Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Art From The Ghetto

by Edwin Hesselthwite

Bruno Schulz's self portrait, in characteristic scratchy and evocative style.

This publication has been building up something of a theme when it comes to celebrating the death of artists of note, not intentionally - it's a pretty morbid obsession - but I'm finding it impossible now to resist the "on this day" obituaries. A disturbing indicator for my sanity.

This Monday coming , for example, is the 65th anniversary of the death of Polish writer, artist and literary stylist Bruno Schulz. Schulz is an uncategorisable writer, widely recognised after his death for his imagery rich books that aren't really stories in the normal form. Schulz, an assimilated Jew, became trapped in the Nazi-occupation of Poland, and was murdered in the course of an argument between two Gestapo officers in 1942. A book review and biography will be forthcoming next week.

In Schulz's honour, and just because we can, we thought we'd attempt a brief season on works of art and science that emerged from the camps of the Second World War. For the most bleak events of the twentieth century there is a very strong body of human creativity that emerged from under their shadow, and it deserves celebrating (also, it's November and I'm feeling morbid). So, from Monday onwards we'll be posting on the topic.

To start off with a lede: Schulz's highest profile book Street Of Crocodiles served as inspiration for a stop-motion opus by American twins The Brothers Quay. This exceptionally dark adaptation, with its reliance on imagery and music rather than any real narrative is a bit overwhelming, and rated by Terry Gilliam as one of his favourite animations of all time (you can see similarity to his animated work). Anyone familiar with the music videos of the band Tool will recognise its influence immediately. So, I post it here in two parts.

Street Of Crocodiles by The Brothers Quay (1986), click for Part 2

Bruno Schulz (1892-1942)

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