Watch the Spectacular Hieronymus Bosch Parade, Which Floats Through the Garden of Earthly Delights Painter’s Hometown Every Year

Whether painting scenes of paradise, damnation, or somewhere in between, Hieronymus Bosch realized elaborately grotesque visions that fascinate us more than 500 years later. But no matter how long we gaze upon his work, especially his large-format altarpiece triptychs, most of us wouldn't want to spend our lives in his world. But a group of dedicated Bosch fans has made it possible to live in it for three days a year, when the annual Bosch Parade floats down the Dommel River. Last year that small waterway hosted "a story in motion, presented on 14 separate tableaux. They shape a universal tale of power and counterforce, battle and rapprochement, chaos and hope. From the chaos after the battle a new order shall emerge."

All images © Bosch Parade, Ben Niehuis

In practical terms, writes Colossal's Grace Ebert, that meant "a musical performance played on a partially submerged piano and a scene with two people straddling enormous horns," as well as a dozen other water-based vignettes that passed through the Dutch town of 's-Hertogenbosch, Bosch's birthplace and later his namesake.




Everything that rolled down the Dommel was designed by a group of artists selected, according to the parade's web site, "on the basis of their complementary characteristics, the various disciplines they represent and their clear match with the Bosch Parade artistic ‘DNA’ in the way they work and perform." As you can see in the 2019 Bosch Parade's program, the artists' creations draw on 15th-century conceptions of life, art, technology, and the human body while also taking place unmistakably in the 21st.

Though Bosch's paintings look alive even in their motionlessness, to appreciate a parade requires seeing it in action. Hence the videos here of the 2015 Bosch Parade: at the top of the post is a short teaser; just above is a longer compilation of some of the event's most Boschian moments, which puts the painter's images side-by-side with the floats they inspired. Viewers will recognize elements of The Garden of Earthly Delights, Bosch's single best-known work, but also of The Haywain Triptych, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, and The Temptations of St. Anthony. As art history buffs know, some of those paintings may or may not have been painted by Bosch himself, but by one of his followers or contemporary imitators.

But to the extent that all these images can inspire modern-day painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, and spectacle-makers, they enrich the Boschian reality — a reality of water and fire, bodies and body parts, men and monsters, contraptions and projections, and even video games and the internet — that comes to life every summer in 's-Hertogenbosch. Or rather, most every summer: the next Bosch Parade is scheduled not for June of this year but June of 2021. But when that time comes around around it will last for four days, from the 17th through the 20th. That information comes from the parade's Twitter account, which in the run-up to the event will presumably also post answers to all the most important questions — such as whether next year will feature any live buttock music.

via Colossal

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Salvador Dalí Strolls onto The Dick Cavett Show with an Anteater, Then Talks About Dreams & Surrealism, the Golden Ratio & More (1970)

There was a time when you could flip on the TV in the evening, tune in to a major network's late-night talk show, and see Salvador Dalí walking an anteater. That time was the early 1970s, the network was ABC, and the talk show's host was Dick Cavett, who dared to converse on camera, and at length, with everyone from Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen to Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal to David Bowie and Janis Joplin, and John Lennon with Yoko Ono. Whether they went smoothly or bumpily, Cavett's conversations played out like no others on television, then or now. Dalí's March 1970 appearance above makes for a case in point: not only does he come on with his anteater, he wastes little time tossing it into the lap of another of the evening's guests, silent-film star Lillian Gish.

Dalí praises anteaters to Cavett as the sole "angelic" animal, a quality that has something to go with their tongues. He goes on to explain his admiration for the mathematical properties of rhinoceroses, whose proportions agree with the "golden ratio" he tended to incorporate into his art.




Other subjects to arise during Dalí's twenty minutes on set include the razor blade and the eyeball in Un Chien Andalou; the vivid, irrational, and "liliputitian" images that come to life in the mind "ten minutes or fifteen minutes before you fall [asleep]"; and the artist's maintenance of his famous mustache (which he'd previously discussed, sixteen years before, on The Name's the Same). At one point Gish asks Dalí if his work has "a message to give to the people that we, perhaps, don't understand." His unhesitating reply: "No message." Cavett, of course, has a smooth follow-up: "Could you invent one?"

In his show's 1970s prime, Cavett demonstrated an unmatched ability to make entertainment out of difficult guests — not by making fun of them, exactly, but by cracking jokes that revealed a certain self-awareness about the form of the talk show itself. "Am I alone in finding you somewhat to difficult to follow in terms of what your theories are?" he asks Dalí amid all the talk of anteaters and eyeballs, dreams and mathematics. And the difficulty wasn't just conceptual: "Is it my imagination," Cavett asks later on, "or are you speaking a mixture of languages?" But Dalí's deliberately idiosyncratic English, ideas, and personality all came of a piece, and at the end of the night Cavett admits his own admiration for the artist's work, even going so far as to request an autograph on air. The viewers of America must have come away from Dalí's TV appearances with more questions than answers. But for us watching today, one is particularly salient: what on Earth must Satchel Paige have thought of all this?

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Discover the Artist Who Mentored Edward Hopper & Inspired “Nighthawks”

Every good teacher must be prepared for the students who surpass them. Such was the case with Martin Lewis, Edward Hopper's onetime teacher, an Australian-born printmaker who left rural Victoria at age 15 and traveled the world before settling in New York City in 1900 to make his fame and fortune. By the 1910s, Lewis had become a commercially successful illustrator, well-known for his etching skill. It was then that he took on Hopper as an apprentice.

“Hopper asked that he might study alongside him,” writes DC Pae at Review 31, “and Lewis thereafter became his mentor in the discipline.” The future painter of Nighthawks even “cited his apprenticeship with the printmaker as inspiration for his later painting, the consolidation of his individual style.” Messy Nessy quotes Hopper’s own words: “after I took up my etching, my painting seemed to crystallize.” Hopper, she writes, “learned the finer points of etching and both artists used the great American metropolis at night as their muse.”

Though he is not popularly known for the art, Hopper himself became an accomplished printmaker, creating a series of around 70 works in the 1920s that drew from both Edgar Degas and his etching teacher, Lewis.




“Hopper easily took to etching and drypoint,” writes the Seattle Artist League. “He had a preference for a deeply etched plate, and very black ink on very white paper, so the prints were high contrast, similar to Martin Lewis…, Hopper’s primary influence in printmaking.”

A similar series by Lewis in the 1920s, which includes the striking prints you see here, shows a far stronger hand in the art, though also, perhaps, some mutual influence between the two friends, who exhibited together during the period. But there’s no doubt Lewis’s long shadows, forlorn street-lit corners, and cinematic scenes left their mark on Hopper’s famous later paintings.

It was to painting, after the massive popularity of printmaking, that the art world turned when the Depression hit. Lewis found himself out of date. Hopper left off etching in 1928 to focus on his primary medium. In many ways, Pae points out, Lewis served as a bridge between the documentary Ashcan School and the more psychological realism of Hopper and his contemporaries. Yet he “died in obscurity in 1962, largely forgotten” notes Messy Nessy (see much more of Lewis’s work there). “History chose Edward Hopper but Martin Lewis was his mentor,” and a figure well worth celebrating on his own for his technical mastery and originality.

via Messy Nessy

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Old Book Illustrations: An Online Database Lets You Download Thousands of Illustrations from the 19th & 20th Centuries

The Golden Age of Illustration is typically dated between 1880 and the early decades of the 20th century. This was “a period of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustration,” writes Artcyclopedia; the time of artists like John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter (below), Arthur Rackham, and Aubrey Beardsley. Some of the most prominent illustrators, such as Beardsley and Harry Clarke (see one of his Poe illustrations above), also became internationally known artists in the Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, and Pre-Raphaelite movements.

But extensive book illustration as the primary visual culture of print precedes this period by several decades. One of the most revered and prolific of fine art book illustrators, Gustave Doré, did some of his best work in the mid-nineteenth century.




Other French illustrators, such as Alphonse de Neuville and Emile-Antoine Bayard, made impressive contributions in the 1860s and 70s—for example, to Jules Verne’s lavishly illustrated, 54-volume Voyages Extraordinaires.

As Colin Marshall wrote in a recent post here, these copious illustrations (4,000 in all) served more than a just decorative purpose. A less than “fully literate public” benefited from the picture-book style. So too did readers hungry for stylish visual humor, for documentary representations of nature, architecture, fashion, etc., before photography became not only possible but also inexpensive to reproduce. Whatever the reason, readers throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would generally expect their reading material to come with pictures, and very finely rendered ones at that.

The online database Old Book Illustrations has catalogued thousands of these illustrations, lifted from their original context and searchable by artist name, source, date, book title, techniques, formats, publishers, subject, etc. “There are also a number of collections to browse through,” notes Kottke, “and each are tagged with multiple keywords.” Not all of the work represented here is up to the uniquely high standards of a Gustave Doré (below), Aubrey Beardsley, or John Tenniel, all of whom, along with hundreds of other artists, get their own categories. But that’s not entirely the point of this library.

Old Book Illustrations presents itself as a scholarly resource, including a digitized Dictionary of the Art of Printing and short articles on some of the most famous artists and significant texts from the period. The site’s publishers are also transparent about their selection process. They are guided by their “reasons pertaining to taste, consistency, and practicality,” they write. The archive might have broadened its focus, but “due to obvious legal restrictions, [they] had to stay within the limits of the public domain.”

Likewise, they note that the digitized images on the site have been restored to “make them as close as possible to the perfect print the artist probably had in mind when at work.” Visitors who would prefer to see the illustrations as “time handed them to us” can click on “Raw Scan” to the right of the list of resolution options at the top of each image. (See a processed and unprocessed scan above and below of fashion illustrator and humorist Charles Dana Gibson’s “overworked American father” on “his day off in August.”)

All of the images on Old Book Illustrations are available in high resolution, and the site authors intend to add more articles and to make available in English articles on French Romanticism unavailable anywhere else. "We are not the only image collection on the web," they write, "neither will we ever be the largest one. We hope however to be a destination of choice for visitors more particularly interested in Victorian and French Romantic illustrations." They give visitors who fit that description plenty of incentive to keep coming back.

via Kottke

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Biodiversity Heritage Library Makes 150,000 High-Res Illustrations of the Natural World Free to Download

You may have heard of "plant blindness," a condition defined about 20 years ago that has started to get more press in recent years. As its name suggests, it refers to an inability to identify or even notice the many plant species around us in our everyday lives. Some have connected it to a potentially more widespread affliction they call "nature deficit disorder," which is also just what it sounds like: a set of impairments brought on by insufficient exposure to the natural world. One might also draw a line from these concepts to our attitudes about climate change, or to our ever-less-interrupted immersion in the digital world. But if any part of that digital world can open our eyes to nature once again, it's the Biodiversity Heritage Library (present also on Flickr and Instagram.)

Previously featured here on Open Culture for its vast archive of two million illustrations of the natural world, the BHL has received more coverage this year for the more than 150,000 it's made available for copyright-free download. Hyperallergic's Hakim Bishara quotes Henry David Thoreau — "We need the tonic of wildness. We can never get enough of nature" — before writing of how thrilled Thoreau would have been by the existence of such a resource for images of nature.




These images include "animal sketches, historical diagrams, botanical studies, and scientific research collected from hundreds of thousands of journals and libraries across the world," some dating to the 15th century. He highlights "Joseph Wolf’s 19th-century book Zoological Sketches, containing about 100 lithographs depicting wild animals in London’s Regent’s Park" and "watercolors depicting flowers indigenous to the Hawaiian islands" as well as "an 1833 DIY Taxidermist’s Manual."

As Smithsonian.com's Theresa Machemer notes, "The practice of creating detailed illustrations of flora and fauna, whether to document an expedition or a medical practice, gained popularity well before photography was up to the task." Hence such ambitious projects as the United States government's commissioning, in 1866, of watercolor paintings depicting every fruit known to man. But even today, "an illustration can offer more clarity than a photograph," as you'll find when you zoom in on any of the BHL's high-resolution illustrations. According to the BHL, "a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries," its mission is to provide "access to the world’s collective knowledge about biodiversity," in order to help researchers "document Earth’s species and understand the complexities of swiftly-changing ecosystems in the midst of a major extinction crisis and widespread climate change." But by revealing how our predecessors saw nature, it can also help all of us see nature again. Access the illustrations here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Jules Verne’s Most Famous Books Were Part of a 54-Volume Masterpiece, Featuring 4,000 Illustrations: See Them Online

Not many readers of the 21st century seek out the work of popular writers of the 19th century, but when they do, they often seek out the work of Jules Verne. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days: fair to say that we all know the titles of these fantastical French tales from the 1860s and 70s, and more than a few of us have actually read them. But how many of us know that they all belong to a single series, the 54-volume Voyages Extraordinaires, that Verne published from 1863 until the end of his life? Verne described the project's goal to an interviewer thus: "to conclude in story form my whole survey of the world’s surface and the heavens."

Verne intended to educate, but at the same time to entertain and even artistically impress: "My object has been to depict the earth, and not the earth alone, but the universe," he said. "And I have tried at the same time to realize a very high ideal of beauty of style." This he accomplished with great success in a time and place without even what we would now consider a fully literate public.




As philosopher Marc Soriano writes of the 1860s when Verne began publishing, "The drive for literacy in France has been underway since the Guizot Law of 1833, but there is still much to do. Any well-advised editor must aid his readers who have not yet achieved a good reading proficiency."

Hence the need for illustrations: beautiful illustrations, scientifically and narratively faithful illustrations, and above all a great many illustrations: over 4,000 of them, by the count of Arthur B. Evans in his essay on the series' artists, "an average of 60+ illustrations per novel, one for every 6-8 pages of text." Still today, "most modern French reprints of the Voyages Extraordinaires continue to feature their original illustrations — recapturing the 'feel' of Verne’s socio-historical milieu and evoking that sense of faraway exoticism and futuristic awe which the original readers once experienced from these texts. And yet, to date, the bulk of Vernian criticism has virtually ignored the crucial role played by these illustrations in Verne’s oeuvre."

Evans identifies four different types of illustrations in the series: "renderings of the protagonists of the story — e.g., portraits like the one of Impey Barbicane in De la terre à la lune"; "panoramic and postcard-like" views of the "exotic locales, unusual sights, and flora and fauna which the heroes encounter during their journey, like the one from Vingt mille lieues sous les mers depicting divers walking on the ocean floor"; "documentational" illustrations like "the map of the Polar regions (hand-drawn by Verne himself) for his 1864 novel Les Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras"; and portayals of "a specific moment of action in the narrative—e.g., the one from Voyage au centre de la terre where Prof. Lidenbrock, Axel, and Hans are suddenly caught in a lightning storm on a subterranean ocean."

Verne and his editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel commissioned these illustrations from no fewer than eight artists, a group including Edouard Riou, Alphonse de Neuville, Emile-Antoine Bayard (previously featured here on Open Culture), and Léon Benett — all well-known artists in late 19th-century France, and made even more so by their work in the Voyages Extraordinaires. You can browse a complete gallery of the series' original illustrations here, and if you like, enrich the experience with this extensive essay by Terry Harpold on "reading" these images in context.

Together with the stories themselves, on the back of which Verne remains the most translated science-fiction author of all time, they allow Harpold to make the credible claim that "the textual-graphic domain constituted by these objects is unmatched in its breadth and variety; no other corpus associated with a single author is comparable." Human knowledge of the universe has widened and deepened since Verne's day, but for sheer intellectual and adventurous wonder about what that universe might contain, has any writer, from any era or land, outdone him since?

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Free Coloring Books from World-Class Libraries & Museums: Download & Color Hundreds of Free Images

There are many roads to wellness. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and healthy diet are all effective therapies for bringing down stress levels. But we shouldn’t discount an activity we once used to while hours away as children, and that adults by the millions have taken to in recent years. Coloring takes us out of ourselves, say experts like Doctor of Psychiatry Scott M. Bea, “it's very much like a meditative exercise.” It relaxes our brain by focusing our attention and pushing distracting and disturbing thoughts to the margins. The low stakes make the activity easy and pleasurable, qualities grown-ups don’t get to ascribe to most of what they spend their time doing.

Reducing anxiety is all well and good, but some art and history lovers can’t accept just any old mass-market coloring book. Luckily, a consortium of over a hundred museums and libraries has given these special customers a reason to stick with it. Since 2016, the annual #ColorOurCollections campaign, led by the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), has made available, for free, adult coloring books. The range of images offers something for everyone, from early modern illustrations like the cat at the top, from Edward Topsell’s Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes (1607)—courtesy of Trinity Hall Cambridge; to the poignant cover of The Suffragist, below, from July 1919, a month after U.S. women won the right to the vote (from the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens).

There are, unsurprisingly, copious illustrations of medical procedures and anatomy, like that below from the Library at the University of Barcelona. There are vintage advertisements, “canoe-heavy content” from a Canadian museum, as Katherine Wu reports at Smithsonian, and war posters like that further down of Admiral Chester Nimitz asking for “the stuff” to hit “the spot,” i.e. Tokyo –from the Pritzker Military Museum. “The only commonality shared by the thousands of prints and drawings available on the NYAM website is their black-and-white appearance: The pages otherwise span just about every taste and illustrative predilection a coloring connoisseur could conjure.”

One Twitter fan pointed out that the initiative provides “a great way to get to know some of the collections held in libraries around the world.” Their enthusiasm is catching. But note that few of the institutions (see full collection here) have uploaded a large quantity of colorable images. Most of the “coloring books” consist of only a handful of pages, some only one or two. Taken altogether, however, the combined strength of one hundred institutions, over four years (see previous years at the links below), adds up to many hundreds of pages of coloring fun and relaxation. If that’s your thing, start here. If you don’t know if it’s your thing, #ColorOurCollections is a free (minus the cost of printer ink and paper), educational way to find out. Grab those crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, etc. and calm down again the way you did when you were six years old.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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