I have aspirations. More accurately I have pretensions.
I want this website to be a positive contribution to society. In particular, I want it to make people think I'm cool and sophisticated. Still more accurately, I want to think of myself cool and sophisticated despite being nerd enough to regularly update a website together for the entire world to see how insecure I am. So rather than just build it out as a fan site in unthinking praise of cars, aeroplanes, rock music and Kylie Minogue, I thought we would do something a little more culturally worthwhile for a change. Some pretty pictures. Well, we have the bandwidth - why not use it? Now where did I put that book of Rimbaud poetry and the Gitanes?
Alfons Maria Mucha 1860-1939
The delectable ladies at the sides here are known as Winter and Summer. There was also an Autumn, but strangely no Spring. They were painted in 1903 by Alfons Mucha and are prime examples of Art Nouveau. Click on the pictures to load bigger versions. Art Nouveau was known as Jugendstil in Germany and the Netherlands, after Jugend magazine which did much to popularise the style from the time of its launch in 1896. In France it was sometimes known as the Style Mucha such was his influence. Click here for more.
Modernism is a very short name for a very big thing. After the horrors of the first world war, there was a widespread determination in Europe that such perversions of the great human destiny should never happen again and that technology would save us from our animal selves. This movement saw an outpouring of idealism in the creative arts and associated professions such as architecture and engineering. It pretty much got killed off with the horrors of the second world war which showed beyond any reasonable doubt that technology is morally neutral and it's the animal selves that need to be watched and restrained. Click here for more.
One of the distinguishing features of Modernism that it was a broadly-based movement of the avant garde. Painters, architects, poets and dancers all collaborated to build a vision of a better future. Consider the output of two contrasting architects with a common blueprint but vastly differing output - Antonio Sant'Elia and Le Corbusier.
Poster Art 1899-1990
Modernism was increasingly co-opted by political movements in the 1920s and 1930s. It was hijacked with equal facility by both communists and fascists and served both equally well and with remarkably similar tone - which tells the cynic all he needs to know about the inherent differences of any political philosophies you care to compare. The use of posters as an advertising medium has been around as long as there has been bare walls and is the more intellectually honest of the two - these guys are open about wanting your money. While increasingly eclipsed by colour photography to illustrate your burning need for cheesy comestibles, artwork still has a part to play in convincing you to part with your hard-earned Euros. Try political or non-political. The choice is yours.
Paul Fusco - Photojournalist
Some photographers take pictures of the famous or of their mates and claim it's art. Paul Fusco took pictures out of the window of a train of people he didn't know and moves me to tears. Discover the RFK Funeral Train.