Moby Monday: Frank Stella and Herman Melville

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The Grand Rapids Museum of Art currently has an exhibition of a modern master who get inspiration from a literary classic: MOBY-DICK: Frank Stella and Herman Melville.

If you have never experienced Frank Stella’s monumental artworks you are missing out. His large three dimensional paintings/sculptures on twisted metal (stainless steel) in vivid colors are some of my favorite works of art.

From the Grand Rapids website:

From 1985 to 1997, leading American painter and printmaker, Frank Stella, created a major series of works linked to Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. He created one or more works for each of the novel’s 135 chapters. The completed series consists of 266 pieces: large metal reliefs, monumental sculptures, a mural, and an extended series of mixed-media prints.  The series that Stella named for Melville’s novel is his greatest sustained achievement in four decades of making art.

The exhibition MOBY-DICK: Frank Stella and Herman Melville brings together more than thirty monumental printed works from Stella’s series, including his definitive masterpiece, The Fountain. Twenty-four feet in length, The Fountain is Stella’s largest and most complex work on paper. The woodblocks with metal inlay plates for The Fountain are included in the exhibition on loan from The National Gallery of Australia. A preamble to the exhibition includes a group of Rockwell Kent’s ink-drawings for Moby-Dick and the original Lakeside edition of the book.

You can download the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s audiotour of the exhibition from the museum’s website and view a short video interview with the artist on Blip.tv.

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Moby-Dick Mash-Up (Melville/Huston/Zeppelin)

Triple classic! Great mashup of Melville story, Huston film and Zeppelin music.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfK_AMiFaKQ]
YouTube – Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

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This Day In Maritime History: A Stove Boat Begets A Whale of a Tale

Gregory Peck as Ahab in Moby-Dick

Wired.com reminds us that November 20, 1820 marks the real life event that inspired one of the classics of American literature, Moby-Dick.

The story of the Essex was the inspiration for a young Herman Melville who himself served time at sea on similar whaleships. More recently the Essex story was chronicled in nonfiction fashion by Nathaniel Phlibrick in his award winning book, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex .

From Wired.com:

The Essex had taken its share of whales and on Nov. 20 appeared ready to take a few more when a pod was sighted off the starboard beam.

The ship’s three remaining whaleboats — one had been destroyed by a whale’s flukes during an earlier hunt — were dispatched for the kill. As the harpooning began, First Mate Owen Chase, commanding one of the whaleboats, looked back and saw a large sperm whale, which he estimated at 85 feet, approaching the Essex.

As he watched helplessly, the whale propelled itself into the ship with great force. Some crewmen on board were knocked off their feet by the collision, and Chase watched in disbelief as the whale drew back and rammed the ship again. This time the Essex was holed below the waterline, and doomed.

The crew organized what provisions they could and two days later abandoned ship aboard the three whaleboats. Twenty men left the Essex. Eight would ultimately survive the harrowing ordeal that played out over the next three months.

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