The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, December 5th 2014

    When you visit the new Guy Bourdin exhibition at Somerset House in London, the thing that strikes you is all the legs. In 1979 Bourdin was commissioned by Charles Jourdan to shoot its footwear ad campaign. He bought a pair of mannequin legs, threw them into the back of a Cadillac and drove around Britain, photographing the legs—adorned with their glamorous shoes—against quintessential English backdrops: crossing a cobbled lane, waiting for a train, striding past stucco-fronted houses (picture 3, above). The images have a mysterious quality. What does the woman look like? What is she thinking? Where is she? Bourdin redefined fashion photography by prizing the image over the product. These aren't just adverts, they're works of art.

    read more » FASHIONLondonLucy FarmerPhotographystyle

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, December 5th 2014

    It’s been an exciting week for devotees of lightsabers, stormtroopers and the Millennium Falcon. Not only is this the first time in nine years that a new “Star Wars” trailer has been released, it’s also the first time that such a release has been followed, within hours, by a host of unofficial parodies and homages.

    read more » cinemacultureFilmNicholas BarberSci-Fi

    ~ Posted by Deborah Stoll, December 3rd 2014

    The common image of Haitian art is one of primitive, block-coloured paintings and voodoo-like sculptures. But the works in “Haiti”, a new show at the Grand Palais in Paris, go far beyond these archetypes. And it’s about time. The Centre d’Art, Haiti’s first official art school opened in 1944 by the American watercolourist Dewitt Peter, brought some recognition to the country's art scene. But there is much more to learn.

    The exhibition showcases 60 artists from the last two centuries—since Haiti gained independence from France in 1804—and politics is in the air. There are caricatures of presidents, shantytowns overflowing with inhabitants, animal carcasses and ghostly barbed wire. Unrest emanates from the paintings, a sense that nothing is static, that the world is ephemeral. It all feels perennially contemporary, whether a 1961 crayon drawing of a grotesque “tadpole man” by Robert Saint-Brice, or a 2013 acrylic and tar work called "Attaque" by Sébastien Jean (above). Arranged thematically—“Untitled”, “Spirits”, “Landscapes”, “Chiefs”—instead of chronologically, the viewer can see the art as storytelling without the pedagogy of “that was then, this is now”.

    read more » artsDeborah StollHAITIParisPOLITICS

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, December 3rd 2014

    There are some things you can do just as well when you’re dead. One of them is earning, if your work outlives you; another is appearing on the cover of a magazine. We’ve had Grace Kelly and Elvis Presley on the cover, and now we have George Orwell. When the subject is no longer there to be photographed, it’s all about the shot you choose. With Grace, the picture in The Line of Beauty was so elegantly wistful that it demanded to go on the cover. With Elvis, our art director Graham Black went through hundreds of photos to find something soulful. The shot of Orwell, from a shallower pool, does a different job, displaying the steely eye of the visionary.

    read more » january/february 2015LiteraturesurveillanceTim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, December 2nd 2014

    François Fouilhé has always been enamoured of nature. As a child he wanted to work with birds. Now he makes illuminated works of art in the shapes of trees and flowers as one half of TILT, a French design studio that creates light installations. The other half is Jean-Baptiste Laude. The pair met aged 19 when they were production hands at a theatre called La Comédie de Valance, in southeastern France. A decade later, in 2001, they started TILT because, rather than using light as a tool, they wanted to make light a work of art in itself, and, François says, to “make people imagine different things about their surroundings”. This Christmas, they are making people reimagine Kew Gardens (above).

    read more » ArtGardensLondonLucy FarmerSculpture

    ~ Posted by Maggie Fergusson, November 28th 2014

    Yesterday afternoon, when the news came through that P.D. James had died aged 94, the image that sprang immediately to my mind was of the Queen of Crime gliding down the stairs of her green-fronted Holland Park home in a stairlift. Generally these contraptions suggest decrepitude and decline; not with her. Always immaculately dressed and coiffed, she descended to her hall with an expression of keen anticipation and joie de vivre.

    read more » BooksLiteratureMaggie FergussonMemoir

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, November 28th 2014

    “Conflict, Time, Photography”, which has just opened at Tate Modern, begins shortly after a big bang. On the wall as you go in, there’s a large photo of rural Afghanistan by Luc Delahaye (above), with flat dry fields, low mud buildings and mountains in the background. In the middle of the picture a cloud from an explosion hangs in the air: an American bomb dropped on Taliban positions. The explosion itself is dispersing and the scene is recovering its calm. As in every picture in the exhibition, something violent has already happened. This isn’t a show about the clamour and crash of war itself, but the atmospheric disturbances and deafening silences that follow.

    read more » ArtExhibitionsPhotographySimon WillisWar

    ~ Posted by Kassia St Clair, November 26th 2014

    "Leviathan" closes as it opens: with a sequence of lingering shots of a rock-strewn, wave-pummelled peninsula in north-western Russia in a palette of thick greys and sickly yellows. In another film such deliberate symmetry might feel heavy-handed. But Andrey Zvyagintsev's 142-minute epic is sufficiently muscular—and leavened with touches of dark humour—to bear operatic flourishes. What begins as a David-and-Goliath fable of a small man taking on a corrupt politician soon stretches its jaws and bites into far bigger prey: the state, organised religion, God and the bleakness of life itself.

    read more » FilmKassia St ClairRussia

    ~ Posted by Georgia Grimond, November 25th 2014

    “Garbage is fascinating,” says the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. “I’m kind of addicted to it.” He knows his subject well. For three years he worked with a group of rubbish-pickers in a Rio de Janeiro favela, helping them to create giant self-portraits from the trash. The project culminated in an Oscar-nominated documentary, “Waste Land” (2010). “I had so many ideas being in among the garbage,” he goes on. “I started to see the back of my mind as a dump, then I began to think of what an image looked like inside there. It was fragmented, pulled together by myriad little pieces of references and bits of ideas.”

    read more » ArtBrazilGeorgia GrimondPhotography

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, November 20th 2014

    Homer called salt a “divine substance”, but nowadays it’s the culinary bogeyman. Countless studies and stats warn us about eating too much, or eating too little, but there’s no denying that in the right proportion it’s essential for our survival—and it makes food taste great. I recently ate a scallop cooked on a heated Himalayan pink salt block, and it was the best scallop I’d ever tasted. The salt block seasoned and seared it so delicately that the spectrum of flavour slowly revealed itself, from clear light juiciness to deep caramelly crispiness.

    Salt-block cooking is a new trick in the kitchen. The marble-like slabs have a curious beauty, but they’re robust pieces of kit: by firing them up or freezing them down, food can be grilled, cured, cooled, frozen, or just served, all with that subtle, rounded hint of seasoning. Mark Bitterman (above) is an expert on culinary salt—the natural kind, not the fortified white stuff. Founder of The Meadow, a store specialising in salt in Portland, Oregon and New York, he has also written two books on his favourite mineral: the award-winning “Salted” and the recently published “Salt Block Cooking”. I spoke to him about his obsession with salt, and the taste, nutrition and sustainability of salt-block cooking.

    read more » cookingFoodhealthLucy Farmer