The Sunday dozen

10th March 2024

John Wyver writes: the usual twelve recommendations from a busy week when we celebrated in style the life of my mother-in-law, Beryl Paterson, at her cremation.

The Getty makes nearly 88,000 art images free to use however you like: an Open Culture report, with links, on the recent significant expansion on one of the great online resources, including Cézanne’s Still Life with Blue Pot, about 1900–1906 (above), which I feature only because I find it extraordinarily beautiful.

The Shoah after Gaza: do please read Pankaj Mishra’s LRB lecture, given on 28 February:

A powerful Western narrative holds the Shoah to be the incomparable crime of the modern era. But we find our moral and political consciousness profoundly altered when Israel, a country founded as a haven for the victims of genocidal racism, is itself charged with genocide. What is the fate of universal values after Israel’s collapse into violent nationalism?

… or watch Mishra deliver it, thoughtfully and passionately, across 65 minutes, on Youtube:

… and this is also very good context from Priya Satia

How the Tories wrecked the economy: written before Wednesday, this is the best overview of the Conservatives’ parlous economic policy – ‘cosplay Thatcherism for dilettantes’ – that I read this week, from Simon Nixon’s The Wealth of Nations Substack.

Mesmerised by the movies – an interview with David Bordwell: the commemorations of the great film scholar’s death have included the very welcome publication for the first time in English, and courtesy of Montages, of an in-depth interview with film critic Dag Sodtholt undertaken in 2004; it’s a glorious read — and see also Michael S. Rowenfald’s new New York Times obituary.

Rarefilmm against the world: at MUBI Notebook George Iskander writes about the travails of Jon Whitehead, creator of the wonderful online resource that was, and still is, rarefilmm, also known as ‘the cave of forgotten films’, and about the great Internet Archive, preservation and access, archives and libraries and copyrights and copywrongs.

The auteur of fatherhood – how Steven Spielberg recast American masculinity: such a good essay for The Yale Review by Phillip Maciak.

Viewing the ob-scene: on Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest: David Hering for LA Review of Books with a particularly interesting take on the film that continues to fascinate me – and which I hope is properly recognised at the Oscars on Sunday night.

American elections – 1860: the third episode of a really terrific Past Present Future podcast series with David Runciman and historian Gary Gerstle considering the key presidential elections in American history; the link is to Apple, but this is available wherever you access your podcasts.

Proof positive of things as they are: film historian Luke McKernan wrote this rich essay on newsreels during the First World War in 2004, but it remained unpublished until now.

Decolonizing Ukrainian art, one name-and-shame post at a time: a fascinating profile by Constant Méheut for The New York Times of the Ukrainian art historian Oksana Semenik who has used a hugely popular X account to get major museums to re-label artworks from her country that have previously and erroneously labelled as ‘Russian’.

On the ‘Pictures’ generation and AI art: long, dense and perhaps too specialist for many, but I was fascinated by these reflections from Kazys Varnelis, an abstract painter from Lithuania.

Annie Ernaux’s Exteriors: the sharpness of her writing shines against photos of life in cities: Anna-Louise Milne at The Conversation pens a thoughtful and fruitful review of a new exhibition of the French writer’s texts and accompanying images at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie; I saw the show a week or so ago and it has definitely stayed with me.

And finally: because it feels like this week I made real progress with my forthcoming book, Magic Rays of Light: A Cultural History of British Television, 1925-1939; the clip of Adele Dixon singing ‘Television’ is from Television Comes to London, a film documentary made for the opening of the BBC ‘high definition’ service from Alexandra Palace on 2 November 1936:

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