Friday, 6 April 2007

My scanner, my microscope.

O ne of the enduring objects of my enthusiasm is eighteenth century music. I wrote about this in The Fate of the Artist where I also made this pastiche of a cd cover in the style of the Naxos series of classical music releases. I love the simplicity of that design template.
Not a month goes by without my finding the work of a composer of that era with whose work I was not previously familiar. Recent discoveries have included Thomas Erskine the Earl of Kellie, and George Vogler, whose Requiem I went to some trouble to track down. Latest is the one picked up this week. Five symphonies Karl von Ordonez of Vienna. I was hoping Naxos would get around to him sooner or later. I'm on the lookout now for his contemporary Leopold Gassman. But anyway, to my purpose. By the above means, which is to say indirectly, I have been developing a fondness for the topographical prints of Karl Schutz (1745-1800), which are likely to be selected to adorn the covers of cd's of music or composers originating in Vienna in the 18th c. I depicted him at work in the Fate of the Artist at the link above, even though I don't know what he looks like. In fact, this is when I got the idea of having actors play all these people, so that I could then still believe myself to be holding to a kind of authenticity. And sychronistically I happened to notice that Schutz seems to employ a little troupe of actors to people his prints. It's true of course that an artist does not have an unlimited supply of 'people' to trot out upon his paper and we are likely to see the same types used over and over. But it pleased me to think of Schutz' people as being in some way more real than the stiff mannequins in the prints of other artists.
These prints are essentially topographical. Their purpose is to record the look of buildings in and around Vienna. But what topographical artist ever took such pains to show us:
a guy indoors reading, framed in a window. Is it his own room? Is he stealing a look at that letter?

and are these three guys on the right talking about the guy in the blue coat behind his back?

what is the relationship of this overdressed woman to the young laddie? is he leading her somewhere, and how much will he receive for his trouble?

and there is always a lusty gallant, tipping his bonnet to a lady. Here he is greeting the woman taking a rest in her shop doorway.

and once again we must curse the cd booklet for being too damn small.
(edit: most pressing question of all, how did I get those piccies to wander into the sidebar?)

If I had as much dough as you think I have, I'd go and buy me one of these:
Sotheby's - New York - 2000
Lot 130 : Waldstein, Franz de Paula Adam, Graf von, and Paul Kitaibel. Descriptiones et icones plantarum rariorum Hungariae. Vienna: A.M. Schmidt, [1799]-1802-1812
first edition, 3 volumes, folio (650 x 300mm.), sepia aquatint view by Hirscher, 280 hand-coloured engraved plates by Karl Schutz after his father Johann, contemporary half calf, volume 1 preliminaries detached, some plates c... [Please sign in or subscribe to Artfact Professional to view more]

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too like the detailed stories behind the bigger picture. Especially when we can make up the scenarios however we wish :)

Wish you a great long weekend!

6 April 2007 at 01:30:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These figures seem like the period equivalent of those abstract people one sees in architectural drawings in the days before CAD. In fact Letraset used to make sheets of stock figures (and street furniture, trees, cars and so on) for just this purpose.

Piranesi also had his own set of stock characters since he was far more interested in the buildings than the people. So all his views of Rome have the same bunch of ragged antiquarians gesticulating at the ruins with the odd drover in the background taking a cow somewhere.

On a technical note, your narrow image that you've placed first should perhaps be placed last since that seems to be throwing out the rest?

6 April 2007 at 07:46:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Eddie,

First, I wanted to say that I love your work, and that The Fate of the Artist is awesome. The mixing of stories and elements that you do in Bacchus comes together in a seamless (yet completely seamed, since every element is separate) story revolving around the disappearance.

Second, I work as a non-fiction editor for the literary journal Gulf Coast out of Houston, Texas, and I was wondering if you had any non-fictional art (however you feel like defining that) that you'd like to submit for publication in it? We don't pay much (it varies, but it's around $100-200), but, well, I guess there's not much more I can say except that I love your work, both the art and the way of thinking it illustrates.

If you are interested, or have any other questions, you can e-mail me at gulfcoastnonfiction at hotmail dot com.

Andrew Kozma

6 April 2007 at 13:03:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

Your ruminations on the citizens of the illustration remind me of how American author Harry Crews would invent stories of the people he'd see in the Sears catalogue when he was a small child. His folk were dirt poor farmers in the south of Georgia, so the biographies he'd concoct for the professional models involved all manner of travesties and miseries and troubles.

6 April 2007 at 17:08:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

james ,
That Harry Crews anecdote sounds brilliant. I must look into that.

Thanks for the good words. Re Gulfcoast. let me have a think about that. (I'm speeding toward a deadline over the next four months. )

What I meant was that I've been trying to outwit Blogger's automatic re-sizing for some time now. Doesn't matter how i measure things up, Blogger does its own thing and i can never figure out what the protocols are. I once put in two From hell extracts, but because they were a different height (ie one was a whole page and one was a two-tier extract) Blogger posted them in different scale. Now, in today's post I have actually succeeded in by-passing whatever automatic thing is controilling the scaling and resizing. If I can only figure out how i did it then I could take better control of things.

Hi Tita, hope you're having a grand Easter.

6 April 2007 at 17:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Hawthorn said...

Sorry, I came in late.

As per your quotation from last post, please depost one graphic Holmes pastiche into the public sphere. Thanks.

6 April 2007 at 21:59:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah okay, didn't know Blogger worked like that although it makes sense. I resize things for my WordPress templates using a couple of Photoshop actions; one click and you're finished.

7 April 2007 at 07:13:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...


If you're going to read Crews, I'd suggest A CHILDHOOD: BIOGRAPHY OF A PLACE. To me, it's his best single work. It's also contained in CLASSIC CREWS: A HARRY CREWS READER, which includes some older novels all in one big volume. Some of his work is really quirky and may only appeal to Americans--but A FEAST OF SNAKES is likely his best novel. It was, as I recall, banned in some countries, including South Africa (apartheid era). At one time, I think Sean Penn was going to do a movie version of his novel THE KNOCKOUT ARTIST, about a guy who earned his living entertaining people at the parties of rich decadents in New Orleans by dressing up in his boxers and knocking himself out (literally--with a punch in his glass jaw). Not one of my favorite Crews novels.

7 April 2007 at 21:47:00 GMT-5  

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