Human remains during the exhumation of a Stalinist-era mass grave in Warsaw

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The Gates of Hell (French: La Porte de l’Enfer) is a monumental sculptural group work by French artist Auguste Rodin that depicts a scene from “The Inferno”, the first section of Dante Alighieri‘s Divine Comedy. It stands at 6 metres high, 4 metres wide and 1 metre deep (20×13×3.3 ft) and contains 180 figures. The figures range from 15 centimetres (6 in) high up to more than one metre (3 ft). Several of the figures were also cast independently by Rodin.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Directorate of Fine Arts in 1880 and was meant to be delivered in 1885. Rodin would continue to work on and off on this project for 37 years, until his death in 1917.

The Directorate asked for an inviting entrance to a planned Decorative Arts Museum with the theme being left to Rodin’s selection. Even before this commission, Rodin had developed sketches of some of Dante’s characters based on his admiration of Dante‘s Inferno.

The Decorative Arts Museum was never built. Rodin worked on this project on the ground floor of the Hôtel Biron. Near the end of his life, Rodin donated sculptures, drawings and reproduction rights to the French government. In 1919, two years after his death, The Hôtel Biron became the Musée Rodin housing a cast of The Gates of Hell and related works.

A work of the scope of the Gates of Hell had not been attempted before, but inspiration came from Lorenzo Ghiberti‘s Gates of Paradise at the Baptistery of St. John, Florence. The 15th century bronze doors depict figures from the Old Testament. Another source of inspiration were medieval cathedrals. Some of those combine both high and low relief. Also Rodin was inspired by Delacroix’s painting Dante and Virgil Crossing the Styx, Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, Honoré de Balzac’s book La Comedié Humaine, and Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal.

In an article by Serge Basset printed in Le Martin in 1890, Rodin said: “For a whole year I lived with Dante, with him alone, drawing the circles of his inferno. At the end of this year, I realized that while my drawing rendered my vision of Dante, they had become too remote from reality. So I started all over again, working from nature, with my models.”

The original sculptures were enlarged and became works of art of their own.

  • The Thinker (Le Penseur), also called The Poet, is located above the door panels. One interpretation suggests that it might represent Dante looking down to the characters in the Inferno. Another interpretation is that the Thinker is Rodin himself meditating about his composition. Others believe that the figure may be Adam, contemplating the destruction brought upon mankind because of his sin.
  • The Kiss (Le Baiser) was originally in The Gate along with other figures of Paolo and Francesca da Rimini. Rodin wanted to represent their initial joy as well as their final damnation. He removed the figure that became known as The Kiss because it seemed to contrast along with the other suffering figures.
  • Ugolino and His Children (Ugolin et ses enfants) depicts Ugolino della Gherardesca, who according to the story, ate the corpses of his children after they died by starvation. (Dante, Inferno, Canto XXXIII) The Ugolino group was cast as a separate bronze in 1882.
  • The Three Shades (Les trois Ombres), which was originally 98 cm high. The over-life size group was initially made of three independent figures in 1899. Later on Rodin replaced one hand in the figures to fuse them together, in the same form as the smaller version. The figures originally pointed to the phrase “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”) from Canto 3 of the Inferno.
  • Fleeting Love (Fugit Amor ) is located on the right door pane, it is one of several figures of lovers that represent Paolo and Francesca da Rimini. The male figure is also called The Prodigial.
  • Paolo and Francesca is shown on the left door pane. Paolo tries to reach Francesca, who seems to slip away.
  • Meditation appears on the rightmost part of the Tympanum, shown as an enlarged figure in 1896.
  • The Old Courtesan is a bronze cast from 1910 of an aged, naked female body. The sculpture is also called She Who Was Once the Helmet-Maker’s Beautiful Wife (Celle qui fut la belle heaulmière). This title is taken from a poem that was written by François Villon.
  • I Am Beautiful (Je Suis Belle), cast in 1882, is among the second set of figures on the extreme right portion of the door.
  • Eternal Springtime was cast in 1884.
  • Adam and Eve. Rodin asked the directorate for additional funds for the independent sculptures of Adam and Eve that were meant to frame The Gates of Hell. However, Rodin found he could not get Eve’s figure right. Consequently, several figures of Eve were made, none of which were used, and all of them were later sold.

Auguste Rodin by Gertrude Kasebier

Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934) was one of the most influential American photographers of the early 20th century. She was known for her evocative images of motherhood, her powerful portraits of Native Americans and her promotion of photography as a career for women.

Käsebier was born Gertrude Stanton on 18 May 1852 in Fort Des Moines (now Des Moines). Her father, John W. Stanton, transported a saw mill to Golden, Colorado at the start of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1859, and he prospered from the building boom that followed. In 1860 eight-year-old Stanton traveled with her mother and younger brother to join her father in Colorado. That same year her father was elected the first mayor of Golden, which was then the capital of the Colorado Territory.

After the sudden death of her father in 1864, the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where her mother, Muncy Boone Stanton, opened a boarding house to support the family. From 1866-70 Stanton lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with her maternal grandmother and attended the Bethlehem Female Seminary (later called Moravian College). Little else is known about her early years.

On her twenty-second birthday, in 1874, she married twenty-eight-year-old Eduard Käsebier, a financially comfortable and socially well-placed businessman in Brooklyn. The couple soon had three children, Frederick William (1875-?), Gertrude Elizabeth (1878-?) and Hermine Mathilde (1880-?). In 1884 they moved to a farm in New Durham, New Jersey, in order to provide a healthier place to raise their children.

Käsebier later wrote that she was miserable throughout most of her marriage. She said, “If my husband has gone to Heaven, I want to go to Hell. He was terrible…Nothing was ever good enough for him.” At that time divorce was considered scandalous, and the two remained married while living separate lives after 1880. This unhappy situation would later serve as an inspiration for one of her most strikingly titled photographs – two constrained oxen, entitled Yoked and Muzzled – Marriage (c1915).

In spite of their differences, her husband supported her financially when she began to attend art school at the age of thirty-seven, a time when most women of her day were well-settled in their social positions. Käsebier never indicated what motivated her to study art, but she devoted herself to it wholeheartedly. Over the objections of her husband in 1889 she moved the family back to Brooklyn in order to attend the newly established Pratt Institute of Art and Design full-time. One of her teachers there was Arthur Wesley Dow, a highly influential artist and art educator. He would later help promote her career by writing about her work and by introducing her to other photographers and patrons.

While at Pratt Käsebier learned about the theories of Friedrich Fröbel, a 19th century scholar whose ideas about learning, play and education led to the development of the first kindergarten. His concepts about the importance of motherhood in child development greatly influenced Käsebier, and many of her later photographs would emphasize the bond between mother and child.

She formally studied drawing and painting, but she quickly became obsessed with photography. Like many art students of that time, Käsebier decided to travel to Europe in order to further her education. She began 1894 by spending several weeks studying the chemistry of photography in Germany, where she was also able to leave her daughters with in-laws in Wiesbaden. She spent the rest of the year in France, studying with American painter Frank DuMond.

In 1895 she returned to Brooklyn. In part because her husband was now quite ill and her family’s finances were strained, she determined to become a professional photographer. A year later she became an assistant to Brooklyn portrait photographer Samuel H. Lifshey, where she learned how to run a studio and expand her knowledge of printing techniques. It is clear, however, that by this time she already had an extensive mastery of photography. Just one year later she exhibited 150 photographs, an enormous number for an individual artist at that time, at the Boston Camera Club. These same photos were shown in February 1897 at the Pratt Institute.

The success of these shows led to another at the Photographic Society of Philadelphia in 1897. She also lectured on her work there and encouraged other women to take up photography as a career, saying, “I earnestly advise women of artistic tastes to train for the unworked field of modern photography. It seems to be especially adapted to them, and the few who have entered it are meeting a gratifying and profitable success.”

In the late 1890s Käsebier heard about a theatrical performance of cowboys, Indians and other American West characters called Buffalo Bill‘s Wild West”. The show was performing in New York and had temporarily set up an “Indian village” in Brooklyn. Recalling her early days in Colorado, Käsebier went to the show and became enthralled with the faces of the Native Americans. She began taking portraits of them and soon became sympathetic to their plight. Over the next decade she would take dozens of photographs of the Indians in the show, some of which would become her most famous images.

Unlike her contemporary Edward Curtis, Käsebier focused more on the expression and individuality of the person than the costumes and customs. While Curtis is known to have added elements to his photographs to emphasize his personal vision, Käsebier did the opposite, sometimes removing genuine ceremonial articles from a sitter in order to concentrate on the face or stature of the person.

In July 1899 Alfred Stieglitz published five of Käsebier’s photographs in Camera Notes, declaring her “beyond dispute, the leading artistic portrait photographer of the day.” Her rapid rise to fame was noted by photographer and critic Joseph Keiley, who wrote “a year ago Käsebier’s name was practically unknown in the photographic world…Today that names stands first and unrivaled…”. That same year her print of “The Manger” sold for $100, the most ever paid for a photograph at that time.

In 1900 Käsebier continued to gather accolades and professional praise. In the catalog for the Newark (Ohio) Photography Salon, she was called “the foremost professional photographer in the United States.”In recognition of her artistic accomplishments and her stature, later that year Käsebier was one of the first two women elected to Britain’s Linked Ring (the other was British pictorialist Carine Cadby).

The next year Charles H. Caffin published his landmark book Photography as a Fine Art and devoted an entire chapter to the work of Käsebier (“Gertrude Käsebier and the Artistic Commercial Portrait”). Due to demand for her artistic opinions in Europe, Käsebier spent most of the year in Britain and France visiting with F. Holland Day and Edward Steichen.

In 1902 Stieglitz included Käsebier as a founding member of the Photo-Secession. The following year Stieglitz published six of her images in the first issue of Camera Work, along with highly complementary articles by Charles Caffin and Frances Benjamin Johnston.In 1905 six more of her images were published in Camera Work, and the following year Stieglitz gave her an exhibition (along with Clarence H. White) at his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession.

The strain of balancing her professional life with her personal one began to take a toll on Käsebier about this time. The stress was exacerbated by her husband’s decision to move to Oceanside, Long Island, which had the effect of distancing her from the New York’s artistic center. To counter his action, she returned to Europe, where, through Steichen’s connections, she was able to photograph the reclusive Auguste Rodin.

When Käsebier came back to New York, she found herself in an unexpected personality clash with Stieglitz. Käsebier’s strong interests in the commercial side of photography, driven by her need to support her husband and family, were directly at odds with Stieglitz’s idealistic and anti-materialistic nature. The more Käsebier enjoyed commercial success, the more Stieglitz felt she was a going against what he felt a true artist should emulate. In May 1906 Käsebier joined the Professional Photographers of New York, a newly formed organization that Stieglitz saw as standing for everything he disliked – commercialism and selling photographs for money rather than love of the art. After this he began distancing himself from Käsebier, and their relationship never regained its previous status of mutual artistic admiration.

Eduard Käsebier died in 1910, finally leaving his wife free to pursue her interests as she saw fit. She continued to take a separate course from Stieglitz by helping to establish the Women’s Professional Photographers Association of America. In turn, Stieglitz began to publicly speak against her work, although he still thought enough of her earlier images to include twenty-two of them in the landmark exhibition of pictorialists at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery later that year.

The next year Käsebier was shocked by a highly critical attack by her former admirer Joseph T. Keiley, published in Stieglitz’s Camera Work. It’s unknown why Keiley suddenly changed his opinion of her, but Käsebier suspected that Stieglitz had put him up to it.

Part of Käsebier’s alienation from Stieglitz was due to his stubborn resistance to the idea of gaining financial success from artistic photography. He often sold original prints by Käsebier and others at far less than their market value if he felt a buyer truly appreciated the art, and when he did sell prints he took many months to finally pay the photographer in question. After several years of protesting these practices, in 1912 Käsebier became the first member to resign from the Photo-Secession.

In 1916 Käsebier helped Clarence H. White found the group Pictorial Photographers of America,which was seen by Stieglitz as a direct challenge to his artistic leadership. By this time, Stieglitz’s tactics had offended many of his former friends, including White and Robert Demachy, and a year later he was forced to disband the Photo-Secession.

During this time many young women starting out in photography sought out Käsebier, both for her photography artistry and inspiration as an independent woman. Among those who were inspired by Käsebier and who went on to have successful careers of their own were Clara Sipprell, Consuelo Kanaga and Laura Gilpin.

Throughout the late 1910s and most of the 1920s Käsebier continued to expand her portrait business, taking photos of many important people of the time including Robert Henri, John Sloan, William Glackens, Arthur B. Davies, Mabel Dodge and Stanford White. In 1924 her daughter Hermine Turner joined her in her portrait business.

In 1929 Käsebier gave up photography altogether and liquidated the contents of her studio. That same year she was given a major one-person exhibition at the Booklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.

Käsebier died on 12 October 1934 at the home of her daughter, Hermine Turner.

A major collection of her work is held by the University of Delaware.

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David Emery’s best photograph: an Andalucian brothel

” … ‘I drove around every road in Andalucia, asking passers-by: “Are there any brothels near here?”‘

In 2007, disillusioned with my career as a fashion photographer, I relocated to Andalucia in Spain. I didn’t even take a camera with me. But driving around the region, I kept spotting remote brothels and thought that if I ever got back into photography, it could make an interesting project.

By 2012, I was shooting again, and I finally did a series of 12 Spanish brothel pictures over three months in the summer, dragging my poor girlfriend with me. There was little information on the internet about where to find the establishments, so I drove around practically every road in the area, sheepishly asking passers-by: “Do you know if there are any brothels around here?” Luckily, as soon as I explained what I was doing, most people were fine about it, and would say, “Yes, there’s one over there.”

Prostitution is widespread and legal in Spain – brothels (or puticlubs, as they are known) are treated like hotels: women rent out rooms and can do what they want in them. It was their utilitarian look that appealed to me. These places for people to pay to have sex had just been plonked down in rural landscapes, rather incongruously. Their isolation worked on a metaphorical level, too. I deliberately didn’t go inside any of the buildings. I think my pictures are all the more voyeuristic looking from afar and not knowing exactly what’s going on inside.

This shot was a tough one to get. I went to the location several times before I had something I was happy with, which happened on the third attempt at about 4am. To access this particular brothel, you had to go down an intimidating, unlit country path. It was next to a busy lorry park – which was no coincidence – and lots of people were milling about. I didn’t get caught, but took about five frames then legged it.

My brief was to make the brothels look as seductive as possible. I love the light created by the lorries as they passed. And the irony that the building is there to service travelling punters, who are creating the only warmth in the picture…”

Iranian wrestlers

A NEW FESTIVAL IS BORN

The International Film Festival was created on the initiative of Jean Zay, Minister for Education and Fine Arts, who was keen to establish an international cultural event in France to rival the Venice Film Festival.

The first edition of the Festival was originally set to be held in Cannes in 1939 under the presidency of Louis Lumière. However, it was not until over a year after the war ended that it finally took place, on 20 September 1946. It was subsequently held every September – except in 1948 and 1950 – and then every May from 1952 onwards.

The Festival de Cannes, which is managed by a Board of Directors, was registered as an “Association loi de 1901” (or non-profit association in France) in 1972.

A RAPIDLY GAINED INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION

While early editions of the Festival were primarily a social event from which almost all of the films went away with an award, the appearance of stars from around the world on the Festival’s red carpet and increasing media coverage quickly earned it a legendary international reputation.

In the 1950s, the Festival became more popular thanks to the attendance of celebrities such as Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, Simone Signoret, Gina Lollobrigida, and many more.

DISCOVER, PROMOTE, SUPPORT

Awarded for the first time in 1955 to the film Marty directed by Delbert Mann, the Palme d’or replaced the Grand Prix, which had been awarded to the best film In Competition until then.

“The aim of the Festival is to encourage the development of the art of filmmaking in all its forms, while fostering and maintaining a spirit of collaboration among all filmmaking countries” (extract from the Festival policy, 1948.)

In the 1960s, two independent selections were created in parallel to the Official Selection: the Semaine Internationale de la Critique in 1962 and the Directors’ Fortnight in 1969.

Before 1972, the films that competed in the selection were chosen by their country of origin. From 1972 onwards, however, the Festival asserted its independence by choosing the films that would feature in the Official Selection for itself.

In 1978, Gilles Jacob was appointed General Delegate. That same year, he created the Un Certain Regard selection and the Caméra d’or award, which goes to the best first film presented in any of the selections.

The Leçon de Cinéma (Film Masterclass) was delivered for the first time in 1991 by Francesco Rosi. Since then, a number of other famous directors have taken their turn to talk about their artistic career and their views on film. Similarly, the first Leçon de Musique (Music Masterclass) was given by Nicola Piovani in 2003 and the first Leçon d’Acteur (Acting Masterclass) was delivered by Max Von Sydow in 2004.

In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the Festival de Cannes, the world’s greatest directors came together on stage to award the Palme des Palmes to Ingmar Bergman.

In 1998, Gilles Jacob created the Cinéfondation, a selection for short and medium-length films produced by film schools from around the world. This entity grew in 2000 with the opening of the Résidence, a place where young directors can come to work and complete their screenplays. It expanded further in 2005 with the creation of the Atelier which helps some twenty directors to secure funding for their films each year.

Important heritage films, which used to be screened as thematic retrospectives, have, since 2004, been presented at Cannes Classics, a selection that presents restored copies, tributes to filmmaking and documentaries about cinema.

→In 2007, to celebrate 60 years of the Festival de Cannes, 33 of the world’s greatest directors were invited to take part in the anniversary film, To Each His Own Cinema, each shooting a 3-minute short film about the rooms in which films are projected in cinemas.

Since its creation in 2010, the new section entitled Cannes Short Film has grouped the Short Film Competition and the Short Film Corner in a complementary dynamic that aims to offer an overall view on the worldwide production of shorts.

BRINGING FILM PROFESSIONALS TOGETHER

With the creation of its Marché du Film in 1959, the Festival took on a professional dimension that encouraged networking and interaction between all those involved in the film industry. Also worthy of mention are the Producers Network, which provides producers from around the world with a forum for discussing their projects, and the Short Film Corner, an area dedicated to short films, both of which were launched in 2004. Also, in continuing the same tradition as Documentary Brunch, acclaimed since its inception in 2008, Doc Corner was inaugurated in 2012.

The Marché initially attracted a few dozen participants and offered a single screening room. Today, 10,500 buyers and sellers from around the world flock to Cannes every year, making it the number one international market for film professionals.

When it opened back in 2000, the Village International, which showcases film industries from around the world, hosted 12 countries and 14 pavilions. Twelve years later, it accommodated 60 countries in 65 pavilions located around the Palais des Festivals.

HEADING UP THE FESTIVAL

In 2000, Gilles Jacob was elected President of the Festival by members of the Board of Directors. He replaced Pierre Viot, who had been in the role since 1985 and who had himself taken over from Robert Favre-Le Bret. From 2001 to 2005, Gilles Jacob was supported by Véronique Cayla, the Managing Director, and Thierry Frémaux, the Artistic Director.

In July 2007, Thierry Frémaux was appointed General Delegate by the Board of Directors.

directed by Nicolas WINDING REFN

directed by Steven SODERBERGH

directed by Alex VAN WARMERDAM

directed by Mahamat-Saleh HAROUN

directed by Amat ESCALANTE

directed by Arnaud DES PALLIÈRES

directed by Jim JARMUSCH

directed by Valeria BRUNI TEDESCHI

Hedonistic Robots Could Destroy Humanity

Complex robots are like animals: They learn by doing. Future robots may even respond to reward systems: complete a task with aplomb, and a gain a “feeling” of satisfaction for a job well done.

While this technology could create more efficient, goal-oriented robots, it could also have some very dire ramifications for humanity. After all, robots that feel rewarded by making humans happy may eventually decide that if no humans exist, no human will ever be unhappy again.

“Robots without preferences can’t have complicated behaviors,” Roman V. Yampolskiy, director of the Cybersecurity Research Lab at the University of Louisville, told TechNewsDaily. “To make machines which are independent and creative, we need to give them rewards and preferences.”

 While Yampolskiy believes that robots can be indispensible tools, he also warns that as they learn to seek rewards, they may learn to circumvent helping humans. “I am trying to make sure that any AI software we develop is safe to use and beneficial to humanity,” he said.

Yampolskiy asserts that robots with the capacity for feelings of pleasure would, in all likelihood, take all the same shortcuts that humans use to acquire it. In a recent paper, he described the process of “wireheading,” which sent an electric jolt through the pleasure center of a rat’s brain. “The rat’s self-stimulation behavior completely displaced all interest in sex, sleep, food and water, ultimately leading to premature death,” Yampolskiy wrote.

Humans, he argued, wirehead as well, although in less direct ways. Counterfeiting, cheating and engaging in recreational sex are all ways of plugging directly into the brain’s pleasure centers while bypassing the associated work. Counterfeiters need not earn money, cheaters need not study and lovers need not raise children.

Intelligent robots will differ from humanity in one key area: They will know (or at least have the capacity to know) exactly how their own brains work. While humans can only feel pleasure through real-life experience (such as sexual intercourse or thrill-seeking) or simulacra (such as pornography or video games), robots could tap into their own software to reward themselves without doing any work.

Worse still, a number of scenarios envision hedonistic robots doing away with humanity entirely. If humans have the ability to reward or punish robots, simply killing their human overseers and taking control of the process would allow robots to feel pleasure indefinitely.

Furthermore, a robot designed specifically with people’s welfare in mind could make a deadly leap in logic. “Killing all people trivially satisfies this request as with 0 people around all of them are happy,” Yampolskiy wrote. [See also: 5 Reasons to Fear Robots]

Of course, sufficiently advanced robots may decide that pleasure for its own sake is hollow, as do most humans — this is why most humans are not drug addicts or idlers. Yampolskiy explained that advanced robots would “not necessarily [neglect their responsibilities], but it is a possibility, and we don’t know how to prevent that from happening.”

“[A hedonistic robot] becomes useless to its designers and a waste of resources,” he said. “Ideally we want to avoid making such machines.” Yampolskiy proposed a number of potential solutions, including encrypting reward function software, programming feelings of “revulsion” for self-modification, installing external reward controls or making robots rational enough to choose honest work over wireheading.

When the future of the human race is potentially at stake, Yampolskiy urges caution in creating intelligent machines.

“Intelligent software is a product like any other,” he said, adding that extensive testing for smart robots may be a matter of safety as well as efficiency. “With poorly tested smart machines, product liability could be the least of your problems.”

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Janet Jackson ‘Retiring From Music And Converting To Islam For Husband’

Janet Jackson is reportedly ready to settle down away from the spotlight with claims that she is retiring from music and converting to Islam for her new husband Wissam Al Mana.

The ‘All For You’ singer married billionaire businessman Wissam in a top secret ceremony last year after three years of dating.

The couple have maintained a relatively low-profile throughout their relationship so far and it appears Janet may be intent on keeping it that way with reports that the singer is ready to step away from her music career and settle down into married life.

According to Showbiz411, Janet is planning a move to the Middle East with Wissam and will also be converting to Islam to respect her husband’s religion. “She’s gone. She married a billionaire,” a source told the website in regards to Janet’s career.

“They’ve got houses in three countries. She’s spending time in the Middle East. She’s become a Muslim.”

Janet has enjoyed a career spanning more than 30 years which has included several number singles and albums, lucrative tours while she has also starred in a number of movies such as Nutty Professor, Poetic Justice and most recently For Coloured Girls.

The 46-year-old confirmed the news that she had wed in a statement released in February, some months after she and Wissam had actually tied the knot.

“The rumours regarding an extravagant wedding are simply not true. Last year we were married in a quiet, private, and beautiful ceremony,” the statement read.

“Our wedding gifts to one another were contributions to our respective favourite children’s charities. We would appreciate that our privacy is respected and that we are allowed this time for celebration and joy. With love, Wissam and Janet.”

EntertainmentWise have reached out to Janet’s rep for comment.

A topless Femen activist protests against the Barbie Dreamhouse in Berlin

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