Wunderbuzz logo

Eileen Agar

Earlier this month I went to Tate Britain to see their ‘Library and Archive show and tell‘ with examples of the artist Eileen Agar‘s work and some of her love letters to and from fellow artist Paul Nash, with whom she had a passionate affair. I was very inspired by her thoughts and drawings. In particular by a snippet from her book ’A Look at My Life‘ which she wrote in collaboration with Andrew Lambirth in 1988, and where she describes her work method:

‘My own method is to put myself in a state of receptivity during the day. I sit about sometimes for a quarter of an hour or more, wondering what on earth I am doing, and then suddently I get an idea for something. Either it is the beginning of a title or just the germ of a visual image. Later on, if I am stuck with a half-finished painting, I might take a snooze and after that it comes together quite simply’ (p. 125)

Eileen Agar by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies / National Portrait Gallery, London

Two Lovers, 1931 by Eileen Agar

Family Trio, 1931 by Eileen Agar

The Reaper, 1938 by Eileen Agar

Overemphasised facial expressions

Once upon a time there was, and still is, a blog called Assez Vu. It is my personal blog and it’s kind of a digital collection of odd pictures and other finds from the past whose name literally means ‘I’ve seen enough’. Pretentious enough you might think, but Rimbaud made me do it. He said it first, not me. Well, where did the idea come from? Assez Vu was born out of another blog, or rather, out of a curious ‘visual experiment’ called Silent Ladies’ overemphasized facial expressions. The idea behind it was to find and post pictures that showed actors from silent movies in the act of ‘over-expressing’ themselves. Silent divas were the best: they could easily change from sophisticated smiles and languishing looks to raging and revengeful faces in a handful of seconds. They used their bodies and faces to make up for the lack of sound. Some of them looked realistic, others a bit odd!  Today, one thing is for certain, they are still very amusing.

Florence Turner in “Daisy Doodad’s Dial” (1914)

Clara Bow in “Wings” (1927)

Marie Dressler, Marion Davies, Jane Winton in “The Patsy” (1928)

Louise Brooks in “Pandora’s Box” (1929)

Sylvia Sidney in “Fury” (1936)

Theda Bara in “Cleopatra” (1917)

Colleen Moore in “We Moderns” (1925)

Irma Vep (Musidora) in Les Vampires (1915-1916)

Pola Negri in “The Spanish Dancer” (1923)

Laura La Plante in “The Cat and the Canary” (1927)

And finally here is the lovely Marion Davies, making fun of her fellow actresses Mae Murray, Lillian Gish and Pola Negri by impersonating them in the movie ‘The Patsy’ (1928).

“Real” Mae Murray

“Fake” Mae Murray

“Real” Lillian Gish

“Fake” Lillian Gish

“Real” Pola Negri

“Fake” Pola Negri

The clip from The Patsy (1928):
YouTube Preview Image

A Woman Under the Influence

This film from 1974 by John Cassavetes is without doubt one of my all time favourites. Gena Rowlands immediately became my idol after seeing it. I really don’t want to say much more about it, I just hope this clip below encourages you to watch it!

The dying swan scene:
YouTube Preview Image


Here is a visual post for you guys. Photography by Guy Bourdin.


Daisies was made in 1966 by the Czech filmmaker Věra Chytilová and was considered a key film of the Czech New Wave. It was banned in 1968 shortly after the “Prague Spring” by the Soviet Communist regime, as was Chytilová from making any new films in Czechoslovakia until 1975.

Věra Chytilová

The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact stopped the creative and social freedoms of “Prague Spring” when they decided to invade Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968. Therefore, many Czechoslovakian artists’ reactions were to employ metaphors, humour, and radical narrative play to express the dangers and hypocrisies of life under a repressive regime. In order to make subversive political statements, ambiguity was a necessity.

Daisies depicts the two female protagonists Marie and Marie, who are claiming that the world is “bad” and therefore they will be too.

The story is structured with a non-linear narrative, and via jump cuts we are thrown between incoherent scenes, never quite knowing what will come next. The film consists of montages of contradictory imagery, a baffling dialogue, asynchronous sound, colours that change from full to monochrome to psychedelic, anti-naturalistic optical effects and sudden accelerated motion.

The Maries want to go against the norms of society, and act out as they see fit. They do this when they date older men, get particularly drunk in a fancy nightclub and steal food, drinks or money from other people.

Many aspects of Daisies make it appear like a feminist film. The Maries are constantly sexually teasing older men, making them pay for expensive dinners only to send them away in trains afterwards. At one point the Maries cut up phallic-looking food with a pair of scissors and eat it. Many of the men they meet seem like symbols of the patriarchal society, and the Maries’ actions therefore become a symbol of how they “castrate” it.

The main thing the Maries like to do is to eat, and they do this in a manner that also goes against the norms of society. They eat almost all the time, and if not, they ask people for food or talk about it. They even seem to confuse the meaning of love with food, and they question why men do not simply say “egg” instead of “I love you”.

Daisies is a film with many possible interpretations, and Chytilová is concealing an important message underneath the veils of ambiguity. The veil Chytilová has chosen is highly Dadaist. With Daisies Chytilová challenges our conventional understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

In a nod to the Maries’ challenge of societal norms, the final title of the film reads: “This film is dedicated to those who only get upset over a “messed-up trifle””. It is a stab at the passivity of the bourgeoisie society, underlining Chytilová’s belief that instead of being provoked by a step outside of the rigid borders of etiquette, they should be provoked by much more pressing issues such as the Soviet occupation, the constant threat of violence that follows with the occupation, destructions of war and the lack of freedom of speech.

Watch it here: