Vienna’s Modernism

Do scientists recognise and respect beauty? The question is considered at Vienna’s Leopold Museum. B. Reinhold writes that ‘the expressionist Egon Schiele (1890-1918) is one of the most important representatives of Viennese Modernism. He irritates and provokes, and still attracts the attention of the censors one hundred years after his death.’


Schiele attacks popular ideals of beauty, with the primary source of irritation being the starkly depicted nudity and sexuality. Everything baulks at the feeling of sensuality and eroticism. 

The pictures have an uneasy physical presence because they are neither voyeuristic nor pornographic.

Squatting Female Nude, 1910 © Leopold Museum, Vienna

Naked Woman Reclining, 1916 © Leopold Museum, Viennaarticle-5-3.jpg

This art visualizes the massive tensions of his time. Vienna was a center of innovation in science and technology, yet also the capital of the crisis-stricken Habsburg multi-ethnic state. This led to nationalism and ultimately Hitler’s racial fanaticism. The social structure and gender roles started to fluctuate. 

Unreal Colour

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An American photographer, Peter Turner, has died aged 83. Pete created spectacular images, some for the covers of record albums. His saturated colours often altered reality and confused observers on his global assignments.

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Nature Printing

Pulse, the Linnean Society’s newsletter 34, June 2017, has an article entitled Lampblack and Lead,  by E. Rollinson.

220px-Nature_print_(Bradbury).jpg     Nature_print,_Alois_Auer.jpg(H. Bradbury, 1843, 1859)

It tells how G. Cardano gave instructions back in 1550: ‘A fresh leaf is rubbed with verdigris and carbon; soaked in the right amount of colour it is printed on one of two large sheets of paper, so that an almost life-like image remains.’ (De Subtitilitate, Book XIII). Earlier, a physician named Conrad von Butzbach, in his 1425 Codex Auratus, coated paper with oil and used soot from a candle flame to make an impression of a plant specimen.

Renovation

Scientific advances in materials science and image analysis enable the work of renovation tackle more ambitious challenges. A recent example of this is the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan.

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One of Broadway’s oldest surviving theatres, first opened 114 years ago, has been renovated and reopened earlier this year –

05HUDSON3-jumbo-v2.jpg— with Jake Gyllenhaal in the revival of “Sunday in the Park With George”. It becomes Broadway’s 41st and newest playhouse, 114 years after it became one of Broadway’s first. Then, it opened with a production of “Cousin Kate” starring Ethel Barrymore.

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The theater was built by Henry B. Harris, above left, who ran it until 1912, when he perished on the Titanic. His wife, Renée, also above, survived and returned to New York to operate the theater. She became one of Broadway’s first female producers but she lost it to foreclosure in the Depression.

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Located on 44th Street just east of Broadway, the ornate theater has led a life as various as Manhattan itself, with stints as a TV studio (1950s), a reborn theater and then a porn palace (’60s), a rock venue (’80s), and, for the last 20 years, an event space for Millennium Hotels.

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After the renovation by the Ambassador Theatre Group of Britain the Hudson is ready to be a showplace again and one of the few new theatres on  Broadway.

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Hokusai’s volcano

At the British Museum, there is an exhibition of the popular paintings by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). There are several images of the Fuji volcano.hokusai_highlight_fuji_1000.jpg

They are symbols of natural power and human vulnerability.  Hokusai’s infatuation with Mount Fuji was much more than an admiration of its beauty. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter told that a goddess placed an elixir of life at the top of the peak, and thus the mountain was a secret source of immortality, as well as a secret reason for Hokusai’ obsession with the mountain.

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This gave him a chance to explore and experiment with its beauty. hokusai_highlight_snowy_1000.jpg

A section through a present-day volcano shows its hidden structure:

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Cross-section through a stratovolcano (vertical scale is exaggerated):

  1. Large magma chamber
  2. Bedrock
  3. Conduit (pipe)
  4. Base
  5. Sill
  6. Dike
  7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano
  8. Flank
  9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano
  10. Throat
  11. Parasitic cone
  12. Lava flow
  13. Vent
  14. Crater
  15. Ash cloud

Long Exposures

Jason Shulman photographs entire movies with ultra-long exposures, creating impressionist photographic images:

Alice in Wonderland 1951 –

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Dr Strangelove 1964 –

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Le Voyage dans la Lune 1902 –

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 –

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The Wizard of Oz 1939 –3543-3.jpg

Book of Miracles

The recently discovered Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs reveals a 16th Century society gripped by anxieties that we can relate to today, The illustrated manuscript is now available, edited by T. Borchert and J.P. Waterman.