Extracts from the Mar 2012 Journal
Postage stamps, it seems, have had a magical appeal to generations of schoolboys. While my father as a boy in Vienna had specialised in collecting the stamps of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, I concentrated on the stamps of what was then still called the British Empire, as befitted a boy in London in the 1950s. Disdaining the inflated flow of new issues flooding onto the market, I took no interest in any stamps issued after the death of King George VI in 1952. What magic was evoked by the simple, almost austere images on the stamps of bygone decades! The earliest, issued after the introduction of the modern postage stamp by the British Royal Mail in 1840, mostly featured only the portrait of the monarch of the issuing state, on the model of the profile of Queen Victoria that adorned the original Penny Black (and the much prized Two Penny Blue), or the coat of arms of that state. [more...]
Following negotiations with the German government, the Claims Conference has announced a series of improvements in compensation programmes that they administer. These changes affect applicants to the Article II and the Hardship Funds. Also, there is now no deadline for applications to the Ghetto Fund, which makes a one-time payment of €2,000 (approximately £1,650) to people who worked in Nazi-controlled ghettos. [more...]
It was the tribute of a Bradford lad to the Yorkshire Wold of his childhood that made David Hockney revisit his memories in blocks of primary colours. He put the trees and landscapes on his iPad and turned everything into vibrant hues. It led to his being both praised and criticised for having used modern technology in his exhibition David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy (to 9 April).
These huge, lush landscapes joined together in squares and rectangles evoke nothing of the so-called bleakness or depths of Yorkshire, but they fill the gallery with the light of lost years. Hockney is less like a seasoned, mature painter here than a young artist on the brink of discovery. But what is he conveying? Is it magic realism? Super-realism? It’s certainly not Expressionism and, if anything, it has the touch of the master designer rather than the rapture of memory. Hockney takes the landscape seriously and portrays it in all its seasons – but, colours apart, it is linear, static and uncompromising. In earlier works, he plays ¬- like Hogarth and the Surrealist Escher before him - with ideas of perspective, offering a map, a jumbled view of signposts, an empty fallen tin can - the detritus of the road traveller. [more...]
Return to Vienna is a short book, but a notable one. In January 1946 the Austrian writer Hilde Spiel returned to Vienna after an absence of ten years. This was no ordinary return: she went back in British army uniform as an accredited correspondent for the New Statesman. She recorded her thoughts and impressions in a journal which she later revised and expanded for publication: Rückkehr nach Wien was published in Germany in 1968. [more...]
Last month we published a notice about a letter sent to some AJR members who receive an Austrian state pension. The letter required the recipient to complete a ‘confirmation of residency’ form in accordance with the Double Tax Convention between Great Britain and Austria and stated that an interim tax would be deducted from the January 2012 pension payment. [more...]
I finished reading Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question and was still pondering its manifold messages in the evening as I attended a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. This was given in Jerusalem by an amateur troupe composed mainly of immigrants from English-speaking countries. [more...]