Category Archives: Avant-gardening

Postcard from Anita-Berber-Park

A cemetery springs to life in honour of the doomed Berlin provocateuse

Postcard from Anita-Berber-Park

A cemetery springs to life in honour of the doomed Berlin provocateuse

Phantoms of Surrealism

Sheila Legge, the faceless face of British Surrealism

Phantoms of Surrealism

Sheila Legge, the faceless face of British Surrealism

Places: Muskauer Park

A visit to the estate of Romantic-era polymath Hermann von Pückler-Muskau

Places: Muskauer Park

A visit to the estate of Romantic-era polymath Hermann von Pückler-Muskau

Enemy of the average

Gathering strange flowers from Lotusland to Berlin

Enemy of the average

Gathering strange flowers from Lotusland to Berlin

One hundred years of joy

The centenary of poet and filmmaker James Broughton

One hundred years of joy

The centenary of poet and filmmaker James Broughton

Places: Quinta da Regaleira

It is the hill-hugging grounds which make this place so special. Stepping through the ornate portal, visitors find themselves in a miraculous micronation of evocative follies, a garden refuge out of the dream of a precocious child.

Places: Quinta da Regaleira

It is the hill-hugging grounds which make this place so special. Stepping through the ornate portal, visitors find themselves in a miraculous micronation of evocative follies, a garden refuge out of the dream of a precocious child.

Summer Flowers

In writing about people who died long ago, frequently in obscurity, it’s heart-warming to know that their secret influence continues to erupt in unpredictable locations around the globe.

Summer Flowers

In writing about people who died long ago, frequently in obscurity, it’s heart-warming to know that their secret influence continues to erupt in unpredictable locations around the globe.

The Death of Lovers

Strange flowers, evil flowers, mystical blue and tarnished mirrors…

The Death of Lovers

Strange flowers, evil flowers, mystical blue and tarnished mirrors…

The Pleasure Garden

Set in an overgrown garden dotted with classical statuary (actually the ruins of London’s Crystal Palace), The Pleasure Garden pits the forces of life, love and light against the dark, dreary and draconian.

The Pleasure Garden

Set in an overgrown garden dotted with classical statuary (actually the ruins of London’s Crystal Palace), The Pleasure Garden pits the forces of life, love and light against the dark, dreary and draconian.

At home with Edward James

What wonders this journey brings! James describes the travelling menagerie that was his life in the high, piping voice which contemporaries always remarked upon. His irascible temperament and bitterness are also much in evidence.

At home with Edward James

What wonders this journey brings! James describes the travelling menagerie that was his life in the high, piping voice which contemporaries always remarked upon. His irascible temperament and bitterness are also much in evidence.

Dress-down Friday: Ganna Walska

Re-examining Ganna Walska’s modus operandi, it is striking how utterly contemporary her approach to celebrity was, a combination of slender accomplishments and gargantuan ambition, of fashion labels and scent endorsements, of big rocks and little dogs.

Dress-down Friday: Ganna Walska

Re-examining Ganna Walska’s modus operandi, it is striking how utterly contemporary her approach to celebrity was, a combination of slender accomplishments and gargantuan ambition, of fashion labels and scent endorsements, of big rocks and little dogs.

Places: Phoenix Park

Antonin Artaud’s harrowing writing forms a dark, precarious monument teetering at, and sometimes over, the edge of sanity. Like Nietzsche, his conception of what art could and should do for society and the individual started where most artists’ ended.

Places: Phoenix Park

Antonin Artaud’s harrowing writing forms a dark, precarious monument teetering at, and sometimes over, the edge of sanity. Like Nietzsche, his conception of what art could and should do for society and the individual started where most artists’ ended.

Places: Vittoriale degli italiani

Mussolini cribbed much of his style and many of his tactics from the older man but was disinclined to have the dangerously charismatic war hero around to challenge his authority. Il Vittoriale was generously-funded busy work for d’Annunzio, an al fresco manifestation of the creation myths of totalitarianism.

Places: Vittoriale degli italiani

Mussolini cribbed much of his style and many of his tactics from the older man but was disinclined to have the dangerously charismatic war hero around to challenge his authority. Il Vittoriale was generously-funded busy work for d’Annunzio, an al fresco manifestation of the creation myths of totalitarianism.

Strange Flowers guide to Berlin: part 4

Else was shocked when management barred her entry one day, on the grounds that she didn’t consume enough. “Is a poet who consumes a lot even a poet?” she fumed. And so as the First World War approached, Café des Westens fell out of favour with the avant-garde.

Strange Flowers guide to Berlin: part 4

Else was shocked when management barred her entry one day, on the grounds that she didn’t consume enough. “Is a poet who consumes a lot even a poet?” she fumed. And so as the First World War approached, Café des Westens fell out of favour with the avant-garde.

Death of a shrinking violet

There are those who turn their lives into their greatest work. Theodore Wratislaw was not among them. It wasn’t premature death, prison or drugs which claimed Wratislaw after his last volume of verse in 1896. It was the civil service…

Death of a shrinking violet

There are those who turn their lives into their greatest work. Theodore Wratislaw was not among them. It wasn’t premature death, prison or drugs which claimed Wratislaw after his last volume of verse in 1896. It was the civil service…

At home with Ronald Firbank

“…when Sacheverell spoke appreciatively of his latest novel, Caprice, he turned his head away, and remarked, in a choking voice, ‘I can’t bear calceolarias! Can you?’”

At home with Ronald Firbank

“…when Sacheverell spoke appreciatively of his latest novel, Caprice, he turned his head away, and remarked, in a choking voice, ‘I can’t bear calceolarias! Can you?’”

James and the giant artichoke

For an outsized entrée it had an impressive pedigree, designed by Sir Hugh Casson, later responsible for shaping the architecture of the Festival of Britain, and Christopher Nicholson, who numbered a studio for Augustus John among his long list of projects.

James and the giant artichoke

For an outsized entrée it had an impressive pedigree, designed by Sir Hugh Casson, later responsible for shaping the architecture of the Festival of Britain, and Christopher Nicholson, who numbered a studio for Augustus John among his long list of projects.

Prince of tides

Although better known in his lifetime as a writer and adventurer, Pückler-Muskau saw the Saxon park as his greatest monument. It was an expression of his lifetime passion for landscape gardening, into which he poured his entire fortune.

Prince of tides

Although better known in his lifetime as a writer and adventurer, Pückler-Muskau saw the Saxon park as his greatest monument. It was an expression of his lifetime passion for landscape gardening, into which he poured his entire fortune.

A German miscellany

The documentary just shown on German TV about Weimar Berlin included Lotte Lenya singing a mesmerising “Seeräuber Jenny” and a rare glimpse of Valeska Gert’s infamous grotesque dances.

A German miscellany

The documentary just shown on German TV about Weimar Berlin included Lotte Lenya singing a mesmerising “Seeräuber Jenny” and a rare glimpse of Valeska Gert’s infamous grotesque dances.