Costa Blanca

Perpignan is mainly associated in my mind with rugby and fine wine but it’s also home to French psychedelic pop band The Liminanas. Headed by brother and sister duo Marie and Lio Liminana the band released their third album last year the sublime ‘Costa Blanca’. It’s a druggy trip that merges a cool, Gauloises-smoking ennui …

Sinfully Skilled

Perhaps it’s because I’m currently enjoying some time in France but the art of Bernard Charoy appeals to me. Part of his artistic output falls within the pin-up category and his illustrations of women remind me of a Gallic Gil Evlgren. Here’s a series from 1958 that’s pretty indicative of his style.  

Alvin Lustig

As an avid reader I’ve been aware of the work of Alvin Lustig for years without realizing it. For Lustig was one of the world’s finest designers of book covers making the books we love to read items we love to live with to. Not that this was the limit of his talents. He was …

Closer

Danish photographer Jacob Aue Sobol has some of the most distinctive imagery out there. Gritty, dirty and grainy his black and white work has a fabulous intimacy reminding me in turns of Daido Moriyama, William Klein and Anders Petersen. The themes of desire, lust and love are heavily prominent in his work. His first noted …

Billy Kidd

Every so often you come across a fashion photographer who manages to put an interesting spin on what is a very well-worn territory. Brooklyn based Billy Kidd is such a man. Even though he’s only been shooting for five years he has a distinct style, his images having a stark almost alien quality. I particularly …

Capa in Color

One of the world’s most famous photojournalists, Robert Capa founded the Magnum photo agency and made his name with hard-hitting black and white images featuring subjects as diverse as D-Day and Pablo Picasso. However, Capa had a hidden side. It turns out he was also a dab hand at color photography as well. ICP blows …

Rich Kids

Instantly obnoxious but strangely compelling is the way I’d describe the tumblr, ‘Rich kids of Instagram’ A couple of years ago, some cruel genius found posts on the picture sharing site ‘Instagram’, featuring the offspring off the 1% living it up. In fact, these are more like the 0.1% and therefore even more objectionable. Never …

Food for Thought

  I am a very greedy man. Hence my interest in a book by William Sitwell titled a History of Food in 100 Recipes’ It turns that the book is much more than just a recipe book. It is a witty and entertaining journey through the food of the ages. From Ancient Egyptian bread in …

Family Ties

  One of the trickiest things for a photographer is finding your subject. Happy the men, who like Emmet Gowin, discover that this happens to be their immediate family. Gowin’s pictures have the intimate quality that can only be born of knowing your subjects as well as any person on earth. His portraits of his …

Cool Note

No matter how many times I look at them I’m always left with the feeling that there is nothing cooler than a Blue Note album cover. Even though they are now over 50 years old in many cases, you could still use the same look and style today and come across as totally fresh. With …

Photographing the Photographers

Just how photogenic are photographers? Judging by Abe Frajndlich’s book ‘Penelope’s Hungry Eyes’ the answer is very. He spent three decades persuading world-famous snappers to come out from behind their cameras and ham it up in front of his.  

Oscar After-Party Images

It’s not enough that an actor gets to win an Oscar. Oh no. The lucky so-and-so’s then get to go to a fabulous after-party, courtesy of Vanity Fair and get their pictures taken by renowned portrait photographer Mark Seliger. A sparsely furnished, custom-built studio was created specially for the purpose and the resulting images were …

What I have to Offer

Listen to the words of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. He gave a talk to the British Film Institute. It lasted 70 minutes but five of these are pure philosophical gold. Elliot Rausch created a video with these pearls of wisdom as the soundtrack. Listen and learn to feel optimistic again

The Age of Adolescence

Oh to be young in fifties and sixties America. For you would have the chance to be photographed by Joseph Sterling. His book ‘The Age of Adolescence’ documents teenage life from 1959 to 1964 and captures every explosive moment. A pupil of Harry Callahan whose circle of photographic friends included street photographer Ray Metzker his …

Shopped

Ever wondered what Audrey Hepburn might have looked like with tattoos? Or Jackie Kennedy? Your long wait is over thanks to the Shopped Tattoo tumblr which takes old celebrities and adorns them with some righteous tats. In some instances the result is vaguely alarming in others surprisingly refined (I think Audrey looks great)

Ahmad Jamal

I would be highly pleased if I was still alive at 83 let alone creating innovative Jazz records like pianist Ahmad Jamal. Last year the octogenarian produced ‘Saturday Morning’ an album, which followed 2012’s highly praised ‘Blue Moon’. Described by critic Stanley Crouch as second in importance after Charlie Parker in the development of Jazz …

Honey Hunting in Nepal

The only time I’ve had trouble collecting honey is when it’s particularly runny and falls off my spoon. If my honey proved as difficult to get as the stuff the Gurung tribe finds in Nepal, I’d probably stick to Marmalade. The tribe has to journey to the Himalayan cliffs to find the hives that house …

Ticket to Ride

The tale of an elderly possibly senile pensioner and his quest to claim a million dollars with the help of his son seems an unlikely Oscar nominee. Yet Alexander Payne’s tale has a hidden depth that makes this movie stay with you long after the end credits have rolled. The ‘winning ticket’ that Woody Grant …

The New Yorkers According to Robert Herman

Since the late seventies Robert Herman has been taking pictures of New York and its inhabitants. He uses Kodachrome which gives the pictures, some of which are taken as late as 2005, an old school cool and vibrancy. Like a lot of street photographers Herman talks of how taking pictures helps him bond with his …

Antonio Smith

One of the pleasures of music is discovering something entirely new and almost forgotten from the dusty musical past. I’ve had several such pleasant surprises already this year but arguably the most pleasant has been a guy called Antonio Smith. He is a Chilean folk rock performer from the 1970’s who initially was in a …

Ernst Haas

Ernst Haas is considered one of the pioneers of color photography in the 20th century. Indeed 14 years before William Eggleston he was the first color photographer to be shown at MoMA. His Kodachrome images often use color to create rather abstract structures more akin to a modern artist than a photographer. This combined with …

Orange Juice

The music of our youth. No other music will ever quite replace it. It’s nothing to do with quality or superiority, it’s the fact such life changing and formative things are happening while these sounds are playing. You can even actively dislike the sound of a certain voice but its sheer ubiquity overcomes your reservations …

Wall People

For Georgian artist, Eka Sharashidze photography has become a useful tool in the creation of her intriguing series ‘Wall People’. She captures images of pedestrians and then cuts them out and repositions them in superimposed layers. From a distance they almost seem like notes on a musical score, individually unimportant but when taken together a …

The Existential Meow-ings of Henri

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past year you are more than likely aware of the of one of the Internets deepest and most profound thinkers. Henri, le Chat Noir. This cat intellectual is the natural successor to Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus even though he possesses only paws. The fine feline …

The End of the World As We Know It

The end of the world is nearly nigh. Well it is according to one southern family, the main characters in Mary Miller’s charming and heartfelt debut novel’ The Last Days of California’. With the rapture upon them they opt to spend their last days on earth driving from their home in Montgomery, Alabama to California …

Sun Kil Moon

It’s difficult to find records that are genuinely moving. Plenty are entertaining, clever, catchy, even electrifying but the ability to get us to listen to something that is so deftly handled that it transcends its deathly dark subject matter is rare indeed. Sun Kil Moon’s ‘Benji’ achieves this. Every song deals in some way with …

Julianna Barwick in Church

I can’t say I’m a regular churchgoer. In fact, there aren’t many altars that have ever borne witness to my presence. Yet I had no problem heading down to Our Lady of the Lebanon Catholic Church in Brooklyn Heights last night. For I was worshipping at the feet of Julianna Barwick, who performed her album …

Portraits of Animals

There have been some wonderful animal portraits taken over the last few years by the likes of Tim Flach and Morten Koldby. Animals have been given the attention normally afforded to humans so that we see their unique personalities shine through. Czech photographer Lukas Holas is the latest to try his hand at the genre …

Public Nudity

You know what you’re home lacks? I can tell you. It’s a picture of you naked, illustrated by Jill Kleinhans. Jill is a very obliging woman and for a small fee she’ll create a custom block print of you au naturel. All you have to do is send her a nude photo of yourself. Quite …

Music Inc

Recently discovered and very much enjoyed, Inc are brothers Andrew and David Aged based in LA who are signed to 4AD. This however is not the music you’d expect from a label that brought you This Mortal Coil and Throwing Muses. This is a kind of twisted, slightly wonky R’n’B, which has been back in …

A Ride Back in Time

You think the New York City subway’s bad now, take a look at the images of Christopher Morris. Taken in the early eighties, when riding the subway could still be seriously injurious to your health, they capture the gritty, graffiti filled reality of NYC back in the day.

Terrain

Jackie Nickerson’s portraits of African farm workers are a fine example of how photojournalism has become more artful and large format in its presentation of life’s realities over the last twenty years. Her new series ‘Terrain’ takes things a stage further. Currently showing at the Jack Shainman Gallery on 20th and 10th street, the images …

When We Were Young

Derek Ridgers has been taking pictures of UK youth culture since punk and has a massive collection of simple portraits of various sub cultures. Skinheads, new romantics, punks, club kids and mods have all fallen under his lens. With the blanding out of contemporary culture these images now have a rawness that reminds us of …

Inside Llewyn Davis

          Some people never learn. No matter how many chances you give them they always manage to do the one thing that guarantees the golden egg turns into a brown turd. The protagonist (or perhaps the antagonist. Llewyn is irritating enough to be both) of this strange and absorbing film set …

Philip Seymour Hoffman RIP

I was lucky enough to see Philip Seymour Hoffman on Broadway in 2000. He played the lead along side John C Reilly. Apparently every other night they swapped roles such was the depth of their respective talents. I have to say that it was one of the best 2 or 3 greatest performances I’ve ever …

The Horror, the Horror.

I have a confession. Unless they are old and black and white, horror films terrify me. I would sooner slice off my own face than willingly choose to see a horror flick. If I have gone it’s at the behest of some woman who seems to gain delight from watching me pretend to look at …

Sound of the City Experience

Every so often you enter a record store and are amazed to find them playing something rare and beautiful and almost totally unknown to you. As a pretty heavy music buyer this takes some doing but with ‘Sounds of the City Experience’ Jazzman records succeeded. As the liner notes explained this Bronx group are unknown …

Portrait of the Past

If you were doing a photographic portrait in 1865 chances are you’d make a tintype which according to Wikipedia is a photograph made ‘by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of iron coated with a dark lacquer’. However they were made they look really cool so it’s no surprise that some photographers have …

Rena Effendi

From transgender people in Istanbul to peasants in Transylvania, Azerbaijani photographer Rena Effendi has documented a variety of subjects with great sensitivity She shoots both black and white and color but it’s her color work that most appeals to me.. It has an almost painterly and sometimes ethereal quality that can be quite beautiful.

Naked Ambition

The human body is a beautiful thing. Particularly if it’s being used in the art of Cecilia Webber. A multimedia artist, Webber specializes in images made up entirely of nude humans. The results are beautiful and bizarre.

Noe Sendas

Belgian Noe Sendas is a visual artist whose work owes something to the surrealists but at the same time feels utterly contemporary. Images that could have been drawn from publicity shots for movies or film stills are altered by removing heads and torso to give us a feeling of looking at something that feels very familiar on …

Taming the Dragon

You know you like something when you’re prepared to brave sub-zero temperatures and snow-covered ground in order to see it. Of course there’s always the risk that you might turn up and find it doesn’t live up to your expectations but in the case of my recent winter night visit to the Highline Ballroom to …

Silver Wilkinson

A few years back, while driving through the sun-drenched streets of Los Angeles, one album was by constant in-car companion. Bibio’s ‘Ambivalence Avenue’, a wonderful dreamy combination of found sound and drifty acoustic pop that sounded like the very last thing you would expect to find on Warp records. Indeed the music (the work of …

Segregation Series

Lest you need reminding of why we have a Martin Luther King day, Gordon Parks photographs of an African-American family living under segregation in the deep south is a poignant and powerful reminder. Parks took the pictures while on assignment for Life magazine eschewing the more obvious images of police brutality and demonstrations, he choose …

The Act of Killing

It will take a long time to remove the memory of a confessed mass murderer dressed as a woman ogling a group of Indonesian beauties dancing out of the mouth of an iron fish. I’m prepared to bet that’s not a sentence that you will be able to read in connection with any other film …

Less is More

Zoltan Bekefy seems to be dedicated to the art of minimalism in his stunning series of black and white images ‘Less is More’. The jet stream of faraway planes, the flight of a lone bird over the ocean, the splash of water in a night sea are captured in a vast universe of emptiness. This …

Bill Evans

Is there a more beautiful sound on the planet than Bill Evans on the piano? I find it hard to believe having spent the month listening to a variety of Evans better known recordings from the fifties and early sixties Yet in writing those sentences I realize that for a vast majority of the listening …

mmmm…nice.

Being a jazz fan can be hard. Jazz is one of those musical mediums that many people have no problem saying they hate.  In fact merely utter the word in their presence and they immediately begin hearing a series of squawks and discordant drones that remind them of animals being strangled. But jazz like cricket …

Sergio Larrain

Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain is one of those artists who is perhaps not as well-known as he should be. His black and white images taken while working for the Magnum photo agency in the 1950’s are beautifully composed and full of love for his subjects. Personally, I feel his best images are those of of …

Close up

Originally posted on LE CLOWN LYRIQUE:
Chuck Close Self-portrait, 1967-68 Chuck Close Study for Keith 1971-72 Chuck Close. Kate, 2007 Chuck Close Lorna Simpson 2006 Chuck Close – Elizabeth Murray 2006 Chuck Close – Fanny, 1985 Marius Bugge, Chuck Close, 2011

Dylan’s Gospel

My Sunday morning’s are being enlivened by a Los Angeles Gospel Choir. They’re not practicing next my apartment or anything like that. No, they are the voices on the new reissue CD from the Light in the Attic label. In 1969 Legendary producer Lou Adler, noticing that the gospel song ‘Oh Happy day’ was a …

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