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Links, Sebald & Other – For October 2020

Barbara Kruger, Matchbooks, 1984

The world’s most comprehensive collection of concrete and visual poetry has been acquired by The University of Iowa, which has announced that its University Libraries have been chosen as the new home of the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. This website includes a number of entertaining short videos about the collection and a full-length documentary about the Sackners called Concrete. The collection contains over 75,000 items including books, periodicals, typewritings, drawings, letters, print portfolios, ephemera, rare and out-of-print artists’ books, and manuscripts that represents 20th-century art movements such as Italian Futurism, Russian and Eastern European Avant-gardes, Dada, Surrealism, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Ultra, Dada, Lettrisme, and Ultra-Lettrisme.


Erwin Elsner, W.G. Sebald

There is a new German radio program on W.G Sebald, which ranks among the better radio broadcasts about him. It features archive recordings of Sebald himself and includes interviews with several of his friends and acquaintances, including Rüdiger Görner, Philippa Comber, and Uwe Schütte. The program runs just short of one hour and can be downloaded from the Deutschlandfunk website.


Berthe Morisot, Mr. M. and His Daughter, 1883 [detail]

Perhaps by favorite blog these days is The Frederick Project, by Rachel Cohen, whose new book Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) I can also recommend. This is a blog that was begun on March 16, in deliberate response to the Covid outbreak. Using the inventory of photographs she had made on previous art museum visits, Cohen began writing about all that she was missing by not being able to go to see works of art in person anymore. Several things set Cohen’s writing apart. First of all, she really looks. She has a wonderfully unprejudiced eye that comes at art afresh. And when she visited museums, she often photographed each work of art multiple times in great detail, so that she can, for example, write about the tiny red toy sailboat floating in the water in the background of Berthe Morisot’s painting of her husband and daughter shown in the detail above.

Here is Cohen’s description of her blog:

During this period, when we are all in our rooms, and our ways of seeing and learning are virtual, I have been looking through several thousand photos of paintings, drawings, and installations that I have taken, mostly in museums, over the last nine years. Nearly all of these museums are closed to the public right now, and the photos, visual notes, are worlds of color, sometimes like memories, at other times, like steady markers for study and imagination.

Our children have a book, called Frederick, by Leo Lionni. It’s about a mouse, who, in the summer, studies colors. When winter comes, he tries to tell the other mice what he remembers. Looking at my photos, I thought I might try to follow his example.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Read: Three rings by Daniel Mendelsohn. The third ring is Sebald.


    October 16, 2020
  2. Stan Izen #

    Thanks for mentioning the Cohen blog – its terrific. I have enjoyed Cohen’s writing over the years when I happily chanced on an essay of hers somewhere.

    October 17, 2020

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