How Fashionable Dutch Women (Like the Girl with a Pearl Earring) Got Dressed in 1665

Remember how it felt to be bundled into tights, socks, jeans, a thick sweater, a snowsuit, mittens, only to realize that you really needed to pee?

Back in 1665, the Little Ice Age compelled the well-to-do ladies of Delft to turn themselves out with a similar eye toward keeping warm, but their ensembles had a distinct advantage over the Christmas Story snowsuit approach.

Relieving themselves was as easy as hiking their skirts, petticoats, and voluminous, lace-trimmed chemise. No flies for freezing fingers to fumble with. In fact, no drawers at all.

Historical costumer Pauline Loven, a creator of the Getting Dressed In… series, builds this elite outfit from the innermost layer out, above, noting that clothing was an avenue for well-to-do citizens to flaunt their wealth:

  • A long, full, Linen or silk chemise trimmed with lace at the cuff
  • A waist-tied hip pad to bolster several layers of cozy, lined petticoats
  • An elegant silk gown comprised of several components:
    • A flat fronted skirt tucked into pleats at the sides and back
    • A laced up bodice stiffened with whale bone stays
    • Detachable sleeves
    • A stomacher for front-laced bodices
  • A loose fitting, fur-trimmed velvet or silk jacket
  • Silk or woolen thigh-high stockings gartered below the knee (created for the episode by heritage educator, and knitwear designer Sally Pointer)
  • A linen or silk kerchief pinned or tied at the breast
  • Square-toed leather shoes with a curved heel (created for the episode by Kevin Garlick, who specializes in handmade shoes for re-enactors.)

Fashionable accessories might include a foot warming, charcoal powered voeten stoof and understated jewelry, like the pearls Johannes Vermeer painted to such luminous effect.

If that doesn’t tip you off to the direction this historic recreation is headed, allow us to note that the attendant, who’s far from the focus of this episode, is garbed so as to suggest The Milkmaid by a certain Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes…and whose initials are J.V.

The finishing touch is a turban of yellow silk taffeta and blue silk dupion, an exotic element that may produce a sense of deja vu in art lovers … and anyone who relishes a good art-based recreation challenge.

View more of Pauline Loven’s work and Getting Dressed In… episodes focused on other periods at Crow’s Eye Productions’ YouTube channel.

Related Content:

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Ghosts of History: Dutch Artist Eerily Superimposes Modern Street Scenes on World War II Photos

Street Art for Book Lovers: Dutch Artists Paint Massive Bookcase Mural on the Side of a Building

Ayun Halliday is an author, theatermaker, and the Chief Primaologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her latest book, Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto, will be published in early 2022.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Brian Eno Shares His Critical Take on Art & NFTs: “I Mainly See Hustlers Looking for Suckers”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It can feel, in our inequality-addled world, that we have little left in common — that there is no “we,” just us and them. But multiple crises driving us apart have the potential to unite the species. After all, a rapidly warming planet and global pandemic do threaten us all, even if they don’t threaten us equally. Do solutions exist in the creation of new forms of private property, new ways of moving capital around the world? Can the extinction-level byproducts of capitalist commodification and waste be mitigated by ingenious new forms of financialization? These seem to be the arguments made by purveyors of cryptocurrency and NFTs, an acronym meaning non fungible tokens and — if you haven’t noticed — the only thing anyone in the art world seems to talk about anymore. Why?

Brian Eno has put his opinion on the matter quite bluntly in a recent interview. “NFTs seem to me just a way for artists to get a little piece of the action from global capitalism,” he tells The Crypto Syllabus. “How sweet — now artists can become little capitalist assholes as well.” He obviously disapproves of using art solely to generate profit, but then if we know anything about Eno’s theory of creativity and influence over the past several decades, it’s that he believes the guiding reason for art is to generate more art.

“If I had primarily wanted to make money I would have had a different career as a different kind of person. I probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an artist.” There’s utterly no use in trying to peg Eno as technophobic or out of touch; quite the contrary. But the fictional financial products that have invaded every other sphere of life have no place in the arts, he argues.

When asked why NFTs are touted as a salvation for artists and the art world by cryptocurrency visionaries, including many of his friends and collaborators, Eno replies:

I can understand why the people who’ve done well from it are pleased, and it’s natural enough in a libertarian world to believe that something that benefits you must automatically be ‘right’ for the whole world. That belief is a version of what I call ‘automaticism’: the idea that if you leave things alone and let something or other – the market, nature, human will – take its course unimpeded you will automatically get a better result than you would by tinkering with it. The people who hold beliefs of this kind don’t have any qualms about tinkering themselves but just want a situation where nobody else gets to tinker. Especially the state.

That the sale of NFTs have only benefitted very few — to the tune of $69 million in a single sale in a recent high-profile case — doesn’t seem particularly troublesome to those who insist on their benefits. Nor do the creators of NFTs seem bothered by the enormous energy overhead required by the technology, “an ecological nightmare pyramid scheme,” writes Synthtopia — of which Eno says: “in a warming world a new technology that uses vast amounts of energy as ‘proof of work’ — that’s to say, simply to establish a certain age of exclusivity — really is quite insane.”

Eno readily answers questions about why NFTs seem so glamorous — it’s no great mystery, just a new form of accumulation, commodification and waste, one in particular that adds nothing to the world while hastening a climate collapse. NFTs are the “readymade reversed,” David Joselit argues: Where “Duchamp used the category of art to liberate materiality from commodifiable form; the NFT deploys the category of art to extract private property from freely available information.”

The discourse around NFTs also seems to liberate art from the category of art, and all that has meant to humankind for millennia as a communal practice, reducing creative productions to digital certificates of authenticity. “I am trying to keep an open mind about these questions,” Eno admits. “People I like and trust are convinced [NFTs] are the best thing since sliced bread, so I wish I could have a more positive view but right now I mainly see hustlers looking for suckers.”

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

What Does It Take to Be a Great Artist?: An Aging Painter Reflects on His Creative Process & Why He Will Never Be a Picasso

What does it take to be an artist? In the short film above by Jakub Blank, artist Bill Blaine meditates on the question as he strolls around his home and studio and talks about his work. Blaine has aged into the realization that making art is what fulfills him, even though it probably won’t bring him immortal fame. “I’ve thought about this,” he says. “I would probably be a happier person if I were painting all the time.” Bloated egos belong to the young, and Blaine is glad to put the “absurd” ambitions of youth behind him. “In the old days,” he muses, “your ego was so big, that you wanted to be better than everybody else, you wanted to be on the cutting edge of things… at least with old age, you don’t have a lot of that.”

And yet, though he seems to have everything an artist could want in the material sense – a palatial estate with its own well-appointed studio – a melancholy feeling of defeat hangs over the artist. Sadness remains in his ready smile as he gently interrogates himself, “So then, why the hell aren’t you painting all the time?” Blaine chuckles as he contemplates seeing a therapist, an idea he doesn’t seem to take particularly seriously. Aside from a few outliers, maybe the psychiatric profession hasn’t taken the creative impulse particularly seriously either. One psychoanalyst who did, Otto Rank, wrote in Art and Artist of the importance of creativity to all human development and activity.

“The human urge to create,” Rank argued, “does not find expression in works of art alone. It also produces religion and mythology and the social institutions corresponding to these. In a word, it produces the whole culture.” Everything we do, from baking bread to writing symphonies, is a creative act, in that we take raw materials and make things that didn’t exist before. In Western culture, however, the role of the artist has been distorted. Artists are elevated to the status of genius, or relegated to mediocrities, at best, disposable deadbeats, at worst. Blaine surely deserves his lot of happiness from his work. Has he been undermined by self-doubt?

His vulnerability and the sharp candor of his observations leave us with a portrait of a man almost in agony over the knowledge, he says – again using the accusatory second person – that “you’re not going to be the next Picasso or the next Frank Stella or whatever else.” There’s more to the negative comparisons than wounded vanity. He should feel free to do what he likes, but he lacks what made these artists great, he says:

You have to be obsessive, you really do. Compulsive. And I’m not enough, unfortunately. Had a certain amount of talent, just didn’t have the obsession apparently. I think that’s what great artists have. They can’t let it go. And eventually, whatever they do, that’s their art, that’s who they are.

Blaine contrasts greatness with the work of unserious “dilettantes” who may approximate abstract expressionist or other styles, but whose work fails to manifest the personality of the artist. “You can see through it,” says Blaine, wincing. Shot in his “home and studio in Mount Dora, Florida,” notes Aeon, the film is “full of his original paintings and photographs. Blaine offers his unguarded thoughts on a range of topics related to the generative process.”

Artists are rarely their own best critics, and Blaine’s assessments of his work can seem withering when voiced over Blank’s slideshow presentations. But as he opens up about his creative process, and his perception of himself as “too bourgeois” to really make it, he may reveal much more about the struggles that all artists — or all creative people — face than he realizes.

via Aeon

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

J.R.R. Tolkien Sent Illustrated Letters from Father Christmas to His Kids Every Year (1920-1943)

It doesn’t take children long to suspect that Santa Claus is actually their parents. But if Mom and Dad demonstrate sufficient commitment to the fantasy, so will the kids. This must have held even truer for the family of the 20th century’s most celebrated creator of fantasies, J. R. R. Tolkien. Before Tolkien had begun writing The Hobbit, let alone the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he was honing his signature storytelling and world-building skills by writing letters from Father Christmas. The toddler John Tolkien and his infant brother Michael received the first in 1920, just after their Great War veteran father was demobilized from the army and made the youngest professor at the University of Leeds. Another would come each and every Christmas until 1943, two more children and much of a life’s work later.

Every year, Tolkien’s Father Christmas had a great deal to report to John, Michael, and later Christopher and Priscilla. Apart from the usual hassle of assembling and delivering gifts, he had to contend with a host of other challenges including but not limited to attacks by marauding goblins and the accidental destruction of the moon.

The cast of characters also includes an unreliable polar-bear assistant and his cubs Paksu and Valkotukka, the sound of whose names hints at Tolkien’s interest in language and myth. Since the publication of the collected Letters From Father Christmas a few years after Tolkien’s death, enthusiasts have identified many traces of the qualities that would later emerge, fully developed, in his novels. The spirit of adventure is there, of course, but so is the humor.

Understanding seemingly from the first how to fire up a young reader’s imagination, the multitalented Tolkien accompanied each letter from Father Christmas with an illustration. Colorful and evocative, these works of art depict the scenes of both mishap and revelry described in the correspondence (itself stamped with a Tolkien-designed seal from the North Pole). How intensely must young John, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla have anticipated these missives in the weeks — even months — leading up to Christmas. And how astonishing it must have been, upon much later reflection, to realize what attention their father had devoted to this family project. Growing up Tolkien no doubt had its downsides, as relation to any famous writer does, but unmemorable holidays can’t have been one of them.

via Messy Nessy

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities 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.

18 Male Leonard Cohen Fans Over the Age of 65 Star in an Oddly Moving A Cappella Version of “I’m Your Man”

It’s going to be a tearjerker, I think — artist Candice Breitz

Watch 18 diehard Leonard Cohen fans over the age of 65 ardently fumbling their way through the title track of his 1988 album, I’m Your Man, for a deep reminder of how we are transported by the artists we love best.

These men, selected from a pool of over 400 applicants, don’t appear overly bothered by the quality of their singing voices, though clearly they’re giving it their all.

Instead, their chief concern seems to be communing with Cohen, who had died the year before, at the age of 82.

Artist Candice Breitz zeroed in on the likeliest candidates for this project using a 10-page application, in which interested parties were asked to describe Cohen’s role in their lives.

Almost all were based in Cohen’s hometown of Montreal.

Many have been fans since they were teenagers.

Participant Fergus Keyes described meeting Cohen at a 1984 signing for his poetry collection, Book of Mercy:

He told me he liked my name. He asked if he could use it in some future song. I said yes and he wrote it down in his little notebook. I said to him, ‘Sometimes I don’t understand what you’re saying.’ And he said there was no wrong way of interpreting it, because he wrote for others and whatever we interpret is right. 

There’s definitely a variety of interpretations on display, above, in an excerpt of Breitz’ 40-minute work, I’m Your Man: A Portrait of Leonard Cohen.

In person, it’s displayed as an installation in-the-round, with viewers free to roam around in the middle, as each participant is projected on his own life-size video monitor for the duration.

They’re our men.

Some standing stiffly.

Others with eyes tightly shut.

Some cannot resist the temptation to act out certain choice lines.

One joyful uninhibited soul beams and dances.

They keep time with their hands, feet, heads… a seated man taps his cane.

One whistles, confidently filling the space most commonly occupied by an instrumental, while the majority of the others fidget.

There are suit jackets, a couple of Cohen-esque fedoras, a t-shirt from a 2015 Cohen event, and what appears to be a linen gown, topped with a chunky sweater vest.

Breitz’s only requirement of the participants was that they memorize the lyrics to the I’m Your Man album in its entirety, prior to entering the recording studio.

Each man laid his track down solo, singing along while listening to the album on earbuds, unaware of exactly how his contribution would be used. Several professed shock to discover, on opening night, that synchronous editing had transformed them into members of an a cappella choir. 

The project may strike some viewers as funny, especially when an individual or group flubs a lyric or veers off tempo, but the purpose is not mockery. Breitz worked to establish trust, and the participants’ willingness to extend it gives the piece its emotional foundation.

Victor Shiffman, co-curator of the 2017 Cohen exhibit A Crack in Everything at the commissioning Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, told the Montreal Gazette:

They are not precisely singers. They are just passionate, ardent fans; their goal was to communicate their devotion and love for Leonard by participating in this tribute. It is not about hitting the notes. The emotion comes through in the conviction these men portray and in the dedication they show in having put themselves out there. There is so much beauty in that work; it disarms us.

Having centered similar fan-based multichannel video experiments around such works as Bob Marley’s Legend and John Lennon’s Working Class Hero, Breitz explained the casting of the Cohen project to CBC Arts:

I was really interested in this moment in life when one starts to look back and contemplate what kind of a life one has lived and what kind of life one wishes to continue living as one approaches the end of that life. And I think that even when he was a young man, Cohen was somebody who thought about and wrote about mortality in very profound ways. So what I decided to do was to invite a group of Cohen fans who really would be up to the project of interpreting that complexity.

Prior to the work’s premiere, Breitz gathered the group for a toast, suggesting that the occasion was doubly special in that it was highly unlikely they would meet again.

Sometimes artists are unaware of the powerful force they unleash.

Rather than going their separate ways, the participants formed friendships, reunite for non-solo Cohen singalongs, and in the words of one man, became “a real brotherhood… once you establish that connection, everything else disappears.”

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primaologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals: What Makes Them Great Art

It is precisely the possibility of exercising choice wherein our lot differs from that of the artists of the past. For choice implies responsibility to one’s conscience, and, in the conscience of the artist, the Truth of Art is foremost. — Mark Rothko

Born Marcus Rothkowitz in 1903, the painter Mark Rothko immigrated with his family from Russia at age 10, fleeing the persecution of Jews in his home country. He grew up poor in Portland, Oregon, won a scholarship to Yale in 1921, but “found himself once more an outsider, stigmatized as a Jew,” says James Payne in the Great Art Explained video above. Feeling alienated and disaffected, he dropped out and moved to New York (to the dismay of his family), “to wander around,” he later wrote, ”bum about, starve a bit,” and paint. He co-founded a group of modern artists who exhibited frequently together and won critical attention, but Rothko struggled financially into middle age and only began selling his work during the “color field” period that made him famous in the 1950s.

It wasn’t until 1958 that Rothko received his first major commission, for what would become the Seagram Murals, so-called because they were meant for the luxurious Four Seasons restaurant in the newly-built Seagram Building on Park Avenue, a glittering symbol of New York’s opulence, designed by architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson and filled with paintings by Rothko’s contemporaries. Rothko spent two years working on the project, a series of paintings to fill the restaurant’s smaller, exclusive dining room. He produced a total of 30 panels, seven of which were to fit together in the restaurant. Then, almost two years after receiving the commission for $35,000 (roughly $334,000 today), he abruptly changed his mind, returned the money, and withdrew the works.

Ten years after Rothko’s decision, “on the 25th of February 1970,” Payne tells us, “the Tate gallery in London received nine Mark Rothko canvases” — panels from the Seagram Murals collection — “a generous donation from the artist himself. A few hours later, Rothko was found dead in his studio on East 69th Street in Manhattan. The 66-year old painter had taken his own life…. His suicide would change everything, and shape the way we respond to his work.” But perhaps it’s not that tragic event that best provides us with an understanding of the artist’s motivations. “Rothko’s contract with society was not torn up that day in 1970,” argues Jonathan Jones at The Guardian, “but a decade earlier, in 1959,” when Rothko, “intense, solitary, leftwing, used to poverty and failure,” conceived of an art to “harrow” well-heeled diners at the Four Seasons.

Rothko explicitly modeled the Seagram Mural project after what he called the “somber vault” of Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence, which he visited on a trip to Italy in 1959. “He achieved just the kind of feeling I’m after,” said Rothko. “He makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall.” Abandoning the brighter color schemes of his past works, he turned to blacks, reds, and maroons, a palette drawn from mosaic walls he’d seen in a Pompeiian villa. Rothko reportedly told journalist John Fischer, an editor at Harper’s, “I hope to ruin the appetite of every son of a bitch who ever eats in that room.” Aware of how his color field paintings moved viewers, often to tears, he hoped the murals would amplify the effect to an unpalatable degree.

Instead, when Rothko himself dined at the Four Seasons for the first and only time, he spoiled his own appetite for the commission. “Anybody who will eat that kind of food for those kinds of prices will never look at a painting of mine,” he told his assistant. That very evening he withdrew the paintings. “The fact that Rothko accepted the commission in the first place is puzzling,” Shira Wolfe writes at Artland. “He was revolted by capitalist America, and felt disdain towards anyone who contributed to it – and the Four Seasons Restaurant, in New York’s swankiest skyscraper, was destined to become the very epitome of America’s capitalism.” From its beginnings, the artist “felt ambivalent about the commission, and had a contract drawn up which would allow him to back out of the deal and retrieve his paintings if necessary.”

It was the necessity of choice, even in the face of poverty and obscurity, that most moved Rothko, as he wrote in a manuscript from the 1940s, posthumously published by his son Christopher Rothko as The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art. In the book, Rothko contrasts the modern artist’s fate with that of artists of the past who lived by the whims of dukes, kings, and popes.

It will be pointed out that the artist’s lot is the same today, that the market, through its denial or affording of the means of sustenance, exerts the same compulsion. Yet there is this vital difference: the civilizations enumerated above had the temporal and spiritual power to summarily enforce their demands. The Fires of Hell, exile, and, in the background, the rack and stake, were correctives if persuasion failed. Today the compulsion is Hunger, and the experience of the last four hundred years has shown us that hunger is not nearly as compelling as the imminence of Hell and Death. Since the passing of the spiritual and temporal patron, the history of art is the history of men who, for the most part, have preferred hunger to compliance, and who have considered the choice worthwhile. And choice it is, for all the tragic disparity between the two alternatives. 

Rothko was “obviously torn between his hatred for the wealth and greed of capitalism and his desire to create his own special place for his art,” writes Wolfe. In the year after his death, just such a place would open, a mural project that realized a very different set of intentions.

Originally a collaboration between Philip Johnson and Rothko – until the architect bowed out due to the painter’s peculiar vision – the non-sectarian Rothko Chapel in Houston debuted in late February 1971. An octagonal, cloistered building with fourteen large Rothko murals, the Chapel was commissioned by collector and patron Dominique de Menil when she saw the Seagram Murals taking shape in Rothko’s purpose-built New York studio. It’s possible, and perhaps morbidly tempting, to judge Rothko’s work by the tragedy of his final personal act, but he had more to say in his work after death. In the Seagram Murals, Rothko attempted to realize a philosophy of art he had articulated years earlier in The Artist’s Reality: “The law of Authority,” whether that of the Church, the State, or the Market, “has this saving grace; it can be circumnavigated.”

Related Content: 

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


What Makes Salvador Dalí’s Iconic Surrealist Painting “The Persistence of Memory” a Great Work of Art

Salvador Dalí painted melting clocks. This is not as drastic an oversimplification as it sounds: after first painting such a counterintuitive image, “Dalí, who knew the importance of branding, would use the melting clocks for his entire career.” So says no less an expert than James Payne, the gallerist and video essayist behind the Youtube channel Great Art Explained. In its latest episode Payne takes on the unrelentingly prolific Dalí’s most famous canvas of all, The Persistence of Memory. Completed in 1931, this work of art has by now spent about half a century adorning the walls of college dorm rooms, among other spaces inhabited by viewers interested in the alteration of their own perceptive faculties.

The Persistence of Memory doesn’t mark Dalí’s first use of melting clocks, though it’s without doubt his most important. Yet “despite its huge cultural impact,” says Payne, the painting is “quite small, about the size of a sheet of paper.” Against the background of “a huge desert landscape with vast depths of field, reduced to a shrunken world” — one harboring references to Goya, De Chirico, and Bosch — it vividly realizes a moment in the process of metamorphosis.

“A key concept in the Surrealist movement,” metamorphosis is here “exemplified by the paradox of Dalí’s rendering of the hardest and most mechanical objects, watches, into a soft and flaccid form.” Like all of the artist’s best work, it thus “exploits the ambiguity of our perceptual process and plays with our own fears.” But what do the melting clocks mean?

That, to Dalí’s own mind, is the wrong question: “I am against any kind of message,” he declared in one of his many television appearances. Indeed, his frequent appearances on television (What’s My Line?, The Mike Wallace Interview, The Dick Cavett Show) and in other media assured that, at a certain point, “Dalí the artist had become a prisoner of Dalí the celebrity.” But his appearances in the spotlight also gave him the chance to disseminate the chaff of conflicting explanations of his own work. Perhaps the melting clocks refer to Einstein’s then-novel theory of relativity; perhaps they symbolize impotence. Or it may all come down to Dalí’s obsession with death, which even in 1931 had long since taken both his mother and the younger brother of whom he believed himself a reincarnation. In the event, Dalí couldn’t escape mortality. None of us can, of course, and that, as much as anything else, may illuminate why The Persistence of Memory never quite passes into the realm of kitsch.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities 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.

Edvard Munch’s Famous Painting “The Scream” Animated to Pink Floyd’s Primal Music

In this short video, Romanian animator Sebastian Cosor brings together two haunting works from different times and different media: The Scream, by Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944), and “The Great Gig in the Sky,” by the British rock band Pink Floyd.

Munch painted the first of four versions of The Scream in 1893. He later wrote a poem describing the apocalyptic vision behind it:

I was walking along the road with two Friends
the Sun was setting — the Sky turned a bloody red
And I felt a whiff of Melancholy — I stood
Still, deathly tired — over the blue-black
Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire
My Friends walked on — I remained behind
— shivering with anxiety — I felt the Great Scream in Nature

Munch’s horrific Great Scream in Nature is combined in the video with Floyd’s otherworldly “The Great Gig in the Sky,” one of the signature pieces from the band’s 1973 masterpiece, Dark Side of the Moon. The vocals on “The Great Gig” were performed by an unknown young songwriter and session singer named Clare Torry.

Torry had been invited by producer Alan Parsons to come to Abbey Road Studios and improvise over a haunting piano chord progression by Richard Wright, on a track that was tentatively called “The Mortality Sequence.”  The 25-year-old singer was given very little direction from the band. “Clare came into the studio one day,” said bassist Roger Waters in a 2003 Rolling Stone interview, “and we said, ‘There’s no lyrics. It’s about dying — have a bit of a sing on that, girl.'”

Forty-two years later, that “bit of a sing” can still send a shiver down anyone’s spine. For more on the making of “The Great Gig in the Sky,” and Torry’s amazing contribution, see the clip below to hear Torry’s story in her own words.

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The Night Frank Zappa Jammed With Pink Floyd … and Captain Beefheart Too (Belgium, 1969) 

Three Pink Floyd Songs Played on the Traditional Korean Gayageum: “Comfortably Numb,” “Another Brick in the Wall” & “Great Gig in the Sky”

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.