the war and its far-reaching effects.

Link to some Subterranean Warfare sites.
Link to The Imperial War Museum‘s holdings of William Orpen Paintings gifted to the British Nation after WW1. (Search for the watercolours, as they have a delicacy that is in complete contrast to Orpen’s work in oils.)

J Bennett Fitts: No Lifeguard On Duty

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Salton Sea

J. Bennett Fitts captures abandoned swimming pools softly lit by the “Golden Hour” of Californian evenings in this beautiful series shown at the beginning of the year at Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

J Bennett Fitts has traveled over 20,000 miles around the United States from Salton Sea, California and the Southern California Inland Empire to Arkansas and West Virginia to photograph relics of America’s roadside past. He expresses the contrast between the of the period when these motels were new and attracted the Great American family touring the U.S.A and their modern state: attracting only budget travelers and sites for prostitution and drug use, perhaps even manufacture.

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Unknown Pool

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Grand Junction

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North Shore

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Panama City Beach 3

A couple of years ago, J Bennett Fitts exhibited a mesmerising series of photographs of floodlit golf ranges.

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Arroyo Seco Driving Range

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Arroyo Seco #1

A beautiful eye for light!

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