La profondeur en surface. Whistler's Wings

Some people have hidden in their name the very essence of their inner being. In 'Whistler' you can hear the wondrous whirring of many small wings ending in a whisper. No wonder that spreading his diaphanous wings, he took up a butterfly signature, evolved from a graphic research on his initials "JW". He envisionned his art in musical terms and adopting such a monogram might have helped to distance his images from the pressure of the written word and narratives sought after by the critics. A defender of "art for art's sake", he wrote to his patron David Leyland, a very rich banker and  amateur pianist: 
"I say I can’t thank you too much for the name ‘Nocturne’ as a title for my moonlights! You have no idea what an irritation it proves to the critics and consequent pleasure to me- besides it is really so charming and does so poetically say all that I want to say and no more than I wish!"
Whistler adopted his famous butterfly signature in the 1860s out of his fancy for Asian art and study of potter's marks on the china he began collecting compulsively. His butterfly signature developed over the years and proved useful to help art searchers to date his works. By around 1880, at the time of his trial with Ruskin, he added a sting to its tail as a sign of his provocative spirit and potential agressivity. After his marriage with Beatrix Philip in 1888, he liked to draw his butterfly with her trefoil. Playing with his wife's nicknames 'Trixie' and 'Luck', he wrote to his friend Lady Colin Campbell to boast of his marital joy: "For You know the Trixie is my 'Luck'- and see how well the trefoil and the butterfly belong." 

1, 2, 3 James Whistler, Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander, 1872-18744, © Tate gallery, details
4 Whistler, Twelve Butterflies, 1890, © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2013
5 Design for Lady Archibald Campbell's Parasol, c.1881-1882 © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2013

Links: Hunterian Art Gallery, university of Glasgow. Whistler Online Catalogue
University of Glasgow, the Correspondence of James Mac Neil Whistler
The Tate, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander 1872-74


Les surprises de la poste. Le fil rouge de la mercière ambulante

La profondeur d'un sommeil

Je me suis dit que Paris, où les murs et les quais, l'asphalte, les collections et les décombres, les grilles et le squares, les passages et les kiosques, nous apprennent une langue si singulière, devait nécessairement être le lieu où, dans la solitude qui nous étreint, absorbés que nous sommes dans ce monde d'objets, nos relations avec les êtres atteignent la profondeur d'un sommeil où les attend l'image de rêve qui leur révèle leur vrai visage.

 Walter Benjamin, Paris capitale du XIXeme siècle

Eric Hazan et Walter Benjamin accompagnent sans cesse mes déambulations parisiennes. 
Merci pour l'évocation du magnifique livre L'invention de Paris.

Depuis que nos fils se sont noués, La mercière ambulante m'a fait part à plusieurs reprises de problèmes techniques pour laisser un commentaire sur mon blog. Voici un mail qu'elle m'avait envoyé à la suite du billet sur L'invention de Paris de Eric Hazan. Ayant deviné mon adresse postale à Cologne, elle m'a envoyé ses voeux de nouvel an avec cette carte Easy-Made d'après Marcel Duchamp. Un bel hommage à Duchamp et une très belle forme de son travail toujours en réinvention et en mouvement. Parti de l'Orne le 7 janvier dernier, son enveloppe a erré, probablement dans la profondeur du sommeil des choses qui seules savent juger du moment juste pour se révéler; l'adresse quant à elle n'était pas en cause. Comme le Nouvel an chinois a commencé cette année le 10 février, ces voeux ne se sont pas fait trop attendre. Pour ma part, ce nouvel an lunaire qui célèbre le tout premier printemps me convient mieux que le nôtre. 

Marie France Dubromel, Porte-fil rouge Easy-Made, 2013. Photographie J'attends...
Anjali Weber, Bague en papier, poème en allemand,  pour DesignPavillon, Cologne


Lost in Imagination. Motojirô Kajii's Second Sight

I built a strange and fantastic castle, mixing reds and blues throughout.

Motojirô Kajii, Lemon, 1925*

On that day, I was unusually doing my shopping at that particular shop. In doing so, I discovered a most rare lemon. Lemons are pretty common. This shop was not particularly shabby, no different to any other greengrocer and so I had not spent time browsing here before. Oh how I loved this lemon! The colour of this lemon was exactly like simple, solid lemon yellow paint squeezed right out the tube…taking the form and shape of a spindle… Eventually I decided to buy this single item. From here, I wondered where would I go? I walked down a street for a long time. The continuous oppressive pressure of the ominous lump on my heart that seemed to slacken ever so slightly, just for an instant, which made me wonderfully happy. To the extent that for the first time I was distracted from the persistent depression, I perhaps should have been doubtful that this lemon brought so much happiness, but it was paradoxically real.

*Amateur translation of Lemon by an English student 
at Nagoya University, 2010
Another amateur translation to be found here.

Lemon, edition Cold Green Tea Press
translated by Chinatsu Komori and Kenneth Traynor

A poor and ill young man roaming through the streets of Kyoto stops by a greengrocer and buys a lemon. He becomes fascinated by the commonplace piece of fruit and begins seeing it as a bomb ready to explode. Kajii's work Remon (The Lemon) has become a major reference* in Japonese modernism.

Quand regarder intensément devient la seule manière vivante de vivre... 

*A discussion of the short story with Suzuki Sadami, author of a dissertation on Motojirô Kajii, The world of Motojirô Kajii, p.21

T. Enami, A fruit seller in Old Japan, Okinawa Soba
Cy Twombly, Lemons, Gaeta, 2005, Color dry-print, Collection Cy Twombly, Foto: Archiv Nicola del Roscio, Rom, © Cy Twombly.
3 Cy Twombly,  Lemon, 2008, © Cy Twombly.
4 T. Enami,Bamboo alley of Kyoto, Okinawa Soba
5 Motojirô Kajii, photo Wikipedia, author unknown

Liens: Okinawa Soba, Flickr et blog de Okinawa Soba sur T. Enami 


Frysk & Frij. Jopie Huisman, la Frise et le hareng nouveau

La cuisine du restaurant de L’Ogenblik n’a rien d’exceptionnel, mais c’est en cela qu’elle est essentielle.

Laurent Feneau, Bruxelles par les moustaches

"Frysk and Frij" is a Frisian common saying meaning "Frisian and free." Playing on the words of the popular phrase, the Jopie Huisman museum in Workum organized an exhibition named Fisk & Frij and dedicated to Jopie Huisman's work and to the Frisian cultural traditions around the fish and fishing. 
Jopie Huisman(1922-2000) is a Dutch painter born in Workum. He is well known to have had an eye for cast offs and scraps. Reflecting on the fish culture in the Netherlands, I came up to think of the tradition of Maatjesharing...

Nieuwe Haring, Dutch New herring is a great seasonal delicacy. Vlaggetjesdag (Flagday) in Scheveningen is a Dutch festival celebrating the arrival of the first new herring of the year in June. Belgian and German people have their own way to prepare and savour its exquisite and tender flesh too. Eating new herring from the tail, with small cubes of onion or just in its naked and innocent simplicity with sushi rice,it is just up to you.

En cherchant à me documenter sur le hareng et en me perdant dans les onglets ouverts, j'ai découvert les chroniques gastronomiques en ligne du magazine Gmag, journal d'informations comestibles, et l'écriture de Laurent Feneau qui m'a mis les mots à la bouche.  


Humeurs. Anna Karina's Ennui

Le mouvement des choses, les accidents...

Godard, Pierrot le Fou, 1965

L'ennui comme projet...