Posts Tagged ‘art’
Highlighting an invisible conversation between hip hop and art before the 16th century…
* Chuck D
As we scratch ‘em and sniff, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that Robert Matthew Van Winkle— better known as Vanilla Ice, whose “Ice Ice Baby” was the first hip hop single to top the Billboard charts– married Laura Giaritta. Ice, who’s both a Juggalo and a vegetarian, has recently concentrated on his home renovation reality show on the DIY Channel, but still occasionally performs… though in September, 2013, he rapped at the halftime show of a Houston Texans game; Houston went on to lose the remaining fourteen games of the season, leading some players to blame Ice for the losing streak.
“The camera is first a means of self-discovery and a means of self-growth. The artist has one thing to say—himself”*…
In this Age of the Selfie, it’s good to remind oneself that the impulse to photographic self-portraiture has a long history… and that, sometimes, that heritage is shrouded in mystery…
He likely hailed from the Midwest, sometimes sported a fedora and smoked a pipe. He dressed in casual plaids or in a suit. His demeanor ranged from jovial to pensive. His hair evolved from thick black to a thinning white widow’s peak. And sometimes, a “Seasons Greetings” sign hung over his head.
We might know a lot about how this man aged, but what we don’t know is his identity or why he took – and saved – more than 450 images of himself in a photobooth over the course of several decades.
This mystery has come to light with “445 Portraits of a Man,” a collection being shown for the first time as part of “Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture,” an exhibition [that was] on display through [last] July at Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick.
The 445 images – silver gelatin prints owned by photography historian Donald Lokuta – were taken over the three decades from the Great Depression through the swinging ’60s, when the booths were most popular. “There’s quite an age difference in the photos: You see him as younger man and then with a white, receding hairline and wrinkles,” says Lokuta, who came across a few of these images at a New York City antiques show in 2012.
Upon learning that the antiques dealer had hundreds of these portraits of the same man, Lokuta knew he had to keep them together and purchased them all. “As a historian, I knew this was very rare, but on a deeper level, I wondered, ‘Why would somebody want to take almost 500 photos of himself in a photobooth?’ In appearance, they are unremarkable. They look like mugshots, but that’s what makes them special: The sameness, the repetition.”…
Read more about the “Mystery Photobooth Portraits.”
As we say “cheese,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that the first issue of VU was published. France’s first weekly French pictorial magazine, VU pioneered the “photographic essay” form and provided a home to contributors that included Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, and André Kertész.
“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass”*…
In the first decade of the 20th century, Edward Stratemeyer formed the Stratemeyer Syndicate. As the head of the group, he commissioned writers to create quickly-written, formulaic juvenile novels; authors received short outlines, and returned book manuscripts within a month. As Meghan O’Rourke writes in The New Yorker,“ Stratemeyer checked the manuscript for discrepancies, made sure that each book had exactly fifty jokes, and cut or expanded as needed,” The syndicate’s popular protagonists included the Hardy Boys,Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and the Bobbsey Twins, along with many that are now unfamiliar, like the Outdoor Girls, the Motion Picture Chums, and the Kneetime Animal Stories.
In this two-page outline for the 1927 Hardy Boys mystery The House on the Cliff, Stratemeyer directed writer Leslie McFarlane in the construction of the plot of the second book in the franchise’s original series. The book was officially published as the work of Franklin W. Dixon, a fictional author whose name appears on all of the Hardy Boys books.
Stratemeyer, who grew up reading the Horatio Alger and Oliver Optic book series, was himself a writer of boys’ fiction. As Meghan O’Rourke wrote in the New Yorker in 2004, Stratemeyer was publishing his own series fiction—the Rover Boys, the Motor Boys—when he figured out a way to bridge two oppositional strains of children’s literature: “the nineteenth century’s moralistic tradition and the dime novel’s frontier adventures.” Stratemeyer’s books would be sold in hardback, thereby appearing “respectable” to parents, while containing adventure stories that were just as appealing to kids as cheap stories of the dime novel type…
James Keeline, who researchs the history of the Syndicate and granted me permission to run these scans of the Hardy Boys document, has put several other Stratemeyer outlines up on his site.
* Eudora Welty
As we turn the page, we might send a combo birthday and St Patrick’s Day greeting to Catherine “Kate” Greenaway; she was born on this date in 1846. Creator of books for children such as Mother Goose (1881), Little Ann (1883), & The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1889), she was one o fte most the most accomplished illustrators of her time– and the inspiration for The Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded annually by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the U.K. to an illustrator of children’s books.
“Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt”*…
The word “photography” might bring to mind the stark granite of an Ansel Adams photograph, or perhaps the memory of a childhood vacation. But the camera is also a scientific tool, whose progress can, in one sense, be measured by its ability to freeze ever-smaller fragments of time for our observation. In 1826, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce needed at least eight hours to create an imprint of the view from the upstairs window of his Burgundy chateau onto a pewter plate coated with bitumen. Today, we can capture photos with an exposure time of a trillionth of a second, and are at the brink of attosecond photography—that is, snapshots taken 10 billion trillion times faster than those first grainy images in the east of France…
Click through a collection of photographic images that, at the time they were taken, were breakthroughs in speed at “Photographing Time.
* Susan Sontag
As we stop the clock, we might send hard-boiled birthday greetings to Frank Morrison “Mickey” Spillane; he was born on this date in 1918. A writer who cut his teeth on comic books, Spillane moved to crime novels, many featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. Early reaction to Spillane’s work was generally hostile: Malcolm Cowley dismissed the Mike Hammer character as “a homicidal paranoiac”, John G. Cawelti called Spillane’s writing “atrocious”, and Julian Symons called Spillane’s work “nauseating.” (By contrast, Ayn Rand publicly praised Spillane’s work, though she later publicly repudiated what she regarded as the amorality of Spillane’s Tiger Mann stories.) But the public was altogether enthusiastic: more than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally; and in a 1980 survey, Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 all-time best-selling fiction titles in the U.S. Still, by the late 90s his novels had gone out of print– Spillane had begun supporting himself by appearing in Miller Lite commercials– and remained unavailable until the the New American Library began reissuing them in 2001.
“Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar…”
A lot of photographers aim to capture one, perfect moment in time. Richard Silver might argue that’s aiming low. His surreal productions are multilayered temporal sandwiches, showing how world landmarks morph in appearance from dawn to sunset.
The Manhattan-based photographer has deployed his “time-slice” technique during extensive travels around the globe (he has reportedly visited “more than 200 cities in his life, traveling to 13 countries last year alone”). Silver must have a superhuman tolerance to jet lag, because his process requires torturous amounts of labor and alertness…
See more of Silver’s time-conflated photos, and read more of his method, at “Behold, Famous Landmarks Shot in the Fourth Dimension of Time.”
* Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun
As we watch the clock, we might send beautiful birthday greetings to Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni; he was born on this date in 1475. A sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer in the High Renaissance, Michelangelo was considered one of the greatest artists of his time. And given his profound influence on the development of Western art, he has subsequently been considered one of the greatest artists of all time. Indeed, he is widely held to be (with Leonardo da Vinci) the archetypal Renaissance man.
When it comes to cover design, the science fiction genre is often accused, along with romance novels, of having the most godawful cover design going. With their typical brilliance in style, Penguin embraces all the good, the bad and the comically ugly in traditional sci-fi design with their science fiction series. From the campy cartoon-style creatures and ridiculous, buxom alien babes of space opera, to the darkly stylized futuristic cities in dystopian futures Penguin covered it all with story selection and cover illustration…
Confidently judge books by their covers at “Penguin’s Science Fiction.”
[TotH to @MartyKrasney]
* Stephen Wright
As we travel through space and time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Arthur K. “Spud” Melin patented the Hula Hoop. In fact, both Melin’s company, Wham-O, and others had been selling millions of Martex (plastic) hoops since the late 50s. Melin’s innovation was an improved version- which, by virtue of the intellectual property protection, was available only from Wham-O.
No sensation has ever swept the country like the Hula Hoop. It remains the standard against which all national crazes are measured.
– Richard A. Johnson, American Fads
Posters promoting the Masters and their masterpieces: From Sydney-based designer Nicholas Barclay, a ten classic works of art, reduced to their essences…
Peruse each of them (about half-way down the page), and check out his other distillations, on Barclay’s site .
* Albert Einstein
As we wonder what the docent will make of these, we might recall it it was on this date in 1979 that The Clash played the Harvard Square Theater on the first leg of their first American tour, “Pearl Harbor ’79.”