January Miscellany: Hoffman, Schubert, and Marie Vieux-Chauvet

Playing around: The image of a Hans Hoffman woodcut in an arts magazine proved an irresistible impulse for coloring between the lines. After all, I’d collected dozens of colored pencils some time back (they looked so very appealing on display in a local arts and stationery shop) and they’d been neglected for far too long. Spare buttons discovered in a winter decluttering session, a leaf stamp and ink pad, a couple British stamps, and a magazine image of tiles all got their moment in the sun as well.

Reading: December into January reading has consisted of several mysteries, the best of which, The Trespasser, was by Tana French. In the literary novel category, Helen Dunmore’s final book, Birdcage Walk, along with Exposure, made for good reads, particularly the latter. Then it seemed (somehow) a couple novels of Haiti might be à propos. Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones figured in, but more interesting was Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s Dance on the Volcano:

From a writer whose most frequent subject is the psyche of Haitian women during violent and politically charged moments of Haiti’s history—she herself fled the Duvalier régime after the publication of her trilogy—Dance on the Volcano is an intimate rendering of the Haitian Revolution and a nuanced portrayal of the brutality that resonated across all realms of society in the colony of Saint Domingue at the turn of the 19th century. Kaiama L. Glover’s translation is fluid, remaining faithful to the elegance of Vieux-Chauvet’s prose while navigating the stylistic concerns inherent to recreating a work written in the 1950s and about the colonial life of the 1790s, for a 21st-century audience. [citation]

Listening List:

I was actually listening to Ravel and Mozart while playing around with the Hans Hoffman image, but in searching for a Mozart piano sonata on YouTube to offer up here, I came across this Argerich/Delgado performance of Franz Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor D.940:

Bonus track: A lecture by Professor Christopher Hogwood on Franz Schubert and Vienna, focusing especially on the Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940, for piano duet.





15 thoughts on “January Miscellany: Hoffman, Schubert, and Marie Vieux-Chauvet

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Mark: And you should know (though you are not responsible for the output) that with every slice of the exacto-knife I am grateful to you for pointing out that tool. I was bothered by the symmetry, feeling I should somehow disrupt it, but then how could I argue with Hoffman’s lovely design?

      1. Mark Kerstetter

        I’d be lost without an Exacto (I have about four of them). I know what you mean about feeling that symmetry should be disrupted and also that doing so in this instance would be like “arguing with Hoffman”. But the radical compositional limitations a grid presents open up other challenges. Ashbery favored symmetrical compositions in his collages, so you’re in fine company.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          Of course your comment led me right back to peruse various Ashbery collages, always a pleasure! Also, re Exacto-Knives: We saw a wonderful exhibit yesterday at the Met Museum of Cornell boxes inspired by a Gris painting. The Gris and a few of the boxes are shown here: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/birds-of-a-feather/selected-works. A vitrine accompanying the show displayed a Gris: Still Lives book, part of the Little Library of Art series, as well as a couple pages showing cut-outs from the images. (Whether Gris used an Exacto or some other implement, I don’t know.)

          Cornell bought several copies of the Gris book and cut pieces from the images, some of which he used in the Gris-inspired boxes. One of them, “Le Déjeuner de Kakatoes pour Juan Gris,” which incorporates fragments from Gris’s collage, “The Breakfast,” is shown at the link above.

  1. newleafsite

    Sue, another of your wonderful collages, not a moment too soon! Love the inclusion of excellent buttons, and not many of us still have ink pads and stamps – how delightful that your decluttering unearthed such treats!

    I seem to recall the first post I read on this blog involved Schubert, so this is a pleasant circling back. Such enjoyable winter’s sharing! — Elizabeth

  2. shoreacres

    Your collage is filled with treats, and quite evocative. Looking at it, I’ve been reminded of everything from my grandmother’s button box, to California tiles, to the geometric patterns of the Islamic world(s). The stylized deer and birds are a bit of William Morris, but best of all? The addition of the postage stamps, to complement your own stamping. Everything seems just right: not too much, and not too little.

    The Schubert Fantasy is just the right accompaniment. I was about to head off to bed, but once I started listening, I couldn’t stop. Thanks for adding the lecture, too, although I believe I’ll save that for tomorrow.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      William Morris is a wonderful association, as is your grandmother’s button box. I had to think twice about putting on those postage stamps, as they could, I suppose, be used. In the end, I couldn’t resist. I loved discovering that Schubert piece (which I gather is well known to the cognoscenti, but not at all to me). The lecture is interesting, though I’ll confess I listened to only part of it myself. I decided to put it up nonetheless to remind me, should I want to come back to it at some point.

  3. David N

    The super collage would go well with Delft tiles. Never noticed the UK stamps in question – what’s the theme of the set?

    I nearly bought a book of poetry by Helen Dunmore yesterday. Hasn’t she written books with Russian settings or am I mixing her up with someone else? Talking of thrillers, Philip K Dick’s Ubik is more that than sci-fi, though it’s not so easy to begin with: a whole new vocabulary has to be absorbed, which the narrative only explains bit by bit. What a genius, though.

    Just to recap what I wrote Over There, I last heard the Schubert Fantaisie it played, exquisitely, at the Reform Club by Martino Tirimo and Atsuko Kawakami: http://davidnice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/leonskajas-schubert-cd-gold.html It’s one of those late Schubert (bitter irony considering how young he died) treasures, up there with the last three piano sonatas and the string quintet. Such infinite depths of tenderness and poignancy.

    1. Steve Schwartzman

      Good of you to point out the irony of “late Schubert.” The twin tragedies of classical music are the deaths in their 30s of Mozart and Schubert. Imagine all the extra music we’d have if they’d lived even one more decade.

    2. Susan Scheid Post author

      What is it that is so endlessly appealing about Delft tiles? That the collage would remind you of them is quite an honor. I’m not sure this is an answer to your question (or really that I have one), but when embarking on this, I had no theme, but rather chose one thing, then looked for what might complement it. I have no idea where or when I purchased those stamps, let alone who thought to come up with blue daffodils, so I just now, on the prompt of your comment, tried to trace them. It appears to be a Welsh design, but that’s all I could find out. And thank you so much for the Schubert link and comments, on which I look forward to following up. I can only imagine what he would have added to the store of music had he lived longer!

      1. David N

        Yet in the end I find dramatisations of ‘tragic Schubert’ – there was a dreadful one with Simon Russell Beale – only deal with the outer circumstances and not the huge spiritual victory. Only a handful of beings achieve anything like as much as Schubert in a short lifetime – and among them, of course, are Mozart, Mendelssohn and Chopin.

        I can look at Delft tiles for ages – it’s the individuality of the designs, of course. You can visit a shop, as we did in beautiful Delft itself, and not see one repetition. And each one is yours for a reasonable price, though I hate to think how much prising off walls has gone on.

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