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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Cocteau’

Unexpected Eisenstein

February 17, 2016 | by

Sergei Eisenstein, Set design for Act III of Heartbreak House (unrealised),  1922, paper, pencil, ink and watercolour on paper ©Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, Moscow

Sergei Eisenstein, Set design for act 3 of Heartbreak House (unrealized), 1922, paper, pencil, ink and watercolor on paper. ©Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, Moscow

 
In November 1929, the thirty-one-year-old Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was the world’s most notorious film director. Four years earlier, Battleship Potemkin, his euphorically reviewed, highly influential tour de force about mutiny on the eponymous naval vessel, had brought him both acclaim and infamy. Infected with wanderlust, Eisenstein won permission from Stalin to leave Russia on a short research trip. He took off in August 1929, with twenty-five dollars in his pocket. He returned home, reluctantly, just under three years later.
 
During the ensuing whirlwind—to Berlin, Paris, London, then on to Hollywood—Eisenstein met with the world’s leading intellectuals, actors, and avant-garde artists: James Joyce, Jean Cocteau and Robert Desnos in France, George Bancroft in Germany, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in the United States. His grand tour often gets overshadowed by his disastrous film collaboration in Mexico with the novelist Upton Sinclair—framed in Peter Greenaway’s 2015 movie Eisenstein in Guanajuato—but British culture was a significant and often neglected long-term source of interest.

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Chamber of Secrets: The Sorcery of Angela Carter

October 17, 2012 | by

Illustration by Igor Karash

Fairy tales were reviled in the first stirrings of post-war liberation movements as part and parcel of the propaganda that kept women down. The American poet Anne Sexton, in a caustic sequence of poems called Transformations, scathingly evokes the corpselike helplessness of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, and scorns, with fine irony, the Cinderella dream of bourgeois marriage and living happily ever after: boredom, torment, incest, death to the soul followed. Literary and social theorists joined in the battle against the Disney vision of female virtue (and desirability); Cinderella became a darker villain than her sisters, and for Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their landmark study The Madwoman in the Attic, the evil stepmother in “Snow White” at least possesses mobility, will, and power—for which she is loathed and condemned. In the late sixties and early seventies, it wasn’t enough to rebel, and young writers and artists were dreaming of reshaping the world in the image of their desires. Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan had done the work of analysis and exposure, but action—creative energy—was as necessary to build on the demolition site of the traditional values and definitions of gender.

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Gerard Malanga

August 24, 2011 | by

Gerard Malanga, 2010. Photograph by Asako Kitaori. © Asako Kitaori

Born in the Bronx in 1943, Gerard Malanga started writing poetry in his late teens. His first volume, 3 Poems for Benedetta Barzini, appeared in 1967, and he has since published roughly a dozen collections of poetry. Since his start in the New York art scene of the sixties, Malanga has also worked extensively in film and photography. He is primarily known for his emphatic black-and-white portraits of fellow writers, poets, and artists as well as Screen Tests, a series of silent film portraits he produced with Andy Warhol. The following is an excerpt of a conversation that took place via e-mail over several months in the fall of 2010 between my home in Copenhagen and Malanga’s in upstate New York.

You’re a photographer, filmmaker, and poet. Which of these is primary for you?

I’ve always considered myself a poet in everything that I do, whether it’s photography or movie-making. The one thing that unites all three is the image, the language of the image. Jean Cocteau was my inspiration and model as a polymath. His works were evidence of what one can do in a number of mediums.

When I started writing poetry in my senior term of high school—I was sixteen—I felt in touch with a secret language. It gave me a sense of identity. I suddenly discovered I wasn’t alone. I saw that I was part of a tradition. I truly believe I was fated to become a poet and that I was guided by some mysterious force.

I was a kid of the streets. There were no books to speak of in the apartment where we lived. The neighborhood library was my home away from home and on weekends I’d go to the movies, absorbed by the magic of the big screen. All that I’ve done in my life thus far, all the poems and all the pictures, are not so much an intermingling of my life with art but a divine accident. Read More »

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