CLARA DRUMMOND has a think about Joseph Albers

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Herzog’s recent film “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams” showed that to understand the human desire to paint one had to go back to the first paintings known to be made by man, back to the paintings that were made inside the caves of Western Europe more that 13,000 years ago.

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SIMON CONWAY falls for the new facsimiles of the Van Gogh sketchbooks

You can get a Hans van Meegeren for about £30,000 in some places, and he – as we all know –  was just a big fat forger.  In his later career, de Chirico forged his own early works.  And you – you yourself can turn amateur forger  – you can photocopy your favourite picture for a few quid in most of the big galleries now.  Along with postcards, editions, prints, photos, copies of video art – we’re all participating in an authenticity debate.

Perhaps the arid debate about fakes and forgeries is best left for pubs and first year philosophers.  However, when there is a copy as exquisitely housed, and as perfectly produced, as the Folio Society’s new Van Gogh sketchbooks (for £445 or so – and hence about £400 more than Van Gogh would have paid) all thoughts of copies and the honesty of copies come suddenly swiftly back into focus.

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RHODRI DELANGES is delighted by a punctual arrival from one of our premier living poets


Only once a year, normally around late September/early October time, does Lissie Coleman send out of her extraordinary poems out into the world; always handwritten, always on the same pages from the same battered notebooks, it is as true a sign of autumn as the falling of the leaves or the sounds of conkers in the playground.



MALAKI HARROD ponders ‘Oblivion’ and absence and Lacan

I am not the first to notice that there has been a worrying number of “where did everybody go?” films recently (look only to Will Smith vehicle After Earth coming down the pipe in a little while).  Wandering about wondering where the all the chaps have gone is a lot of fun. It’s a variation on the invisible man trope.  What do you do?  Do you steal cars and go hunting in New York (as in I Am Legend)?  Do you wander about trying to work out what happened (28 Days Later)?  Or, as here, do you patrol the planet for mysterious “scavs”, and pretend to play baseball in destroyed stadia (Oblivion) and wander about the astonishingly well preserved New York Public Library (both Logan’s Run and Oblivion).  Slavoj Zizek, talking about Alan Weisman’s bizarre book The World Without Us notes “this is the fundamental subjective position of fantasy: to be reduced to the gaze which observes the world in the condition of the subject’s non-existence – like the fantasy of witnessing the act of one’s own conception”.

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Frank Semple’s first new book for a decade impresses TOBY FERGUSSON

The Broken Frame by Frank Semple,  344 pp, $18.99, (Lorrimer Jackson);  The Indiana Tower by Frank Semple (1998), out of print; Swimming Holes and Other Stories by Frank Semple (1990), out of print; Cutting Teeth by Frank Semple (1990), out of print; Deep Within The Wheat by Frank Semple (1989), out of print

Reviewing Franklyn “Frank” Semple’s splendid gothic novel ‘The Indiana Tower’ in 1998, the critic John Freibeger politely noticed that Semple was “not a writer over encumbered with popularity”.  It was, and is, a fair comment.

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