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Beyond the Book Articles
Music and the Arts

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Georges Seurat and Pointilism (08/13)
The 'Sir Ott' painting in which Georges takes so much comfort, is titled A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by French Pointillist painter Georges Pierre Seurat (Here's a pronunciation guide). Seurat was born in Paris in 1859 and is widely known for founding the Neo-Impressionistic art movement and use of the pointillist technique.

...
Shoah (07/13)
In 1974, Claude Lanzmann took a leave from journalism to begin work on his landmark, nine-and-a-half hour long film about the Holocaust, Shoah (1985). As he explains in an interview with NPR (March 2012), he chose the title Shoah (Hebrew for 'catastrophe') because he dislikes the word 'holocaust,' which translates as 'a burnt religious ...
Leoš Janáček (01/13)
Most of Haruki Murakami's novels reference Western music, and 1Q84 is no exception. Czech composer Leoš Janáček's symphonic poem Sinfonietta features prominently throughout.

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) was born in Hukvaldy, Moravia, in what was once known as the Austrian Empire. He is considered one of the...
Ukiyo-e and its Place in Japan (12/12)
The Japanese gardener Nakamura Aritomo in The Garden of Evening Mists is an accomplished ukiyo-e artist. This art form, like most others, was a product of time and place but ukiyo-e was especially so.

Hundreds of years ago (1615-1868) the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan according to a strict class-based, hierarchical society. They made ...
The Steampunk Aesthetic (11/12)
Furnaces, circuits, and laboratory paraphernalia; 'gasometers, gauges, air pumps, and troughs of... galvanic fluid'; clocks and submersibles - these are the trappings of nineteenth-century science at work throughout The Technologists. These are also the elements that make up the aesthetic side of the 'Steampunk' movement - Victorian ...
DID and Art Therapy (11/12)
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) 'is a dissociative disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control the individual's behavior at different times. When under the control of one identity, the person is...
La Giaconde (The Mona Lisa) (10/12)
An early 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, The Mona Lisa is believed to have been created between 1503-1507 in Florence (though it is rumored that da Vinci did not actually complete it until 1519, just before his death in France). The painting is probably inspired by Lisa Gherardini, the wife of an Italian merchant. In 2005,...
Van Morrison (06/12)
In Andrea Kayne Kaufman's Oxford Messed Up, Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman (who has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and Henry Young (an underachieving, drug-addicted musician) become unlikely friends when they're forced to share a bathroom in the Oxford University dorms. Over time, these 'loo-mates' learn that, despite their differences, ...
Hank Williams's Last Days (05/12)
Speculation and myth swirl around accounts of 29-year-old country music legend Hank Williams's death in the back seat of a Cadillac on January 1, 1953. For years, Charles Carr, the only person who knew for sure what had happened that snowy day in the hinterlands of West Virginia, never talked about it.

A mere 17 at the time, Charles ...
Samuel Morse and The Gallery of the Louvre (05/12)
No review can do justice to the range of McCullough's book, the number of intriguing Americans he chronicles, or the important works they produced. Notable, memorable, and especially moving are McCullough's accounts of George Catlin, painter of Native Americans, and the group of Iowans who visited Paris with him; of P.T. Barnum and Tom ...
The Controversy Over Children in Theater and Art (04/12)
In his novel, The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson seems to have hit upon an unexplored corner of the art world. There aren't many contemporary performance art pieces that involve children. One exception, by the Toronto-based artists' workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex, is Haircuts by Children, in which 10- and 11-year-olds are given a few days' ...
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's Restaurant: Prune (02/12)
As a child, Gabrielle Hamilton's mother called her by the pet name Prune, and today the moniker appears in pink letters on the door of her thriving restaurant of the same name, located at 54 East 1st Street in New York City's East Village, established in 1999.

The East Village has a rich history of both rebellion and creative vision...
The Best Years of Our Lives (11/11)
Alice Bergstrom, one of the characters in Sunset Park, is writing her dissertation on the film The Best Years of Our Lives. Almost everyone in the book has either seen it already or watches it with her so she can add their reactions to her observations. Auster draws many parallels between the story in the film and the story of his ...
Ray Harryhausen (09/11)
Harryhausen, the cat at the center of This Must Be the Place, is a living totem of his owner's patron saint, the real-life animator Ray Harryhausen.  Ray Harryhausen was a pioneer in the field of animation, and the inspiration behind Racculia's Amy, who builds her life around the surreal art of making model monsters for the ...
Art as Devotion: Theyyam Dancers (08/11)
The subjects of Dalrymple's Nine Lives seek transcendence and divine communion in different ways. Some embrace aceticsm, while for others like the wandering Baul minstrel, the reciter of holy epics, or the maker of bronze deities, 'art and religion are one.'

The most vivid practitioner of art as devotion is Hari Das, the dalit &#...
California Punk (05/11)
Although Jennifer Egan now lives in New York, she grew up in California, and her knowledge of the Bay Area/Los Angeles music scene gives the book a gritty authenticity, with references to bands rarely mentioned in the pages of literary fiction: the Dead Kennedys, the Nuns, Black Flag, the Avengers, the Germs, and Negative Trend are ...
A Beginner's Guide to Hip-hop (05/11)
Hip hop, as a cultural movement, had its origins in the New York City Bronx in the 1970s, mostly among African Americans, with some Jamaican and Latin American influences.

Keith 'Cowboy' Wiggins (of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) is often credited with coining the term hip hop in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just...
Keith Thompson - Leviathan's Illustrator (09/10)
Keith Thompson, who contributed fifty illustrations for the interior of Leviathan, began freelancing as an artist in high school. After graduating, he studied illustration and continued his freelance work. He has contributed art for books, video games, film, and television.

Preparing the Leviathan illustrations involved a year of ...

Studio Pottery (09/10)
One of the main characters in The Children's Book is Phillip Warren, apprentice to eccentric master of ceramics Benedict Fludd. While Fludd is a fictional creation, the kind of pottery being made in his house is in a style that came to be known, in the early 20th century, as Studio Pottery - that is to say pottery made by artists working ...
Nollywood - The Nigerian Industry (07/10)
Nigeria has long been renowned for its distinguished literary history, which features such world-famous authors as Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, and Wole Soyinka. What many Westerners don't know, however, is that Nigeria also boasts a thriving movie-making industry, dubbed Nollywood in homage to both Hollywood and Bollywood (India’s film ...
Cubism (c. 1907 - 1921) (07/10)
Asger inherits his love of art from Grandpa Askild, who paints in the Cubist style pioneered by artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris, influenced by Paul Cezanne's later work. Although some art historians now credit the lesser-known Braque with creating the first Cubist paintings, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'...
Lost and Stolen Treasures (06/10)
According to British journalist and art critic Jonathan Jones, 'The most amazing thing is not how many masterpieces go missing or get destroyed but that something so fragile as art survives for any length of time at all.'

Yet the lead character of The Bellini Madonna, Thomas Joseph Lynch, is counting on the fact that the mysterious work ...
Charlie Chaplin & Sunnyside (05/10)
Not a whole lot is said about silent films these days. The Age of the Silver Screen seems to be as antiquated as the subject matter of many of its films: the original Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments, Intolerance, and Birth of a Nation to name a few. The reputed masters of the form could be counted on one hand, and actors and actresses ...
The Cello - The Little, Big Viola (04/10)
As Mia's source of strength, the cello plays a central role in If I Stay. Playing her instrument is her true passion, her future and the reason for her bond to her first love, Adam.

The first cellos were made in 16th century Italy. Composers sought an instrument with a similar sound to other stringed instruments but a lower tone than the...
Arabic Music (09/09)
Arabic Music is influenced by a history of conquest and contact with numerous countries including but not limited to Greece, Medieval Europe and Turkey. Elements of Arabic music can also be found in non-Arabic countries. A few common characteristics are the connection between music and poetry, and the use of maqamat. In Arabic music, a ...
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