Thursday, October 19, 2017

Art Star: Jan Švankmajer

b. September4, 1934 in Prague
Live and works in Prague

Jan Švankmajer trained at the Institute of Applied Arts from 1950 to 1954 and then at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts (Department of Puppetry). He soon became involved in the Theatre of Masks and the famous Black Theatre, before entering the Laterna Magika Puppet Theatre where he first encountered film. In 1970 he met his wife, the surrealist painter Eva Svankmajerova, and the late Vratislav Effenberger, the leading theoretician of the Czech Surrealist Group, which Svankmajer joined and of which he still remains a member.
Svankmajer made his first film in 1964 and for over thirty years has made some of the most memorable and unique animated films ever made, gaining a reputation as one of the world's foremost animators, and influencing filmmakers from Tim Burton to The Brothers Quay.

Alice (Něco z Alenky) (1988)
Faust (Lekce Faust) (1994)

Conspirators of Pleasure (Spiklenci slasti) (1996)
Little Otik (Otesánek) (2000)
Lunacy (Šílení) (2005)
Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010)

The Last Trick (Poslední trik pana Schwarcewalldea a pana Edgara) (1964)
A Game with Stones (Hra s kameny) (1965)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasy in G minor (Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasia G-moll) (1965)
Punch and Judy, also known as The Coffin Factory and The Lynch House (Rakvičkárna) (1966)

Et Cetera (1966)
Historia Naturae, Suita (1967)
The Garden (Zahrada) (1968)
The Flat (Byt) (1968)
Picnic with Weissmann (Picknick mit Weissmann) (1968)
A Quiet Week in the House (Tichý týden v domě) (1969)
Don Juan (Don Šajn) (1969)
The Ossuary (Kostnice) (1970)
Jabberwocky (Žvahlav aneb šatičky slaměného Huberta) (1971)
Leonardo's Diary (Leonardův deník) (1972)
Castle of Otranto (Otrantský zámek) (1979)
The Fall of the House of Usher (Zánik domu Usherů) (1980)
Dimensions of Dialogue (Možnosti dialogu) (1982)
Down to the Cellar (Do pivnice) (1983)
The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope (Kyvadlo, jáma a naděje) (1983)
The Male Game, also known as Virile Games (Mužné hry) (1988)
Another Kind of Love (1988) - music video for Hugh Cornwell
Meat Love (Zamilované maso) (1988)

Darkness/Light/Darkness (Tma, světlo, tma) (1989)
Flora (1989)
Animated Self-Portraits (1989) - Švankmajer was one of 27 filmmakers who contributed to this portmanteau work
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (Konec stalinismu v Čechách) (1990)
Food (Jídlo) (1992)


A story that is changed from one genre in order to fit another genre/environment


Thursday, October 5, 2017



Chris Ware was born in 1967 in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was first inspired by reading Peanuts paperbacks in his grandmother’s basement, unlimited access to 1970s television. Ware got his start in published comics, however, while attending the University of Texas in Austin. He drew comics every week, and sometimes on a daily basis, for The Daily Texan, still the country's largest university newspaper. It was here that Ware began developing such characters as Quimby the Mouse and an early version of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. In 1987, Ware's work came to the attention of RAW editor Art Spiegelman (Maus), who invited him to contribute to the distinguished annual comics anthology.

In 1991 Ware moved to Chicago to pursue a Master’s degree in printmaking at the Art Institute of Chicago, which he did not complete, but the experience did instill in him a deep suspicion of all forms of theory and criticism about art and writing. While in his first year of school he was invited to draw a weekly strip for the alternative weekly New City in May 1992, in which he began the newer incarnation of his semi-autobiographical character, Jimmy Corrigan, and serialization of a story which would take seven years to complete. (from

(Self Portrait)


"It's uncanny that someone so young would have such an apparent recollection of the history of comics, and the talent to expand upon it." – Art Spiegelman

"Stupendous." – Matt Groening
"Ware’s work is among the very best graphic, comic, illustrative, and fine artwork being produced in the world right now." – Mother Jones

"With a meticulous intricacy, [Ware's] work draws the viewer into a world of sadness, whimsy, nostalgia for a past that might never have been and, sometimes, redemption. The experience of reading panel to panel has rarely been so emotional." – Los Angeles Times

INTERVIEW: The Guardian

Q: The structure of your pages and panels are often integral to the narrative. Do you plan the page after knowing the story, or do you tailor the story to fit with an idea for page layout?

A: I don't plan or write ahead of time, having found through painful trial and error than anything I did script ended up dead on arrival. Instead I try to allow the feedback loop of staring at a blank page with few distractions other than my own memories, disappointments and yearnings direct a story and set a tone. I start at the top or in the middle of the page and whatever happens, happens. I keep vague notes but fundamentally I believe it's very important for a story to find its own structure rather than the other way around — it's the central tenet of Louis Sullivan's architectural theory (his word, not mine) and I've found it to be true — really the only way to find the "shape of life" in an honest, awkward way that feels and hopefully is human. Our minds are already very organized things; the trick, I think, is simply to trust them.

On style and process:
I arrived at my way of "working" as a way of visually approximating what I feel the tone of fiction to be in prose versus the tone one might use to write biography; I would never do a biographical story using the deliberately synthetic way of cartooning I use to write fiction. I try to use the rules of typography to govern the way that I "draw", which keeps me at a sensible distance from the story as well as being a visual analog to the way we remember and conceptualize the world. I figured out this way of working by learning from and looking at artists I admired and whom I thought came closest to getting at what seemed to me to be the "essence" of comics, which is fundamentally the weird process of reading pictures, not just looking at them. I see the black outlines of cartoons as visual approximations of the way we remember general ideas, and I try to use naturalistic color underneath them to simultaneously suggest a perceptual experience, which I think is more or less the way we actually experience the world as adults; we don't really "see" anymore after a certain age, we spend our time naming and categorizing and identifying and figuring how everything all fits together. Unfortunately, as a result, I guess sometimes readers get a chilled or antiseptic sensation from it, which is certainly not intentional, and is something I admit as a failure, but is also something I can't completely change at the moment.

Collaborations with Ira Glass--This American Life

"Yasujiro Ozu" by Chris Ware

Tokyo Story

In 2008 Cinefamily presented an ambitious retrospective of the films of Yasujiro Ozu, "one of the most revered of all Japanese directors."  They commissioned Chris Ware to illustrate the movie poster for Ozu's masterpiece, Tokyo Story.

Criterion Collection DVD Boxed Set:  The Only Son and There Was a Father



Yasujiro Ozu’s first talkie, the uncommonly poignant The Only Son is among the Japanese director’s greatest works, a simple story about a good-natured mother who gives up everything to ensure her son’s education and future.


Yasujiro Ozu’s frequent leading man Chishu Ryu is riveting as Shuhei, a widowed high school teacher who finds that the more he tries to do what is best for his son’s future, the more they are separated.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Art Star: Yasujiro Ozu


Full Movie

Director, Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu
b. December 12, 1903
d. December 12, 1963


Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first film the next year, Blade of Penitence (1927). Ozu made thirty-five silent films, and a trilogy of youth comedies with serious overtones he turned out in the late 1920s and early 1930s placed him in the front ranks of Japanese directors. He made his first sound film in 1936, The Only Son (1936), but was drafted into the Japanese Army the next year, being posted to China for two years and then to Singapore when World War II started. Shortly before the war ended he was captured by British forces and spent six months in a P.O.W. facility. At war's end he went back to Shochiku, and his experiences during the war resulted in his making more serious, thoughtful films at a much slower pace than he had previously. His most famous film, Tokyo Story (1953), is generally considered by critics and film buffs alike to be his "masterpiece" and is regarded by many as not only one of Ozu's best films but one of the best films ever made. He also turned out such classics of Japanese film as Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952), Floating Weeds (1959) and An Autumn Afternoon (1962).

Ozu, who never married and lived with his mother all his life, died of cancer in 1963, two years after she passed.

-       IMDb Mini Biography By:


I find comparisons and "comedy battles" (--who's the real king?) to be, uh, post-interesting to say the least.  Let's just take all three of these geniuses in and enjoy everything.

Sentimental, emotive • Painstakingly precise staging • Elegance of gesture

Modern Times

The Great Stoneface • Stuntman • Technology of film • Physical comedy

Buster Keaton:  Seven Chances 1925

Everyman:  "In the prime of his career, Lloyd's most famous role was the 'Glasses' character, a young eager all-American man who was out to succeed in life and absolutely no physical obstacle would stand in his way as he risked life and limb to achieve his goals." (IMBd)