Alphabetarion # The Fountain

Rene Burri, Rhodes, Greece, 1957
Ferdinando Scianna, Italy, Sicily, 1962                                                                                  Robert Doisneau, 1938
Children enjoy a cooling drink from the fountain on Clapham Common, 1937
Fred Stein, Water Fountain, Paris, 1935                                                              Roger Viollet, Paris, 1960
Edwin Levick, Newspaper boys cool off in a New York City park fountain, 1916
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rome, 1952                                                                    East Berlin, 1956
Katharine Hepburn drinking from fountain with young boy in a scene from the film 'Summertime', 1955
Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in Southwark, London, 1939                                                               Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ardèche, Bourg Saint-Andéol, France, 1959

Ferdinando Scianna, Bagheria, Italy, 1961

On directing > Space / Film / Science / People | Michelangelo Antonioni

Cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo and director Michelangelo Antonioni during filming of Le amiche, 1955

Empty space

“Often to understand, we have to look into emptiness.”

"You know what I would like to do: make a film with actors standing in empty space so that the spectator would have to imagine the background of the characters."

"I mean simply to say that I want my characters to suggest the background in themselves, even when it is not visible. I want them to be so powerfully realized that we cannot imagine them apart from their physical and social context even when we see them in empty space."

"Till now I have never shot a scene without taking account of what stands behind the actors because the relationship between people and their surroundings is of prime importance."

Story of a Love Affair, 1950 / Director: Michelangelo Antonioni and Lucia Bosè


"A film that can be described in words is not really a film."

"A scene has to have a rhythm of its own, a structure of its own."

“What I reject is this refusal to let silence have its place, this need to fill supposed voids.”

"When I am shooting a film I never think of how I want to shoot something; I simply shoot it."

"Normally, however, I try to avoid repetitions of any shot."

"I rarely feel the desire to reread a scene the day before the shooting. Sometimes I arrive at the place where the work is to be done and I do not even know what I am going to shoot. This is the system I prefer: to arrive at the moment when shooting is about to begin, absolutely unprepared, virgin. I often ask to be left alone on the spot for fifteen minutes or half an hour and I let my thoughts wander freely."

"I may film scenes I had no intention of filming; things suggest themselves on location, and we improvise. I try not to think about it too much. Then, in the cutting room, I take the film and start to put it together, and only then do I begin to get an idea of what it is about."

"When a scene is being shot, it is very difficult to know what one wants it to say, and even if one does know, there is always a difference between what one has in mind and the result on film."

"In Blow-up I used my head instinctively!"

On the set of  Il grido, 1957 / dir. Michelangelo Antonioni 


"I meant exactly what I said: that we are saddled with a culture that hasn't advanced as far as science."

"I don't want what I am saying to sound like a prophecy or anything like an analysis of modern society... these are only feelings I have, and I am the least speculative man on earth."

"Scientific man is already on the moon, and yet we are still living with the moral concepts of Homer."

"I am neither a sociologist nor a politician. All I can do is imagine for myself what the future will be like."

"A man who renounces something is also a man who believes in something."

"Hollywood is like being nowhere and talking to nobody about nothing."

"The moment always comes when, having collected one's ideas, certain images, an intuition of a certain kind of development- whether psychological or material- one must pass on to the actual realization."

"You cannot penetrate events with reportage."

Michelangelo Antonioni and Monica Vitti on the set of L'Eclisse, 1962               Lea Massari, Gabriele Ferzetti, Michelangelo Antonioni, L'avventura, 1960    


"We know that behind every image revealed there is another image more faithful to reality, and in the back of that image there is another, and yet another behind the last one, and so on, up to the true image of that absolute, mysterious reality that no one will ever see."

"I think people talk too much; that's the truth of the matter. I do. I don't believe in words. People use too many words and usually wrongly. I am sure that in the distant future people will talk much less and in a more essential way. If people talk a lot less, they will be happier. Don't ask me why."

"The greatest danger for those working in the cinema is the extraordinary possibility it offers for lying."

"All the characters in my films are fighting these problems, needing freedom, trying to find a way to cut themselves loose, but failing to rid themselves of conscience, a sense of sin, the whole bag of tricks."

"My work is like digging, it's archaeological research among the arid materials of our times. That's how I understand my first films, and that's what I'm still doing."

"I always mistrust everything I see, which an image shows me, because I imagine what is beyond it. And what is beyond an image cannot be known."

"When man becomes reconciled to nature, when space becomes his true background, these words and concepts will have lost their meaning, and we will no longer have to use them."

"People are always misquoting me."

Michelangelo Antonioni, 1912-2007

Michelangelo Antonioni gives directions to Jeanne Moreau on the set of La Notte, 1961
Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni in La notte, 1961. To the right of 
the camera, cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo and  Michelangelo Antonioni.

David Hemmings, Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966                                   Vanessa Redgrave on the set of Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966

Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin and director Michelangelo Antonioni on the set of Zabriskie Point, 1970

At North Farm | John Ashbery (1984)

Paul Nash, Promenade II, 1920

                                             Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
                                            At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
                                            Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
                                            But will he know where to find you,
                                            Recognize you when he sees you,
                                            Give you the thing he has for you?

                                           Hardly anything grows here,
                                           Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
                                           The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
                                           The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
                                           Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
                                           That the dish of milk is set out at night,
                                           That we think of him sometimes,
                                           Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?

                                                      John Ashbery, At North Farm, from A Wave (1984)

Allure / Elegance / Beauty | Diana Vreeland (1903 - 1989)

George Hoyningen-Huene, Diana Vreeland

''Elegance is innate. It has nothing to do with being well dressed. Elegance is refusal.''

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it.”

“It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.”

“You don't have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.”

''Without emotion there is no beauty''

“Too much good taste can be boring”

Diana Vreeland, 1930

''Allure is a word very few people use nowadays, but it's something that exists. Allure holds you, doesn't it? Whether it's a gaze or a glance in the street or a face in the crowd or someone sitting opposite you at lunch... you are held.''

“A funny person is funny only for so long, but a wit can sit down and go on being spellbinding forever. One is not meant to laugh. 
One stays quiet and marvels. Spontaneously witty talk is without question the most fascinating entertainment there is.”

"To bewitch" is to me always slightly artificial as it is always put on -- whereas witchery is a form of naturalness that some people can't help, and the world judges that they don't create it "

“The first rule that a geisha is taught, at the age of nine, is to be charming to other women...Every girl in the world should have geisha training.”

Gloria Vanderbilt,  Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Harper's Bazaar, 1939

Fifteen year-old Gloria Vanderbilt appearing in Harper’s Bazaar for the first time in 1940, at the request of then 
fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who met Gloria at Gertrude' s Vanderbilt Whitney, home at Old Westbury.

''Beauty has nothing to do with possession. If possession and beauty must go together, then we are lost souls. A beautiful flower is not to be possessed, it's there to be beheld. It's there for your pleasure.''

“You know the greatest thing is passion, without it what have you got? I mean if you love someone you can love them as much as you can love them but if it isn’t a passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.”

''You're not supposed to give people what they want, you're supposed to give them what they don't know that they want yet.''

''Most people haven't got a point of view; they need to have it given to them -and what's more, they expect it from you.''

Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland photo by Walters Sanders                                                Diana Vreeland by Richard Avedon, for Harper's Bazaar, 1946

''You've got to have style, it helps you get out of bed in the morning.''

“Black is the hardest color in the world to get right—except for gray...”

“All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It’s exactly as if I’d said, ‘I want rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple’—they have no idea what I’m talking about. About the best red is to copy the color of a child’s cap in any Renaissance portrait.”

''Why don't you have a room done up in every color green? This will take months, years, to collect, but it will be delightful-a melange of plants, green glass, green porcelains, and furniture covered in sad greens, gay greens, clear, faded, and poison greens?''

“Lighting is everything in a color.”

Diana Vreeland photographed at her home in London sitting in front of the famous portrait painted by William Acton

"Paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys' nursery 
so they won't grow up with a provincial point of view?"

''I wonder about prisoners. They're told, "You are free, you are innocent, you can go 
anywhere." I'm sure they usually feel nothing. They don't burst into tears or hysterics
 or joy or "I told you so." It's nothing. To be on the straight path isn't a bloody thing. 
It's just ordinary.''

''Worse things happen at sea.’ That was my father’s great expression. 
It summed up any unpleasantness.”

''If you think all the time every day of your life, you might 
as well kill yourself today and be happier tomorrow.''

''If it isn't a passion, it isn't burning, it isn't on fire, you haven't lived.''

Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Diana Vreeland

''Don't look left nor right and never compete. Never. 
Watching the other guy is what kills all forms of energy.''

''The only thing people are interested in is people.''

''Never worry about the facts. Just project an image to the public.''

''God was fair to the Japanese. He gave them no oil, no diamonds. He gave them style.''

''One thing I hold against Americans is that they have no flair for the rain. They seem 
unsettled by it; it’s against them: they take it as an assault, an inconvenience! But rain 
is so wonderfully cleansing, so refreshing, so calming...''

''Water is God’s tranquilizer ''

Diana Vreeland and photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe created memorable images of 18-year old Betty in Helena Rubinstein’s
  apartment, while working at Harper's Bazaar. Vreeland discovered Lauren Bacall, only one of her many discoveries.

''All creations demand greenery of spirt. ''

''Fragrances fill the senses with the mysterious.''

''I think allure is something around you, like a perfume or like a scent. 
It's like a memory ... it pervades.''

''The hottest thing in the world is to wear pants with stockings.''

''Beware of curls… It is a great art to do them so that the girls not only 
look modern - but do not suddenly look very vulgar.''

''The way to judge a good hand is that the fingers are the same size 
at the tip as where they come out of the hand itself.''

''It's only intelligent to wish to look after yourself properly.''

William Acton, Diana Vreeland, 1930s

''I think your imagination is your reality.''

''The personality is a work of art.''

''I certainly didn't learn anything in school. My education was the world.''

''No one knows how hard one works.''

“Where would fashion be without literature?”

''When I discovered dancing, I learned to dream.''

''Of course I was always mad about the ballet russe, mad about it!.''

''Parents, you know, can be terrible.''

Diana Vreeland by George Platt Lynes in her 400 park avenue apartment

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”

“People who eat white bread have no dreams.”

“Unshined shoes are the end of civilization.”

“I adore fringe.”

''Never fear being vulgar, just boring, middle class or dull.''

''Being vulgar is fine, but oh please just don't be boring.''

“I adore that pink, it is the navy blue of India!”

“What sells is hope.”

“Maintainence is elegance.”

''The two greatest mannequins of the century were Gertrude Stein and Edith Sitwell - unquestionably. You just couldn't take a bad picture of those two old girls.''

''I never felt comfortable about my looks until I married Reed Vreeland. I believe in love at first sight because that's what it was. I knew the moment our eyes met that we would marry.''

''I have always felt that the only great thing about an interview is the questions that are asked.''

Diana Vreeland (1903 - 1989) was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion 
magazines Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and as a special consultant at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thibault / The lobster | Gérard de Nerval, 1805-55

Gérard de Nerval had a pet lobster called Thibault. He was once caught in the Palais - Royal in Paris with the lobster on 
a lead of blue silk ribbon. According to Théophile Gautier, when the gendarmes asked him why a lobster instead of a dog 
he replied:
''Why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog? ...or a cat, or a gazelle, or a lion, or any other animal that one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gnaw upon one's monadic privacy like dogs do. And Goethe had an aversion to dogs, and he wasn't mad.''

Spring is like a perhaps hand | e. e. cummings (1925)

Rene Magritte, The Key to the Fields, 1936

                                                                 Spring is like a perhaps hand 
                                                                 (which comes carefully 
                                                                 out of Nowhere) arranging 
                                                                 a window, into which people look (while 
                                                                 people stare
                                                                 arranging and changing placing 
                                                                 carefully there a strange 
                                                                 thing and a known thing here) and

                                                                 changing everything carefully

                                                                 spring is like a perhaps 
                                                                 Hand in a window 
                                                                 (carefully to 
                                                                 and fro moving New and 
                                                                 Old things, while 
                                                                 people stare carefully 
                                                                 moving a perhaps 
                                                                 fraction of flower here placing 
                                                                 an inch of air there) and

                                                                without breaking anything.                     

                                                                                     e. e. cummings (1894 - 1962)

Language is never innocent / Writing is the destruction of every voice | Roland Barthes, 1915-80

Roland Barthes after his BA in 1935

“Language is never innocent.”

“I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.” *

“The book creates meaning, the meaning creates life.” *

“Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin.”

“Literature is that which he can not read without pain, without choking on truth.”

“The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.”

“Don’t bleach language, savour it instead. Stroke it gently or even groom it, but don’t “purify” it.” ~
“Are not couturiers the poets who, from year to year, from
strophe to strophe, write the anthem of the feminine body?” -

“What I hide by my language, my body utters.”

“I pass lightly through the reactionary darkness.” *

Roland Barthes, Sanatorium de Saint-Hilaire, 1942

“There is nothing in discourse that is not to be found in a sentence.” ^

“Incoherence seems to me preferable to a distorting order.”

“A creative writer is one for whom writing is a problem.” +

“Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead 
of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.”

“It must always be considered as though spoken by a character in a novel”

“The author enters into his own death, writing begins.” ^

“mad I cannot be, sane I do not deign to be, neurotic I am.”

“Any demand is frigid until desire, until neurosis forms in it.” *

“I have a disease; I see language.”

“The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition... always new books, 
new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.”

Roland Barthes, 1915-80

* The Pleasure of the Text, ^ Image, Music, Text, - The Language of Fashion, + Writing Degree Zero 
and Elements of Semiology, ~ The Neutral: Lecture Course at the College de France

May | Guillaume Apollinaire (1913)

Maurice de Vlaminck ,Sailboats at Chatou, 1905

In May lovely May on a boat on the Rhine
There were ladies looking from high on the mountain
You are so very pretty but the boat glides past
But who has made the willows weep on the river bank

Now the flowering orchards stood frozen astern
The petals fallen from the cherry trees in May
Are the fingernails of her whom I loved so much
And the faded petals are like her eyelids

Along the road on the river bank slowly
A bear a monkey and a dog led by gipsies
Followed a caravan pulled by a donkey
While amongst the vineyards of the Rhine valley
A regimental tune on a fife passed away

May lovely May has garlanded the ruins
With ivy Virginia creeper and wild rose
The wind of the Rhine stirs the willows on the bank
And the whispering rushes and the naked vine flowers

Guillaume Apollinaire / Translation:  Oliver Bernard
Maurice de Vlaminck, Boats on the Seine at Chatou, 1906


Hymn to Life | Lou Andreas-Salomé & A musical Composition by Friedrich Nietzsche, 1887

Lou Andreas-Salomé 

Surely, a friend loves a friend the way
That I love you, enigmatic life —
Whether I rejoiced or wept with you,
Whether you gave me joy or pain.
I love you with all your harms;
And if you must destroy me,
I wrest myself from your arms,
As a friend tears himself away from a friend’s breast.

I embrace you with all my strength!
Let all your flames ignite me,
Let me in the ardor of the struggle
Probe your enigma ever deeper.

To live and think millennia!
Enclose me now in both your arms:
If you have no more joy to give me —
Well then—there still remains your pain.

 Lou Andreas-Salomé, 1861-1937

Lou Andreas-Salomé

The Hymn to Life (Hymnus an das Leben) is a musical composition for mixed chorus and orchestra 
by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.The composition Hymn to Life was partly done by 
Nietzsche in August and September 1882, supported by the second stanza of the poem Lebensgebet 
by Lou Andreas-Salome.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Hymnus an das Leben, For chorus and orchestra, 1882
Orchestra 1813 - Orchestra del Conservatorio di Como, 2012

"A choral and orchestral work of mine is just being published, a Hymn to Life. It is the one 
composition of mine that is meant to survive and to be sung one day 'in my memory'..."

Friedrich Nietzsche letter to Georg Brandes, 1887


On directing > | Nicholas Ray, 1911-79

Dennis Stock, Nicholas Ray and James Dean on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, 1955

"The imagination is a pretty precious source of protection."

"Film recognizes neither time nor space, only the limits of man's imagination."

"If it were all in the script, why make the film?"

Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan on the set, On Dangerous Ground, 1951 

"I never try to show an actor what to do or what to say. He has to find out for himself. 
The role of the director is to guide him to that state, and then to implement it."

"An actor can be as talented as another, but if he doesn't stick to what 
the director's intentions are, it all falls down. I adore working with actors."

[on Humphrey Bogart] 
He was much more than an actor: he was the very image of our condition. 
His face was a living reproach.

Humphrey Bogart, In a Lonely Place by Nicholas Ray, 1950

[on James Dean] 
The conflict between giving himself and fear of giving in to his own feelings; 
a vulnerability so deeply embedded that one is instantly moved, almost disturbed by it.

"In the theatre, words are eighty to eighty-five percent of the importance of what is happening to you 
for your comprehension. In film, words are about twenty percent. It's a different figure, but it's almost 
an opposite ratio. For the words are only a little bit of embroidery, a little bit of lacework."

Nicholas Ray and Joan Crawford on the set of Johnny Guitar, 1954

"My affection for CinemaScope initially was my affection for the horizontal line as I learned 
it from having been apprenticed to an architect who was someone named Frank Lloyd Wright."

"I wish Luis Buñuel had made "Los Olvidados" before I made "Knock on Any Door", 
because I would have made a hell of a lot better movie."

"You like these films, but you can't imagine how often they represent only fifty percent of 
what I wanted to do. You have no idea how I had to fight to achieve even that fifty percent."

"The closer I get to my ending, the closer I am getting to rewriting my beginning."

Nicholas Ray, 1911-79

Nicholas Ray, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood and James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

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