Saturday, November 21, 2009

Romanticism and Lou Reed

I was in art school in Manchester, England at the beginning of the punk era. As students we were all busy deconstructing everything and embracing the kind of nilihism people of our age believed put us in the forefront of whatever we thought avant-guarde meant.  I spent a lot of energy and much of my student grant following Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground and while I have continued to admire his early work, over the years I have gone in different directions with my musical taste.  I caught up with him again recently when I heard he had done another book of photographs called Romanticism
that had been inspired by the work of Caspar David Friedrich, someone I study very closely in my own work.  Here is one of the photos:

Lou Reed, Untitled (Santa Fe), 2009. Pigment print, Image size: 8 x 12 inches,

(from the reveiw)

 This collection of photographs takes its name from the 18th and 19th century art movement that sought a return to the emotion, beauty, and unknowability of the natural as a counterpoint to industrial era's emphasis on technological development and the pursuit of rational knowledge. Reed's images recall this impulse: they focus on the aesthetic and the sublime; the splendor of a single tree against a cloudy Scottish sky, suffused with light. There is, however, also something uncanny and eerie about some of the photographs; the absence of human figures, a road leading over a bridge into a dense, shadowy forest. Reed has recently adapted the poet and writer Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, the supernatural is a theme that underwrites much of his recent work. Perhaps, like the Romantics, Reed is commenting on another Industrial Revolution - the rapid developments of globalization are once again placing the natural into both literal and metaphoric danger - the beauty of his landscapes takes on a more urgent meaning.

New Music by Lou Reed

In addition, Reed has also recently released a work of music quite unlike anything else he has done before called Hudson River Wind Meditations.  If you could merge the sensibilities of Caspar David Friedrich with those of Reed's wife, Laurie Anderson and his own photography then Hudson River Wind Meditations is what you would get.  In the same vein as Gavin Bryars' Sinking of the Titantic, Lou Reed has created a vast electronic landscape in this CD that evokes all the sounds of a busy river in a bed of quiet contemplation.  

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