Posts Tagged ‘art’
Anton LaVey was a fan, and so was Ansel Adams who called him the “Antichrist.” William Mortensen was clearly no ordinary photographer.
Born in Utah, William Mortensen spent the formative years of his career in Hollywood working as a still photographer on Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings, among other gigs, before setting up shop in Laguna Beach in 1931. Mortensen’s experiences in the fantasy factory of Hollywood provided a solid starting point for his jaw-dropping exercises in imaginative manipulation. Consciously channeling the Old Masters of centuries past, Mortensen tirelessly executed dozens of astounding portraits and evocative “scenes”—pictures so ravishing that the viewer is often bound to question their status as photographs…
Read more of Mortensen, and see more of his work, at “William Mortensen– the Anti-Christ of Photography.” There’s even more in this short (23 minute) documentary, Monsters and Madonnas:
* Diane Arbus
As we fiddle with the focus, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that John William Draper took a daguerreotype of the moon, the first celestial photograph (or astrophotograph) made in the U.S. (He exposed the plate for 20 minutes using a 5-inch telescope and produced an image one inch in diameter.) Draper’s picture of his sister, taken the following year, is the oldest surviving photographic portrait.
Japanese match book covers… Many more at Agence Eureka.
* “Trois Allumettes,” Jacques Prevert
As we close the cover before striking, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that the Meiji Constitution went into effect in Japan, and the first Diet convened. Modeled on both the Prussian and the British models, the Meiji Constitution provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy that lasted until 1947. In practice, the Emperor was head of state, but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government.
… and so it becomes the subject of art.
A year ago, local artist Elle Luna challenged artists from around the world with her “100-Day Project,” an idea with a simple premise: do the same thing every day for a hundred days — draw a doodle, write a poem, whatever — and document the results.
San Francisco–based designer Katrina McHugh responded by making infographics based on popular song lyrics that reference the natural world, mirroring the style of vintage encyclopedias she inherited from her grandfather. The project, titled “100 Days of Lyrical Natural Sciences,” is a gorgeous and hilarious exercise in taking metaphor too literally…
Try your hand at identifying the songs in question at “Classic Pop Songs, Reimagined as Infographics.”
* Brian Wilson
As we tap our toes, we might spare a thought for Cabell “Cab” Calloway III; he died on this date in 1994. A master of scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s to the late 1940s, regularly performing at the Cotton Club in Harlem. His band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon “Chu” Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. His “Minnie the Moocher” was the first jazz record to sell 1 million copies.
“You cannot get a grip on blue… blue is sly, slick, it slides into the room sideways, a slippery trickster”*…
Michelangelo couldn’t afford ultramarine. His painting The Entombment, the story goes, was left unfinished as the result of his failure to procure the prized pigment. Rafael reserved ultramarine for his final coat, preferring for his base layers a common azurite; Vermeer was less parsimonious in his application and proceeded to mire his family in debt. Ultramarine: the quality of the shade is embodied in its name. This is the superlative blue, the end-all blue, the blue to which all other hues quietly aspire. The name means “beyond the sea”—a dreamy ode to its distant origins, as romantic as it is imprecise…
The whole fascinating story at “True Blue- a brief history of ultramarine.”
* Christopher Moore,
As we dip our brushes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1886 that a gift from France was formally received in the U.S.: it was on this date that year that “Liberty Enlightening the World”– a token of friendship from the French to the U.S. better known as the Statue of Liberty– was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.
Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, it was built by Gustave Eiffel (his Eiffel Tower served as the statue’s armature), who had it shipped from France encased in more than 200 crates, then reassembled it and placed on its pedestal on (what was then known as) Bedloe’s Island, where Cleveland took her in.
* Charles Barkley
As we check it out, we might send finely-drawn birthday greetings to Giovanni Battista (also Giambattista) Piranesi; he was born on this date in 1720. An Italian artist, he is best known for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric “prisons” (Le Carceri d’Invenzione). The latter, with their Kafkaesque, Escher-like distortions, influenced Romanticism & Surrealism.
This solemn group of posters teaching safety to British citizens comes from the archive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. The images are from the Wellcome Library’s website; I first saw them on the blog the Passion of Former Days.
The RoSPA displayed a series of its 20th-century posters in a 2012 exhibition, after rediscovering a small archive of them in an outbuilding. In the exhibition notes,RoSPA curators noted that the society, which dates back to World War I, focused on road safety and pedestrian awareness in the 1920s and 1930s (much like analogous American safety organizations).
From the redoubtable Rebecca Onion: “Stark, Spare, Beautiful Midcentury British Safety Posters.”
* Vladimir Nabokov,
As we put safety first, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that the Great New England Hurricane (AKA, The Long Island Express) dissipated. It had made landfall on Long Island on September 21. With impact felt from New Jersey all the way north to Canada, the storm was estimated to have killed 682 people, damaged or destroyed over 57,000 homes, and caused property losses estimated at $306 million ($4.7 billion in current value).