Australia: modern art conflict in 1930s

This video is called The Power of Art – Picasso (complete episode).

By John Christian and Richard Phillips:

Pioneering modernist exhibition: a cultural turning point for 1930s Australia

Degenerates and Perverts: The 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art, by Eileen Chanin and Steven Miller, Miegunyah Press

28 March 2006

Degenerates and Perverts, a richly illustrated 306-page book by Eileen Chanin and Steven Miller, examines the 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art and its impact on Australian artistic and social life.

Accurate information about the impact of this landmark event in local cultural history is long overdue.

The remarkable exhibition of fifty-nine painters and nine sculptors, many of them major figures of late nineteenth century and twentieth century art, was initiated by Australian newspaper magnate Keith Murdoch (father of Rupert) and financed by his Melbourne-based Herald newspaper.

As well as leading British painters Stanley Spencer, Victor Pasmore, Walter Sickert and Edward Wadsworth, it also included the work of post-impressionists Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat and Paul Cézanne (see also here); early moderns Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and Marc Chagall; and other contemporary pioneers such as Giorgio de Chirico, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani, Max Ernst and Salvador Dali, to name a few.

All told, 217 paintings and a smaller number of sculptures were on display.

While art patrons in New York, Chicago, Paris, London and Berlin and other major American and European centres had ready access to the work of these celebrated artists, an exhibition of this artistic range and size had never been held in Australia before.

Not unexpectedly it generated passionate debate.

Artists, writers, students and thousands of ordinary people flocked to showings, breaking attendance records.

Over 70,000 people saw the exhibition in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, an astonishing figure considering Australia’s total population in 1939 was only 7 million.

By contrast, the exhibition provoked an angry backlash from leading representatives of the local art establishment who vehemently denounced the show and worked to undermine it.

In fact, the book’s title is a direct quote from J.S. MacDonald, then director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), who declared that most of the exhibition was “putrid meat” and the “product of degenerates and perverts”.

Murdoch, an NGV trustee and avid collector, was clearly at odds with these sentiments.

And while his taste was pedestrian—Degenerates and Perverts notes that he generally preferred “understandable art”—he hoped the show would encourage local artists.

Dadaism: here.

Australia: new finds in ancient Aboriginal rock art: here.

Australian novelist Kylie Tennant: here.

Impressionists vs. Bouguereau conflict in French art about 1880: here.

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Chilean mural art, Brigadas Ramona Parra

This video is about the murals of the Brigadas Ramona Parra.

From London daily The Morning Star:

On the wall

(Tuesday 28 March 2006)

IN FOCUS: Brigadas Ramona Parra

VICTOR FIGUEROA introduces the street murals of Chilean activist group the Brigadas Ramona Parra.

Since the end of Pinochet‘s dictatorship in 1990, Chilean muralism has found new expressions, both within and outside Chile.

This art form has become well known the world over thanks to the work of the solidarity campaigns organised wherever refugees from the 1973 coup landed.

Murals began in Chile as the simple painting of slogans on walls during the election campaigns of the 1960s, but the real development of the muralist style began after 1968, when the Communist Party decided to create the Brigada Ramona Parra (BRP).

Named after a young communist killed by police in the late 1940s, the brigadas were assigned the job of countering the right-wing domination of the media.

See also on Victor Jara, famous Chilean singer, often working with the Brigadas Ramona Parra, tortured and murdered by the Pinochet regime.

Brigada Ramona Parra mural rediscovery in Amterdam: here.

Vietnam war, Iraq war, and the media

Children burnt by US napalm in Vietnam war

Vietnam and Iraq, cartoon

From London daily The Morning Star:

Glimpsing Vietnam

(Wednesday 22 March 2006)


VIETNAM INC by Philip Jones Griffiths (Phaidon, £19.95)

NICK WRIGHT sees the horrors that imperialist war visited on both the urban and rural populations of Vietnam, captured by the lens of a photojournalist.

Nixon Reagan Bush cartoon

Bush may be stupid but he or, at least, his managers learned one thing from the American war – that is the conflict that the West calls the Vietnam war.

He learned to keep journalists under control and photographers embedded in the physical bunkers and ideological mindset of their military minders.

Oddly enough, it is the GI and “squaddy” fingers on the digital shutter release that have provided the most compelling contemporary pictures of the degradation which imperialist war visits on an invaded people and which it, in turn, visits on the invading armies.

In years to come, thousands of British families will have to face the fact that Britain’s participation in these latest wars and occupations has tainted their sons and daughters with the moral complicity that inevitably pollutes an imperialist nation on the warpath.

Vietnam war: US nuclear plans: here.

Amsterdam anti Iraq war demonstration: here. Iraq war profiteers: here.

Poetry and music at the theatre

Apollo and the Muses; by Raphael

Tonight, there was poetry and music at the theatre.

First an interview with Buck Goudriaan, nephew and biographer of poet Gerard Goudriaan; and editor of a collection of poems on the city.

Then, poetry by Frank Koenegracht.

Then, music by Goodtilnow, people from Amsterdam, Amersfoort, and Utrecht.

Then, poetry by Anton Korteweg.

After a pause, my column on contradictions, like in France now.

Then, poetry by Frans Terken.

Then, more poetry by Han Ruijgrok.

Finally, music by Kitchenbitches.

Rev. Moon Launches ‘Preemptive Warrior’ Magazine

Moonies and Bush, cartoon

From Internet Weekly (USA):

BATSHITCRAZY, VA (IWR News Satire) – On the third year anniversary of the Iraq war, the megalomaniac founder of the Washington Times Reverend Sun Myung Moon launched his new “Preemptive Warrior” magazine to help boost the sagging morale (and ever decreasing numbers) of “Bush Doctrine” supporters.

“Look we haven’t killed or tortured nearly enough people yet.

If the President would just take my advice, we would just eliminate the 87% of the Iraqi population, who want us to leave!

A couple of well placed tactical nuclear weapon detonations would bring this insurgency nonsense to a halt, just like it did in Japan in WWII.

It would also sober up those damn Syrians and Iranians.

Either you give us the goddamn oil, or we nuke your ass!

That’s the real Bush Doctrine message, isn’t it?

If you will please excuse me now, I have to hold a mass divorce for that thousand couples I forced to marry last year,” said Reverend Moon.

Amsterdam 18 March 2006 demonstration against Bush’s Iraq war: here; and here.

Anti Bush protests in India: here.

Laos: newly discovered mammal related to ancient fossils

Laotian rock-rat, Laonastes

The BBC reports:

New rodent is ‘living fossil’

By Helen Briggs

BBC News science reporter

A squirrel-like rodent discovered in Laos is the sole survivor of a group that otherwise died out 11 million years ago, according to fossil data.

The animal made headlines in 2005 when it was hailed as the only new family of living mammals to be found in 30 years.

But scientists now believe it is a “living fossil”, the relic of a group of prehistoric rodents once widespread in South East Asia and Japan.

Writing in the journal Science they say efforts must be made to conserve it.

The rodent, Laonastes aenigmamus, was found by scientists at a hunter’s market in Laos in early 2005.

Robert Timmins from the Wildlife Conservation Society saw it on sale next to some vegetables.

“I knew immediately it was something I had never seen before,” he said at the time.

While previously unknown to the worldwide scientific community, it is familiar enough to local people to have a name, the kha-nyou.

The creature has dark-grey fur and is about the size of a red squirrel.

It has short legs, a hairy tail and a long snout.

Fossil puzzle

After the kha-nyou was discovered, specimens were sent to London’s Natural History Museum, to compare with material in its vast research collections.

Based on differences in the skull, teeth, bones and other body features together with DNA analysis, scientists said it was an entirely new rodent family more closely related to rodents in Africa and South America than in Asia.

But when a particularly impressive fossil of a long-extinct rodent was unearthed in China last summer, a US-led team wondered whether it might be a living member of the long-gone family.

They went back through the fossil evidence and found that the kha-nyou’s skull, teeth, lower jaw bone and other skeletal characteristics were a striking match to the fossil.

They believe it belongs in the same group – the otherwise extinct rodent family Diatomyidae.

Chief author Mary Dawson of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh said it was extremely rare for a mammal to reappear after such a long gap in the fossil record.

“A new family of living mammals does not crop up everyday,” she told the BBC News website.

“When we have a living fossil it opens up a way of looking at past biodiversity on the molecular level that we don’t ordinarily have.”

Nocturnal recluse

Laonastes lives in a rocky limestone area dotted by small patches of forest.

It is thought to be nocturnal but has yet to be observed by biologists in the wild.

Dr Dawson said efforts to conserve Laonastes should be given the highest priority.

“We don’t know what its status is – whether there are a lot of them around or just a few,” she said.

“This animal better be protected while it is (still) around.”

Exciting finds

The area of South East Asia where the rodent was found is regarded as one of the richest “hotspots” of biological diversity in the world.

Several other new mammals have been found there in recent years, including a new species of bat, a mouse-like rodent and a hedgehog-like mammal.

“It is highly likely that there are more exciting and unusual animals to be found in South East Asia,” said Paula Jenkins of London’s Natural History Museum, who carried out the original analysis of Laonastes.

The latest evidence is described in the current issue of the journal Science, by authors from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, US, Montpellier University, France, and the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthroplogy in Beijing, China.

Later, new frog species were found in Laos; six new frog species, and a salamander: here.

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