30,000 Works of Art by Edvard Munch & Other Artists Put Online by Norway’s National Museum of Art

NOR Skrik, ENG The Scream

Next time I make it to Oslo, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design ranks high on my to-do list. The next time I make it to Oslo will also count as the first time I make it to Oslo, since the tendency of the city itself to rank high on the world’s-most-expensive places lists (and at the very top of some of those lists) has thus far scared me off of booking a flight there. But if you can handle Oslo’s formidable cost of living, the National Museum’s branches only charge you the equivalent of five bucks or so for admission. And now they’ve offered an even cheaper alternative: 30,000 works of art from their collection, viewable online for free.

NOR Melankoli, ENG Melancholy

If it all seems overwhelming, you can view the National Museum’s digital collection in sections of highlights: one of pre-1945 works, one of post-1945 works, and one of Edvard Munch. While few of us could confidently call ourselves experts in Norwegian art, all of us know the work of Munch — or at least we know a work of Munch, 1893’s The Scream (Skrik), whose black-garbed central figure, clutching his gaunt features twisted into an expression of pure agony, has gone on to inspire countless homages, parodies, and ironic greeting cards. But Munch, whose career lasted well over half a century and involved printmaking as well as painting, didn’t become Norway’s best-known artist on the strength of The Scream alone.

NOR Pikene på broen, ENG The Girls on the Bridge

The National Museum’s digital collection offers perhaps your best opportunity to begin to get a sense of the scope of Munch’s art. There you can take an up-close look at (and even download) such pieces as the less agonized Melancholy (Melankoli), painted one year before The Scream; 1901’s The Girls on the Bridge, a more placid treatment of a similar setting; and even, so you can get to know the artist better still, Munch’s 1895 self-portrait with a cigarette. He may not exactly look happy in it, but at least he hasn’t become a visual shorthand for all-consuming pain like the poor fellow he painted on the bridge. (If you want my guess as to what made the subject of The Scream so unhappy, I’d say he just finished looking into average Oslo rents.)

NOR Selvportrett med sigarett, ENG Self-Portrait with Cigarette

A big thanks to Joakim for making us aware of this collection. If any other readers know of great resources we can feature on the site, please send us a tip here.

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Colin Marshall writes elsewhere on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinemaand the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Musician Plays Signature Drum Parts of 71 Beatles Songs in 5 Minutes: A Whirlwind Tribute to Ringo Starr

Kye Smith, a drummer based in Newcastle, Australia, recently hauled his drum kit to a nearby rooftop (an homage to The Beatles’ 1969 rooftop gig?) and started banging out a pretty wonderful tribute to Ringo Starr, playing drum parts from 71 Beatles songs in 5 quick minutes. Smith moves chronologically, playing the songs in the order they were released (not recorded). We start in 1962, move through 1969, and even momentarily visit 1995. On his Facebook page, Smith had this to say:

Way before I found out about punk rock or even knew what a snare drum was I spent my childhood playing vinyl records at my grandparents place spinning artists such as Slim Dusty, ELVIS PRESLEY and The Beatles.

This chronology called for some special treatment and got me out of the studio and onto the rooftop of The Great Northern Hotel – Newcastle, Australia for a pretty stunning view of Newcastle, New South Wales in the background.

Thanks to everyone at The Great Northern for letting me make some noise up there and to Eluminate for helping me shoot it and lug heaps of gear up 7 storeys of stairs!

Below the jump, you can find the list of songs that appear in the video, complete with corresponding time stamps. And keep in mind that Smith, as he mentions on Youtube, is “available for studio and live work and will be opening up some slots for drum lessons shortly.” Contact him here.

PS: If you can name one of the drum parts that was originally played by Paul McCartney, you get bonus points.

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Watch the Cult Classic Horror Film Carnival of Souls (1962)

carnival of souls

Herk Harvey had a successful career as a director and producer of educational and industrial movies in Lawrence, Kansas, but he longed for something more. After all, fellow Kansas filmmaker Robert Altman had made the leap from industrial flicks to Hollywood, so why couldn’t he?

The resulting movie, Carnival of Souls (1962), became a cult classic influencing the likes of George Romero, James Wan and David Lynch. Mary (played by Candace Hilligoss, the only trained actor in the cast) mysteriously surfaces after an ill-fated drag race sends her car off a bridge and into a deep river. Unmoored and unable to remember what happened, she flees her hometown and ends up in Salt Lake City where she takes a gig as a church organist. She tries to make a life there but is plagued by an otherworldly stranger with a paper white mask of evil (played by Harvey himself.)

Now in the public domain, Carnival is a slow burn of dread that relies on few cheap jumps and little gore. Instead, Harvey creates a sparse world of alienation and creeping hysteria like an Edward Hopper painting gone psychotic. Harvey’s inspirations were clearly more art house than Hammer horror. Echoes of F. W. Murnau, Ingmar Bergman and Jean Cocteau abound. Yet the curiously somnambulate acting exhibited by most of the cast along with the movie’s freaky organ soundtrack gives the film the vibe of a particularly nightmarish Ed Wood movie.

Carnival made a modest showing on the drive-in circuit when it came out but it didn’t become a cult classic until later in the 60s when it started playing on late-night TV. Harvey, however, never made another feature.

You can watch the complete movie above, or find it in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

The Artist as Artist’s Model: Au Naturel Portraits of Frida Kahlo Taken by Art Patron Julien Levy (1938)


Frida Kahlo’s legacy is definitely informed by her careful husbandry of own image. She understood its currency, and how to leverage it. Even when caught out of uniform or having a seemingly unaware laugh, she stayed true to what in modern parlance would be called her brand.

So it is with gallery owner Julien Levy’s 1938 (technically not-safe-for-work) photographs of the artist, taken the year before he hosted her first solo show, an event that caused Time magazine to rhapsodize that “the flutter of the week in Manhattan was caused by the first exhibition of paintings by famed muralist Diego Rivera’s…wife, Frida Kahlo.”

Rivera’s wife was also Levy’s lover, as these artfully posed, semi-clad photos suggest. They show a less public side of Kahlo, to be sure, but one that’s in keeping with the face she presented to the world.

Frankly, the revelation of her partially loosed hair seems more intimate than her dishabille.

Click here to see the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection of Levy’s Kahlo portraits, both with and without rebozo.

To learn a little more about Julien Levy (“a gallery owner who committed his charisma, connections, and personal resources to establishing photography’s importance in the field of modern art”) and the collection bequeathed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, click here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play, Fawnbook, is now playing in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Hear Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” Read by the Great Bela Lugosi (1946)

A couple days ago, we featured some intriguing clips from the new animated Edgar Allan Poe film, Extraordinary Tales. Directed by animator Raul Garcia, the film draws on the voice talents of several classic horror actors and directors, including the late Christopher Lee, Roger Corman, and—in an archival reading of Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart”—the legendary Bela Lugosi. You can hear his reading above, a recording that seems to date from 1946. The Hungarian actor, who struggled to find work late in his career, and wrestled with a morphine addiction, likely “recorded it for his agent,” writes Ronald L. Smith, “who would have been deputized to make copies and send them out to anyone interested in booking Bela’s solo stage act (which included an enactment of the Poe tale).”

All of the great horror stars of the early twentieth century cut their teeth on Poe, and performed his macabre stories throughout their careers. Lugosi was no exception. After his typecasting as an exotic villain in the stage adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the late 20s, then in Tod Browning’s famous 1931 film, Lugosi would remark, “I am definitely typed, doomed to be an exponent of evil.”

He appeared the following year as the mad scientist in Universal’s adaptation of Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (watch here). Then, in 1935, Lugosi played yet another crazed doctor, who is obsessed with all things Poe, in The Raven (view here), a film that also features Universal’s other major horror star of the time, Boris Karloff. The two had teamed up the year previous in Edgar G. Ulmer’s Poe adaptation, The Black Cat, a huge hit for Universal, in which Lugosi plays yet another evil doctor.

After Lugosi’s successes with Poe-inspired films in the thirties, his career precipitously declined, and by the forties, when he made the “Tell Tale Heart” recording at the top of the post, he’d been reduced to playing parodies of his Dracula character, notably in 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Lugosi attempted to bank on earlier successes with Poe, or Poe-like, characters. Before Ed Wood found and resurrected him in now-classic fifties B-movies like Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, and—posthumously—Plan 9 from Outer Space, Lugosi made one final appearance onscreen in a Poe adaptation. Click here and see him in an adaptation of “The Cask of Amontillado,” an episode from television series Suspense. Set in Italy during World War II, this version of “Amontillado” casts Lugosi as Nazi officer “General Fortunato,” whom one fan describes as a “ruthless, amoral roué, with equally ruthless storm troopers at his beck and call.” It’s not Lugosi’s greatest performance, but it’s “Bela doing his 1949 best,” and an important entry in his catalog of Poe performances, if only because it’s the last of them.

Happy Halloween!

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

Stephen King Creates a List of 82 Books for Aspiring Writers (to Supplement an Earlier List of 96 Recommend Books)

Stephen King has given writers a lot to think about these past few years in his numerous interviews and in his statement of craft, On Writing. He deems one of his most salient pieces of advice on writing so important that he repeats it twice in his Top 20 Rules for Writers: writers, he says, “learn best by reading a lot…. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” To help his readers discover the right tools, King attached a list of 96 books at the end of On Writing, of which he said, “In some way or other, I suspect each book in the list had an influence on the books I wrote…. a good many of these might show you some new ways of doing your work.”

King’s original list of 96 books for aspiring writers generated a fair amount of comment on Aerogramme Writer’s Studio, who brought it to our attention last year. Later, the same web site brought us another list of 82 books, which King published in the 10th anniversary edition of On Writing. With King’s second list, as with the first, you’ll find that best-selling genre writers sit comfortably next to lit-class staples.

In this list, the spectrum of accessibility is a little narrower. We have fewer classic writers like Dickens or Conrad and fewer commercial novelists like Nelson DeMille. Instead the list is mostly twentieth century literary fiction by mostly living contemporaries, with little genre fiction save perhaps sci-fi/fantasy writer Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, thriller author Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, hugely popular mystery writer Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Patrick O’Brian’s adventure series. Below, we’ve excerpted a list of 15 books King recommends—books, he says, “which entertained and taught me.”

Kate AtkinsonOne Good Turn
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
Robert Bolaño, 2666
Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
Sue Monk Kid, The Secret Life of Bees
Elmore Leonard, Up in Honey’s Room
Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes
Philip Roth, American Pastoral
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
Donna Tartt, The Little Friend
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace 

King almost shrugs in his short introduction, writing, “you could do worse.” I expect many readers of this post might have suggestions for how they think you could also do better, especially given the five years that have passed since this list’s compilation and some of the blind spots that seem to persist in King’s reading habits. I doubt he would object much to any of us adding to, or subtracting from, his lists—or ignoring them altogether. It seems clear he thinks that like him, we should read what we like, as long as we’re always reading something. See the full list of 82 titles here.

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

Watch “The Poetry of Perception”: Harvard Animates Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson & William Carlos Williams

Two years ago, a series of animated science videos began to pop up on a Vimeo account called HarvardX Neuroscience. As its name suggests, it’s coming out of Harvard University, and, with the help of animators, they originally created a series of scientific shorts pitched between the layman and the serious scientist. In the last month, however, they’ve stepped further into the arts realm with a mini-series of animations (five and counting as of this writing) that look to poetry to explain what science renders dry and academic.

The new video series features “representations of perception and sensation” as realized through the poems of Walt Whitman, America’s great transcendentalist poet, Emily Dickinson, and William Carlos Williams (whose own reading is used as the audio for a video). Opening all the senses to the wonders of the world is “the origin of all poems” according to Whitman, and this curation focuses on smell, taste, sight, touch, and sound to prove his point.

The readers you hear in this videos, collectively entitled Poetry of Perception, include poet/artist Peter Blegvad, Anna Martine, Harvard’s own Sarah Jessop, and artist/animator Nak Yong Choi. And the animations are brought to you by Sophie Koko Gate, Hannah Jacobs, Lily Fang, Isaac Holland, Brian Smee, all who bring a tactile, mutable quality to these short poems.

There will be another three videos in the series, so please bookmark the Vimeo account.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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