Category Archives: Art

Malle, Moreau and Miles – Elevator to Modernity

This masterful scene from Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1958) is a quintessential example of 20th century post-war modernism. It’s all here– the near perfect intersection of film (a noir at the leading edge of the French New Wave), music (the atmospheric jazz score was improvised by Miles Davis in a single, all-night recording session), the electrified urban landscape (lit by neon, headlights, arcades and storefront displays), fashion (notice the various representations as Moreau walks in front of the arcade) and finally, dripping sensuality (Jeanne Moreau and Miles Davis fused in sexy melancholia ultimately climaxing in a downpour of rain and thunder). What cool is made of….

Have a martini….

The Man With The Movie Camera (1929)

Frequently included in top ten lists of greatest films of all-time. Directed by Soviet director Dziga Vertov, the film is famous for its range of cinematic techniques — double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations — many of which appear here first. In 2014 Sight and Sound named it the top documentary film ever made. Watch it here:

Hello Michelangelo- Your Conference Call ID# is MDXII

800px-Michelango_Portrait_by_VolterraMichelangelo, master creator of great works of art like the Pietà and David and the Sistine Chapel, was also apparently far ahead of the curve when it came to telecommuting. Here’s how he put it, in a letter to his boss, Pope Julius II, making his case for the privilege of working from home:

“Now you write to me on the pope’s behalf, so you can read the pope this: let His Holiness understand that I am more willing than ever to carry on with the work; and if he wants the tomb come what may, he shouldn’t be bothered about where I work on it, provided that, at the end of the five years we agreed on, it is set up in St Peter’s, wherever he likes; and that it is something beautiful, as I have promised it will be: for I’m sure that if it’s completed, there will be nothing like it in the world.

“I have many marbles on order in Carrara which I shall have brought here along with those I have in Rome. Even if it meant a serious loss to me, I shouldn’t mind so long as I could do the work here; and I would forward the finished pieces one by one so that His Holiness would enjoy them just as much as if I were working in Rome — or even more, because he would just see the finished pieces without having any other bother. ”

The folks at Forbes Magazine announced in 2014 that “telecommuting is the future of work.” Little did they know that Michelangelo had beaten them to the punch by over a half millennium!


Selected Poems and Letters
by Michelangelo (Author), Anthony Mortimer (Editor, Translator, Introduction)  (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 18, 2007

Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra

Philadelphia Jazz City – The Great Tradition

Hank_MobleyBillie Holiday was born there. John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie called it home during their lifetimes. In addition to being the “cradle of liberty” and the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Philadelphia’s contribution to America’s cultural and artistic landscape runs nearly as deep, especially when it comes to jazz.

Philadelphia’s jazz scene developed in the early 20th century, with two clubs, the Standard Theatre and the Dunbar Theatre, hosting most major acts travelling along the Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York corridor. Later, clubs opened along Columbia Avenue in North Philadelphia and the Clef Club, the Showboat, and Pep’s called South Philly home. From those early beginnings Philadelphia’s association with jazz grew steadily, mirroring the meteoric rise of the art form’s popularity, on through the peak years of the 40s, 50, and 60s. In addition to the giants of jazz listed above an amazing list of jazz greats established themselves there, or called the city home (not in any special order):

Ethel WatersStan GetzClifford BrownPhilly Joe Jones, Reggie Workman, Red Rodney (with the great Frank Young on drums), Jimmy Smith, Hank Mobley, Wilbur Ware, Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Odean Pope, Kenny BarronHenry Grimes, Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Fortune, Archie Shepp, Rashied Ali, Sun RaStanley ClarkeJamaaladeen Tacuma, Christian McBride… Just to name a few.


Photo: Hank Mobley. Photograph by Ted Williams, circa 1956