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Etchings of Parisian prostitutes and drug addicts portray ‘deadly and delicious passions’
11.21.2016
12:30 pm

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Art
Drugs
Sex

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Édouard Chimot was an artist, editor and writer whose career burned brightly through the 1920s but fizzled out during the 1930s and forties. His artwork was a last hurrah for the decadent world portrayed (and generally indulged in) by many French artists during the 1890s.

Born in Lille in 1880, Chimot studied at his local art college and at the École des Arts décoratifs in Nice. It’s fair to say, not much is known about Chimot during this period—though it has been posited he may have originally started out as an architect before switching career to becoming an artist. This may explain why he didn’t exhibit until he was in his early thirties in 1912.

His first exhibition featured drawings, etchings and paintings of the “jeunes et jolies femmes”—the prostitutes and drug addicts who worked and lived near his studio in Montmartre. Chimot often paid these women to sit for him—as prostitutes were often cheaper to hire than models especially when paying by the night. He was heavily influenced by the Symbolist movement of the 1860s to 1890s—writers Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Paul Verlaine; artists Félicien Rops and the Post-Impressionist Toulouse Lautrec. The success of his first show gained Chimot his a commission to illustrate René Baudu’s Les Après-midi de Montmartre—a depiction of seedy lowlife in Paris’s 18th arrondissement.

However, Chimot’s career was once again halted this time by a far more deadly and dangerous interlude—the First World War. Chimot served for almost five years in French army. One can only surmise what happened to him during this time. Yet, it may be possible to ascertain something of his grim experience from the comments of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who once wrote that during war he never felt more alive than when in proximity to death. Wittgenstein’s bloody experience led him to some recklessness behavior—volunteering for several near fatal (if not downright suicidal)  missions.

On leaving the trenches, this intense experience led Wittgenstein to a burst of creativity. Something similar undoubtedly happened to Chimot—who produced a large portfolio of drawings and etchings upon quitting the army. This portfolio formed the basis of illustrations published in books—including Les Après-midi de Montmartre.

Most of these artworks were featured in limited edition books—which catered to the tastes of an exceedingly rich clientele. Chimot’s frenzied burst of activity produced his trademark monochromatic erotica of his favored “deadly and delicious passions”—prostitutes, drug addicts and lost young girls. His work tended to romanticize this shabby world of poverty, disease and addiction—but there are moments when his etchings captured some fleeting awareness at the depths of their despair. All that prostitution and skulls without thinking that men might have something to do with it.

Chimot’s career blossomed. He became an editor of Les Éditions d’Art Devambez—responsible for producing fine quality limited editions imprints of such infamous tales as Les Chansons de Bilitis, La Troisième Jeunesse de Madame Prune, Les Belles de Nuit and Mitsou. He also brought together a group of prominent writers and artists like Henri Barbusse, Collette, Pierre Brissaud and Tsuguharu Foujita.

However, his career came quickly unstuck by two very different forces—the major advances in art (Cubism, Fauvism, Dada, Surrealism and Abstraction) and most damagingly the Wall Street Crash which overnight killed off the demand for high-end exclusive erotica. Chimot carried on—but never to the same success. He moved to Spain where he produced artworks that now looked sadly dated, trite and often the kind of representations seen on sailor’s tattoos or low rent pulp magazines. The glory days of Chimot’s best work were over—the early 1920s when he produced some of the most memorable and haunting images for works of decadent literature.
 
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More of Chimot’s decadent art, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The kitschy erotic art of Suzanne Ballivet (NSFW)
11.18.2016
09:39 am

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Art
Books
Sex

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The great Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir sanded the corners off his wooden furniture so there could be no sharp edges against which his children could accidentally injure themselves. It was a nice idea—but not altogether practical as the furniture—the hard substance—against which his offspring could accidentally injure themselves was still very much present.

This story came to mind while looking at the erotic artwork of French artist Suzanne Ballivet. Firstly, because of their style many of her drawings reminded me of Renoir—and to some extent those artists to be found camped out on the streets of Paris who sketch kitschy portraits of tourists where the faces are always smiling and almost cherubic.

Secondly, just as Renoir sanded his furniture to soften the blow, Ballivet produced sensuous—often highly explicit—erotic images in a very twee, kitsch and populist manner—like the overly sweet images found on Christmas cards or shortbread tins or hanging on an elderly relative’s wall. The style may look soft but the content is undoubtedly hard.

Suzanne Ballivet was born in Paris in 1904. She was the daughter of local photographer Jules Ballivet—who was best known for his photographs of Montpellier in the south of France. Ballivet became a costume designer in theater before finding her true métier in the 1940s as an artist producing comic and often explicit illustrations for magazines and classic works of erotic literature like Pierre Louÿs’ Les Chansons de Bilitis, Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs.

Ballivet also illustrated several other literary works by Balzac, Rimbaud, Raymond Radiguet, Anatole France, Mirabeau, Charles Dickens and mores contemporary writers like Collette, Raymond Peynet and Albert Dubout—who she married in 1968.

Though Ballivet’s work is best known in France, her pioneering erotic art has influenced a whole generation of succeeding graphic artists and illustrators of erotica and is eminently collectible.
 
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More erotic art from Suzanne Ballivet, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Cool stuff they used to paint on bass drum heads in the ‘20s and ‘30s
11.18.2016
09:01 am

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Art
Music

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“Spider woman” design drum head
 
These vintage drum kits from the ‘20s and ‘30s feature sometimes scenic, sometimes bizarre painted front bass drum heads. I’m not sure why a drummer would have needed a windmill or a cabin in the woods of the front of their kit, but, hey, the illustrations do add a touch of class.

These nifty kits and more can be found on the Polarity Records vintage drum kits page.

This is a style we’d love to see make a comeback.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Totally Insane James Bond comic books from India
11.17.2016
12:13 pm

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Diamond Comics are the largest comic book distributor and publisher in India. They’ve created a lot of original Indian comic book characters as well as publishing
foreign comic titles like The Phantom, Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. The Diamond superhero comics look more or less as we’ve come to know them. They don’t depart radically from the American versions.

But the James Bond comic books in Hindi are from another universe entirely. With eye-searing colors and primitive graphics, Diamond’s James Bond series completely lacks the elegance and style we associate with the suave superspy. Day-Glo 007 has been shaken, stirred and put up wet.

I was going to say that these covers are kind of lysergic. But really they’re not. This is what shit looks like after eating a handful of Datura or Amanita Muscaria. Double oh my God!
 

 

 
More double-0-WTF, after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Surreal images of exquisite women and their strange companions
11.17.2016
10:17 am

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A painting by Dan Quintana.

LA -based painter Dan Quintana says he never decided to be an artist, he was just “born that way.” The talented, self-taught artist has been compared to a 20th century Hieronymus Bosch as well as having a style that has strong ties to other Flemish masters such as Hugo van der Goes especially when it comes to Quintana’s use of moody color schemes.

I’ve been a fan of Quintana for many years and his works never cease to intrigue and amaze me, much like his ability to interject images of mesmerizing, goddess-like women amid his shadowy landscapes filled with creepy, crepuscular beings lurking about. Here’s Quintana on that aspect of his creative process:

I’m attracted to the curves and lines in the female form as opposed to the bold and masculine, although I have painted and drawn many male figures as well. There’s a sort of lovely contrast/juxtaposition in the beautiful, elegant lines of the female figure, colliding and blending back in the mix with that of gloom and the malformed.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Quintana’s remarkable paintings up close and can say unequivocally that they are even more captivating in person. If you are a fan of Quintana or just became one thanks to this post, you can pick up a few of his prints—such as one of my favorites featured in this post “Atriums” (pictured directly below)—over at his official website. Some of the images in this post are slightly NSFW.
 

‘Atriums.’
 

‘The Cozen Den,’ 2011.
 
More Dan Quintana after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Real Genius: The Paul Laffoley Archive launches with scans of 120 of his handwritten cosmic journals
11.16.2016
04:45 pm

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For many of us, 2016 has been an especially shitty year, an annus horribilis of epically epic proportions that began with the death of David Bowie (an especially low note for humanity, I think we can all agree on that) and went straight downhill from there, picking up speed before going SPLAT! like an egg on the sidewalk last week. My own personal year of unmitigated Hell had started a few weeks earlier, a year ago today in fact—November 16, 2015—when my good friend, the genius painter, architect and futurist inventor Paul Laffoley died at the age of 75.

Like many of Paul Laffoley’s friends and admirers, I was at least gratified to know that he’d died deeply satisfied with his life’s work, and the acclaim his visionary art had seen in recent years from major museums around the world, the result of tireless and heroic efforts on the part of his longtime gallerist Douglas Walla of Kent Fine Art in New York City. In May of this year, upon publication of the University of Chicago Press book The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell, I asked Doug if he’d found anything interesting when he was in Boston sorting through Paul’s belongings after his death:

He had always told me stories about time spent constructing violins. I was amazed to find one of his violins on a top shelf.  AND, perhaps most importantly, strewn amongst hundreds of boxes of bills and junk mail, I found about FIFTY handwritten journals of profound significance. I had been asking Paul for his journals for 20 years, and he had only found and gave to me about 6 or 7, five of which I gave to the Henry Art Gallery for publication in their book Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque.  I had no idea there were FIFTY journals along with voluminous notes and correspondence.  None were filed, or carefully segregated. They were just scattered among the vast piles of paper.

 

 
Turns out there were even more than that. These journals are now being made available to the public—starting today—via a newly launched website The Paul Laffoley Archive:

On the first anniversary of the death of Paul Laffoley, the Boston visionary artist and luminary, we have assembled and are launching today a second website documenting his written texts and journals. After Paul’s death, we discovered over 120 handwritten journals on Visionary Art,  Meta Energy, Dante, Dimensionality, Death-Life, Time Travel, and his naming of the Bauharoque period of history we are now experiencing. Not only was Laffoley a unique and dedicated artist, I believe he was an intellectual of great depth and curiosity. We hope that we have done Laffoley’s legacy justice by making his writings available to the public.

I’ve seen several of Paul’s handwritten (and nearly all of these were written out in longhand) essays in the past (one of the pieces posted on the new website was originally written for my Book of Lies occult anthology in 2003) and to have access now to ALL of his writing, I felt positively giddy clicking around it this morning. It’s a treasure trove of strange, challenging and mind-tickling ideas. You can crash land into any of these journals and be absolutely astounded by his dazzlingly erudite, cosmic, occult and scientific ideas. There are essays about the Symbolist movement; his plans for a working time machine; his ideas on the principles of Alchemy and much more. Most of the essays are presented as scans of his carefully formed and highly distinctive handwriting in PDF format.

Buy The Essential Paul Laffoley: Works from the Boston Visionary Cell on Amazon.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Salvador Dali goes to Hell: Astounding illustrations for Dante’s ‘Inferno’
11.15.2016
12:10 pm

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Books
Literature

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‘The Delightful Mount.’
 
We are in Hell.

That’s how it begins.

We are in Hell and have to find our way out.

That’s the “tagline” for Dante’s epic allegorical poem the Divine Comedy.

The Divine Comedy tells of the poet Dante “midway upon the journey” of his life when suddenly he finds himself lost “within a forest dark” having strayed from his “straightforward path.” It’s like the opening of some grim horror story or even a disturbing pulp detective tale—where the hero awakes lost and menaced in a dark and foreboding place.

It was another great poet T. S. Eliot who once wrote “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them. There is no third.”

In terms of Europe, he was right—though some may now add Goethe.

Shakespeare with his poetry and plays changed the English language and offered an unrivaled insight into the human condition.

Dante certainly added to our language and literature and gave some insight into human understanding—but his greatest literary feat was creating our vision of Hell.

Hell with its gates and abandon all hope ye who enter here. Hell with its nine circles—its brutal, horrific punishments, fire and ice, mythical creatures and monstrous demons.

The Divine Comedy is an allegory about sin and redemption. Dante is led by yet another poet Virgil—chosen because he described Hell in his poem the Aeneid—through the Inferno (Hell) on towards Purgatory and Paradise.

Understandable therefore that Dante’s epic tale would appeal as a subject matter to an old superstitious Catholic like Salvador Dali. The fact that this poem had already been illustrated by William Blake and Gustave Dore only added to its attraction

In 1957, the Italian government approached Salvador Dali to produce a series of 101 watercolor illustrations intended to accompany a new edition of the Divine Comedy intended to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth in 1965. Dali set to work. But when the first of Dali’s paintings were exhibited at the Palazzo Pallavicini in Rome, a section of the Italian public were disgusted that a Spaniard had been hired to celebrate their country’s greatest poet rather than some Italian. The project was quickly dropped.

However, Dali seemed unperturbed. He finished the project.

In 1964, Dali approached his French publisher, Joseph Foret, who was then producing a volume of Dali’s illustrations to accompany a new edition of Don Quixote. Dali suggested the idea of publishing his illustrations in a new edition of Dante’s epic poem. Foret took a selection of Dali’s watercolors to the publishers Les Heures Claires—who were equally enthusiastic about the project.

Two engravers—Raymond Jacquet with his assistant, Mr. Taricco—were hired to hand carve the 3,500 wood blocks necessary to reproduce Dali’s watercolors. A limited edition of the book was published in Italian. Sets of Dali’s prints are still available to buy online for plenty of lucre.

Dali’s illustrations feature many of his trademark images—elongated limbs, melting faces, and disturbing unquiet. Though his paintings do not attempt to compete with the illustrations of Dore and Blake—Dali’s images do create a surreal interpretation of Hell and all its punishments. Below is the complete set of Dali’s illustrations for the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy—the Inferno—as recounts the poet’s journey from dark wood through the gates of the underworld onto the nine circles of Hell. The full poem can be read here.
 
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‘Reassurance.’
 

I was among those, in Limbo, in suspense, and a lady called to me, she so beautiful, so blessed, that I begged her to command me.


 
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‘Charon.’
 
More of Dali’s vision of Hell, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Japan’s fantastic museum of rocks that look like faces
11.15.2016
11:34 am

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Amusing
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Objects that look like human faces are a fine way to kill a few minutes on the Internet. The phenomenon of seeing faces or other things in visual displays that are derived from chance is called pareidolia, and there’s a subreddit dedicated to it. The human ability to detect faces is strongly selected for in the Darwinian processes of evolution, as survival often depends on instinctual recognition and assessment of faces.

One of my favorite Peanuts strips ever involves Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown describing what they see in the clouds passing overhead, and hardly a week goes by without the news reporting that someone has spotted Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or Elvis in a bowl of porridge or a misshapen McNugget.
 

Chinsekikan head curator Yoshiko Hayama
 
Only recently, however, has it come to our attention that some remarkable person out there has taken the pareidolia thing and really run with it. A man named Shozo Hayama spent 50 years collecting rocks that resemble human faces, which are called jinmenseki in Japanese, and he founded a museum in Tokyo called Chinsekikan, which means “the hall of curious rocks.” Shozo died in 2010 but his widow Yoshiko Hayama has kept the museum open and serves as its head curator. It’s unclear how many rocks the museum has, but it’s upwards of 1,700.

Oddly, I am writing this post from the city that boasts the most famous rock museum in the world—the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
 

 

 
More rocks after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bleak paintings that portray the daily challenges of being ‘human’
11.15.2016
09:43 am

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Art
Economy

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‘A Desk’ by Tetsuya Ishida, 1996.
 
Though Japanese painter Tetsuya Ishida left this world at the over a decade ago—a mere month before his 32st birthday—he left us with a large collection of his surreal paintings to ponder that some speculate support the claim that Ishida’s death was a suicide and not an unfortunate accident.

On May 23rd 2005 Ishida was killed after being run over by a train. The vast majority of Ishida’s paintings reflect the harsh reality of life in Japan that Ishida experienced while growing up—the relentless pressure to reach impossibly high academics standards, the lack of jobs and the fact that Japan during his lifetime held the dubious title of having the highest suicide rates in the world (though Japanese suicide rates have declined in recent years). While Ishida’s story perhaps ended like many of his peers his legacy does provide keen insight into his perception of what life is like in Japan through the eyes of someone who lived through it for a short time. Themes such as isolation and the loss of hope for what the future holds. Often Ishida will incorporate his dead-eyed human subjects into a mechanical apparatus or other tangible everyday objects in an effort to convey the brutal erosion of quality of life in the capitalist system.

Ishida’s work possess the ability to silently and effortlessly express what so many lie sleeplessly thinking about. His paintings are accomplished and hauntingly mesmerizing, reinforcing their importance to be seen. Ishida’s work is the subject of at least two books Tetsuya Ishida Complete and Tetsuya Ishida Posthumous Best Practices. A number of the paintings below are probably NSFW.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Photographer recreates pics he took nearly four decades ago—with the same people
11.14.2016
01:34 pm

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Art
History

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The most elementary fact of our existence—time passes, implacably and forever—is always the one that surprises us the most. You probably see the note hit several times a week in your social media: “Return to Cookie Mountain came out ten years ago??” “Third Rock from the Sun is twenty years old!! No way!” Well, yes way. Time passes.

Some photographs can have the same effect, but few more forcefully than the series of before/after pictures that have recently been unveiled of British people caught in their everyday lives decades ago—and then recreated much more recently. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in eastern England had a gregarious paramedic who liked to amuse himself by taking pictures of local citizens. HIs name is Chris Porsz, and some took to calling him the “paramedic paparazzo.”

One of the striking things about Porsz’s unfussy and unpretentious pictures is the sheer lack of judgment. Porsz had a knack for capturing people of all types—young lovers, cheerful punks, children at play, women contemplating a makeover, and working people making their way through the day.

Over the last seven years Porsz has dedicated countless hours tracking down his original subjects and persuading them to pose for pictures—in fact, the same pictures that were taken so long ago. The result is almost unbelievably evocative and poignant, a little bit reminiscent of Michael Apted’s landmark Up series of documentaries, which tracked a group of twenty British schoolchildren every seven years until deep into middle age.

Porsz has a new book coming out called Reunions that contains the entire series of before/after photos. As the photographer says, “This book has been nearly forty years in the making, and I believe the project is totally unique. I don’t think anyone else has tracked down so many strangers and recreated photos in this way before.”

Several years ago Porsz came out with a related book called New England: The Culture and People of an English New Town During the 1970s and 1980s.

Porsz became interested in photography shortly after his first child was born in 1978. He was working as a “casualty porter” at Peterborough District Hospital at the time, and took to the streets for inspiration.

“It has been very hard work and I’ve had lots of setbacks along the way, but I always believed this could be something really special and was determined to do at least 100 reunion pictures and it has been a labour of love.” The final product, Reunions, actually has 134 re-created pics in it, so he surpassed his original goal by a considerable margin.
 

 

 
Many more before/after pics after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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