‘Illness, Madness and Death’: The world of Edvard Munch and ‘The Scream’
07:02 am


Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch described his paintings as his children, and like children he believed they should go off into the world and have their own adventures. He therefore showed little interest in a painting once it was finished. It could be discarded in an outhouse, abandoned to the elements, damaged in its handling, and even on one occasion, a dog jumped through a canvas. Munch felt that these marks and mishaps added to the work.

I wonder what Munch’s would have thought of the exacting restoration of his paintings The Scream and The Madonna, after they had been damaged by robbers in 2004. The paintings had “humidity stains” and were badly ripped after removal from their frames. The restorers sent long, tiring hours ensuring the paintings were returned to their “original” state prior to the theft.

The Scream is Munch’s most famous painting, and it is the one which has taken on a life beyond the original pictures. Today you can buy The Scream printed on clocks, socks, t-shirts, key-ring fobs, notebooks, mugs, dresses, inflatables and Internet memes.

Munch had been inspired to paint the picture after an evening stroll, as he noted in his journal 22 January 1892:

“One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.”

He later wrote a more poetic version of his inspiration on the pastel version of The Scream (1895):

“I was walking along the road with two Friends / the Sun was setting – The Sky turned a bloody red / And I felt a whiff of Melancholy – I stood / Still, deathly tired – over the blue-black / Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire / My Friends walked on – I remained behind / – shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature – EM.”

But the inspiration for The Scream probably went further back than just one evening in Norway, it likely stemmed from his strange and oppressive childhood. Born into a middle class family in 1863, Munch was brought up in a household of strict religious observance, illness and death. When he was five his mother died of consumption. His sister suffered the same fate when Munch was fourteen. His father then went insane with grief, spending days praying, oblivious to the world. While another sister was schizophrenic and died in an institution. His childhood traumas were to bruise all of Munch’s life, as he later wrote:

“Illness, madness, and death were the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied me all my life.”

The first documentary gives fascinating examination of Edvard Munch’s life and work, while the second focuses on the story of his most famous painting, “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time,” The Scream.

‘The Private Life of The Scream’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
The lost art of surfer movie tickets
02:00 pm


Endless Summer

Movie tickets are not something to which we give a lot of thought from an aesthetic point of view, and really why should we?  They exist to be torn in half within minutes of purchase. The generic, bluish, thermally printed and perfectly utilitarian stubs we’re used to today were preceded in my youth by the classic red “ADMIT ONE” tabs that did the job just fine in the days when most cinemas had only one or two theaters.

So it was a truly pleasant surprise to find The Gallery of Surf Classics’ trove of 1960s surf movie ticket stubs. Many are very plain, but some of the graphic tickets are marvelous. Now, apart from breakouts like Bruce Brown’s classic The Endless Summer, surf movies weren’t nearly as mainstream as the Frankie & Annette beach party movies that simplified the culture for America’s landlocked. (As a Cleveland kid and a great indoorsman who doesn’t doesn’t tend to much get hung up on the whole So-Cal vibe, movies formed the basis of my knowledge of surf culture, to which I’m a consummate outsider.) These were essentially niche sports documentaries that screened in high school auditoria and civic rec centers, so I find it pretty amazing that anyone would have taken the time and expense to craft such elaborate tickets for these films.

The Endless Summer, 1964

Walt Phillips’ Once Upon a Wave, 1963

Grant Rohloff’s Too Hot To Handle, 1963
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Will robots replace Lady Gaga?

Last week Dangerous Minds’ Martin Schneider posed the question “Will pole dancing robots put human strippers out of work?” After watching the video of this batshit gyrating animatronic by artist Jordan Wolfson I’m inclined to answer “maybe.” I mean I doubt they’ll be wearing bonkers witch masks, but who knows?

According to the description on YouTube:

“The figure incorporates facial recognition technology, allowing her to focus on, and unnervingly follow visitors at the exhibition.”

The piece is currently being exhibited March 6 – April 19 at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. 

Via io9

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Vinyl Terror and Horror’s jaw-dropping record manipulations
10:31 am


Vinyl Terror and Horror

In some of my earliest days in college radio, in the few years between my getting sick of every goddamn band sounding like R.E.M. and being re-invigorated by rock via Amphetamine Reptile, I and a few other anarchy-minded graveyard shift DJs liked to perform what someone had dubbed “destructions” (possibly after Knížák): two or more of us would patch the production studio into the air signal, doubling the number of reel-to-reel decks and turntables available to us, and we’d then improvise hours-long musique concret pieces with tape loops, prepared vinyl, and any other sound sources we could conjure up. It involved a lot of intensive listening, and real foreknowledge of our source materials, because we didn’t want the pieces to be just a bunch of bullshit noise, though of course sometimes they were anyway.

We fancied ourselves teenaged Christian Marclays, and with a major midwestern university covering the cost of replacing the needles we were savaging, we prepped thrift-store vinyl by drilling off-center spindle holes, cutting records in half and re-attaching them randomly, and strategically blocking off grooves with masking tape or glue to create intentional skips and loops. While the music we made wasn’t the sort of thing most “normals” would care to listen to, it was 3 in the damn morning, so who cared? We were teaching ourselves to break down categorical restrictions and to think of music in uncommonly physical terms!!!

And we would have given anything to have been even half as cool as Vinyl Terror and Horror are today.

VT&H are the Berlin-based Danish duo Camilla Sørensen and Greta Christensen. Their vinyl art incorporates innovations like multi-tiered turntables, upside-down tone arms and the use of precision cutting devices to make literal jigsaw puzzles out of records. They even deploy robotics. The pair related the history of the project to Thump UK:

Sørensen and Christensen met at Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Art Academy in 2001 while studying sculpture, and decided to collaborate on a series of soundscapes. After exploring a shared interest in Hammond organs, they decided that there was little interest in learning how to play a traditional instrument. Using vinyl was convenient as it was readily available from Copenhagen’s charity shops, and interesting as a sculptural item. “In a very sculptural sense, the sound is directly connected to the material alongside the recorded material, which has its own time and its own history,” Christensen says. “The record as an object that you can work with very directly and manipulate. We turn it into something new.”
After relocating to Berlin in 2003, the duo began performing and came upon their moniker by accident. “At a flyer for one of the shows,” Sørensen relates, “we saw a description written underneath our names of what we do: vinyl terror. We added the horror just because we were two – so one could be the terror and one could be the horror.” I press them: which member is the terror and which is the horror? They pause and think carefully over their response, before deciding that there is a bit of both in each of them.
This appears to be the modus operandi of the Vinyl Terror and Horror project – to bring out the unsettling side of record playing by turning the audio format into a living wreck. Christensen admits that this is all done with the aim of a narrative purpose: “It’s a project based on disasters. The sound is about creating disasters.” Alongside Sørensen, she finds discount recordings of operas, classical music and sets about distorting their forms for storytelling purposes. 



More Vinyl Terror and Horror after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Velvet portraits of wrestling greats
10:23 am


velvet paintings

Hulk Hogan
Velvet paintings and professional wrestling—a veritable chocolate and peanut butter of low culture combos! Artist Bruce White “believes that Elvis and Jesus are not the only icons of the world worthy of being immortalized on a velvety canvas,” and his show “VelvetMania” really captures the personalities of the great wrestling icons of yore. Many of the portraits you see below are for sale, should you be in the market for some fine (and fun) art.

For the unacquainted, professional wrestlers are far more than buff (or even not so buff) actors staging a phony fight—these men are the drag queens of heterosexual masculinity. If you grew up watching wrestling, the appeal is obvious. If you didn’t, I suggest you get right with God and YouTube some classic matches this very minute. If you don’t fall in love with the spectacle, I pity you. But how could you not? The swagger, the bombast, the mullets! The only real question is who to favor? Who will be your champion, and what does it say about you?!?

If you pick Hulk Hogan, you may be attracted to American classics, or you may just be a bore. Jake the Snake and Koko B. Ware (below) may appear to rely on a gimmick of animal companionship, but I assure you, they’re men of great charisma. Then we have Shawn Michaels for the glamor queens, and The Ultimate Warrior—the uber-buff “wrestler’s wrestler.”

You may remember “Rowdy” Roddy Piper from his brilliant performance in John Carpenter’s 1988 dystopic sci-fi classic, They Live, where he ad-libs one of the greatest tough guy lines of all time. Then, for the goth kids, we have The Undertaker—he had great entrances. But I saved my favorite for last—Mick Foley, as his unhinged character, Mankind, and his little friend, Mr. Socko. Fun fact, Mick Foley is a huge Tori Amos fan and does a lot of advocacy for victims of sexual violence. I fucking love Mick Foley, and he’s even a Hoosier, like myself. I’ve included his debut as Mankind at the end—the dude could really put on a show.

Jake the Snake

Koko B. Ware

Shawn Michaels
More of Bruce White’s velvet portraits of wrestlers after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘God’s cartoonist’: The ongoing bizarre cult following of Jack T. Chick

angels chick tract
As a child in the Bible Belt I somehow missed out on Jack T. Chick’s weird fire-and-brimstone religious comic books. I was sporadically taken to a pretty low-key, boringly mainstream Methodist Church where his tracts would have been viewed as kind of embarrassing. As an adult I heard people with evangelical Christian backgrounds bonding over the nightmarish anxiety Chick comics had caused them as children. Fundamentalist churches made stacks of these proselytizing, emotionally charged, conspiracy-rich, racist, homophobic, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-pagan, anti-feminist, Islamophobic comics available to very young kids. Since 1961 over 235 different tracts have been published, selling almost a billion copies. They have been banned in many countries, including Canada, as “hate literature.”
chick deveil
Despite censorship, the comics have been read by a staggering number of people all over the world. Youth ministers hand them out on the street, and (presumably non-English speaking) missionaries distribute them overseas, spreading quirkiness like the Pope being the earthly manifestation of Satan. Someone once tried to hand me one in a bowling alley in England! People like Exene Cervenka were ahead of their time in recognizing Chick comics’ (and other Bible tracts’) value as collectible underground folk art and pop culture artifacts. The early X song “Beyond and Back” was taken from the title of a Chick tract. The online Jack T. Chick Museum of Fine Art contains an exhaustive collection of his titles, neatly summarized as:

He steadfastly exposes The Conspiracy of Catholics, Masons, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Agers, Rock & Rollers, and any other group the devil might use to damn your soul. Chick also offends Jews and Muslims with previews of their fiery futures in hell (but only because he wants to save them). The more taboo a topic, the more likely you’ll see it covered in a Chick tract!

Curator and tireless researcher Kurt Kuersteiner (who used to have a punk radio show) has written the definitive book about the worldwide phenomenon, The Art of Jack T. Chick, and in 2008 produced the documentary, God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick, which can be found in its entirety here. You don’t get a glimpse of the notoriously private man himself, since he is so convinced that people want to kill him (he’s probably right) that he lives in seclusion and hasn’t given an interview since 1975 (his first and last). The earnest sheer batshittery of his close associates is like watching a train wreck. According to Rotten Tomatoes’ synopsis of the film:

...while some Christians distribute the tracts in hopes of saving their fellow man from eternal damnation, secular fans collect them strictly for their entertainment value; the comics are so vividly drawn and outrageously over the top that they at times transcend their own intentions to achieve a sort-of grotesque self-parody. Eventually, the tracts became such highly valued pop-culture commodities that they were presented in galleries nationwide, and earned a permanent collection in the Smithsonian.

Kurt also perpetrated an awesome April Fool’s prank to demonstrate the censor-happy disapproval that Chick’s work has inspired.

The trailer for ‘God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick’:

Above, an episode of Boing Boing TV featuring Syd Garon and Rodney Ascher’s animated take on the Chick “classic” Somebody Goofed. This is Jack T. Chick in a nutshell. (Reportedly he’s seen this and liked it).

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
Go Sketch Alice: Grace Slick’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ artwork
06:40 am


Grace Slick
Alice in Wonderland


After her retirement from music in 1988, singer and ‘60s icon Grace Slick took up visual art. Although she had been interested in drawing and painting since she was a child, she admits to not being able to concentrate on several things at once, and leaving music finally freed her to pursue art. She has done portraits of fellow musicians and friends such as Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin, Pete Townshend, her Jefferson Airplane bandmates, and Sting, of course, but the other originals and prints that sell well are her charming Alice in Wonderland-themed works. Many of them feature, as one would expect, the White Rabbit. He is prominent in her 420 Collection  pro-marijuana legalization pieces.

slick tea party
Once Upon a Time

slick cheshire cat
The Cheshire Cat

slick white rabbit
White Rabbit

slick trust

slick rabbit lap
Alice with White Rabbit

slick catepillar
Hooka Smoking Caterpillar
More after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
The grooviest tarot deck ever: The Linweave Tarot, 1967
03:01 pm



Linweave Tarot
“Jupiter” and “L’Amoureux”
In 1967 the Linweave Paper Co. was looking to promote its outstanding paper products, so they hit on a terrific promotional idea—publish a large-format, full-color tarot deck with art in the contemporary style executed by several top graphic artists of the moment. So they hired Ron Rae, Hy Roth, Nicolas Sidjakov, and David Mario Palladini to do it, and the results was a lively whimsical deck that looks like it came straight out of Yellow Submarine. Unfortunately, the Linweave Paper Co. apparently closed up shop in 1989. So today, that means that the tarot deck is the thing it’s more known for. A collector’s item, it now goes for about $100 used on Amazon.

The actual title of the deck is “Linweave Spells Your Fortune with a Modern Interpretation of the Medieval Tarot Pack: Presented on the Most Exciting Creative Papers in America”—just that alone is pretty awesome. I’ve selected a choice few for presentation here; you can see many more cards at these friendly websites.
Linweave Tarot
Linweave Tarot, cover
Linweave Tarot
Linweave Tarot
“Le Mai”
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
‘U.S.A! U.S.A!’ George Washington dunking on Kim Jong-un. Because America!!!

George Washington dunks on Kim Jong-un
A few weeks ago, Redditor fact_school_cat called for an ass-kicking bit of counterfactual patriotic sports propaganda:

There is not nearly enough art depicting our country’s Founders playing basketball, a game which was not invented until 100 years after the final colony ratified the Constitution. I want this art…

I haven’t quite decided on content, but I’m thinking either a team of Founding Fathers versus international enemies (think Kim Jong Eun — a real basketball fan) or versus a team of my least favorite players (think Andray Blatche). The game should probably take place in Philadelphia’s basketball arena.

This is a strange but serious request.

Redditor I_may_be_Dead (Aaron Needham) has stepped up. That’s the painting he came up with. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in weeks.

I love the detail of Honest Abe Lincoln boxing out Uncle Joe Stalin in the background. You can reach Needham for further commissions at his website or at aaronm.needham@gmail.com.
via Deadspin

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Migraine headaches depicted by artists
11:35 am



Migraine Art: The Migraine Experience from Within
I’m someone who suffers from migraines. I’ve probably visited the hospital emergency room at least ten times since the age of twelve when I first started to get them. The last time it happened I was puking, snot was running down my face and I was crying. They gave me, I was told, something like ten IV doses of Fentanyl—that’s enough to stop William Burroughs or Keith Richards in their tracks—and it didn’t even put a dent in what I was feeling (nor was it even in the least little bit fun). For the lucky people who’ve never experienced a migraine, these are not your average really terrible headaches. They’re much worse than that. A headache is a “one” and a migraine headache is a “seven” on up. Imagine the pain of an ice pick gouging out your eye for several hours or a jackhammer beating your brain non-stop until you want to explode. Tylenol, aspirin or ibuprofen does nothing to relieve it. The pain is something else, definitely in its own category and incredibly difficult to put into words. That’s why I find these artists depictions of what a migraine feels like so spot-on. You don’t need words. You just look at them and you get it.

They’re lovely in their own way, and yet as a migraine sufferer, I find them kinda discomforting, too. Trust me, I can relate to each and every one of these.

I do take medication that helps me when I feel one coming on. But if you miss that window of opportunity—meaning, it’s in pill form and you might vomit up the pill before it takes effect—you’ll have to ride it out. It can take hours or even days for the excruciating pain to go away.





Artist: Michael Bolls
Below, Migraines: Not Just Another Headache:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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