'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

28 January 2012

Vincent Van Gogh

1853 - 1890
Van Gogh produced some 860 oil paintings and 1300 or so drawings and watercolours. He also left some 600 letters mostly written to his beloved and devoted brother, Theo. He failed miserably in love, friendship, career, and in the three relationships to which he was most devoted; his Calvinist minister father, his church, and his god. He spoke Dutch, French, German and English, read extensively and failing as a preacher he devoted himself to painting the worker and nature.
In 1880, at the age of 26, he suffered his first nervous breakdown. He wrote to his brother saying 
  "In spite of everything, I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing."
His early work depicts humble subjects, his middle years are portraits, room settings, and "still lifes" of flowers and in his last years, after admitting himself into sanatorium he created his finest work. Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime.
1853 Vincent van Gogh is born on March 30 in Groot-Zundert, Holland to Reverend Theodorus Van Gogh and Anna Cornelia née Carbentus
1857 His brother Theo is born on May 1.
1864 Vincent starts school and begins to draw.
1866 Studies art at Trilburg School in The Netherlands
1869 After finishing his schooling, Vincent is apprenticed to the Paris great art dealers Goupil & Cie, in the Hague and visits the museums.
1872 Vincent spends much time with his brother, Theo. They begin a lifelong correspondence.
1873 Vincent is transferred to the London branch of Goupil & Cie and falls in love with Eugenie the daughter of the Mrs. Ursula Loyer, who runs the boarding house where he is staying. He is rejected and depression sets in.
1874 He is transferred to the Paris branch. By the end of the year, he returns to London.
1875 His job deteriorates, but his bible studies become obsessive.
1876 He journeys to Ramsgate, England where he takes a post at a small boarding school. Later he takes a new job as a teacher and curate with a Methodist minister. His religious fervour increases, but his physical and mental state deteriorate.
1877 Vincent leaves England and takes a job in a bookshop, behaves abrasively, leaves and pursues religious studies in Amsterdam.
1878 Formal religious studies end, but, with a religious vocation, Vincent travels to the Borinage, and reads from the bible to the miners, lives in poverty and tends to the sick.
1879 His behaviour is extreme. Vincent is soon relieved of his position and suffers depression at his failure. He works with miners in Cuesmes. His religious devotion begins to wane and his interest in painting is renewed. Theo begins to financially support him from now until his death. He undertakes some studies of anatomy and perspective at the Academy in Brussels.
1881 He visits Theo and has his advances rejected by his cousin Cornelia Adriana Vos-Stricker. He spends time with the painter, Anton Mauve who introduces Vincent to watercolours. Vincent's mental state again deteriorates and his relationship with his father also begins to crumble.
1882 Vincent meets Clasina Maria Hoornik and they move in together. A prostitute with a five year old daughter and is pregnant with another child. He is hospitalised for three weeks for gonorrhoea. Then he begins to experiment with oils and spends much time painting nature as well as using the woman and her newborn child as models.
1883 Vincent ends his relationship and devotes himself exclusively to his work. He travels to Drente in northern Holland and paints the bleak landscape as well as the peasant workers. Later in the year, Vincent moves to Nuenen to stay with his parents.
1884 Begins a relationship with a neighbour's daughter, Margot Begemann. Both families are opposed to their plan to marry and, in despair, Margot attempts to poison herself. He strikes up a friendship with Anton C. Kerssemakers and spends much time discussing art and visiting museums.
1885 After the death of his father in March, Vincent paints his first great work, The Potato Eaters . He begins to use a greater variety of colours and becomes interested in Japanese woodcuts.
1886 Attempts more formal training in art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but he rejects many of the principles he's taught and withdraws. Moves to Paris and lives with Theo. Submits some of his works to the Antwerp Academy and is put in a beginner's class then leaves. A turning point when he begins studies with Cormon where he meets John Russell, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard. Theo introduces him to the works of the Impressionists: Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas and Georges Seurat. He becomes friends with painter, Paul Gauguin, He experiments with Japonaiseries and pointillism.
1888 Leaves Paris in February and moves to Arles. The bad, winter weather prevents Vincent from working, but come spring he begins painting the flowering Provence landscapes. He moves into the "Yellow House", and hopes to establish as an artists' community. 
He paints some of his best work. Gauguin arrives in October and moves in. An extremely productive time for Vincent and Gauguin, though turbulent. Their relationship is finally destroyed on December 23 when Vincent is supposed to have attacked Gauguin with a razor. Vincent loses all reason and cuts off his left earlobe. He then wraps it in newspaper and presents it to a prostitute at the local brothel he frequented. He is then hospitalised and shortly afterward Theo arrives and he leaves hospital on January 7. At times he is calm and coherent; at others he suffers hallucinations and delusions. He enters the Saint Paul-de-Mausole mental asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. His series of twisted olive groves and cypresses are painted from the asylum, but he tries to poison himself by swallowing his paints. He confines himself indoors and begins to do a series paintings based on the works of other artists. As his mental state deteriorates his work begins to receive recognition in the art community. He is invited to exhibit six of his works by Octave Maus, secretary of the Belgian artist group, Les XX. He again tries to poison himself.
1890 His works gain more recognition. On January 31 Theo's wife, Jo, gives birth to a son who they name Vincent Willhem.(photos below) He is put under the care of Dr. Paul Gachet. He arrives in Paris looking fit and well. In May he moves to Auvers-sur-Oise, just north of Paris and begins to paint with incredible energy, producing more than 80 paintings in his last two months. Dr. Gachet feels that Vincent has made a complete recovery, and Vincent spends a great deal of time with Theo, his wife Jo and their new son. Theo experiences financial difficulties and his new son is ill. Vincent visits Theo on July 6 and is devastated, his mental state plummets. On July 27 Vincent goes for a walk and shoots himself in the chest with a pistol, but staggers home. He is eventually found, but the bullet cannot be removed. He spends his last hours sitting up in bed and smoking a pipe, with Theo at his side. Near the end, Theo climbs into bed with Vincent and cradles his head in his arms. Vincent says: "I wish I could pass away like this." Vincent dies early the next morning on July 29. The funeral takes place shortly thereafter and his coffin is covered with dozens of sunflowers, which he loved so much.
1891 After Vincent's death Theo fell into a deep depression and died a mere six months after that of his brother on the 25th January at age 33. His doctor noted that 'Theo suffered from overstrain and sorrow: he had a life full of emotional stress"
1914 Theo's body is exhumed and he is buried in a grave next to Vincent in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Vincent Willem inherited the vast bulk of the paintings of his uncle and turned them over in the 1960's to be housed in a new museum built by the Netherlands Government .
Vincent and Me
Many years ago I visited Arles the town that saw some great works by Van Gough, but one of the enduring memories was a trip to the Van Gough Museum in Amsterdam which houses the largest collection of paintings and memorabilia of this profound artist. Arranged in order of composition the paintings read like a revealing autobiography. As you walk past you can see the moods and twisted disintegration of a mind of genius. No art experience has affected me so.

The extraordinarily moving scene from a 
Doctor Who episode.

Vincent van Gogh visits the Museum (Doctor Who... by PuertoLibre

26 January 2012

Australia Day

More flags than you can poke a stick at.
Today the 26th of January this country celebrates Australia Day. As an advertisement for this years anniversay mentioned, we have more flags then you can poke a stick at (an Australian colloquialism). It is a day in which thousands from afar choose to become Australian citizens. I watched a broadcast of the Canberra ceremony this morning conducted by the Governor General Quentin Bryce and the  Prime Minister Julia Gillard under the Australian Flag, the Aboriginal Flag and the Flag of the native people of the Torres Strait Islands, unfurled by the Federation Guard of the three armed forces. The ceremony, like all official events do now, began with acknowledging and honouring the traditional owners of the land and a 'Welcome To Country' ceremony conducted today by Aunty Agnes who is an Elder of the Ngunnawal People.  Here everyone from the Prime Minister down calls a woman elder  Aunty ...... as a mark of respect that the young have for any tribal elder.
Aunty Agnes who has officiated at many events in the National Capital.
The History
Somewhere around 60 thousand years ago our first peoples the Australian Aboriginals had made their way from Africa to Australia. Then about 3 thousand years ago the Egyptians may have made a trip here according to hieroglyphs discovered in the East coast mountains. Then the Dutch made some sail bys over a period, but generally  moved on. It was not until 1770 that the English Captain James Cook landed and claimed the Great Southern Land in the name of King George III, six years before the American colonies declared their independence from that same King.
On the 26the January 1788 the first fleet of convicts under the charge of Captain Arthur Phillip came ashore in Sydney cove and it is this date that is now marked as Australia Day, the day on which European settlement began in a country that they later declared to be Terra Nullius (i.e. land belonging to no one). Many Australian Aboriginals refer to this day as Invasion Day or Survival Day. It is also a fact that the first peoples of this land were not even counted in the census until a referendum in 1967. Incorrectly most believe that is when they were then also given the right to vote, but they already legally had that as male British subjects since colonial days.
It is also the 40th anniversary of the establishment of The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of what is now the old Parliament House at 1pm on the 27th of January 1972 set up to protest for Aboriginal  land rights. It continues in the name of what is yet to be achieved. Many things have changed, but there is so much more to do to establish a fair go for ALL Australians.

24 January 2012

Gio Black Peter "Don't Tell Me Nothing"

My favourite and most inspiring artist on the planet. There are heaps of references on this blog. Use the search box on the right to find more on Gio Black Peter.
The video has gone. You will need to search.
Get it all on iTUNES.

The many faces and other bits of Gio Black Peter.

20 January 2012

Francois Sagat

Francois Sagat in a stunning video by Philip Riches.
For ridiculous reasons this artistic and beautiful film was removed from YouTube, but is available on Vimeo.
Two films of Francois Sagat in my collection
An Extract from Wikipedia
François Sagat is a French male pornographic actor best known for his rugged looks and scalp tattoo (a response to thinning hair). He has also appeared as a fashion model and in films roles including Saw VI, L.A. Zombie (by Bruce LaBruce) and Homme au bain.
François Sagat was born June 5 1979 in Cognac, in the south-west of France to French parents of Slovak origins. Sagat moved to Paris at the age of eighteen, hoping to work in the fashion industry. Since childhood, Sagat had been fascinated by fashion and passionate about drawing. After studying fashion for two years in Paris and working briefly as an assistant in various fashion houses, Sagat left the profession. He did photographic work for several French companies, but eventually put that on hold, and entered the adult movie world at age 25. He then appeared in a documentary in 2007 and from 2009 in general films although his body is a feature of such movies.

 from the above video

SAGAT DVD - Bio released 2013

05 January 2012

The Beatles "Love Me Do" 1962

50 years ago
This is an early entry for an anniversary later this year.
It is 50 years ago this year since The Beatles released their first single "Love Me Do"
Composed in 1958/59 "I think I slagged off school to write that one with John when we first started" 
Paul McCartney.
There are so many anniversaries in 2012 and events that should be a lot of fun, however this one is to me one of the big ones that can be enjoyed. I remember the day back in 62 sitting in the back yard with my parents reading the Sunday newspapers when I saw my first photograph of The Beatles. I was a fan instantly. I have since bought the complete collection  four times as each new upgrade is released and have memories of standing on my chair in the 12th row when they played The Festival Hall here in Brisbane when I was fifteen. I became good friends with the girl who ran the Beatles fan club in England and she sent me so many packages over the years of exclusive recordings, posters, photographic negatives and all the news including the birth of her own child. It was so much fun.

Wednesday 6th June 1962:- From 6.00-8.00pm ( an early session so they could drive back to Liverpool) in Abbey Road studio two or three, The Beatles with George Martin recorded 'Love Me Do' and three other tracks.  This was an audition test session to see if they sounded any good. The drummer at the time was Pete Best and the tapes, not considered significant, were thought destroyed, but this version did emerge on the Anthology 1 set.

Tuesday 4th September 1962:- They flew in from Liverpool in the morning and then returned to Abbey Road  where they rehearsed in studio three from 2.30 - 5.30 pm and then from 7.00-10.00pm in studio two they made 15 takes of 'Love Me Do', one other track and a mono mix of 'Love Me Do'. McCartney was not happy with Ringo's drumming. He had just officially joined The Beatles the previous month on the 18th August.

Tuesday 11th September 1962:-  George Martin was not happy with the previous week's session and thought their first single could be better so from 10.00am to 1.00pm they re-recorded a few songs including 18 takes of 'Love Me Do' and the mono mix from take 18. Martin was absent from this recording and 32 year old musician Andy White was used on drums instead of Ringo who played tambourine.
Friday 5th October 1962:- The Beatles first single 'Love Me Do' is released. The initial release was from the Sept 4 session with Ringo on drums. In 1963 with the release of the EP 'The Beatles' Hits' the Sept 11 version with Andy White was used and this version has been used in all releases subsequent to this and Ringo's master tapes were destroyed. You can tell the difference by listening for a tambourine which is not on the Sept 4 recording.

On the version released on British single, Rarities and Past Masters:
John Lennon – harmonica, joint lead vocal
Paul McCartney – electric bass guitar, joint lead vocal
George Harrison – acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr – drums
On the version released on American single, Please Please Me, The Beatles’ Hits:
John Lennon – harmonica, joint lead vocal
Paul McCartney – bass, joint lead vocal
George Harrison – acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr – tambourine
Andy White – drums
On the Anthology 1 version:
John Lennon – harmonica, joint lead vocal
Paul McCartney – electric bass guitar, joint lead vocal
George Harrison – electric soprano guitar
Pete Best – drums

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