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Out of the volcano: ‘Stranded’ magazine is now available 28 September 2010

Posted by admin in Eyjafjöll, Iceland, volcano art, volcano culture.
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Back in May we reported on Stranded magazine, one of the happier outcomes of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption and the travel chaos it caused. Well, it’s great to report that the magazine, put together through the efforts of people across the world who found themselves stranded by the volcano, is now available. In its 88 pages you’ll find (among other things):

  • volcano cocktail recipes from around the globe
  • a sense of history from a leading volcanologist
  • an exclusive video image from a graffiti artist
  • a horror story set inside the ash cloud by an acclaimed novelist
  • 53 journalists and the head of the London Design Museum in 16-hour race to catch a boat.

Stranded can be purchased (at $18.95 plus shipping) as a physical magazine from MagCloud.com. A digital version will soon be available from Zinio.com. And very importantly, all proceeds from both editions go to the International Rescue Committee, a charity dedicated to helping people who are stranded in a more permanent way across the world.

You can find out more about Stranded by visiting the blog of Andrew Losowsky, whose inspired creation it is.

UPDATE 9 October 2010: the digital version of Stranded is now available (for $5.00, all to the International Rescue Committee) at Zinio.com.

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Volcanic art at Compton Verney 17 July 2010

Posted by admin in events, volcano art, volcano culture.
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Compton Verney is a historic country house in Warwickshire (in the English West Midlands) which is now home to a thriving art gallery. There’s a new exhibition opening there on 24 July, and in the wake of Eyjafjallajökull it couldn’t have been better timed.

Volcano: Turner to Warhol displays a rich and varied range of artistic responses to volcanoes and volcanic activity from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first, including works by Hokusai, Joseph Wright, Sir William Hamilton, J. M. W. Turner, and this Warhol chap. A selection of works from Iceland promise to be particularly interesting.

I hope to visit the exhibition over the summer and will post a review here when I do. In the meantime there is a detailed review in The Guardian here, and the exhibition home page is here.

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Eyjafjallajökull ash victims strike back with eruption of creativity 4 May 2010

Posted by admin in Eyjafjöll, Iceland, volcano art, volcano culture, volcanoes.
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Matt McArthur's vision of an angry and ashy EyjafjallajokullAmong the thousands of people who ended up grounded involuntarily far from home when Eyjafjallajökull’s ash cloud closed down European airspace last month was Andrew Losowsky, a writer and editor (‘marooned magazine fanatic’ – Belfast Telegraph) who found himself stranded in Dublin. He decided to make a travel disaster into a creative opportunity, and put out an online appeal to other writers, editors, artists, designers and illustrators to make something of their situation and contribute to a collaborative magazine project. Each collaborator was invited to take a photograph of the bed they were currently sleeping in, head to the nearest bar and ask for a cocktail called a ‘Volcano’ (and note down the recipe), and provide additional contributions according to their own particular skills: a story, an artwork, whatever. Thus, on the left we have illustrator Matt McCarthy’s vision of an angry and ashy Eyjafjallajökull, while below is a poster by Defeat Chaos urging us, vainly, to Defeat Volcano, and below that Paul Khera’s Volcano cocktail. Some more samples of the kind of work that has been coming in can be seen in this post on Andrew’s blog.

stranded2.jpgThe final outcome of this collaboration, through print-on-demand technology, will be a physical magazine (although there will be a digital version as well). Explaining his decision to go for a traditional bound-paper format rather than some here today, gone tomorrow website, Andrew says, ‘To create a website would be something continually updated for a while but eventually it would wither away and die in a corner of the internet. To make a physical product means that it exists on your bookshelf that you can pick up and read and remember. It happens in a more serendipitous way in your life; it brings back the emotional resonance again’.

Although most victims of the travel disruption have now made it home again, there are still people stranded out there – and there are many others who have found themselves, for whatever reason, stranded away from their homes on a rather more permanent basis. To help them out proceeds from the magazine are going to the International Rescue Committee.

People who are still stranded, or who were stranded but are now back home, are still welcome to participate in the magazine: follow this link to a simple survey form as the first step. And given that Eyjafjallajökull is not finished with us yet, there may be scope for a second issue.

Volcano cocktail by Paul Khera

Barriers to publishing being broken down by the internetBelfast Telegraph, 27 April 2010
Ash cloud passengers unite to publish magazine – BBC News, 29 April 2010

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

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Eyjafjallajökull: the art of Claire Iris Schencke 1 May 2010

Posted by admin in Eyjafjöll, Iceland, volcano art, volcano culture, volcanoes.
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'Monotype of the Krossá River' (copyright Claire Iris Schencke)

A little while ago we linked to the Eyjafjallajökull Art Project, a collection of artworks inspired by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. There’s some very good stuff there (along with some that is, er, not so good), but Claire Iris Schencke‘s work really stands out. The artist has been in touch since I posted that link, and I’m very happy to say that some of her Eyjafjallajökull works will soon be showcased in a Saturday Volcano Art article, when  that feature resumes publication later this month. Much more (and a nice link back to us) can be found on Claire Iris Schencke’s art blog.

For the moment, and as a taster, here (with the permission of the artist) is Claire Iris Schencke’s ‘Monotype of the Krossá River’. The braided glacial river Krossá drains Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull, feeding the Markarfljót which runs southward from the glaciers and which flooded during the eruption last month. More information about this picture can be found in a posting on the artist’s blog.

[‘Monotype of the Krossá River’, copyright Claire Iris Schencke.]

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Saturday Volcano Art: currently suspended 23 November 2009

Posted by admin in Saturday volcano art, volcano art, volcano culture.
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Saturday Volcano Art at The Volcanism Blog

The Volcanism Blog’s Saturday Volcano Art feature is taking a break at the moment, but will return later this year (2011).

When the series returns I hope to feature more volcano images by modern and contemporary artists (although great volcano art of the past will of course continue to appear). I already have some great modern works of volcano art lined up, but I am keen to know of more … so, if you would like to suggest contemporary artists you know of for inclusion, please get in touch.

It’s important to note that in the case of modern and contemporary artists I must have the permission of the artist or rights holder to feature their work on this blog so I can’t guarantee that your favourite modern volcano painting (or drawing, sculpture, mural, engraving, installation, cartoon, happening or whatever) will appear here, but please feel free to make suggestions and I will do what I can.

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

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Saturday Volcano Art: Hiroshige II, ‘Mount Asama’ (1859) 29 August 2009

Posted by admin in Asama, Japan, Saturday volcano art, volcano art, volcano culture.
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Hiroshige II, 'Mount Asama' (1859)

The artist known as Hiroshige II (1826-69) was a student of the great ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), who has already featured in this series. He became his master’s adopted son and married his daughter, Tatsu, and, after Hiroshige’s death in 1858, used his name; he had previously signed himself as Shigenobu. To avoid confusion, he is generally known as Hiroshige II. There is also a Hiroshige III, who was also the first Hiroshige’s adopted son and also married to Tatsu, but let’s not get into that here.

Mount Asama, the most active volcano on Honshu, is pictured in this image from Hiroshige II’s series One Hundred Views of Famous Places in the Provinces, published 1859-61. At the time this print was made the most recent significant eruption of Asama had occurred around 30 years earlier, in 1815, while in 1783 the volcano had produced one of the largest and most destructive eruptions (VEI=4) in modern Japanese history.

The print shows the volcano viewed from the south-east: on the left is the ridge of the Korufu-yama arc, remnant of an older volcano. The summit of Asama is producing brownish-grey emissions and is covered with recent ashfall and crowned with large boulders. The reddish-purple cloud, edged with yellow, that reaches across the distant ridge to encircle the volcano gives the scene a threatening air, emphasized by the towering flanks of the mountain (their steepness exaggerated by the artist) and the tiny, fragile details of the landscape in the foreground – trees, bushes, hurrying figures. There is a pervasive sense of unease that is absent from the first Hiroshige’s landscapes: a brooding atmosphere of latent threat. In this image the volcano is a grey monster, overshadowing the landscape and stirring in its sleep.

That sense of latent threat is by no means misleading. When this print was published Asama’s half-century of quiescence was coming to an end. In 1869 a VEI=2 event marked the beginning of a pattern of frequent eruptions (over fifty between 1875 and 2008) that has continued to the present day. Asama’s most recent eruption was in February 2009.

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

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Saturday volcano art: Christen Købke, ‘The Forum, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the distance’ (1841) 22 August 2009

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Christen Købke, 'The Forum, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the Distance' (1841)

The Danish painter Christen Købke (1810-1848) died young at 38, but in his short career he produced some of the most innovative and distinctive European landscape painting of the first half of the nineteenth century. He was a pupil of the celebrated landscape painter C. W. Eckersberg (1783-1853), one of the leading figures of Golden Age Danish art. Most of Købke’s landscape studies were of places near his home in Copenhagen – his father was a master baker who leased the army bakery in the city’s Citadel, and the family made their home within the fortress. Kobke produced numerous studies of scenes in and around the Citadel in which deceptively free brushwork and almost impressionistic atmospheric effects are constrained by unusual, highly structured compositions and restrained but lucid colour schemes.

Købke journeyed to Italy in 1838, visiting Venice, Florence and Naples, and upon returning to Denmark in September 1840 devoted himself largely to painting Italian subjects derived from studies he had made while Italy. The scenery around Naples proved particularly inspiring for Købke, and he painted a number of pictures of the Bay of Naples and scenes around Vesuvius. The picture illustrated here, ‘The Forum, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the Distance’ (1841) is one of the paintings dating from this period.

In this painting Købke has chosen a typically unusual viewpoint: relatively low down, so that Vesuvius is glimpsed through a screen of classical columns and ruined walls. The long shadows being cast from the right – the east – show that the time is early morning, and the atmosphere of the still morning, with mist just rolling away from the slopes of the volcano and a flawless blue sky holding promise of heat to come, is powerfully conveyed. Although the volcano is partially obscured its low contours and dark, scored flanks dominate the scene. The simplicity of its brooding shape contrasts with the litter of ancient remnants in the foreground: shattered columns, overgrown carvings, the empty roadway leading away into a landscape of ruins. The painting is a meditation on the spirit of place, the passing of time, the transience of all man-made things.

Christen Købke’s ‘The Forum at Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the Distance’ is in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. If you’re in London next spring you can take in the exhibition Christen Købke: Danish Master of Light at the National Gallery (17 March-10 June 2010).

Further reading
Christen Købke, 1810-1848 (exhibition catalogue, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen)
Torsten Gunnarsson, Nordic Landscape Painting in the Nineteenth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998)
Catherine Johnston et al, Baltic Light: Early Open-Air Painting in Denmark and North Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999)
Sanford Schwartz, Christen Købke (New York: Timken, 1992)

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

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Saturday Volcano Art: Giovanni Battista Lusieri, ‘Vesuvius from Posillipo by Night’ (1797) 18 July 2009

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Giovanni Battista Lusieri, 'Vesuvius from Posillipo by Night, during the Eruption of 1787' (1797)

Although this picture was painted in 1797, it depicts an eruption that took place some ten years earlier, in the summer of 1787. The painter was Giovanni Battista Lusieri, who was born in Rome around 1755 and from around 1782 worked as a painter of local views in Naples, producing pictures of the city and its picturesque surroundings – including Mount Vesuvius, then very active – for travellers visiting Naples on the ‘Grand Tour’. Demand for Lusieri’s work was such that he produced multiple copies of some of his most popular images by printing outline etchings of them which he then coloured by hand.

This view of Vesuvius in eruption was painted using Lusieri’s characteristic technique of watercolour washes, with ink used for outlines and some detailed modelling, producing an image of precision and delicacy. He was dedicated to accuracy, spending long hours perfecting his images, and insisted on the primacy of nature over the artist’s imagination in art: ‘one should faithfully imitate nature’. This view of the volcano erupting in the moonlight, its orange lava contrasting with the silver sky and the tranquil waters of the bay, nonetheless has a powerfully romantic atmosphere.

Giovanni Battista Lusieri, 'Vesuvius from Posillipo by Night, during the Eruption of 1787' (1797) - detail

From 1799 Lusieri worked as an agent for Lord Elgin, overseeing Elgin’s programme of acquisitions of art and antiquities in Greece from 1801 onwards, including the removal of the Parthenon sculptures now known as the Elgin Marbles. Lusieri died in Athens in 1821, lamenting that his work for Elgin had prevented him from devoting himself to his art. Further disappointment was in store, had he lived to see it: a ship carrying the majority of his watercolours sank in 1828, leaving little of his work for the appreciation of posterity.

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

Further reading

Giovanni Battista Lusieri – biography from the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Giovanni Battista Lusieri – another biography, from the National Galleries of Scotland.
Vedutismo e Grand Tour – complete text in Italian of Fabrizia Lucilla Spirito, Vedutismo e Grand Tour: Giovan Battista Lusieri e i suoi contemporanei (doctoral thesis, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 2006); link is to a page from which the PDF can be downloaded.
Vesuvius on the Grand Tour – volcanic tourism in the eighteenth century, from the Georgian Index.

[Thanks to the Volcanism Blog reader who sent in this picture and suggested it as a subject for ‘Saturday Volcano Art’.]

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Saturday volcano art: matchbox volcanoes 20 June 2009

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A slightly unusual dose of Saturday Volcano Art this week: volcanoes on matchbox labels. A Volcanism Blog reader sent in these images of matchboxes featuring illustrations of volcanoes, and I thought they were too nice not to share.

Volcano matchbox label: 'Izalco' Volcano matchbox label: 'Volcanoa'

Volcano matchbox label: 'Keppel Szoval'

Volcano matchbox label: 'Vesuvius'

The choice of Izalco for matches imported into El Salvador is an obvious one: the volcano depicted doesn’t look terribly much like Izalco, but doesn’t look terribly much unlike it either. The volcano on the Indian ‘Volcanoa’ matchbox sits quite nicely in its stylized landscape, and the artist has made an effort to depict ashfall. The Hungarian box depicts a vigorously erupting volcanic island, or submarine volcano breaking surface – the ship seems rather dangerously close. The ‘Vesuvius‘ illustration looks to be based on a photograph, perhaps from a postcard, although the depiction of the volcano’s shape is rather wayward.

Volcanoes would seem an appropriate subject for matchbox illustrations, so presumably there are more examples like the ones reproduced above. These humble articles are examples of a genuine popular art form, and an attractive and interesting instance of the presence of volcano imagery in popular culture.

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

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Saturday Volcano Art: Fernando Amorsolo, ‘Planting Rice with Mayon Volcano’ (1949) 9 May 2009

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Fernando Amorsolo, 'Planting Rice with Mayon Volcano' (1949)

The painter Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972) was a dominant figure in the visual arts of the Philippines during the decades before the Second World War and into the post-war period. His oeuvre is characterized by scenes of the Filipino countryside, harmoniously composed and richly coloured, saturated with bright sunlight and populated by beautiful, happy people: it is an art of beauty, contentment, peace and plenty – which perhaps explains its enduring popularity in the Philippines to this day.

Amorsolo was committed to two fundamental ideas in his art: first, a classical notion of idealism, in which artistic truth was found through harmony, balance and beauty, and second a conservative concept of Filipino national character as rooted in rural communities and the cycles of village life. The two come together in pastoral scenes such as ‘Planting Rice with Mayon Volcano’, painted in 1949. Here, happy Filipino villagers in their bright clothes and straw hats work together amid a green and sunlit landscape of plenty. Behind them, releasing a peaceful plume of steam, rises the beautifully symmetrical cone of Mayon stratovolcano. It is the ash erupted by the volcano over its highly-active history that has made the surrounding landscape fertile, and the tranquil cone appears here to be a beneficial spirit of the earth standing guardian over the villagers and their crops. Mayon’s eruptions can be very destructive (as in the violent eruption of 1947, not long before this picture was painted, when pyroclastic flows and lahars brought widespread destruction and fatalities) but here the relationship between the volcano and the surrounding landscape is depicted as a positive, fruitful and harmonious one. Mayon is a celebrated symbol of the Philippines, and its presence in Amorsolo’s painting emphasizes his wish to represent the spirit of the nation on canvas.

‘Planting Rice with Mayon Volcano’ is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

For all ‘Saturday volcano art’ articles: Saturday volcano art « The Volcanism Blog.

Further reading

Fernando C. Amorsolo Art Foundation
Fernando Amorsolo works at Frazer Fine Arts
The National Artists of the Philippines: Fernando C. Amorsolo
Alice G. Guillermo, Image to Meaning: Essays on Philippine Art (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2001)
Paul A. Rodell, Culture and Customs of the Philippines (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002)

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