Heritage Depicted in Art

Untitled (History of the Black People), Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1983

 

According to Andrea Frohne, this Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s painting “reclaims Egyptians as African and subverts the concept of ancient Egypt as the cradle of Western Civilization”. At the center of the painting, Basquiat depicts an Egyptian boat being guided down the Nile River by Osiris, the Egyptian god of the earth and vegetation.

On the right panel of the painting appear the words “Esclave, Slave, Esclave”. Two letters of the word “Nile” are crossed out and Frohne suggests that, “The letters that are wiped out and scribbled over perhaps reflect the acts of historians who have conveniently forgotten that Egyptians were black and blacks were enslaved.” On the left panel of the painting Basquiat has illustrated two Nubian-style masks. The Nubians historically were darker in skin color, and were considered to be slaves by the Egyptian people.

Throughout the rest of the painting, images of the Atlantic slave trade are juxtaposed with images of the Egyptian slave trade centuries before. The sickle in the center panel is a direct reference to the slave trade in the United States, and slave labor under the plantation system. The word “salt” that appears on the right panel of the work refers to the Atlantic Slave Trade, as salt was another important commodity traded at that time.

On the right of the painting the words “Memphis Thebes Tennesee [Tennessee]” are written in black on top of white paint. Thebes is a city in Ancient Egypt, which is also a Greek name. Historically, Memphis, Tennessee holds a painful past for the black race. It was one of the most racist cities in the U.S. Before racist segregation laws were implemented, Memphis was also apart a large slave-trade market. Memphis, Tennessee is also the place where activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

 

 

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The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Cover of the first edition

 

The Wind in the Willows is a children’s novel by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternately slow moving and fast paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphised animals in a pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley.

In 1909, Theodore Roosevelt, then President of the United States, wrote to Grahame to tell him that he had “read it and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends”.

In addition to the main narrative, the book contains several independent short-stories featuring Rat and Mole. These appear for the most part between the chapters chronicling Toad’s adventures, and are often omitted from abridgements and dramatizations. The chapter “Dulce Domum” describes Mole’s return to his home, accompanied by Rat, in which, despite finding it in a terrible mess after his abortive spring clean, he rediscovers, with Rat’s help, a familiar comfort. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn tells how Mole and Rat search for Otter’s missing son Portly, whom they find in the care of the god Pan. (Pan removes their memories of this meeting “lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure”.) Finally in Wayfarers All, Ratty shows a restless side to his character when he is sorely tempted to join a Sea Rat on his travelling adventures.

 

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

 

The book was originally published as plain text, but many illustrated, comic and annotated versions have been published over the years. Notable illustrators include Paul Bransom (1913), Ernest H. Shepard (1933), Arthur Rackham (1940), Tasha Tudor (1966), Michael Hague (1980), Scott McKowen (2005), and Robert Ingpen (2007).

The Wind in the Willows was the last work illustrated by Arthur Rackham. The book with his illustrations was issued posthumously in a limited edition by the Folio Society with 16 color plates in 1940 in the US. It was not issued with the Rackham illustrations in the UK until 1950.

 

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, frontispiece to a 1913 edition by Paul Bransom

 

The first album by psychedelic rock group Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), was named by former member Syd Barrett after chapter 7 of The Wind in the Willows,which contains a visionary encounter with the god Pan, who plays his pan pipe at dawn. It was one of Barrett’s favourite books, and he often gave friends the impression that he was Pan, that he was the Piper. The moniker was later used in the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond, in which Barrett is called “you Piper”. However, the songs on the album are not directly related to the contents of the book. Barrett came up with the album title The Piper at the Gates of Dawn; the album was originally titled Projection up to as late as July 1967.

 

Up-and-coming society photographer Vic Singh was hired to photograph the band for the album cover. Singh shared a studio with photographer David Bailey, and he was friends with Beatles guitarist George Harrison. Singh asked Jenner and King to dress the band in the brightest clothes they could find. Vic Singh then shot them with a prism lens that Harrison had given him. The cover was meant to resemble an LSD trip, a style that was favoured at the time.

 

Syd did his own little drawing on the back cover

 

The same chapter was the basis for the name and lyrics of Piper at the Gates of Dawn, a song by Irish singer-song writer Van Morrison from his 1997 album The Healing Game. The song The Wicker Man by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden also includes the phrase. British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth released a special edition of their album Thornography, called Harder, Darker, Faster: Thornography Deluxe; on the song Snake-Eyed and the Venomous, a pun is made in the lyrics “… all vipers at the gates of dawn” referring to Chapter 7 of the book.

 

To listen to Van Morrison’s rendition of this literary classic, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

The Dead Leaves

Les Concierges Rue du Dragon. Robert Doisneau, 1946

 
 

LES FEUILLES MORTES

Oh! je voudrais tant que tu te souviennes
Des jours heureux où nous étions amis
En ce temps-là la vie était plus belle,
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu’aujourd’hui
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié…
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Et le vent du nord les emporte
Dans la nuit froide de l’oubli.
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié
La chanson que tu me chantais.

REFRAIN:

C’est une chanson qui nous ressemble
Toi, tu m’aimais et je t’aimais
Et nous vivions tous deux ensemble
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment
Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable
Les pas des amants désunis.

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Mais mon amour silencieux et fidèle
Sourit toujours et remercie la vie
Je t’aimais tant, tu étais si jolie,
Comment veux-tu que je t’oublie?
En ce temps-là, la vie était plus belle
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu’aujourd’hui
Tu étais ma plus douce amie
Mais je n’ai que faire des regrets
Et la chanson que tu chantais
Toujours, toujours je l’entendrai!

REFRAIN

 
 

____________________________

 
 

Oh, I would like you so much to remember
Those happy days when we were friends, and how
Life in those times was more lovely and tender,
Even the sun shone more brightly than now.
Dead leaves are gathering as in December
You see how one never forgets…
Dead leaves are gathering as in December,
Just like the memories and the regrets.
And then the north wind comes and sweeps them
Into oblivion’s icy night.
You see how I never forgot
That old song that you sang for me.

REFRAIN:

A song like us, birds of a feather,
You loving me, me loving you,
And we lived happily together,
You loving me, me loving you.
But life tears apart gentle lovers
Who quietly obey their heart,
And the sea invades the sand and covers
The footsteps of those torn apart.

Dead leaves are gathering, dead leaves are piling
Up just like memories and like regrets.
But still my love goes on quietly smiling
Thankful for life and for all that it gets.
I loved you so, you were ever so lovely,
How can I forget? Tell me how!
Life in those times was more sweet and beguiling,
Even the sun shone more brightly than now.
You were my most sweet friend and lover,
But regret just isn’t my thing,
And I’ll keep hearing all the time
The old song that you used to sing.

REFRAIN

 
 

Some of Prévert’s poems, such as Les Feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves), La grasse matinée (Sleeping in), Les bruits de la nuit (The sounds of the night), and Chasse à l’enfant (The hunt for the child) were set to music by Joseph Kosma—and in some cases by Germaine Tailleferre of Les Six, Christiane Verger, and Hanns Eisler.

Les feuilles mortes (literally The Dead Leaves) with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, and the Hungarian title is Hulló levelek (Falling Leaves) Wa introduced by Yves Montand with Irène Joachim in the film Les Portes de la nuit (Marcel Carné, 1946).

It is a much-recorded popular song. The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics in 1947, and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version. Autumn Leaves became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both languages, both as an instrumental and with a singer. There is also a Japanese version called Kareha (枯葉) sung by Nat King Cole in his Japanese album version and 高英男 (Hideo Kou).

It has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Juliette Gréco, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Chet Baker, Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop, Andrea Bocelli, among others.Serge Gainsbourg paid tribute to Les feuilles mortes in his own song La chanson de Prévert.

The film Autumn Leaves (Robert Aldrich, 1956), starring Joan Crawford, featured over the title sequence the song as sung by Nat King Cole.

 

To listen to an altered version of this song performed by Michael David Rosenberg (better known by his stage name Passenger), please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

One-of-a-Kind Garment

China Machado, original photographs from cover shoot for Harper’s Bazaar. Photos by Bill King

 
 

Harper’s Bazaar cover, April 1971 issue

 
 

Tie-dyed suede shirt by Halston, 1971

 
 

The earliest surviving examples of Pre-Columbian tie-dye in Peru date from 500 to 810 AD. Their designs include small circles and lines, with bright colors including red, yellow, blue, and green.

Tie-dye is a modern term coined in the mid-1960s in the United States for a set of ancient resist-dyeing techniques, and for the products of these processes. The process of tie-dye typically consists of folding, twisting, pleating, or crumpling fabric or a garment and binding with string or rubber bands, followed by application of dye(s). The manipulations of the fabric prior to application of dye are called resists, as they partially or completely prevent the applied dye from coloring the fabric. More sophisticated tie-dyes involve additional steps, including an initial application of dye prior to the resist, multiple sequential dye and resist steps, and the use of other types of resists (stitching, stencils) and discharge.

Tie-dyeing was known in the US by 1909, when Professor Charles E. Pellow of Columbia University acquired some samples of tie-dyed muslin and subsequently gave a lecture and live demonstration of the technique.

Although shibori and batik techniques were used occasionally in Western fashion before the 1960s, modern psychedelic tie-dying did not become a fad until the late 1960s following the example set by rock stars such as Janis Joplin and John Sebastian (who did his own dyeing).

Tie-dying, particularly after the introduction of affordable Rit dyes, became popular as a cheap and accessible way to customize inexpensive T-shirts, singlets, dresses, jeans, army surplus clothing, and other garments into psychedelic creations. Some of the leading names in tie-dye at this time were Water Baby Dye Works (run by Ann Thomas and Maureen Mubeem), Bert Bliss, and Up Tied, the latter winning a Coty Award for “major creativity in fabrics” in 1970. Up Tied created tie-dyed velvets and silk chiffons which were used for exclusive one-of-a-kind garments by Halston, Donald Brooks, and Gayle Kirkpatrick, whilst another tie-dyer, Smooth Tooth Inc. dyed garments for Dior and Jonathan Logan.

The Devil is in the Detail

 
 

The creator of the cover of Dangerous was the artist Mark Ryden. It took six months to end in. Much of the life of Michael Jackson is reflected in it both in pictures as symbols. This artist was born on 20 January 1963, in Medford, Oregon, California. In 1987 he received the School of Design in Pasadena. Among his clients include Stephen King, Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert De Niro, etc …  Jackson asked very specific things, he told to Ryden that “the design should be mysterious, that people will interpret in their own way …”So, as that famous idiom which refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden: the devil is in the detail.

Account Mark Ryden, artist of the cover of Dangerous that had previously worked with the Art Director for Sony, Nancy Donald in many other projects and when the project was commissioned by Michael Jackson she thought of him. A Michael Jackson’s friend showed him a book with their jobs and liked a lot. Ryden was thus that he met with the King of Pop in his study where he could hear some of his new music and talked about the idea. He then had a week to create some strokes, doing 5 pencil drawings. Only one was elected, the current draft of the lid. The other four sketches were not accepted by Michael Jackson, but had the same general style that the cover of Dangerous. One was a circus poster with a skeleton jumping from the innards of a clown, another was focused on a girl in her hand she held a skull, another idea was very similar to the final cover, but the scene was set outdoors and the Michael Jackson’s eyes were mixed with clouds over the chimp Bubbles which was standing on a pile of animals. Mark Ryden also note that for the first sketches of the cover of Dangerous drew heavily on the video for the song Leave Me Alone found in the feature film Moonwalker, saying that  “it was the image, design and the items were great.”

Although the original painting is very large, the great challenge of the artist was that by reducing the size of a cover of a compact disc detail and the concept did not disappear. One of its inspiration to the many details was listening to the tracks on the album as Michael Jackson was finishing his recording and song titles also served to introduce certain concepts. And so the album title and the song Dangerous provided a starting point for the base of the drawing. Mark Ryden said that despite the great advances in digital technology, the drawing is not supported by computers, only brush with acrylics on a panel, which still remains in its original study.  As for the freedom to create his work, Ryden had the opportunity to draw without pressure, except for some very specific added that Michael Jackson asked himself near the end of the work. For example he wanted the actor Macaulay Culkin was in one of the cars that pull out of the tunnel on the right and placed the pin “1998″ on the lapel of P. Barnum, creator of the world’s most famous circuses. The image of Afghan dog on his throne is inspired by an oil,  Napoleon on his Throne, painted by artist Jean-Auguste Ingres in 1806.

Moving Pictures

Rush, Moving Pictures (1981). Artwork designed by Hugh Syme

 
 

The album cover was taken in front of the Ontario Legislative Building at Queen’s Park, Toronto. The pictures that are being moved are the starman logo featured on the reverse cover of the 2112 album, the famous Dogs Playing Poker painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (a.k.a. Kash Koolidge), and a painting that appears to show a witch being burned at the stake, likely referring to the song Witch Hunt which appears on the album. The artwork is a monument to triple entendre. On the front cover there are movers who are moving pictures. On the side, people are shown crying because the pictures passing by are emotionally “moving”. Finally, the back cover has a film crew making a “moving picture” of the whole scene.

In an interview with Mike Dixon, easily recognizable as one of the movers on the Moving Pictures and Exit…Stage Left album covers, he discusses the various ‘actors’ on the Moving Pictures cover, beginning with the mover on the far left, his friend Bobby King. Bob King was on Hugh Syme‘s design team, and is credited for assisting Hugh on A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres and Archives. Dixon goes on to tell how Bob King is not only one of the movers, but is also the original Starman on 2112, as well as Dionysus on the Hemispheres cover (i.e., the naked guy). In addition, the mover holding the Starman painting is Kelly Jay, who sang for the Toronto band Crowbar (Crowbar performed with Rush at the Minkler Auditorium in 1973, an advertisement for this show is in the Different Stages linernotes collage). Dixon also confirms photographer Deborah Sammuels is the Joan of Arc character and that her relatives are the family on the right (this conflicts with information provided in the Rush biography Chemistry, which states “Hugh borrowed friends, neighbours and even his hairdresser’s parents”).