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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Art’

The Marquis de Sade and the Borgias: now sexing up the museums of Paris

October 31, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, History, Places No Comments →

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The Borgia exhibit at the Musee Maillol doesn’t have an English text, but everything is familiar because we’d seen the TV show The Borgias. The museum exhibition is the prestigious historical tie-in to the TV show, except that the real Borgias and their associates, as painted by artists from the Renaissance, were not as beautiful as the actors. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are mentioned in the title, but they are barely represented; however, there’s a display of costumes from the series. Tsk, tsk, how commercial. It’s almost American.

Affiche-Sade

The same could be said of Sade: Attacking the Sun at the Musee d’Orsay which, judging from the crowd waiting to get in, is a blockbuster. The show is massive, and the pieces impressive on their own—the Rodins are especially awesome—but their connection to the writings of the mad Marquis are tenuous at best. (Have you tried reading Justine or 120 Days of Sodom? We recommend them for insomniacs. Take two pages every night and you will sleep like the dead. However, our friend recommends his Philosophy in the Boudoir as “charming”.)

The curators imply that every major artist from the 19th century onwards was secretly influenced by Sade. The influence must’ve been so secret, the artists weren’t aware of it. Fine, the Surrealists championed Sade, so they should be there, but anything sexual or violent in the work of Goya, Gericault, Ingres, Rodin, Picasso, Munch is presented as proof of this influence: “It’s obvious!”

What is most obvious is that museum curators, like filmmakers, appreciate the uses of shock value. If you promise the audience decadence and depravity, they will come. The innermost room of the Sade show is called The Chamber of Perversions, and the fact that the viewer can come away unshocked is perhaps the most shocking thing of all.

See their NSFW exhibition trailer.

In the cemetery where Truffaut lies buried

October 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Cats, History, Movies, Places, Traveling 3 Comments →

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There’s a Francois Truffaut exposition and retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise. Like the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Patrick Modiano (whose books are in every bookshop window, taunting us), it exists to make people who don’t speak French feel bad. “But we’ve seen The 400 Blows lots of times, we already know the plot, so we can watch it anyway,” we consoled ourself. But The 400 Blows and the Antoine Doinel movies aren’t showing this week. Noooo!

In the meantime we visited Truffaut’s grave at the Montmartre Cemetery. We’re staying at our friend’s apartment, which is within spitting distance of Sacre Coeur, but only if you’re on the hill or if you’re an Olympic-level projectile spitter.

van gogh

On the way to the cemetery, we stopped at the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother, Theo. (There’s a plaque on the side of the building.) Sad story. In your lifetime your devoted brother, an art dealer, can’t sell any of your work, and then after your death your paintings go for zillions.

Still, the letters the brothers wrote to each other are wonderful. Read them. Vincent not only had the eye, he had the ear as well. One of them.

map

The map at the cemetery entrance lists the famous dead on the premises: Theophile Gautier, Edgar Degas, Hector Berlioz, Edmond Goncourt and so on. Even if we have no sense of direction, we couldn’t miss Truffaut’s grave.

truffaut

Visitors leave their metro tickets on it. The Last Metro, get it? Granted, it is easier than leaving 400 Blows or a piano player with a bullet through him.

cemetery

We like cemeteries, they’re quiet. A fat stray cat walked in front of us, but refused to be photographed.

* * * * *

prince
Cat of the Day: Prince, of the Del Fierro-Bouyers.Tried to eat our cake because it had lots of butter.

Oliver Sacks on libraries

September 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books No Comments →

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The Bodleian Library photo by Greg Smolonski

On the whole, I disliked school, sitting in class, receiving instruction; information seemed to go in one ear and out by the other. I could not be passive—I had to be active, learn for myself, learn what I wanted, and in the way which suited me best. I was not a good pupil, but I was a good learner, and in Willesden Library—and all the libraries that came later—I roamed the shelves and stacks, had the freedom to select whatever I wanted, to follow paths which fascinated me, to become myself. At the library I felt free—free to look at the thousands, tens of thousands, of books; free to roam and to enjoy the special atmosphere and the quiet companionship of other readers, all, like myself, on quests of their own…

Read it at The Threepenny Review, via 3 Quarks Daily

A Sunday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

September 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places No Comments →

met open

We spent a few hours at the Met Open 2014, a benefit exhibition on contemporary art. Five eminent curators selected 208 artworks focusing on abstraction, painting, seriality, pop culture, myth and symbolism.

langenegger
Robert Langenegger

abaya
Leo Abaya

de guzman
Jaime De Guzman

vinluan
Paulo Vinluan

abueva
Napoleon Abueva

The five pieces shown above are among the artworks for sale. Proceeds will support the museum’s education and exhibition programs. Met Open 2014 opened today and will run until Saturday, 4 October 2014.

At the second floor galleries is the survey, The Philippine Contemporary Art Exhibition: To Scale the Past and the Possible.

junyee
Junyee

feleo
Roberto Feleo

eustaquio
Patricia Eustaquio

ossorio
Alfonso Osorio

barredo
Gabriel Barredo

tapaya
Rodel Tapaya

esquillo
Alfred Esquillo

jumalon
Winner Jumalon

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is at the Bangko Sentral complex on Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10am to 530pm. Entrance fee: Php100 for adults and students, Php80 for senior citizens. Visit www.metmuseum.ph or call (02)7087828 for more information.

A new graphic novella by Chris Ware

September 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books No Comments →

the last saturday

As usual, we don’t know where to start reading.

The Last Saturday. New installments published in the Guardian every Saturday.

Art plus money is a spectator sport

September 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Monsters, Movies No Comments →

We had gone to the auction last Saturday expecting something out of North by Northwest.

Given recent news of fraud in the art market—a Luna being sold for Php55 million appears to be in a French auction catalogue for much, much less, only it’s by someone else—we were hoping for someone to yell “Fake!” and start bidding downwards. (Not that we’re suggesting that anything at that auction was less than real. The contested Luna was not part of it.)

Instead, the auction looked like a cockfight, with people in T-shirts and jeans raising numbers on sticks. The paintings were crammed onto the walls, and every plastic chair was taken. “Stay for the Magsaysay-Ho, I bet it goes for Php20M,” said my collector friend, who might as well have been at a basketball championship. (There’s probably a bookie with odds on what the hammer prices will be.)

A small piece listed at Php800,000 went for Php6.9M. It’s enough to make dead artists come back to life and paint some more. In fact they do, except that the actual painting is done by someone else. In a market like this, the genuine-ness of a piece is directly proportional to the price it might fetch: to raise questions of authenticity seems almost rude. You’re killing everyone’s buzz.

We didn’t stay long because the place was packed and we have a horror of crowds. Our friend reports that the Magsaysay-Ho listed at Php2.2M went for Php21M, but the biggest seller that day was the Ronald Ventura painting that went for Php22M.

Watch Vincent and Theo by Robert Altman, which opens with a painting by Van Gogh fetching jillions at an auction in the 1980s, then goes back to Van Gogh’s lifetime when he didn’t sell squat (and his brother Theo was a well-known art dealer).