Monday, February 28, 2011

The Raft of the Medusa

I was 28 years old when I first saw the amazing painting, The Raft of the Medusa (1819). The artist, Théodore Géricault was about the same age when he completed his masterpiece that immortalized the 1816 shipwreck of the French frigate, the Méduse.

Géricault spent weeks studying the dead and dying in hospitals and morgues. His passion for realism is evident in his representation of life and death, depicted so dramatically on the collapsing raft. Standing in front of this immense work, its composition and superb rendering have an immediate vortex effect.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tonight, tonight

Tonight, millions of people will tune in to see who wins the coveted Academy Awards. I live in Tinseltown and have the good sense to avoid any errands that involve driving on this red letter day. Amazingly, the show has an effect on traffic, parking, and grocery store lines. It's a great night to go to a restaurant, most will be empty.

Best Film: The King's Speech

It's not as grandiose as Inception or as smart as The Social Network or as satisfying as Toy Story 3, but I'm betting the votes will be so divided it will inch toward a win.

Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network

Generally, the award for Best Film goes hand in hand with Best Director, but not always. And this year, it has to be Fincher. Aronofsky didn't create a crowd-pleaser with Black Swan, the Coen Brothers won the award only a couple of years ago and True Grit was a remake, David O. Russell's The Fighter lacked the polish of a superb film. The Social Network will lose in other categories to flashier films, so I predict Fincher's win as director a no-brainer.

Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech

Colin Firth manages to play reserved characters with great warmth and likability. Bardem and Bridges have won Oscars very recently and Franco and Eisenberg are young, with years ahead of them to vie again for the statue.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Portman is a shoo-in, having already won all the major awards for her portrayal of a troubled ballerina. She is pretty...very, very, very pretty. Annette Bening may be the wild card, as she's been passed over several times. Jennifer Lawrence was excellent in Winter's Bone, Nicole Kidman was powerful in Rabbit Hole, Michelle Williams was convincingly broken in Blue Valentine--three films that were dark, depressing and in limited release.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

By now, Bale's public tirades and hissy fits have become ancient history, and his turn as a low-life crack addict spells Oscar gold. Geoffrey Rush has already won an Oscar, and I predict he and John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo will have to smile for the cameras tonight.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld

Why? Because True Grit has to win a major award. Helena Bonham Carter as a proper royal wife didn't stir any interest, Melissa Leo and Jackie Weaver portrayed overbearing, hateful mothers you only can stand watching once, Amy Adams in her best performance to date, will also have to wait. Every so often, the Oscar is awarded to a long-shot, who is sometimes a mere child.

Best Screenplay (adapted): The Social Network

I am hoping that the Coen brothers win for True Grit, but I know better.

Best Screenplay (original): Inception

If you look over the list; Another Year, The Fighter, The Kids are All Right, The King's Speech, and Christopher Nolan's Inception, it's clear that Nolan has the most original story in the mix.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Knowing how things work is the basis for appreciation,
and is thus a source of civilized delight.

--William Safire

Images from Todd McLellan's series, Disassembly.

Friday, February 25, 2011


American photographer Julius Shulman captures
the elegant architecture of Richard Neutra.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

So like Candy

The song is a favorite, but I especially like the sepia tone, bare bones look of the video.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I love the cut paper sculpture and photography of Thomas Allen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mother figure

At the table with Julia Warhola and Andy (Warhol).

Christina Gehrig with her son, Lou.

Michael (Caine) with his folks, Ellen and Maurice Micklewhite.

Odessa Clay and her son Cassius (Muhammed Ali).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home away from home

The 2008 historical thriller Valkyrie, depicts the plot by German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler in an emergency maneuver to take control of the country. The cast of seasoned actors features Tom Cruise, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp and Kenneth Branagh. Mysteriously, Cruise portrays German Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg with an American accent, while the others speak British English. There is tension, and a perfectly menacing Hitler, but Valkyrie is unable to transport the audience to WWII Germany.

So many American films venture into exotic landscapes, introducing characters very different from us. Impressive work went into the details of the sets, costumes and locations. Despite that colorful surface, the familiar sound of American language assures we never really leave home.

Meeting cute as workers in a Budapest store;
Margaret Sullavan is Klara Novak, James Stewart is Alfred Kralik in
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Meeting cute in the mountains of Mongolia;
Susan Hayward as Bortai, daughter of a Tartar leader,
John Wayne as Genghis Khan, Mongol chief and Barbarian.
The Conqueror (1956)

Meeting cute on a Parisian street;
Shirley MacLaine as prostitute Irma La Douce, Jack Lemmon as policeman Nestor Patou in
Irma La Douce (1963)

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Things are not difficult to make;
what is difficult is putting ourselves in the state of mind to make them.

--Constantin Brancusi

The Kiss (1908)

Favorite Google doodle...ever.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Girls in the windows

Girls In The Windows (1960)

"In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade.

We had to work quickly to secure City permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time!"

--Ormond Gigli

Commercial for Chanel Égoïste (1990)

Égoïste, où est-tu?
Montre-toi misérable!
Prends garde à mon courroux!
Je serai implacable.
Ô rage ! ô désespoir ! Ô mon amour trahi?
N'ai-je donc tant vécu que pour cette infamie? Montre-toi égoïste!
Égoïste!! Égoïste!!! Égoïste!

Egotist, where are you?
Show yourself, Miserable!
Beware my anger,
I will be relentless!
Oh rage, oh despair! Oh, my betrayed love.
How do I live with this reputation?
Show yourself, Selfish!

Friday, February 18, 2011


25 designers tour their respective cities and the things they love most about them. Graphic USA delivers a quirky, hip and alternative guide.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

City of Light

Paris on my mind...

EF - Live The Language - Paris

(My nephews could create a spoof of this video overnight.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking it

Steve McQueen, The Thomas Crown Affair

Clive Owen, Inside Man

Cary Grant, To Catch a Thief

I'm rooting for the bad guys.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Amo, amas, amat

Edmund Dulac, Layla and Majnun, 1915

Jacques-Louis David, Paris and Helen, 1788

N.C. Wyeth, Odysseus and Penelope, 1929

John William Waterhouse, Tristan and Isolde, 1916

Sunday, February 13, 2011


It makes perfect sense to use primary colors for the framework to classify different forms of chemical behavior. The Welch periodic table, circa 1959.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Elvis Presley

Hedy Lamarr

James Franco

Betty Grable

Friday, February 11, 2011

Soft lighting

Chanel advertisement

Vilhelm Hammershøi

Chanel advertisement

Vilhelm Hammershøi

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Watch and learn

Did anyone, can anyone learn to swim and dive from studying pictures?

Men's Health and Fitness, 1926

Vorschriften für den Schwimmunterricht (München, 1826)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beyond books

Nat King Cole translates a melody

Ringo Starr enjoys his comic

Alfred Hitchcock studies the script for Rebecca (1940)

Sophia Loren scans the news by candlelight

WWII Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley survey a map

Michael Jackson addresses his fans