Dukepope's blog about art, design, music and technology.

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Birds playing guitar

Celeste Boursier-Mougenot is a French artist, trained as a musician and composer. His art installations revolve around peculiarly created soundscapes, where humans and animals interact with their surroundings to create the finest avant garde music (making eccentric composers and sheet music redundant, not to mention orchestras). In this installation from the Barbican Centre in London in 2010, a flock of zebra finches take the main stage, creating music by landing on, hopping around on and thrusting twigs between the strings of electric guitars. They seem to be having quite a good time!

The Quizzical Portraits of Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1527 – 1593)

The fascinating still life portraits of Guiseppe Arcimboldo were largely forgotten in the centuries following his death – until his rediscovery in the 20th century by modernist and surrealist painters such as Picasso and Salvador Dali. How could it happen that such a brilliant and original artist almost vanished from the annals of art history? The Renaissance was marked by a fascination with riddles, puzzles, and the bizarre, which is also evident in the art of his Arcimboldo’s contemporaries, such as Hieronymus Bosch and Peter Bruegel. As the Renaissance faded into Baroque and Rococo this fascination was gradually replaced by esthetic indulgence and dramatic displays, plump women and lavish interiors. In the meantime Prague, where Archimboldo had spent most of his life as a painter for the Habsburg court, was sacked by the Swedish army in 1648, and his work spread across Europe. Arcimboldo’s assembled portraits are playful, but also scientific in their representation of nature. He was certainly an eccentric, but his absurd, yet analytical portraits still capture us almost five hundred years later. For those wanting to read more about Arcimboldo, there is a great article about him at rhetoricaldeivice.com

Rudolf II as Vertumnus

Rudolf II as Vertumnus

The Librarian

The Librarian

Water from Four Elements

Water from Four Elements

Norwegian Hair Metal

Since Black Metal originated in Scandinavia in the early nineties, the scandal ridden metal sub genre has become a prime cultural export of Norway. The audience stretches from Buenos Aires via Teheran to Tokyo, and the biggest names still draw massive audiences on their world tours. At this point however I wish to wipe the dust of a Norwegian rock band at the total opposite end of the scale; Hair Rockers TNT. They never reached as big an audience as their Swedish counterpart Europe, but their tunes are equally catchy and the band bangs out a constant virtuosic overload. With vocalist Tony Harnell covering four octaves, and Guitarist Ronny Le Tekro possessing some wild guitar skills, they did however become very big in Scandinavia and in Japan (of course).

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Visions of the Future: Science fiction art from 1976

I scanned these images from a book found in Keith Fawkes Books in Hampstead, London. It’s the messiest and most chaotic bookshop I’ve ever been into, but those are the kind of places where strange treasures like “Visions of the Future” can be found. The subtitle reads: “An exciting and novel selction of science fiction art of today”. The book was a British publication, featuring at the time young British artists. Judging from a quick round on google, most of them seem to be active still. So there is plenty of inspiration out there! Here are five of my favourite artworks from the book, which stood out among all the weird and funky sci-fi kitsch.

Bob Fowke – Eden

Bob Haberfield – Nova

Chris Foss – Early Asimov 2

Ray Feibush – Far out worlds

Tim White – Darkness of Diamondia

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くもとちゅうりっぷ (Spider and Tulip): An Early Masterpiece of Japanese Anime

This short cartoon from 1943 is considered in Japan to be one of the greatest anime movies of all time. Even though I didn’t watch an awful lot of anime, it makes perfect sense to me that this wonderful little movie has gained such a standing. Kenzō Masaoka, who created Spider and Tulip is an important figure in the history of Anime, as he was the first to introduce both cel animation and synchronized sound to the genre. He was also a master animator, rivalling his contemporaries in the USA and elsewhere with exceptional drawing skills and stylistic confidence. In Spider and Tulip, we meet an innocent, singing little ladybug, and the  sly Mr. Spider, who cunningly tries to capture her in his web.

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Victor Moscoso, the Grand Old Master of Psychedelic Art

Allthough Wes Wilson is seen as the father of the psychedelic rock poster, the poster art of Victor Moscoso stands for me as the archetypal expression of the hippie era. With vibrating colours and psychedelic imagery, his posters take you straight back to that special vibe of the late 1960s San Fransisco. Victor Moscoso was born in Spain in 1937, but moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York three years later, where he spent most of his youth and childhood. He went on to study art at Yale under the supervision of Josef Albers, whose color theory later became an important inspiration for him. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was a motivating factor for Moscoso to move on to California and San Fransisco in 1959. But it wasn’t until 1967 with the Summer of Love that Victor Moscoso rose to international fame, with his posters for the Avalon Ballroom (whose concerts featured artists such as Janis Joplin and the Doors). There is an excellent interview with him at The Comics Journal, for those who would like to read more about his fascinating life and refreshing take on art. Victor Moscoso is still active as an artist.

Victor Moscoso Quicksilver MessengerVictor Moscoso Miller Blues BandVictor Moscoso Family DogSONY DSC

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Pink Elephants on Parade

If you happened to watch Dumbo as a kid, you might remember the scene where dumbo falls into a tub filled with champagne and accidentialy becomes intoxicated by alcohol. Dumbo’s hallicunations however are quite wild, and point in the direction of something else having found its way into the drink. Did Disney’s animators draw inspiration from some other, more exotic substance, back in 1941 when they created this segment of the Dumbo movie? I guess we will never know, but in any case “Pink Elephants on Parade” remains one of the most colourful and fantastic moments in the history of animated cartoons.