Monday, June 30, 2008

The Impression of Fort Worth

Art Daily: Kimbell Opens The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago"

Some of the most celebrated and iconic works of the great Impressionist painters are on view at the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth). The loan of about 90 paintings from Chicago’s world-renowned Impressionist collection is possible because of an ambitious reinstallation and expansion project at the Art Institute (...) Impressionist collection has never before left Chicago in such a large group, and it is being shown exclusively at the Kimbell.

The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago is a feast for the eyes more sumptuous than even the great Barnes Collection exhibition, seen at the Kimbell in 1994. It features masterpieces of painting by the world’s most beloved artists, including Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—a succession of geniuses who, through a miracle of history, worked largely in the same country and within the span of a single lifetime. (...) >>>

- Caption: Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) - "Rainy Day" (1877) -

Friday, June 27, 2008

Glorious Grain from the Berlin Blockade: update

Art Daily: "Photographs of the Berlin Blockade in 1948-9 by Henry Ries Opens at the German Historical Museum"

The currency reform and subsequent blockade of West Berlin carried out by the Soviet Union was a key event which resulted in the partition of Berlin, Germany and Europe.

The division of the occupation zones into two separate economic and political systems had been becoming increasingly palpable since 1947. In 1949, this resulted in the foundation of the two German states and the GDR's closure of the interior borders, finally culminating in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

In 2007, the German Historical Museum acquired the photographic legacy of Henry Ries, whose photographs of the Berlin Blockade and the reaction of the Western Powers, the Berlin Airlift, occupy an important place in his work. Henry Ries was born in Berlin in 1917. In 1937, Ries, who was Jewish, fled Germany for New York, where he embarked on his career as a photographer. In 1945, he returned to Europe as a soldier, where his first job was as a photojournalist for the OMGUS Observer. He went on to work (...) >>>

"On the initiative of the US military governor Lucius D. Clay the West-Berlin population was supplied by means of an airlift. With almost 200,000 flights, around 1.5 million tons of vital goods were transported to Berlin. A transport plane landed at one of the three West-Berlin airports every two or three minutes. In the popular German phrase the airplanes were called “raisin bombers”.

"In this way the Americans, British and French succeeded in safeguarding the basic supply of goods to the city. The airlift was a gigantic logistic undertaking that had begun with uncertain outcome and ended as a success story. On 12 May 1949 the Soviet Union rescinded the Berlin Blockade."

More about the Berlin Blockade can be found on History Research Guide. Check out the exhib's site at the German Historical Museum.


Juliette Ochieng on Pajamas Media has a comprehensive article on the subject which is especially interesting for those who have missed the details of the historical events. The title is interesting in itself. It alludes to Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber who retired from the USAF at the rank of Colonel, who is now 87 and a revered figure in Germany. On a philosophical level the title illustrates the Kantian ethics with which the German people are saturated - a blessing as well as a curse - "‘Service Before Self’: Honoring the Berlin Airlift."

"(...) The Soviet ban of Allied land traffic in East Germany didn’t happen all at once; it started with simple harassment in March 1948 with the demand to inspect every train from the West and was brought into full effect by late June. At that point, the city was left with barely more that a month’s worth of subsistence and since the Western powers had never negotiated access rights to the three land routes to Berlin with the Soviets, there was nothing they could do about the ban. However, access to the three corresponding air lanes had been negotiated, making the West’s choice clear. They would supply the city by air, daring the Russians to break their agreement and shoot them down.

On June 26, 1948, the first two of many USAF cargo aircraft (C-47s and later C-54s and C-82s) made their way from Frankfurt Airport to Tempelhof Airport in West Berlin. The Royal Air Force followed suit the next day (...) During the 479-day effort, the deliveries had become so systematic that one aircraft touched down at Tempelhof every three minutes 24/7. (...)" Read it all >>>

Monday, June 23, 2008

Liberty Ditched for Sausages: boycott these cowards!

Last Friday Politeia reported that Jordan is seeking the extradition and prosecution of Dutch Freedom Party politician Geert Wilders on three counts:

- racism - incitement to hatred - insulting Muslims and Islam -

An Amman Court last Monday accepted the charges against Wilders on account of the short film "Fitna" pressed by a Jordanian group called "The Messenger of Allah Unites Us." "Fitna" outlines the dangers of radical Islam for democratic society. (Link to "Fitna")

Today we know which Dutch companies have 'distanced themselves' from Fitna. Politeia proposes a ban of its own against these companies which sell out democratic principles for sausages:

- Caption: "We WillNot Submit!" -
- Zwanenburg (Zwan sausages and luncheon meat)
- KLM (KLM-Air France-North West Airlines)
- Philips ("We make things better")
- Friesland Foods (dairy products:
- Friso (Nutricia, Olvarit, Nutrilon, Bambix dairy and baby foods)
- Milupa (Aptamil - we believe the latter two are all one and the same parent company Nutricia, now part of Danone)

The companies advertise their condemnation of Wilders' equation Islam=violence and distribute posters, stating that the film only serves to provoke.

President Zakaria Sheikh of "The Messenger of Allah Unites Us" is calling for the travel industry to ban KLM.

The publisher of weekly Fact International says the film has no relation with the freedom of expression. "Wilders has insulted all Muslims. He must be punished."

At the companies no one was available for comment, writes De Volkskrant. A KLM spokesman repeated an earlier statement that the airline is unrelated to political and religious movements and distances itself from this controversial film."

Post will be updated throughout.

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who
maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

Dante Alighieri
Italian national epic poet (1265 - 1321)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Of the Sacred, the Crude and the Ridiculous

Chiesa: "Christian Pop Art Takes the Stage in the Alps," by Sandro Magister - with a commentary by Timothy Verdon

The Sacred Mountain of Varallo is a triumph of "total art" at the service of the faith. Architects, sculptors, painters, scenographers, have reproduced the life of Jesus in 45 chapels on the mountain. After a period of neglect, the Church wants to restore their splendor.

An exceptional triduum concluded yesterday on the Sacred Mountain of Varallo, made up of conferences, exhibits, concerts, masses, pilgrimages, entitled: "Imago Veritatis. L'arte come via spirituale [Image of truth: art as spiritual path]."

While Pope Benedict XVI was visiting Brindisi and Santa Maria di Leuca, on the southern tip of Italy, facing the east – where, the story goes, the apostle Peter landed on his voyage to Rome – cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone went to Varallo, in the Alps in the northern part of the country. It is an unequivocal sign of the importance attributed to the event by the Vatican authorities.

In Varallo stands the first of the Sacred Mountains that dot northern Italy. It was created between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. It was conceived by a Franciscan, Bernardino Caimi, who had been the guardian of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. After the fall of Constantinople to Muslim domination, the pilgrimage to the Holy Land had become too dangerous. It was practically impossible. The response was to reproduce, in Italy, the routes and stations of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For a pilgrimage that could be made without leaving the country. Many little Jerusalems were reproduced in scenographic form, for the devotion and edification of the faithful.

Varallo is the first of the Sacred Mountains, and the largest. From (...) >>>

"Christian art between liturgical rite and nature," by Timothy Verdon

The chapels in the middle of the woods of the Sacred Mountain of Varallo invite to reflection not only on the subjects that are represented – for the most part episodes from the Old and New Testament – but, in a broader way, on the role that architecture and art have in the history of Christian spirituality.

The paths up the mountain, the difficulty of the ascent, the arrival at chapels connected by galleries and arranged around piazzas: everything echoes biblical themes like the journey, the ascent, the city of God, while the Assumption of Mary and the basilica where the pilgrimage is completed evokes the universal aspiration for an otherworldly destination. (...) >>>

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Audio Slideshow World War II Aerial Photographs

BBC: "Audio Slideshow: D-Day and Auschwitz from the air"

One of the world's largest collections of aerial photography is being moved from Keele to Edinburgh. More than 10 million military photographs are stored in The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives, or Tara. Most were taken by surveillance aircraft in World War II.

(...) military historian Ian Daglish, and retired Wing Commander Michael Mockford, explain the significance of just a few of the photographs from the war. >>>

- Caption: Omaha beach aerial view draws - Wikimedia

Monday, June 16, 2008

Esbjorn Svensson: thanks!

BBC: "Jazz champion Svensson dies at 44"

The Swedish jazz pianist and composer Esbjorn Svensson has died in a scuba diving accident near the Swedish capital Stockholm. He was 44.

His Esbjorn Svensson Trio, known as EST, became renowned for bringing jazz to a younger audience. (...)

"His music inspired people in all corners of the world." (...) >>>

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident

On America's Flag Day Europe honors the embodiment of the self-evident truths of Human Equality and Liberty. May your light shine for ever more ... from sea to shining sea ...! -

Hat Tip: Ironic Surrealism II

- Filed on Articles in "Americana" -

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Raoul's Riots

You've got to love Raoul Dufy's (1877-1953) impressionist riots. All style from a great period in Modernism. From a private collection, on paper: "Two Bridges Over East River," New York city-scape under the hammer at Sotheby's London on 26th June. Estimate: 40,000—60,000 GBP.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Greek Drama Kings

Time for introducing Athens [perspective] for a daily dose of great photography and a view of every day life in one of the world's greatest capitals.

Found on Amalias Avenue right opposite Syntagma Square (Parliament) - the three great tragedians of classical Athens: Sophocles (of Oedipus and Antigone fame) , Euripides (known for his strong female characters) and Aeschylus (recognised as the founder or father of tragedy.

Every Greek loves a bit of melodrama. It's our collective inheritance. Thus the drama queen antics on the streets of Athens everyday. Explains the taxi drivers too. >>>

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Prehistoric Drama

CNN: "Divers battled Komodo dragon before rescue"

Five Europeans rescued Saturday after an Indonesia diving trip went wrong had to fight off a Komodo dragon while they were waiting to be found, according to reports.

The group was found at Mantaolan, on the island of Rinca off the Komodo National Park, after going missing Thursday.

The divers -- three Britons, a Frenchman and a Swede -- spent two nights on the deserted island, which is home to the large Komodo dragon, before rangers found them Saturday.

Frenchman Laurent Pinel, 31, said the group had to fight off one dragon with rocks and scavenged for shellfish as they waited to be rescued, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported. (...) >>>

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Pre-History of St Peter's and A Stereo View of Rome

Chiesa: "Pilgrims at the Tomb of Peter. As in Ancient Rome," by Sandro Magister

Ten meters beneath the Vatican basilica, it is possible to walk the same path that led to the tomb of the apostle, among rows of Roman tombs that have emerged, intact, from the excavations. The latest restoration was presented just a few days ago. A marvel of art, history, faith (...)

Almost all of the 22 tombs of the necropolis are pagan, with traces of oriental cults. The only completely Christian one is that of the Iulii family. Its vault boasts a marvelous mosaic depicting Christ as the Sun, in the manner of Apollo, ascending to heaven on a chariot drawn by white horses, holding the earth in his left hand. On the walls are images of the Good Shepherd, of Jonah being swallowed by the sea monster, and of a fisherman throwing into the waves a hook that one fish is swallowing while another swims away, a symbol of the souls that accept or reject salvation.

The most astonishing thing about this necropolis is that it is almost intact. Just as it was shortly before Constantine had it buried. In walking through it, one retraces the steps of the citizens of ancient Rome, but also those of the pilgrims who have come to pray at the tomb of the apostle Peter. The prehistory of the basilica of Saint Peter is in its bricks, its marble, it statues, its lettering, in the decorations of this ancient road that leads (...) >>>

Picture material is hard to come by, but we did unearth an old photo of the Tomb of St Peter in a great collection for the historically inclined: early photographs of Rome from the 1850s onward in World Stereo Views: original stereo pictures from places all over the world. Some sites do not even exist anymore, for example the old town of Rotterdam which was flattened in World War II. Originals can be ordered ... highly recommended viewing!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Helen of the Dung-Hill: a puzzle contest

Read the following article carefully. Spot the crap (all of it) and win this month's Golden Ari. Send in your findings before 5th June.
The Guardian/The Observer: "DNA explodes Greek myth about women," by Robin McKie, science editor - Hat Tip: Phantis

British researchers have unearthed evidence that proves Helen was much more than a chattel.

Women in Ancient Greece were major power brokers in their own right, researchers have discovered, and often played key roles in running affairs of state. Until now it was thought they were treated little better than servants.

The discovery is part of an investigation by Manchester researchers into the founders of Mycenae, Europe's first great city-state and capital of King Agamemnon's domains.

'It was thought that in those days women were rated as little more than chattels in Ancient Greece,' said Professor Terry Brown, of the faculty of life sciences at Manchester University. 'Our work now suggests that notion is wrong.'

- Caption: Helen of Troy, by Frederick Sandys -

Mycenae is one of the most important and evocative archaeological sites in Europe. According to legend, Agamemnon led his armies from Mycenae to Troy to bring back Helen - the wife of his ally, Menelaus - who had run off with the Trojan prince Paris.

The citadel was first excavated in the 1870s by Heinrich Schliemann, who uncovered tombs containing crumbling bones draped with jewels and gold face masks. 'I have discovered the graves of Agamemnon, Eurymedon, and their companions, all slain at a banquet by Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthos,' he told the King of Greece.

In fact, the graves have since been dated and shown to be too old for those of Agamemnon. Nevertheless, Mycenae has since proved to be a treasure trove of archaeological riches. Most recently, these have involved scientists using a range of new techniques, including facial reconstruction work carried out by Manchester researchers John Prag and Richard Neave. They recreated the faces of seven individuals whose skeletons had been excavated at a circle of graves inside the citadel.

The images provided scientists with a family picture album for the rulers of Europe's first great city-state. However, genetics experts have now taken this work a stage further by attempting to extract DNA from 22 of the 35 bodies found in the grave circle. 'The facial reconstructions were carried out 10 years ago, but it is only now that scientists have developed sensitive enough techniques to get DNA from skeletons as old as these,' said Brown. 'In each case we had to deal with a single cell's worth of DNA.'

The genetic material isolated by the scientists is known as mitochondrial DNA, which humans inherit exclusively from their mothers. However, of the 22 skeletons that were tested, only four produced enough DNA for full analysis. Nevertheless, findings from these provided a shock for the team from Manchester.

While two of the males had DNA that indicated they were unrelated, the genetic material extracted from the remaining pair, a man and a woman, revealed they were brother and sister. They had been thought to have been man and wife.

'To be precise our DNA evidence suggests the pair were closely related, possibly siblings or possibly cousins. However, the facial reconstruction work of Prag and Neave also shows they were very similar in appearance which indicates they were brother and sister,' said Brown.

The critical point, he said, was that the woman was thought to have been buried in a richly endowed grave because she was the wife of a powerful man. That was in keeping with previous ideas about Ancient Greece - that women had little power and could only exert influence through their husbands.

'But this discovery shows both the man and the woman were of equal status and had equal power,' he said. 'Women in Ancient Greece held positions of power by right of birth, it now appears.

'The problem has been that up until recently our interpretation of life in Ancient Greece has been the work of a previous generations of archaeologists, then a male-oriented profession and who interpreted their findings in a male-oriented way. That is changing now and women in Ancient Greece are being seen in a new light.' >>>

And while we are at it, we might as well distill the irrational hogwash from this piece of postmodern 'science' reporting as well. Take the weekend too. Good for another Golden Ari.

Yahoo!News: "Key to All Optical Illusions Discovered" and "Cool Optical Illusions"