Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Giorgio de Chirico Artist Biography

(Note: This is a piece I wrote for a freelance client that didn't end up getting used.) 

Born July 10, 1888 in Volos, Greece - Died November 20, 1978 in Rome, Italy


Giorgio de Chirico is an Italian painter whose metaphysical painting style was greatly influential to the Surrealism movement. His pre-World War I work differs greatly in style and philosophy from his post-World War I work. Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, and other Surrealist painters cited de Chirico as influential on their work.

Public domain image by Carl Van Vechten, 1936

Artistic Activity


Giorgio de Chirico was born in Greece to two Italian parents. He first studied art in Florence, then moved to Germany. In Munich, he studied under the German artist Max Klinger and read the works of German philosophers.

Prior to the First World War, de Chirico is credited with creating the Scuola metafisica movement along with Carlo Carrà. These “metaphysical” paintings are characterized by images of cluttered, darkened interiors and mannequin-like human figures as well as a “haunted” or introspective mood.

In 1919, de Chirico published an article promoting a return to craftsmanship, or traditional painting methods. After its publication, his works exhibited a neoclassical style, influenced by Raphael and other past masters.

During the 1920s, Surrealist painter André Breton discovered de Chirico’s work. While critical of de Chirico’s traditionalist work, the Surrealist movement found de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings highly influential. De Chirico was highly critical of modern art.

After 1939, de Chirico painted in a neo-Baroque style. He remained a prolific painter until his death at age 90.

Giorgio de Chirico’s Most Important Works


• “The Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon” (1910) is the first painting in de Chirico’s metaphysical painting series.
• “The Child’s Brain” (1914) is the painting that won de Chirico the attention of André Breton.
• “The Disquieting Muses” (1916) is exemplary of a recurring theme in de Chirico’s work (the Muses of Classical mythology) and inspired a Sylvia Plath poem of the same name.
• “Self Portrait” (1924) exemplifies de Chirico’s work of the 1920s, with its return to traditionalist techniques and Renaissance inspiration.

Related Artists


Georgios Roilos
Georgios Jakobides
Max Klinger
Carlo Carrà
André Breton
Salvador Dalí

Terms Associated with Artist


Neo-Baroque
Neoclassical
Scuola metafisica
Surrealism

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Favorite Songs From the 'Ready Player One' Book Soundtrack

You can find the playlist on Spotify. 


I've finished listening to the audio book of Ready Player One, but I haven't gotten Ernest Cline's follow-up novel, Armada, out of the library yet. So, to tide me over, I've been listening to the Spotify playlist of all the songs mentioned in the book.

These are my personal favorites. As you may recall from this post, I was born in 1977 (as were Orlando Bloom, Ludacris, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and other ridiculously hot hotties). I grew up in the 1980s and will always have a special place in my heart for '80s music.

Among my favorites has always been Duran Duran. My all-time favorite DD song that I never seem to get tired of is "Hungry Like the Wolf." I even used it in the book trailer for "Oliver's Good Night Kiss."

Two Duran Duran songs show up in RP1. Both have incredibly weird videos. Here is one of them, "Wild Boys."


I own many Duran Duran albums on CD. One song that I like without knowing much of anything about the group that produced it is "Blue Monday" by New Order. I know they were British; that's about it.



"Blue Monday" is one I don't actually remember from the '80s, but discovered during the '90s. Pat Benatar, on the other hand, I have always been well aware of. The book Dead Is a Battlefield kept reminding me of her. Her song mentioned in RP1 is "Invincible."


Lastly from the Spotify list, I enjoy the Cline mention "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N’Dour. I know it reminds a lot of people of a scene in the John Hughes movie Say Anything, but honestly, I've never been very interested in John Hughes. It's just a beautiful song.


The playlist has other artists I like, but not my preferred songs from them. I like Cyndi Lauper, but not necessarily for "Time After Time." I'll listen to some Blondie songs if they're on the radio, but I don't know "Atomic." When I was a kid I thought Billy Idol was pretty cool, but I wouldn't necessarily enjoy listening to "Rebel Yell" now. The fictional James Halliday's playlist is a bit testosterone-heavy for my rather feminine tastes. 

If I were to make a playlist inspired by RP1, I would add "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco. The song isn't mentioned by name in the book, but Falco is. Parzival's asteroid home base in the Oasis is named after him.


Parzival/Wade, having studied The Simpsons, would be aware of the "Dr. Zaius"/Planet of the Apes parody of the song.


"Amadeus" is mostly in German -- Falco was Austrian -- but I don't care and never have cared. I have loved this song since it was a brand-new hit in 1986 when I was nine. And that was probably before my music teacher made us watch the Milos Forman movie that inspired it, Amadeus, in school.

I guess I've always been a sucker for 18th-century period costume, even before I discovered Jane Austen. (Which was 1996 when I saw Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma.)

What are your favorite tracks from the book soundtrack?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

'Ready Player One' as Read by Wil Wheaton - SPOILERS

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My cousin's husband told me several years ago that I should listen to the audio book version of this, read by Wil Wheaton.


I finally got to it since the movie is coming out and, well, because I was walking down the audio book aisle at my local public library and my gaze happened to fall upon it. I'm glad I took the time to listen to Wil Wheaton's performance, which has the perfect amount of deadpan snark, like a Charles Dickens novel.

Having grown up in the '80s, I'm familiar with many of the pop culture references, although not all of them. I never played Dungeons and Dragons, for example - much of my knowledge of D+D comes secondhand through Futurama. But like any American person who didn't live in a cave in the '80s, I watched Devo videos on MTV, played Pac-Man (at the arcade and on my dad's Atari console, which I can still recall him bringing home from Target), and ate my fair share of Cap'n Crunch cereal.

(I'm not sure I ever ate the Pac-Man cereal, but I know I ate many of those Pac-Man ghost ice pops with the gumball eyes that the ice cream truck used to peddle AND many a can of Pac-Man chicken-flavored pasta. That has to count for something.)

The point being, I connected with many of the pop culture references, but I did not feel that they got in the way of the storytelling. Wade/Parizal was a character I cared about. I wanted him to succeed and achieve his goal. I wanted his feelings for Art3mis to be returned.

XXX SPOILER AHEAD XXX

I wanted Daito to be alive, but alas, we can't have everything we want.

Despite a few tears shed, I genuinely enjoyed listening to the audio book performance of this novel.



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