Because it was Beautiful – Now Available on Amazon!

beautiful-cover-cropTomorrow Alex would have been 97 years old … and we are delighted to let you know that the memoir he worked on for the last decade of his life is now published! It’s called “Because it was Beautiful” and now available on Amazon.

For those of you who don’t know, Alex spent many years writing and rewriting the story of his amazing, engaging, and deeply inspiring life. As he writes: “I lived through eighty-one percent of the twentieth century. My career as an art journalist, novelist, foreign correspondent on the cultural beat, eager lover, and comparative mythologist, was lucky indeed.”

Alex had the great good fortune to encounter an extraordinary wealth of people during his life, artists like Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, musicians like Benny Goodman, spiritual leaders like Masao Abe, the photographer Diane Arbus, and many others, some famous and some not, some he knew intimately, and some who were passing acquaintances. He writes about them with wit and wisdom and that marvelous story-telling gift that those of you who knew him personally will remember well.

During this past year, since Alex’s death last April, many people have asked me about his memoir and wondered when it would be published.

We are so glad to be able to announce this publication as a marvelous birthday celebration, a gift to all of us, one that shares the story of the life of an extraordinary human being.

If you’d like to keep in touch with updates and information, please let us know. We do intend to publish this in e-book format soon and can let you know when that will be available if you wish. We welcome your comments, feedback, and friendship, for Alex’s sake as well as our own.

With love from,
Winslow Eliot (daughter)
Jefferson Eliot (son)
May Eliot Paddock (daughter)

Alexander Eliot – The Sistine Chapel Restoration

The left foot of Michelangelo’s Jonah on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, as it was before restoration (left), and after restoration (right), in the course of which the shadow cast by the foot was removed. Note the loss of other shadows and the changes that occurred to the design of the draperies.

A record of the original Sistine Chapel survives. In 1967/8 the writer, painter and former art critic of Time, Alexander Eliot and his film-maker wife, Jane Winslow Eliot, spent over 500 hours on the scaffold making The Secret of Michelangelo, Every Man’s Dream, in the course of which film they noted that:

With the exception of the previously restored Prophet Zachariah, almost everything we saw on the barrel vault came clearly from Michelangelo’s own inspired hand. There are passages of the finest, the most delicately incisive draughtsmanship imaginable.”

Someday, the Eliots’ film (made for ABC Television) might be re-shown, but meanwhile, Alexander Eliot’s testimony is now on the record in a new full-length film/DVD biography, A Light in the Dark: The Art and Life of Frank Mason, in which he and other early campaigners against the restoration (including the late painter, Frank Mason, and the late Professor James Beck) are given voice on the Sistine Chapel restoration. Not least of the delights among this film’s precious and historical footage, are Tom Wolfe’s account of his lessons in Frank Mason’s painting classes at the Art Students League, New York, and the sight of the former Metropolitan Museum of Art director, the late Thomas Hoving, belligerently boasting that he himself had helped sponge from the ceiling the “filth” that was in truth the last stages of Michelangelo’s painting.

The 500th anniversary of the completion in 1512 of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings has gone almost entirely un-celebrated. On October 31st, in a small “in-house” service marking the 500th anniversary of Pope Julius II’s service celebrating the completion of the ceiling, Pope Benedict XVI asked a group of cardinals, Vatican employees and guests to imagine what it must have been like 500 years ago, adding that contemplating the frescoes renders them “more beautiful still, more authentic. They reveal all of their beauty. It is as if during the liturgy, all of this symphony of figures come to life, certainly in a spiritual sense, but inseparably also aesthetically.” Apologists for the transforming 1980-90 restoration of the ceiling are nonplussed by the missed opportunity for a mega-beano half-millennium art celebration.

http://artwatchuk.wordpress.com/tag/art-restoration-the-culture/

 

The Secret of Michelangelo: Every Man’s Dream – Alexander & Jane Eliot


Written by Alexander Eliot, The Secret of Michelangelo: Every Man’s Dream an hour long special, appeared on ABC prime time television Dec. 6, 1968 9:30-10:30 p.m. Christopher Plummer and Zoe Caldwell narrate this documentary on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.

In this promotional intro, you can see Jane and Alex climbing the scaffold to the ceiling.

Alexander Eliot – Alan Harrington

My lanky, sallow, saturnine friend Alan Harrington had the distantly bemused air of a desert dweller. Alan’s mother was an anthropologist, working among  America’s Southwest Indian tribes, so I wondered whether he might be half Indian. If so, he never mentioned it. Continue reading “Alexander Eliot – Alan Harrington”

Alexander Eliot – Eros & Psyche

I spent my writing time at the beautifully restored Rubenshuis, sitting on a bench in the old master’s garden, with its low hedges, little gates, blackish trellises, straight paths, white and yellow flowers, and yellow-billed blackbirds calling sweetly back and forth.

Rubens adorned his garden with baroque statues of Minerva the Roman goddess of wisdom, and Mercury the guide of souls. He also set a small temple of Hercules — the only pagan hero to achieve godhood — in its midst. Hercules wore a lion skin, with the lion’s head hooding his own. The champion’s observant face gazes sympathetically from under the kingly beast’s muzzle.

 

 

(Excerpt from Alex’s forthcoming memoir, to be published by WriteSpa Press)