Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cat Score

The Sound of Painting is a fascinating and informative book I read recently. It explores the mutual inspiration between early modern art and early modern music by examining numerous artists’ works inspired by music.

In the chapter of Graphic Music, I was intrigued by several pieces of work which innovatively visualized music. The wittiest one is this Cat Symphony by Austrian painter Moritz won Schwind (1804-1871). He dedicated the score to Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), a renowned Hungarian violinist and composer. He described his idea of reforming the linear notation system as ‘this darling attempt to put a more expressive, spiritualized notation system in the place of this outmoded, obsolete, pedantic, and dry-as-dust copycat business.’

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tativille, Paris!

Just saw on Criterion's website a large-scale retrospective of Tati's work opening today in Paris! -

Paris is turning into Tativille starting tomorrow, April 8, until August 2, with the Cinémathèque française’s appropriately large-scale retrospective of the famously ambitious French filmmaking legend’s work, “Jacques Tati, deux temps, trois movements.” Curated by Stéphane Goudet and Macha Makeïeff, the exposition is in honor of the director’s 102nd birthday (“just in time for an homage divorced from obligatory celebrations, which he was not keen on,” the curators tease), and will feature not only screenings of Tati’s films (including a new print of M. Hulot’s Holiday) but also exhibitions of props, costumes, screenplays, outtakes, and drawings and paintings by his friend and art director Jacques Lagrange. Add to all that guided walking tours of Tati-related architectural landmarks, screenings of a new six-part documentary on Tati called The 6 Lessons of Professor Goudet, and interviews about Tati with contemporary directors (including Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson, David Lynch, Otar Iosseliani, and Olivier Assayas) on view around the exhibit, and you have one seriously tantalizing Tati traffic jam. (source)

The exposition is held in the Cinema Museum designed by Gehry. I'm so attracted by the miniature model of Villa Arpel from Mon Oncle. I also can't wait to find out how much the real Paris overlaps with Tativille by walking down the streets. Being a super Tati fan, I wanna be there so badly!! Maybe the best I can do now is to revisit his great films.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In the Eyes of Annie Leibovitz

When talking about Annie Leibovitz, the two images one would associate with are probably: the Rolling Stone cover of John and Yoko lying together, the last photo of John taken a few hours before his was shot, and the controversial Vanity Fair cover of Demi Moore’s nude pregnant body.

After watching a documentary on Annie and reading her book Annie Leibovitz at Work, I got more insights into her life and photography. Besides the famous celebrity photos for the magazines, her works also touch upon broader themes such as social and political events and natural landscapes. In the book she reveals how each well-known photograph was made. She is not only good at staging the characters in a symbolic setting relevant to ones’ artistic identity, but also has a sharp eye in capturing the very charm in one’s natural state.

One appealing photo from the documentary is the surrealistic portrait of Isabella Rossellini and David Lynch, both my favorite characters. The photo stands as a perfect metaphor of the uninterpretable and dreamlike quality of Lynch’s films. Lynch's face is hidden behind the black mask, which seems to imply the fact that he has always resisted interpreting his works.

When browsing the book, I was excited to find a photo of 94-year-old Philip Johnson in his Glass House. Interested in architecture, Annie went to photograph the Glass House one day and Johnson happened to be there. The photo thus came by accident, which captured a meditative quality in the architectural space, surrounding landscape and the person.