David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

30 January 2009

Yves Klein and the secret knowledge of John the Evangelist


To complete this brief Yves Klein suite of posts, a 1951 image of Yves in Madrid looking at El Greco's Saint John the Evangelist. This photo appears on the Yves Klein Archive website where the caption merely says, "Yves Klein in Madrid in front of a painting by El Greco, feb-jun 1951".

bLOGOS/HA HA doesn't have any books about Yves Klein so what follows is mere speculation, perhaps already well addressed by others.

Was this was a casual day-at-the-gallery snap or did Klein have a particular interested in El Greco? Or in this particular painting? Maybe in its subject
Saint John the Evangelist?

There is a shadow in the photo, which I take to be Klein's, cast over a section of the painting. (Klein is strongly lit from behind but we see him from the side, so the shadow is either cast from a flash at 90 degrees to the camera, which seems unlikely, or perhaps there is a window or other strong light source behind him.) With the image thus obscured, we see Klein regarding
what appears to be a gesture of open handed offering by the Saint. As the reproduction below shows - the work is in The Prado Museum, Madrid - the open hand is in fact gesturing to the hidden other hand, the right, and to its extraordinary contents.

As well as the golden chalice having allusions to the Last Supper and
- following upon the earlier miracle at Cana in which Jesus transformed water to wine - to the promise of transsubstantiation.

The dragon rising from the chalice signifies another such conversion of material. The legend is that the Evangelist was offered a chalice of poison by
the high priest of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus who suggested to him that if his god was the true god then he, John, should be able to drink the poison without harm. Saint John then blessed the offering and the poison is said to have departed the chalice in the form of a dragon. Thus he was able to drink it safely.

Klein, too, was a performer of public acts of faith (Leap into the Void; performance painting with "living brushes") and was committed to a practice of material-to-immaterial transmutation (gold in exchange for Le Vide; the spirit of the monochromes; International Klein Blue; the monogolds; his 1961
ex-voto for Saint Rita of Cascia).

As Klein contemplates El Greco's Saint John the Evangelist perhaps he not only notes the alchemical transformation of the poison of the Golden Chalice, but considers also the Gold Frame and its content, the poison of illusion; and the Golden Label fixed to that frame, with it's dualistic poison, reverberation of Eden and Babel,

and determines that these too shall be purified : the Monogolds!
The Monogolds appeared at the same time as the Cosmogonies and the Anthropometries, in 1960, followed by the Peintures de Feu [Fire Paintings] in 1961. All these works, in which the painting appears to break free from its frame, evoke themes of passage and ritual. The passage from the visible to the invisible is embodied particularly in one of his last pieces, simultaneously artistic and religious: a box filled with gold powder and blue and pink pigments created in 1961 as an ex-voto dedicated to Saint Rita, the patron saint of the impossible. [below]

Why might Yves Klein in 1951 - who later, in 1960, would publish in his own one-off newspaper, Dimanche, his 'Leap into the Void' plus various writing and an advertisement for his judo school - have been interested, knowingly or otherwise, in the author of the gospels of Saint John the Evangelist?

The Gnostic Society Library introduces the Apocryphon (Secret Book) of John thus :

Among the several dozen ancient Gnostic manuscripts rediscovered in modern times, the Secret Book of John is generally agreed to be the most important. It has been called the locus classicus for the Gnostic mythological system – in sum, it is the preeminent “Gnostic Gospel”, a sacred reservoir for the defining essence of Gnostic myth and revelation. It breathes with the life of vision that vitalized early Christianity, a life suppressed and then largely forgotten in later ages. (More...)
They quote this extract from the Apocryphon of John :

I have come to teach you about what is, and what was, and what will be in order for you to understand the invisible world, and the world that is visible, and the immovable race of perfect humanity.

Sound familiar? This from Wikipedia :

At the age of nineteen, Klein and his friends lay on a beach in the south of France, and divided the world between themselves; Arman chose the earth, Claude, words, whilst Yves chose the ethereal space surrounding the planet, which he then preceded to sign:

'With this famous symbolic gesture of signing the sky, Klein had foreseen, as in a reverie, the thrust of his art from that time onwards - a quest to reach the far side of the infinite.'' [Yves Klein, Weitemeier, Taschen 2001]
This from Klein (1957) :

While working on my paintings in the studio, I sometimes used sponges. Very quickly they obviously became blue! One day I noticed the beauty of the blue in the sponge; in an instant this working instrument became raw material for me. It is the sponge’s extraordinary capacity to be impregnate itself with anything fluid that attracted me. Thanks to the wild living material of sponges, I was going to be able to do the portraits of the beholders of my monochromes, who, after having seen them, after having traveled through the blue of my paintings, come back totally impregnated in sensibility, like sponges.
And on gold :
Gold, Klein once said, “impregnates the painting and gives it eternal life.” Gold is the matter that leads to immateriality. (More here...)
Yves Klein looks at Here Lies Space.

Klein lying under Here Lies Space, 1960. The artist had this prescient photograph taken on 3 March 1962, a few weeks before his death. Half in jest, half in an attempt to ward off the inevitable, he asked his wife to scatter a wreath of roses on the grave.
[Yves Klein, Weitemeier, Taschen 2001]

28 January 2009


O to be present without leave!

("Bring the mind home." S.R.)

15 January 2009


- Roy Lichtenstein caption (click here)


13 January 2009

Yves Klein, Harry Shunk & Janos Kender

Another photograph of Yves Klein as the Actor of Looking.
Le Rêve du Fue, 1961

As with the two previous, this photo is by Harry Shunk... and his partner Janos (or John) Kender. Thus, Shunk-Kender, as the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation had attributed yesterday's image.

This information comes from the very informative obituary of Shunk (26 June 2006) by The Times :
Information about Shunk is scanty, for he enjoyed mystery and became reclusive from middle age onwards. He was born in 1924 in Trieste, in northeast Italy, but long under Habsburg sway, and was probably of Austrian descent. After travelling in Britain and Ireland, he settled in Paris in 1957. There he studied photography with another Austrian, the elderly Dora Kallmus. Having forged a professional and romantic partnership with Kender, the pair began to haunt Klein’s studio. All three men were hard-up, and were only saved from starvation by a line of credit that Klein had established at La Coupole. Shunk could not afford to buy a camera, and the one he used for Le saut was given to him by a patroness of Klein’s.

Aside from that image, he, Kender and Klein collaborated on other manipulations of reality, such as Rêve du feu, the illusion of a jet of flame sprouting from Klein’s upraised palm. Then, in 1962, at the age of 34, Klein died of a heart attack.

(Read full article... )

12 January 2009

regarding Harry Shunk

The previous post showed one of Harry Shunk's constructed photographs of Yves Klein. The best known of these, which usually goes under Klein's name, is Le Saut dans le Vide (Leap into the Void).

Here's how the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) labels its coming-into-being there :
Leap into the Void, 1960
Yves Klein (French, 1928–1962)
Harry Shrunk (American?, 1924–2006)
John Kender Gelatin silver print; 10 3/16 x 7 7/8 in. (25.9 x 20 cm)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992 (1992.5112)

Here's how Wikipedia captions it :
Photograph of a performance by Yves Klein at Rue Gentil-Bernard, Fontenay-aux-Roses, October 1960, by Harry Shunk. Le Saut dans le Vide (Leap into the Void)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art online site The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History says of this action/image/propagation:
As in his carefully choreographed paintings in which he used nude female models dipped in blue paint as paintbrushes, Klein's photomontage paradoxically creates the impression of freedom and abandon through a highly contrived process. In October 1960, the American photographer Harry Shunk made a series of pictures re-creating a jump from a second-floor window that the artist claimed to have executed earlier in the year; the figure and the surrounding scene were then collaged together and rephotographed to create its "documentary" appearance. To complete the illusion that the event had actually taken place, Klein distributed a fake broadsheet at Parisian newsstands commemorating it. It was in this mass-produced form that the artist's seminal gesture was communicated to the public and also notably to the Vienna Actionists.
Half-Truth: Performance and the Photograph by Robert Morgan at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery site provides further background and comment :
The famous photograph of Yves Klein leaping into the void, taken more than three decades ago in Paris, has been the subject of much controversy and discussion. It resonates with a mysterious and disarming allure, as if something existed beyond the image itself. In observing Klein's action, there is a premonition that the truth is hidden somewhere in the spectacle-that the viewer is being given a half-truth. More than a document, it is a sign that compresses time in a way that embodies the premise of Klein's visionary art. It operates as a conceptual ideogram, a logo signifying the Void-what the artist understood as the basis for his immaterial pictorial sensibility...(More...)
For years Harry Shunk has seemed, at bLOGOS/HA HA, a neglected contributor, worthy of some documentation and consideration. This entry, again from the MMA site, sadly illustrates his present status : his name spelled wrong, his nationality undetermined.

So it's great news (ARTDAILY.ORG report here) that in October 2008 the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, which has a fun Flash website entry, then an intimidating CAVE CANEM,

acquired the Shunk archive of 100,000 items, including 60,000 prints, which it will allow for study and museum distribution.

At bLOGOS/HA HA we are always interested in the nuances of Labels (and we duly pray the Roy Lichenstein Foundation dog will not mind this "educational use" quotation).
Here's how the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation labels the image shown at the start of this post :

Yves Klein
Le Saut dans la vide
Artistic action: Fontenay-aux-Roses, October 23, 1960
Photo Shunk-Kender
©Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris
Photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation

10 January 2009

Projectionaut Klein and the View from Space


Earth Is Blue. c. 1961
One of Harry Shunk's "Portraits d'Yves Klein"
"Neither missiles, rockets nor satellites will make man the conqueror of space ... Man will only succeed in taking possession of space by means of the forces ... of sensibility."
- Yves Klein

09 January 2009

projection-space : BETTER ILLUSION SOON


I entered a conference room in Manhattan and a woman on the TV tossed a handful of rose petals out of the screen, where they floated in the air before my eyes.

At least, that's what I saw. In truth, the image resided on a perfectly flat, 42-inch LCD screen. But the 3-D illusion was fully believable, and I didn't have to wear a dorky set of polarizing glasses.

(More... )

08 January 2009

projection-space : IT'S A HOAX! (continued...)

Summer Fun at THE AGE, it would seem, as the heavy news goes to the inside pages.

Yesterday their front page newsprint headline was

For those of us who remember the 1982 Falklands War coverage, perhaps this rings an earlier tabloid bell.

Seems it's a pay-back in the local Culture War. THE AGE article includes some thoughts on whether the "fabrication" is a "hoax" (those who laugh) or a "fraud" (those who do not laugh). This image snapped from the online edition :

UPDATE : January 9, page one, 6 column wide photo, lead article :
The blogs of war: how Quadrant hoaxer was outed

Today, THE AGE leads with a six column wide, page one photo of a two year old and her paintings. And their killer headline?
My Kid could paint that : todler's abstract art on show
IS THIS a story of a child prodigy or a deliberate joke at the expense of the art world? In the curious case of Aelita Andre, it could be both of those things — or neither. (More... )

05 January 2009

Primitive Calculators @ the Tote


Yesterday, after 29 years, Primitive Calculators played again in Melbourne.





and Alan Bamford who recorded (1979 @ Hearts) and released (early 80s) this LP

p.s. .6 January : A Calculated Comeback..(click here)
words and photo by Réne Schaefer

04 January 2009

A Fortune in Friends

What a joy to open the door this morning and find Miriam's message, lilies and aniseed star awaiting. In praise of friends!

03 January 2009

The Wonderful Song

Following the previous, literal-minded post, another such.
Oh, The Wonderful Song
is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song

Wonderful Song
is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song

Oh, This Is The Song...
Oh, A Wonderful Song...

is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song

And A Wonderful Song...
is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song
is a wonderful song
and so ong

01 January 2009

Theatre of the Imaginary New Year, with projection-space for words and images illuminated

January the First. Theatre of the Imaginary New Year, with projection-space for words and images illuminated. Selections from the work of architect S. Charles Lee (1899 - 1990).







These images come via the wide-eyed BibliOdyssey where their sources are given in detail and where further such may be seen, along with information about S. Charles Lee:
S. Charles Lee, born Simeon Charles Levi in Chicago in 1899, was the son of American-born parents of German-Jewish ancestry, Julius and Hattie (Stiller) Levi. Lee (who later changed his name from Levi) grew up in the Chicago of Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright. (more ...)