Wednesday 27 December 2006

Paris in the fall.

My pal Evans sent this from the Weekend Australian, syndicated from the London Times:
From the gutter to the stars: The post-impressionist painter ridiculed for his small physical stature was in fact a giant among artists, writes Waldemar Januszczak

"THERE'S a painting in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris of two lesbians in bed. You can't actually see their bodies, only their heads. But it's clear there's no hanky-panky going on. They're just staring at each other sleepily. The girls always strike me as terribly young and vulnerable, as if they've just been tucked in by their dad. It's only a small picture, but there's so much fondness and empathy in it."

"That it was painted by Toulouse-Lautrec is also remarkable. Fondness and empathy are not what he's famous for. He's famous for all the other stuff. But most of the crowd knew only one thing with complete certainty, and that was that he was short. A dwarf. So that's his tragedy. Everyone's heard of him, but nobody knows him. His fame is immense, but worthless."

It's another case history to file under the Fate of the Artist.

Incidentally, Januszczak wrote an excellent early critique of the modern 'graphic novel' movement in the Guardian way back in '84: "... since the neurotics appropriated the comic strip we have seen the perfect marriage of form and content... They have subverted its innocence , and filled its thought bubbles with their wretched, guilt-sodden soliloquies." And that was before it had really got rolling, as far as the mainstream press knew about it I mean.

The 'other stuff', for which Toulouse-Lautrec was/is famous, centres around the antics at the Moulin Rouge. Here's a Photo of Anne and me in front of it in November 2001, taken by an obliging passer-by.

The US premiere of the From Hell movie took place the previous month (go on, click it. Would I give you a bum steer?), but it hadn't been released in Europe yet. Nevertheless, the folks at Delcourt, publisher of the French edition of From Hell, know how to make the best of things. I did a signing at Fnac, the big bookstore, that lasted for some time after they'd closed the doors, and I think I was even on television a couple of times. It all went too fast to take notes.

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Blogger Steve said...

Really enjoying your blog, especially all the From Hell stuff. Feel like a heel with this request but you don't have a better date on that 1984 Guardian article, do you? Wouldn't mind hitting the libraries and having a read of the whole thing. Anyway, regardless, have a good hogmanay. Whilst I think of it, there was a Posy illustrated short story in The Guardian the over day, how do you do links here, um.. like this? The print version had another Posy illustration, not sure how it ties in with your earlier post about illustrated books, but any excuse to link to a Posy pick can't be missed. Also, to continue the theme, Quentin Blake did some illustrations for a manifesto, The Rights of the Reader a while ago, that was mentioned in The Guardian too, um, here, and Shirley Hughes did a piece on the comeback of the picture book a while back, um, here. Hope all those links work. Anyways, so long and thanks for all the pish, if you'll forgive the insult in favour of the pun.

27 December 2006 at 14:09:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: movie adaptations and not watching them more than once

I saw LxG on a pirated DVD a friend lent me and even then I still felt cheated at having wasted 2 hours watching the damned thing. From Hell wasn't anywhere near as bad and V for Vendetta was even better although it went for a more upbeat ending compared to the original material.

RE:From Hell The Compleat Scripts.

My copy is #480 of 1000 numbered copies. Probably the last time you'll see signatures for
Au Moore
Etdie Campbill &
all on the same page.
At least that's what they look like. Neil Gaiman's signature was even more indecipherable when I got him to sign Sandman recently.

How hard is it to sign 1026 copies (there were also 26 lettered ones) of a book and how long did it take you to do?

Like others here I'm also enjoying all the background details on From Hell. When will you run out of material to post.
Also good to see a photograph of Steve Moore for the first time.


Eroom Nala

27 December 2006 at 17:39:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The painting and Januszczak's comments immediately brought to mind The Count Of Monte Cristo, when Eugénie Danglars and her girlfriend are found in bed after having run away the previous night. I imagine both pieces were scandalous for their times.

27 December 2006 at 17:49:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Hawthorn said...

But oh, what antics Toulouse-Lautrec had to have been up to to be remembered for them over painting. Perhaps he was just an artist in the medium of debauchery.

27 December 2006 at 18:36:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Steve...(quick check of yer profile) BLOCK! yes, i thought it would be you. the guardian article is from July 24 1984, page 9.
I dug out the file when you aked. i had quoted from memory, but got it word perfect. His next sentence compares the new comics to the catholic confessional, in which the reader is called upon to perform the role of the priest, and later... another theme is life for beginners. i was in the exhibition he was reviewing, and while i wasn't mentioned, i guess i should see myself included under that heading. My clipping ends in mid sentence. Not sure why i didn't keep all of it. thanks for the links.

Eroom, sometimes signing 1000 copies is not such a big chore. i welcome the opportunity tolet my mind wander... it's in moments like that when you think up your next blog post.

brad, Andrew.. of course, what would have been scandalous in the US and Britain would not necessarily have been quite so in paris.


27 December 2006 at 18:51:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Steve said...

Blimey, didn't realise my picture would end up there and all that, I should pay more attention as to what I leave lying about the net. Yes it is me, I'm shamed to say. Thanks very much for the pointer on the article, I'll try and dig that one out. That's an interesting point about the reader being priest, certainly makes sense when you look at someone like Joe Matt. You know, you could have made yourself look really clever there mind, and noted your subversion of that "confession" motif in the murder mystery that was The Fate of the Artist. Still, if I keep my mouth shut maybe you can...

27 December 2006 at 20:39:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what would have been scandalous in the US and Britain would not necessarily have been quite so in paris." Granted. Though TCoMC was originally serialized in the mid-1840s. A young lady of wealth and name chopping her locks, dressing as a man and "travelling" with her girlfriend/lover had to be provocative, even to the jaded French.
RE: signed/numbered editions -- will Black Diamond Detective Agency be getting that treatment?

27 December 2006 at 22:37:00 GMT-5  
Blogger desembrey said...

The signature plates are on a different paper stock, so would seem likely those pages have seen travel that the rest of the books haven't perhaps? ;-)

For what it's worth, in historical and research purposes (yeah, right), number 344 (as the number reads under the black texta it's been obscured with - and yes I truly do treasure this copy, thank you so very much Eddie) has the same signatures, so writers cramp had obviously set in sometime earlier. Comparrison with any from the 900's would be interesting no doubt.

Hand cramps. Truly the fate of the artist. :-)

28 December 2006 at 02:42:00 GMT-5  

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