Oz, the Great and Powerful

Oz_-_The_Great_and_Powerful_PosterBased on the books by L.Frank Baum, I would like to go and see Disney’s 3D Wizard of Oz prequel Oz The Great and Powerful, which is Directed by Sam Raimi and stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zack Brff and Abigail Spencer. The film starts off when a sideshow magician named Oscar Diggs (James Franco) finds himself unwittingly borne by tornado from sepia-tinted Kansas to L Frank Baum’s lush colour-saturated wonderland and is hailed as the wizard of legend who will bring peace to the kingdom.

However two witches (Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz) have other ideas and send him down the Yellow Brick Road on a perilous mission to bring a dangerous rebel to heel. That rebel, however, turns out to be Glinda the white witch, played by Michelle Williams and Diggs soon discovers that all is not as it seems and finds himself in the middle of a conflict to restore order to the land of Oz.

Today’s other Birthdays

  • Born March 7th 1947 – Walter Röhrl, German race and rally car driver, twice World Rally Champion (1980 & 1982)
  • Born March 7th 1875 – Maurice Ravel, French composer (d. 1937) – listen to RAVEL’s BOLERO HERE
  • Born March 7th 1944 – Sir Ranulph Fiennes, British soldier and explorer
  • Born March 7th 1958 – Rik Mayall, British actor (The Young Ones, Bottom)

Tribute to Piet Mondiaan

Mondrian_CompRYBDutch Painter Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondriaan, was born March 7, 1872. in Amersfoort, Netherlands The family moved to Winterswijk when his father, Pieter Cornelius Mondriaan, was appointed Head Teacher at a local primary school. Mondrian was introduced to art from a very early age: his father was a qualified drawing teacher; and, with his uncle, Fritz Mondriaan (a pupil of Willem Maris of the Hague School of artists), the younger Piet often painted and drew along the river Gein. After a strictly Protestant upbringing, in 1892, Mondrian entered the Academy for Fine Art in Amsterdam. He already was qualified as a teacher. He began his career as a teacher in Primary Education, but he also practiced painting. Most of his work from this period is Naturalistic or Impressionistic, consisting largely of landscapes. These Pastoral images of his native country depict windmills, fields, and rivers, initially in the Dutch Impressionist manner of the Hague School and then in a variety of styles and techniques documenting his search for a personal style. These paintings are most definitely Representational, illustrating the influence various artistic movements had on Mondrian, including Pointillism and the vivid colors of Fauvism. On display in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague are a number of paintings from this period, including such Post-Impressionist works as The Red Mill and Trees in Moonrise. Another painting, Evening (Avond) (1908), a scene of haystacks in a field at dusk, even augurs future developments by using a palette consisting almost entirely of red, yellow, and blue. Although it is in no sense Abstract, Avond is the earliest of Mondrian’s works to emphasize the primary colors. The earliest paintings that show an inkling of the abstraction to come are a series of canvases from 1905 to 1908, which depict dim scenes of indistinct trees and houses with reflections in still water. Mondrian’s art always was intimately related to his spiritual and philosophical studies. In 1908, he became interested in the theosophical movement launched by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

Mondrian and his later work were deeply influenced by the 1911 Moderne Kunstkring exhibition of Cubism in Amsterdam. His search for simplification is shown in two versions of Still Life with Ginger Pot (Stilleven met Gemberpot). The 1911 version is Cubist; in, the 1912 version, it is reduced to a round shape with triangles and rectangles. In 1911, Mondrian moved to Paris and changed his name (dropping an ‘a’ from Mondriaan.Unlike the Cubists, Mondrian still attempted to reconcile his painting with his spiritual pursuits; and, in 1913, he began to fuse his art and his theosophical studies into a theory that signaled his final break from representational painting. While Mondrian was visiting home in 1914, World War I began, forcing him to remain in The Netherlands for the duration of the conflict. During this period, he stayed at the Laren artist’s colony, there meeting Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesburg, who were both undergoing their own personal journeys toward Abstraction. Van der Leck’s use of only primary colors in his art greatly influenced Mondrian. Mondrian published “De Nieuwe Beelding in de schilderkunst” (“The New Plastic in Painting”) in twelve installments during 1917 and 1918. This was his first major attempt to express his artistic theory in writing.

When the war ended in 1918, Mondrian returned to France until 1938. Immersed in the crucible of artistic innovation that was post-war Paris, he flourished in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom and Mondrian began producing grid-based paintings in late 1919, and in 1920, the style for which he came to be renowned began to appear.In the early paintings of this style the lines delineating the rectangular forms are relatively thin, and they are gray, not black. The forms themselves, are smaller and more numerous than in later paintings, are filled with primary colors, black, or gray, and nearly all of them are colored; only a few are left white.During late 1920 and 1921, Mondrian’s paintings arrive at what is to casual observers their definitive and mature form. Thick black lines now separate the forms, which are larger and fewer in number, and more of them are left white than was previously the case. In the 1921 paintings, many of the black lines (but not all of them) stop short at a seemingly arbitrary distance from the edge of the canvas, although the divisions between the rectangular forms remain intact. Here too, the rectangular forms remain mostly colored.These tendencies are particularly obvious in the “lozenge” works that Mondrian began producing with regularity in the mid-1920s. The “lozenge” paintings are square canvases tilted 45 degrees, so that they hang in a diamond shape. Typical of these is Schilderij No. 1: Lozenge With Two Lines and Blue (1926), also known as Composition With Blue and Composition in White and Blue, which is currently on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. One of the most minimal of Mondrian’s canvases, this painting consists only of two black, perpendicular lines and a small triangular form, colored blue. As the years progressed, lines began to take precedence over forms in his painting. In the 1930s, he began to use thinner lines and double lines more frequently, punctuated with a few small colored forms, if any at all. Double lines particularly excited Mondrian, for he believed they offered his paintings a new dynamism which he was eager to explore.

In September 1938, Mondrian left Paris in the face of advancing fascism and moved to London. After the Netherlands were invaded and Paris fell in 1940, he left London for Manhattan, where he would remain until his death. works from this later period demonstrate an unprecedented business, however, with more lines than any of his work since the 1920s, placed in an overlapping arrangement that is almost cartographical in appearance.Mondrian produced Lozenge Composition With Four Yellow Lines (1933), a simple painting that introduced what for him was a shocking innovation: thick, colored lines instead of black ones, as well as Composition (1938) and Place de la Concorde (1943). The new canvases that Mondrian began in Manhattan are even more startling, and indicate the beginning of a new idiom. New York City (1942) is a complex lattice of red, blue, and yellow lines, occasionally interlacing to create a greater sense of depth than his previous works. His painting Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942–43) at The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan was highly influential in the school of abstract geometric painting. The piece is made up of a number of shimmering squares of bright color that leap from the canvas, then appear to shimmer, drawing the viewer into those neon lights. Mondrian replaced former solid lines with lines created from small adjoining rectangles of color, created in part by using small pieces of paper tape in various colors. Larger unbounded rectangles of color punctuate the design, some with smaller concentric rectangles inside them. While Mondrian’s works of the 1920s and 1930s tend to have an almost scientific austerity about them, these are bright, lively paintings, reflecting the upbeat music that inspired them and the city in which they were made.

When the 47-year-old Piet Mondrian returned to Paris for the second and last time in 1919, he set about at once to make his studio a nurturing environment for paintings he had in mind that would increasingly express the principles of Neo-Plasticism. At the age of 71 in the fall of 1943, Mondrian moved into his second and final Manhattan studio. Tragically, he was there for only a few months, as he died of pneumonia in February 1944 and was interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.On February 2, 1944, a memorial, attended by nearly 200, was held for Mondrian, at the Universal Chapel on Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street in Manhattan.

Tribute to Michelangelo

Michelangelos_DavidItalian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born 6 March 1475 in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. Several months after Michelangelo’s birth, the family returned to Florence, where Michelangelo was raised. Michelangelo’s father sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence as a young boy. The young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters. At thirteen, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. When Michelangelo was only fourteen, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist, which was highly unusual at the time. When in 1489, Lorenzo de’ Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended the Humanist academy which the Medici had founded along Neo Platonic lines. Michelangelo studied sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni. At the academy, both Michelangelo’s outlook and his art were subject to the influence of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day including Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano. At this time, Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Madonna of the Steps (1490–1492) and Battle of the Centaurs.

Lorenzo de’ Medici’s death on 8 April 1492 brought a reversal of Michelangelo’s circumstances. Michelangelo left the security of the Medici court and returned to his father’s house. In the following months he carved a wooden crucifix (1493), as a gift to the prior of the Florentine church of Santo Spirito, which had permitted him some studies of anatomy on the corpses of the church’s hospital. Between 1493 and 1494 he bought a block of marble for a larger than life statue of Hercules, which was sent to France and subsequently disappeared sometime circa 18th century. On 20 January 1494, after heavy snowfalls, Lorenzo’s heir, Piero de Medici, commissioned a snow statue, and Michelangelo again entered the court of the Medici.

In the same year, the Medici were expelled from Florence as the result of the rise of Savonarola. Michelangelo left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna. In Bologna, he was commissioned to finish the carving of the last small figures of the Shrine of St. Dominic. Michelangelo arrived in Rome 25 June 1496[19] at the age of 21. On 4 July of the same year, he began work on a commission for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, an over-life-size statue of the Roman wine god Bacchus.In November 1497, the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the Pietà. Michelangelo returned to Florence in 1499–1501 and was asked to complete a colossal statue portraying David as a symbol of Florentine freedom, to be placed in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and this was completed in 1504. Michelangelo also painted the Holy Family and St John, also known as the Doni Tondo or the Holy Family of the Tribune. He also may have painted the Madonna and Child with John the Baptist, known as the Manchester Madonna and now in the National Gallery, London, United Kingdom. In 1505, Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II.

He was commissioned to build the Pope’s tomb. During the same period, Michelangelo also took the commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took approximately four years to complete (1508–1512). Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky, but lobbied for a different and more complex scheme, representing creation, the Downfall of Man and the Promise of Salvation through the prophets and Genealogy of Christ. The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. The composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its center nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God’s Creation of the Earth; God’s Creation of Humankind and their fall from God’s grace; and lastly, the state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his family. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of the Jesus. They are seven prophets of Israel and five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are The Creation of Adam, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, the Prophet Isaiah and the Cumaean Sibyl. The fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Clement VII.

Michelangelo was also commissioned to reconstruct the façade of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence and to adorn it with sculptures. After this Michelangelo eventually left Florence for good in the mid-1530s. In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome., there was concern that Michelangelo would pass away before the dome was finished. However, once building commenced on the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring, the completion of the design was inevitable. Michelangelo died in Rome at the age of 88 (three weeks before his 89th birthday). His body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro’s last request to be buried in his beloved Florence.

Star Wars Episode VII

Actress Carrie Fisher has confirmed she will reprise the role of Princess Leia Organa, which catapulted her to fame in the original Star Wars trilogy (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi) and will be appearing in one or more of the three new Star Wars films currently in the pipeline following the buyout of George Lucas’ company Lucasfilm by Disney last Autumn for $4.1bn. He has also revealed that he is in the final stages of negotiation with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, but wouldnt say whether the negotiations were successful or not. So it looks like  Harrison Ford may finally get that Han Solo death scene he wanted in Episode VI (or May not).

Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of the trilogy, will be directed by JJ Abrams and written by Michael Arndt and is chalked up for release in 2015. Disney executives are also planning to release the follow-up movies “every two to three years” after Episode VII. George Lucas is expected to outliine the three screenplays with Michael Arndt, who wrote Toy Story 3. writing them in full. Disney boss Bob Iger has also hinted at several spin-off films based on individual characters, which are currently in the very early stages of development, with both Larry Kasdan, writer of Empire Strikes Back, and Simon Kinberg, producer of This Means War, working on them. The company has also decided to shelve the planned release of Star Wars Episodes II and III in 3D next Autumn to focus on the new movies.

World Book Day (UK)

World Book Day is a charity event held annually in the United Kingdom and Ireland on the first Thursday in March. It has been running across the UK and Ireland since 1995 and is sponspored by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It is the local manifestation of World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days). On World Book Day, every child in full-time education in the UK is given a voucher to be spent on books. The Day was first celebrated in 1995 in the United Kingdom. The original, global World Book Day event is generally observed on 23 April However In the United Kingdom, World Book Day is held annually on the first Thursday in March, to avoid the established international 23 April date due to clashes with Easter school holidays, and the fact that it is also the National Saint’s Day of England, St George’s Day

The United Kingdom’s own version of World Book Day was launched at the Globe Theatre in London, when Several million schoolchildren in Great Britain were given a GB£1 special World Book Day Book Token (€1.50 in Ireland) which could be redeemed against any book in any UK bookshop. A specially created WBD anthology priced at £1 (€1.50 in Ireland) was also published. All World Book Day point of sale and the £1 book carried the special World Book Day logo to help unify the initiative through all outlets.Since then, World Book Day UK has followed a similar pattern, gradually growing each year to encompass more initiatives, such as Spread The Word, Quick Reads Initiative and Books for Hospitals. Every year, the number of children receiving a World Book Day Book Token has increased.

In 2000, instead of a single £1 special anthology, four separate £1 books were published, covering a wider age-range. Since then, each year has seen a new set of special £1 books published. In 2006, World Book Day began its support of and association with the Quick Reads initiative for adult emergent readers.In 2007, World Book Day celebrated its 10th anniversary with the publication of 10 £1 books. Since then every child in full-time education in the UK and Ireland is entitled to receive a £1 World Book day Book token every year. They can swap their WBD token for one of specially-produced £1 WBD books or they can get £1 off a full-price book or audio book priced £2.99 or more. In September 2007, World Book Day announced the revamp of the Spread the Word promotion for 2008 into an on-line book group featuring a number of adult books which would be suitable to book Groups. A short list of 10 titles was announced on 1 February 2008, and the winning book, Boy A by Jonathan Trigell (published by Serpent’s Tail) was revealed on World Book Day 2008, 6 March 2008. World Book Day 2008 was declared by The Bookseller magazine to be more successful than any previous World Book Day.

This years World Book Day is billed as The Biggest Book Show on Earth and will be celebrated on Thursday 7th March 2013 with a variety of events in schools and libraries, includingan online festival hosted by Tony Robinson, presenter and author of the upcoming Weird World of Wonders series, who will kick off the event with advice on how to start writing. Other speakers include Anthony Horowitz, author of the popular Alex Rider series, who will give a talk on how to create suspense and plant clues, while Horrid Henry writer Francesca Simon will show how to bring characters to life and Lauren Child, creator of Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean series, will be hosting a talk on how to develop characters while Cathy Cassidy, two time winner of the prestigious ‘Queen of Teen Awards’, will explain how to structure a story. For the budding illustrators there will also be advice from the acclaimed Shirley Hughes OBE on where to start and tips on drawing animal characters from Guy Parker-Rees, whose Giraffes Can’t Dance and Spookyrumpus have made him one of the bestselling illustrators in the country.

There will also be a free book making workshop for kids at the National Print Museum, Dublin and a meet-the-authors event with Annabel Pitcher (author of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) and Michael Stewart (King Crow) at Wakefield Library and Museum. In addition The “Big Book” will open outside John Rylands Library in Deansgate, Manchester between 10am and 5pm for people to share their stories, so far this 2.2 metre high art installation has already attracted almost 3,000 contributions in more than 78 languages. High street book store WHSmith is running signings with favourite authors, including Henry Winkler and Ros Asquith.

A large number of schools and libraries are also organising their own events, ranging from author visits and sponsored readathons to dressing up as favourite book characters and literature quizzes. Each child who dresses up at Willowbrook Primary School in London will be donating £1 to Shelter and Year 7 students at St.John’s Academy in Marlborough, Wiltshire are taking part in a murder mystery with answers to clues hidden in books around the school.