Old Book Illustrations: An Online Database Lets You Download Thousands of Illustrations from the 19th & 20th Centuries

by Josh Jones  The Golden Age of Illustration is typically dated between 1880 and the early decades of the 20th century. This was “a period of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustration,” writes Artcyclopedia; the time of artists like John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter (below), Arthur Rackham, and Aubrey Beardsley. Some of the most prominent illustrators, such as Beardsley and Harry Clarke (see one of his Poe illustrations above), also became internationally known artists in the Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, and Pre-Raphaelite movements. But extensive book illustration as the primary visual culture of print precedes this period by several decades. One of … Continue reading Old Book Illustrations: An Online Database Lets You Download Thousands of Illustrations from the 19th & 20th Centuries

PLAYING THE JOKER IS NOW THE GREATEST ACTING CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME

by Miles Klee  Hollywood has set a weird precedent by treating the clown who does crimes like a Shakespearean role Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar three times, for three powerhouse performances, before striking gold with his turn as the titular antihero of Joker. First he was Commodus, the vindictive emperor of Gladiator; then he was Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line (Cash himself approved the casting); lastly, and most memorably, he was Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a near-feral Navy vet and drunk who winds up in thrall to the debonair leader of a pseudoscience cult. They say … Continue reading PLAYING THE JOKER IS NOW THE GREATEST ACTING CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME

Photographic Style Can’t Be ‘Canned’

About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects… Conversations around photographic style have always felt a little odd to me for a few reasons. It’s something I get asked about a lot by my students, as they feel that without a style, a visual signature, then they will find it very difficult to differentiate themselves from other working artists. So much of today’s communication is done through brands and visual identity that it’s a natural response for photographers to seek to find some way … Continue reading Photographic Style Can’t Be ‘Canned’

How to Live and How to Die

“Leave something of sweetness and substance in the mouth of the world.” BY MARIA POPOVA A year ago, I lost my darling friend Emily Levine (October 23, 1944–February 3, 2019). Figuring, in which she rightly occupies the first line of the acknowledgements, was just being released. The book would not have existed without her, nor would The Universe in Verse — several years earlier, Emily had swung open for me the doorway to the world of poetry in an incident of comical profundity emblematic of her singular and irreplaceable spirit, which I recounted with ample affection and no small dose of embarrassment about fifty minutes into the … Continue reading How to Live and How to Die

Bach and the Cosmos of Belonging: Michael Pollan on How the Transcendent Power of Music Allays the Loneliness of Being and the Ache of Regret

“Opened to the music, I became first the strings… and then the breeze of sound flowing past as it crossed the lips of the instrument and went out to meet the world, beginning its lonely transit of the universe.” BY MARIA POPOVA Some of humanity’s greatest writers have extolled the singular enchantment of music. Walt Whitman considered it the profoundest expression of nature. Maurice Sendak found in its fusion of fantasy and feeling the key to great storytelling. “Without music life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche proclaimed with his characteristic drama of finality. Music can save a life, allay the shock of death, and permeate the living flesh … Continue reading Bach and the Cosmos of Belonging: Michael Pollan on How the Transcendent Power of Music Allays the Loneliness of Being and the Ache of Regret

Calculating the Incalculable: Thoreau on the True Value of a Tree

“What would human life be without forests, those natural cities?” BY MARIA POPOVA More than two years after a fire started by a teenage boy destroyed 47,000 acres of old-growth forest in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, having just resolved to face the new year like a tree, I found myself on the brink of tears before the blackened trunk of an ancient ponderosa pine as I walked the sylvan scar tissue of the tragedy. A conversation with my hiking companion — a dear friend currently working with the Navajo Nation on preserving and learning from their own ecological inheritance — led … Continue reading Calculating the Incalculable: Thoreau on the True Value of a Tree

Did Walt Disney Influence Stanley Kubrick’s 2001?

Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) offers some of the most realistic space photography in cinema history. To mention Kubrick’s manic attention to detail to every component of filmmaking is nothing new, but I’ve come across a 1955 TV program that might prove to be the most influential to the look and feel of his sci-fi stunner. It is often noted that the two films that inspired Kubrick during the preproduction of 2001 were the National Film Board of Canada’s 1960 animated documentary Universe (1960) and the 1964 New York World’s Fair movie To the Moon and Beyond. Douglas Trumbull was … Continue reading Did Walt Disney Influence Stanley Kubrick’s 2001?