Monday, March 31, 2014

José Zeca Afonso

José Manuel Cerqueira Afonso dos Santos, known as Zeca Afonso (1929 – 1987), was born in Aveiro, Portugal, the son of José Nepomuceno Afonso, a judge, and Maria das Dores.
Zeca is among the most influential folk and political musicians in Portuguese history. He became an icon among Portuguese left-wing activists due to the role of his music in the resistance against the dictatorial regime of Oliveira Salazar, resistance that triumphed in 1974 with the pro-democratic leftist military coup of the Carnation Revolution.
His song Grândola, Vila Morena is closely associated with the revolution. In the ensuing revolutionary process, Zeca was a very active musician and continued composing political and folk songs, often criticizing the post-revolutionary changes. Years after his death, Zeca Afonso is still widely listened to, not only in Portugal, but also abroad.
Thank you, Pedro

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Berets and Marketing

Although it may sound strange, from someone running an on-line beret shop, the nicest way of buying a beret, I believe, is over the counter from an old grandmother in an even older store that sells -apart from berets (not individually packed - just a stack of them in acorner of the store) - vegetables, hardware, newspapers, cooking utensils, groceries, some clothing, espadrilles... You'll get the idea. I remember those kind of shops in rural France and Belgium, on summer holidays some 45 years ago. 
There are not many left. The last one that came close for me was a small shop in Anso (Spain), where I noticed a box with a beret label on the shelves, but alas, it was no more than the old box...
Different times, different marketing. Now you best buy your berets on-line, I guess, and all information is found on web pages. But, have a look at these beautiful boxes: 
These are all American made, in an attempt to make the beret inside even more appealing to potential customers.
I love the text on the back-side of this box here:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Berets, Bonnets and Such...

This interesting picture was sent to me without any further details, but it clearly depicts berets and similar hats.
Nr.5 is the typical small diameter French beret, while Nr.6 seems very much a Basque or Bearnaise shepherd, wearing a larger beret to protect him from the weather in the mountains. Nr.7 is without question a Chasseur Alpin wearing a 'tarte'. 
All the other hats have some likeness to the beret, but are not (although it's hard to tell re. numbers 1 and 2) - I guess you'd call them bonnets and sailor hats. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Samuel Sebban & Sauce Béarnaise

Samuel Sebban is a young graduate from the Pau (Béarn) Business School, who had the brilliant idea of marketing Béarnaise Sauce in Béarn.  
Béarnaise sauce is a sauce made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks, white wine vinegar and flavored with herbs. It is considered to be a 'child' of the mother Hollandaise sauce, one of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. The difference is only in their flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorn, and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice or white wine.
The interesting thing is: Béarnaise Sauce is not from Béarn at all! Like calling the ‘beret’ a ‘Basque beret’, the name is all based on a mistake.
The sauce was first created by the chef Collinet, the inventor of puffed potatoes (pommes de terre soufflées), and served at the 1836 opening of Le Pavillon Henri IV, a restaurant at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, not far from Paris. His restaurant was named Henry IV of France, who was a gourmet himself, and born in the province of Béarn.The sauce was named in Henry IV’s honour.
Samuel Sebban runs his own delicatessen store, Bord de Gave, in the centre of Pau, selling all goodies Béarnaise

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maurice Utrillo with beret

Maurice Utrillo, born Maurice Valadon (1883 – 1955), was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes. Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, France, Utrillo is one of the few famous painters of Montmartre who were born there.

© Nat R. Farbman

Utrillo was the son of the artist Suzanne Valadon, who was then an eighteen-year-old artist's model. She never revealed who was the father of her child; speculation exists that he was the offspring from a liaison with an equally young amateur painter named Boissy, or with the well-established painter Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, or even with Renoir. In 1891 a Spanish artist, Miguel Utrillo y Molins, signed a legal document acknowledging paternity, although the question remains as to whether he was in fact the child's father.

© Nat R. Farbman

Valadon, who became a model after a fall from a trapeze ended her chosen career as a circus acrobat, found that posing for Berthe Morisot, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others provided her with an opportunity to study their techniques; in some cases, she also became their mistress. She taught herself to paint, and when Toulouse-Lautrec introduced her to Edgar Degas, he became her mentor. Eventually she became a peer of the artists she had posed for.

© Nat R. Farbman

Meanwhile, her mother was left to raise the young Maurice, who soon showed a troubling inclination toward truancy and alcoholism. When a mental illness took hold of the 21-year-old Utrillo in 1904, he was encouraged to paint by his mother. He soon showed real artistic talent. With no training beyond what his mother taught him, he drew and painted what he saw in Montmartre. After 1910 his work attracted critical attention, and by 1920 he was internationally acclaimed. In 1928, the French government awarded him the Cross of the Légion d'honneur. Throughout his life, however, he was interned in mental asylums repeatedly.
An apocryphal anecdote told by Diego Rivera concerning Utrillo's paternity is related in the unpublished memoirs of one of his American collectors, Ruth Bakwin:
"After Maurice was born to Suzanne Valadon, she went to Renoir, for whom she had modeled nine months previously. Renoir looked at the baby and said, 'He can't be mine, the color is terrible!' Next she went to Degas, for whom she had also modelled. He said, 'He can't be mine, the form is terrible!' At a cafe, Valadon saw an artist she knew named Miguel Utrillo, to whom she spilled her woes. The man told her to call the baby Utrillo: 'I would be glad to put my name to the work of either Renoir or Degas!'"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Markéta Kousalová

Three beret pictures by young Czech photographer Markéta Kousalová.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gijs Jacobs van den Hof

Gijsbert Jan " Gijs " Jacobs van den Hof (1889 - 1965 ) was a Dutch sculptor.
Gijs Jacobs van den Hof studied at the technical school training as a cabinetmaker and developed his skills as a sculptor. Between 1906 and 1921 he lived and worked mainly in Amsterdam, interrupted with breaks in Antwerp and Paris.
In 1921 he settled in Arnhem, where he was a lecturer at the Academy of Art (1921-1954 ), teaching ceramics and bronze casting.
"Mens tegen macht", WWII memorial Arnhem, Netherlands

Jacobs van den Hoff was a traditional artist with a love of the material. As a furniture maker, he had learned to work with different materials and as a sculptor he studied further in various techniques . He worked with marble , travertine and alabaster, but also made wood carvings and he used several bronze casting techniques . His own work was mostly nudes and portraits. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Citroën Méhari (with berets)

The Méhari is a utility car and off-roader avant la lettre produced by  Citroën. Citroën  produced 144,953 Méharis between the car's launch in May 1968 and 1988 when production ceased.
 The Méhari was based on the Citroën Dyane 6, and had a body made of ABS plastic with a soft-top. It also employed the 602 cc flat twin gasoline engine shared with the 2CV6 and Citroën Ami. A four-wheel drive version of the Méhari was produced from 1980 to 1983 and had excellent off-road qualities, due to the lightness of the vehicle (the standard Méhari weighs just 570 kg (1,260 lb)) and the interconnected fully independent long-travel 2CV suspension used by all of the Citroën 'A-Series' vehicles.
The French Army used Méharis  and the vehicle was also in service with the Irish Defence Forces in the late 1970’s.
The Méhari was sold in the United States for one year, 1970, where the vehicle was classified as a truck. As trucks had far more lenient National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety standards than passenger cars in the US, the Méhari did not have seat belts. Only 214 Méharis were sold in 1970. One was featured in a brief scene with Charlton Heston in the 1971 film The Omega Man.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Following yesterday's post on Lucebert, another post on a Dutch artist and CoBra member: Constant. 
Constant Anton Nieuwenhuys (1920 – 2005), better known as Constant, was a Dutch painter, sculptor, graphic artist, author, musician and architect.
As a young child Constant drew passionately and showed great talent. He read literature with a special preference for poetry and played musical instruments. During his teenage years he learned to sing and to read music while in the church choir at a Jesuit school. In his later years, greatly inspired by gypsy music, he only played improvised music. He played guitar, violin and at 45 years of age also mastered playing the cimbalon.
Constant painted his first oil painting, De Emmaüsgangers, at age sixteen. It depicted the revelation of Jesus to two of his followers in Emmaus. With no money to buy materials he painted this painting on a jute sugar bag with pigments he had bought from a house painter.[3] Many of Constant’s early drawings and paintings are religiously inspired, due to his Jesuit schooling. Yet at the age of twenty Constant turned his back on Catholicism.
n 1946 Constant traveled to Paris for the first time where he met the young Danish painter Asger Jorn, forming the basis for CoBrA. July 1948 Constant founded Reflex Experimentele Groep in Holland  with Corneille(well known for his peaked beret), Karel Appel and his brother Jan Nieuwenhuys.
After Us, Liberty 1949
During the last months of his life, Thomas Doebele and Maarten Schmidt made a documentary film about him entitled Constant, Avant Le Départ ("Before Departure"), which features unique footage of Constant working on his last oil painting Le Piège (The Trap).

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Lucebert (aka Lubertus Jacobus Swaanswijk; 1924 – 1994) was a Dutch artist who first became known as the poet of the COBRA movement.
He was born in Amsterdam in 1924. He entered the Institute for Arts and Crafts in 1938 and took part in the first exhibition of the COBRA group at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1949.
Portrait with beret
Lucebert's talent was discovered when he started working for his father after school. After half a year of art school, he chose to be homeless between 1938 and 1947. In 1947, a Franciscan convent offered him a roof over his head, in exchange for a huge mural painting. Because the nuns could not appreciate his work, they had it painted over with white paint entirely.
He belonged to the Dutch literary movement of De Vijftigers. They were greatly influenced by the European avant-garde movement COBRA. His art reflects a rather pessimistic view on the world.
His strong personality appealed to many. As a poet he laid foundation for a revolutionary innovation of Dutch poetry.
Lucebert's sentence "Alles van waarde is weerloos" ("All things of value are defenceless") on a building in Rotterdam
He died on 10 May 1994 in Alkmaar, Netherlands.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gauchos save the day!

After some five years of continuous daily blogging on berets, I sometimes run out of steam (and ideas).
 My goo fortune is, that there are always gauchos who make superb material for The Beret project.
 Here a selection of recently found material.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Herbert Fiedler

He loved Germany, but fled the National Socialists; he was a representational artist, but detested any kind of naturalistically precise daubing: throughout his life Herbert Fiedler fell between all the stools. This and the unfortunate circumstances of his life and the age he lived in prevented him from achieving a real breakthrough in his lifetime.
Self portrait in café, 1948
Herbert Fiedler was born in Leipzig in 1891. While he was studying at the Royal Academy of Art in Dresden, he got to know George Grosz and shared a flat and studio with him in Berlin in 1912. In 1913, however, Fiedler felt drawn to Paris, which at the time was the metropolis of art. There he lived in the heart of Montmartre, drew at the Académie Colarossi and became acquainted with Jules Pascin, Karl Hofer and many others at the Café du Dôme. 
Fiedler making back drops for Wagner's Lohengrin, 1951
The start of the First World War forced him to return to Germany, and he ended up at the Eastern Front, where he was wounded. The young artist spent the Twenties in Berlin. It was a difficult time; Fiedler made the acquaintance of artists such as Max Pechstein and Bertolt Brecht and struggled along with all sorts of jobs. For instance, he spent two years working for the UFA film studios as a set painter and poster designer.
Herbert Fiedler working in his Amsterdam studio at Frederiksplein, 1957 by An Tydeman
In 1934 he left Germany, and moved (with the Swiss painter Amrey Balsiger, who was later to become his wife) to the Netherlands, where the war caught up with him in 1940. During the pre-war years, which he spent in the artists' village of Laren, he developed his style, which the Dutch critics christened "Baroque Expressionism". 
Herbert Fiedler in his studio, Beulingstraat 25, Amsterdam 1951. Photo:Jo Bokma
He drove himself towards ever greater abstraction, but never lost sight of his subject. In rural Laren, he mainly produced landscapes and portraits. In Amsterdam, where he lived from December 1940 onwards, he spent the Forties and Fifties returning to his Berlin motifs, depicting the city and its people. He had a particular liking for the world of the circus: repeatedly he portrayed clowns, acrobats and trapeze artists. 
Self portrait, 1938
In 1962, Herbert Fiedler died of a heart attack while preparations were being made for a major exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Henri Pieck

Henri Christiaan Pieck (1895 – 1972) was a Dutch architect, painter and graphic artist.
During the 1930s, Pieck operated as an agent for Soviet intelligence under the name Ignace Reiss. During this time he cultivated friendship with several British Foreign Office clerks, including Captain John H King, who handed over to Pieck many telegrams, code books and other Foreign Office correspondence.
After being arrested on 9 June 1941 for resistance activities, Pieck spent the rest of World War II in German custody, first in the “Oranjehotel” (a detention center used at the beginning of the war by the Dutch as a POW camp that was later taken over by the Germans), after which he was deported to Buchenwald via the Nazi transit camp Amersfoort.
At the Oranje Hotel, Pieck made ​​drawings of the guards, who in return  offered him small favours, such as leaving his cell door open. In the Buchenwald concentration camp, Pieck makes sketches of the cruel slavery of the prisoners, which he further elaborated after his release. His works show several Basque berets, as well as the striped “beret” that was part of the inmates uniform.
After the war, Henri Pieck was questioned extensively by the Dutch National Security Agency about his contacts with the Soviet Union and Communists in the concentration camps. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Antonis Vratsanos

Antonis Vratsanos (1919 – 2008), was a saboteur of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS), the military branch of the National Liberation Front (EAM), and the Democratic Army of Greece.
On February 1944, he blew up a German train, full of soldiers and officers, on their way to the Eastern Front. This cost the Wehrmacht 450 dead, including 150 officers and a general with all his staff. This action is considered as one of the biggest sabotages in Europe, against the German occupation. After the Communists' defeat in the Greek Civil War, he spent 33 years in exile in Romania.
On February 28, 2007, he was awarded by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, the "Grand Commander of the Order of Honor" for his actions in the Greek Resistance in the years 1941-44.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Josep Clarà, con boina

Josep Clarà i Ayats (1878–1958) was a Spanish Catalan sculptor.
Clarà was born in Olot, Gerona, Spain in 1878 where he attended the Olot School of Drawing (Escuela de Dibujo de Olot) with professor Josep Berga i Boix (1837–1914). During Clarà's time at the school, Joaquín Vayreda (1843–1894) highly praised one of Clarà's drawings; this greatly encouraged Clarà's artistic endeavours and was one of his happiest childhood memories. In 1897, Clarà enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Toulouse, France. He moved to Paris in 1890, where he met Auguste Rodin, which caused him to pursue sculpture. 
He also became close friends with fellow beret wearer and sculptor Arístides Maillol. He was a student of Louis-Ernest Barrias. His sketches of dancer Isadora Duncan's distinct movements stand out among Clarà's work. After Duncan's death in 1927, Antonia Mercé instead served as Clarà's model. He returned to Paris, where he distinguished himself as a sculpturer. A part of "mediterraneísmo", his work was figurative, solid, and compact. He put on numerous exhibitions of his work in Paris, London, Berlin, and Barcelona. In 1932, he moved permanently to Barcelona. There he continued working and exhibiting until his death on November 4, 1958. His last sculpture was "Estática" (1954–1958).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2 is a 2012 American action film directed by Simon West, written by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone and based on a story by Ken Kaufman, David Agosto and Wenk. It is a sequel to the 2010 action film The Expendables, and stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The story follows the mercenary group known as "The Expendables" as they undertake a seemingly simple mission which evolves into a quest for revenge against rival mercenary Jean Vilain, who murdered one of their own and threatens the world with a deadly weapon. It is the second instalment in The Expendables film series.
Film locations included Bulgaria, Hong Kong and New Orleans. Controversy arose over the accidental death of a stuntman and environmental damage caused during filming in Bulgaria. The production received a fine from the Bulgarian environmental protection agency for unlawfully removing shrubs and small trees from the entrance of Devetashka Cave. Bulgarian environmentalists stated that the bat population in the cave had been reduced by up to 75% (from about 30,000 in 2010 to 8,000 in 2011).
Critics generally considered the film an improvement over its predecessor (citing an increased use of humor and action scenes), but its plot and dialogue received negative reviews. 
Typically, all berets (and there are a few!) are military style berets, like these and these