June 27, 2010 |
The great French critic André Bazin said of director Luchino Visconti that he filmed the Sicilian fishermen in "La Terra Trema" as if they were "tragic princes." In the 1963 epic "The Leopard," rapturously presented on a new Criterion Blu-ray, Visconti reverses the equation, pulling a family of 19th century aristocrats down to earth. Set in Sicily during the Risorgimento, the period that marked the end of Sicily's existence as an independent monarchy and the emergence of an Italian state, the movie exults in the last gasps of the nobility's opulence, even as it acknowledges and — ambivalently — endorses the necessity of its end. Perhaps the most overtly dialectical of Visconti's movies, "The Leopard" embodies the contradictions inherent in his identity.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 26, 2010 |
Juval Porat may be a trailblazer, but it's a title he embraces with all the zeal he exhibits for the transportation system in Los Angeles, his new hometown. Which is to say: Not much. "I never intended to carry that label," he said. "I just liked what I did." What he did, and does, is sing. Porat is a cantor, a Jewish leader of musical prayer. His distinction is being the first, and so far the only, cantor ordained in Germany since the Holocaust. On June 18, he was formally installed as the cantor of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, a Los Angeles Reform synagogue that is something of a trailblazer itself, claiming to be the world's first congregation for gay and lesbian Jews.
June 13, 2010 |
"The Snake Charmer": A Twisted History 1880: In his studio in Paris, Jean-Léon Gérôme paints this image of a naked figure, presumably a boy, uncoiling his snake before a small crowd in a palatial setting. Scholars today say he fabricated the scene from multiple sources, including a photograph of tile work in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Later that year, Adolphe Goupil, his dealer/publisher and also his father-in-law, sells the painting for 75,000 francs to New York collector Albert Spencer.
June 6, 2010 |
Two hundred years ago, Dutch merchants opened shipments of porcelain from Japan to find the packing material was delicate rice paper, printed with brightly colored scenes of Japanese life. When the prints arrived, it didn't take long for some of the artists behind them to be recognized as masters. Mass-produced from carved woodblocks, the images were known as ukiyo-e . Today, the "images of the floating world" continue to be appreciated as more than so many little bits of paper.
April 26, 2010 |
Parrot & Olivier in America A Novel Peter Carey Alfred A. Knopf: 386 pp., $26.95 Come to think of it, America is one long picaresque novel. It takes an Australian-born novelist to remind us of this, mired as we are in the great project, democracy. Imagine a time when a French nobleman, Olivier-Jean-Baptiste de Clarel de Barfleur, and his not-so-trusty sidekick, John Larrit, known to loved ones as Parrot, might sail from Le Havre, fleeing the aftershocks of the French Revolution, and land in this bewildering caldron of possibility.
April 22, 2010 |
With just about a gazillion pictures of food on blogs and websites, accessible at the touch of a BlackBerry button, it might seem a little ho-hum to stage a museum show of food photography. But an exhibition at the Getty Museum called "In Focus: Tasteful Pictures" is anything but boring. In just one room, the exhibition, drawn from the museum's permanent collection, traces food photography over 150 years, from the mid-19 t h century to today. It includes meticulously staged still lifes, a performance art photogram and an enormous jumble of contraband food.
February 14, 2010 |
Whimsy? Satire? Superheroes? An exhibit opening Thursday at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena looks at how Pakistani artists are vibrantly re-imagining the venerable genre of South Asian miniature painting. From roughly the 16th to 19th centuries, court painters crafted jewel-toned book and album illustrations that depicted hunts, battles and powerful people. In recent decades, a new miniature movement has flourished, one that uses past stylistic conventions and themes as a launch pad for modern commentary and flights of fancy.
HOME & GARDEN
February 5, 2010 |
Update: Actor James Franco , who plays Allen Ginsberg in the 2010 film "Howl," has sold his Sunset Strip-area compound for $3.3 million, the Multiple Listing Service shows. The Spanish-style villa, built in 1923, has three bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms in 4,000 square feet. There are vaulted and beamed ceilings, city views and a master bedroom suite with a 19th century marble bathtub. The walled and gated property includes a swimming pool and a guest casita. Franco, 31, starred in "Pineapple Express" (2008)
January 22, 2010 |
Today, most people understand that animals can become extinct, whether as a consequence of a giant asteroid or because of our own pattern of habitat destruction, climate change and pollution that have endangered hundreds more. But just 200 years ago, the word "paleontology" hadn't been invented and Britain's Geology Society was just a few years old, its very existence a careful negotiation between science and religion, where some believed that Earth was formed on a specific date (Oct. 23, 4000 BC)
HOME & GARDEN
December 12, 2009 |
In 1887 along the San Gabriel Mountains, the community of Altadena launched with great promise to compete against mighty Pasadena to the south. Some wood and shingle houses by local architects went up, planted with showy flower gardens, but the hamlet stayed a countryside stop for year-end holiday visitors. Winter blossoms, orchards and poppy fields -- what more did a tourist need? Town founders John and Frederick Woodbury were from a pioneer Iowa family. In 1883 on a 400-acre ranch bordered by Marengo and Lake avenues, Altadena Drive and Woodbury Road, Fred built a white clapboard mansion.