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Welcome to the broken pyramid of your brain: The wild, weird & beautiful art of René Brantonne
01.06.2017
09:29 am

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Art
Books

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René Brantonne’s cover illustrations for French pulp paperback publisher Fleuve Noir are a riot of imagination, lysergic color and unparalleled weirdness. Born in Creteil France, Brantonne started his career as a young artist for hire in the 1920s creating movie posters for French releases of American films. For a brief period, Brantonne lived in the United States continuing his work as a poster artist for Hollywood studios. He returned to France and from the mid-1950s until his death in 1979 produced hundreds of covers and illustrations for sci-fi and adventure novels and popular comic books.

Of the work I’ve seen and enjoyed by Brantonne, it’s his work for Fleuve Noir’s Anticipation series that I find the most exhilarating. The art is filled with energy, movement, wit, trippy perspectives, occult intimations and colors that will slap you silly. And some are the stuff of nightmares in which the future is a constant battle between man, machine and the unknown. The future depicted as a giant shoe crushing humanity like a bug or the grinding wheels of progress (Metal de Mort) making mincemeat of our flesh and bone. Brantonne’s vision was everything but idyllic. If the machines don’t get you the giant serpents will.

Welcome to the broken pyramid of your brain.
 

 

René Brantonne.
 

 
More visionary weirdness after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Vanguard: Powerful photographs of the Black Panthers
01.05.2017
12:57 pm

Topics:
Activism
Art
Politics
Race

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This week saw six people, including the president and the director of communications of the NAACP, arrested at the office of Senator Jeff Sessions in Mobile, Alabama. At issue was Sessions’ impending nomination as President Trump’s attorney general; the protests addressed Sessions’ history of opposition to the civil rights movement in its broadest incarnations. The list of problems is quite impressive: Sessions has denied any existence of voter suppression efforts directed at minority communities and once purportedly warned a black attorney to “be careful how you talk to white folks” in addition to joking that his only problem with the Ku Klux Klan was its drug use. Further, Sessions has referred to the NAACP as “un-American” in the past and has called the Voting Rights Act a “piece of intrusive legislation.”

Sessions’ elevation to the top law enforcement officer in the nation is far from the only signal that Donald Trump has some sketchy views on race. If ever there was a moment in which one might actively pine for a return of the Black Panthers—real Black Panthers, not the Fox News bogeymen—the the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president is definitely it.

While it wasn’t a perfect organization, the three most salient facts about the Black Panthers are that (a) the resistance they advocated was richly justified, (b) they were thoroughly fucked with by the FBI, and (c) they did a huge amount of good in African-American neighborhoods, in the form of community organizing of the kind that Republicans have been known to deride. That they carried around scary machine guns, behaved like a paramilitary group and said things about armed resistance that scared the shit out of white people, well, consider what they were up against.

The 2011 documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 and the 2015 documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution are both eloquent defenses of a group that constantly threatens to be lost to history in some sense. If historians are not vigilant about defending the group to white audiences, it will always risk caricature as a radical, violent organization, which the Panthers (mostly) were not.
 

 
In 1970 a book of photographs was published documenting the resistance efforts of the Black Panthers surrounding the 1968 trial of Huey Newton and its aftermath. The book was by two white photographers, a married couple named Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones. It was titled The Vanguard: A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers. (A similar book of Baruch and Jones’ photographs was published in 2002 under the title The Black Panthers 1968.) The 1970 book includes a number of informative texts, such as “Review of Panther Growth and Harrassment”, “Rules of the Black Panther Party”, and the “Black Panther Party Platform and Program.”

The photographs were taken the same year that J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” You don’t have to be Ta-Nehisi Coates (whose own father, Paul Coates, was a member of the Black Panthers and was internally discussed as a candidate for assassination by the selfsame FBI) to consider that judgment to be a mite premature…...... 

As they used to say of Richard Nixon, we can now say of the Black Panthers: Now, more than ever…..
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sharks, stingrays, snakes & other nasty beasts, all made from hubcaps
01.04.2017
08:58 am

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Animals
Art

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An Englishman with the excellent fortune to bear the wonderful name Ptolemy Elrington has hit upon an idea that’s far from new—he makes sculptures out of found materials. Since the novelty value of that method hovers closely around zero, such work succeeds or fails on the work’s merit, and Elrington succeeds wildly. His M.O. / gimmick / hook / whatever is that he sculpts animal forms from hubcaps, and they’re quite remarkable.

Hubcap creatures are made entirely from recycled materials. All the hubcaps are found, usually on the side of the road, and therefore bear the scars of their previous lives in the form of scratches and abrasions. I believe these marks add texture and history to the creatures they decorate.

Elrington keeps his web site and Facebook page constantly updated with new work, and his Instagram is heavily laden with extremely cool work.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Apocalypse from now on: Haunting paintings that depict a world during the end of days
01.03.2017
10:40 am

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Art

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‘Paradise Lost,’ a painting by Dariusz Zawadzki.
 
According to his bio at the Morpheus Gallery, Polish artist Dariusz Zawadzki sees himself following in the footsteps of another surrealist Polish painter, the great Zdzislaw Bekinski. Zawadzki started painting when he was just eleven and when he expressed interest in pursuing formal training in art school he was told that his eyesight wasn’t good enough for him to become skilled in his chosen medium. This opinion didn’t deter Zawadzki and the young aspiring surrealist instead taught himself how to paint, developing unique methods along the way that helped him work around any issues he had with his vision.

In an interview Zawaszki said once said that most of the images he paints come from his dreams and his desire to discover “unreal worlds.” Zawadzki is also fascinated with birds and the symbolism they represent and will often incorporate aspects of bird-like features such as beaks and the suggestion of feathers.

In addition to his incredible paintings, Zawadzki is also a skilled sculptor and uses metal materials to create three dimensional futuristic works of art. I’ve included a few of Zawadzki’s sculptures along with many of his grimly beautiful paintings below. Zawaszki’s work is also the subject of an upcoming book that presents his large catalog of artwork in chronological order, The Fantastic Art of Zawadski which is due out in 2017. Some of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.
 

‘Leviathan.’
 

‘Follow the Violin.’
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Rare Frank Herbert ‘Dune’ calendar from 1978 works for 2017!
01.03.2017
10:15 am

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Art
Books

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This is actually kind of cool if you can find one on eBay or Amazon: A Frank Herbert Dune calendar from 1978 that totally works for 2017. The illustrations for the calendar were done by artist John Schoenherr. Now this is a pretty great find, so I highly doubt you’d want to muck it up by actually using it as wall calendar. Maybe you might? I’d say this is more of a collector’s item.

According to I09:

...these images were commissioned for the 1978 Dune calendar and wound up in the book The Illustrated Dune. These forgotten illustrations and paintings were given to Omni to print in their July 1980 issue (along with 2 that were never printed in the book).

I looked online and found a few for sale. They’re not cheap. Here’s one on eBay with a “buy it now” for $125.00. I found another one here on eBay selling for $129.00. And here are few on Amazon.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Diabolical images of Hell and its demons from the 15th Century
12.29.2016
10:09 am

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Art
Belief
Books

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For such a beautiful book containing such rich and powerful religious iconography there is surprisingly little known about Livre de la Vigne Nostre Seigneur other than it is a French book written circa 1450-70 and is an illustrated treatise “on the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ” and “the Antichrist, Last Judgement, Hell, and Heaven.”

The book’s title Livre de la Vigne Nostre Seigneur is an “allusion” to:

...a vineyard often evoked in the Old Testament, planted by Yahweh and symbolizing the people of Israel. The image is taken up in the New Testament [Matthew 20-21], Jesus comparing the Kingdom of God to a vine whose Christians are the winegrowers.

The manuscript is illustrated throughout with stunning miniatures produced by many different hands depicting a diverse range of demons carrying out their dastardly deeds in Hell.

These “medieval demons”:

...undertake a much broader variety of activities—none of them good—and as observable here and elsewhere in the Livre de la Vigne imagery, their physiognomies often incorporate a baroque set of negative pictorial signs, which may include dark skin; deformity; bestial features such as fangs or beaks, horns, hooves, and tails; ugly grimaces; and supernumerary bodily orifices.

Demonic attributes, such as military weapons, pitchforks, fleshhooks, and flails, are associated with warfare, agricultural labour, and torture; and the torments inflicted by demons upon the damned include some of those familiar to medieval viewers from earthly spectacle, including public punishment.

Writer and researcher Jenny Judova notes the “most interesting aspect of these demonic depictions is”:

...that according to F. Carey (The Apocalypse and the Shape of Things to Come, p.93) ‘many of the details of the pictorial depictions follow the account in the text, which incorporates the description (in Latin ) from the book of Job 41:5-12:

(41-5) Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. (41-6) His body is like molten shields, shut close up with scales pressing upon one another. (41-7) One is joined to another, and not so much as any air can come between them: (41-8) They stick one to another and they hold one another fast, and shall not be separated. (41-9) His sneezing is like the shining of fire, and his eyes like the eyelids of the morning. (41-10) Out of his mouth go forth lamps, like torches of lighted fire. (41-11) Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, like that of a pot heated and boiling. (41-12) His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh forth out of his mouth’

Jenny also points out the manuscript’s depiction of the Devil is “to some extent based on scripture and not social expectations of what the devil should like and artistic imagination.”

The Bodleain Library has uploaded a large selection of images from Livre de la Vigne Nostre Seigneur which can be viewed here.
 
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More images of Hell’s angels, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The homeless woman who made photo-booth art
12.28.2016
08:46 am

Topics:
Art
Kooks
Unorthodox

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Lee Godie (1908-1994) was an outsider artist who spent three decades living rough on the streets of Chicago—with the occasional respite in a flophouse when she had cash.

When you read about Godie there’s always the sentence that states she “spent almost 30-years homeless” or “lived on the streets for nearly thirty years.” The “nearly” and “almost” make it sound cosy—make it all sound like an heroic failure—as if she didn’t quite succeed in living rough for the full thirty years—as in the way we say—she nearly came first in the race or she almost won the lottery. One night sleeping rough on the streets is hell enough for anyone—especially in those cold Chicago winters where the temperature can drop to -30 in the windchill and the radio broadcasts give advice on breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose to prevent nosebleeds.

Somehow Godie managed to live and work while she was homeless between the 1960s and 1990s. She made drawings and paintings with whatever materials she had to hand. She then sold them to commuters on their way to work—but only if she liked the look of you. If she didn’t—then Godie rolled up her portfolio of pictures, put them under her arm, bid you “Good day” and moved on to the next potential buyer. That’s an enviable, if bloody-minded determination.

For Godie chose to live on the streets. She had money—enough to keep her dry, warm and snug. But she preferred living rough. Why? No one seems to be quite sure. At night, in sub-zero temperatures Godie slept on “a concrete bench…clutching her large black portfolio” of artworks. How Godie ended up homeless is open to conjecture. What is known she was married twice and had four children. After the deaths of two of her children, Godie began her life living on the streets in the 1960s.
 
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The drawings and paintings were usually done while sitting on a park bench or on the steps of the Arts Institute. But perhaps her biggest and best known artworks was a series of selfies she made using a photo-booth as her studio.

For these self-portraits Godie dressed-up in her thrift store clothes and posed with props bought from Woolworth’s with the money she made selling her paintings. A Godie painting that was sold for $30 bucks back in the 1980s can fetch over $15,000 today. Godie’s photographs show her playing different roles—the child, the muse, the rich sophisticate like those 1920s Daisy Buchanan flappers she seemed so enamored by in her paintings.

When a newspaper story about Godie—the eccentric homeless artist—appeared in 1988—her daughter Bonnie Blank made contact. One day she was seen sitting beside her mother drawing pictures. On one occasion even sleeping rough with her. Eventually the daughter introduced herself to her long lost mother. Not long after this, Godie was admitted to hospital suffering from dementia. On her release, she went to stay with Bonnie where she remained until her death in 1994.
 
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More of the Lee Godie’s photobooth art, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Chaos, corruption & the demise of civilization
12.28.2016
08:45 am

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Art
Belief

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A sculpture by artist Kris Kuksi.
 

The function of my work has to do with relating to the darker side of human psychology

—Kris Kuksi

One of the notable fans of artist and sculptor Kris Kuksi is visionary film director Guillermo del Toro. And once you’ve seen Kuksi’s work it will not be hard to understand why it attracted the distinguished eye of del Toro and the late Robin Williams, among others.

Kuksi moved away from Springfield, Missouri and his alcoholic father while still a young child and was raised by his mother in a rural community just outside of Wichita, Kansas along with his two older brothers. The town offered a rather stagnant and unstimulating environment for the aspiring artist who spent a lot of time playing with his Star Wars action figures and LEGO bricks by himself. Kuksi’s grandmother would provide her grandson with her own stationary to draw on which allowed him to express himself despite the desolation he was surrounded by. His love of drawing was also encouraged by his high school art teacher who advised the teenager to continue his studies with higher education. Kuksi would go on to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in painting from Fort Hays State University.

By the time he was 22 Kuksi made his first attempt at sculpture using found objects such as castaway toys, leftover bits from modeling kits, wood, jewellery and other materials that helped him bring the images in his imagination to life. According to the artist it can take months to finish one of his densely detailed sculptures and it’s not unusual for him to work fourteen to sixteen hour jags in a single day on a complex piece in his studio—a former church by the Kansas River. Kuksi’s work is deeply influenced by Italian Renaissance masters and he refers to one of the greatest sculptors (and noted architect) of the 17th century and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini as his “ultimate hero.”

I don’t like to use the phrase “mind-blowing” without good reason but Kuksi’s sculpture work is absolutely worthy of such praise. Kuksi’s artwork is featured in the 2010 book published by BeinART, Kris Kuksi: Divination and Delusion. Some images are delightfully NSFW.
 

‘Leda and the Swan.’ A sculpture by artist Kris Kuksi, 2014.
 

‘Churchtank.’
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Fire Damage: Photographer documents the devastation of Gatlinburg
12.27.2016
11:32 am

Topics:
Activism
Art
Current Events

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On November 23, 2016, a series of wildfires spread through the Smoky Mountains devastating Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Sevier County. The fires were one of the worst natural disasters in Tennessee history—claiming fourteen lives and injuring 134.

When the blaze was first reported along the ridge of Chimney Tops mountain “no suppression activities were initiated.” On November 24, park rangers started containment procedures in a hope to stop the fire’s progression. Four days later the blaze had spread to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Pittman Center, as a result of sparks and downed power lines.

The worst of the inferno—what the fire department called “the apocalypse”—destroyed the majority of wooded areas surrounding the center of Gatlinburg. In total some 1,413 properties were destroyed.

Watching the devastation on television, Nashville-based photographer Jeremy Cowart decided to do something to help the victims of the fire. Together with a volunteer crew, Cowart documented the aftermath of the Great Smoky Mountains wildfires. Using a camera attached to a drone, he photographed many of the families and individuals whose lives had been devastated by the fire as they lay on a white mattress surrounded by the remnants of their homes.

A website Voices of Gatlinburg was set up to share the stories, images and most importantly help with the needs of those worst affected.
 
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I went to work that morning, like I always do. By 9am I knew that something was wrong. I was working on Sevier County Ambulance Service. We did business as usual until later that evening. It was about 10 or 11pm that evening when I first got pulled into Gatlinburg for mutual aid with EMS response. On my way to staging I passed by my residence and it was still there. We continued to run several more calls and about 1–2am I was going to meet up with another GFD EMS unit. That’s when I passed my residence, and that’s when I saw that my house was gone.

 
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It was scary because the smoke was so bad and sirens just kept passing going both directions. We finally got to my sister’s but the sky was bright orange.

 
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More voices from the Gatlinburg fire, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Strange Japanese illustrations of dogs with huge balls
12.23.2016
01:38 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Art
Sex

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Tanuki are Japanese racoon dogs. Mischievous looking critters with a dog-like face and the body of a racoon. In ancient Japanese folklore these mammals were viewed as either gods of nature or troublesome yōkai. From the twelfth century on, tanuki were seen as humorous characters on account of their rather large testicles which artists grossly exaggerated for comic effect.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) was one of the last great masters of the ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings. He was famous for his pictures of samurai, animals and mythical creatures. He also created a sideline series of comic pictures depicting tanuki and their giant space hopper-sized gonads.
 
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An ever-expanding nut sack will help you catch fish.
 
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Stay dry in the heaviest of downpours with your scrot-umbrella.
 
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Catch birds in flight with one toss of your ‘tanuki’ scrotum.
 
More racoon dogs and their monstrous testicles, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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