Roger Bricoux

He was twenty.  He was a handsome man.  He was a distinguished cellist.  He made his name in Italy and England, as well as in France, the country of his birth.  He played in the orchestra at Monaco, where his father was the conductor.

Then came a wonderful opportunity  — to play on the maiden voyage of the biggest ship ever built.  He, and seven other musicians.

On the night of the 14th April, the shocking announcement was made — the ship was sinking.  The paralyzing disbelief became certainty.  The small ensemble picked up their instruments, “to calm the passengers,” it is said, and played with a growing sense that this would be the last they would do.  The music, survivors reported, was “Nearer, my God, to thee” and “Abide with me”.  Their bodies were never found.

There is, amid the sadness of this history, a brutal irony regarding Roger Bricoux.  After the sinking of the Titanic, death certificates were issued for those who had lost their lives.  For some reason, his parents in the Côte d’Azur never received a certificate.  In 1913 when France was mobilizing, Bricoux was sought, not found and declared a deserter.  This state of affairs persisted until the year 2000 when the Association Française du Titanic had the allegation cancelled.

The monument at Southampton, originally placed in 1913, bombed during WW2 and re-established in 1945.  Bricoux’s name is top right.

Apart from this affecting history, I have felt that, strangely, the sinking of the Titanic was a harbinger of what was to come in the next three decades.  By 1933 historians estimated that more lives had been lost in the 20th-century than in the rest of history.  The Second World War was yet to come.

There are urban legends about the Titanic.  One is that someone said beforehand that not even God could sink this ship.  It seems as though we have to keep replaying Faust in this Promethian age.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

15th April, 2019

 

Source

Aritcle by André Petrégne.  Nous, Nice-Matin, March, 2019. 

 

Images

Nice-Matin

Wikipedia

My drawing

 

Faust and the Titanic

 

 

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Belle Époque architecture, Nice

 

The third in a series of four

As well as the structural differences to what went before, the Belle Époque is known for its exuberant detail.  One of these details is the pilaster.

Pilasters, Le Royal

Pilasters, Negresco

The pilaster, extensively used in Baroque, evolves in the Belle Époque.  Look at the differences between the pilasters of Le Royal and the pilasters of the Negresco.   These pilasters carried much that was decorative.

There was more emphasis on balconies, with elaborate wrought iron work which was sometimes arts nouveaux in design.

And then the transformation of the balcony, an example from Marie Reine, a hotel on the Promenade des Anglais.

Most of the above buildings are on the Promenade des Anglais, the beach road leading to the city centre.  I would imagine that a lecturer in architecture would be able to show students examples of many historical periods, perhaps the most striking is the contrast between two relatively small buildings, the one a stark deco design and the other, a fanciful expression of the Belle Epoque.

And if we look more closely, see the elaborate design of the bay window (left) and the caryatid at the base of the tower (slightly right of centre).

These expressive figures in amongst the decorative elements add their charm.

 

(c) Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2019

 

Sources

Michel Steve : L’Architecture Belle Époque à Nice.  Demaistre, Nice. 1995.

Wikipedia Belle Époque

 

Images

My photographs 

A Belle Epoque letterbox from the 19th-century.  Interesting that the word LETTER is not, of course,, French.

 

Belle Époque architecture, Nice

 

Second in a series of four

Western culture renews itself from time to time and the Belle Époque is an example of this.  Mme. Pompadour, the lover of Louis XV, found late-Baroque or Rococo excessive and ordered her architects to go to Italy to seek a clean line.  They returned with Neo-classicism which became prominent from the mid-18th-century.  It has had echoes deep into the 20th-century.  It was the starkness of this idiom that brought back the decorative element in buildings after 100 years.

This church, St Jouan Baptiste, built in the 19th-century is what the Belle Époque reacted against.  The name Jouan is the Nice patois for Jean.

Musée Massena, designed by Tersling, was completed in 1899 and is included in discussions about the Belle Époque, but, as Michel Steve says, it is not the best example.  The rounded colonnade inches toward the style and the quirky use of the double column above the colonnade is a distant homage to Palladio, the Renaissance architect.  Architects have fun.

Hotel West-End Promenade des Anglais

Hotel Westminster Promenade des Anglais

Le Royal, Promenade des Anglais

These three hotels on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice were built in the Belle Époque and exhibit what Michel Steve calls the “hotel aesthetic”:  pay tribute to the idiom, but pack as many rooms as you can into the framework.  If you look at their names, it is not difficult to guess who their target market was at the time.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2019

 

Sources

Michel Steve : L’Architecture Belle Époque à Nice.  Demaistre, Nice. 1995.

Wikipedia Belle Époque

 

Images

My photographs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belle Époque architecture, Nice

 

The first in a series of four

It was probably the many Belle Époque buildings in Nice that prompted someone to say in 1910, This city is the most beautiful in Europe.  It makes the task of writing about it daunting — for the qualified and, like me, the unqualified.

This is a glimpse of the decorative idiom called Belle Époque, literally, the beautiful epoch.  The dates in which this style flourishes are roughly from mid-19th-century to 1925.  Elsewhere historians set the limit at 1914.  It was a time of optimism, regional peace, scientific advance, cultural innovation and input from the colonies.  The name of this flamboyant style might well have originated as people stared at the horrors of World War One.

This is the Negresco, probably the most prestigious hotel in Nice and this city has a history of hotels, with 160 by the late-19th-century.  It was designed by Niemann and built in 1912.  The cupola, a distant echo of the Renaissance dome, is characteristic.  The rounded frontage, at the corners where streets intersect, is another frequently seen aspect of the style.  These two features of the Negresco, interestingly, were not designed by Niemann but by Gustav Eiffel (see Tower).

A rounded frontage of a building in Rue du Marechal Joffre.  Note the inclusion of balconies on the rounded frontage.

A gem of a building just off Avenue Felix Faure.  I particularly liked the three-windowed balconies.

The Crédit lyonnais (no, that’s not a typo; ask the French why that “l” is small) was for me one of the most impressive buildings, together with its bold rounded frontage and columns, with glass cladding, pleasing in its simplicity.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2019

 

Sources

Michel Steve : L’Architecture Belle Époque à Nice.  Demaistre, Nice. 1995.

Paul Castella : Splendeurs de Nice.  Editions Gilletta, Nice. 1991.

Wikipedia Belle Époque

 

Images

My photographs

 

 

 

 

 

More than homage – sacred art in the 20th-century

It is sometimes said that we live in a post-Christian era.  I wonder about that.  One of the things that makes me wonder is contemporary sacred art, something that my Protestant childhood didn’t really tell me about.

The modern artist in sacred art is pressured as never before in circumstances that change at a bewildering pace.  S/he creates from anguish.  Perhaps the images of Christ from this anguish are enigmatic and strange.

This image of Christ is by the Mexican artist Sequericos.  I find it powerful though the visage has sadness.

This image of the meal at Emmaus is by the Polish artist Yugolski.  I find it quite expressionist with stylized figures.  The radiance draws the eye.

This relief image of the Last Supper done by a Greek artist in 1960 verges on abstract expression.  I find the movement prompted by the forms restless around the central figure of Christ which stands tall above the swirling lines.

Paul Klee, the Swiss-German artist, did this image of Christ the king in 1926.  I find the features delicate and the eyes, unrealistic as they are, hypnotic.

Bernard Buffet did a number of sacred images and this crucifixion scene in 1970.  It is said that the figure on the right is a self-portrait.

This image of the cricifixion by Italian artist Boudini is upsetting for me and he would probably feel, So it should be.  The traditional crucifixion scenes have held emotion.  This one screams in agony.

This delicate, even fragile image of the crucifixion is found on the altar in the chapel at Vence, in the South of France, designed by Henri Matisse.

This image of the Last Supper by Salvador Dali intrigues me in that the body of Christ is transparent and in the background you see the landscape that Dali knew as a child.

This image was also painted by Dali.  It seems to me that the lighting is electrical, judging from the shadow of the arm.  The hairstyle of the Christ figure is contemporary.  The agony of the back is for me unparalleled in the history of art.

Epstein produced this sculpture of Christ in bondage in the 1950s and it is set in the ruins of cathedral at Coventry that was bombed in the Second World War.  It is a departure from traditional images of Christ.  There is for me an ancient primitive force here, reminding me of images from central America and Africa.  I spent time looking at this figure and the experience has inspired me to do this blog.

(c) Will van der Walt

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2019

 

Images

Some of these images come from a book named “He had a face”, though I do not have the book with me at present and will add in the details at a future date.

I have had other images before computers became public and have lost the sources.

 

The artist is Wimmer, a German.  The year is 1951.  I find this image haunting in that, if the body is tortured, the face stands the pain.

YAKOUBA – a remarkable book

Perhaps I am late in waking to this experience.  Perhaps it is part of our history as South Africans to have a gradual awakening to the treasures of Africa. If there is a translation, I haven’t seen it.  For me, Yakouba has been a revelation  –  for the production of the book, for the text and for the illustrations.

The brief story deals with the traditionally all-important issue of initiation for boys in Africa. The ending has an unexpected twist, something that one may understand more in the light of the fact that the well-known and prize-winning writer-illustrator Thierry Dedieu, is French and, in this case, white.  The ending runs counter to the age-old expectations of a boy undergoing an initiation adventure-trial.  The boy questions what boys have faced since the dawn of time — danger that makes you or breaks you.  From this questioning there emerges a profound respect for life.

The illustrations which truly amplify the text are done in charcoal (I think).  The effect is a striking contrast of deep shadow and a blinding light source.  I don’t think I have seen such monumental portrayals of human beings.  In this work, there is severe generosity, triumphant solemnity and affirming humanity.  These illustrations, works of art, become images to contemplate.

 

(c)  Will van der Walt 

http://www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

February, 2019

 

Source and images

YAKOUBA by Thierry Dedieu  (Seuil Jeunesse. Paris, 1994/2017)

 

 

 

Television: Crime series

With a 24/7 channel on crime series or policiers, together with scattered broadcasts of crime stories elsewhere, French television viewers spend much time watching the world of police investigators.

I remember becoming aware of this in the early years after 1976 when South Africa was first introduced to television.  The series was Dereck, dubbed into Afrikaans from the German.  I was struck by the psychological depth of the character depictions, even by the general melancholy that coloured these stories.  There was nothing smugly righteous here.  It would seem that crime series in the countries that generate this television content have changed greatly from what was previously done.

In France, you see the New York Special Unit series, produced by Dick Wolf, as is much quality work from America;  there is the French Maigrait , based on the writing of Georges Simenon;  there is Inspector Barnaby , the long-time favourite in England.  Each is these is brilliantly dubbed, making my understanding skimpy, to say the least.  I mention but three.

In each of them the matter of Good winning over Evil, a pattern that does not change, has become more complex than its predecessors.  Often, one is left with a piercing sense of tragedy, even though justice has been served.  If, for example, one is tempted to think of the inspectors themselves being cardboard-cutouts, there are also stories of their personal difficulties, sometimes leaving them on their knees, so to speak.

We are now far from the Good Guy in his white hat and the Bad Guy in his black hat.  In literature, of course, writers have always sought depth, both in those who assert the good and those who usurp it.  At random, I think of Graham Greene’s Gun for Sale, where the story is seen from the criminal’s mind and the crime he commits is a twisted form of justice.

They have my admiration, the producers, the writers, the actors.  The scripts are sophisticated and memorable.  For me, though, I can only watch them in small doses  — the brutal realism is taxing.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

February, 2019

 

Source

France television

 

Images

My drawing

Source lost

Source lost

My photograph

My photograph

Pinterest photograph 

 

 

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