Tag Archives: France

Clip: A Time to Weep

3 Apr

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My art post “A Time to Weep” went up on Burnside yesterday.

The photo above is of a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Catholics refer to her as Our Lady of Lourdes because of the apparition Saint Bernadette had of her in Lourdes, France.

Jack Kerouac fans may be interested in my Church Hopping column on the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

 

Clip on Xu Beihong Plus Thoughts on Calligraphy, the Beats, and the Abstract Expressionists

19 Feb

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Burnside published my art post “A Time to Plant and a Time to Uproot” today.

It only occurred to me as I was posting this clip how interesting it is that Xu Beihong’s painting is from 1951. Doesn’t the seemingly traditional shuimohua painting seem much older? Xu is actually known for his Western sensibilities and is considered a forerunner in modern Chinese art.

Xu studied calligraphy with his father before attending the famous École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts — you know, that Parisian school where Degas, Matisse, Monet, and Renoir studied at. In 1917, Xu Beihong went to Japan to study art. During World War II, he sold his paintings in exhibitions throughout Asia, giving the proceeds to the Chinese whose lives had been upturned because of the war. As a teacher and artist, Xu’s policies greatly influenced the way both colleges and the government respond to art in Communist China. He died in 1953.

Meanwhile, over in Oregon at Reed College in the early 1950s, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen (who served Stateside during World War II), and Lew Welch–who are associated with the Beat Generation–were studying with calligrapher Lloyd Reynolds. Snyder and Whalen later spent time in Japan, where they studied zen. The US State Department initially denied Snyder a passport, alleging he was a Communist.

Asian influences can also be seen in the art of the time period, most notably the abstract expressionist art of Franz Kline, Adolph Gottlieb, and Theodoros Stamos. Note this opening paragraph from the Guggenheim’s article “Abstract Art, Calligraphy, and Metaphysics“:

Following World War II New York City became the center of the avant-garde art world. Artists were working in new ways, and some were exploring the energy of the gesture with loose brushwork that reflected the impact of the artist’s bold movements. The calligraphic brushstroke was an approach to abstract painting that focused on the spontaneous gesture of the artist’s hand and was informed by the East Asian art of calligraphy and popular writings on Zen and its principles of direct action.

The article goes on to say:

In Chinese and Japanese calligraphy the brush becomes an extension of the writer’s arm, indeed, his or her entire body. The artist’s stroke not only suggests the movement of the body, but also inner qualities. Abstract as it appears, calligraphy also conveys something about the essence of the individual artist. It is therefore not surprising that 20th-century American Abstract Expressionists who sought to convey emotion through paint were drawn to it.

Because so many soldiers were stationed in the East during World War II, both the West and the East were influenced by each other.

What I personally find fascinating with calligraphy is the collision of art and literature, the visual and the literal, words becoming art, and art becoming words.

Greek American Fashion Week: Timothy George

21 Sep

 

 

 

The Greek American Fashion Week Show concluded with the Spring/Summer 2013 collection by Timothy George.  Learning through apprenticeships at highly respected garment factories, George debuted work that was pure luxury.  His designs looked expensive both in materials used and cuts.

George used beautiful French and Italian fabric.  The most stunning fabric was a lightweight teal erupting with raised, soft-looking orange dots.  This surreal and gorgeous fabric was used for a wrap blouse, a t-shirt, and a skirt.  Pairing them with a high-sheen orange skirt or with a more neutral and plain top or bottom showed how versatile this otherworldly cloth could be.  Other fabrics included softer ones, which were masterfully cut to bring a formality to their delicateness or were draped and billowed to promote their femininity.  Other fabrics, on the other hand, were tough and high-sheen.  With a high-end aesthetic, the collection reflected beauty, extravagance, strength, and femininity.

Timothy George is based in Midtown Manhattan.

Dreams of European Picnics

3 Jun

 

Two nonfiction writers in my MFA program individually suggested that I check out Saveur, and I’m so glad they recommended the culinary magazine to me!  It’s always full of such mouthwatering images of food and recipes I’d love to taste test.  This week, the article “Menu: A French Picnic for Early Summer” arrived in my inbox.  Sometimes I think I must’ve been French in another lifetime.  I’ve always thought of myself more as an Anglophile than a Francophile, but there’s just something so charming and whimsical about the whole French flea-market aesthetic.

A summer or two ago, I read Barry Miles’ The Beat Hotel, about the years Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Gregory Corso lived at 9 rue Git-le-Coeur on the Left Bank of Paris.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a long, leisurely picnic of baguette and chevre along the Seine?  Experiencing communion with God while drinking cabernet sauvignon and contemplating the enormous rose window of Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris?  Reading bohemian and Beat poetry and penning poems in a pocket journal?

Sometimes I wish the Greek aesthetic lent itself to a more feminine and whimsical feel.  I picture triangles of tiropita, squares of feta cheese generously sprinkled with oregano, and delicate twists of diples dripping with honey and cinnamon all laid out on an off-white doily-like tablecloth crocheted by my yiayia.  Someone is fingerpicking an ornate bouzouki, and I’m reading about how Allen Ginsberg sailed to Greece in 1961 to track down his love.  And I am writing stories about cultivating a garden of memories in Greece.