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Killer silhouettes of 80s VHS horror movie box art
04.01.2016
01:44 pm

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Art
Movies

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The excellent recent documentary The Nightmare examines the topic of sleep paralysis, a condition which causes terrifying waking hallucinations in its victims. Many of the sufferers of sleep paralysis describe similar visions. In fact, these descriptions are often so alike, it’s uncanny. One of the typical hallucinatory images described is that of a shadowy silhouetted figure. Sometimes there are three of these figures, the leader of which is usually wearing some sort of a hat. This hat-wearing dream-stalking shadow is said to have been the original basis for the Freddy Krueger character from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

There is something very primal about this shadow figure that haunts the dreams of sleep paralysis sufferers. This dark silhouette is something ingrained into our animal brains as an anthropomorphic personification of fear itself.

I was reminded of the demons of sleep paralysis when I ran across a post from Camera Viscera collecting scads of VHS horror covers all with the thematic connection of having a silhouette figuring prominently in the artwork. You can check their site or their Facebook page for even more of these “kill-houettes.”

Below is a gallery of the finest examples of shadow terror art.

Happy nightmares, folks:
 

 

 

 
More 80s VHS kill-ouettes after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘The Legend of the Fall’: A slapdash cartoon love letter to Mark E. Smith
04.01.2016
12:09 pm

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Art
History
Music

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Panel #12: “And Mark said the three R’s were ‘Repetition, Repetition, Repetition….”
 
I learned recently that antifolk musician and comix artist Jeffrey Lewis is a huge fan of the Fall, which, as it happens, I am as well. Lewis tends to celebrate his artistic heroes in his songs and artwork; some of his song titles are “Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror” and “The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song.”

One senses in Lewis’ love for Smith a respectful acknowledgment from one ultra-prolific artist to another. Lewis has fashioned a kind of “Where’s Waldo” poster involving many, many, many Fall tracks, under the title “100 Fall Songs,” which actually contains visual references to 112 Fall ditties. You can buy that at his website, and it even comes with a key so that you can test your Fall knowledge.

In 2007 and 2008 Lewis was given to a quickie “documentary” (his term) about the Fall that he would do in his live shows; maybe he’s done it since but he was definitely doing it at that time. The title of the piece is “The Legend of the Fall,” and if that puts you in the mind of a certain Jim Harrison novella that was turned into a Brad Pitt movie, you’re not alone.
 

Panel #16: “...who worked hard writing, touring, and recording….”
 
The “documentary” consists of twenty-odd panels drawn by Lewis himself, that were concocted to accompany amusing doggerel of rhyming couplets that Lewis had written describing the tumultuous history of the Manchester band.

Here’s an example of the couplets: 
 

Mark and his friends bounced ideas off the wall
He was gonna dress up & they were gonna call themselves “Flyman and the Fall”
Then they settled on “The Fall” after the Camus book
Though Mark couldn’t sing a note & didn’t care how square he looked

 
Panel #19 refers to a gig in 1998 when Smith punched a band member onstage and got arrested—DM published an in-depth chronicle of that memorable gig (complete with video!) last year.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Devil’s Reign’: Demonic art exhibit curated by Church of Satan’s High Priest
04.01.2016
09:38 am

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Art
Occult

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Pale Horse, “Through the Gateway,” screenprint

Peter H. Gilmore has long been among the world’s leading authorities on LaVeyan Satanism. An author of countless works on the subject, most notably The Satanic Scriptures, Gilmore was appointed the High Priest of the Church of Satan 15 years ago, and has since served—not without controversy, unsurprisingly—as caretaker of the Anton LaVey legacy, even writing a new introduction to The Satanic Bible, the book that changed his life in his early teens (say what you will about that, hey, at least it wasn’t Atlas Shrugged).

Gilmore has recently endeavored to curate a Satanic art exhibit called “The Devil’s Reign” (a cheeky nod to an old film) for Howl Gallery, a combination exhibition space/tattoo shop in Ft. Myers. FL. The show is traveling, and it opens tonight, April 1, 2016 at Stephen Romano Gallery In Brooklyn, and it’ll travel to Eridanos Gallery & Tattoo in Boston for an opening on May 6th. The show seeks to acquaint viewers with expressions of devils from many cultures, though deities that were turned to devils and demons by Christianity are by far the most often featured, and curiously, figures from the Lovecraft mythos make appearances. “Since all deities and devils are invented,” Gilmore writes in his foreword to the exhibit’s companion book, “Satanists can employ any, from whatever fiction they find inspirational, as a means for emotional excitement in ritual.” He continues:

Whether the artists crafted these images to purge themselves of some withheld impulses or as celebrations of others, they function as visual rituals, offering viewers much over which to ruminate. Of this tenebrous throng, some will have been or will be inscribed upon human flesh. Their bearers might wish to absorb and dominate them, or to boldly proclaim allegiance to these sovereigns of Hell.

Devilish art has long been said to mock authority, to frighten the gullible into beliefs contrary to their nature, and to both embody and expose complex elements of the human animal and his frequently savage societies. The Church of Satan proposes that one can explore and fulfill one’s desires when they are experienced as controlled indulgence, not frenzied compulsion—an Epicurean rather than Hedonistic approach. Each artwork here can thus be a means for self-reflection, or for seeing worldly perspectives that may previously have remained hidden.

 

Herb Auerbach, untitled, ink & watercolor on paper
 

Uncle Allan, “Mephisto,” pen, ink, watercolor
 

Dusty Neal, “Naamah,” ink, liquid acrylic
 
More demonic art after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Leigh Bowery’s shock therapy: ‘When I’m dressed up I reach more people than a painting in a gallery’
03.28.2016
12:00 pm

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Art
Design
Fashion

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01lbreddress.jpg
 
The dictionary defines the word “legend” as:

1. a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated.

2. an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.

It would be fair to say this word fits rather snugly with the performance artist, designer, would-be pop star, icon, artist’s model and “work of art” Leigh Bowery.

When asked recently, “Who was Leigh Bowery?” I was briefly flummoxed as where to begin in any attempt to describe this wonderfully extravagant yet self-indulgent character. There were so many facets to his life—so many fictions, so many facts—it seemed rather unsporting to choose only one.

Leigh Bowery was born on March 26th, 1961, in the small working class suburb of Sunshine in Melbourne, Australia. He was was the eldest of two children born to Tom and Evelyn Bowery. His mother had lived her entire life in Sunshine and raised Leigh and his younger sister Bronwyn in a house opposite her own childhood home. Sunshine was that kind of community. People lived and died there—they knew their place and rarely ventured beyond its boundaries.

Leigh was a large beefy child with a head of golden curls. Because of his build, his father hoped Leigh would become an Australian rules football player or at the very least something sporty. Yet Leigh showed no inclination for such physical activities. He preferred gardening and later needlework—something he first learnt while convalescing in hospital after an operation to help his testicles descend.

At school he was a very bright pupil. He had a keen and enquiring mind, was constantly reading books and showed great aptitude for classical music—in particular playing the piano. His life changed after he won a scholarship to Melbourne High School.

Leigh later claimed that he had known he was gay from the age of twelve. During his time at Melbourne High, he began his sexual adventures. On his way home from school, Leigh cruised the public toilets at the central railway station. He discovered wearing a school uniform made him highly attractive to the older men.  By his own estimate—which may or may not be true—he claimed he had sex with about one thousand men before he left school.
 
02lbpoldmakeup.jpg
 
His parents had hoped Leigh would study music at university. Instead, he chose to study fashion design at the Melbourne Institute of Technology. Leigh was one of only two boys in his year. He quickly learnt how to machine sew and began making some of his early flamboyant designs. These were not exactly appreciated by his teachers who wanted him to design ladies’ underwear and children’s clothes.

But Leigh had moved ahead of such small ambitions and wanted to create his own designs. He was eighteen and had fallen under the influence of punk—as he later explained in an interview.

The thing which made everything click for me was the punk movement where people used themselves and their appearance to describe so much and I just loved Busby Berkeley movies—all those sequins and feathers—and I would always have my nose in a National Geographic, gazing at women with stretched necks and rings going in strange places.

Leigh was also very enamored with the club scene in London, which he read about in all the imported pop and fashion magazines he got his hands on.

I wanted to hang out with the art and fashion people. I wanted to go to nightclubs and look at the clothes in the shops. I loved the idea of punk and the New Romantics. England seemed the only place to go, I considered New York but that just seemed full of cheap copies of London. I don’t think I made a mistake.

He quit college and worked in a department store to raise the funds for the London move. When he arrived in the city of his dreams, Leigh lived with a friend. When this friend moved out, Leigh decided to change his life and become more involved with the city around him. According to his friend and biographer Sue Tilley, Leigh made a list of four resolutions on New Year’s Eve 1980:

1) Get his weight down to twelve stone.
2) Learn as much as possible.
3) Establish himself in either fashion, art or writing.
4) Wear make-up every day.

Leigh managed to meet three of these resolutions over the next decade.

Read more about Leigh Bowery, plus a documentary about him hosted by Hugh Laurie, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ trading cards were the absolute best, right? You betcha!
03.28.2016
09:48 am

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Art
Games
Television

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Last week it seemed like all of America (certainly everyone on my Facebook feed) had taken time out to enjoy the latest installment of insanity from Pee-wee Herman, as Netflix started streaming Pee-wee’s Big Holiday on March 18. I thought it would be a good moment to look back at one of the most exceptional aspects of Pee-wee’s original TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse that doesn’t get talked about so much anymore, that being the utterly amazing set of trading cards that Topps unveiled to promote the show in 1988.

Seriously, I don’t think trading cards ever got any better than this.

Every package of the Pee-wee’s Playhouse trading cards was conceived as a “Fun Pak” that included a mishmash of items, including cards, stickers, temporary tattoos, and curious little lenticular images. It was truly a bounty—every single package came with enough brightly colored whimsy and silly puns to satisfy even the most immature middle schooler.

This is what a package (in rear) and its typical contents looked like:
 

 
A blog dedicated to the “Topps Archives” provides some crucial detail to the way this set worked, calling it “one of the most innovative sets [Topps] ever produced.” The good writer, going by “toppcat,” points out that “an artist, puppet master and set designer named Wayne White had something to do with the quirky look of the show and presumably the design of the cards. ... Pee-wee’s Playhouse must have been a risk as the show was mid-run in 1988 but that did not stop the creative team from going bonkers.”

The set featured bewildering variety for those accustomed to a simple 34-card series of Planet of the Apes images or whatever. No, the Pee-wee’s Playhouse cards defied the entire concept of sequence lists and categories, with confusingly repeating and mismatched fronts and backs and subsets, which leads to explanations like this: “The lovely Miss Yvonne, the Most Beautiful Woman in Puppetland is not actually #3, that is merely her sub-series number; a total of six represent various characters. Another sub-series is the multi-sticker, of which there are eight….”

The set included puzzle cards, temporary tattoos, activity cards, stickers, “nutty initials” (this one being a reworking of a 1967 Topps series), wigglers, “flying things” cards, playhouse foldies, puppet cards, door cards, disguise cards, and who knows what else!

As an adult looking back on these images, it’s impossible not to see it as the entire run of Art Spiegelman’s RAW repurposed and made accessible (and just as importantly, made more FUN!) for the brighter-than-average teen. The importance of Gary Panter in defining the Pee-wee aesthetic has been well documented, but these cards also featured the artistic input of such comix stalwarts as KAZ and Charles Burns.

Seldom has the trading card public been as dazzled by so much generous variety within a single line! Every single card is brimming with an infectious vitality.
 

 
Much, much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Satan’s Chillen & Screamin’ Demons: Awesome personalized World War II leather bomber jackets
03.25.2016
09:40 am

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Art
Fashion
History

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Here are some personalized, hand-painted A-2 flight jackets from World War II brought to you by D. Sheley‘s collection on Flickr.

Apparently the A-2 jacket was the standard flight jacket every man received during the war. It’s interesting to see everyone’s personality still shine through from their lovingly adorned jackets. 


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Bond Girls’: Sexy color-drenched retro-style prints of the ladies of 007
03.25.2016
09:29 am

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Art
Literature
Movies

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Thunderball
A print of the 2008 book cover update to Ian Fleming’s 1961 novel, “Thunderball” by Michael Gillette.
 
These reconceptualized covers done for the 2008 reissue of all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels (including the collection of Fleming’s short stories from 1960, For Your Eyes Only) published by Penguin Books in the 1950s through the 1960s, are about as sweet as eye-candy can get. The punchy, psychedelic candy-colored covers by artist Michael Gillette featured in this post (which were printed in a limited run and signed by Gillette), can be had for $95 bucks a pop over at Gillette’s website. I don’t know about you, but I want them all.
 
The 2008 book cover update to Ian Fleming's 1956 novel, Diamonds Are  Forever by Michael Gillette
A print of the 2008 book cover update to Ian Fleming’s 1956 novel, “Diamonds Are Forever.”
 
The 2008 update for the cover of Ian Fleming's 1964 novel, You Only Live Twice by Michael Gillette
A print of the 2008 update for the cover of Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel, “You Only Live Twice.”
 
More Bond girls after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The drugless turn-on: Own a Brion Gysin Dreamachine
03.25.2016
09:05 am

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Art
Drugs

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Soleilmoon Recordings, the excellent Oregon label that is home to much of the Legendary Pink Dots’ catalog, announced yesterday that they’re accepting pre-orders for a run of Dreamachines. The Dreamachine, you’ll recall, is the flickering device invented by Brion Gysin that produces closed-eye hallucinations “on the natch.”

For handy people, there’s always the option of building your own, but for those of us who are all thumbs and won’t be scraping together £600 for a made-to-order aluminum model anytime soon, Soleilmoon’s Dreamachine is attractively priced at $130.
 

 
The complete package, which Andrew McKenzie of the Hafler Trio has been working on for ten years, includes a vinyl Dreamachine, McKenzie’s book about the device, and a DVD with 5.1 surround audio. Note that it does not include the turntable or the suspended light bulb:

The package released by Soleilmoon includes a fully functional Dreamachine, designed to Brion Gysin’s specifications, printed and die-cut on sturdy, flexible and long-lasting vinyl. It’s ready for use, right out of the box. Simply connect the overlapping velcro-lined edges, center the cylinder on an LP, lock it in place with a few pieces of sticky tape and then place it on a turntable, preferably one that can rotate at 78 RPM, although 45 RPM will work, too. Hang a lightbulb inside, then seat yourself near the rotating cyclinder, close your eyes and wait for the dreamstate to be induced.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Beautifully grotesque illustrations highlight death and rebirth in the animal kingdom
03.24.2016
12:14 pm

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Animals
Art

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I’m really loving St. Louis-based painter and illustrator Lauren Marx’s series “The American Wilderness” which highlights the grotesque, yet strangely beautiful circle of life in the animal kingdom. I can’t keep my eyes off her work.

“Animals always have been, and always will be, my passion. They have been the subjects of my drawings ever since I was a child. I blame it on weekends spent at the Saint Louis Zoo and endless hours watching National Geographic’s Mutual of Omaha: Wild Kingdom

“They influenced my desire to learn about biology while attending high school. While in high school, I began collecting bones, feathers, and books. Over these past few years, my passion grew to zoology, cosmology, and mythology.”

You can see more of Marx’s series at her website.


 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Abandoned hotels in the Egyptian desert may as well be on another planet
03.24.2016
11:40 am

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Art

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The word ruins ordinarily conveys a connotation of scarcely delineated brick walls and rubble dating back hundreds if not thousands of years, but the work of German artists Sabine Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche serves as a powerful reminder that unfortunate events, especially economic ones, can easily create ruins of much more recent vintage almost anywhere.

Haubitz and Zoche’s 2006 book Sinai Hotels vividly documents hotel projects in the Egyptian desert that were commenced in good faith but then, for reasons unknown, were abandoned. In virtually every case, the failed investment projects resulted in concrete foundations but remarkably little else, stranded in an otherwise vacant landscape of sand.

Caitlin Peterson has written that the buildings in the series
 

have proven to be the ruins left by misinvestment in state-funded tourism projects. The sculptural shells point to one of the consequences of a tourist industry that encourages uncontrolled urban development of whole landscapes and, against the backdrop of current political developments, amounts to a socio-political fuse. In their promise of holiday idylls, the names of hotel chains, which the artists have adopted for their titles, jar with discrepancy against the abandoned concrete skeletons in the pictures.

 
As John Coulthart astutely observed, the images have a distinctively Ballardian quality, suggesting a peculiarly modern form of decay.

Quite right—the pictures evoke any number of notable Ballard volumes—Concrete Island, Vermilion Sands, High-Rise......
 

 

 

 
Lots more of these great images, after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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