Monday, December 04, 2017

Esprit d'escalier: Stairs and Stairways to Heaven, Hell and Somewhere in Between

Markus Sebastian Braun, editor. Stairs: Architectural Details. Translated by Alice Bayandin. [Berlin]: Verlagshaus Braun, 2008. 

Stairs, stairways and stairway wit are among the ten thousand things that fascinate me. The more I see, the more I want to see. This book gives colorful photographic examples from twenty-one European cities. I've been to eleven of these cities so far: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, Paris, Rome, Vienna and Zurich. I'm planning to see another one in 2018.
Stairs frequently show up in art; if designed and made well, the stairways themselves are art. Here's Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2  / Nu descendant un escalier, no 2 (1912). Philadelphia Museum of Art. Scandalous!
What would Billy Wilder'Sunset Boulevard (1950) be without its grand staircase? (This, by the way, is a favorite movie of both Clint Eastwood and Donald Trump).
Mikio Naruse's When A Woman Ascends The Stairs / 女が階段を上る時 (1960) makes this a central metaphor in a person's life. Fabbles! 
Let's not forget the importance of stairways in William Friedkin's hugely popular film, The Exorcist (1973). 

There are so many good examples of stairs in artscapes, this barely touches the first step. Thanks to esprit d'escalier, I'll think of a dozen more right after posting this -- maybe for another post. 

Do stairways conjure up anything for you?  

Today's Rune: Fertility. 


t said... paradise, with a new step everydayyyy :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I do remember being struck by Nude descending a staircase when I encountered it in college. What a great image. My favorite song as a teenager was Stairway to Heaven. Might still be. I played on the stairs in our house a lot when I was a kid. They always seemed rather magical, and sometimes frightening