Sleeping Mountains

Reflections on life, literature, and culture.

Category: Art

Waltz

I could probably write a novel on my thoughts about Camille Claudel. This photograph (by l’enfer) is the first photograph I’ve seen of “La Valse (The Waltz)” that begins to grasp the depth of feeling in her work.

I first came across Claudel, when I was in an undergraduate art history class. I wrote a paper then that argued that she was more than simply Rodin’s muse. She was the creative force that brought Rodin new popularity later in life. She worked directly on pieces for which he gained credit, including “Gates of Hell” and “Burghers of Calais.”

There are many arguments for why this was perhaps even common practice at that time, but since she helped him with a lot of his work, there are very few pieces attributed to her directly. One of them, and one that shows her genius in expression as a sculptor, is “La Valse.” The solid bronze seems to melt and twist to an inaudible melody.

Although there are stories of a relationship between Claudel and Claude Debussy, the details are vague. It seems to be true, however, that he had a copy of “La Valse” either on his piano or on his mantle piece. . .

Komura Settai’s Umbrellas

(Komura Settai’s “Osen,” printed in 1941 after his death.)

Last winter, the Saitama Museum of Art held a spectacular exhibit on Komura Settai (1887 – 1940), an early 20th century print designer. His images graced Shiseido perfume bottles, the covers of the author Izumi Kyoka’s novels, and the sets of kabuki stages. Since the sky today is growing grayer and grayer, I thought this image appropriate to remember the playful aspect of rain.

Post a Week 2011

(Photo of plum blossoms by merefflorescence of Cloudy with a Chance of Clouds. I was surprised at the similarities in color between this photo and the first Funada Gyokujū painting I posted earlier this week.)

I realize my posting has been highly irregular. Sometimes I post close to nothing for a month or more. Other times, I post almost daily, such as recently. To try to increase the regularity of my posts, I’ve decided to join Post a Week 2011. I’ve decided not to pledge a post a day, because I hope to dedicate the extra time towards keeping or even raising the quality of my posts. Of course, if I have more to post, I will not limit myself by the challenge.

I will make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way. Please leave comments about your thoughts and feedback on the project as it progresses.

Here we go!

Taro Bove

(Images of Taro Bove’s performance of Kakitsubata in 2010. This is not the performance I saw, but the style, stage, and his costume were similar. The photo is from Bove.)

On Thursday for the first time, I was at KAAT, the brand new performing arts center in Yokohama that has just opened. It is a beautiful, very large space, and I hope to see more of it soon.

I arrived just in time to attend a performance by Taro Bove in the lobby of the building. A white, square stage and two black felt-covered platforms were set up. As I arrived, noh instrumental music (hayashi) played quietly. Eventually, three professional noh instrumentalists entered and took their places on one of the platforms, and then a single professional noh actor (and singer) came and took his place on the other platform.

The four noh performers began to play and chant music to “Izutsu.” In the play the ghost of the wife of famous Nara period philanderer and poet Ariwara no Narihira appears. She recounts her story as the wife of Narihira. Left behind during one of his visits to another woman, she expresses her loneliness and her faithful love for her husband through poetry. In the culmination of the piece, she dances in her husband’s robes and then looks into a well they played at as children. In her reflection in the water, she sees her husband. . .

As if appearing out of nowhere through the audience, Bove slowly entered. Read the rest of this entry »

Funada Gyokujū

(“Evening Flowers” (Hana no Yūbe) by Funada Gyokujū, also occasionally known as Funada Tamaki, with thanks to Cloudy with a Chance of Clouds)

This painting is well on its way to becoming famous. It was the poster child for the recent exhibit “The Avant Guard of ‘Nihonga’ 1938 – 1949″ at the MOMAT (National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo). “Nihonga” means painting using traditionally Japanese materials and often incorporating Japanese themes, styles, and techniques.

The MOMAT exhibition did not focus specifically on Funada, but on the group of artists of which he was a member. However, most of my favorite paintings on display were by him. I’ll try to dedicate more posts to other artists of the group as I get access to images, but for now, a few more images by Funada. . . Read the rest of this entry »

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