Saturday, November 18, 2017

The covers of Esther Verhoef's novels

One of my major 'literary' discoveries of recent weeks is Esther Verhoef, a Dutch author excelling in the 'literary' thriller genre. The covers of her novels are outstanding as well, beautiful photography with a hint of eroticism.

Copyright statement: all images are thumbnail size and considered fair use.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Here is another example how an abstract shot opportunity can offer itself any moment. This is the palette of my wife, photographed up close. The result is a symphony of colours and shapes, which suggests a nature scenery (e.g. underwater coral), yet remains abstract as well. A personal favourite of this year.

Camera: Canon IXUS 170, 20 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/3.6
Focal Length: 4.5 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How long do people really spend looking at art in museums?

It's an intriguing question: how long do people on average look at art pieces in a museum. I expected the answer to be 'short', but the linked art-icle tackles the issue in considerable detail and has numbers to back up the conclusions. It turns out to be 15-30 seconds on average, depending on the type of art/museum. I found it an interesting read.

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


A masterpiece by my Flickr friend Ethan (known previously as Cormend). Everything is just right in this shot taken at a Mexican beach house: the composition with its strong diagonal lines, the grey tones, the contrast, the shadows, the mystery..... one of the best in an outstanding portfolio.

Copyright statement: posted with explicit permission of the creator who retains all rights.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Khod Konem (Le Miracle des Loups)

Taken from a fascinating piece on the BBC Arts site (here) about early Soviet movie posters. This one is for the 1924 Raymond Bernard movie Miracle of the Wolves (Le Miracle des Loups). It was created in 1927 by Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg, and looks astonishingly modern.

Copyright statement: lower resolution images of movie posters considered fair use.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The passing

This is not the first album by progressive electronic artist Steve Roach to feature in the blog, and it will not be the last. The passing was released earlier this year, and I have not had the chance yet to sample it - but what a beautiful cover, designed by Sam Rosenthal.

Copyright statement: lower resolution images of album covers considered fair use.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


A recent work by my wife, and a personal favourite of mine. This atmospheric image of a couple in the big city also gets lots of positive reactions since it hangs in our gallery.

Copyright statement: image created by Lu Schaper. Copyright Lu Schaper.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Menin Road (lest we forget)

Today is the day to remember the end of the misnamed Great War (1914-1918), which took the lives of 41 million people. No-one captured the madness of trench warfare better than Paul Nash (1889-1946), who witnessed the carnage of war first hand as an army officer, and later as Britain's official war artist. One of his best paintings is The Menin Road from 1918.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Just a friend (RIP Hans Vermeulen)

And another one bites the dust: yesterday Hans Vermeulen passed away, aged 70. He was the lead singer of the Dutch band Sandy Coast, who are represented on our car MP3 USB stick with half a dozen songs, including this one, Just a friend from 1971. Rest in peace. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

Copyright statement: image created via the Photofunia site, who explicitly state that their images have no copyright issues. The video screenshot included in the image is thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The ar(t)chitecture of Zaha Hadid

Few architects have made so much impact this century as Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid (1950-2016). She has been nicknamed the "Queen of the curve", referring to the elegant flowing lines of her designs. Here is my pick for five of her best works with links to the Wikipedia pages:
  1. Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2012 (image above).
  2. Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, China, 2010.
  3. Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2010.
  4. Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea, 2014.
  5. Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong, China, 2013.
Copyright statement: image posted by Asian Development Bank (CC 2.0).

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


It's always fun to look at vintage travel posters. This one recommends the French mountain range Vosges, near the border with Germany. Funny though that the advertisement is for a railway connection, while the scene depicts travel by car. It was designed in 1921 by Lacaze.

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


I had heard of the Dutch band Rowwen H├Ęze from Limburg, but I don't think I had ever heard any of their songs. Last week I stumbled on the beautiful ballad November (a cover of the Irish song Raglan Road, in a translation to their Limburgish dialect). Don't worry if you can't understand the lyrics, neither can I. Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player).

Copyright statement: image created by TEDx Roermond (CC by 2.0).

Monday, November 06, 2017

Flowing over the edge

This is not the usual type of pictures you would find in the portfolio of my Flickr friend Peggy Reimchen (peggyhr), but it may be her very best in my personal opinion. A glacier seen from the Banff-Jasper highway is turned into a fascinating piece of art, helped by the strong contrasts (a must in black and white photography) and the marvelous composition. A real masterpiece of chiaroscuro.

Copyright statement: posted with explicit permission of the creator who retains all rights.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Die Dame (around 1930)

Normally I do not include vintage magazine covers without month and year of publication, but this one is too good to pass on in spite of the missing information. Die Dame (The lady) was a German fashion magazine that was published from 1911 to 1943. The covers were often by famous artists such as Tamara de Lempicka, Hans Ibe, Otto Nebel and Walter Trier. This particular one is by Ernst Deutsch Dryden (1883-1938).

Copyright statement: image in public domain.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Study in grey scales

This one is all about spotting opportunities. The ceiling of a shopping arcade in the old city centre of Bern makes for a minimal abstract, that received good feedback on Flickr, and is a personal favourite of mine.

Camera: Nikon D7000 (Nikkor 18-300 mm), 16 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.0068 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/6.3
Focal Length: 50.4 mm
ISO Speed: 1000
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Copyright statement: image created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Ripped in October

A selected overview of culture stars relevant to my own tastes who passed away this month. Rest in peace.

Klaus Huber (92), Swiss composer and academic. I have not heard any of his music, but he taught some of the most important contemporary composers, including Toshio Hosokawa, Wolfgang Rihm, and Kaija Saariaho.
Tom Petty (66), American rock musician. Although Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are seen as one of the all-time greats in the USA, their impact in Europe was limited. We have their song Refugee on the car USB stick.
Derek Bourgeois (75), British composer. He composed 114 symphonies, and I have not heard a single one of them. 
David Marks (64), British architect. Best known for his design of the London Eye.
Ingvar Lidholm (96), Swedish composer. We have a handful of CD's with his works.
Robert Guillaume (89), American actor. Fondly remembered as butler Benson in the highly original sitcom Soap (I have not seen his own spin-off series Benson). You want me to get that? 
Fats Domino (89), American pianist and singer-songwriter. Not a personal favourite (none of his songs made it to our car MP3 USB stick, and I have none of his albums), but undoubtedly one of the greats in pop history.

Copyright statement: image created via the Photofunia site, who explicitly state that their images have no copyright issues.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Loving Vincent

In March last year, I first posted about the movie Loving Vincent (here), a stunning tour de force: an animated movie with the usual 12 images per second - but every single image painted on canvas in Vincent's style. It can now be seen in the cinemas, and it received excellent reviews. And of course a beautiful poster, clearly demonstrating the style of the movie.

Copyright statement: lower resolution images of movie posters considered fair use.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Bern or Kampen?

Digital art of a different kind: I selected a photograph I took of the old inner city of Bern, and applied a "sketch" treatment at the site. The result made the initial resemblance to our own beautiful Kampen even more striking. The link goes to the original photograph.

Copyright statement: image created from a photograph by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Unusual concertos 81-90: From piccolo trumpet to mezzo soprano

The concerto for solo instrument(s) and orchestra is one of the most popular genres in classical music. However, I think 95+ % of all concertos have been composed for piano or violin. Previously I have run a series on concertos for less common instruments in this blog, reaching an amazing number of 100 in the end (all these posts were reset to draft end March). I will be summarizing these in ten posts in the course of the year, each covering ten unusual concertos, keeping the sequences the same as in the past.

[81] Piccolo trumpet. This is the smallest instrument in the trumpet family, pitched a full octave higher than  the normal trumpet. Perhaps best known for its use by the Beatles in Penny Lane and All you need is love, I stumbled upon a concerto for this instrument by Slovak composer Juraj Filas. On YouTube a version is available by Otto Sauter and the U.A.N.L. Symphony Orchestra under Raul Gutierrez (parts 1 and 2).

[82] Zhongruan. This is a Chinese plucked string instrument, which has been likened to the Western lute and guitar. Contemporary Chinese composers apply it occasionally, and there is at least one (recorded) concerto for it, by Liu Xing, who plays the instrument on a rare CD with the Voronezh State Symphony Orchestra under Mak Ka-Lok.

[83] Beatboxer. Nicknamed the human percussionist, the beatboxer moved from the hiphop culture straight into classical music when Anna Meredith composed a concerto for this unlikely "instrument". No recording yet that I am aware of, but the YouTube link provides more background information.

[84] String quartet. This is the third in the series to deal with a larger group of players rather than a single instrument. The string quartet (two violins, viola, cello) is generally seen as the most beautiful combination of instruments for chamber music. Several composers have written a concerto for string quartet and orchestra, including Schoenberg, Yannatos, Schulhoff and Lees. I have selected the concerto by Martinu, in the version by the Endellion String Quartet and the City of London Sinfonia under Richard Hickox. It is available on a Virgin CD.

[85] Tuba, one of the last regular symphony orchestra instruments to feature in this series. Concertos for the largest and lowest-pitched instrument in the brass family are not very common, and probably the best-known one is by Vaughan Williams. I have selected the concerto by Holmboe, in the version by Jens Bjorn-Larsen and the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra under Owain Arwel Hughes. It is available on a Bis CD.

[86] Xylophone, another pitched member of the percussion group. Although it has been used on and off in symphony orchestra compositions (Saint-Saens, Schoenberg, Shostakovich), concertos for the instrument are rare (much rarer than for marimba). I have selected the concertino by Mayuzumi, in the version by Joanne May and the Foundation Philharmonic Orchestra under David Snell. It is available on an ASV CD.

[87] Celesta. Technically, this is another percussion instrument in spite of its outward resemblance of a piano. It was invented in 1886, and has made little appearance in classical music; its best-known use is undoubtedly Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker. In my CD collection, I have one concertino for celesta and orchestra by Roderick Elms, in the version by the composer and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Stephen Bell. It is available on a Dutton CD.

[88] Cornet. This is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality. It was invented in 1814, and has made little appearance in classical music. In my CD collection, I have one concerto for cornet and orchestra by Dexter Morrill, in the version by Mark Ponzo and the Northern Illinois Philharmonic under Brian Groner. It is available on a Centaur CD.

[89] Saxophone quartet. Another example of a musical ensemble used as a concertante 'instrument'. The saxophone quartet is composed of four saxophonists, typically employing soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. I have selected the concerto for saxophone quartet and orchestra by Tristan Keuris, in the version by the Rascher Saxophone Quartet and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra under Otto Tausk. It is available on a Quattro CD box.

[90] Mezzo-soprano. This is a rather unlikely concertante "instrument" - although we have encountered an earlier similar example in Gliere's concerto for coloratura soprano. I know of one concerto for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, the Lyra Celtica concerto by John Foulds. I have the recording by Susan Bickley and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo. It is available on a Warner Classics CD.

Copyright statement: image sourced from here, explicitly stated to be in the public domain.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Potpourri [13]

An overview of recent images that would have ended up in my parallel blog Art's Potpourri (now stopped). Clicking the icons in the left side of the table takes you to the picture on the site where I found it in a new window. The text includes a link to the site.

web site
3D latte art from heaven. The idea is far from new, but these 3D latte creations may be the best I've seen. They were prepared by 17-year old self taught Daphne Tan. More examples in the link, but this octopus is simply delightful (Amazing Stuff). First seen here.
web site
3D latte art from hell. And here we have the flip side of the same subject. Taiwanese barista Chang Kuei Fang is just as talented with milk foam as Daphne Tan, but her choice of subject (a huge cockroach... ewwww) defies all logic (Mixed Nuts). First seen here.
web site
Hootzzzzzzzzzzzz. Taken from a post with literally dozens of funny pictures of astonishingly unphotogenic animals. This owl, who clearly did not have a good night's sleep, is the highest rated example, and it is easy to see why (Just for Fun). First seen here.
web site
Joshua Tree residence. Stunning in its concept and simplicity. Architect James Whitaker is planning to build a contemporary shipping container home that rises up like a starburst from the landscape of Joshua Tree (Special Designs). First seen here.
web site
Bamboo insects. Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh creates these beautiful and impressive insect sculptures using only bamboo as material - one of those subjects on the norderline of arts and crafts, but really requiring both (Remarkable Art). First seen here.
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People matching artworks. The patience that went into this project is almost as amazing as the results. French photographer Stefan Draschan shot people in front of art works in various museums - looking for unexpected matches between them (Amazing Stuff). First seen here.
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Optical illusion floor. Optical illusions is a personal favourite subject of mine, and I was delighted to see one having been realized in real life. Manchester-based Casa Ceramica features this tiled floor, where the illusion prevents people from running (Special Designs). First seen here.
web site
Mona Lisa clock. Combining design and art can lead to very interesting products. It can also lead to complete disasters, like here. I really cannot imagine that people would want to hang this butt ugly $42 clock (designer not mentioned) on their walls (Mixed Nuts). First seen here.

Copyright statement: image based on a photograph created by myself. Copyright Hennie Schaper.  The included images are thumbnail size and therefore considered fair use.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Judge October 1926

Please click the thumbnail above to open the image in a separate window. The Judge magazine covers are among the best of the jazz age, and this one was created by one of their most famous illustrators, Holmgren.

Copyright statement: the magnifying glass image is in public domain; the included magazine cover image is thumbnail size and considered fair use.