2015 was an exciting year for Gilded Birds with more papers, our first event and a new series of interviews that focus on style. Happy New Year to all our readers and thank you for your continued support.

Our top posts of the year were:

NICO MUHLY on how to listen to contemporary music:

“With any piece of contemporary music you can ask if you’re dealing with a narrative structure or a cyclical structure, or is it the kind of music where you can turn it off and turn it on again and it would always be the same. Or is it something that’s more structured, or an interplay between narrative and cyclical ideas. That’s one way to orient it. There’s also music that’s obsessive and music that’s not obsessive. Some music starts with a tiny germ and then it’s rub, rub, rub, rub, rub into a larger structure. I feel like Thomas Adès’ music is like that. Each piece has a kind of central nugget of information with this molecular tension that almost starts to spiral out of control. There’s other music like John Luther Adams where it’s an atmosphere and the drama of it is, you get the sense that if you weren’t there it would still happen. It’s like some gigantic natural thing that’s just hanging out like a big mountain.”

REBECCA LOUISE LAW on Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project:

“The whole way through art school you’re pushed away from beauty. It’s like a dirty word. Now I’ve started to realise that it’s okay. I like people to see beauty in something that might not normally be so, especially the dried, dead flowers I use. We see beauty in fresh, live flowers and my work encourages people to re-evaluate this.”

PETER COPPING on Whistlejacket by George Stubbs:

“I grew up with horses and have always had a passion for them. As a child I used to ride. Whistlejacket by George Stubbs is an amazing painting and captures everything that is great about the horse. Painted in the 18th Century, it has a modernity and force that many paintings of today don’t come close to. In Gallery 34 of the National Gallery, where it is now housed, you first notice it from the distance. It dominates the room and really draws you in. Even if you are not equestrian minded you can’t help but be touched by the painting. It has a huge amount of presence. Stubbs tended to paint horses in a landscape attended by grooms which were quite static and passive, so this was a huge departure for him. The painting really shows the character of the horse; you can almost feel his breathing, sense his muscle and the blood in his veins. Whistlejacket is an idolized portrayal of a horse, but at the same time very realistic. The landscape has been stripped away and it is a pure portrait of a horse. Imagine seeing this in the 18th Century. For Stubbs to paint something this minimal it must have been very controversial and it is hard to think how it must have been perceived at the time.” 

NICK RIGGLE on style:

“I think philosophers and the like have fastened onto the less flattering threads of thought about style—those that suggest it’s trivial, easy to achieve, or all about social status. The issue about social status might confuse style with fashion, but fashion is a whole different beast—one that also tends to be unfairly dismissed by intellectuals. Style is a matter of self-expression, and the means we use to express ourselves stylistically might have little to do with fashion and the fashion world. But I do think style has an important social dimension. In expressing ourselves through style we present ourselves to others and give them an opportunity to notice and respond.”

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