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Monthly Archives: September 2011
Thrilling Tales – new page update for The Lair of the Clockwork Book

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story The Lair of the Clockwork Book, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
Kickstarter project: Look through a wall at the lost da Vinci in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio

Filed under Found on the Web

In what is certain to be the coolest Kickstarter project in Renaissance Florence – and maybe in history – Dave Yoder is raising funds on behalf of the National Geographic Society to non-destructively peer behind the Giorgio Vasari mural in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio to determine, after 35 years of mystery, whether there truly is a mural by Leonardo hiding behind it.

This excites me because for me, as unlikely as this sounds, it’s personal.

Anyone who ever studied Renaissance art has always known that Leonardo was commissioned to paint The Battle of Anghiari on the walls of Florence’s council chamber. That’s no mystery, because every other Italian artist who could borrow a mule headed up there to watch. They sketched it, they talked about it, they wrote about it; Leonardo’s own sketches for the mural, and the many sketches by admiring painters, have left us no doubt that the painting, probably unfinished, remained on the Palazzo Vecchio wall for about forty years before it was covered by Giorgio Vasari’s still-surviving fresco.

It was back in 1979 that I first read about new evidence that suggested Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari was still there, under the Vasari. I was preparing for a trip to Europe and I fully expected that by the time I got there, Vasari’s painting would be rolled up on a huge aluminum cylinder – because you really can remove a fresco that way – and that The Battle of Anghiari would be peering out from behind it… and I’d be able to get a glimpse of the lost da Vinci.

(So, okay, I was a little optimistic. It was only a few months, after all. The thing is that as indebted as we are to Giorgio Vasari for his Lives of the Artists, one Vasari painting is about as significant as 1/1000 of a da Vinci sketch. That sounds excessive, but Vasari himself might have agreed with me.)

Fortunately for everyone, there weren’t any sledgehammers lying around when I got to the Palazzo Vecchio and found to my complete astonishment that nobody was doing a thing about it.

Thirty-odd years later, that seems to be changing. There’s a strong possibility that before Vasari painted his own fresco he raised a curtain wall in front of the da Vinci, to preserve it; we now know that he did exactly the same thing to protect Massacio’s Trinità in Santa Maria Novella.

The Battle of Anghiari, considered by the painters of his own age to have been one of da Vinci’s greatest works, may have been sitting untouched and in complete darkness behind Vasari’s brick wall since 1563.

And that’s where Kickstarter, bless its little fund-raising heart, comes in: there’s a plan underway to use gamma ray photography and, I kid you not, a small particle accelerator to look through the Vasari, through the wall it’s painted on, and back behind it to take a photograph of the original wall – to examine its pigments, so they can be compared with those that da Vinci used, and hopefully even to create a visual image of the painting that may be there. Without a sledgehammer, or a giant aluminum cylinder.

They want to take a photograph through the wall. I am amazed by this.

The project’s goal is $266,500 – and those funds, if successful, will be used like so:

If the Kickstarter effort is successful, all proceeds will go directly to National Geographic Society, in a fund earmarked for this project. No administrative fees will be deducted, and the society will oversee proper expenditure of the funds. The funds will be spent on stuff you won’t find on the shelves at Walmart, including the construction of two rather pricey pieces of equipment that will allow us to measure the gamma rays, the construction of a mock wall required for testing of the equipment before its use in Florence, and for travel to a testing facility we will need to rent in Colorado. This is a process we expect to take about 4-5 months.

I love living in the future – don’t you? Go tell them so.

Frederik Pohl Remembers the illustrator Hannes Bok

Filed under Found on the Web

Hannes Bok Rocket Ship

In the middle of his reminiscences of the pulp magazines of the ’30s and ’40s, Frederik Pohl has started to tell us about his memories of the illustrator Hannes Bok – and I have to admit that although I like his work, till now I knew practically nothing about him.

Bok was a contemporary of the inhumanly skilful Virgil Finlay; but while their rendering styles had something in common there was no commonality at all in their very different visual imaginations. Bok is strange and stylized and curious; Finlay is elegant and, I suppose, more accessible.

This comes at an appropriate time for me: I’ve just finished a greyscale illustration for a tale in Starship Sofa Stories #3. Working to greyscale was challenging, much as shooting a film in black and white is challenging – I had to make even more persnickety adjustments to my lights and materials than I usually do. But I found that I loved the result.

I keep looking at that picture and wondering whether I’ve found the solution (or part of one) for a project that’s been going in and out of the Idea Closet for years now. Grey is…. tasty. I’d forgotten.

Anyhow, here’s to the mysterious Hannes Bok. I think now that every time I recall my days of hitch-hiking to the art shows at science fiction conventions, I’ll think about him, too – some things never change!

Now continued in Part Two.

[tags]hannes bok, frederik pohl, pulp art, illustration, golden age[/tags]

Thrilling Tales – new page update for The Lair of the Clockwork Book

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story The Lair of the Clockwork Book, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
Save $20 on a T-Shirt order – including the Thrilling Tales Tees – from Retropolis Transit, Saga Shirts, & Hot Wax Tees

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Retro Future Airship T-Shirt Sale Celtic Pirate T-Shirts

Did you make it all through the summer without remembering to cover up that torso of yours? Jeez, I can’t take you anywhere. But just in time for the long weekend I’ve got a tempting sale on t-shirts from The Retropolis Transit Authority (including the Thrilling Tales T-shirts!), Saga Shirts, and Hot Wax Tees.

Until September 6 you can save a ginormous $20 on any order of $75 or more. Since the three shops share the same shopping cart that means you can split the difference between Ctheltic Cthulhu, Nat Gonella’s Ray Gun, and a Jitterbug or two. Which ought to have you covered*.

All you need to do is enter the ridiculously long coupon code OhYeahLngWkends and then you can nurse your tired typing finger(s) while basking in the warm afterglow that you enjoy when you’ve saved scads of greenbacks. Provided, of course, that your backs are green**.

* Thanks, by the way. You were scaring the pseudopods over here.

** And what are you doing with more than one back, anyway?***

*** Oh, heck, never mind; I didn’t really want to know that.

[tags]t-shirt, tee shirt, sale, coupon, retropolis transit authority, saga shirts, hot wax tees, retro future, celtic art, swing dance[/tags]

Thrilling Tales – new page update for The Lair of the Clockwork Book

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story The Lair of the Clockwork Book, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
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Down in the Basement. Where it Strains Against its Chains and Turns a Gigantic Wheel of Pain, for all Eternity. Muahahahahaha.