Category Archives: art

Remembering Feliks Topolski

Feliks Topolski was Polish, but lived most of his life in the UK. He did portraits of many famous literary figures of the time. Like this one of Sir John Betjemam

For more, check out this link

Naturally, the subjects were not thrilled. And none of topolsky’s works are intended to be flattering. They are, however, full of energy. Compared to Waugh, Betjeman got off easy

I don’t like all of topolski’s work. But I do love his lithographs for the book “Legal London”.  My favorite is the image for the “Solicitor’s Office”

Image result for Topolski Solicitor's Offices

What do yoiu think

Who Was John Berger?

John Berger may not be a name that jumps off the tip of your tongue. He passed on last month at the ripe old age of 90. Here he is in his prime

Image result for John Berger

The Guardian had this to say about him just before he passed on

Critic, novelist, poet, dramatist, artist, commentator – and, above all, storyteller – Berger was described by Susan Sontag as peerless in his ability to make “attentiveness to the sensual world” meet “imperatives of conscience”. His book Ways of Seeing, and the 1972 BBC television series based on it, changed the way at least two generations responded to art. And his writing since then – especially about migration – has changed the way many of us see the world.

Indeed, Berger was more than anything else, a storyteller. It is an odd  career path. Here is the skill that is needed

In 1944 (Berger) joined up, refusing a commission with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire light infantry, and became a lance corporal at a training camp. He preferred the company of working-class recruits, for whom he became a scribe, writing their letters home. In a sense, he has continued to do this all his life: telling other people’s stories lest they vanish. In a conversation with Susan Sontag, he once said: “A story is always a rescuing operation.” And he has also said (in The Seasons in Quincy): “If I’m a storyteller it’s because I listen. For me, a storyteller is like a passeur who gets contraband across a frontier.”

You might have guessed that Berger was just a tad radical. In fact, he was a Marxist, believing in the dignity of work and disliking the injustice of the systems that exploit labor.

He also criticized Sir Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series. Clark saw genius coming from the great individual. Berger saw it in connections.

The Spectator article by Michael Henderson  that I link to is rather dismissive of Berger. I think Henderson overdoes it. Clark is not more “right” than Berger. And one should not dismiss Berger’s views on art because of his politics. Both men contributed vastly to our ability to see and appreciate reality. We need more of this these perspectives days, not just “one right way”, I would think.

I will be re-viewing Berger’s 4 part BBC series and will offer a quick update on it soon! Stay tuned!

Support Off Assignment!

Here is the thing.

We are swimming in digital content flowing through the web. And most of it sucks. Most of it does not even try not to suck. It cannot try because it is produced based on FORMULAS!

We could do better. What if there was a publication that enabled writers to tell stories that don’t quite fit the mold? Stuff that takes us behind the scenes around the world?

This is what “Off Assignment” wants to do . Fred is supporting it. I am too. YOU SHOULD TOO!

Of Course, Sotheby’s Does Sex!

From Esquire

… (Sotheby’s London recent) event was the auction house’s first-ever erotic-themed collection, timed the same week as Valentine’s Day. The 107 art pieces in Erotic: Passion & Desire, traced sex in art through the last 2,000 years, from 1st-century Rome to 17th-century Japan to London in the early aughts—and every display of passion in between.

It went well

Bids for the artwork came in from 18 countries around the globe, according to Sotheby’s, the success of the show a testament to the enduring appeal of erotic art.

Yes there is something enduring here.  check out the link for more examples.

What if Wood Was Like Gold?

The masters of the universe would find at least some of human behavior to be eccentric. Like our lust for a yellow metal that we call gold.

What is it about that metal that captures our imaginations? It has no great use that any other metal could not fulfill. Why not some other material … like wood?  And if we think for a moment, if wood were like gold, what new uses would we find for it?

Of course, in a world that is groaning with wood, this seems absurd. Perhaps it is. And yet, there are some who treasure wood. Who lust to shape it into artistic forms.  I met one such person last week. We had lunch together. I wanted to chat about the food. He wanted to talk about wood. At first, it was annoying.  But strangely, the more he talked, the more I began to see what he was talking about.

I will be posting on this unique fellow over the next several weeks.

Stay tuned!