Sunday 6th of December 2020

the gates of hell in a coronavirus epoch...


Henri Laurens was the least-known best sculptor in the world in his time and probably still is, though he has been "dead for a while” (1954). He has been forgotten, languishing in the massive shadows of Moore and Rodin. 


Henri Laurens was known for his early cubist works and his later rounded shapes, particularly of the female figure. For the general public, Henri Laurens, who? Yet, his work was a major opus that influenced a lot of other artists and thinkers…

Of those, Laurens' sculptures inspired architect Jørn Utzon — famous for the Sydney Opera House — in particular Laurens' tomb for an aviator designed for the cemetery of Montparnasse, Paris. Erected in 1924, there is so far no available picture of such work on the net or in reference books (as far as Gus could find), as if the sculpture never existed. 

The Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris is the resting place of many famous French and international celebrities, politicians, artists — including the less-famous Laurens. His tomb is decorated with one of his sculpture “la douleur” — translated in many English journals as “grief”, but it really means “pain” in French. Pain is more appropriate, but probably not as elevating as grief...

At the time when Henri Laurens was the best, and the least-known, most critics and journalists concentrated on Brâncuși. One must admit that Brâncuși was possibly the “inventor” of the rounded stone-curve style which Laurens used later on, as seen on his death monument. Brâncuși’s early vision could be seen at the Armory Show in 1913, which had some of the “modernist” sculptures. His work there, a strange portrait bust of Mlle Pogany — a dancer — was dismissed by art critics as nothing but an egg that invited derision and laughter...

Eventually, for praising and evolving critics, “Brancu" (as called by the master of nothing and everything — his friend Marcel Duchamp) was seen as a clean meticulous operator. His studio only had his own well ordered sculptures and it had no other visible other source of inspiration. But Brâncuși had been motivated by other cultures of primitive exoticism, like Paul GauguinPablo Picasso and André Derain — and was influenced by Romanian folk art based on Byzantine and Dionysian traditions.

Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) was born in Romania. He was also a painter and photographer. Brâncuși is considered as the patriarch of modern sculpture, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century. As a child he carved wooden farm tools. Art studies took him to Bucharest, then to Munich, then to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He used clean geometrical lines to balance forms with symbolic allusions of representational art

This was nothing

The two modern sculptors who have REALLY dominated the Western world — and possibly beyond — are Rodin and Moore

The French critics, of course nastily inclined, dismissed the latter’s work as "ectoplasmic sculpture, in which the bellies are holes, the heads, the breasts are succinct and the arms are melded into the rest of the blob.” We know our paramecias...

Son of a Lincolnshire miner, Moore discovered Michelangelo at age 14, when his teacher told him about the Renaissance. Inspired, Moore did his first work: the head of an old-fawn with two rows of teeth showing. “Error” commented his uncle, “old fawns don’t have teeth…” possibly mentioning his own decay… So as the (French) critics said: “Michelangelo Moore, took a chisel and knocked a couple of teeth out, those in the middle… Magnificent”.

From then on, Henry Moore became one of the best known sculptor on the planet — doing heads with no features on top of curvy blobs with holes as intestines — a symbolism which has had the English hegemony critics in rapture forever. 

Similarly to Moore, Rodin was born in a very modest family. His father was a “ficeleur” — that is to say his employ was to tie twine around parcels, all day every day… This modest origin is where the similarity between Rodin and Moore starts and ends. On his tomb, in Meudon, France, sits one of the most famous statues ever “le Penseur” (the Thinker)… Like the Mona Lisa of Leonardo di Vinci, this work has been glorified by critics and public alike, and irreverently modified by cartoonists and graffiti "artists". As Moore was about smooth curves and some textured polish, Rodin was about details, extra details, too many bold detail, few very precise, but representative of a powerful emotional interaction between moments and their humans (or vice-versa). “Le Baiser” (the Kiss) is marble eternal. 

Rodin was also well-known for destroying many of his works. Despite this, 12 massive public monuments, 40 groups of statues, 60 effigies of important people, 250 other figures, remain to be admired. Having been rejected many times by the academies and the officious officials, he battled on regardless with gargantuan passion and a genius revolutionary spirit. 

At one stage after one of his work was refused by a gallery, his mates were about to storm the said-gallery by force. It was at the time of the Dreyfus Affair (Dreyfus is also buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery) and of the famous battle between Balzac, a giant of French literature, and a mediocre writer, Falguière, on opposite sides. With “J’ACCUSE” Balzac prevailed to save Dreyfus. We need our Balzac to save Assange, don’t we? One of Rodin’s friends, Bourdelle, had been taught by Falguière “and had learnt nothing”, was also furiously defending Rodin against Falguière’s pissy criticism of the sculptor. Clemenceau, the famous Marshal, had his bust reshaped more than 15 times by Rodin who obliged with more and more distortions. In 1900, having been rejected so many times, Rodin exhibited his works under a tent in Cours-la-Reine. As the world awakened to the exuberant emotions of his walking man with no head and other amazing works, his sculpture “The Thinker” went to be installed in the Pantheon forthwith.

In his youth, Rodin’s impetuousness would have been compared to Rimbaud's, the enfant-terrible of poetry, and his power to the vigour of a Victor Hugo. It had to be a question of universal relentlessly positive badass attitude only toned down by death in 1917...

“The first time that my my hands grabbed the clay, I though I really was going to faint from happiness…”

“I invent nothing, I only find what was, is and will be…"

Picture at top: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France - Le penseur de la Porte de l'Enfer (musée Rodin) The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin.
La Porte de l'Enfer was set up in the garden of the musée Rodin in 1937. The thinker may have been finished by 1890.

Art critic for YD...

MONA closes its gates...


Mona entry... Gus Leonisky picture...


Hobart's Museum of New and Old Art (MONA) is to close indefinitely, owner David Walsh says.

Key points:
  • MONA founder David Walsh says he's tried to keep the museum open, but has to close it to avoid it becoming a centre for contagion
  • Staff were informed of the decision on Monday night
  • It follows the cancellation of winter festival Dark Mofo


In a statement, Mr Walsh said he had been trying to find a way to keep the museum going, but it will have to close due to "a chance that MONA could become a major centre for contagion".

"Is there a consequence of closing MONA that I can't foresee, but nevertheless does harm? I don't know, but I'm closing Mona," Mr Walsh wrote.

"I'm closing it, without certainty and with some loss of pride, but I'm closing it.

"I hope people care enough to visit when we reopen. I hope that people care enough to understand why we've closed."

Mr Walsh said he had tried to find ways to keep it open, but in the current climate, all options were untenable.

"I thought about conducting tours, or allowing people to register to be invited when the crowd was appropriately underwhelming," he wrote.

"I've been trying to find a way to keep going, an option, an excuse. MONA will lose more money closed than open (oddly, we haven't seen a reduction in visitation) so, unlike Dark Mofo, I'm incentivised to keep it going. And I owe the staff, big time."


Read more:




From Inside Tasmania...

tantalising torture...


When the gates of Tartanus ("bloody hell" in modern mythology and in Scomo’s twisted touristy mind looking for customers) open, the whistling of the whips, the cries, the groans are the welcoming noises for a newcomer… You’re stuffed. It you’re a tourist on a coronavirus seasonal visa, you’re dead…

Is the fate of humanity to be tantalised by itself? Tantalising is torture — torture about getting nearly there… Which encompasses humanity’s achievements of never being satisfied with anything…

Tantalum is a chemical element with the symbol Ta and atomic number 73 — a prime number... 

Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-grey, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion-resistant. Its main use today is in capacitors in electronic equipment such as mobile phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers. Tantalum is considered a technology-critical element. Previously known as tantalium, it is named after Tantalus, a villain from Greek mythology.

So who was that villain with such a modern importance? Tantalus was a king who starved his subjects, and cooked Ceres, his own son’s shoulder as a meal for the gods… Abrahams anyone? Jacob was saved at the last minute by an angel, was he not? What's wrong with fathers listening to godots?

The gods, of course, brought Ceres back to life and performed the first ever recorded (and mythical) transplant by replacing Ceres’ missing bits with Ivory and golden parts. To punish (who does not punish anyone any more, dear?) him, the gods sent Tantalus to Tartanus, where he was drowned in water but, thirsty, every time he tried to take a sip, the water ran away. His intolerable hunger was also tempted by lovely fruit hanging over his head, but he could never reach because of the bloody winds. This sounds like my philosophical reality. 

“Above, beneath, around his hapless head,
Trees of all kinds delicious fruitage spread,
The fruit he strived to seize ; but blast arise,
Toss it on high, and whirl it to the skies.”


Tantalus was the character of tantalising… and it’s likely that tantalum, the metal, was named because of its properties that are enticing, but depriving at the same time… Tantalum is thus used for its bio-compatibility. Remember Ceres’ shoulder… This property makes tantalum a popular material for prosthetic implants and other medical devices. Tantalum wires are used in vacuum furnace heating elements, chlorinator springs, light bulb elements, and chemical processing equipment.

Tantalum has very stable thermal, electrical and mechanical properties that extend over a broad range of temperatures for semiconductor processing. It’s compatible with silicon and silicon dioxide, thus tantalum functions as a diffusion barrier between a copper seed layer and silicon, and engenders unique properties. The barrier is often made of a multi-layered structure of pure tantalum, and tantalum nitride, which is reactively sputtered. You now know how your iPhone works… No idea, but the facts are so, otherwise your iPhone would be as efficient as a bloc of wood.

While other materials can be used for the same purpose, the advancement in semi-conductor technology and “Moore’s Law” have picked tantalum for its high stability and very few processing issues, for now and the future. The future is tantalising...

End of lesson 37,157 #2, by lectronic Professor Leonisky….


I can see the next cartoon...

Imagine a dinner party, set like Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre... The plates are empty, the wine glasses were never filled... and everyone is wearing a surgical mask... The cook is dead. Hell is coming... and no one realises it... The thinker never moves again. Read from top.