Alex Katz • Cezanne and the Railway…

In a recent interview, the US artist Alex Katz made an interesting point about the painting of Paul Cezanne…

I am conscious of Cezanne’s clumsy, overworked surfaces – his problems with human volumes – but on the train ride back I looked at the landscapes out of the window, and it was all Cézanne!


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Sister Rosetta Tharpe on a Railway Platform • Manchester • 1964

The BBC continued their series of curated musical archive shows with a sofa-based discussion between Cerys Matthews and Val Wilmer about the cultural impact of the delta blues.

You can watch the programme on iplayer, here

It’s well-worth watching.

Cerys Matthews is a well-known singer and radio presenter. Val Wilmer is a writer and photographer who as spent her life within the jazz and blues community…

First up was a brilliant film of Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing at the disused railway station at Wilbraham Road, Manchester, for Granada TV in May 1964…

It must have been raining and freezing, as Rosetta came onto the platform wearing a natty overcoat…the audience, on the other side of the tracks also looked pretty cold.

If you are interested in discovering more about Rosetta Tharpe, there is an old documentary on box of broadcasts, and a review in the Guardian…

All of the commentary on the railway-station show expresses a slight surprise at the idea of staging a blues show on a railway station platform…but the TV producers seem to have intuitively understood that modern popular music was born on the railway, between the Delta and Chicago, and passing through Memphis and Detroit… Delta blues are widely acknowledged as the wellspring of all modern popular music…

By a happy co-incidence, I recently posted about this very subject on my railway-themed college blog, here

Music of the Rails • The Theory

and again, here

Chicago – New Orleans • The City of New Orleans + Panama Streamliners • Chicago + Illinois • 20C

If popular music was born on the railway, you might easily map it’s development. This is especially the case in relation to the railway axis, above. It’s no surprise that there’s now a whole lot of music mapping and info-graphics online…

These musical maps are derived, conceptually, from the work of Cornelius Cardew on graphical scores. I’ve posted about him before, here

and with more background, here

You can download the whole of Cardew’s work online as a pdf.

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French Railways SNCF • Railway Dining • 1960s

Here is a picture of the restaurant car of theFrench railway SNCF flagship service between Paris and Nice, called Le Mistral. This is from the period of modernisation at the end of the 1960s.

The evident formality of the whole is practically 19C…that’s pretty French.

I love the internal venetian blinds on the windows. I remember these, from the 1970s, as a powerful indicator of modern sophistication. In contrast to the lace-type half-curtains of the previous era.


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What this blog looks like…

Here is a screen-grab of some of my recent image uploads onto this blog.

I love this kind of visual overview of what has been built up over a period of time. Like a virtual mood-board…

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Railway Poster • Belgium • Armand Massonet • 1949

Here is a lovely poster by Massonet for the electrified railway service between Bruxelles and Charleroi.

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Railway Map • France SNCF • Rudi Meyer • 1976

This is lovely. It’s a map of the French railway system in 1976, made for SNCF.

Rudi Meyer is a genius of map design. He was taught in Basel by Armin Hofman and Emil Ruder. In France, he has worked for the Paris Metro and for the SNCF.

This map is drawn with just the main line railways and the place-names of the larger towns and cities. Meyer has managed to combine this economy and simplicity with a surprisingly accurate representation of the the physical geography of France.

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French Railways • Model • Le Capitole

Here is a lovely model, in O gauge, of the French electric loco for the SNCF Trans Europe Express service between Paris and Toulouse. It’s called Le Capitole.

The model is from Lombardi, Italy.

I posted about this train before, here

Wrap-around Winscreen • SNCF • 1960s

Lombardi are at the very top-end of railway models…

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No Road • Leonard Cusden • NSFA + RoSPA • 1939 + 1950s

Here are two posters with the same message

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Train Toy • 1940s

Lovely packaging

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Train Toy • 1950s

Lovely packaging.

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