Signified : November
Thank you for your continued interest and welcome to this fourth edition of our newsletter, with editor’s picks, a small selection of beautiful books, useful online resources, and a round-up of three popular articles, recently published in Signifier…
To celebrate Samhain weekend, we moved the Signifier publishing schedule forward a day to bring you Henry Fuseli’s Gothic trend-setter, The Nightmare, and scroll down for another related feature on Hieronymus Bosh’s Garden of Earthly Delights — the right-hand panel of the triptych certainly shares that Halloween vibe!
The Latter Days of Vincent
Vincent Van Gogh painted many of his best known works during the last two years of his life. They range from delicate nature studies to euphoric celebrations of the landscape, from brutally honest self-portraits to penetrating portraits of others that manage to mirror the artist’s moods, from intimate illustrations of his private spaces to paintings of the world he saw around him. Through considering a small selection of his works in chronological order, a narrative can be read of Vincent’s personal history…
“I Like America and America Likes Me” — but where’s the Art?
Rated by many (this author included) as one of the most important works of twentieth century art, “I Like America and America Likes Me” aka Coyote by Joseph Beuys (1974–1976) is a complex piece that incorporates aspects of performance, installation, photography and conceptual art.
Joseph Beuys was flown into the USA from Germany. Upon his arrival, he was wrapped in felt and carried from the plane on a stretcher into an awaiting ambulance that delivered him to the warehouse that was to become the René Block Gallery, in New York. Here he was gurneyed to a room on the second floor where a cage had been constructed, the floor lined with straw and copies of The Wall Street Journal. Beuys shared this cage with a wild coyote for three days.
…and as we approach Hallowe’en, something with a bit of a spooky vibe from our archived articles…
Key-Works: The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
At the time it was painted, circa 1500, this would have been a stunningly original and modern work. This folding triptych is believed to have been commissioned for the altar of a private chapel in one of the grand houses of Brussels, and it is now restored to its ‘original glory’ and displayed in the Prado, Madrid, where I stood before it on a recent visit.
Seen in its gallery room among other late Gothic works, what really strikes the viewer first is the brightness of the colours that leap off the oak panels. The palette appears so modern as does the content: the Surrealists of the twentieth century cited it, along with the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, as being the earliest expression of their ideology.
Books about Art and Artists
If the articles you’ve enjoyed in Signifier have piqued your interest, this section of our newsletter provides links to further reading related to topics covered or artists mentioned. These are Amazon Associate links to carefully selected books and will open on an Amazon product page where you can preview the book and browse reader reviews. If you decide to purchase the book via one of these links, Signifier will receive a small referral fee that will help to keep quality content coming but won’t cost you anything extra.
- VINCENT By Himself compiled and edited by Bruce Bernard for Little Brown — an insightful collection of the letters written by Vincent Van Gogh, presented in chronological sections with examples of sketches and key works produced during the same periods.
- Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination — a fully-illustrated Tate exhibition catalogue with informative, though rather academic, essays by Martin Myrone, Christopher Frayling and Marina Warner, with exhibition notes from Mervyn Heard.
- Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave — a chunky and extensively illustrated assessment of the artist’s themes, techniques and later career, edited by Timothy Clarke, published by Thames & Hudson for The British Museum
The Signifier avoids including too many links within our articles that would take the reader off-site, but in each newsletter we list just a few quality online resources that remain relevant to our recent content:
- The Japanese ‘Floating World’ explore plentiful resources about the Ukiyo-e period and style at NHK Education with short videos and lots of imagery — warning, this one’s a ‘rabbit-hole’ with lots of fascinating interlinks to get lost among…
- Standing Tall: Egypt’s Great Pyramids — an excellent illustrated overview at National Geographic History Magazine online.
- An interview with artist David Nash, from Apollo Magazine
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You may also enjoy content published in our sister publication The Scrawl, a literary journal with exclusive author interviews of interest to readers and writers…
History, Hearsay and Heresy — Dee Dee Chainey and Willow Winsham are Brought to Book
Folklore Thursday has become a weekly highlight for well over 50,000 ‘followers’ around the world. The twitter feed regularly breaks the internet — well not literally, but it does often hit the limit of 2,400 tweets per day, that is roughly a speed of 100 tweets per-hour…
It all started back in 2015 and within a year it became one of the fastest growing hashtags, attracting the attention of the national press with articles in The Independent and on the BBC… It is a social media success story built on love, not money, by a small group of friends dedicated to the gathering, sharing and preserving of folklore from around the world. The Folklore Thursday webzine has grown into the hub of a global community and whilst its content may be great fun to browse, it has also become and invaluable repository of folklore wit and wisdom…