Although I have been interested in art and graphic design all my life, I only began working seriously after I retired in 2010. The images in Philly-Bob's Free-for-All are digital manipulations of images. The images are either from the Public Domain or from my own archives of photos I have taken.
My images are strongly influenced by the optical textures I see when I close my eyes and by what I see when I dream. They are also influenced by the hallucinatory visions I saw under the influence of anaesthesia following open heart surgery.
I often use commercial art, illustration, and typography as a source of ideas.
For maximum effect with my images, click repeatedly on the image until it is full-size, which may be larger than your computer screen.
Collage of Numismatic Elements & Dying Artist
Large circle at lower right is a card game counting token from the 1972 edition of the Token and Medal Society Journal (Link1) devoted to American Game Tokens.
The standing man at left is from a 1971 issue of the same magazine (Link2), illustrating a souvenir token issued by an art gallery depicting the famous statue of Hananuma Masakichi, whose tragic story of love and artistic obsession is worth reading. To quote the Wikipedia entry, "Believing that he was dying from tuberculosis, Hananuma sculpted a life size statue of himself as a gift to the woman he loved, which was completed in 1885. The artist himself died 10 years later, in poverty aged 63."
Underlaying the whole composition is a series of metallic tokens from American fraternal organizations, such as the Elks and the Knights of Pythias, from a 1968 edition of the same journal (Link3) and a color engraving of a ten-rupee note from an undated Hindu Notes presentation (Link4).
January 3, 2017
Woman Warrior After Battle
I know next to nothing about the book (Link1) that uses this image as its cover. I know its author is T.A. Paron, and, except for the author's name, the text is entirely in Arabic. I suspect this image is clip-art from somewhere, since it appears in a number of heroic images of Christian "prayer warriors," who view spiritual and personal struggles through the metaphor of old-fashioned sword combat. The Church Militant. For instance, visit the fascinating (if disturbing) Facebook Photos page of Warrior Women of God (Link2).
The picture shows a bloodied and scarred female warrior in a Greek or Roman helmet (and mascara and false eyelashes) in exhausted repose.
You may take this as my sad tribute to Hillary Clinton, loser of a rigged and unverifiable election.
January 2, 2017
Punk Planet Graphic Series
The May-June 1997 issue of Chicago's "Punk Planet" (Link1) music magazine ran a series of monochrome graphics used to break up an 8-page article of reviews of other music "zines." They seem to have been collages composed of (1) scans or photographs of parts from a disassembled manual typewriter (the old click-clack type), (2) black layout tape, and (3) ink stippling from a felt pen.
Looking back at these compositions, I like their casual playfulness. I used to work on underground newspapers in the 70's and I am fond of that style -- egalitarian, stoned, unprofessional. Paper so cheap that one page's image bleeds through to the next. Minimum budget, minimum tools, maximum freedom. No one was building up their resume -- we were working to get out the product and enjoying each other.
So, needing a break from my current gloom over electoral disaster, I'm going to start a new, numbered series of digital treatments of these 20-year-old graphics, redoing them in the style of 2017 Philly-Bob -- with a tip of the hat to the anonymous 1997 designer, who is not credited in the magazine.
- 0. Title page of this series. Cartoon frame from Punk Planet is by John Crawford.
- 1. Semicolon/colon key
- 2. Shift Lock key
- 3. B, X keys
- 4. Z, N keys; note that designer broke a cardinal rule by running horizontal line all the way across the composition. That's what things were like in the Alternative Press, the freedom to break the rules.
- 5. B, @ keys
- 6. Upside down J; addition of clown face from Woodcutter's People Faces dingbat font. (The fonts, incidentally, of the series numerals and the "2017" are also from the Spanish bad-boy typographer Woodcutter. This will have to stand as my New Year's card. Fittingly, considering the incoming administration, the key that activates the dingbat "Clown" in the People Faces font is "$".
- 7. Q key
- 8. B key again, last in this series
December 27, 2016-January 1, 2017
In Case of Nuclear War
After Trump's geopolitically imprudent tweet on December 22 saying that the U.S. should greatly “expand its nuclear capability,” two diagrams from an English Civil Defense Reader (Link1), showing how to construct an "Inner Refuge" to shelter in for 14 days after a nuclear explosion. Choose a room in your house that is not adjacent to any outside wall and use doors and furniture to construct a lean-to or platform, then cover that with dense materials such as bags of dirt or boxes of sand or even books and clothing. More info at link.
Recommended reading on the subject: a collection of articles by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on The Trump Transition (Link2). The Bulletin's famous Doomsday Clock is set at 3 minutes to Midnight.
Another source on the subject is the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (Link3), which studies "risks to the survival of human civilization." The Institute's director says:
"Of all the implications a Trump presidency has for global catastrophic risk —- and there are many —- the prospect of him ordering the launch of the massive US nuclear arsenal is by far the most worrisome. In the United States, the president has sole authority to launch atomic weapons. As Bruce Blair recently argued in Politico, Trump’s tendency toward erratic behavior, combined with a mix of difficult geopolitical challenges ahead, mean the probability of a nuclear launch order will be unusually high.
"If Trump orders an unwarranted launch, then the only thing that could stop it would be disobedience by launch personnel -- though even this might not suffice, since the president could simply replace them."
December 27, 2016
Janice as Mrs. Klaus
Janice's casual self-portrait photo, snapped yesterday, which she titled "Around the Corner," superimposed on a pattern of illustrations of seashells from the 1899 Die Familie der Aplysiidae (Link1). Aplysiidae are marine mollusks. Janice is -- well, Janice, is a trip.
On Christmas Eve, Janice and I boarded the Walnut Street bus to come home from a party. I was wearing a red Santa cap and Janice was dressed in red. A young black man, drunk from his own party-going, leapt up from his seat and offered a beaming fist-bump, shouting "It's Santa and Mrs. Claus." When he left he pressed three dollar bills into our hands, as if we were street performers; he wouldn't allow us to refuse them. As I say, life with Janice is an adventure, and I'm lucky to share it.
December 26, 2016
Solstice Greeting in Brick and Ceramic
It may be hard to believe, but the oval in the center of this image, with the crawly snake and naturalistic sea bottom look, is a serving dish done in 19th century Palissy Ware (Link3) style, from the 1913 book, French pottery and porcelain (Link1). It is placed upon a distorted photo of ornamental brickwork from a minaret known as the “Tower of Death” in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, from the FlickR collection of the Berkeley Department of Geography (Link2).
The red and green are the traditional colors of Christmas. It was done on Christmas Day. I hope this odd holiday piece communicates my sense of threat and dread for the upcoming Trump years, when the world is taken over by the clueless, incurious, privileged frat boys that I knew and avoided in my youth.
December 25, 2016
Catholic Worker Linoleum Block Series
Seeking peace in a troubled time, I stumble upon a 2014 issue of The Catholic Worker (Link1) with its characteristic linoleum block illustrations -- crisp, simple, unpretentious.
I like the strength of these designs. The originals, of course, are black and white. The color and the rococco decoration in the framing is mine.
The Catholic Worker Movement is a radical sect in the Roman Catholic church, with a long history of being right when the larger church was wrong. Under hipster Pope Francis, the Church is considering canonizing Dorothy Day, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement.
- First,an image of Saint Joseph, the carpenter husband of Mary, mother of Jesus, done by Ade Bethune, said to be an advocate of traditional iconography.
- Second, an image of an unidentified religious figure by Timothy Holloway.
- Third, an image of a fish by Trappist monk Lavrans Nielson, with the caption "They Recognized Him" -- a reference I don't understand. Perhaps to Luke's "Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight."
- Fourth, a fruit-filled tree with attendant birds by Rita Corbin, "Devoid of ego, Corbin generously provided her artwork free of charge to Catholic Worker communities."
December 22, 2016
Coming up is Philly-Bob's 72nd birthday, during a season of the year so crammed with significant events, that I usually retreat and go emotionally cold. There's Christmas, New Year's, my Birthday -- not to speak of this year's election results. Thankfully, the era of office party romantic disappointments is over. Anyway, everybody is supposed to act happier than they really are.
This image -- dense and confusing -- is my expression of all this.
The underelying image is a photograph of a building on Corregidor Island in the Philippines, battered in World War II. It was uploaded to the image-sharing site FlickR by the University of California (Berkeley) Geography Department. Also in this image is another Owl dingbat from Woodcutter, and the number "72" is in Woodcutter's Army (Stencil) font.
December 21, 2016
New Year I
Illustration from an October 1891 issue of the Madrid magazine Blanco y negro (Link1), apparently showing victims of a shipwreck clinging to a raft. Also, an owl symbol from a dingbat font by my typographer Woodcutter; I am considering replacing my artist signature (trilobite + safety pin) with one of those owl dingbats. The font used for "2017" is Cafeteria by typographer Tobias Frere-Jones.
Building up to New Year. Dark mood after rigged election. I may bring to an end Free-for-All public domain experiment -- after all I've been doing it since October 2012 to no great reward nor acclaim. Could do something else -- but what?. Could write an article about how I do these. Could put together a book compilation. Could do something more political, such as concentrate on abuses of government power against a free press during the Trump regime. At the very least, I will have to archive all my 2016 images and start a new 2017 page.
December 20, 2016
Attending a Colorful Opening
I and three neighbors (all members of a historic Philadelphia art group Plastic Club) went to the open house/opening of fellow member Alden Cole. Besides his visionary New Age paintings, Alden constructs "Art Lamps" -- light sculptures made of recycled glass and metal elements, re-assembled and re-wired for multi-color dazzle. They are heirlooms made from heirlooms. Here, my wife Janice and neighbor Ted are seen examining these luminous beauties in Alden's house of art and artifacts. (P.S. Alden's Art Lamps are for sale.)
December 20, 2016
Sea Serpent Attacking Sailing Ship
Cover image from the 2008 La Bestia Del Baical (Link1). The book is about a modern-day oceanographer who gets involved in a hunt for a sea monster living in Russia's Lake Baikal. The image itself is an old engraving, dating from the account of a Norwegian King Olaf.
December 18, 2016
Desperate Appeal to Electors, Meeting December 19
Philly-Bob (center) and other protesters at a small Hamilton Electors rally today, on the steps of Philadelphia's Municipal Services Building. We were calling for members of the Electoral College to vote their conscience and "stop an
unfit man from becoming President." Last I heard, there was one elector certain to change his vote, with rumors of twenty more considering it. I monitor bad-boy discussion boards such as 8chan's "Politically Incorrect" board, and, tragically, there are plenty of folks threatening extreme violence against any "faithless Elector." These are scary times.
My hope is that there will be at least some Electors changing their votes, making history and reducing Trump's claim to a mandate -- along with Clinton's 3-million vote popular vote margin and charges of foreign and domestic election-rigging.
What do you think of my homemade sign, "U NO HE'S WRONG"? It's directed at electors, but I wonder what passers-by thought?
December 17, 2016
From a post, by one of the leaders of the Election Integrity movement. Full text below:
RECOUNTS ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THEY ARE ALLOWED TO BE
The existence of paper ballots is generally touted as the ultimate backstop guaranteeing the integrity of American elections, because “if there is a problem or any doubts, those ballots can always be recounted.”
They can be — but will they be?
Now we have seen three “recounts” up close and learned that, in practice, this amounts to a false and dangerous assurance. The effort to recount these ballots, where they do exist, has been blocked, subverted, and turned into a sham in each of the three states in which it has been attempted this month.
The sheer number (and variety) of obstacles that have been thrown in the path of the recount efforts in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania begs the question: What evidence are these blockades trying to hide?
In the same spirit that Rosemary Woods managed to erase just those 18 minutes of an hours-long Nixon tape that many believe to contain the “smoking gun” about the Watergate scandal, so we are led to suspect the Election 2016 smoking guns may be in places that refuse to recount by hand — counties that destroy or prevent the creation of ballot images by scanners; states that ruleagainst recounting in precincts where ballot bag seals are broken, or the number of voters does not match the number of ballots; and states whose courts, by partisan majority, simply rule that the recount cannot go forward at all.
A combination of administrative, financial, judicial, and operational tactics were used to hamper or stymie the recount effort in each state in which it was undertaken. A few examples of these tactics:
- Refusal to hand count in Wisconsin in the very counties with the brightest forensic red flags — Outagamie, Brown, Rock, e.g., where Trump vote shares dramatically exceeded expectations.
- Determination by a Republican Wisconsin judge that state law barred her from orderinga statewide hand count despite her own preference for one as the “gold standard.”
- Fees inflated in Wisconsin from an estimated $600,000 for statewide hand recount in 2011, to $3.9 million for a less laborious mixed machine/hand count in 2016. Racine County, e.g., charging more than 50 times to count by machine what it charged for its last county-wide recount, which was done by hand.
- Suits filed to block recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan by the Trump campaign or surrogates.
- Interpretation of Pennsylvania law to mean that more than 27,000 individual petitioners had to file in more than 9,000 precincts in order to proceed with a recount at all.
- Pennsylvania state court requiring the posting of a $1 million bond by Green Party candidate Jill Stein to even consider her petition for a statewide recount.
- Michigan lower court halting the recount on the dubious legal basis that Stein can’t win (there is no such requirement in applicable state law) and that no “credible” evidence of fraud (which of course was what the recount was looking for) had been presented.
- Michigan Supreme Court affirming a lower court ruling on straight 3-to-2 party-line vote, concluding that Jill Stein is not an “aggrieved candidate.”
- Bush-appointed federal judge stating in his ruling that it “borders on the irrational” to suspect hacking occurred in Pennsylvania, where the vast majority of ballots were electronic and non-recountable, while ignoring tens of thousands of provisional (paper)ballots, which could have been recounted.
This is not the behavior of campaigns confident of the validity of their victories. Nor of administrators confident of the security and accuracy of their electoral processes. The result was a partial recount in some places and none at all in others, leaving the whole enterprise riddled with gaping holes and dark, inaccessible crevices where evidence may lie concealed.
Media coverage has ignored or soft-pedaled most of these roadblocks, misreported the actions and motives of Jill Stein, and adhered tightly to the “nothing to look at here, folks” theme. Jeffrey Toobin, writing in The New Yorker, went so far as to attribute the entire motivation for the recount to Jill Stein’s “narcissism.”
While allegations swirl about possible Russian interference in our election, the very process by which light might have been shed on such, or any, interference has been stopped in its tracks with barely a raised brow or a whimper of protest from our supposedly free press.
The recount — a major and massive effort to protect democracy by shining light on an electoral process designed for concealment — has thus far been of dubious, if not negative, value.
But the lessons learned can be invaluable:
- The American vote-counting process has been revealed as a process designed to conceal;
- Recounts and, by extension, paper ballots, unless hand counted in public on election night, are in no way sufficient to ensure the honesty, accuracy, and fidelity of that process; and
- American vote counting must, by public demand and public action, be brought into the light and made openly observable so that faith in the most fundamental of democratic processes can be restored.
Jonathan Simon is Executive Director of Election Defense Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring observable vote counting in electoral integrity. He’s also the author of Code Red: Computerized Election Theft in the New American Century.
Another account of recount shenanigans in Michigan and Wisconsin (Link2).
December 17, 2016
The Sultan's Squeeze
Treatment of an illustration from the 1683 book Türckischer Estaats- und Krieges- Bericht, oder, Eine kurtze und gründliche Beschreibung des türckischen Käysers, Grosz- und anderer Veziers, Militz, Land und Leuten, Gewonheiten, Krieges- und Lebens-Arth, Gewehr, Kleydung, and was davon ferner zu berichten nötig (Link1; Google Translate: "And a brief and thorough description of the Turks' kaisers, Grozzi, and other viziers, Militz, country and people, habits, war and life artillery, rifle, cloak, and what else to report necessary"). The book was occasioned by the Austro-Turkish War of 1663, when the Hapsburgs defeated an Ottoman army planning to take Vienna. The caption of the picture is: "Zelome Sultane," the consort of Sultan Ahmed I. The image is overlaid with a typographic ornament.
December 16, 2016
Minerals with Leaf Inset
From the 1648 Patricii Bononiensis Musaeum metallicum in libros IIII distributum (Link1: Google Translate: "Patrician Bologna Museum in metallic letters 4 distribution"), by the Italian naturalist Ulisse Androvandi, some minerals shown in the book, with an overlay of a leaf pattern.
December 15, 2016
Summer Camp Nature Walk
From a 1933 catalog, Camp Wawanock for Girls (Link1), showing a girl's summer camp in Maine, a photo of seven girls pausing on a hike. The caption reads: "It's just great to see how nature has fashioned things." The camp is still in business, charging $9300 tuition for "Seven weeks of Magic in Maine."
December 14, 2016
Misha's Head Twice
A variation of a widely-used photograph by Latvian conceptual photographer Misha Gordin. The image has risen to the level of global clip-art, appearing here in a book in a language I don't understand. Gordin's original emphasized the solitude of the screaming man. I doubled the image, so there are two screaming men.
December 14, 2016
Paths of the Universe
A wood engraving by Elizabeth Rivers (1903-1964). It appeared in her 1939 book This Man: A Sequence of Wood Engravings (Link1), a rare book discussed here.
December 13, 2016
Collage of Dutch Civic Sculptures
A collage composed of elements from a 1665 book (Link1) showcasing the work of Flemish sculptor Artus Quellinus in his Baroque ornamentation on public buildings in Amsterdam. (Long title, part Latin, part Dutch: Prima[-secunda] pars praecipuarum effigierum ac ornamentorum amplissimae curiae Amstelrodamensis : maiori ex parte, in candido marmore effectorum per Artum Quellinium, eiusdem civitatis statuarium = Het eerste[-tweede] deel van de voornaemste statuen ende ciraten vant konstrijck Stadthuys van Amstelredam ... = La premier [sic] partie de plusiers figures et ornements de la Maison de ville d'Amsterdam ...)
December 12, 2016
Visions of Apocalyptic Sugarplums
Change of pace, as I drop the pleasant escapism of the previous series. This image is an illustration for an ad in the 2009 issue of a punk music magazine, Wonka Vision (Link1), advertising an album called Paranoid Delusions | Paradise Illusions by a band called Pulling Teeth. The ad was based on the album's unusual lenticular cover art, which changes from one image to another, depending on the angle it was held. The two images are displayed below.
Technical note: the colors of the two versions are different, demonstrating the changes I put an image through, for better or worse. My color choices are somewhat less intense, more muted.
I feel like my country will soon flip from the dream of postwar American prosperity for boomers like myself to an unpredictable Trumpian nightmare for the generations to come.
December 12, 2016
Series: Roaring Twenties Glamour from the Shadowlands
Let's try a new series: Hollywood and Broadway publicity photos from the 1920's, harvested from 1921 issues of a relatively unknown magazine called Shadowlands (Link1). For list of all available Shadowlands issues, see Link2.
Also, note addition of a numeral to my artistic trilobyte/safety pin crest, to be used to indicate image of part of a series. The goal of a series is to develop a "style" appropriate to a given source/subject, which I think I did previously in the Textile Treatment series.
Turns out someone else has a fascination with the ladies of the silent screen. Someone named Miss Retro has a site called Silent Ladies.
- Photo by celebrity photographer James Abbe of Ziegfield dancer Martha Lorber (1900-1983), a frequent pin-up girl and nude model of the time.
- Photo by Roman Freulich of silent film actress Eva Novak (1898-1988), retouched as cover art by artist Leo Sielke. To me, in this picture, Novak seems, well, vacuous -- pale, rosy cheeks, red red lips -- but if you check out her biography she seems rather interesting -- playing love interest to cowboy actor Tom Mix, she learned from Mix how to do stunts, excelled at it, married a stunt man, and moved to Australia. A bit of a tomgirl, a toughness not at all visible in this portrait.
- Silent film star Norma Talmadge (1894-1957) in a promo shot for her movie Passion Flower; it is, says Wikipedia, "the story of the forbidden love of a man for his stepdaughter," Acacia (played by Talmadge), which leads to tragedy and murder. Talmadge is one of the few silent movie stars who has a following today; see her current fan website. Two technical points: (1) I toned down the color in this image because the colors interfered with the gorgeous parallels of the figure's hip and the large jar and (2) I am experimenting with flipping every image "over," i.e., horizontally; I find the effect vaguely disconcerting and threatening.
- From the January, 1921 issue of Shadowland (Link3), dancers performing in the Bacchanale (an orgiastic musical composition) from a play called Mecca: A Mosaic in Music and Mime by the Australian Oscar Asche. You can read it here. By modern standards, it is a work of "Orientalism," a demeaning Western fantasy that locates the Middle East as a place of licentious abandon -- which hardly fits the modern reality. Technical note: again, I toned down the color.
- A photo of three dancers on the stage of the traveling revue La Chauve-Souris (French: The Bat) by the Armenian impresario Nikita Balieff, known for the introducing The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers to the American musical repertoire. YouTube offers a mix of Harry Connick's performance combined with scenes from Disney's 1961 Babes in Toyland, suitable for kids.
- Photo of Gilda Gray [or "Grey"] (1901–1959), an American actress and dancer who popularized the Shimmy (see the dance on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcemYjTdvZ8). The patterned background is from the 1931 catalog Rugs of fine quality (Link4). Technical note: my art teacher reviewed this series and told me to back off on my emphasis on frames and make the series numeral less prominent.
- Subtitle of this studio photo is: "Betty Williams: One of the Piquant Personalities of 'The Midnight Frolic.'" Midnight Frolic was a production of Florenz Zi4eegfield.
- Dancer and choreographer Martha Graham in a Javanese dance interlude. At teacher's suggestion, reducing frame from 1/4 maximum dimension to 1/5. Also experimenting with selections and shapes to vary from the traditional studio photographers' compositions.
- A photo of Albertina Vitak, a Ziegfield show girl in a ballet pose. When she retired, she became a dance critic.
- Photo of Helen Grenelle.a member of the Pavley-Oukrainsky Ballet, associated with the Chicago Opera Company.
- Photo of dancer Dorothi Bok, appearing in the spectacle Aphrodite. See description here. This image is intended as the last of this series. Also intended as first of this series, in the sense that it becomes the "title page" or "cover" in any demonstration of the series -- hence, the numeral "0" in the series number on my emblem. There has been definite stylistic development here.
December 5-11, 2016
Workman Behind Window Guard
After that long, escapist, post-election series of Textile Treatments, a transitional piece, as I wonder What Next for Philly-Bob?. A picture of a workman at his workbench behind a wire windowguard, from the 1925 Wire partitions and window guards (Link1), placed against a pattern of doilies from the 1910 catalog of Frederick Herrschner (Link2), barely visible in the background.
December 4, 2016
Series: Treatments of Textile Diagrams
During this post-election gloom, hoping recounts may reverse the result, or that electors have their come-to-Jesus moment in the state electoral colleges, I spend my time in online discussion in the Election Integrity group. All with a deep sense of powerlessness.
MeanwhiIe, I am doing an apolitical series mainly based upon diagrams in a 1912 book on textile design, "Textile Design and Colour; Elementary Weave and Figured Fabrics" (Link1). The figures show various weaving and step-and-repeat techniques. Some early attempts in this series also used a 1931 collection of wallpaper samples, "79 Independent Wall Papers" (Link2), but as I continued the series, I found other methods of introducing color to the black and white textile diagrams.
These abstract, geometric -- despairing of figurative order -- works SOOTHE me in this unsettling time. It's like the camp doctor gives me crayons in between water-boardings.
November 26-December 4 , 2016
WESTERN ORPHAN GIRL & BANK NOTES
The background to this piece is an 1809 specimen page from a company that prints bank notes, Perkins Bank Notes (Link1). The foreground is a detail from movie studio promo picture, showing a little girl in frontier Western garb, looking scared, seen in the original surrounded by adults in an office. It appeared in a 1921 issue of the Dutch movie magazine Cinema en Theatre (Link2). I imagine it as a ranch foreclosure drama.
Happy Thanksgiving folks.
November 25, 2016
STUDY IN THE ESTHETICS OF CORROSION & DECAY
A combination of two illustrations from a recent textbook, Corrosion Engineering: Principles and Practice. The bottom half shows the twisted wreckage of a communications tower collapsed because of a corroded cable anchor. The top shows corrosion pits in a water jug made of silver-plated zinc.
Still reflective of my dark post-election mood -- although perhaps there is a bright spot. Perhaps repair of America's corroding infrastructure is the one thing that Trump and Democrats can agree on.
Anyway, the image is a change of pace from my recent Cuban pictures, as I prepare to leave for family Thanksgiving.
November 22, 2016
Brightening Ink Drawings, Combining with Grainy Photos
November 18, 2016
Salvaging Grainy Photos
From a half-century old issue of a post-revolution Cuban literary magazine, Lunes de Revolucion (Link1), some attempts to salvage very grainy photos into art. From left, a Cuban production of the Greek myth of Medea, an actress named Ofelia Gonzalez gestures dramatically, and a shot from a production of the story of Caligula.
November 17, 2016
An African Lappet-faced vulture from the beautifully-illustrated 2007 Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Birds (Link1). The risk to the species has recently been upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered, with around 5700 mature individuals remaining.
November 16, 2016
Images from a Cuban Post-Revolutionary Literary Journal
After Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution in 1959, the leading newspaper Revolucion published a weekly cultural supplement, Lunes De Revolucion every Monday. The production values were not great -- about the same quality as the work I did in American underground newspapers around the same time, simple ink drawings and grainy photos, not the glossy perfection of Life magazine at the same time.. I have been enjoying exploring these 50-year-old publications.
The first image is an illustration to an article -- forgive me, I don't read Spanish -- which is titled Mi Antagoniste. It seems to be a scowling, angry boy --- and is that a fist around the boy's throat?
The second image is a stage shot from a production of Jose Triana's tragedy Medea en Espejo (Link2; Translation: "Medea in The Mirror"). Here is one plot summary: "Medea in the Mirror has a lot of voodoo magic in it; Euripides' text has been greatly altered but the essence remains. In this version of Medea, we have Maria who is in love with Julian, a charming seductive Cuban. Julian abandons his black wife with her two children to marry the daughter of a successful white man. Erundina, Maria's nurse, who raised her after her mother's death, tries to get her to face the truth, but it takes voodoo spells, and a series of visions to get Maria to see the truth that Julian has abandoned her. At first Maria simply takes vengeance on the wealthy landowner and his daughter by sending them poisoned wine, but she still loves Julian and somehow believes she will win him back. Maria confronts herself and sees “Medea in the mirror”. As in Euripides' Medea, consumed by her desire for revenge, Maria murders her own children."
Note that I am experimenting with changing my signature insignia, adding or replacing the trilobye with a safety pin, as part of the post-election safety pin movement. The idea seems to be that even if an entitled rich kid who has abused women and minorities in the past won the presidential election by electoral votes, the majority of Americans (and Trump's opponent got the real majority) will not stand aside when the vulnerable are bullied. One cynic joked that it is a way for white people who didn't vote for Trump to recognize each other. You can get the same public domain safety pin picture I use here.
November 14, 2016
Seed Catalog Hyacinth Girl
An illustration to a page of hyacinth bulbs from the 1887 catalog Dreer's Bulb List (Link1) from the Philadelphia-based Henry A. Dreer Co., then located at 714 Chestnut, a location currently occupied by a Mexican restaurant. Cute, blank-eyed girl is a little too cloying for my mood these days, and I may drop the recent exploration of the horticultural engraving work of Albert Blanc in Old Philadelphia, which I've been doing since November 1. It's a different world we live in.
November 13, 2016
Indian Family Feeds a Rescued Bird
A little bit lighter fare, after the shock of the election. Perhaps my state of mind can be explained by the fact that I was watching Jumanji while working on this image, the late Robin Williams' creepy movie that tiptoes perilously between childhood games and abject adult horror.
In the background, one yellow and two pink roses from the 1928 Dreer's Garden Book (Link1), back when the seed company was at 1306 Spring Garden in Philadelphia. (The building still exists). Superimposed on the flowers is an illustration from the 2003 Indian book, Chunmun Finds Freedom (Link2; translated from the Punjabi) by India's National Book Trust, about an Indian family that rescues an injured bird.
November 12, 2016
PRICKLY PLANT FOR AN ANXIOUS HOLIDAY
My residence is having an art show with a Season's Greeting theme. I feel I should enter something, but with the election of a caddish villain to the presidency and the death of soulful, spiritual songwriter Leonard Cohen, I am not in much of a festive mood. This is the best I could come up with -- a digital treatment of a 19th century image of a cactus plant by talented Philadephia engraver Albert Blanc, set against a pattern of fracturwed stone.
Technical note: when heading is in all-caps, that means I uploaded text first to my Facebook page and then copied it to my webpage.
November 9, 2016
Reeling and Tangled and Trumped; Bernie Quote
Quick image after watching heartbreaking election results. Images are from turn-of-the-century seed and hardware catalogs -- a padlock, a hose, and piled coils of rope and pipe. Feeling of transition from surrounding color to monochrome and constrained future.
November 9, 2016
Geometric Shapes Used in Flower Illustrations from Old Seed Catalogs
Hard-working graphic artists and engravers of 100 years ago, faced with the tiresome task of producing repetitive botanical illustrations for seasonal seed catalogs, made their work interesting by introducing geometric shapes into their images. I take these old images and play with them. I enjoy the wild but purposeful profusion of plants in full flower combined with the austere simplicity of these geometric decorations, drawn with a pen, cut with a blade, or constructed from lead strips in the composing room. Some of the finest examples of these advertising images come from catalogs from a Philadelphia family's seed company, Dreer's, located in the 1902 catalog, Dreer's wholesale price : bulbs plants flower seeds, vegetable seeds, grass seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, tools, etc. (Link1) at 714 Chestnut Street.
The original is usually monochrome. Color is supplied by my digital processing.
November 2-10, 2016
Saladin's Coins, Sobbing Saint, Child Labor
November 2, 2016
Leggy, Ethereal Anime Schoolgirls
November 2, 2016
Studebaker Chassis and 12-inch Shell Press
November 2, 2016
Manicure Artifact and Cathedral Windows
November 2, 2016
Iron Furnace and Cut Patterns from File Catalogs
Files are one of humans' oldest tools, used to remove small amounts of material. Here is a composition of images from old catalogs of two American companies that once made metal files. The background image, from the 1932 catalog of Disston Saws Tools Files Knives Steel (Link1) shows "one of the electric furnaces ... that produces steel of crucible quality." Superimposed on the flames are drawings of various kinds of "cut" for files -- showing the slant and depth of the teeth that file away material. There are three file cut types illustrated, two in small rectangles, on in large circles. These are from two undated advertising booklets, Disston Bite Rite Files (Link2) and Nucut Files, Vixen Files, Heller Swiss Files Manufactured by Heller Brothers Co. (Link3). The font is, once again, Woodcutter's Rude Press.
The abstraction of this image and the arbitrary particularity of the subject were quite satisfying to me, an immersion into a private world of meaningless coincidence and accidental beauty, while the public world -- the damn election -- is so disheartening. Trump is an unacceptable risk to world peace, American democracy, and the economy. Still undecided whether I'm going to vote for the lesser of two evils -- Hillary Clinton -- or for the Green Party or write in Bernie Sanders. Will decide at last minute, if polls show Clinton safely ahead in Pennsylvania. My favored outcome: Clinton 57%, Trump 38%, Green Party 5%, which would enable the Green Party to get into 2020 debates and get federal funding. Would rather vote for Bernie, of course, but that magnificent ship has already sailed -- or should I say, been torpedoed?
November 2, 2016
Begowned Lady Mounting Cathedral Stairs
November 1, 2016
Little Girl, Teacup & Bird
October 30, 2016
World War II Wreck
The twisted wreckage of a German armored car, from the 2006 book of war nostalgia The Photo Journal Of WWII Part 3 (Link1). The caption on the picture of the vehicle, the Sd.Kfz. 231, explains that the picture is "a graphic example of the value of the thin armor on the Sd.Kfz. 231." I don't like to romanticize military violence, but I am fascinated by the jumbled cubist planes and complex broken textures of wartime ruins -- as I am also fascinated by the same features in ruins of ancient cities.
October 30, 2016
Head on Thread and Stone
In the foreground is a photo of a limestone Spanish bust dating from the 4th century B.C., known as The Lady of Elche, from a recent Italian Storica National Geographic (Link1). The statue is shown "wearing a complex headdress and large wheel-like coils (known as rodetes) on each side of the face." Discovered in 1897, there is speculation that the sculpture is a forgery; in my view, it does seem ten or so centuries ahead of its time with its Belle Epoque style -- but I'm no art expert.
Overlaid on the Iberian lady are two different textures. One is a photograph of 24 dyed threads from an undated chemical company book Diaminfarben auf Nähgarn = Couleurs diamine sur fil à coudre = Diamine colours on cotton thread (Link2). Also overlaid on her are four samples of granite from the 1935 The architectural, structural and monumental stones of Minnesota (Link3).
October 30, 2016
Russian Folk Heroine
This beautiful image is a bit of a mystery -- I am two languages away from sourcing it, dating it, or even identifying the author or illustrator. Here's the story: sometime in the midsixties, a pair of Indian Communists went to Moscow to translate old Russian books into the Indian language Malayalam. This is an illustration from one of them, TEEPAKSHI (Link1). I suspect the original book and illustrations date back 100 years or so. Since I don't read Russian or Malayalam, I can't tell you much about it. I believe it is a translation of the old, often-told Slavic folk story of the Firebird, the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and a curse to its owner. One version of the story is retold at this link. The most famous version was by Sergei Diaghilev of Ballets Russes who commissioned composer Igor Stravinsky to create the popular ballet score known as The Firebird.
October 29, 2016
Arrangement of Yarn Samples
The background is a drastic rearrangement of an image from the undated Dyeings fast to light on yarns for carpet and upholstery goods (Link1) by the coloring company Cassella Color Company. The original image showed tufts of yarn with different colors applied by different methods.
The font in the foreground is another wild Woodcutter font, Black Square. The dramatic font is difficult to read -- doubly so with the tortured spelling and syntax of the title of this book. In this phase of experimenting with text, I am sometimes using text as a simple graphic element.
October 28, 2016
Text Experiments with Woodcutter Font
Experimenting here with using text in my images. Fine artists discourage me from doing so, but I feel much of my work needs explanation, witness these rambling source notes. The text I use in these two pieces is Rude Press font by the prolific and wild Spanish artist Woodcutter. I've been a fan for years. If you can afford it, use the DaFont.com "Donate to Author" box to give Woodcutter some money in my name to spend on his vices. He's from Barcelona and his art work is disturbing and transgressive. But he's also a traditionalist at heart, check out his loving depiction of old-time signage.
There are three images here:
1. Back (and Forth) To (and From) the Future. I find Steampunk to be a suggestive tradition. Here, using some diagrams of clocks and scientific instruments from the 1895 Annales of the Czech Frantiskovy Museum (Link1), I imagine the operator's console to a time travel machine. Me, I want to go back to the time when cities gained commercial independence from feudal lords.
2. Who Am I? Who Are You?. The next is from the same source. The main point is that a person's identity is much richer and more complicated than the simple one-dimension binaries (black/white,male/female, gay/straight, etc.) that dominate current narratives, especially on campus and in politics. I am entering this image in a contest sponsored by our local frame shop.
3. Toxic Love. It has become time to take a clear stand against the misogyny and sexual predation associated with frat-lad presidential candidate Donald Trump. After decades of feminist and black challenges to traditional patriarchal and racial institutions (otherwise known as Progress), middle- and working-class white men turn to Trump to "make America great again." You can see their aggrieved anger in vicious bulletin-board targeting of outspoken women and on porn sites, in topics like Facial Abuse What's odd is that the semen-on-face fetish so prevalent on young men's websites is something that never entered my fantasies, even in my horny youth. The practice is illustrated here (delicately, I hope) by drops on a picture of a statue by Cuban artist Juan Jose Sicre from a 1949 issue of the Cuban magazine Arquitectura (Link2). It's ugly, but the hatred of women will get even uglier if America chooses Trump as president and endorses his ideas.
4. Belgian Fort Canadian Shower. At top, a freshly-scrubbed girl emerges from her shower, from a 1962 Canadian home economics book, Your Home and You (Link3). In front of her is a gun turret from Belgian defenses against German attack, which was conquered in two days by a combined glider and paratrooper attack in the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael in 1940. The image is from
the 1974 war pictorial After The Battle: Dieppe And Eben Emael (Link4).
It is overlaid on a border of a stone wall from the spiritual e-magazine The Divine Codes (Link5).
5. Dissociation of Matter Illustrations from French polymath Gustave Le Bon's 1906 book The Evolution of Matter (Link6), showing how matter (once thought to be unchanging) came apart under certain forces.
6. Overcoming Herd Instinct An illustration to a 1978 English translation of a children's book Maxim (Link7) illustrated by Vasily Shulzhenko, a talented Russian painter specializing in grim realism. As one Russian art webpage says, "It is impossible to feel indifferent toward the work of artist Vasily Shulzhenko. He is either loved or hated, praised for understanding the Russian soul or accused of hating it. The Russia his paintings depict is harsh, uncensored and grotesque beyond compare, complete with alcohol, debauchery, and stagnation." That brutality is not so evident in this image, but his technical mastery is.
October 24, 2016
Philly-Bob's Thoughts on Fashion
My travels through the public domain landscape take me to many places I don't understand: strange languages, strange subjects, and so on. One unfamiliar and confusing territory is fashion and fabric design.
On the right, from a 1962 Canadian home economics book, Your Home and You (Link1), a diagram showing how to thread a sewing machine. "You will have little trouble threading a sewing machine," the book says. But the galling thing is that I have been defeated in two frustrating attempts to thread our Singer sewing machine. I have the manual, I have watched YouTube demonstrations showing how to do it -- but I just can't combine the two threads. Millions of women, including my mother, have no problem with this. I just shrug and file the subject away under "SUBJECTS NOT MASTERED."
A related SUBJECT NOT MASTERED is dressmaker patterns, which I stare at without understanding. How do these odd blobby shapes, when sewn together, make a piece of clothing? I can never visualize the two-dimensional forms draping onto a three-dimensional woman. Anyway, on the left, in the two figures showing Greek tunics, the design is so simple and primitive that even I can understand how it works. Two styles of tunics are shown: the top is the Doric tunic, the bottom is the Ionic tunic. I wonder, however, what metal or fabric device holds together (clinches) the tunics; two clasps on the Doric, eight clasps on the Ionic. The pictures are from a 1936 Canadian social studies book The Ancient World. (Link2).
October 22, 2016
One More Reason Not to Fall
Repeating my continuing cheer of encouragement to all my friends. JUST DONT FALL. Illustration here is from a 1907 book of hunting adventures set in South Africa, Jock of the Bushveld (Link1). The book tells the story of the relationship between a young man and a dog, the runt of the litter. The heartwarming story is one of modern South Africa's most popular stories and has been made into movies, most recently in the 2011 Jock the Hero Dog (see trailer here). The image illustrates the book's account of a a hapless bird hunter who stepped on a sleeping crocodile. Moral: watch where you step. If you do fall, here is how to get up. A longer video is here.
October 22, 2016
Risky River Duty During Vietnam War
Vietnam was the war of my generation. Through various deferments, I managed to avoid service, a fact that disappointed my WWII hero father and I still feel guilty about. But many of my generation did serve and I hung out with Vietnam vets when I was active in the anti-war movement in my hometown. (Few Americans were more opposed to the war than the returning vets.) This meant I heard war stories. Some of the scariest concerned the PBRs (Patrol Boats, River) or "Swift Boats" that went up and down the brown-water rivers. The award-winning movie Apocalypse Now told the story of one river trip that disclosed the ugliness and confusion of that war -- ending, like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, with a dying man's declaration, "The horror! The horror!"
The sailors who served on the Swift Boats were defamed forever during the presidential election of 2004 when a group of so-called "Swift Boat Vets," led by Jerome Corsi,
published a book questioning the war record of Swift Boat commander John Kerry, then running for President as a Democrat. The book was debunked -- Kerry was a genuine hero. He won a Bronze and Silver Star for bravery and once ran his boat ashore to chase down a Viet Cong carrying a rocket launcher. But the damage was done. He lost the election to George W. Bush, whom many (including me) consider the worst president in modern American history.
Now, even today, the practice of making "unfair or untrue political attacks" is known as Swiftboating. The slanderers are still in business (Obama born in Kenya, Lesbian Hillary drugged for debates, etc.); if you are resistant to ugly conspiracy theories and fevered right-wing reality, take a skeptical look at militarycorruption.com and related links.
Anyway, here is a view of Vietnam river duty from the U.S. Army's 1965 A Pocket Guide to Vietnam (Link1).
October 21, 2016
Pious Schoolgirl from Goethe's Faust
From the 1898 Catalogue des tableaux de maîtres anciens et modernes des écoles flamande, française, hollandaise etc. (Link1; Google Translate: "Catalogue of old master paintings and modern of the Flemish, French, Dutch etc."), a painting by
Henri Leys. The painting is labelled "Margueritte," and by
context seems to depict the tragic maiden seduced (with the aid of the devil) in Goethe's play Faust. There are lots of online homework-helper essays on the role of Margueritte(also known as Gretchen), such as
this. It's a hell of story: Seduced Margueritte gets pregnant and murders her child and family and is slated for execution, but God welcomes her into heaven because of the purity of her love for Faust. (There may be other readings.)
Margueritte's portrait is repeated and placed against a decorative page ornament from the 1911 How to know the ferns; a guide to the names, haunts, and habits of our common ferns (Link2). The fern shown in the ornament is the Bulblet Bladder Fern.
October 20, 2016
Dutchman's Pipe and Poisonous Mushrooms
I was pleased with the look of the Oct. 9 Philly Bob's Free-for-All entry, Hottes Green Pole and Catalog Pecans. Here I follow the same simple two-layer graphic recipe: (1) a background consisting of a colored nature illustration and (2) a foreground consisting of a monochrome illustration of plants, with the colors inverted.
The background in this piece is a colored illustration of two poisonous mushrooms, Lurid Boletus and Satanic Boletus. Some Boletus mushrooms are edible, but not these two. The source is the 1902 Edible and poisonous mushrooms : what to eat and what to avoid (Link1).
The foreground shows the flowers and leaves of an Aristolochia Ringens plant, known as the "Dutchman's Pipe" for its resemblance to old-fashioned Meerschaum pipes, seen in the bulbuos shape in the lower left corner. It is from the 1902 Vergleichende morphologie der pflanzen (Link2; Google Translate: "
Comparative morphology of plants").
October 19, 2016
Woman in Winter Coat Examines Nude Sculpture
One of the darker places in the Public Domain landscape is an online collection of German books and magazines from the Nazi era. The ideology is objectionable and the human toll of the events those ideas produced is heartbreaking. As my WWII European-theatre vet father said, "The United States may have signed a peace treaty with the Nazis, but Charlie Moore never did!" The Fraktur typography of that era is often unreadable to the modern eye. But the quality of the monochrome photography is often high. Here is a photo from a 1942 book called Hitlerjugend - Das Erlebnis einer großen Kameradschaft (Link1; Google Translate: "Hitler Youth - The experience of a large fellowship"). The propaganda book, seeking to demonstrate the high cultural level in the wartime Reich, shows a woman in a fur coat and fashionable hat leaning forward to study a large statue of a naked girl.
October 18, 2016
Dancer before Ferns
In the background, two drawings of ferns from the 1879 The ferns of North America. Colored figures and descriptions, with synonymy and geographical distribution, of the ferns (including the Ophioglossaceæ) of the United States of America and the British North American possessions (Link1). A book filled with lovely color drawings.
In the foreground, dancer Mary Kissel as she appeared in the 1922 operetta The Rose of Stamboul. The picture was on the cover of a 1922 issue of Broadway periodical Pantomime (Link2). Kissel was a member of a dance troupe called the Gertrude Hoffman Girls. When the troupe appeared in France, surrealist Paul Eluard wrote this poem to them:
Les Gertrude Hoffman Girls
Gertrude, Dorothy, Mary, Claire, Alberta,
Charlotte, Dorothy, Ruth, Catherine, Emma,
Louisa, Margaret, Ferral, Harriet, Sarah,
Nude Florence, Margaret, Thelma and Toots:
Night-birds, fire-birds, rain-birds all,
Trembling heart, hidden hands, and eyes to the wind,
You show me the movements of light;
You exchange a clear glance for the spring,
The turn of your waist for the whorl of a flower,
Boldness and danger for your shadowless flesh;
You trade love for the thrills of a sword flash
And welling laughter for the promise of dawn.
Your dances are the frightening gulf of my dreams
And I sink and my fall makes eternal my life,
The space beneath your feet grows vast and vaster;
Marvels, you dance upon the springs of the sky!
October 18, 2016
Six Views of One of Botticelli's Three Graces
An arrangement of a woman's head, the middle of the "Three Graces" seen to the left of Sandro Botticelli's painting Primavera ("Spring"); the full painting is on the right. The 1482 painting is described as "one of the most popular paintings in Western Art." The detail of the superbly-coiffed head appears in the 1922 Malerei der Renaissance in Italien (Link1; Google Translate: "Renaissance painting in Italy").
The six variations of the head are anachronistically placed in sample slide templates presented in the 1931 Making Titles And Editing Your Cine Kodak Films(Link2). The names of the slide designs are (clockwise from top left) "soft pastel," "gayly colored fantastic," "softly colored sunset," "deeply colored Moorish tile," "modernistic," "rich stained glass."
October 17, 2016
Kazakh Boy in War
In the center, is the face of a boy, a sepia ink drawing from the Kazakhstan travel journal of exiled Ukrainian artist and poet Taras Shevchenko. It appear in a 2002 edition of The Journal of Ukrainian Studies (Link1). The drawing is captioned "Katia the Kazak." The boy holds a decorated box or brazier (right). Around the boy's face is the plan of a military fort from the 1684 Les travaux de Mars, ou, L'art de la guerre: divisé en trois parties: avec un ample détail de la milice des Turcs, tant pour l'attaque que pour la deffence (Link2; Google Translate: "The work of Mars, or, The art of war: divided into three parts: with ample detail of the militia of the Turks, both for that attack for defence."). At the bottom of the picture is a battle scene from the same book, which seems to show soldiers mixed with ranchers and farmers. The wavy background is a pattern from an undated book of crafts and decoration Album seni budaya Aceh (Link3: Google Translate: "Album art and culture of Aceh"). Aceh is a province of Indonesia.
October 16, 2016
Bandaged Patient in Tool Catalog
The orange color and underlying graphics are from the cover of a 1929 catalog Good Tools Since 1836: Heller Brothers Co. (Link1). The overlying pattern is a detail taken from one of Heller's tools, a "chain wrench" used to hold or turn pipes -- repeated and flipped four times. (The catalog calls it a "cantilever wrench"). Heller, of Newark, NJ, eventually moved to Ohio. It stayed in business until 1955, when it was sold to Simonds International.
The figure inserted five time is a diagram from an 1867 book of medical techniques, Mechanical therapeutics: a practical treatise on surgical apparatus, appliances, and elementary operations (Link2), showing a young girl with a long, winding bandage on her shoulder (scapula).
October 15, 2016
Dr. Kinsey and Kenneth Anger visit Aleister Crowley Villa
There is an American conservative writer named Judith Reisman who has gone on a campaign to debunk modern sex education and, especially, the "pansexual" results of Alfred Kinsey, the 1940's sex researcher. Here is a remarkable photo from Reisman's 2003 book Kinsey: Sex and Fraud, Crimes And Consequences (Link1). It shows Kinsey, left, visiting avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger at the Sicilian home of deceased occultist Aleister Crowley, depicted in a photograph hanging on the wall, at center. Anger spent a summer there removing the whitewash that Benito Mussolini had ordered applied over Crowley's sexually explicit and occult wall murals. Reisman uses the photo to argue the influence of Satanism and sexual deviancy over American education. One thing for sure: the photo is dramatically lit.
October 12, 2016
Victorian Revery on Greek Dancers
Ooops. This image is composed of three pictures from an 1894 issue of Aglaia : the journal of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union (Link1). Unfortunately, after I did the image, I noticed that it was marked "Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0" (See explanation here). I'm cool with the attribution and I get no money from it. But unquestionably, it is a derivative of the original images, and according to that license, "if you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material." So I hereby withdraw it. So please don't copy or redistribute it. Look at the Source, however. It is an interesting document. The publisher, Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, was a radical movement in its time.
October 12, 2016
All Saws: Rip, Cross-Cut, Coping
This is one of those abstract periods in my life, when I'm more interested in pattern, composition, and color than in meaning and context. Here, for instance, is an image composed solely of four illustrations from a 1916 catalog of Saws Knives Files Steel(Link1) from Simonds Manufacturing Company of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. My father was a Junior High Woodshop teacher. I remember well the sweet smell and soft texture of sawdust -- back in the days before they used sawdust to make "wood product" for cheap particle board furniture. "Particle board is cheaper, denser and more uniform than conventional wood and plywood and is substituted for them when cost is more important than strength and appearance." (Wikipedia)
October 10, 2016
Esoteric Symbols and A Surgeon's Knot
I find the fertile imaginations of occultists and spiritualists fascinating, although I don't believe much of what they believe. Their extravagant simplifications -- for example, Earth/Air/Fire/Water, or Soul/Matter -- can be useful and stimulating, but they are not a solid foundation for navigating the modern world.
In this imager, the background is a chart of magical icons from the 1910 El Simbolismo Hermetico (Link1), a book explaining the many symnbols and icons of
hermeticism. Hermeticism is the "religious, philosophical, and esoteric tradition based primarily upon writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus." The book's subtitle says it includes a discussion of the symbols' relationship to Freemasonry and Alchemy. The background image contains everything from a bare-breasted mermaid to a fist squeezing water from a stone, plus zodiac symbols. The text is Spanish; an English-language version of similar material is Manly P. Hall's 1928 Secret Teachings of All Ages.
In the left is a large commanding figure of a woman with sword and quill pen, apparently a stock printer's ornament (Link2).
In the middle, seemingly entwined around the woman's arm, is a simple slip-knot from the 1867 Mechanical therapeutics: a practical treatise on surgical apparatus, appliances, and elementary operations (Link3).
Link2 Source NA
October 9, 2016
Hottes Green Pole and Catalog Pecans
In the foreground, in white, is a 1954 drawing by Alfred C. Hottes of a Parkinsonia plant, a desert variety of pea known also as Palo Verde ("Green Pole"). The drawing is from a 1954 issue of California Garden (Link1). Hottes was a horticulturalist at Ohio State who moved to California when he retired and did marvelous plant drawings. I previously discussed Hottes' work on Free for All, in postings on December 29 and 30, 2013.
The drawing is superimposed on a chart of pecan varieties from a colorful 1920 catalog by Florida-based Glen Saint Mary Nurseries Company (Link2). Wikipedia says that "Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated major crops. Although wild pecans were well known among the colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s." The catalog's text says that, at that time (1920), demand for the nut far exceeded supply.
What is the purpose of these bibliographical notes? Besides citing sources (and thus acknowledging the artists and craftspeople of the public domain past), they are an attempt to move beyond the "pretty picture" of art into the more complicated but equally fascinating world of history, economics, and human achievement. These notes also express my pleasure in writing English prose. Someday, when I grow up, I want to be a writer.
October 9, 2016
A Repost: San Francisco de Assis
From the December 1924 issue of the Cuban magazine Social, a painting of St. Francis of Assisi by Mexican artist Garcia Cabral. The subject and the artist's treatment are so devout that I present a respectful treatment of the black-and-white original.
August 6, 2016
October 4, 2016
Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi in the Roman Catholic calendar, and to honor it, my neighbor and friend Tony ("Two-Canes") Macchia and I collaborated on what we used to call a "holy card" in my Catholic childhood. We printed a small card -- about the size of a playing card -- with the Cabral painting on the front, and two texts on the back: (1) a simple prose appreciation by an atheist (me) and (2) a poem by a deeply devoted Catholic (Tony). Our own ecumenical gesture.
Francis of Assisi is an admirable historical figure, a 13th-century Italian monk who turned away from the violence of the Crusades, devoted his life to the poor, and advocated respect for all living things. He traveled to Egypt to negotiate for peace during the Crusades. Our current Pope is the first to choose that name.
— Bob Moore
Francesco is one of us.
Pitched his tent
in the Cloud of Unknowing.
The Source of Pure Love that
transforms every Wolf of Gubbio
frees every Turtle Dove of Siena
embraces every Leper
blesses every Sultan
heals every Heart
cherishes every Brother Juniper
creates Cosmos out of every Chaos.
Ah! St. Francis, walk with us!
— Tony Macchia
Francis' most significant contribution to modern culture is probably his Canticle of the Sun.
Just Dont Fall, Friends II
My continuing plea to one and all: Just Dont Fall. The image is a Gothic staircase from Antwerp, from an 1842 edition of the architectural magazine The Builder (Link1). The text is in Antar techno font by Andrew Young of Disaster Fonts.
October 4, 2016
SHOW BIZ: Wartime Pinups, Silent Movie Lesbians, Abandoned Projects, Mirrors, Etc.
My work routine on Philly-Bob's Free-for-All project is to harvest images from the latest files uploaded to the public domain and then process them into digitally-manipulated images, along with explanatory prose citing the sources. The subject matter of my output varies according to the public domain input. Well, it just so happens that the Media History Digital Library recently uploaded a lot of film magazines from the early days of cinema -- 60 to 100 years ago -- to the public domain. So I will be doing Show Biz for a while -- the manufactured glamour of yesteryear's photogenic faces. Any pretension at seriousness and high art hereby disappear. I have contempt for cultural critics who gossip with such urgency on the doings of today's transitory celebrities like the Kardashians -- but allow myself to do the same in retrospect.
First is a studio publicity shot of Lynn Bari from a 1939 studio magazine, 20th Century-Fox Dynamo (Link1), announcing her casting in The Return of the Cisco Kid. The actress never made it to the top tier of American movie stars, but she did rank high as a World War II pin-up, second only to Betty Grable. She was given the nickname The Woo Woo Girl and, when asked about it, said "The audiences, the public, continue to remember me, and what greater accolade can an actress get?" You can watch Bari play a femme fatale nurse to Vincent Price's murderous psychiatrist in the 1946 film noir Shock. Bari died at the age of 75.
Next is a photo of silent-film actress Grace Darmond from a 1917 Photoplay (Link2). The image has the characteristic white ink border of silent film titles. Darmond was not able to make the transition to "talkies." Darmond was said to be the lesbian lover of actress Jean Acker, the first wife of actor Rudolph Valentino, and was associated with the "sewing circles" (lesbian social groups) of Russian actress Alla Nazimova. Today's openness about homosexuality certainly makes history more interesting; witness the account of Acker abandoning Valentino on their wedding night and going to Darmond's house to declare her love. Darmond died at the age of 69.
Next from a lavishly-produced 1929 Radio Pictures Exhibitors Book (Link3), an illustration for a planned movie, "tentatively titled" Sensation. As far as I can tell the movie was never produced. The description is breathtaking proto-feminism: "The drama they dared not write ... until today. Woman's heart!... Woman's soul!... Woman's flesh...her own at last....no longer the pawn of puny man!... Unshackled... she plants her feet on the checkerboard of life and moves whither? ALL DIALOG... AND A WORLD OF WOMEN WAITING TO HEAR IT!" [Punctuation as in original]
Next three actresses combined in one image. Seated in the foreground in the checkered dress is English actress Ann Todd (1909-1993), from a June 1946 Pictures (Link4). Behind Todd, on the left, is character actress Helen Jerome Eddy (1897-1990), from a 1918 issue of Photoplay World (Link5); and behind Todd on the right is silent film actress and fashion icon Valeska Suratt (1882-1962), from a 1917 issue of Photoplay Journal (Link6).
In the next row, the first image is a silent-movie actress Dorothy Dalton, sitting before a folding mirror, examining her face in a hand mirror -- three (or is it four?) variations of the same motif. The image is from a 1917 Photoplay magazine (Link7). The scene is combined with color samples from Sears Interior/Exterior Acrylic Enamels (Link8).
Second image in that row features a circular portrait of silent movie actress Emmy Wehlen from a 1918 issue of Photoplay World (Link9). She is displayed against (top) two ornamental panels consisting of a sketch based on the hawthorn plant, from an 1842 issue of The Builder (Link10) and (bottom) a slab of stone decorated with a "vermiculated" (worm-eaten) pattern from the 1921 Building Stone: Foundations-Masonry (Link11).
Next, a portrait of lesser-known silent-film actress Jean Downs (Link9) set against a decorative window from The Builder (Link10).
October 1, 2016
JDF: Up and Down Spiral Stairway
From an 1842 edition of The Builder (Link1), an image of a double spiral staircase. The design allows both "ascent and descent without chance of meeting or collision," suitable for crowded shops or coffee houses. This one is decorated with a waist-high drape.
I use the stairway image (as I often do in my JDF series) to illustrate a continuing wish for all my friends and readers: Just Dont Fall.
The slogan appears at the bottom, in a 2012 Antar techno font by Andrew Young of Disaster Fonts. Young, from Manchester, England, says his fonts are "inspired mostly by the fascinating interface between dystopian and utopian science fiction. [They use] forms based on actual and imagined computer technology from the late 1960s." See Young's weird collection of inspirations at his Radiant Suicide Tumblr site.
Anyway, the message should be clear. You can embark on any madcap, romantic adventure that you so desire, live your life as you wish, enjoy (and even overdo) all the sensual and mental pleasures our human nature offers. But (especially at my age, when the bones become like porcelain china) Just Dont Fall. If you do, you enter a world of hurt and rubbing alcohol, a grim place where you are a helpless, bed-ridden, child-like patient, dependent on others.
Just Dont Fall.
September 30, 2016
Nazi Lymph Nodes, Rocking Chair Photo, Psuedoscience
The deep background, barely visible, is a unattributed refraction photo used by author David Hatcher Childress to illustrate the "geometrized light energy" nature of the material universe. Above that is an unattributed illustration of astronomer's tools (with astrolabe, telescope and map) also from Childress' book, Anti-Gravity and the World Grid (Link1). Childress describes himself as a "rogue archeologist." Others describe him (and I agree) as a "psuedoscientist." See his webpage for a sense of the range of his imaginative "explorations."
The small photo in the lower right is from the photographic library of the English community of East Reading at Flickr.com, labelled "Girl on rocking horse circa 1900.
Taken in or around Beverley, East Yorkshire in the early 20th century by an unknown professional photographer." (Link2)
Finally, in the foreground, is an anatomical chart of the lymphatic system of a young woman, from the Nazi health manual Reichsjugendführung - Mädel im Gesundheitsdienst (2. Auflage 1941) (Link3; Google Translate: "Reich Youth Leadership - Girl in Health Care (2nd edition 1941)")
September 29, 2016
English-language Koran for Kids
This image is a collage of illustrations from a series of children's books retelling the stories of the Koran and other Islamic traditions. Thirteen of these books are collected as Kids' Book Series - Quran Stories (Link1). The books retell many of the stories from the Christian bible, but with a twist. For instance, Eve's malignant role in the Garden of Eden story is reduced: she is not produced from Adam's rib but simultaneously with Adam, and the couple together are persuaded by Satan to taste the Forbidden Fruit, not Eve alone. The series' watercolor illustrations are well done -- although it is jarring that there are no depictions of people.
The series was published by Indian television host and children's author Saniyasnain Khan, son of Islamic scholar Wahiduddin Khan. The two seem to represent a more moderate branch of Islam and are associated with the Center for Peace and Spirituality, which published, for instance, the son's article refuting the basis used by radicals to decree death as a punishment for blasphemy. See also the father's article denying that jihad means war.
Sadly, one Islamic group has issued a fatwa against the two on doctrinal grounds; see page 4 of the linked PDF, calling for a boycott of the books. You can buy the books here.
September 28, 2016
Celebratory Bonfire, Sennett Swimsuit Cuties
An odd and probably incomprehensible combination of images, more of a dream scene than a purposeful illustration, despite the realism.
In the foreground, from the photographic library of the English community of East Reading at Flickr.com, a picture (Link1) of citizens standing by a pile of scrap logs and barrels meant for a bonfire. The caption explains "Relief of Mafeking bonfire," apparently celebrating the end of the 217-day Siege of Mafeking when English troops were encircled during the Second Boer War in Africa.
Above the woodpile and behind it, incongruously, is a publicity collage of silent film comedian Mack Sennett's bathing beauties, from a 1920 Mack Sennett's Weekly (Link2).
September 27, 2016
Silent Movie Eyes on Russian Decoration
The frame is a decorative design from a book illustration by Russian artist Ivan Bilibin, found in a 1905 children's book Tsar Saltan (Link1; the Cyrillic original is unreadable). Bilibin was a superb illustrator and set designer, working in Russia, Paris, and Germany. He died during the 900-day German Siege of Leningrad and was buried in a mass grave.
Peeking through (and around) the design are the eyes of silent-movie actress Ethel Clayton from the cover of a 1914 Movie Pictorial magazine (Link2).
September 26, 2016
Mystery Yorkshire Child with Stucco & Colonial China
The English community of East Riding recently uploaded its photographic library to the Flickr.com community archives. One of the images was this unidentified girl, looking a bit haunted, in a photo identified as Girl in Studio 1900 (Link1). Her image is placed with a photo of a corner cupboard filled with china from a Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, in a 1902 book called The New Industrialism (Link2), all set upon a background of stucco patterns from 1925 Straub cinder building blocks (Link3).
September 26, 2016
Cache of Rings Discovered in Wall
From a jeweler's advertisement in a May 1915 Movie Pictorial (Link1), a selection of diamond rings, placed upon a hole knocked into a brick wall from a 1925 Straub cinder building blocks (Link2). For some reason, the bricks are marked with letters and numbers. In the lower right, there is an "Easter Egg," a barely visible visual element -- a Henri Cartier-Bresson photo of 16-year-old factory girl -- from an article on "The New Nation Of Indonesia" that appeared in a 1950 issue of Life Magazine (Link3).
September 25, 2016
Movie Ads Competing for 1920's Eyeballs
In the 1920's, movie theatres were a major cultural institution and big business. They advertised their offerings in tiny display advertisements on crowded newspaper "Movies" listings. These combined locally-produced type with graphic material from studio-produced "press books." An article in the January 1927 Moving Picture World (Link1) discusses how to make an ad stand out among all the others, and provided these eight examples of well-designed advertisements. For instance, consider this discussion of the Flaming Forest ad, second from top in the far right column: "The line between the white and black [in the background] is too abrupt without excuse for such abruptness. As a rule so sharp a line of demarcation should be covered by rule work, and where rule would be out of place, the line should be broken up."
The technical design talk is still instructive 90 years later, although the lingo ("rule work?") is dated.
September 21, 2016
A young woman with a tray of tea and sandwiches from the 1935 Les délices de l'hôtesse (Link1), a cookbook from Colman Mustard in Montreal. Behind her, a pattern of bricks from the 1929 Plain and fancy brickwork (Link2).
September 20, 2016
Turn-of-the-Last-Century Photo Gear
From a 1909 German catalog of photography and light projection technology, Die Projektions-Kunst (Link1; Google Translate: "The Projection Art"), three images show a man running a "magic lantern" projector displaying a bouquet on a wall (top) and two of the color slides (bottom) that make up the projected bouquet. In the center, from the same catalog, two components of a
a panoramic projection setup: top, a set of projectors arranged in a circle; just below it, the circular image for projection onto a curved screen.
Next image, some magic lantern slides, placed on a picture of a ruined wartime troop transport from __ (Link2) and with a picture of a lady's leg surrounded by bubbles from ____ (Link3).
September 22, 2016
Misc: Molecules, Sorrows of Satan, Lya II, SpecCanal, Cache of Rings
September 20, 2016
Astronomer Discovers Six Lunar Phases
On the right, an astronomer looks through his telescope from a 1930 Popular Science (Link1). To his left, at top, six buttons or broaches from a book of Austrian art and decoration (Link2). Below that, a maid carrying hot, steaming tea upon a serving tray from a 1933 Canadian Starch Co. cookbook, The New Edwardsburg recipe book (Link3). All placed upon a sample of wallpaper from the 1947 Montgomery Ward wallpaper book (Link4).
Link2: Book identity NA
September 20, 2016
Occasionally, I go Goth -- death-obsessed, dark, melodramatic. OMG, folks, I'm going to die, isn't everything beautiful?. This is one of these pieces, after my cardiologist noticed some unusual glitches on my EKG that could indicate a condition where the sac surrounding the heart fills with fluid. The Wikipedia illustration of the condition is in the center, upon a strip of EKG tape. The background of the whole scene is a sample of children's room wallpaper from the 1947 Montgomery Ward wallpaper book (Link1). In the lower right is romantic "genre painter" Federico Andreotti's painting of a young woman wiping her tears (and apparently squeezing her tit) as her lover rides away. The picture is from an 1853 edition of Die Gartenlaube; illustrierte Familienblatt (Link2: Google Translate: "The gazebo; Illustrated Family Journal").
My EKG reading turned out to be a false positive. Which doesn't mean I'm not going to die or that I don't get to go Goth and melodramatic every once in a while!
September 18, 2016
Three images from a 1933 Canadian Starch Co. cookbook, The New Edwardsburg recipe book (Link1): a fashionable lady wheels out a dessert cart against a background of pancakes and syrup (top) and pineapple and cheese salad (bottom).
September 18, 2016
Hitler Girl Scouts
There was a girl's division of the Hitler Youth during World War II, the Jungmadelbund, for girls 10-14. A 1934 children's book Ursel und ihre Mädel (Link1; Translation: "Ursel and Her Maiden") romanticized the group's activities. Here are two of the illustrations from that book. They are placed on a background of a wallpaper from the 1947 Montgomery Ward wallpaper book (Link2). There are collections of photos of the young girls exercising in their gym clothes. See The Male Gaze. What is especially poignant is the cheery, pig-tailed kids know nothing of the grim futures ahead for them in a defeated Germany. The second image represents an experiment with the Gimp Stencil filter.
September 17, 2016
Ladies Teatime over Hinges & Hieroglyphics
Ladies having tea in an elegantly appointed living room, from a 1938 Life (Link1). The product being sold is the now-unfashionable coffee table with lyre-shaped legs. The lady sitting reminds me of my mother when she would get dressed up.
The image is placed upon an illustration for an article on the proper selection of door hinges, from a 1930 issue of Popular Science (Link2) overlaid with Egyptian hieroglyphics from the 1852 Briefe aus Aegypten, Aethiopien und der Halbinsel des Sinai : geschrieben in den Jahren 1842-1845, während der auf Befehl Sr. Majestät des Königs Friedrich Wilhelm IV von Preussen ausgeführten wissenschaftlichen Expedition (Link3: Google Translate "Letters from Egypt Ethiopia and the peninsula of Sinai : written in the years 1842-1845 , during the on command of His Majesty the King Frederick William IV of Prussia executed scientific expedition").
Next image, a reworking of the same material, with a stray thought in Cafeteria, which is a nice-looking font whose designer got ripped off by his bosses.
Third image, a simplification, with just the hinges and the hieroglyphics, more abstract, with no comprehensible or relatable focal figure (or "hero" as teacher Alice Meyers-Wallace refers to it). This represents a rethinking -- naturally accompanied by self-doubt. Here's how I explained it on my Facebook page: "HINGES, HIEROGLYPHICS -- NO HERO
The general pattern of my work is to have a complicated background, upon which I place a focus element -- a "hero" as one teacher called it. A foreground. The recognizable identifiable foreground figure was the viewer's comfortable anchor in each piece. In this one, after a couple failed attempts at a foreground (you can see the results on my website), I decided to eliminate the heroic foreground and be satisfied with the inherent interest of the abstract background."
September 15, 2016
A European Refugee from Religious War
An illustration from a Dutch account of the 17th century adventures of Francois Leguat, born into a Protestant (Huguenot) family in France. In 1689, he fled Catholic persecution to Holland, In 1690, he set out with nine companions in a small frigate to found a colony for co-religionists on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Many adventures and discoveries ensued; he documented several species that are now extinct, including a giant tortoise and a bird related to the Dodo bird. Leguat survived the maritime hazards, imprisonment, shore-side brawls, and various legal and political troubles. He finally returned to Europe, and died in London in his 90's. Again, my fervent hope is that the refugees from the complicated Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict in the Middle East will find a way to prosper and contribute as Leguat (and the Puritans in America) survived flight from the complicated Catholic-Protestant sectarian conflicts in Europe.
The full title of the 1708 Dutch edition of Leguat's story is: De gevaarlyke en zeldzame reyzen van den heere François Leguat met zyn byhebbend gezelschap naar twee onbewoonde Oostindische eylanden. Gedaan zedert den jare 1690, tot 1698 toe. Behelzende een naukeurig verhaal van hunne scheepstocht; hun tweejaarig verblijf op het eylandt Rodrigue, en hoe wonderlyk zy daar af gekomen zijn: als meede, de wreede mishandelingen door den gouverneur van Mauritius; hun driejaarig bannissement op een rots in zee; en hoe zy door ordre der Compagnie t'Amsterdam, buyten verwagting, daar afgehaald en naar Batavia gevoerd wierden (Link1: Google Translate "The gevaarlyke and rare reyzen of the lord François Leguat with ZYN byhebbend company to two uninhabited Indian Eylanden . zedert done the jare 1690, up to 1698 . Law claiming a naukeurig story of their ship's journey ; tweejaarig their stay at Eylandt Rodrigue and how wonderlyk she be there come off if mead, the cruel abuses by the Governor of Mauritius; their driejaarig bannissement on a rock in the sea ; and how she ordre by the Company t'Amsterdam , buyten verwagting since picked up and fed mounds to Batavia").
September 9, 2016
Some Variations on Stencil Designs
Was excited to run across a catalog of stencils, Stencils for 1937 created by Stencil Specialty Co,. Inc. (Link1) and am experimenting with those designs.
On the far left, a set of stencils for a nursery or children's bedroom, set against a large rock containing nummulite fossils, from the 1868 The ocean world : being a descriptive history of the sea and its living inhabitants (Link2). The rock is placed upon a background of a stained glass pattern found in Salisbury Cathedral, from the 1880 Suggestions in design : being a comprehensive series of original sketches in various styles of ornament : arranged for application in the decorative and constructive arts (Link3).
Next, against a background composed of a repetitive pattern from the stencil book, barely visible, is an illustration of a bearded man hypnotizing a woman from the 1847 L'art de magnétiser; ou, Le magnetisme animal considéré sous le point de vue théorique, pratique et thérapeutique (Link4; Google Translate: "The art of magnetizing ; or the animal magnetism considered from the theoretical point of view, practical and therapeutic"). The couple is placed upon a metal shield from the 1894 Album hervorragender Gegenstände aus der Waffensammlung des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses (Link5: Google Translate: "Album outstanding items from the collection of weapons of the highest imperial family").
Third in line, a variation on a single stencil pattern.
Next row, a stencil pattern forms the background and a stencil figure of a boy blowing bubbles. The bubble-blowing boy is superimposed on a monstrous sea creature from Link2. To the right, an illustration of a torch-lit funeral ceremony from the 1682 Des decorations funebres : ou il est amplement traité des tentures, des lumieres, des mausolées, catafalques, inscriptions & autres ornemens funebres; avec tout ce qui s'est fait de plus considerable depuis plus d'un siecle, pour les papes, empereurs, rois, reines, cardinaux, princes, prelats, sçavans & personnes illustres en naissance, vertu & dignité (Link6; Google Translate: "Of funeral decorations : either he is amply treated drapes, lights , mausoleums , catafalques , registration & other ornaments funeral with all that has been more considerable for over a century , to the popes , emperors , kings, queens , cardinals, princes , prelates , sçavans & famous people born under & dignity").
Next image is a composition of stencil babies playing at war with toy swords and a broomstick horse, with a tinted stencil border. Meanwhile, ominously, above them, flipped upside down, a grisly scene of a 13th century crusaders marching past casualties in a ditch in Stedingen. The Stedingen Crusade was waged against European peasants who did not defer to the Pope. The image is from a 1936 German almanac, Ludendorffs Verlag - Tannenberg-Jahrweiser 1936 (Link6; Google Translate: "Ludendorff Publisher, Tannanberg Year-Wise 1936"). The grisly image is overlaid on a church's vaulted ceiling from the 1897 Czech Soupis památek historických a uměleckých v Královstvi českém od pravěku do polovice XIX. stoleti (Link7; Google Translate: "Inventory of historical monuments and art in the Czech kingdom from prehistory to the mid XIX century")
September 10, 2016
The Four Elements of Human Physiology
The Four "Humors" of ancient (and inaccurate) medical science, from an 1850 collection of prints, Die fliegenden Blätter des XVI. und XVII. Jahrhunderts, in sogenannten Einblatt-Drucken, mit Kupferstichen und Holzschnitten (Link1; Google Translate: "The flying leaves of the XVI . and XVII . Century , in the so-called single-sheet printing, with engravings and woodcuts"). The theory is discredited but it lives on in our language. Choleric means quick to anger, Sanguine means optimistic or hopeful, Melancholic means depressed, Phlegmatic means "an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition" -- although I don't know how that fits with the vomiting man in the illustration.
September 9, 2016
Monthly Headings, Color Samples, Rosary Hour
I was drawn to the headings for monthly listings from a 1936 German almanac, Ludendorffs Verlag - Tannenberg-Jahrweiser 1936 (Link1; Google Translate: "Ludendorff Publisher, Tannanberg Year-Wise 1936") and assembled those headings into the left-hand image. The headings are combined with color samples from the 1896 A grammar of colouring : applied to decorative painting and the arts (Link2). However, when I examined the finished image, I saw that in assembling the headings, I duplicated two -- and missed two. So the next day, I found the two monthly headings I missed and used them to make the right hand image, in a composition with a painting (La Hora del Rosario; Google Translate: "The Rosary Hour") from a 1919 issue of the Cuban magazine Arquitectura (Link3). I like the nun on the far left -- who has a piercing look.
September 8, 2016
Medieval Balkan Tombstones
During the 1960's, art historian Marian Wenzel traveled through the Balkans, documenting carvings on the tombstones of the area. She published her work in the 1965 Ukrasni Motivi na Stecima: Ornamental Motifs on Tombstones from Medieval Bosnia (Link1). This image combines two views from this book. In the background are carvings showing a biological motif, especially trees; in the foreground are two larger tombstones that combine a cross with a crescent -- signifying perhaps the combination of Christian and Islamic influences in the region.
One of the conclusions of Wenzel's research was to downplay the influence of the beliefs of Bogomilism on the Bosnian people. Bogomilism was declared a "heresy" by the established Roman Catholic Church and various Popes authorized crusades against adherents.
The Church's persecution of heretical beliefs was the narrative center of the popular The Da Vinci Code movie. In 2006, a Macedonian team of movie makers released a similar movie, Tajnata Kniga (The Secret Book), following religious mysteries through a war-torn Yugoslavia. I watched it on YouTube and enjoyed it. Watch it here, with dialogue in French with English subtitles. Read a critic's discussion of the two films here.
September 6, 2016
Lighting, Luck, Old Stuff
A composition of four images placed upon the blurred background of a diagram for a card trick from a 2013 Spanish-language magazine of magic, El Manuscrito 25 (Link1); note the Ace of Spades in the top left and bottom right corners.
The first imposed image, far left, is a photo from a June 1933 issue of The American Cinematographer (Link2). The photo is meant to illustrate lighting techniques for indoor studio work; the subject is not identified. Note the backlit hair, the expressive hands, her bemused expression.
Next to her is what seems to be a crowded table in a museum displaying Roman treasures of carved stone, silver, clay, and bronze, from the 1886 Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild (Link3; Google Translate: "The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Words and Picture"). There is a Latin inscription on the table that I can''t translate, something about somebody's grandfather fulfilling a vow to an emperor.
Inset above and below that picture are two ornate iron window grates from Meersburg, shown in the 1887 Die Kunstdenkmäler des Grossherzogthums Baden (Link4; Google Translate: The monuments of the Grand Duchy of Baden ).
Happy Labor Day, everybody. Union membership has declined drastically in the United States; labor unions represented 20% of workers in 1973, only 7% in 2013. Decline is linked to economic inequality, lousy job market, phony "Free Market" rhetoric from Ayn Rand libertarians.
September 5, 2016
Islamic Holy Site
Two images combined from a Saudi Arabian government English-language pamphlet Hajj and Umrah Guide (Link1), written for travelers to the holy city of Mecca on either the Hajj (the mandatory pilgrimage on a specified date, Sept. 9-14 this year), or the Umrah (the non-mandatory pilgrimage without a set time). Prominent in the circular inset in the image is the Kaaba, the black, cubic temple at the center of the site. It turns out that the Kaaba was a holy site long before Muhammad (570-632) declared it so; there are Greek sources who mention it seven centuries before. It is an interesting dynamic to watch the interplay between radical Islamic ISIS and the Saudi caretakers of Mecca. Isis in the past has destroyed ancient religious sites and in there are unsubstantiated reports that an ISIS leader had threatened to "kill those who worship stones" at the Kaaba. Only 42-feet square, the temple is an easy target; hold on to your hats if anyone hits it, whether it is a genuine act or a false flag provocation!
September 4, 2016
Looking at 1933 issues of the magazine The American Cinematographer, we see some early developments in movie-making technology. On the left side of the picture, from a June issue (Link1), a photo of an Edison-Mazda movie light, headlined "When 1/5000ths of a drop is a FLOOD", touting the company's ability to eliminate water vapor from inside the bulb. The horizontal picture in the bottom of the image illustrates an article in the May issue (Link2) by cinematographer George Folsey as an example of good lighting practice. It is a still from the 1933 movie Reunion in Vienna. Folsey says the set is light-toned, which offered many challenges. Note how both the woman, the mirror next to her, and the man are clearly-lit; the wall behind her is shadowed, and the next room's details are visible. Publisher American Society of Cinematographers is still around. The background is a pattern from Die Kunstdenkmäler des Grossherzogthums Baden (Link3; Google Translate: "The monuments of the Grand Duchy of Baden".)
September 3, 2016
Bathroom Cabinet Mirrors
A collage of images of four bathroom "medicine cabinets" with mirrors from the 1938 catalog of National Cabinets with Character (Link1). I have always been fascinated with catalog pictures of mirrors, with each artist's abstract improvisation of the scene reflected in the mirror -- a scene that doesn't really exist but must seem to be real. I also like the frequent use of young women peering at their reflections in a mirror, as we see in the girl adjusting her bobbed hair in the lower left corner -- dimly repeated in the lower right, mirrored, of course.
September 3, 2016
Swirling Vision of Old-time Gems
A highly-distorted display of sixteen tiny gems and rings from the 2000 Ancient Gems And Finger Rings (Link1), a catalog from California's Getty Museum.
The automobile route to visit Janice's family in Southern New Jersey took us past the delightful store Gary's Gem Garden (slogan: "We Deal in Nature"), and we often stopped there. My knowledge of this subject is almost entirely derived from those visits.
I think "precious" gems (e.g., diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds) are ridiculously over-priced in comparison to equally beautiful "semi-precious stones" (e.g., amethyst, turquoise, malachite, etc.) See this discussion of the difference, which implies that the price difference is purely a sucker ploy by precious-gem marketers. If it's time to get a present for Janice, I get a semi-precious stone, although I have been known to buy (for myself) shell jewelry, once used by paleolithic people as currency, or finely-polished fossils, such as the trilobite that is currently my artistic emblem/insignia or the more common ammonite.
September 1, 2016
Just Dont Fall, Friends
From time to time, I make an image with a recurring theme -- almost a prayer -- for those I love. JUST DONT FALL. As we age -- and I just turned the corner on threescore and ten -- we can adapt to and survive just about anything. But a bad fall can cause such a severe decline in mobility, independence, and quality of life that -- well, as my mother once said to me, if the discomforts and limitations of age suddenly appeared in your body one day back when you were twenty, you'd kill yourself. Fall the wrong way and you get a broken hip! See this warning from the government's Center for Disease Control. Anyway, what brings this to mind is that I broke my commandment and fell today. Crossing 21st Street at Walnut, some tiny bump in the street caught on my newly purchased walking shoes, and over I went, head-first, clutching a 6.5-pound backpack and two take-out lunches. Landed on my palms and knees. Saved the lunches. "Are you okay," kindly passers-by asked. Ended up with two scraped knees, minor damage. But a reminder: JUST DONT FALL. This means you.
The illustration is from the 1710 Perspectiva practica, oder, Vollständige Anleitung zu der Perspectiv (Link1; Google Translate: "Perspectiva practica, or Complete guide to the Perspectiv"), showing a circular staircase.
August 31, 2016
Factory Girls, Knee Pain Relief, Symbols
On the left, an illustration from the 1938 Canadian social studies text The Wonderland of Common Things (Link1), showing Canadian "factory girls" at work assembling rubber shoes. In the diamond to the right of that image, an advertisement for a patent medicine, captioned "A young married woman relieved of painful knee joints by Dr. Hamilton's Pills." The ad appears in the 1934 Recipes for everyday use in the home (Link2). Behind the relieved patient, some symbols from the undated Germanische Und Baltische Religion (Link3),
As a final step in the last two images (Woman Fainting and Canadian Factory Girls), I flipped the image horizontally, from right to left. I found the effect disorienting, confusing, unexpected.
August 30, 2016
Woman Fainting in Seance and Masonry Workers
An illustration of a story appearing in the April 1934 issue of the Cuban magazine, Carteles (Link1). The story was titled "Mas sensacional del siglo" (Google Translate: "More sensational century"); it seems to show a well-dressed woman in a throne-like chair, fainting as men on either side clasp her arms. In the background and above her are an illustration of workmen breaking down a brick wall, from a 1938 trade catalog, Masterwalls by Hauserman (Link2).
This is one of those images that I consider "dream images:" detailed, realistic scenes that (hopefully) engage a viewer's interest but do not provide a simple, rational explanatio
August 29, 2016
Passionate Kiss with Parrot, Winged Assyrian Deity, and Anatomical Samples
The background combines two images of mysterious biological specimens, seen under a microscope, from the 1888 Lehrbuch der praktischen vergleichenden Anatomie (Link1; Google Translate: "Textbook of practical comparative anatomy").
At top, is a passionate kiss from an illustration in a 1934 issue of the Cuban Carteles magazine (Link2). It is from a story titled "Uno cuento del ambiente de los puertos de sur", Google Translation: "One tale atmosphere of the southern ports." Atmosphere indeed!
At bottom, pasted over a circular biological sample, is a winged Assyrian deity (sometimes called "genie") from the 1889 Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. Those two-millenia-old gods must be angry at the current carnage wrought by high technology and geopolitical maneuvering-by-proxy in that country (Link3).
This is one of those personal, therapeutic pieces that expresses various things weighing on my mind: namely, religion, sex, war, and physiology.
August 27, 2016
Italian Futurist Wreathed Siren on Glass
The wreath with naked woman is from Italian Futurist Gabriele d'Annunzio's 1905 Laudi del cielo, del mare, della terra e degli eroi (Link1; Google translate: "Praises of the sky, the sea, the earth and the heroes").
It is placced on a matrix of glass samples from the 1938 trade catalog Libbey Owens Ford glass (Link2).
August 26, 2016
Caribbean Vision of European Royalty
From the April 1934 edition of the Cuban magazine Carteles (Link1), a cover illustration of a simpering, guillotine-ready pair of aristocrats at flirtatious but languid play.
Big day today. Part of one of my images was used in a Plastic Club poster, see image on right.
Day started out with broken phone and computer. Somehow fixed phone and bought from my local computer guy a refurbished gamer's laptop (Dell XPS) for $300, new one goes for $1900. Many errands done and some responsibilities passed on to others.
But worrisome call from cardiologist, asking me to go back for a re-test, adds a dark note. End the day by rushing to install programs on new computer to do this posting. Didn't put too much energy into the artistry of the image. Distracted by the health news, I was determinedly cheerful but inattentive to -- almost hiding the bad news from -- Janice.
August 26, 2016
Trilobite Triplets and Medieval Weapons
In the background, a combination of marble samples from the 1906 Nouveau Larousse illustré : dictionnaire universel encycloedique (Link1) and an alphabet from the 1909 The private press : a study in idealism : to which is added a bibliography of the Essex House Press (Link2).
At top, a combination of two pictures from the 1838 The magazine of natural history (Link3). One image shows a large rock with fossilized plants. On top of that are three instances of my signature fossil Trilobite.
At bottom, two 15th century infantrymen practice with deadly pole-axes (sometimes called pollaxes) from an undated reissue of Medieval combat - A Fifteenth-century illustrated manual (Link4), originally written by German fencing master Hans Talhoffer. Talhoffer also produces manuals of dagger techniques. Bloody business, I say. I think of the Walter Kittredge poem, "Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, wishing for the war to cease," and think sadly of the people affected by the nearly six-year-old Syrian Civil War.
August 23, 2016
Female Tyranny of Chores
Woke up this morning to this card from Janice, my wife (under Pennsylvania Quaker law) for six years and girlfriend/roommate for 25 years before that. One of my jokes with her is saying "You'd be the perfect girlfriend -- if only you had a personality." Personality she got -- and moods and facial expressions and different voices. (Yes, she has a Donald Trump imitation.) She is a trip.
But here, her complaint is common to many women. I get up in the morning and go straight to doing my art work, or whatever. It's a male privilege that I feel entitled to single-minded obsession. She feels constrained by various household tasks and social obligations. It's not fair -- but when she complains, I say "I'm not telling you to do those things." The insistence on those chores come from inside her -- perhaps channeling her maternal grandmother, a farm widow raising four children, for whom chores were survival.
August 22, 2016
Water Bug and Girl in a Chemise
The painting of a girl in the lower right is from a 2015 issue of RevolutionArt magazine (Link1). It is by contemporary French artist Eric Fiorin., who explains it as an interpretation of the Picasso 1905 painting Girl in a Chemise. I have emailed Fiorin letting him know I used his image and giving him the link. He responded: "Fine! Thanks!"
The image of a bug at top is an illustration from a children's book Water (Link2), part of a line of learning books called the
Ladybird Books. It illustrates how surface tension works: "Water has a kind of 'skin.' This insect can walk on water." It brings to my mind childhood memories, rowing down to Ontario's Duck Creek where I saw "water bugs" skittering about among the water lilies and frogs.
In the background is a chart of white lines of force from the 1874 Die lehre vom galvanismus und elektromagnetismus (Link3; Google translate: "The doctrine of galvanism and electromagnetism").
August 21, 2016
Killing the Birds of Paradise
From the 1869 The Malay Archipelago: the land of the orang-utan, and the bird of paradise (Link1) by Alfred Russel Wallace, an engraving showing two hunters perched in tree branches preparing to shoot beautiful Birds of Paradise with bows and arrows, while another hunter on the ground picks up fallen birds. The birds' feathers were popular in Indonesia and Europe for decoration. Author Alfred Russel Wallace did not have family money like his contemporary Charles Darwin, and made money by selling collected specimens (like Michael Douglas in the 1984 movie Romancing the Stone).
The image is framed in a decorative page border from a handsomely printed 1910 edition of The Pilgrim's Progress From This World to That Which is to Come (Link2), the Puritan allegory first published in 1638. Its severe ideology reminds me of the bloody Catholic v. Protestant civil war in England, so similar to the Shiite v. Sunni conflicts of today's Middle East -- but four centuries in the past. The diaspora of refugees from European intolerance (my wife's forebears among them) led to the founding of New World settlements and culture. Let us hope that the refugees from Middle Eastern war and intolerance can find a place where they can contribute and prosper.
August 21, 2016
From the 1869 The Malay Archipelago: the land of the orang-utan, and the bird of paradise (Link1) by Alfred Russel Wallace, an engraving of a charm from Papua, New Guinea. Such charms sre sometimes called Tikis. The geometric simplicity of this type of figure in Polynesian Art and African Art influenced many European modern artists.
Author Wallace was part of a grand gesture of scientific collegiality in 19th century England, when Charles Darwin shared credit with Wallace for the discovery of the theory of Natural Selection. Darwin discovered it first chronologically, but included Wallace in a joint publication and saw that in later life, the impoverished Wallace received a small pension.
August 20, 2016
Chinese Thing-a-ma-jig against Film Frames
Two images combined here. One (in the center) is s hand-rubbing of an oddly-shaped implement from an 1800 collection of Japanese antiquities, Shūko jisshu (Link1). That object, irregularly shaped with a hole in the middle, is placed upon a rectangular sample of an early 70-millimeter film format from s February 1930 issue of the trade magazine American Cinematographer (Link2). The caption says the scene on the film is from the 1930 film Happy Days: it seems to show members of a minstrel show. The discussion of the new 70-mm film format is interesting; it says that larger movie theatres are not getting the required resolution from 35-mm film and discusses preferences for image proportion -- a discussion that continues today. That particular format (brand-name Grandeur) did not catch on; only one serious feature film was produced, The Big Trail in 1930, with John Wayne in his first leading role.
What am I trying to do here? Here's a theory. The eye and brain desire a certain density of detail. The optimum level of detail may be different for different people. Personally, what I like is detail that largely fills the image rectangle, buteoffers different interpretations at different resolutions. Meanwhile, in the same way, the bibliographic and historic background of these pieces adds to the density of detail. Given the visual and factual detail, each work is like a worm-hole to another visual and factual universe. I'm not sure my view is shared in the art world.
August 17, 2016
Weird Critters Against Prison and Reichstag Ruin
From the 1873 Animal locomotion or walking, swimming, and flying (Link1), two odd flying critters: on the left, a Red-Throated Dragon; on the right, a Flying Lemur. The animals are plaed on a central panel, which shows the bars of a jail cell (#5) from the 1938 Sweet's Catalog File (Link2) and a gold-leaf ceiling decoration from a Hollywood movie theatre, from the same catalog. On the right-most panel, a tier of jail cells from the Sweet's catalog. On the left-most panel, a 1933 photo of the burnt-out Sessions Chamber from a 1963 book about the evidence that the Nazis started the Reichstag Fire (Link3).
August 16, 2016
Metamorphosis II: Diagrams from Art Education Book
Another try for an entry to the show at the Plastic Club with the theme of Metamorphosis. It's basically composed of three figures from a 1904 series of Canadian Text books of art education (Link1). At top and bottom, from Book Five, are mirror images of the four steps involved in drawing a boy in a cap with an umbrella. The text explains: "When the foundation of a house is ready and the carpenters begin to build, they first erect a framework, for the beam and rafters must be there before they can put on the siding, roofing, and finishing. An artist works in much the same way when sketching the pose. He calls his beams and rafters lines of direction." In the middle, from Book Six (Link2), is a diagram showing the creation of a decorative design based on a Rose Hip cutting. The text explains, "Sometimes we go to nature, not for the sake of representing just what we see, but to find suggestions for some arrangement of shapes, values, or colors that will result in beauty. [This] composition is not intended for a picture of rosehips and leaves. It is a sort of irregular pattern, resulting from the breaking of the oblong with the lines and areas suggested in this particular growth." In the background, is a chart from Book Five showing the tints and shades of the primary colors.
August 15, 2016
Lost Representation: Ironworkers and Bees
Sometimes the filtering steps I go through destroy the realism and make an image incomprehensible to the eye. I think this is one where I went too far. But I like the look.
Anyway, the source image in the top third is from the 1894 Canadian Text books of art education (Link1); it shows industrious bees buzzing around flowers, to illustrate a Shakespeare quote from Henry V: "So work the honey bees: creatures that by rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom." The bees image is superimposed on a picture of iron workers climbing on an Italian cupola under construction, from the 1906 Milano e l'Esposizione internazionale del Sempione (Link2: Google Translate: "Milan and the International Exhibition of Sempione"). The workmen climbing high over the city reminded me of the bees.
August 14, 2016
From the November 1925 issue of McCall's Magazine (Link1), an image from an advertisement for orthopedic shoes. It shows a woman seated on a cushion talking with her husband. The story is that the woman's aching feet keep her from working to pay off the mortgage. "Are your feet more important than our home?" the husband asks in the headline. The couple gets her new "Arch Preserver" shoes that relieve her pain and allow the couple to pay off their mortgage. I was attracted to the image before I read the advertising copy. What's remarkable is her contorted and probably uncomfortable posture. Until I read the advertising copy, I thought the image was meant to show ordinary relaxed cuddling behavior between man and wife.
Underlying their image is a composition of a superimposed brick pattern and a display of mounted springs from the 1938 Sweet's Catalog File (Link2).
August 13, 2016
Metamorphosis I: Bride and Ottoman Astrolabe on Bricks and Lace
The first show of the Fall at the Plastic Club (opening Sept. 11, delivery deadline Aug. 26) has the theme of Metamorphosis, defined as "transformation, transition, or profound change in the work’s subject matter or in the nature of its medium." Here's my first attempt at an entry. It shows a vertical transformation: at the top, the upper half of a pretty bride from the cover of a November, 1925 issue of McCall's Magazine (Link1), fading into a drawing of an astrolabe, a device for modeling the movement of the stars, from the 2007 The astrology of the Ottoman Empire (Link2). The metamorphosis fades down into the lower half of the same bride. The background is composed of a combination of lace from the 1906 Milano e l'Esposizione internazionale del Sempione (Link3: Google Translate: "Milan and the International Exhibition of Sempione") and some bricks from the 1938 Sweet's Catalog File, a collection of builder's catalogs (Link4).
August 13, 2016
Illustration from the Golden Age
There was a "Golden Age of Illustration" in American and European magazines, from about 1880 to 1925. Much of it happened here in Philadelphia, in Howard Pyle's Brandywine School. I missed the height of this Golden Age, but in the 1940's, I remember those large-format magazines with slick paper and painterly illustrations arriving in the mail or piled in a barbershop. The illustrations depicted intense moments of a story and gave form to the fictional characters. Sadly, both fiction and illustration have largely disappeared from today's printed magazines. Anyway, here, from the November, 1925 issue of McCall's Magazine (Link1) is an illustration by Harvey Dunn. The image illustrates a story called The Love of Cactus Carrie. The image seems to me to capture a suspenseful, dream-like moment in a smoky cantina atmosphere. Something is about to happen. We don't know what, but we sure want to find out.
August 12, 2016
Coureur de Bois, Dutch Games, and Color Sample
In the upper left, a picture of a Coureur des bois ("runner of the woods") from the 1905 The story of the Canadian people (Link1). In my hometown, the coureur de bois of colonial times were folk heroes. Bad-ass woodsmen and trappers who went off in the woods for months at a time, trapping furs and trading with Indians. This one carries a tomahawk and rifle, with a Bowie knife at his side. On his back, a pack of furs. Once, drinking at a bar on Detroit's Woodward Avenue, I met a descendant of one, a short, trim redhead whose family had lived in Detroit since the 1600's.
The woodsman image is placed on a background of pictures showing child play activities in Holland, from the 1897 Amsterdam in de zeventiende eeuw (Link2: Google Translate from the Dutch: "Amsterdam in the seventeenth century"). The overall composition is placed upon a pattern based on paint color samples from the 1938 Sweet's Catalog File (Link3).
August 11, 2016
Glass Samples and Bird Catching Fly
The background is a set of samples of patterned and wired glass for doorways and skylights, taken from the 1938 Sweet's Catalog File (Link1), a collection of builder's catalogs. The bird figure in the foreground is an engraving from the 1873 Animal locomotion or walking, swimming, and flying (Link2) showing a bird catching an insect in mid-air. (The caption of the picture is "In the clutch of the enemy.")
This is (deliberately) a more abstract, less relevant image, after the heavy stuff of the last two entries about murderous ISIS activities. Let me say I'm not sure I'm right in my previous discussion on the purpose of ISIS; it's my best, non-expert guess. I just hope that readers will be suspicious of a sudden ISIS outrage followed by a well-intentioned public outcry calling for massive American commitment of ground troops to the Middle East; if I'm right, it's what ISIS wants.
August 10, 2016
ISIS Topples Christian Crucifixes
Two illustrations from the latest issue of the slick ISIS magazine Dabiq (Link1). The issue's feature story is "Breaking the Cross" and shows ISIS soldiers removing crosses from the roofs of Christian churches in the group's area of control, the so-called "Caliphate." The issue was originally posted on my favorite source website archive.org, but it was removed "due to issues with the item's content." (I complained to archive.org about the removal. Sure, the magazine's content is deadly toxic, but I want the site to be censorship-free.) Anyway, I found an alternative site at Link2, The Clarion Project, an Islamic watchdog site dedicated to "challenging extremism and promoting dialogue." (According to Wikipedia, the Southern Poverty Law Center described the organization as an anti-Muslim group.) The issue is dated 1437 Shawwal or August 2016 according to the Islamic calendar.
I don't understand ISIS. It is a relatively new group in the Middle East -- since 2014. In some ways, it seems to follow a deliberate strategy of provoking outrage, meant to encourage recruitment and to "draw the Crusaders into a quagmire of military conflict."
There are lots of examples of well-publicized ISIS outrages. Besides the intolerance exemplified in the toppling of Christian crosses (above) and the destruction of priceless artifacts (yesterday), there are also gruesome executions, the justification of sexual slavery of captured women as "spoils of war," and headline-producing but ineffective terrorist attacks in European and American cities. (More American are killed by falling furniture and TVs than are killed by terrorists.) All this is done with a fearsome, self-conscious grimace toward the camera. Unfortunately, I fear that both U.S. presidential candidates will be suckers for this "rope-a-dope" strategy.
August 9, 2016
2500-year-old Sculpture: Destroyed by ISIS?
In the center, a human-headed winged bull sculpture from Khorsabad in Iraq, once the capital of Assyrian King Sargon II (722–705 BC), depicted in a drawing taken from the 1872 Histoire ancienne de l'Orient (Link1). I did this interpretation before I saw this very same sculpture pictured in an article today about Islamic radical group ISIS' destruction of historic sites in Iraq -- perhaps including this one. Europeans did the same thing centuries ago -- see Iconoclasm. For Islamic Iconoclasm, see Aniconism in Islam.
The bull is superimposed on a design composed of ancient coins from the 1831 Voyage dans la Macédoine : contenant des recherches sur l'histoire, la géographie et les antiquités de ce pays (Link2)
August 8, 2016
Marie Antoinette at the Bastille
Two scenes from Thomas Carlyle's 1904 history The French Revolution: A History (Link1). In the background, the storming of the Bastille, and in the foreground a portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette. Perhaps it's the cosmetic fashions of those times or perhaps it's the courtly portrait style, but Marie Antoinette has always seemed remarkably unlovable to me -- almost inhuman.
August 7, 2016
Cartoonist's View of Global Politics
The global politics of World War I as portrayed by a cartoonist's pen: here ia a cover from the May 1919 issue (Link1) of the Cuban arts magazine Social. It shows cartoon-stereotype nations comforting cartoon-Belgium (little girl in helmet, bandage and crutch) after the Kaiser's World War I invasion of Belgium and the associated atrocities against civilians. Not sure I can identify all the nations. The top row, from left, are Mexico, Spain, U.S. and China. Beefy gentlemen in the center is the United Kingdom. The little girl flaring her blue and white skirt is cartoon-France. I don't know what nations are represented by two cartoon-figures in the middle outer edges: (1) on the left, the saluting soldier in black and (2) on the right, the monocled and goateed diplomat holding a top hat. This cover was done by Conrado Massaguer, one of the founders of Social. See also this book on Massaguer.
This image brings a temporary end to the series of compositions inspired by the Cuban magazine Social. The reason I'm going back to my usual omnivorous consumption of international public domain sources is because I miss it. I may return to the survey of Social at some time in the future, or I may begin an issue-by-issue study of Harper's magazine.
August 7, 2016
Child Extolls Value of Cleanliness
From an advertisement in the June 1920 issue of the Cuban magazine Social, a child clutches a box of Reuters Soap, still sold today. In place of the labeling on the box, there is a cartoon of a woman reclining on pillows smoking. Behind the child's figure, a blurry painting showing "The Gold Rush."
August 6, 2016
San Francisco de Assis
From the December 1924 issue of the Cuban magazine Social, a painting of St. Francis of Assisi by Mexican artist Garcia Cabral. The subject and the artist's treatment are so devout that I present a respectful treatment of the black-and-white original.
August 6, 2016
Chorus Lines, Clown Painter, Soap-sniffing Lady
From the December 1917 issue of the Cuban magazine Social, a composition of three images: (1) three rows of young women dressed up for cotillions or chorus lines, (2) an advertising image of a woman at bath-time admiring a bar of soap, and (3) in an ad for an advertising agency, a cryptic image of a clown holding a brush and paste bucket after pasting posters on a grimacing moon.
August 6, 2016
Havana New Year's Party, 1931, with Dancer
From the January 1931 issue of the Cuban magazine Social (Link1, an announcement of a holiday party by a union of graphic artists. From the same issue, at the bottom, the dancer Raquel Weller, in a performance described as "divine."
August 5, 2016
Cuban Mannequin, Male Nude, Wine Filter
Still interested in the Cuban magazine discussed below. Here, a drawing by Martha Lopez of a woman's head from the December 1926 issue of Social (Link1). In the background, is a picture of two naked black men reclining from the September 1931 issue of the same magazine (Link2). At bottom, is a drawing of a filter from the 1907 Die kellerbehandlung der traubenweine (Link3; Google Translate: "The cellar treatment of grape wines").
Finally found a listing of uploaded Social magazines. They're all uploaded by someone named mikasa. See it here
August 4, 2016
Cuban Cover Girl, Orozco Mural for High School
Again, from that Cuban arts/fashion magazine Social (Link1), two combined images from the October 1926 issue. The young woman with the bobbed hair is the cover image. In the background, behind her, from the same issue, fragments of a fresco by Jose Clemente Orozco for a Mexico City high school.
This full bibliographic note marks some recovery from the Attention Overload dysfunction of the past days.
Two ideas percolating in Bewhiskered Bob's brain during this period:
- Mozart/Salieri: The Top 10% Problem: Consider a body of people ranked in order numerically by some skill, say, for example ballet, guitar, art, furniture-making. I find it next to impossible to distinguish among the top 10%. For instance, between the performer ranked at the top of the 10% and the performer ranked at the bottom of the 10%. Not sure where to go with this.
- Have been feeling restless lately. Also, nervous about the possibility of a con man like Trump being elected as president. Motivated by my enjoyment of the magazine Social and the Cuban Art Deco design therein, I've been thinking creating a separate web page on the subjct: such a project could include a trip to Miami Beach to take photographs of the Art Deco-inspired buildings and to look at collections of other Cuban magazines (such Carteles, Bohemia and Vanidades). And then (especially if Trump wins) a trip to recently unblockaded Cuba to research that neglected period of artistic activity in Cuba.
August 2, 2016
Cuban Dancer, Snowflakes, Frieze
I continue to be fascinated by the faded island glamour of the pre-Castro Cuban magazine Social. Here, from the June 1931 issue of the magazine (Link1) is dancer/choreographer Helen Tamiris, a socially-conscious modern dancer from New York. Note the modernism of the graphic image: the background "cubist rays" which continue out on the right of the image as typographic lines. She is advertising a 1931 show of dances set to Gershwin music. Tamiris married another dancer, Daniel Nagrin, and they started a dance company together. Other elements of the image: the dark spaces of the picture are overlaid with snowflake diagrams from the the 1886 Les glaciers et les transformations de l'eau (Link2: Google Translate "Glaciers and Water Transformations"). And finally, the border image is a frieze from the Parthenon showing Greeks and Persians at war, from the 1868 Greece : pictorial, descriptive, and historical (Link3).
Went through training yesterday to be a "Bernie's Peacekeeper" at the protests in Philadelphia this week. The Peacekeeper job basically involves isolating agent provocateurs and property-damaging ultra-leftists, telling folks which port-a-johns are least disgusting, and looking after the health and mood of the crowd. Most protests will involve a 3.5 mile walk (from City Hall to FDR Park in South Philly) in 95-degree heat. Luckily, there's a subway line that runs along that route and allows old men like myself to cheat. Why are there protests? Because of the feeling of many -- documented by recently released emails -- that the establishment (especially the Democratic National Committee) rigged the process to ensure a Clinton victory. Why am I getting involved? Because I think the enthusiasm of so many for the Vermont socialist geezer has the potential to make a long-term movement that will continue after the November election, even after Sanders departs the scene -- an alternative to the stale choices the current rigged system offers.
Those familiar with my work habits know that sometimes I go through periods when I fall behind on the bibliographic details of my work. This is generally a sign of what I call "overload depression," when I have so much on my to-do-list that I despair of catching up. This particular episode of work without citation is made worse because I had Internet connectivity problems on my regular laptop and had to switch to my backup laptop, plus three rather uneventful days as a "Bernie's Peacekeeper." The fact that I was able to upload this image on 7/31/2016, seven days after the funk began, is a sign that I'm beginning to find my way out of it.
Balloon, Mural, Cityscape
Europa, Photo and Muses
Distortion of Crane Alphabet
Altar Screen, Mirror, Louise Huff
French Actress in Factory Construction Scene
July 24-August 1, 2016
Cuban Magazine: Model, Dancer, Ancient Script
I have been exploring recently-uploaded issues of the Cuban arts magazine Social, published in Havana between 1916 and 1938 -- a link to a vanished cosmopolitan society, a Caribbean outpost of European art and fashion that lasted, until, first, the American mob arrived in the 1940's and, then, leftist guerillas overthrew the government in 1959. Here is a composition with two images from the November 1931 issue of Social (Link1). The dark-eyed face wrapped in a white turban is from an ad for Elizabeth Arden for "New Evening Dresses." Off to the left is ballerina Constancia Evans in a pose from a New York dance review. The writing on the right is from a different source. It is a sample of Cuneiform text (an interlinear translation into European sounds) from the 1871 Sprache und Sprachen Assyriens (Link2). Cuneiform was used in the Assyrian Empire, which occupied Syria, Iraq and Turkey from 2500 B.C. to 600 B.C.
It occurs to me that it would be nice to visit Cuba someday to produce a series of prints based on the gold mine of material in the issues of Social.
July 21, 2016
Wood Engraving Alphabet of Death
From the 1861 A treatise on wood engraving, historical and practical, Hans Holbein's
"alphabet of death" from 1530, showing skeletons using various techniques of violence to subdue the foolish living. My interpretation catches the contortions and tensions of Holbein's image and adds color -- but misses the marvelous detail.
August 3, 2016
Antique Bracelet, Cactus, Glacuers
In the lower foreground, a metal bracelet depicting winged dogs from the 1857 The Egyptians in the time of the Pharaohs. Being a companion to the Crystal Palace Egyptian collections (Link1). Above and behind the bracelet, a plant form (I figure it is a cactus, but I can't read the German Fraktur alphabet) from the 1905 Die Pflanze; ihr Bau und ihr Leben (Link2: Google Translate: "The Plants: Their Construction and Their Lives"). Finally, behind all that, a topographical map of a glacier sitting among hills from the 1886 Les glaciers et les transformations de l'eau (Link3: Google Translate "Glaciers and Water Transformations").
Coloring is much more subtle in this one, because my usual colorizing utility, Dreamscope was not working right and I had to use GIMP's Fractalize filter to add color. Turns out Dreamscope was being revised, adding new filters. Below is the same image using my traditional colorizing method.
July 22, 2016
Mater Dolorosa & Shop Window
On the left, from the 1867 Legends of the Madonna as represented in the fine arts : forming the third series of Sacred and legendary art, (Link1) a woodcut of the Mater Dolorosa, which shows Mary, the mother of Jesus, pierced through her heart by seven arrows, representing her "Seven Sorrows" -- seven distinct painful episodes in her life, including her family's flight as refugees from Herod's Massacre of the Innocents and removal of her son's crucified body from the cross.
(We all have sorrowful episodes in our lives. Imagine if your seven worst wounds were enumerated and recited twenty centuries after you died! I shudder to even contemplate compiling such a list for my unexamined life. For the sake of everyday contentment, regrets from my past are deeply repressed -- all but erased from the memory banks.)
The Mater Dolorosa woodcut is placed upon an oval mirror from the 1910 catalog of frame manufacturer Frank W. Williams Company: wholesale catalog and price list no. 26 (Link2). All this is then placed upon a sample display from the 1924 trade catalog A year of hardware windows (Link3), which shows store window displays suggested for hardware stores. The display shown is for July, emphasizing Chinaware and Pottery.
July 21, 2016
Russian Symbolist's Obsession with Demon Poem
Four images from the 1911 art book Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubelʹ; zhiznʹ i tvorchestvo (Link1). Mikhail Vrubel is a painter difficult to classify. Some consider him a symbolist, some consider him a throwback to earlier times. I can't read the book text because of the Cyrillic alphabet. At left is some sort of vegetative "Green Man". The two horizontal images are from his "Demon Prostrate" series -- recurring images of a demon buried in the ground, based on a poem by Mikhail Lermontov. (English translation here.) These demon images were done at the end of his career before he was put in a mental hospital. See critical analysis here.) The story of the Fallen Angel/Demon's tainted love for the human Tamara has inspired many European artists. Far right is an earlier, more traditional image of a gypsy woman with fortune-telling cards.
Art can be a quiet, harmless accomodation to mental obsession and upset. It plays that role in my life.
July 20, 2016
Tragic Actresses, Zoo Cat, Farm Kitchen
More from old issues of Harper's Weekly (Links). Left, actress Eileen Hyman huddles against a wall in William Butler Yeats' tragic play On Bailie's Strand, and, right, actress Margaret Anglin appearing as Antigone, the tragic, heroic Greek king's daughter who defied her father to honor her brother's funeral. Also in the picture, a wild cat from an article on how wild animals are captured for zoos and, as a background frame, a photo of a farm woman in her kitchen (her butter churner is visible in bottom center).
I am rethinking my style. My aim here is to set up a surrealistic tableau. It doesn't make real-life sense, but it makes "dream" sense -- I'm here, I don't know what the hell's happening, but I'm thoroughly engaged and curious to see what happens next.
8/4/16: Entered this image in the Plastic Club's Member's Choice show.
July 19, 2016
Lost Painting that Inspired a Kipling Poem
From a 1903 Harper's Weekly (Link1), a copy of a painting by 19th century Pre-Raphaelite Philip Burne-Jones, entitled The Vampire. The painting is now "lost," i.e., disappeared into a private collection. Burne-Jones was said to use stage actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell as a model for the femme fatale draining the life from the victim. Another admirer of Campbell was George Bernard Show, who wrote in a letter to her: "I want my dark lady. I want my angel. I want my tempter, I want my Freia with her apples. I want the lighter of my seven lamps of beauty, honour, laughter, music, love, life and immortality. I want my inspiration, my folly, my happiness, my divinity, my madness, my selfishness, my final sanity and sanctification, my transfiguration, my purification, my light across the sea, my palm across the desert, my garden of lovely flowers, my million nameless joys, my day's wage, my night's dream, my darling and my star." Burne-Jones' popular, widely-displayed painting inspired Rudyard Kipling's poem The Vampire, as described in this discussion of the impact of the painting on the vampire tradition. The painting is placed upon a framing collection of items from the 1954 catalog Merchandise presentation : specialists in merchandise presentation, demonstrations, displays, exhibits (Link2), showing various store display banners.
July 17, 2016
Lady in Mirror, Mirrored
Illustration from a 1944 glass catalog How glass can make your new home lighter (Link1). The advertising copy says "No home is complete without at least full-length door mirror. A favorite with the entire family. Shows you how you look from head to toe..."
I am generally interested in images of women reflected in mirrors, especially young women from the era when my mother was young and I was an infant.
July 16, 2016
Victim of Volcano, Dancers, Baseball Fans
From a 1902 issue of Harper's Weekly (Link1), the center image shows a news photo of the damage from a 1902 volcanic eruption that destroyed the village of St. Pierre, pop. 30,000. The caption reads:
"A Mute Witness of the St. Pierre Horror: Among the debris [in the hospital]...was found the body shown in the photograph here. The upraised hand seems to indicate some last attempt to avert danger. Although the clothing was completely burned away, the body itself was lit
tle charred... [T]he resemblance to the bodies found in the ruins of Pompeii was most striking."
At the bottom, from a 1913 issue of Harper's Weekly (Link2), a group of Massachusetts women recreate a Greek freize. The whole image is placed on a frame/background from the same issue, showing fans at an amateur baseball game.
Note: Today marks my first visit to the gym since 6/21, when I stubbed my right little toe. That's the day I did Courchesne Abstractions on Stencil Patterns. A productive period since then, perhaps, but I think I came a bit untethered and obsessive without exercise.
July 16, 2016
From a 1991 issue of the Rhode Island Medical Journal (Link1), an advertisement for an insulin drug portrays a woman sitting in a chair.
One criticism of my work is that I tend to focus on attractive women of childbearing age -- the "Male Gaze," as the feminists call it. Thinking about it, I don't feel guilty. Look at all the images of women -- in fashion, in porn, in religious iconography -- and they tend to draw from the same demographic. Is that a justification? Anyway, this nice lady knitting is intended to counteract that tendency in my selection of subjects.
July 15, 2016
Six Corrugation Patterns on Hexagonal Honeycomb
Base is the hexacomb pattern of a beehive, from the 1905 Praktischer wegweiser für rationelle bienenzucht (Link1: Google Translate: "Practical signpost for rational apiculture"). The six circular patterns are from the 1899 Allgemeine Tierzucht; ein Lehr- und Handbuch für Studierende und Praktiker (Link2: Google Translate: "General Livestock ; a teaching and Manual for Students and Practitioners"). The six circles represent different patterns in a "corrugation" process.
It was relaxing to float into the world of pure geometric composition. No bloody ghosts.
July 14, 2016
Consquences of Allenby's Stroll into Jerusalem, 1917
From the English government via Wikimedia (Link1), a 1917 photograph of British General Edmund Allenby entering on foot into Jerusalem's Old City after the Battle of Jerusalem, when his army took the city from the Ottoman Empire. Allenby's triumphant entry on foot was considered a sensitive gesture, meant to spare the feelings of the city's inhabitants. But the unfortunate alliance of the Turks with the losing side in World War I and the subsequent loss of influence and territory was deeply felt in the Middle East. Next, a New York Evening Post editorial cartoon from a 1918 Cartoons magazine (Link2) shows how the event was seen around the world, as a continuation of the Crusades. This cartoon was captioned: "AT JERUSALEM: Richard Coeur de Lion: 'My dream come true!'". It shows the ghost of King Richard looking down proudly from a distance of five centuries at Allenby's victorious desert soldiers.
As a boy, I had a sentimental, romantic, pious view of the Crusades. In my current view, the Crusades were similar to the violent religious fanaticism of today's ISIS.
Odd how this period of my life contains so many detailed, thoughtful excursions into the past.
July 12, 2016
From an 1892 Nast's Weekly (Link1), a political cartoon by Thomas Nast, showing the Republican elephant (which Nast introuced). It is superimposed on a magazine advertisement from the 1933 Film-Lovers Annual.
July 11, 2016
Two superimposed images from books of Armenian culture. Underlying is what seems to be a drawing of a geometric rug containing pictures of animals, from the 1984 Hay mshakuyt'e [Armenian Culture], Book 2 (Link1). On top is what seems to be a cave drawing of a hunting scene from from the 1971 Hay mshakuyt'e [Armenian Culture], Book 1 (Link2). The book are in Armenian, so everything here is mainly guesswork.
July 11, 2016
The King and the Beggar Maid
To the right, a portion of Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones' depiction of a Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, showing (in right center) a simple beggar girl "more beautiful than the day" and, in the lower left, King Clophetua, who fell in love with her. See the story here. The image appeared in the 1908 Art Journal (Link1). Also, at upper left, a piece of jewelry from the 1909 Art Journal (Link2), displayed on a page ornament from the 1911 Alraune, die Geschichte eines lebenden Wesens (Link3; Google Translate: "Mandrake , the story of a living being"). Although I cannot read German, here is a
synopsis of the book: "A scientist, Professor Jakob ten Brinken, interested in the laws of heredity, impregnates a prostitute in a laboratory with the semen of a hanged murderer. The prostitute conceives a female child who has no concept of love, whom the professor adopts. The girl, Alraune, suffers from obsessive sexuality and perverse relationships throughout her life. She learns of her unnatural origins and she avenges herself against the professor." There is also a film version of the Alraune story, starring Brigitte Helm.
Next: Cover picture from an old Kelsey printing equipment catalog (Link4). The Kelsey was a small printing press used for small runs of wedding invitations, business cards, etc. As a hobbyist, I used to own one in the late 1960's.
Next: A performance picture of a 1960's punk band from the magazine ReSearch (Link5), inside a frame from Social, a 1916 Cuban magazine. The image is ruined by a stray brush stroke of powder blue that I am too lazy to remove.
Next: In the same frame, an advertising photograph for men's grooming products, in a 1968 edition if The Australian Women's Weekly,
showing a stylish woman stepping into a pool of water. (Link5)
Not pleased with this series. I may leave them in this short form. Not sure what's going on in my shaggy aged head.
July 9, 2016
Goodbye Soldier, 1915
A photograph from a 1915 Kriegs-album ("War Album") issue of the German-American magazine New Yorker Staats Zeitung (Link1: Google Translate "State Newspaper"). The English caption reads "The Volunteer's Farewell", a sentimental scene as the young volunteer heads off to the horrors of World War I, while his mother (or girlfriend) carries his rifle. War is on my mind on this centennial of that awful war; also a touch of Survivor's Guilt because I missed Vietnam, the war of my generation; and despair at the current consequences of my country's proxy-war foreign policy in the Middle East.
July 5, 2016
Patience on a Monument of Grief
Old painting on stone background, Patience On A Monument Smiling At Grief by "second-wave" Pre-Raphaelite artist, the aristocratic J.R. Spencer-Stanhope. The image appears in the 1909 Art Journal (Link1). The image refers to a line in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, when one female character, Viola, concealing herself as a man, says to her secret love, the Duke:
"She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’th’ bud
Feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?"
I do not understand this speech.
July 5, 2016
Fourth of July
Cover of sheet music to the 1942 wartime song Let's go!! : let's get started today!! (Link1), showing an extemely fit Uncle Sam getting ready for a fight. Sample lyric: "My country! 'Tis of thee,/is our song of liberty/To neglect, Not protect/Would mean catastrophe."
That's how I feel with an election coming up with NeoCon Warmonger Clinton and Unstable Narcissist Bully Trump.
July 4, 2016
Wartime Illuminated Letters
An illuminated initial letter "D" from an illustrated book of World War I memories, Ostpreussen-Chronik : Kriegsbilder aus den beiden Russen-Einfällen 1914/15 (Link1; Google Translate: "Ostpreussen Chronicle : War pictures from the two Russian invasions 1914/15"). It shows soldiers drinking while an old man sprawled on the ground.
Next, another image from the same book, an illuminated letter "J". It shows charging death's head mounted cavalry, presumably Cossacks. The scene and letter are superimposed on a photo of a model from the cover of a 1941 sewing crafts magazine, New Things Happen to Tatting, No. 159 (Link2). (Tatting is the handcraft lace seen on the model's wrist and breast pocket.)
Another illuminated letter "W", showing refugees crowding to board a train, set on top of a picture of the Victoria Hall, in Leeds, from the 1906 Art Journal (Link3).
Next, again from the WWI picture book, a skeleton sits in the woods holding the sandglass of time and death. This time I removed the lettering becausse the illustration was so much larger than the lettering.
July 2, 2016
Clipper Ship Rigging and Protective Mother
Pictues of old square-rigged clipper ship rigging from a German officers navy memoirs, Seeteufel : Abenteuer aus meinem Leben (Item1) . It is set against a picture of a mother protecting two children from the 1903 Die moderne Plastik in Deutschland (Item2).
June 30, 2016
New Friend in Fossil Land?
Car trip today to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to visit jewelry and rock shop, Gary's Gem Garden looking for Trilobite fossils, but they were pricey -- cheapest one was $200. But as wife Janice and friend Ted looked over the fossils, they both suggested I look at the stately ammonite, much more affordable at $20. Ended up buying a pair and paid $15 apeice to have them mounted as pins. Will consider adopting the ammonite as my artistic signature instead of the trilobite, as on this one.
June 29, 2016
Sheet Music, Delilah, Rug and NASA Photograph
From the cover of sheet music for a 1919 piano song I've got a grand baby with a baby grand down in Dixieland (Link1), a woman perches on an open piano. Above her, a heart-shaped section of rug from the 1933 Congoleum Patterns (Link2). Below the piano, an Elihu Vedder painting of Delilah from the 1903 Arts Journal (Link3) Finally, the background behind the heart and piano is a slide from a 1957 NASA report Influence of Hot-Working Conditions on High-Temperature Properties of a Heat-Resistant Alloy (Link4).
June 28, 2016
Mother & Kids at Bath Time, Jewels and Lace
In the center strip, a combination of the charcoal sketch for a painting "Twilight" by F. Cayley Robinson showing a mother at bath-time drying off her two children, centered in a fancy necklace designed by Alfred Gilbert. Both images are from the 1903 Arts Journal (Link1). The composition is set upon an image of lace from the 1800 Madame Goubaud's pillow lace patterns, and instructions in Honiton lace making (Link2).
June 28, 2016
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Or, in other words, from Dante, "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter". That is the caption on the bottom picture, an illustration of five women from The Divine Inferno titled "A Glimpse Into Hell" by American Symbolist painter Elihu Vedder. The image is taken from a 1903 edition of The Art Journal (Link1). Above and to the left is the head of a woman from the cover of a 1901 piano sheet music called Hiawatha: A Summer Idyll (Link2). The two are connected by a wreath from the 1870 Rustic adornments for homes of taste (Link3). (Note to Self: the wreath is too dark, I should have put a 10% layer of white over it.)
June 27, 2016
Three Dreamy Victorian Ladies
My treatment of an iconic romantic painting -- Albert Moore's canvas, showing three classical Greek ladies napping on a sofa. It's called The Dreamers. Here, my work runs perilously close to simply appropriating old work with fancy new filters. But I made one structural change, cropping a bit on the right for balance. The image is from an edition of the 1844 Art Journal (Link1).
June 25, 2016
Antique Coins on Linoleum
Two sides of a Greek coin (a hekta) said to date from 400 B.C., from the Greek island of Lesbos. The left face depicts the head of the Minoan king's daughter Ariadne, the right face shows a lion gnawing on an animal bone. The images are from a 2014 Harlan J. Berk, Ltd., 190th Buy or Bid Sale catalog. (Link1). (Only 15 of these coins are known. This mint condition coin -- the best of them -- had a catalog price of $6,000. I consider that a bargain.) The coins are placed upon an assortment of samples from the 1933 Congoleum patterns (Link2).
June 25, 2016
Old Men in Conversation
An image of two German men relaxing at an inn, from the 1906 Deutscher Humor im Bilde (Link1; Translation "German Humor in Pictures"). Above them, like a cartoon talk bubble, some pictures of jewelry from an 1844 Art Journal (Link2). The picture expresses my pleasure at getting together with old friends and shooting the breeze.
June 24, 2016
Angry Woman, Magic, Antique Tools
In the foreground, an engraving of a sculpture called Vengeance from an 1844 Art Journal (Link1). It shows a woman rising up from her knees, with a determined look on her face and a sword's hilt clasped in her hand. The statue was attributed to Samuel Fry. In the backgroun, a set of photos showing how to perform a card trick in a 1914 book by Burling Hull on Bulletin Of Latest Sleights And Tricks (Link2). Also in the background is a drawing of antique Roman rigging tools (I think) in the 1784 Le antichità romane (Link3).
June 23, 2016
Woman Thinking Wistful Thoughts
Center is an engraving by Pre-Raphaelite painter Frederick Sandys, entitled If. It shows a young woman seated on a beach, moodily staring out to sea and absently chewing on a strand of her curly hair. It is from an 1849 edition of Art Journal (Link1). It is framed within a cover page from a 1963 Progress lighting fixture catalog (Link2) overlaid with a larger version of the engraving.
For somparison, the second image shows the original engraving, showing how much my treatment adds color and shape.
June 23, 2016
Greek Girl Playing Jacks against Sleight of Hand Photos
From an 1862 Art Journal, an engraving of the famous painting by Frederic Leighton of a Greek Girl playing Knucklebones, an early version of today's game of Jacks (Item1). The Art Journal explained the girl has "a mood of gentle distraction... that is suited to the game of idle skill which occupies but does not engross her... Her thoughts may stray as they may toward some half-awakened love, or some dreamy pleasure in festival or dance." The four knucklebones appear in mid-air in the lower right of the painting. The painting is then placed upon a background of photographs from magician Burling Hull's 1914 book of magic tricks Master Sleights With Billiard Balls (Item2), which explains the "Lightning Ball Vanish," in which a magician makes a billard ball vanish by concealing it on the back of his hand, as seen in the picture on the lower right. Another element in the background is a stencil from the 1925 Decorators' guide and stencil catalogue (Link3). For somparison, the second image shows the original colors of the Leighton painting.
June 22, 2016
Courchesne Abstractions on Stencil Patterns
There was an influential magazine published in Quebec during the 50's and 60's called Cahiers de Cite Libre (Link1). It was founded by future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and opposed Francophone separatism. One of the artists who illustrated its articles in the late 60's was named Courchesne (sp?) and provided starkly simple black ink abstractions. Three of those appear in this image. Those three images are placed upon an illustration from the 1925 Decorators' guide and stencil catalogue (Link2). In the originals, those weird Couchese shapes were pure black on white; in my variation, the stencil colors of the background bleed through the pure black.
June 21, 2016
The Relationship Between Europe and England
The gruesome cover of a 1916 pro-German polemic Vampire Of The Continent written by German aristocrat Ernst zu Reventlow. The book blames all of Europe's problems from the 16th century to the time of writing upon an England consumed by greed, intent on "organized piracy and highway robbery". The Reventlow family also produced a famous race car driver and a
feminist writer known as the "Bohemian Countess."
I offer it as a reference to the long and sometimes bloody relationship between England and Europe, and as an excuse to state my position on the upcoming Brexit vote allowing the British to leave the European Union. My position is that the English should vote to stay in for economic reasons and to minimize the chance of another war.
June 21, 2016
Building a Tunnel in the City
From the 1876 Bibliothek der Unterhaltung und des Wissens (Link1; Google Translate: "Library of entertainment and knowledge"),a construction photo of the central electric railway in London, showing a work break during digging of the Bond Street Station.
In his youth, my maternal grandfather, Bob Guston, freshly arrived from Sweden, worked as a sandhog on tunnels under the river in Chicago. That's when he met the pretty Irish housemaid who became my grandmother.
June 20, 2016
Composition in Time and Art
Four elements in one picture. The background is an Arabic fresco from an undated HISTOIRE DE FRESQUE (Link1). The circular element placed upon the fresco is an astrological timepiece from Old clocks and watches & their makers; being an historical and descriptive account of the different styles of clocks and watches of the past, in England and abroad, to which is added a list of eleven thousand makers (Link2). Next to that is a drawing of a naked woman from the 2002 Art Of Drawing: The Complete Course (Link3) and, below that, the six steps involved in drawing an owl from the 1913 What to draw and how to draw it (Link4).
June 19, 2016
Treatments from Old Catalog
First image is from Eaton's Fall and Winter Catalogue 1899-1900 (Link1), a selection of Glassware. Eaton's ("Canada's Greatest Store") was a historic Toronto department store, which was sold to Sears in 1999 and shut down in 2002.
Second picture is a treatment of rings from the same catalog. The ring in the center is a MIZPAH ring which memorializes a bond or agreement or trust between two people.
June 18, 2016
Six Tableaux for Magic Lanterns
From a 1900 catalog of G. Gilmer, Catalogue No. 26. Appareils à Projections Lumineuses fixes et animées, accessoires: Appareils d'Agrandissements, Décors et Attractions Lumineux pour Théatres (Link1). Gilmer and his brother were suppliers of equipment for early Magic Lantern shows. These six slides are for Tableux Vivants, in which a female figure in tights is "dressed" by the projected image. A kind of precursor to today's movie computer-generated effects and tomorrow's Virtual Reality.
June 18, 2016
The Abiding Pleasure of a Drink and Smoke
A cleric sits comfortably in a window seat, enjoying a cigar, a drink, and the afternoon light. An image from the 1906 Deutscher Humor im Bilde (Link1, Google Translate: "German Humor in Picture").
I miss smoking. I'd almost certainly be dead if I hadn't quit 30 years ago. But I still miss it....
June 17, 2016
A modest pinup from a 1940's men's magazine, Night Life Tales (Link1), placed on a background of archaelogical patterns.
June 16, 2016
Children Examine Disinfected Water
Two little Indonesian girls examine two plastic bottles of drinkable water -- from a brochure SOLAR WATER DISINFECTION, by a Swiss group that promotes the use of exposure to sunlight in plastic bottles to create clean drinking water.
June 15, 2016
Watch Springs and Pocket Watch
In the foreground, a design from a 1905 catalog Watchsprings (Link1) from the Waltham Watch Company; the image is captioned "a dozen resilient springs". On top of that is a drawing of a pocket watch that appears in a 1911 catalog from the same company Waltham watches : some of their qualities, styles, trade-marks and prices for careful buyers to consider (Link2).
Note that the trademark Trilobite has been rendered as a pattern in the background frame.
June 15, 2016
Knife Set Against Figure and Tea Kettle
From the 1897 Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (Item1), in the foreground a collection of knives leaning against a wall. In the right background, a tea kettle set, and on the right a reclining figure.
June 14, 2016
Janice's Dying Rose Picture and My Interpretation of It
On the left, one of wife Janice's photographs from her Past Their Prime series, a poignant collection of pictures of flowers in the late stages of decay. On the right, my treatment of the same image.
June 13, 2016
From chartx showing enlarged photographs of the eggs of the fairy shrimp, from a 2011 issue of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales (Link1).
These last images are strongly influenced by two brand new filters offered on Dreamscope, Petals and Jewels. Also, experimenting with placement and prominence of my Trilobite signature emblem.
June 12, 2016
Street Crowd and Woman Eating Cracker
A composition of two works by Friedrich Karl Gotsch, one a large painting of an urban scene of the time and the other a pen sketch of a woman eating a cracker or candy bar, eyes boring into the artist. The images are from a large collection of various artists published in 1921 collection of Junge Kunst (Link1: "Young Art") by publisher bL, An illustration of spike-helmeted soldiers going off to the World War I front, provided with beverages by patriotic village women as the troop train slows at a local station. Image is from a 1921 collection of Junge Kunst (Link1: "Young Art") by a Liepzig publisher.
June 12, 2016
Cheerful Send-off to the Trenches
An illustration of spike-helmeted soldiers going off to the World War I front, provided with beverages by patriotic village women as the troop train slows at a local station. Image is from the 1915 Unsere Bayern im felde ; erzählungen aus dem weltkriege, 1914/15, berichte von bayerischen feldzugsteilnehmern (Link1: Google translate: "Our Bayern in felde ; narratives from the world wars , 1914-15 , reports of Bavarian campaign of participants"). Note the excited Dachsund in the lower left. Nobody then knew the horrors awaiting the soldiers -- from both sides -- in the trenches of that war.
God, I hate war. And America faces an awful electoral choice, with Clinton who is a Neocon who believes in violence as an acceptable instrument of global political maneuvering and Trump who is a thin-skinned, ignorant and unpredictable bully!
June 11, 2016
Kinky German Orientalism
From the 1907 Blühende Gärten des Ostens : 78 Erzählungen, Gedichte und Schwaenke aus den Litteraturen des Orients (Link1; Google Translate, "Flower gardens of the East : 78 stories, poems and anecdotes from the literatures of the Orient"). The illustration is by artist and engraver Franz Christophe.
I am interested in this because of the artist's use of a symbol (an owl) in the upper right corner, which is similar to my experimentation with a trilobite as a personal signature symbol.
June 11, 2016
Moralistic Tale for Young Girls
From the 1865 book of virtuous instruction called Moral emblems (Link1), an illustration to demonstrate the precept: "The Pot Goeth So Long to the Water Til At Last It Comes Broken Home." The accompanying poem tells the story of a girl who went to town with her clay pot to fetch water, but she got carried away playing games with the boys and broke it. Now she's heading home, facing shame with a broken pot. Feminist scholars can go into more detail on this as a warning against sexual activity.
June 9, 2016
Catalog Cover Bouquet with Medallion
Central image is the cover image from the 1891 catalog of gardening seeds and supplies from A.B. Davis & Son (Link1). Inset in the circular center (instead of a simpering child) is a medallion from the L'art de terre chez les Poitevins : Suivi d'une étude sur l'ancienneté de la fabrication du verre en Poitou (Link2; Google Translate: The land art in Poitou : "Monitoring of a study on the age of the glass manufacturing in Poitou"). Poitou is the French province whose capital is Poitiers.
June 9, 2016
Doomed Romanov Royals on Roof
From the 1922 account by Alexandra, consort of Czar Nicholas I, about the last days of the Czar's family, Die letzte Zarin : ihre Briefe and Nikolaus II. und ihre Tagebuchblätter von 1914 bis zur Ermordung (Link1: Google Translate: The last empress : her letters and Nicholas II and their diaries from 1914 to the murder), a photo of the Czar and his children on the roof of the house in Yakaterinburg where they were exiled after the October revolution. This was the city where the Czar and his family were murdered.
June 8, 2016
From an 1896 Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (Link1: Google Translate: Magazine for Ethnology) article on indigienous tribal people living in the interior of the Philippine island of Luzon, a photograph by early explorer and businessman Alexander Schadenberg. The young warrior seems to hold a spear and shield.
June 8, 2016
Objects in Bird Stomachs, Linoleum, and Daisy Picker
Foreground, another sentimental portrait of a young girl, detaching daisy petals as she murmurs "He loves me, he loves me not", from Cassell's Family Magazine (Link1). Deep background is a layout of linoleum patterns from a 1960 catalog (Link2)
And the objects in the background circle are indigestible items removed from bird stomachs, taken from a public service advertisement in a 2007 Women's Health (Link3).
June 7, 2016
Aristocrats and Birds, Linoleum, Swaddled Colonial
Two young women stroll, feeding the birds outside a mansion, in another sentimental picture from Cassell's Family Magazine (Link1).
They are placed on a linoleum pattern from the 1960 linoleum catalog (Link2), an inset of a swaddled colonial-era child from the 1813
Portraits, memoirs, and characters of remarkable persons from the reign of Edward the Third to the Revolution (Link3), and an actor in costume from a 1972 issue of The Talking Machine Review (Link4).
June 6, 2016
Three 1870 Ladies
Three sentimental images of women, from the 1874 Cassell's Family Magazine (Item 1). They are clothed in the frilly dresses of the time and executed in an academic realistic style. They are captioned, from top left, "A Girl's Story"; top right, "A Maiden's Dream"; and the swooning woman at the bottom is captioned "Killed, with his Face to the Foe!"
June 5, 2016
Sr. Theresa, Linoleum Pattern, Ruined Road
A portrait of St. Teresa of Avila from the cover of a recent religious book (Item1). The image is based on a painting by the 18th-century painter Francois Gerard. Her picture is displayed on a pattern composed of two images: (1) a linoleum pattern from a 1960 catalog by Congoleum (Item 2) and (2) and the scattered logs of an old Roman road through the wetlands from the 1898 Die römischen Moorbrücken in Deutschland (Item 3: Google Translate, "Roman Swamp Roads in Germany"). My new trilobite emblem/seal (like a Japanese chop)is also present.
June 4, 2016
Magic Trick Explained and Floor Stretch
In the background, a picture looking down at a woman doing a floor stretch from a 1989 Yoga Journal (Link1)), with her outreached arms at the top. In the foreground, at the bottom, a diagram from the 1908 Optical Illusions (Link2), showing the explanation of an illusion called "The Delphic Oracle" in which, the head of a woman appears against the background of a Greek temple; after a while, the exhibitor also appears in the temple by means of mirrors at a 45-degree angle.
In the second, expanded version I include (1) a trilobite signet from the 1891 Elemente der geologie (Link3) and (2) some eyes from the June 1920 issue of the movie magazine The Tatler (Link4).
I believe this is a transitional period. The third image uses the Trilobite motif as a form of signature.
June 3, 2016
Saucy and Haughty
Two women in one frame: left, a romantic 19th century painting of a Venetian flower seller, from a painting by the Austrian E. von Blaas, which appeared in an 1853 edition of the picture magazine Die Neue Gartenlaube (Link1); next society photographer Cecil Beaton's portrait, dated "around 1930," of Princess Natalie Paley, a descendant of the former Czar's Romanov dynasty, from the 1960 20th Century Photography By Museum Ludwig Cologne (Link2).
June 1, 2016
Tableau Under Bridge
Combination of two pictures: one shows the underside of a railroad bridge over the river Speer in Berlin, from the 1896 Berlin und seine Bauten (Link1; Google translate: "Berlin and its buildings"). The second is a picture from the 1864 202 Holzschnitte nach Zeichnungen (Link2: Google translate: "202 Woodcuts to Drawings"). It is an illustration of the German legend of the Erlking, the evil Elf King that abducts children to satisfy his daughters. This is probably an illustration to the Goethe poem Der Erlkoenig, which tells the sad story of a man on horseback trying to save his child from the Elf King's lascivious daughters. He is chased by the bearded Elf King, while the daughters (on the right) await their prey. Here is one translation of the Goethe poem. Another translation (with the original German) is here. Both legend and poem are powerful and have been set to music several times.
Who rides, so late, through night and wind?
It is the father with his child.
He has the boy well in his arm
He holds him safely, he keeps him warm.
"My son, why do you hide your face in fear?"
"Father, do you not see the Elf-king?
The Elf-king with crown and cape?"
"My son, it's a streak of fog."
"You dear child, come, go with me!
(Very) beautiful games I play with you;
many a colorful flower is on the beach,
My mother has many a golden robe."
"My father, my father, and hearest you not,
What the Elf-king quietly promises me?"
"Be calm, stay calm, my child;
Through scrawny leaves the wind is sighing."
"Do you, fine boy, want to go with me?
My daughters shall wait on you finely;
My daughters lead the nightly dance,
And rock and dance and sing to bring you in."
"My father, my father, and don't you see there
The Elf-king's daughters in the gloomy place?"
"My son, my son, I see it clearly:
There shimmer the old willows so grey."
"I love you, your beautiful form entices me;
And if you're not willing, then I will use force."
"My father, my father, he's touching me now!
The Elf-king has done me harm!"
It horrifies the father; he swiftly rides on,
He holds the moaning child in his arms,
Reaches the farm with great difficulty;
In his arms, the child was dead.
May 31, 2016
Old School Computer Game Critters
In the left center, an illustration from the cover of the undated manual for the Apple II program called Creature Creator, popular in the
1980's, and in three corners, three creatures created by that program. Second image is a follow-up version that uses advanced distortion effects.
May 30, 2016
Just a Reminder
I am getting annoyed by Clinton supporters' online demands that Bernie Sanders drop out of presidential race before July 25 beginning of convention. Before even California has voted! The Sanders movement represents an exciting new development in American political consciousness -- ohmigod, Democratic Socialism! -- and if the entrenched Democratic Party establishment shuts that movement out at the convention, it does so at its own risk. Especially since some polls show Sanders beating Trump while Clinton loses to Trump. I want Sanders to have influence over Democratic Platform and the future of the Democratic Party. I think he's earned it.
Posted a link to this image and my comment on one of my favorite political board, Democratic Underground, it has occasioned some controversy, which can be seen here. I generally don't partake in online disputes because to do so is time-wasting and emotionally upsetting.
May 29, 2016
Dreamscape Tool Repaired
First image since Dreamscope started misfiring. I hope the final result is a little bit better than the last batch, which have disappointed me. Image of a woman from a chandelier is from the 1884 German magazine Kunstgewerbeblatt; Monatschrift (Item1; Google Translate: 'Monthly Crafts Sheet"), superimposed on a 14th century Arabian rug from the same magazine. One unusual thing is that I sent my original image through the Dreamscape app with that same image used to define the style, with the result being the second image.
The third image is the first result, sent through additional distortion/geometric filters.
May 26, 2016
Treatments with and without Dreamscape
I have grown accustomed to using the filters available on the Dreamscope app for color and texture in my treatment of old black and white images. But tonight Dreamscope was down, so I had to rely on other methods, mainly on GIMP's Seamless Filter, Nova Liner, Fractalize. I like the result on left. Second image was created after Dreamscope utilities were partially restored. Third image is a quick re-do after Dreamscape was restored.
The image is a studio photograph of German film actress Maria Koppenhoffer from a 1943 issue of the slick German propaganda magzine Volk und Welt. Her image is placed over an abstract photograph from the same magazine, which appears to show insect eggs among twigs. (Link1)
Next row, fourth and fifth image is a combination of two images. Top, a child named Marjorie observes a nesting dove in a tree from a 1908 issue of The Queensland Naturalist (Link2). Bottom, two men in an astronomers' workshop grinding telescope lenses, from a 1905 issue of Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte. (Link3)
Sixth image is a collage of models exhibiting various poses in a LIFE magazine. (Link4)
May 25, 2016
Paper Doll Dresses on Shell
A paper doll and a set of paper doll dresses from the 1911 Three hundred games and pastimes, or, What shall we do now? : a book of suggestions for children's games and employments (Link1) placed on a illustration of a sea shell from the 1808 Conchyliologie systâematique, et classification mâethodique des coquilles : offrant leurs figures, leur arrangement gâenâerique, leurs descriptions caractâeristiques, leurs noms, ainsi que leur synonymie en plusieurs langues : ouvrage destinâe áa faciliter l'âetude des coquilles, ainsi que leur disposition dans les cabinets d'histoire naturelle (Link2).
May 24, 2016
God Abandons Disobedient Daughter
An illustration from the story of Richard Wagner's opera, the Ring Trilogy. Great God Wotan, displeased at his daughter Brunhilde's disobedience, disarms her and leaves her unconscious and helpless for the first man who comes along to take. But still, he loves her -- secretly Wotan is happy she stood up to him; he was just following the shrewish dictates of his nagging wife. So, here, he kisses the Valkyrie tenderly and surrounds her helpless body with raging fire, so only the bravest man can approach her. The cover image of an 1895 musical composition Magical Fire containing three "paraphrases" of the opera. (Link1)
May 22, 2016
15th Century Animal Man
An image from 1488 of a figure adorned by animals, from the 1936 Sinnbilder deutscher Volkskunst (Link1; Google Translate; Symbols of German Folk Art), displayed on a twisted cover illustration from a 1985 edition of new Scientist. (Link2). Next to that is a variation of that figure, responding to an instinct to make my pictures "wilder" and less representational. Third picture is another early stick-man symbol from the same source, placed on a drawing of a ruined wall from the 1892 Die Baukunst der Griechen (Link3: Google Translate: Architecture of the Greeks).
May 22, 2016
The Joy of Bathroom Furnishings
A composition of two illustrations from the 1956 catalog of bathroom fixtures, Accent on accessories by Hall-Mack. I like the combination of attractive young women modestly dressed in their bathrobes and nightdresses, reflected in mirrors -- something like the mood of the old 1970's Victoria's Secret catalogs (before they turned to exaggerated and aggressive provocation).
May 21, 2016
Simplified Procedure Images
Another procedural advance -- after composition, these images went through minimal filtering. Two Photoshop filters (Cutout, PosterEdges), two Gimp filters (DreamSmoothing, Painting), two DreamScope filters (Red/Blue Playing Card, Headcut Portrait) plus a third DreamScope.(Picasso) for color.
First image is composition of two pictures of jewelry from an 1897 Leipzig bookseller's magazine
Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte (Link1).
Second image is from a 1908 edition of that same magazine (Link2): a relief sculpture by Emil Epple showing biblical teenage bombshell Salome posing with the head of John the Baptist.
Third image is an illustration from an edition of 1001 Nights, perhaps the queen Scheherazade acting out one of her stories.
Fourth image is an image from the Plastic Club's Thursday morning Still Life workshop, which I am considering submitting for an upcoming exhibition.
Second row, fifth image, is a variation on a cover of a different issue of the Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte (Link3), with an elephant motif added in concert with my horrified view of Belusconi-type TV hack Donald Trump as GOP presidential candidate.
Sixth image, from a 1907 issue of the magazine (Link4), seems to be a painting of a group of sirens serenading the crew of a passing ship. The tipoff is the skull in the sand.
Seventh image, from the same issue, part of a painting of a smiling woman relaxing on a sofa by the German artist Eugen Spiro.
The German magazine Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte is a rich source of images, but when the Nazis came, it toed the party line, publishing the interesting -- if odious -- anti-semitic propagandist Johann von Leers, an aristocrat who, after the war, fled to Argentina and then Egypt, converted to Islam, and secured a post in Nasser's government.
May 16, 2016
Gerard Manley Hopkins in Dreamscope Experiment
Major technical advance. Took a black and white image of religious poet Gerard Manley Hopkins as Content from a 1997 tourist brochure The Gerard Manley Hopkins original in Hopkins House (Link1). Then I used a picture by American artist Stuart Davis (Link2) to provide Style. The result is at right. This marks the first time I've been able to use this essential feature of DreamScope.
Next row, another experiment with this technique, with an advertising image from from the 1918 Motion Picture Magazine (Link3)
May 15, 2016
First two images are from the 1943 Entomologica Americana (Link1), manipulations of diagrams showing "beautiful and intricate" wasp-like patterns found on various flying insects. (Link1)
Third image is a set of playing tokens from an X-Files-like role-playing game called Agents 200 (Link2).
Second row, fourth image is slides of tissue samples from Menschenaffen (Anthropomorphae); studien über entwickelung und schädelbau (Link3; Google Translate: "Apes (Anthropomorphae) studies on evolution and skull structure").
Fifth image is variations on illustrations of ape skulls from Link3.
Sixth image is a display of engravers' marks (filigrees) from the 1904 Les filigranes avec la crosse de Bâle (Link4).
In all of these, the key artistic element is the tiny patterns that appear in the spaces between the repeating positive elements. So be sure to look at those details by clicking to enlarge the view.
May 12, 2016
The Grace and Energy of Dance
The gracefully-posed central figure is German Expressionist dancer Clotilde von Derp from the 1921 Der moderne tanz (Link1: "The Modern Dance"). The two dancers at the bottom of the image are also from that book, showing sisters Grete and Else Weisenthal balancing and reaching out to each other in a horizontal direction. The dancers are placed against a background of a wood carving from the 1846 Album mittelalterlicher Kunst (Link2: "Album of Medieval Art") and a mystical symbol from the 1955 Indian book The Life Divine (Link3) by Indian mystic Sri Auobindo.
Next picture is Clotilde von Derp again, from a different book, the 1920 Lebendige Form : Rhythmus und Freiheit in Gymnastik Sport und Tanz (Link4). Also in the picture are a photograph of the composer's right hand from the 1908 book Franz Liszt (Link5) and program cover from the 1913 Die oper (Link6).
Third image is a casual ink sketch of a dancer (curiously faceless) leaping toward the bottom right corner, trailing a billowing feathered cape behind her. She is placed on a background of a wall composed of a Seattle tourist attraction, a wall of chewed bubble gum wads in a movie theatre parlor (Link7).
Fourth image is a diagram from an early attempt to find a written notation for dance moves, from Link1 It is superimposed on a decorative design from the 1926 A catalogue of perforated metalwork (Link8).
Next row, fifth image, from Link1, is Russian ballerina Tamara Karsevina as the Firebird and Michel Fokine as prince Ivan in the 1910 ballet based on Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird. In the background, from the 1847 Le Moniteur des architectes (Link9) is an interior captioned "comptoir d'escompte. grande salle vue prise entre la plafond et le comble vitre" (Google Translate: "discount counter. large room shooting between the ceiling and the glass roof")
May 7, 2016
America's Sweetheart on Stack of Gears and Libyan Church Floor
Early 20th century movie darling Mary Pickford sits before her dressing table mirrors, in an image from the 1918 Motion Picture Magazine (Link1). That image is superimposed on a technical drawing of gears from a 1916 commercial catalog of Iron and semisteel castings (Link2). Both are then superimposed on an image of a 6th century floor design from the 1987 Earth And Ocean: The Terrestrial World In Early Byzantine Art (Link3).
May 5, 2016
A Mayan Queen's Dream of Time Itself on a Chocolate Moon
Two Mayan glyphs from the 2009 Maya Numbers and The Mayan Calendar (Link1) by Mark Pitts: to the upper right, the Mayan figure of Time, struggling to pull the passage of days behind him; and to left and lower, a curious depiction of a specific Mayan Queen's Dream. They are shown on a background of chocolate shavings from the undated Encyclopedie Du Chocolat (Link2) and a depiction of a lunar-like cratered surface from the 1913 Hörbigers glacial-kosmogonie, eine neue entwickelungsgeschichte des weltalls und des sonnensystems auf grund der erkenntnis des widerstreites eines kosmischen neptunismus mit einem ebenso universellen plutonismus, nach den neuesten ergebnissen sämtlicher exakter forschungszweige (Link3; Google Translate: "Horbiger glacial cosmogony , a new history of development of the universe and the solar system all on the basis of knowledge of the conflict of a cosmic Neptunism with an equally universal Plutonismus , according to the latest outcomes of exact research branches").
May 4, 2016
Bronze Standard on a Pattern of Flags
A collection of provincial flags from the 1922 Lista oficial de los buques de guerra y de los mercantes de más de 50 toneladas de la Marina Española (Link1) forms the background for an etching of a Roman bronze standard from the 1848 Collectanea antiqua : etchings and notices of ancient remains, illustrative of the habits, customs, and history of past ages (Link2). The standard's letters read "COH OPTIMO MAXIM B", which, the text explains, identifies the standard as being from a Roman legion from the Varduli tribe.
May 4, 2016
The altered diagram of a gear from the 1918 automobile manual Das Fahrgestall von Gaskraftwagen (Google Translate: The Fahrgestall Gas Cars; Link1), with a lot of distortion and filtering. (Note: There is an error in the bibliographic information on the page.) The gear design is overlaid on a swirling design from the 1983 As Through A Veil: Mystical Poetry In Islam (Link2), The design dates back to 1650 and is entitled "Mystical Journey."
May 3, 2016
Frisian Women Costumes
From a 1900 German travel book on the Frisian Islands, Deutsche Nordeseeküste, Friesiche Inseln und Helgoland (Link1).
First, a photograph of two women stepping out of a weathered stone house.
Second, three girls on the seashore in traditional costume. This second image introduces two technical innovations: (1) color layer keyed to representation and (2) final step of GIMP black-and-white engrave filter.
May 2, 2016
May Day/Greek Easter Pattern
A chapter heading from a 1905 German book of Celtic folklore, Wind und Woge; keltische Sagen (Link1). First ornamental design is overlaid with the colors of a design from the 1868 The fleet of an Egyptian queen from the XVII. century before our era and ancient Egyptian military on parade : represented on a monument of the same age, both in some parts restored and published for the first time by the author after a copy taken from the terrace-temple of Dêr-el-Baheri : with an appendix containing the fishes of the Red Sea in the original size of the monument as ornaments beneath the fleet, a number, chronologically arranged, of representations of ancient Egyptian ships and some representations and inscriptions from various temples and tombs which have reference to the preceding (Link2).
The second image is a combination of two images -- a frontispiece and a chapter heading -- from the book of Celtic folklore cited agove (Link1), presumably translated into German.
To appreciate these pieces, click on them so they fill the screen and you can see the intricate patterning within the design.
May 1, 2016
Hollywood Scandal Stories
From a 1960 edition of Hollywood gossipmonger Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon II (Link1).
First image is froma photoshoot of actress Pier Angeli. The actress, originally from Sardinia, loved James Dean in full operatic tragedy. After he died, she died from an overdose of barbituates before she turned 40. She was considered for a role in The Godfather, but lost the role and settled for a role in B-movie horror flick called Octaman, shortly before her death.
Second image is an odd publicity shot from the 1958 movie The Party Crashers, featuring two tragic Hollywood figures, Frances Farmer in her last movie role and former child star Bobby Driscoll. They played mother and son. The photo seems to be shot through a basement window. Farmer was wrongfully committed to a mental hospital where she received shock treatments. Driscoll died of a drug overdose in an abandoned Manhattan tenement with no identification and was buried in a pauper's graveyard.
Third image is another weird shot, captioned "Propositioned by a Robot." The provenance is not clear. The actress resembles Joan Crawford. In the lower right, two nude exercise pictures from the 1907 Körperkultur des Weibes praktisch hygienische und praktisch ästhetische Winke, a physical culture handbook (Link2).
April 27, 2016
Book of Strange Children
Ran across a mysterious Ukrainian book called Ренсом Ріґґз. Дім дивних дітей (Link1: Google Translate: "Ransom Riґґz . House bizarre children"). The description of the book, Google Translated from the Ukrainian, says Sixteen Jacob childhood accustomed to his grandfather's stories about his youth in the distant island county of Wales, in the shelter of strange children: the monsters with triple tongues, the invisible boy, the girl who knew how to fly The only side effect of these inventions were nightmares that tormented teenager. But once broke into a nightmare of his life, killed his grandfather reality. Apparently, the book originates from VKontakt (VK.COM), a Russian language website that bills itself "the largest European social network with over 100 million active users."
Here are some illustrations from this strange book, some overlaid on fancy framing devices. First image is a waif in rags in what seems to be an abandoned country estate. Second image is a figure lit from below, holding some sort of glowing flower or phallus. Third image is a little girl in Mary Janes and frilly dress who casts a weird shadow as if she were floating eight inches above the ground. Fourth image is a woman(?) and child walking out of a deep tunnel. Fifth image is a lovely photograph with a handwritten Ukrainian caption, showing a young girl sitting in chair holding a bowl of fruit and vegetables in her lap. Sixth image is a boy on a suburban sidewalk dressed in a bunny suit. Seventh image
is a boy mugging before an unexploded bomb. I can't read the caption, but the first word is a highly literate, comic-book-style "PFFF-T."
April 18, 2016
New Webpage Proprietor's Portrait
Time to change my image at top of this web page. The new image is a small pencil portrait done by Remo Frangiosa. It was done while I sat for Remo's portrait class over a two-week period at Philadelphia's historic Plastic Club. The previous image was a larger painting I commissioned from the Plastic Club's Andy Hoffmann.
Next are two other images also used as masthead portraits. Third image is an iPad self-portait in a coffee shop (approx. 2014). It is probably the best representation of my revulsion at the aging process and my sadness at the prospect of diminishing cognitive powers. Fourth is an attempt to limit portrait to the fewest number of facial features and still be recognizable (approx. 2012). (Sorry: unlike the other images on this page, these masthead pictures don't enlarge when clicked...)
For other images from the portrait class sitting, see entry for September 22, 2015 -- you'll have to click on the "2015 Archive" link at the top of this page.
South Sea Images
From the 1907 Te Tohunga; the ancient legends and traditions of the Maoris (Link1). The author and artist is Wilhelm Dittmer, who was born in German and moved to New Zealand. Dittmer's black and white illustrations are marvelous, and in these treatments, I do little more than add color, out of respect for the artist.
The first image is a manipulation of a chapter heading showing a mask with an eyehole pierced by a stick.
The second image seems to be a temple with statues built among rocks.
Third image is Matapo, the old blind man, who recounted to Dittmer the Maori creation myths: "Ah, these are my words to you, my wanderer." In the background, behind Matapo's dead eyes, the burning eyes of a spirit animal.
The fourth image is the artist's conception of the myth of an old-time supernatural battle, captioned "The Battle of the Giants." Part of the color in this image is provided by an underlay of linoleum samples (Link2).
April 13, 2016
Variations on 1920 Print Ads
From a 1920 issue of the Canadian magazine National Pictorial (Link1), the first image shows a woman drying her hair in an open window, from an ad for a cocoanut oil shampoo. ("brings out the real life and lustre, natural wave and color, and makes your hair soft, fresh and luxuriant.") Background is the same set of linoleum samples (Link2) used in Trilobite image of April 11. A Moore family legend says my paternal grandmother was drying her red hair on the porch one afternoon. A passing artist glimpsed her and used thirty different shades of red to paint her. Nowadays, women use noisy handheld electric hair dryers to blow dry their hair.
Second image shows an Egyptian woman, from an ad for Egyptian Deities brand cigarettes (Link1) in the same magazine. In the background, some more decorative linoleum tiles from the tile catalog (Link2).
April 12, 2016
Trilobites on Linoleum Samples
Five ftrilobite fossils from the 1876 Lethaea geognostica. Handbuch der erdgeschichte mit abbildungen der für die formationen bezeichnendsten versteinerungen (Link1: Google Translate: "Lethaea geognostica . Commission erdgeschichte with illustrations of the most characteristic formations fossils"). They are displayed on a sample page of linoleum from the 1954 The floor for atmosphere of luxury and refinement: Armstrong's rubber tile (Link2). I like trilobites because their design is so simple and familiar -- yet they died out in a mass extinction event about 250 million years ago. Horseshoe crabs are distant ancestors.
April 11, 2016
Lady Gardener Tends to Business
A woman reaches up to prune the top of a house plant, from an engraving in the 1874 issue of the Canadian illustrated magazine, The Favorite.
April 11, 2016
Millwork (Lumber) Catalog Caprices
The first image is a composition composed of elements from the 1925 millwork catalog by A. Teachout Co. (Link1): an illustration of a glamorous lady descending a staircase to answer the front door, placed on a background of a peneled door. Second image is a happy couple embracing next to their new wooden door. Third image are two vertical wooden knobs from the millwork catalog, placed against two stencils from an 1898 Catalogue of window shades and shade hardware, paper hangers tools and supplies (Link2) and a circular plate design from the 1896 Ueber fremde einflusse in der chinesischen kunst (Link3; Google Translate: "About foreign influence in Chinese art").
April 8, 2016
In the late 19th century, when Theosophy was in full flower, adherents published a magazine called The Sphinx, often with illustrations by an artist who signed his work Fidus. Here, from an 1886 issue, an illustration captioned "Dream." Second image is a girl, communing with nature -- and a lizard which suns itself on the rock they share. Third image is another characteristic Fidus illustration, a slim young girl sitting on rocks, while in the sky behind her a mysterious figure appears in the clouds.
April 4, 2016
Murder Most Foul
From the 1900 Der Richter und die Rechtspflege in der deutschen Vergangeheit : mit 159 Abbildungen und Beilagen nach den Originalen aus dem fünfzehnten bis achtzehnten Jahrhundert (Link1; Google Translate: "The judge and the administration of justice in the German Vergangeheit : with 159 illustrations and supplements to the originals from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century").
This woodcut illustrates a murder in the woods. The victim is in the lower right. The image is captioned "Ulrich of Württemberg murdered Hans von Hutten." Wikipedia explains the motive: "[Ulrich's] marriage was a very unhappy one, and having formed an affection for the wife of a knight named Hans von Hutten, a kinsman of Ulrich von Hutten, the Duke killed Hans in 1515 during an altercation." The murdering Duke had to flee in exile, but in time he returned as "Ulrich the Peasant" during the German Peasant's War in 1524-25. However, some sources dispute this story.
April 2, 2016
Ogress on Wooden Ornament
A whimsical collage. An illustration from the 1898 The Arabian nights' entertainments (Link1), showing an ogress. In the background above and behind her, some ornaments based on English plants from the 1849 Art Journal (Link2).
April 1, 2016
Calligraphic Initial Capitals
Distorted and recolored images from the 1882 Initial-Ornamentik des VIII bis XIII Jahrhunderts ("Ornamental Initials from the 8th to 13 Centuries") (Link1). First image is an initial "L" dated 990 AD from the Echternach Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery in Luxembourg. Second image is an initial "U" (I think) from a manuscript produced in the German town of Triere in 1378. Third image is a capital "Q" from the same source. Fourth image is a 12th century capital "P" from an English Romanesque letter from the 1919 classic The Styles of ornament : from prehistoric times to the middle of the XIXth century ; a series of 3500 examples arranged in historical order with descriptive text for the use of architects, designers, craftsmen and amateurs (Link2), labeled as being by "Josephus and other masters." Fifth image is from a manuscript created in Cologne, German, in Link1 again,
Calligraphy is on my mind because I just finished an English translation (from the Arabic) of a slim novel/memoir, Land of No Rain, by Amjad Nasser, a Jordanian poet and journalist. It tells the story of Younis Kattat, who returns to his native land after a 20-year political exile. Kattat was involved in a secular leftist grou and barely escaped arrest. The political involvement caused a rift between Kattat and his father, a respected Calligrapher. Kattat remembers his father's Thurday salons with learned disputations about styles of calligraphy and ancient Arab history. "[To young Khattat these salons] were like torture sessions for your restless body." Khattat's political connections were formed before the jihadist religious fundamentalism that currently dominates the Middle East. He seems as puzzled by its power as the rest of us.
Nasser's style names certain place in his hero's journey:
- The City Overlooking the Sea: Cyprus
- The City of Red and Grey: London
- Land of Palm Trees and Olives: Israel
- City of Sindbad: Baghdad
- City of Siege and War: Beirut
Also finished another novel, The Book of the Sultan's Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars by Youssef Rakha, an Egyptian, translated into English from the Arabic by Paul Starkey. It tells the story of three weeks in the life of Mustafa Corbaci, a 30-year-old Cairo journalist, beginning with his abandonment of his pregnant wife, and continues through a series of magical realist events that occur during his everyday travels around Cairo. The author describes the story as Corbaci's "transformation during twenty-one days from a Europeanized intellectual to a semi-madman who believed he could perform magic deeds to resurrect the Islamic caliphate." In his imagination -- or is it reality? -- he meets the last Sultan of the long-dead Ottoman empire, who gives him the task of finding a forgotten calligraphic transcription of the Koran's Sura of Mary. He also is given a mysterious ring, which contains a calligraphic transcription that miraculously mirrors the map of his daily commute between his job and his mother's house. Corbaci also has an affair with Claudine, described in fine erotic detail. It is a promising set of puzzles, but curiously -- to the American reader accustomed to straight-line Stephen King narratives -- the story ends with no solution or progress in carrying out the Sultan's orders or in finding the mysterious ring. Corbaci just boards an airline to fly from Cairo to Beirut. Here is a long book review and an interview with the author.
4/12: Read another book, a translation from the French, called The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris, by Leila Marouane. It tells the story of Algerian-born Mohamed Ben Mokhtar, who moves from a majority-Arab suburb of Paris into central Paris -- changing his name to Basile Tocquard, whitening his skin and straightening his hair. In American terms, it is a tale of passing. Escaping the suffocating gaze of his family promises him sexual freedom, but he never quite loses his virginity in his new digs. Mohamed/Basile's life is a mixture of cosmopolitan cafe-sitting and traditional Islamic concerns -- the family pilgrimage to Mecca, the requirement that older brothers must marry before younger brothers can marry, etc. Here is a book review on an excellent website.
March 28, 2016
Linoleum Flag with Woodcutter Eagle
Spanish artist Woodcutter Manero recently added another font, a "dingbat" symbol font. Here is one of his Eagle designs, laid on a pattern of linoleum samples from the 1956 ceramic tile catalog of American-Olean Tile Company (Link1).
March 27, 2016
Aphorism from Arabic Novel
Another printers ornament from the 1904 issue of a German architectural magazine, Deutsche Bauzeitung, used as a setting for a line ("Every road has its walker") from a translation (from the Arabic) of a magical realist novel, The Book of the Sultan's Seal, by Egyptian writer Youssef Rakha. The saying is, to me, a sad acknowledgement that, in American terms, "you play the cards you're dealt." I haven't been happy with my situation this Easter weekend. The font is Woodcutter Future by that talented Spanish bad boy Woodcutter Manero.
March 27, 2016
First image is a seasonal message, combining Belle Epoque font with an Art Nouveau decorative frame from a 1904 issue of a German architectural magazine, Deutsche Bauzeitung.
I have religious feelings about the Easter holiday, mainly stirred by childhood memories of the intense step-by-bloody-step visualization of the Crucifixion of Jesus in Catholic Good Friday services. I have even composed a melodic poem/hymn about it.
Keep the silence
Someday I hope to connect with the talent and equipment to produce that mournful lament. This year, I sat in a restaurant over an Italian hoagie and wrote a self-pitying poem.
Won'cha keep the silence
Won'cha keep the silence
'Cuz a man dies young
My attachment to the meaning of Good Friday rather than Easter is because I believe it much more likely that a good man whose ideas challenge the status quo was cruelly executed in Roman times. I believe it much less likely that that his body miraculously rose from the dead after three days.
The second image is a profane image doing the rounds in printers' circles. (Thank, Al.) I am happy that I live in a society where the Religious Police are not likely to come knocking at my door for that sacreligious (and funny) image. I may occasionally publish a religiously sensitive image, with apologies to those offended, to ensure that our society retains its tradition of religious tolerance and diversity. That's the difference between advanced Western nations with their post-Reformation Secular traditions and many Middle-Eastern countries with their fundamentalist Islamic traditions.
March 27, 2016
Scrubbed-Up Ladies in Colorful 50's Bathrooms
A collage of different bathroom layouts from the 1953 American Standard catalog of bathroom fixtures, Plus value for your home (Link1). Six of the ladies pictured are "real" and three of them are just reflections in a mirror.
March 25, 2016
Unknown Craftsman of Ink Drawings and a Sidebar on the Kurds
An unidentified artist did a series of illustrations for Edison Mazda in the 1920's, advertising the wonders of light bulbs. The caption for this illustration was "The Well-Lighted Corner has the Well-Worn Chair." This is from a 1925 issue of the Canadian humor magazine, The Goblin (Link1). The second image shows a Chritmastime scene, made brighter by a tungsten filament bulb. Third image shows a daughter confiding in mother, headlined "The Party After the Party."
I added color, and some distortion of the lines, but if you examine closely the draftsmanship is superb. I can find no attribution, but could the artist have been Philadelphia illustrator Maxfield Parrish,
who did color calendars for Edison Mazda?
Incidentally, the word Mazda is a reference to the Zoroastrian god of light. Some Kurds have been converting from Sunni Islam to Zorastrianism lately, which is one of the reasons that Isis fights them so fiercely as "apostates". Which brings me to the good news that two major American commentators, Trudy Rubin and The New York Times have spoken in cautious support of a national home for the Kurds, a people who have been scattered throughout the Middle East. It is a sentiment with which I agree. The same arguments for the establishment of Israel can be used for the establishment of Kurdistan. The Kurds do not oppress women the way many Middle Eastern societies do and the Kurds are fierce and disciplined fighters. The great warrior Saladin was a Kurd. America has opposed Kurdistan to placate Turkey -- but the current Turkish leader Erdogan is getting increasingly uncooperative.
March 22, 2016
Recently ran across the archived collection of the Glasgow School of Art Library. The art scene in that Scottish town was the source of some powerful and distinctive ornament and designers, often very geometric. Here, treatments of pages from Kunstgewerbliche Schmuckformen fur die Flache v.I: Monatshefte fur die verzierende Kunst (Google Translate: "Handicraft jewelery forms for the Flat v.I : Monatshefte for the decorating Art") (Link1), one of the books in the Glasgow School of Arts' library.
Third image is a casual pen drawing of a little girl from a 1920 issue of the Canadian humor magazine The Goblin (Link2). She is overlaid on a diagram of geometric constructions from the Glasgow Art School's copy of the 1849 The infinity of geometric design exemplified (Link3).
March 20, 2016
Two charts overlaid from an 1872 German surveyor's manual, Zeitschrift für Vermessungswesen (Link1). Image represents a couple technical breakthroughs: erase black and add noise to border.
March 19, 2016
Letterforms and Decoration
An alphabet from an undated Italian handwriting textbook Caligrafia Curso Completo (Link 1), overlaid by a pattern for a wooden mantel from the 1900 Patterns of grilles, mantels, wood carpet (Link2),
March 18, 2016
Irish on my Mind
From the 1922 A miscellany of Irish proverbs (Link1). Happy St. Patrick's Day. On my mind because of an upcoming co-op political issue.
Font is Celtic Hand.
March 17, 2016
Book Notes: Neurotribes
Just finished a 500-page book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman, a present from a relative who has an autistic family member.
Two quick notes:
Pictured above: in one incident, a clergyman asked a class to write a new set of commandments "better than God's". One autistic
student began with the First Commandment pictured above.
Maybe later: an innovation at conferences for autists. They provide nametags (Interaction Signal Badges) with three optional settings:
Font is Woodcutter Vintage Comic.
- Red: "Nobody should try to interact with me."
- Yellow: "Only people I aleady know should interact with me, not strangers."
- Green: "I want to interact but am having trouble initiating, so please initiate an interaction with me."
March 16, 2016
An experiment: running my filter sequence on a cartoonized periodic table of the elements, published by Indian science popularizer Arvind Gupta.
March 16, 2016
Spirit of Liberation
Image of a red-gowned goddess of liberty, wearing the bonnet rouge, the red cap of liberty. She swings a rifle as a club to clobber (in lower right, from top) a policeman, a money-grubbing banker, and a clergyman. It's from the cover of a score for the 1880 song La Sociale.
March 12, 2016
Revisiting Dutch Windmills
In soem sort of creative funk, I return to my first Philly Bob's Free for All image, a reworking of drawings from the 1850 Building Plans for Dutch Industrial Windmills. (Link1). The first image was done October 10, 2012 (on left). Here is a (somewhat modified version) of what I wrote at the time: "Windmill Re-Imagined: This is a freely manipulated image based on a detail from a plan for a Dutch windmill. To me, it is evocative of a 21st century space vehicle. The image was distorted, recolored, and finally sent through various Photoshop filters. Precise and handsome industrial draftsmanship in the original book."
New 2016 version is on right. Not sure I'm happy, but that goes with an old man's False Spring blues. Took way too long to do, but helped me recover from a very upsetting Co-op meeting on 3/10.
Font is zenfyrkait by Hungarian artist Eva Barabasne Olasz, now living in Ireland.
March 12, 2016
Early Radio Scenes
Image from the 1925 Montgomery Ward Radio Catalog.
March 11, 2016
A.A. Milne's Princesses of Imaginary Lands
Images by book illustrator Charles Robinson of little princesses in fantasy land, for A.A. Milne's 1922 Once On A Time.
March 8, 2016
Remembering Karen Carpenter
Watched a TV special on the 1970-1980's ballad singer Karen Carpenter, shown here playing her first instrument, the drums. She was noteworthy for her tragic death at 33 from Anorexia Nervosa and her sublime contralto voice. Here's a 6-minute NPR feature about her life,
Here's another sample: Rainy Days and Mondays.
Sadly, I dismissed her at the time because she was not fashionable.
Ordered from Interlibrary Loan the top two prizewinners for translation from Arabic to English for 2015: The Book of the Sultan's Seal by Youssef Rakha and Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser.
There also translation prizes for Dutch (The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt and In Those Days by Remco Gampert), French (Harraga by Bouak Sansal and Portrait of a Man by Georges Perce), German (The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck and The Giraffe's Neck by Judith Schalansky), Spanish (Outlaws by Javier Cercas and Tristana by Benito Perez Galdos) and Swedish (The Listener by Tove Janson and A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz by Goran Rosenberg).
March 6, 2016
Chinese Box Design on Desert Caravan
An illustration from a 1940's children's book, The Negro and the Antelope (Link1), showing a caravan heading toward the Sultan's palace. Superimposed lightly on that illustration, a decoration from the top of a Chinese rosewood box, from the 1855 A catalogue of the Museum of Ornamental Art, at Marlborough House, Pall Mall (Link2)
March 5, 2016
The face of an 18-year-old girl, Michelle Carter, who faces manslaughter charges for allegedly driving her boyfriend to commit suicde, with mesaages like "You always say you’re gonna do it [suicide], but you never do." Filters used Picasso II, Citradelic, and Playing Card.
March 4, 2016
Patriotic Flag Lady on Tile Pattern
Against a backround of color tile samples from the 1956 catalog of American Olean Tile Company (Link1), another cover from an 1896 piece of sheet music, Les Trois couleurs, ou ,quand je vois nos trois couleurs (link2) (Google Translate: The Three Colors, or,When I see our Three Colors, I sing) showing a woman waving the French flag,
March 3, 2016
Floral Music Girl on Tile Pattern
Against a backround of color tile samples from the 1956 catalog of American Olean Tile Company (Link1), a graphic lady in blue rises from rococco floral decoration, from the cover of an 1896 piece of French sheet music, Au Pays Bleu (Link2).
Note: Tutorial on neural net system used in graphic "deep dream learning".
Also, interesting documentary on financial system collapse.
March 2, 2016
Art Teacher's Piano Top Decor
To make a long story short, my art teacher's car got wrecked and I offered to sell her my car. She was hobbled by injuries from the wreck, so I drove out to her house Monday to deliver the car and do the paperwork. This is a glimpse inside her house, a suburban family home full of bright paintings and dark heirloom furniture. The picture shows the eclectic collection of doo-dads on top of her piano.
This is the first time I have been without a car for a long time. It will help our fixed-income budget, but I miss at least the possibility of impulsive escape.
Source: My cell-phone photograph
March 2, 2016
Various Experiments with Filters on Old German Magazine
I do these shortened, picture-heavy postings when I'm too busy or too absorbed to do the full detailed bibliographic work. It's a shame, because one of the things I like to do is write.
Discovered a German magazine called Der Querschnitt (the Cross Section; Link1) which was to be shut down by the Nazis. It's something like the American Life Magazine. In the first picture, a girl's rowing team carries their boat out to a smooth lake.
In the next row, picture is from a different issue of Der Querschnitt (Link2). The editor, Alfred Flechtheim, had a habit of putting two stylistically related pictures on the same page -- like rhymes or coincidences. Here, he combines a blockish modernist statue (by Artistide Maillol) with a smiling photo of Spanish cabaret performer Laura Pinilla. Flechtheim's work is instructive to me in learning how to build collages out of such nonobvious graphical relationships.
February 28, 2016
Various Experiments with Filters on Public Domain Documents
I do these shortened, picture-heavy posts when I'm too busy or too absorbed to do full bibliographic work. It's a shame, because one of the things I like to do is write.
First image: two pictures of a trilobyte fossil, plus a dozing bear, all displayed on a wildly patterned book cover. Other pictures,
experiments with my current graffiti/card method, happening too fast to keep track of sources. Many sources are Link1. Engraving/engineering pictures are from Link2. In the third row, the woman's face is from Why Catholics Pray to the Blessed Virgin (Link3), a 1907 painting by "Marianne Stokes entitled "Madonna and Child." Next one combines a carpet background with an illustration from the 1890 A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Link3) by Mark Twain, showing an Arthurian "band with cymbals, harps, horns, and other horrors". Last picture in third row is a corset ad from the 1916 Montgomery Ward Catalog (Link4) -- the source of many of the patterns in this series. The NEMO corset "lifts and supports the most important vital organs."
February 20, 2016
Garbo, Heiroglyphics, Flags
A pic of Greta Garbo from
the 1923 National Vaudeville Souvenir (Link1), combined with Egyptian hierographics and a Flags of the Nations page.
February 19, 2016
No Bizness like Show Bizness
Top left, a fashion drawing. Middle, a publicity photo of actress Mabel Ford. Bottom, a clown. All from
the 1923 National Vaudeville Souvenir (Link1)
February 18, 2016
Fate Plays Cards with Man over
February 17, 2016
Dancers Behind a Hotel Barbershop Mirror
Another attempt at communicating my fascination with mirrors. Foreground is a 2 basin/3 mirror setup from the 1931 barbershop catalog Mirror cases by Kochs. (Link1) Behind the usual artist's shading depicting the mirrors is a fascinating image from the 1923 National Vaudeville Souvenir (Link2), a publicity still (shown at right) of the Maria Morgan Dancers The California house shared by Morgan and film director Dorothy Arzner is on a list of LGBT historical sites. The graceful dancers -- in the Isadora Duncan tradition -- are the epitome of feminine beauty. But they could be 16-year-olds.
February 15, 2016
Helmet, Kissy Mirror, Alien
In the middle, an actress kisses her reflection in a mirror from the 1923 National Vaudeville Souvenir (Link1). In the background, a photo of a combat vehicle gas mask, the FM51 from Avon Products (Link2). At bottom, a drawing of an alien from Blue Planet Project UFO TECHNOLOGY (Link3).
February 15, 2016
A workman installing a door in a 1929 catalog of millwork The Pease pricer (Link1), with an inset into the picture of the seamy cover from a 1960 paperback Untamed Lust (Link2).
February 14, 2016
Meditations on Mirrors
I have long been fascinated by artists' depiction of the hazy reflections in mirrors. So many removes from reality: the right-to-left world reflected left-to-right on a mirror, the artist removed from physical reality, the patterns on the depicted mirror removed from the hypothetical reality reflected in the mirror. Plus my own digital hallucination-making. Here are some variations on a 1931 catalog drawing of mirrors designed for fancy barbershops, the kind you'd see in downtown hotels, Mirror cases by Kochs. (Link1) Am enjoying the application of my latest technique -- two overlaid Dreamscape filters, Graffiti and Playing Card. If Dreamscape ever goes down, then might be able to duplicate loop with GMIC filters Stencil, Lyjek's Stencil, Old School 8 Bits, Edge Offsets, Thin Edges, Cartoon, Graphic Novel, Painting, Black Crayon Graffiti, Chalk It Up, Engrave, Gradient Norm,
Isophotes, Mask Creator, Spotify, Marble, Mineral Mosaic, Shock Waves,
February 12, 2016
Refugee with Text
February 11, 2016
Twenties Housewife Tending House Plant
February 10, 2016
Tintoretto Sea Battle Scene
From an 1871 reissue of The book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East : newly translated and edited with notes (Link1), an engraved detail of a Tintoretto painting, used to show maritime construction. The image is placed on a barely visible illustration from the 1924 Hartman's modern home magazine (Link2).
February 8, 2016
Arab Street Scenes
From the 1905 Der kleine Krieg in Afrika : aus der Erinnerungs- und Bilder-Mappe eines Offiziers der französischen Fremden-Legion (Google Translate: The little war in Africa : from the memory and images Binder of an officer of the French Foreign Legion), left, two women preparing food in Morocco, and right, two Berber women discussing the day's events.
February 7, 2016
Totally confused amd horrified by the Syrian Civil War. The Geneva Peace Talks were cancelled because of bloody bombing by Russia and Assad of old, old Aleppo. I find shelter from the horror of that five-year-old conflict -- which my own country bears partial responsibility for -- in color and pattern and history. Generally, I feel as if we're heading toward World War III. We're at the Spanish Civil War stage -- a brutal local conflict over government succession, fought by proxies, and used to perfect major powers' equipment and tactics.
Here is a picture of a Kata bird from Aleppo -- "[T]he flesh is so black and hard and dry that the Europeans never touch them" -- from the 1756 The natural history of Aleppo, and parts adjacent. Containing a description of the city, and the principal natural productions in its neighbourhood; together with an account of the climate, inhabitants, and diseases; particularly of the plague, with the methods used by the Europeans for their preservation.
February 6, 2016
The Syrian Situation
Note: This entry is disorganized, will eventually be rewritten.
Bored with Art for Art's Sake and by the U.S. elections (Go Bernie), I have turned my attention to the Middle East. The situation is developing like the run-up to World War I, and I am determined to try to understand it:
Here, neighbors climb over rubble and fruit from an overturned cart caused by three bombs set off yesterday near the Sayyidah Zaynab mosque on the outskirts of Damascus. The mosque, sacred to Shiite Muslims, is said to be the grave of the granddaughter of Mohammed. Fifty people were reportedly killed; ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State (identified with Sunni Muslims) claimed responsibiity. The blast was apparently aimed at disrupting proximity talks talks convened by the UN in Geneva. So far, two parties have appeared: (1) Assad's Syrian government, which is backed by Shiite Iran, Russia, and China; and (2) the High Negotiations Committee which is calling for the removal of Assad, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, Other companies calling for regime change include the United States, France, England, Germany, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and Israel. I will be following these talks closely. Al Jazeera has a 24-hour feed.
Here is my tentative chart of the four players in the Geneva talks:
Al Jazeera is one of the most active sources covering the Geneva talks on Syria.
|Pro-Assad Shiite||Anti-Assad Sunni||"Terrorist"||Kurds
|Syria, Iran, Russia and China
||Saudi Arabia, U.S., France, England, Germany, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel
||ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State
Another source is Al Arabiya.
Here's Twitter page of Steffan de Mistura, the patrician UN mediator, and of Kurds in Syria, who are excluded from the talks.
Changing Nature of Syrian Civil War 2011-2015
Isis & Geneva Talks
Peace Talks Falter
Dan Sanchez view of Israel's role in Middle East
Arab Student Review of Zionist Plan for Middle East
Report that ISIS founder was CIA agent
Atlantic Council Think Tank on Cancelled Syria Talks
Atlantic Council on Aleppo Significance
AC: Going Slow on ISIS in Syria
Syria Committee on Human Rights
Here's UN page on Geneva talks.
Next pictures showing Syrian women from the opposition group displaying atrocity photos in Geneva.
Next photo, a picture of UN mediator Staffan de Mistura announcing the opening of the Geneva talks on Monday. Mistura is an old-school European nobleman, a marquess, who speaks Swedish, Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Arabic (colloquial). I have an instinctive peasant's repulsion to someone of Mistura's rarified breeding. When I worked in New York, we had a European customer who was named "de" something. We peons behind the counter had a lot of fun dropping the "de" from his name on all the forms, and listening to his patiently correcting us. Despite this, Mistura seems to have done good diplomatic work in the past and it would be great if he's successful at making a cease-fire in Syria. But he's certainly no "man of the [Arab] street."
January 31, 2016
January 28, 2016
Human Sacrifice over Chimera
January 27, 2016
A Queen Has Died
January 26, 2016
Lady Behind Tunnels
Three images in a collage:
- An ink drawing used in an advertisement from the 1908 Deutsche UhrmacherZeitung (Link1), showing a fashionable lady napping next to an alarm clock
- From the 1908 Königin Luise. Ein Lebensbild (Link2), a circular chapter heading decoration showing a drooping lily, barbed wire, and palm fronds
- From the 1864 Zeitschrift für Bauwesen (Link3), two diagrams showing the wood beam patterns used to shore up early tunnels
January 25, 2016
Happy Happy Heated Homes
A collage of images from the 1940 Better heating air conditioning better plumbing makes better homes (Link1), placed on a sample of wallpaper from the 1945 Imperial washable wallpapers (Link2)
January 24, 2016
Images from the propaganda magazine of ISIS, a slick production called Dabiq. The latest issue is out (Link1) and it is full of images of brutality perpetrated by ISIS. In this collage, there is (center) the burning alive of a captured Jordanian pilot; above that, a march of Coptic prisoners to their death in Egypt, and, top right, the execution of a "sodomite" by throwing him off a roof. At the bottom, ISIS soldiers clasp hands in solidarity.
One of the especially scary articles is Islam is the Religion of the Sword Not Pacifism, which extensively quotes the Koran to make the point that there must be constant warfare until the end of days when "Isa [Jesus] kills the Dajjal [Antichrist]" and thereafter "Islam and its justice will prevail on earth" -- a variation of the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. A previous issue offered justification in the Koran for the sexual slavery of women from other faiths.
ISIS' behavior -- grotesque brutality committed with one eye on the video camera -- leaves me puzzled. Most brutal regimes try to hide their crimes. I would be tempted to join the chorus of voices calling for a military expedition against ISIS, but I suspect that that is exactly what ISIS' backers want. Hold off until we figure out exactly where ISIS lines up in the polarities of Middle Eastern politics, Sunni/Shiite, Israel/Oil, etc. Meantime, let ISIS' neighbors handle it -- and abandon the goal of regime change in Syria.
January 24, 2016
Dark Side, Fear of Extinction
Some fearful images superimposed on another wallpaper pattern from the Style trend wallpapers 1952 showings (Link1),
- Two skulls (bottom left and right) from the 1867 Archiv für Anthropologie, Völkerforschung und kolonialen Kulturwandel (Link2)
- A body bound in a band as part of a funeral ritual from a 1907 Archiv für Anthropologie, Völkerforschung und kolonialen Kulturwandel (Link3)
- A diseased man holding up his hands (source not recorded)
January 22, 2016
Berber Girl and Allegory Babes on Wallpaper
On a background of a wallpaper sample from the Style trend wallpapers 1952 showings (Link1), two pictures are inset.
At top left, from an 1888 edition of National Geographic (link2), a photo of a girl in Tunisia. The National Geographic photographer (Franklin Knott) explains: like the other girls in Michelet, Tunisia, [this girl] eluded the artist for many days. As fleet of foot as a gazelle, she would have made her escape had not the Mother Superior of the government hospital persuaded her to pose for the stranger, which she did with unconscious grace.
The other picture is an allegorical picture, labeled "Unity, Peace and Plenty" from the 1898 History of Freemasonry (Link3), with three posing women: (left a winged angel hold a branch; center, a toga'd and tiara'd figure holding a fasces; right, a naked girl holding a horn of plenty/cornucopia overflowing with produce.) (Link3).
January 21, 2016
Another source of public domain images is Flickr's collection of the archives of institutions. The latest institution to join is The Camden (Maine) Public Library. Here is one of the collection's photos, a 1923 of a boat shed in Camden Harbor (Link1). Next to that is a 1904 photo of the road along Camden's Turnpike Drive (Link2).
January 19, 2016
Old Men and Young Girls
German writer Gerhart Hauptmann authored a play called Kaiser Karls Geisel, which tells a story about Charlegmagne. Here's one summary: The 80-year-old emperor Charlemagne falls for the 16-year-old hostage Gersuind, who is unprincipaled [sic] and uninhibited - an incarnation of the Saxon spirit. At last he must realize that he has been neglecting affairs of state while spending time trying to teach virtue to this heathen hussy, and he sends her to a convent. There, she redeems herself; she drinks poison and dies a holy death. Legendarily, Charlemagne did have a concubine or consort named 'Gersuinda of Saxon'.
The old king's interest in the young girl found its parallel on stage. The 16-year-old actress who played Gersuinda, Ida Orloff, became a mistress to 44-year-old Hauptmann. The affair ended; Orloff went on to be an author and translator, ended up committing suicide in Vienna in 1945 fearing wartime rape. Her picture in the role of Gersuinda appeared in a 1906 edition of the arts magazine Westermanns Monatshefte (Link1). Here two of Orloff's pictures are laid over a background of four different colored Japanese prints from another edition of Westermanns Monatshefte (Link2).
January 18, 2016
School Science in India
Designs based on headings from a recent children's science textbook in Hindi by the educational group Bal Vaigbanyik. The illustrator has a playful, fluent style in their line drawings. The book was uploaded by Indian educator Arvind Gupta. Middle image is a single illustration. Right one is a detail from one of the chapter headings.
January 16, 2016
Monkey Puzzle Tree
An Auraucaria Imbracata of South America (also known as the Monkey Puzzle Tree) from the 1875 Die Neuere Schopfungsgeschichte nach dem gegenwurtigen Stande der Naturwissenschaften (Link1).
January 16, 2016
Collage: Flying Child, XIII Death Card, Mounted Knight
- The floating, blonde-haired child is from a Soviet children's book Northern Lights Fairy Tales of the People of the North (Link 1)
- The XIII death card is from the 1906 Les cartes à jouer du XIV au XX siècle (Link2)
- The knight and equestrian armor is from the 1908 Zeitschrift für historische Waffenkunde (Link3)
January 13, 2016
Solitary Woman Staring Out Window
A painting called "The Window" by the German Impressionist Lesser Ury, from the 1906 cultural magazine Westermanns Monatshefte.
January 12, 2016
I recently was talking to someone with Asperger's, and when I asked her why she didn't look people in the eye when they were talking, she said "Eyes are intimidating." She said the increase in the number of diagnosed "Aspies" may be evolutionary. This piece is drawn from my thinking about what she said about eyes. It's a collage of two pictures from 1940's Catholic Church pamphlets, recently uploaded by Notre Dame University.
- Cover drawing of a couple from the 1941 The ideal marriage : how achieve it? (Link1)
- Cover photo of a woman making a "Oh-No" face in a 1945 sermon-in-a-play The brewing storm (Link2)
January 11, 2016
Turbines and Numbers
- Turbines installed at a generating plant at Shawanigan Falls, Quebec, from a 1921 issue of Canadian Illustrated Monthly (Link1)
- Overlaid on the turbines, a diagram showing a hand-count numbering system, from an unknown book.
January 11, 2016
- In the foreground, in stark black & white, some long skinny Chinese playing cards from the 1876 A descriptive catalogue of playing and other cards in the British museum, accompanied by a concise general history of the subject and remarks on cards of divination and of a politico-historical character (Link1)
- Behind those Chinese cards, barely visible, some European playing cards from the same source.
- Finally, in bright bright blue behind the cards, a compass rose from the 1883 Summer excursionist : Central Vermont RR (link2), showing points that can be reached by that railroad.
January 10, 2016
Eagle Artist Card Clock
- The colorful picture of the artist and eagle is from a Soviet children's book Northern Lights Fairy Tales of the People of the North (Link 1)
- The design of clock faces is from another Soviet children's book, Clocks and Watches (Link2)
- More playing cards from 1876 A descriptive catalogue of playing and other cards in the British museum, accompanied by a concise general history of the subject and remarks on cards of divination and of a politico-historical character (Link3)
January 11, 2016
Playing Card Double Image
An experimental image, learning to calibrate angles in frames. Image is an old playing card, from the 1906 Les cartes à jouer du XIV au XX siècle (Link1).
January 6, 2016
Jewelry, Indian Lady, Cell Phone
- Another painting by Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma of an Indian woman arranging her hair (Link1)
- A detail from an illustration from the November 2015 issue of Men's Health, showing a man holding a cell phone displaying a picture of a woman. (Link2)
- Scattered behind are details of design from an 1880 jewelry catalog,Die Perle : Weltorgan für Juwelengold und Silverarbeiter unter Mitwirkung hervorragender Künstler und mit Unterstützung des hiesigen K. K. Museum für Kunst und Industrie (Link3)
January 5, 2016
Lady, Abs, & Skeletons
A collage based on three sources:
- A detail from an advertisement featuring a man's sculpted abs from a November 2015 issue of Men's Health, turned sideways, with his head towards the right. (Link1)
- A painting by celebrated Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma of an Indian woman standing against a wall(Link2)
- More Danse Macabre skeletons in an illustration in a 1901 monograph Le danze macabre in Italia (Link3), one in the center and some along the right side.
January 5, 2016
Three Horizon/Frame Pairs
A collage based three sources:
- An advertisement featuring brightly colored healthy foods from a November 2015 issue of Men's Health (Link1)
- A painting by celebrated Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma of a seated Indian woman (Link2)
- A photograph of a sunset through an airplane window uploaded to Reddit (Link3)
January 4, 2016
15th Century and 21st Century Death
A collage based on two sources:
- A procession of death in a 15th century Italian fresco: a danza macabra of skeletons come to collect the dying, alternating with their targets, an illustration in a 1901 monograph Le danze macabre in Italia.
- The cover of the latest DABIQ magazine (Link1), the propaganda/recruiting magazine of the brutal "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL/ISIS/IS). (The Levant is composed of "Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.) This November 2015 issue crows about the shootings in Paris and the downing of an airliner. An earlier issue gives a theologicl justification for the sexual slavery of Yazidi women. Here's a
site that follows DABIQ.
January 2, 2016
Dance Macabre: Abbot and Pipes
A clergyman is hauled off by skeletal death in an image from the 1902 The Dance of Death in a series of engravings on wood from designs attributed to Hans Holbein with a treatise on the subject by Francis Douce, also Holbein's Bible cuts consisting of ninety engravings on wood with an introduction by Thomas Frognall Dibdin (Link1). The accompanying text explains: "Death, having despoiled him of his mitre and crozier,[the Abbot] resists with all his might." The action takes place partly obscured by a design composed of plumbing fixtures from the 1929 Metal Woodworkers' Tools, specifically "double bracket basin cocks".(Link2).
January 2, 2016
Little Girl in Catalog Landscape
At the top, barely visible, another image from the hellish visions of the 1782 La Tentation de Saint Antoine : ornée de figures et de musique (The Temptation of
St. Anthony (Link1)). In the middle, a little girl stares at her reflection in a plate mirror door from a 1920 catalog from Chicago and Riverdale Lumber Co., Catalogue no. 41: high grade interior trim, built in furniture, sash doors, hardwood flooring, lumber and hardware (Link2). From the same source, in the middle, some art crystal glass windows. Finally, two copies of a solid steel shaper cutter from the 1929 Metal Woodworkers' Tools (Link3).
January 1, 2016
Mother & Daughter Moment over Maps
A picture of Ukrainian politician Julia Tymoshenko with her daughter Eugenia from an article, Lobbyarbeit Tymoschenko 52 15 (Link1). The picture is overlaid on a collage of weather maps of Europe and the Middle East from Computer modelling in atmospheric and oceanic sciences : building knowledge (Link2).
December 31, 2015
Bathtub Time & The Sufferings of St. Anthony
Two bathroom scenes from the 1955 New Ideas in Tile catalog(Link1), with insets of illustrations from the 1782 La Tentation de Saint Antoine : ornée de figures et de musique (The Temptation of
St. Anthony (Link2)).
December 30, 2015
New Year Reorganization
As another calendar page flutters away -- my 71st -- it's time to put away last year's Philly Bob's Free for All into the 2015 Archive. I also insert a link to the archive in the upper right corner of the masthead, along with other years.
To mark the occasion, a typographical treatment of the year, using a decoration from the 1560 Ornement de Ducerceau (Link1), which contains architectural and ornamental work of the du Cerceau family. The font is Unlearned Bitmap by font designer Brian Kent, also known as Aenigma.
December 29, 2015
To contact Philly-Bob, email me at bobmoore [at symbol] pobox.com (of course, replace "[at symbol]" with "@"].
Masthead Portrait by Remo Frangiosa, 2015