Barbara Hepworth Museum - St Ives

The Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden is one of the highlights of St Ives.


The former studio of the renowned British sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903 - 1975) was turned into a museum, the garden around the house is filled with sculptures from stone, wood and bronze. The garden is a sanctuary, a quiet place for reflection and contemplation.


Her largest sculpture "Single Form" (1961) was made for the United Nations building in New York.

Only recently, in July, 2013, her sculpture Curved Form: Bryher II was sold at Christie's in London for  £ 2.4 million.

There's more about Barbara Hepworth here, including biography, collections, exhibitions, publications and more, and here's a video.


The last shot was taken in the Tate St. Ives overlooking Porthmeor Bay.


St Michael's Mount - Cornwall

During our visit to Cornwall in July we went to see St. Michael's Mount,  a tidal island, close to the Cornish town of Marazion, Cornwall’s oldest town. On the island, there's a castle and stunning subtropical gardens.

It was a strikingly beautiful day as you can see on the photos. We arrived at high tide, so we had to go to the island via boat but could walk back later during low tide. There was some sort of Carnival going on in Marazion, a group of drummers was playing on the beach and a brass orchestra made for good atmosphere at the island.

St. Michael’s Mount is also the counterpart of Mont St Michel  in Normandy, France.
The Mount was named after St. Michael, the Archangel, who was said to have appeared to local fishermen in the 5th century. There’s  more on the early history in Wikipedia and on the Mount's website.

The chapel within the castle, a fifteenth century building,  is also devoted to St. Michael. It has an embattled tower, with a small turret which served for the guidance of ships.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused a tsunami in which the sea rose six feet in 10 minutes at St. Michael’s Mount and rose and fell for five hours. In the 18th century it became a flourishing seaport with three schools and three public houses but declined when the nearby Penzance harbour was enlargened and took over. It was fortified during the Second World War.

The castle is the official residence of James and Mary St. Aubyn (the 12th generation of the St. Aubyn family). In 1954, Francis St Aubyn gave most of St Michael’s Mount to the National Trust. He retained a 999-year lease for the family to live in the castle and a licence to show the historical rooms to the public.

Some 30 islanders, mostly staff working in the castle, live in a couple of seafront cottages.
The island even has an own underground railway which is still used to transport goods from the harbour up to the castle. It was built by tin miners around 1900, replacing the pack horses which had previously been used.

The Royal Family seem to like the Mount, as it's called by the locals,  too. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh paid a visit in May, 2013. 


Experimentation is our duty! (Alexander Rodchenko)

In July, I went to see the  Alexander Rodchenko exhibit in Vienna’s Westlicht photo- and camera gallery. 

The collection was quite impressive. 

Rodchenko (1891 – 1956) was one of the real big ones, an extremely versatile Russian avantgarde sculptor, graphic artist, painter, designer of posters, book covers and more. He created several illustrations for the publications of his poet friend Vladimir Mayakovsy (by the way one of my favorite poets). 

Around 1920, Rodchenko became more and more involved with photography, and even gave up painting to devote himself almost entirely to taking photographs from unusual perspectives and angles. He became a pioneer of Constructivism. „In order to educate man to a new longing, everyday familiar objects must be shown to him with totally unexpected perspectives and in unexpected situations. New objects should be depicted from different sides in order to provide a complete impression of the object." (Ways of Contemporary Photography). 

Among his most famous photographs are "Stairs", "Girl with a Leica", and the "Portrait of the artist's mother".  

On Lumiére Gallery's website you can see some fine examples: 

And here's even more.

My personal favorite is the Mayakovsky portrait.


Clouds in Vienna

"I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die".

This Percy Bysshe Shelley quote is one of many on the topic of "fleeting worlds" in the exhibition "Clouds" in Vienna's Leopold Museum.

An enormous crowd of artists seem to have made clouds central or at least important parts of their paintings or photographs. To create an exhibition around clouds was a fabulous idea. Hundreds of awesome cloud depictions can be seen by artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, William Turner, Claude Monet, Anselm Kiefer, Vincent van Gogh, John Constable, Gerhard Richter, Emil Nolde, Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol and many more.

The cloud photo below is from the roof terrace of the museum. We got a little cloud conscious after all those images.

Hurry up if you're in Vienna - the exhibition closes on 1 July, 2013!


Dan Flavin: Situations

Saw the exhibit (in January) at Vienna's Mumok of US artist Dan Flavin "Lights". Steve Morse, who had managed Dan Flavin's studio over a period of five years and is still in charge of the presentations of Flavin's fluorescent tubes in an interview with the Austrian daily "DerStandard" titled "He was so polite as to accept compliments":
People would ask Dan Flavin: "Do you do sculptures"? "No". "Do you do lightart"? "No". "Do you do environments"? "No". "So what are you doing?" "I'm creating situations".
Powerful situations. And demanding ones.


Anselm Kiefer - Only with wind with time and with sound

I discovered (and blogged about) Anselm Kiefer, born on 8 March, 1945, one of the most significant artists of our time, more than three years ago in an exhibition at the Essl-Museum. Now there's another exhibition until May which shows 15 works, among them four new ones.

I cite from the exhibit catalog: "For Anselm Kiefer" .... "the approach to recollection, memory, and particularly also to transience and forgetting, plays a very important role. With his often extensive works, he aims to make time tangible. The large-format, anti-heroic images of nature and histories, with decaying monuments, run down spots and morbid landscapes show a present that has been corroded, ravaged by the past. Against the emptiness Kiefer sets names in awkward handwriting, names of places, of gods, of people, occasionally whole lines of poetry, such as by Ingeborg Bachmann or Paul Celan".

The first photo shows "Only with wind with time and with sound". The line is taken from the poem "Exile" by the lyricist Ingeborg Bachmann, a compatriot, by the way.

"Only with wind with time and with sound" with its shades of grey, white and blue shows an apocalyptic, powerful, almost overwhelming landscape and sea. In the upper part of the picture you can see a book, made of lead. To Kiefer, leaden books represent the collective repository of memories.

Mela Maresch says in the exhibit catalog: "Nature appears overwhelming ...... However, human beings are still important, for they contribute to the shape of things through their existence ... They share their experiences with the Earth and are active creators, contributing to life's evolving nature".

Anselm Kiefer himself says "I believe that something comes to us from afar, and that memories are not only stored in our mind, but ingrained deeply in our cells". (Citation from the exhibit catalog, p. 115).

I think Anselm Kiefer has the ability to see and to show us parts and pieces of these memories. Maybe that's the reason why I always stand in wonder in front of his works of art and have a deep sense of recognition.

photos 2 and 3 show "Die große Fracht" (The heavy cargo) and "Horlogium".



On Gerhard Richter's 80th Birthday

It was Gerhard Richter’s 80 birthday yesterday, surely an occasion to bring into mind one of the world's finest and most interesting artists. His versatility can be seen here: Drawings, abstracts, photorealism, glass and mirror work, color chart paintings and more.

I’ve seen his Cathedral windows in Cologne, and went to his retrospective in Vienna in 2009 .

There are exhibitions and retrospectives of Richter all over the world, from Berlin to Beirut, from Ecuador to France.

Sotheby’s recently sold a group of abstract canvases by Mr. Richter for $20.8 million.

Stephen Hough saw the show in London.

Here's small selection of the many videos about Gerhard Richter:

A Life in Painting

Interview with Gerhard Richter

Here's the trailer to a 2011 film about Richter.


Here’s a video from this recent retrospective at the Tate Modern.


The joy of books


It's also interesting to read a few explaining words here.



Jan Banning made a photographic study of the culture, rituals and symbols of state civil administrations and its servants in eight countries on five continents, selected on the basis of political, historical and cultural considerations: Bolivia, China, France, India, Liberia, Russia, the United States, and Yemen.

Together with the writer Will Tinnemans he visited hundreds of offices, unannounced. By asking them lots of questions they kept the employees from clearing the office.

Take a look at the Bureaucratics - Gallery. It takes a little to load, but it's worth it.

My favorite is "India Bureau Prasad 17", but the "China bureau 10" is also interesting. What are the guys working on? The "usa bureau 04 b" looks a little like my own desk, sometimes. I hope Jan Banning and Will Tinnemans will never visit me unannounced. :-)

There's also a book by the same title.


Thomas Ruff - Stellar Landscapes

Saw the impressing photo-exhbition "Stellar Landscapes" by one of Germany's best-known photographers, Thomas Ruff in Muenster, Germany, yesterday.

Link to a video: The Universe of Thomas Ruff, English language.

His star-photos are based on archived images, taken again by a telescopic lense. Details of these photos from photos are enlarged. He says you can't take photos of the starry sky in Central Europe because of the air and light pollution.

His ma.r.s - series originates in NASA-photos which are without copyright because they were taken by machines. He colored the photos and beveled the field of vision so you can see the martian landscape as you would from a plane in approach for landing. Needless to say, the photos are exquisite and striking and always a play between the real and the virtual, or our perceptions of those.

There's a jpeg-series where he enlargens small jpeg-photos into large scale photos and edits and manipulates them digitally. The farther you step away from those the better you perceive them.

The series "Nights" was taken by night vision equipment, the color of green phosphor and leads to associations with photos from the Golf War and the operation "Desert Storm". He transforms his city Duesseldorf into a theater of war and changes harmless locations and deserted streets into eerie places.

The video below is only available in German und French, but it's worth seeing nonetheless because of the photos.


The Shapes of Stories

I blogged twice about Kurt Vonnegut, both times on the occasion of his death in 2007 (links below).

Today I came across a video in which he talks on the shapes of stories in a humorous way.

Here's the transcript of this talk.

So it goes.

Kurt Vonnegut (2).


Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst (HCB)

"In a world that is buckling under the weight of profit-making, that is overrun by the destructive sirens of Techno-science and the power-hunger of globalization — that new brand of slavery — beyond all that, Friendship exists, Love exists". Henri Cartier-Bresson cited by IPHF.

Rue Mouffetard (by Henri Cartier-Bresson)

I've blogged about Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of photo-journalism before , the first time after having seen an HCB exhibition in Germany, the second time in connection with my friend Lydia from Writerquake as there was a connection to her hometown Reno .

Now, two days ago, an HCB-exhibition was opened in the Kunsthaus Vienna with 214 photographs covering a period of five decades in three countries – the USA, India and the Soviet Union – during important phases of their history.

I was overwhelmed by the abundance of photographs and the information behind. There was a video titled street photography which can only be seen in French wherein HCB was interviewed by a bunch of journalists and was filmed when taking photos in a small market. I sat there for more than an hour fascinated by his attitude towards capturing life and reality.

There's another short video in English.

Contacts Henri Cartier Bresson english subbed from Ricardo J. Martins on Vimeo.

I googled his obituary from 2004 in the Guardian which has some interesting facts about his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi just minutes before his assassination.

Two more quotes:

Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn't go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick.

The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.


The first woman to conquer 14 peaks without oxygen

On August 23, 2011, the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner reached the summit of K2 and thus became the first woman to summit all 14 of the world's tallest mountains without the use of supplementary oxygen.

K2, the second-highest mountain on earth, located on the Pakistan-China border, is 8,611 meters (28,251 feet) high and part of the Karakoram Range. It is also called the savage or killer mountain due to its steepness and the resulting technical-climbing challenges as well as unpredictable weather conditions. 80 climbers have died there. It's also called the holy grail of mountaineering.

National Geographic has some pictures and more detailed reports.

And here's Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner's blog.

Congratulations to Gerlinde and her team!



As a person who grew up having a panorama of at least three parts of the Alps (the Karavanke, the Julian Alps, and the Carnian Alps as an everyday view I'm keen to go into the mountains at least once a year, just for the views, the quietude, the smell of those little flowers. This year, there was just half a day left, so we had to find the mountain with the shortest distance to my home-village.

We choose the Oisternig (2050 m). It's part of the Carnic Alps set between the Dolomites and the Julian Alps. Geologically, the Carnic Alps were a central part in the ages when the Alps were formed initially. Also, they were the scene for battles between the Austro-Hungarian and the Italian troops in World War I.

You can find still trenches, barracks built into the rocks, collapsed forts and more.

There's an interesting report about those times, referring also to John Steinbecks book "Once there was a War", from his time as a war correspondent.

The car took us as high up as 1700 m, then we had to walk. The ascent was relatively steep, but relatively short, just one hour. We crossed the border to Italy several times, as it runs along the ridge. The view from the peak is just awesome!! And all those smells!



In addition to Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, the bigger Channel Islands, there are some smaller ones, Sark, as mentioned yesterday in connection with Mervyn Peake, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou. There are even more islands, but very small and uninhabited ones.

Brecqhou was bought by the Barcley Brothers (those who own the British Telegraph Media Group and several hotels in London, such as The Ritz, and more). They built a mock-Gothic castle with 3-foot granite walls, battlements, swimming-pools and a helicopter pad (photo below). They're having several legal disputes with the government of Sark.

A wonderfully idyllic island is Herm. We went there by boat from St. Peter Port. Prince Bluecher III, a grandson of the German Generalfeldmarschall resided on Herm from 1889 to 1915 and restored several houses, e.g. the St. Tugual Chapel, created a walled garden and even introduced a colony of wallabies to the island. It is said that the population was reduced by the prince's butler and chef during an absence of the prince...

Cars and bicycles are banned from the island, only tractors and quad bikes are allowed. We saw quite some of them there.

During our walk around the island my animal-loving companion, encouraged by two French ladies, saved a seagull trapped in a water tank.


Mervyn Peake

I came into contact with the works of Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) in the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery, almost exactly on his centenary.

There was a small but very attractive show of his paintings, sketches and novels.

There's a connection to Sark, one of the smaller Channel Islands. Peake lived there for several years and one of his novels, Mr Pye is set on Sark.
I bought Mr Pye in the shop, started reading it in the tea-room and couldn't stop, something that happens very seldom.

Mr Pye goes to the island of Sark to awaken the love for God in the islanders. However, there are some unexpected developments ....

And now I'm discovering all the other parts of Mervyn Peake, the illustrator of books like Alice in Wonderland, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Bleak House, or Treasure Island, the artist, the poet, the playwright, and, of course, the writer and novelist of Gormenghast.

At the moment I'm reading the Gormenghast Trilogy.

It's the story of Titus Groan, the Seventy Seventh Earl of Gormenghast, a dark, spacious and mysterious castle full of the most incredible people, rooms and artefacts. It's a work of fantasy, very strange and very humorous. Nothing is clear-cut, as happens so often in fantasy novels. The characters are complex and eccentric like real people. It's one of those books you can dive into and just enjoy the language, the ideas behind, the atmosphere.

There's a Gormenghast film, already in my possession (;-)), but it will be watched only after having finished the book.

A lot of information can be found on the official Mervyn Peake Website. There's also a Blog by Sebastian Peake, his son.

And here's the link to a Mini-Video of the first part of the Gormenghast film.
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