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The art of mourning: Vintage wreaths & other memorial keepsakes made with the hair of the dead
10:22 am


mourning wreaths

A depiction of a French cemetery scene in a mourning dome made with human hair from 1881.

Memorial artifacts that were made or contained the hair of the recently deceased is a mourning tradition that dates as far back as the 1600s. As a matter of fact, a place in Independence, Missouri that claims to be the “only hair museum in the world” Leila’s Hair Museum is in possession of a Swedish mourning brooch by that dates to 1640. Works of art made from hair were actually a pretty common thread throughout the world and while not all were intended to symbolize a person’s passing, the examples featured in this post were.

During the Victorian era, owning mementos made with or containing hair was a way of life. Some families would create a hair wreath using hair from every member of their family which were used as a family tree of sorts and utilizing the hair as a way to communicate details about their lineage. Even churches were known to create hair wreaths created by donations from members of their congregations. Mourning wreaths would generally be constructed in a distinct half-moon style to convey that the deceased had begun the journey to the afterlife. Though they are in every sense of the word macabre, they are also intricate, intimate works of art.

A close look at a memorial hair dome created in 1886.

A mourning hair wreath made with human hair, wire, and wood. Approximately 1850-1900.

More mourning wreaths after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Oil paintings of ‘Seinfeld’ reruns
01:36 pm



In 2012 New York-based artist Morgan Blair was asked where she would be in 10 years. Among other things she looked forward to knowing “how Breaking Bad ends.” In the same interview she cited “whoever made the paintings above the Drake’s TV and couch in Seinfeld season 4 episode 22 “The Handicap Spot’” as her favorite artist. (I went and looked them up; they didn’t seem all that to me.)

Blair clearly had Seinfeld on the brain around that time, which is also when she began turning out Seinfeld canvases. As she later stated,

My process involves watching episodes of Seinfeld on my computer with my fingers poised to take screenshots at key moments, specifically when characters are covering their faces, at close-ups on plot device objects (a hand holding a business card, an eclair in the trash, etc) or any kind of situation that looks like a painting to me. Then I just go into each one trying to stay free, without really rendering them into blatant fan-art type images. Ultimately, I want the screenshots to serve as compositional jumping off points for more abstract studies, but sometimes they turn into more devoted representations of the characters.

Blair’s website does not emphasize that the canvases are for sale, but she has sold a few of them, it seems.

Not much of Elaine to be seen in the paintings on the website; George appears to be her favorite subject.


Check more out after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Beautiful panoramic Cubist drawings of China’s urbanized landscape
08:53 am



Panorama of Tuan Jie Hu.
I spent twenty minutes looking for Waldo but was too overawed by the sheer magnificence of these panoramic drawings that I gave up looking for the stripy little fucker.

Not that I would have ever found him in these stunning, breathtaking, incredible, ___ [fill in the blank with your own adjective] architectural drawings of Beijing’s downtown districts. These massive, painstakingly created drawings are the work of artists/architects at the Drawing Architecture Studio, China. The images form part of their Urbanized Landscape Series.

Awesome, aren’t they?

Just take a look at the panorama drawing above (and its details below) of Tuan Jie Hu—“old residential area located by the East 3rd Ring Road in Beijing”—which “vividly depicts the views from the daily life in this busy local community.”

At the same time, the piece also shows some new exploration in architectural drawing techniques. Some 45-degree axis from different directions allow the viewers to constantly change their viewpoints, which is like a Cubism painting.

The Drawing Architecture Studio was founded by architect Li Han and designer Hu Yan in Beijing. Their intention is to offer a “creative platform integrating architecture, art, design, urban study, pop culture, and aiming to explore the new models for the creation of contemporary urban culture.”

Sounds good to me. They also sell a variety of products which you check out here. Click on the images below for a closer look.
Detail of Tuan Jie Hu panorama.
More gorgeous panoramic maps of downtown Beijing, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Live! from Capitol Hill: Bertolt Brecht’s Folkways LP
07:24 am


Bertolt Brecht

On October 30, 1947, Bertolt Brecht gave a command performance for Congress. The House Un-American Activities Committee summoned the German playwright, poet, and Doors lyricist to the Cannon House Office Building to examine him about matters of the direst urgency and the gravest possible consequence to the Republic, such as the name of the leading actor in Hangmen Also Die! and the lyrics to Brecht’s song “In Praise of Learning.” By what vile, McCarthyist tactics they extorted from Brecht these most closely held secrets of the Third International, I dare not print.

The recording is presented by the critic Eric Bentley, whose narration bridges edits in the tape and provides historical context. Like most Folkways records, the LP comes with a booklet; this one reproduces the transcript of Brecht’s testimony and Bentley’s voiceover along with a facsimile of the hand-corrected statement Brecht prepared for the occasion but was not allowed to read. From the booklet’s introduction:

It is an encounter that rivals in drama some of the great trial scenes in Brecht’s plays, and it will fascinate equally both those interested in Brecht and those interested in the HUAC.

Although tantalizing fragments of the recording have been heard in Brecht on Brecht, and the complete transcript has been printed by the government, this is the first time that the encounter has been brought to the public. Bertolt Brecht’s voice was recorded few times in any language, and this is almost certainly the only recording of Brecht speaking English.

You know you’re talking about an old record when its subtitle includes the phrase “an historic encounter” (or, in the cover artist’s words, “an historical encounter”). But the interests of these ghosts’ voices, speaking in the Caucus Room 70 years ago, are not so remote. Over a decade before this engagement, Brecht had addressed Germans’ perplexity about truth in politics under the Nazis and what the Führer really believed in his heart in “On the Question of Whether Hitler Is Being Honest,” which cut the Gordian knot in its concluding sentences:

Certainly, Hitler could be honest and mean well, and yet still objectively be Germany’s worst enemy. But he is not honest.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Upside down photographs of faces become intriguing, introspective works of art
07:21 am


Anelia Loubser

A photograph from the series ‘Alienation’ by South African artist, Anelia Loubser.
Anelia Loubser is a photographer from South Africa who has only been working in her chosen medium for fewer than ten years. During that short time period, her photographs have been seen in publications all over the world.

According to Loubser, she credits her twin sister with providing her with much of the inspiration that enables her to continue to create her art. In 2014 her fledgling photographic series Alienation created quite a stir as it featured unconventional black and white images of people—including members of her own family—taken at close range allowing them to become something other than what they are. Loubser’s composition of her subjects and their faces cut off just before you can see the formation of their noses—creating a powerful, otherworldly way for something as common as a human face to be perceived by the viewer. While the seemingly simple-sounding concept of photographing someone’s face upside down may seem uninvolved, Loubser’s enigmatic results are impossible to ignore. Here’s more from Loubser on the photographs you are about to see from Alienation:

I saw eyes on unfamiliar faces, and in them lies a whole galaxy of tales to tell. In their eyes, I saw happiness, sadness, excitement, pain, love, curiosity, wisdom and wonder - all these familiar human emotions on unearthed faces. This had such a tremendous impact on me because symbolically they summarized how I seldom feel living in a conflicting inner and outer universe with my own being. And it made my madness seem less messy.

A selection of Loubser’s topsy-turvy faces for you to lose yourself in follow.


More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Realistic sculptures of free-floating body parts, ‘humans’ trapped in formaldehyde & other oddities

‘Migrants OVIS.’ A sculpture by Sara Renzetti and Antonello Serra.
The artististic duo of Sara Renzetti and Antonello Serra hail from Sardinia, Italy where they have been creating thought-provoking sculptures of humans that are as bizarre as they are startlingly realistic. 

Though their work is rather disturbing at first glance, there is also a distinct sense of serenity emanating from their sculptures even as they lay in impossible positions or are conjoined in unorthodox ways—as you will see in the duo’s three-part-series entitled Mentalese-ATTO. And since Renzetti and Serra’s work has left me struggling to find words powerful enough to describe their idiosyncratic life-size (or larger) sculptural creations, here are a few words from the artists themselves on what guides their unique creative direction: 

The body shape here understood as a landscape, it opens to the death of the subject by virtue of investigations, alterations, and tumbles, to which the single vision - experience - not corporal, is able to guess at the beginnings and the boundaries. The subject and the object, from which all the challenges. Look and just becomes a form of expediency in relation to what is continually postponed, suspended and expected. We are on the apocalyptic Tiber, intended as a viewing experience, revelation of a dream that is given to dream.

I am endlessly fascinated by craftsmen that are able to elevate their medium to the level that Renzetti and Serra have with their sculpture, which if I were to attempt to describe it would be something like if the fictional vivisectionist Doctor Moreau enacted his monstrous medical procedures on people, instead of mashing them up with animals. That said, pretty much everything you’re about to see in this post in one way or another are very NSFW.


‘Horror Vacui.’ 

‘I am my Son, my Father, my Mother, and I.’
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
An erotic alphabet based on the Kama Sutra (NSFW)
11:54 am


Kama Sutra

In 2012 Penguin published a new “deluxe” edition of the Kama Sutra translated by A. N. D. Haksar. For the cover art Penguin hired a brilliant graphic artist named Malika Favre, who incontestably came up with a marvelous and witty design by inventing an entire sexy alphabet based on the positions in the book.

If you take the jacket off of the hardcover edition and spread it out, it spells “KAMA SUTRA” in Favre’s alphabet.

There’s a website dedicated to the alphabet in which you can see the entire alphabet ... in motion! On the site you could once purchase lovely prints of individual letters, but it looks like they’re all sold out.
A closer look at the individual letters, after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Photographing Demons: The ‘brutal’ photographer who rivaled Francis Bacon
10:23 am


Francis Bacon
Lucian Freud
John Deakin

Portrait of Francis Bacon.
The photographer John Deakin was usually pissed as a fart. He haunted the bars and after-hours drinking dens in and around Soho during the fifties and sixties. He cadged booze and on occasion hawked “dirty pictures” to sailors at ten-bob a throw. Most who saw this shabby character drifting through the London streets dismissed him as a bit-player, a hanger-on, part of the alcoholic detritus heaved-up on the sidewalk. To those who knew him Deakin was either loved or loathed—there was no halfway house.

Lucian Freud described Deakin as:

Like Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters at the same time.

While socialite and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton said he was:

The second nastiest man I ever met.

Who the first was, we can only imagine. No matter the divisive response Deakin’s personality engendered, there was one thing about John Deakin everyone agreed upon—he was a genius photographer whose work was uncompromising, almost brutal in its full-frontal honesty.

As the art critic John Russell noted this fact after Deakin’s death in 1972:

When John Deakin died, there was lost a photographer who often rivaled [Francis] Bacon in his ability to make a likeness in which truth came unwrapped and unpackaged. His portraits like Bacon’s, had a dead-centred, unrhetorical quality. A complete human being was set before us, without additives.

While Deakin said of himself, that he was:

...fatally drawn to the human race, what I want to do when I photograph it is to make a revelation about it. So my sitters turn into my victims. But I would like to add that it is only those with a daemon, whose faces lend themselves to be victimized at all.

Born in Liverpool in 1912, Deakin was educated at West Kirby Grammar School, which he left at the age of sixteen to travel across Ireland and Spain. On his return to England he met up and started a relationship with gallery owner Arthur Jeffress, who bankrolled Deakin until after the Second World War when the pair split up.

Deakin started taking photographs in 1938. During the war he served as a photographer with the British Army Film Unit, documenting the Allies’ campaign at El Alamein. During one briefing given by Field Marshall Montgomery in which “Monty” warned the assembled soldiers they were vastly outnumbered by “Wommel” and his superior German tanks, Deakin could be heard anxiously asking one of his comrades, “Do you think we are on the right side?”

After the war, Deakin started his career as a photographer in earnest achieving considerable success and notoriety as a fashion photographer for Vogue. He was fired from Vogue twice: once for losing his camera equipment (which some alleged Deakin sold to pay for booze); and a second time for his “blistering” personality. He worked at various jobs—including a stint at the Observer newspaper.

Most significantly, he was regularly hired by the artist Francis Bacon to take photographs of his models—Henrietta Moraes, Isabel Rawsthorn, Lucian Freud and George Dyer. It was his “pornographic” photographs of Henrietta Moraes that Deakin hawked around Soho’s bars for beer money. Bacon said Deakin was “the best portrait photographer since Nadar and Julia Margaret Cameron.”

Though Deakin was an alcoholic, he didn’t piss his talent up against the wall. After his death, the large portfolio of photographs and negatives he left behind revealed the extent of Deakin’s talent and utter dedication to his craft. He was a genius who never received the acclaim he rightly deserved. Critic Robin Muir wrote that Deakin’s “portraits still look starkly modern, half a century on.” While his friend the writer Dan Farson considered Deakin’s place would be: one of the most disturbing photographers of the century. The expressions of his victims look suitably appalled for Deakin had no time for such niceties as “cheese” and the effect was magnified by huge contrasty blow-ups with every pore, blemish, and blood-shot eyeball exposed. In this way, he combined the instant horror of a passport photo with a shock value all his own.

In 1991, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary The Life and Unsteady Times of John Deakin which brought together all of the key players in Deakin’s life (now all sadly dead) to discuss this strange and talented photographer’s incredible career.
Francis Bacon, 1952.
Girl in a cafe, circa late 1950s.
Jeffrey Bernard, London 1950s.
Watch the documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
They live? Vampires, werewolves & more mythological creatures from the Cryptid Museum
01:51 pm


Alex CF

‘Werewolf’ specimens or Homo Lupus/Lycanthrope by artist Alex CF.

The fascinating photos you see here of the all-too-realistic looking remains of vampires, werewolves, and everyone’s favorite mythological creature Cthulhu, are actually the creations of London-based artist, illustrator, and sculptor Alex CF. Alex’s bizarre cabinets of curiosity are chock full of authentic-looking artifacts that would even make the most skeptical among us question their legitimacy.

At the website for the fictional Merrylin Cryptid Museum Alex tells the story of Thomas Merrilyn—who the artist cleverly refers to as a “Crypto-naturalist, Fringe Zoologist and Xeno -Archeologist.” According to Alex, he has been entrusted with the care and curation of the oddities that were found in the basement of a home in London in 2006. Here’s more on that:

In 2006, a trust was set up to analyze and collate a huge number of wooden crates found sealed in the basement of a London townhouse that was due for demolition. Seemingly untouched since the 1940′s, the crates contained over 5000 specimens of flora and fauna, collected, dissected, and preserved by many forgotten scientists, professors, and explorers of obscure cultures and species. The collection also housed many artifacts of curious origin, fragments of civilizations that once ruled the earth, of ideas and belief systems perhaps better left in the past.

The various mythological “specimens” that were found were attributed to Merrilyn who had traveled the “four corners of the earth” in search of evidence that would help support the existence of dragons, and other types of oddities such as goblins and a preserved baby werewolf. The backstory on each discovery is so detailed it seems a shame to debunk it. The same goes for the “specimens” and “artifacts” that Alex has created which are so impeccable that they almost seem to demand you believe in them. There are over 50 categories of specimens on virtual display over at the Cryptid Museum that will leave you scratching your head and perhaps reconsidering the idea that werewolves aren’t real. I’ve included a stellar array of Alex CF’s incredibly imaginative work for you to check out below. Though they are pieces of art, much of what follows is NSFW. 

Cthulhu specimens and artifacts.

The remains and artifacts attributed to Rasputin, the mystical advisor to Czar Nicholas II of Russia.

The mummified remains of Maria Rosenthal who conceived a child via immaculate conception in 1942 by Sister Josephine Rosenthal.
More mythical monsters and creatures after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
This new Japanese reference book is designed to help you draw lazy people
01:11 pm


lazy people

If you have ever taken a serious art class, you probably used a guide to drawing the human figure, such as Harold Speed’s The Practice and Science of Drawing, Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, or some other one. Not everyone is born with top-notch draftsmanship skills, so for the rest of us such instructional resources can be indispensable in helping incipient artistes bring some order and proportion to their imagery. 

In Japan there is a new manual that specializes in drawing what can be described as “lazy people in casual poses.” No, really—the title of the book is Daratto shita Pose Catalogue, which translates to “Lazing About Pose Catalogue.” Sure enough, many of its 800 pictures feature young men and women slumped down, slouching, draped over a table listlessly, lolling around in bed, and so on.

Why, it’s enough to make your average member of the Baby Boom generation have a fit! Quit that lollygagging and get a job!!

It’s difficult to know how accurately to take that translation, “Lazing About Pose Catalogue”; it could be that the original verbiage means “casual” without much judgment. And this could also partly be an offshoot of what Americans regard as a more formal public culture in Japan—maybe it’s a little bit harder to get models to simulate a state of repose, thus creating a demand for a book like this as a counter-measure. Who knows, it’s all possible.

Even if all of the above might be true, let’s face it, judging from the pictures, this book really does feature models hitting some exceptionally lazy-looking poses!

This one spread is useful for depicting lazy people on a variety of furniture, such as chairs and sofas.

The book is available from Amazon Japan for 2,700 yen (about $23) starting March 6.


More lazy-ass poses after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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