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In Dreams: Grete Stern’s powerful feminist surrealism
08.18.2017
11:17 am
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In 1948, the photographer Grete Stern was asked to contribute photographic illustrations for a weekly column on the interpretation of dreams in the Argentinian women’s magazine Idilio. The column entitled “El psicoanálisis le ayudará” (“Psychoanalysis will help you”) was written by Italian sociologist Gino Germani under the novel pseudonym of Richard Rest. Psychoanalysis was then considered the cure-all for everyone’s ills—though goodness knows what strange subconscious thought inspired Germani to choose the name “Dick” Rest….

Anyway…while Rest analyzed one of the many dreams submitted by the mainly working-class female readership, Stern produced a photomontage that recreated some aspect of the reader’s dream. These illustrations usually depicted women struggling to free themselves from the oppressive patriarchy of Argentinian society.

For example, in one image a woman is trying to communicate on a phone without a mouth. In another, a woman is trying to grow in the light which can be turned off on a whim by a giant man’s hand. Or there is the woman whose reflection in a mirror has shattered into fragments, or the woman housed in a birdcage like some exotic bird. And so on. During her tenure with Idilio, Stern produced around 150 photomontages between 1948 and 1951.

Grete Stern was born in Elberfeld, Germany, on May 9th, 1904. Her family were involved in the textile and fabric industry and made frequent visits on business to England, where Stern first attended school. Returning to Germany, Stern studied graphic design and typography at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Stuttgart between 1923-25. After college, she became a freelance graphic designer producing adverts for magazines and papers. However, it was after seeing an exhibition by the American photographer Edward Weston, that Stern decided on a career as a photographer.

Stern moved to Berlin where she became a photographic student under the tutelage of Walter Peterhans. Stern later said that Peterhans taught her that the camera was not just a mechanism for taking pictures but a whole new way of seeing. Peterhans went onto become the leading photographer with the Bauhaus movement. During her studies, Stern became close friends with another pupil Ellen (Rosenberg) Auerbach. Together they formed the advertising and portrait studio ringl+pit. The company name was concocted from the pair’s nicknames—Ringl for Grete and Pit for Ellen. Their work became highly successful—in particular their mixing of photographic images with text. During this time, Stern met and started a relationship with Argentinian photographer Horacio Coppola.

When Adolf Hitler and his band of Nazi thugs came to power, Stern left ringl+pit and moved with Coppola to England where she formed her own studio in 1934. Here she documented many of the German exiles like Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel. In 1935, Stern and Coppola married. With the threat of war more apparent, Stern and Coppola moved to Buenos Aires, where they set up a graphic, advertizing, and photographic studio and held the first major exhibition of “modern photography” in the city.

Stern was way ahead of the curve. She was a pioneer for women working in a male-dominated and, let’s be honest, primarily sexist industry. Stern became a highly successful and inventive portrait photographer with her work exhibited and published across the world. However, the photomontages she produced for Idilio were long discounted as just hack work until their reassessment labeled them as what they are: powerful, imaginative, feminist artwork.

Stern died at the age of 95 in 1999.
 
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More of Grete Stern’s dream work, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.18.2017
11:17 am
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Meet Anita Berber: The ‘Priestess of Debauchery’ who scandalized Weimar Berlin

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The woman with the shock of dyed red hair, her body wrapped in a fur coat, and a pet monkey grinning and holding tight to her neck was Anita Berber. She danced across the foyer of the Adlon Hotel opened her sable coat and revealed her lustrous naked body underneath. Men leered, goggled-eyed. Women giggled or turned their heads in shock and embarrassment.

Anita Berber didn’t care. She liked to shock. She liked the attention. If she didn’t get it, she would shout and throw empty bottles or glasses on the floor. Smash! Berber was a dancer, an actor, a writer, and a model. She was called the “Goddess of the Night,” the “Priestess of Debauchery,” the very symbol of Weimar decadence, and a drug-addled degenerate. She was all these things and more. And during her brief life, Berber utterly scandalized Berlin during the 1920s. Not an easy task!

The daughter of two musicians, Anita Berber was born in Dresden in 1899. Her parents divorced when she was young, Berber was then raised by her grandmother. By sixteen, she quit the family home for the unpredictable life as a dancer in cabaret shows. The First World War was at its bloodiest height. The daily reports of casualties and death meant people were reckless with their passions. It was then that Berber started a series of relationships and dangerous habits that became her life.

After the War, Berber began her career as a movie actor—starring opposite Conrad Veidt in The Story of Dida Ibsen in 1918 and then in Prostitution and Around the World in Eighty Days the following year. While Veidt went onto become a major movie star with a career in Hollywood, Berber’s career stalled and she became best known for her performances as a dancer, a sultry temptress or a drug-addled prostitute. With her dark bobbed hair and androgynous good looks, Berber created a style that was copied by Marlene Dietrich (who basically stole her act), Leni Riefenstahl who idolized Berber, was her understudy and had a brief intense relationship with her, and Louise Brooks, whose seductive image in Pandora’s Box was a copy of Berber’s. She had relationships with both men and women, seeing no difference in taking pleasures from either sex. Berber married in 1919, then left her husband—a man called Nathusius—for a woman called Susi Wanowski. The couple became a fixture of Berlin’s growing lesbian scene.

Berber enjoyed opium, hashish, heroin, and cocaine—which she kept secreted in a silver locket around her neck. She also had a strong predilection for ether and chloroform mixed together in a small china bowl, into which she scattered white rose petals. Once these were sufficiently marinated in this heady concoction, she ate the petals one by one until she fell into a delicious sleep.

Berber’s louche lifestyle coupled with her fame as a movie star and dancer meant she was the subject of gossip and cafe tittle-tattle. It was said over black sweet coffee she was once kept as a sex slave by a married woman and her fifteen-year-old daughter. It was claimed between mouthfuls of chocolate cake that she wandered through casinos and hotels flashing her naked body. While in the bars, it was overheard that she exhausted her lovers with her insatiable demands for sex. 

Some of these tales were false. Most were true. But all of them kept Anita Berber fixed in the public’s imagination.

In 1921, she met and fell in love with the Sebastian Droste, a bisexual dancer who was known as a performer in Berlin’s gay bars and clubs. They became lovers and married in 1922. They formed a scandalous dance partnership choreographing and performing together in Expressionist “fantasias” like Suicide, Morphium, and Mad House. They also collaborated on a book of poetry and photographs called Die Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase (Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstasy). A typical routine went something like this:

In the dance, “Menschen,” or, “People,” we find,

Only two people

Two naked people

Man

Woman

And both in a cage

Hard stiff horrible cages

The two king’s children sang songs

But with tears

The man smashes his cage

Tradition

Society

Convention he spits out.

Which is the kind of nonsense we nowadays associate with the overly pretentious rather than the naturally gifted…but at the time… You can imagine: shock, horror, and spilled sherry.

Berber’s and Groste’s relationship was intense, passionate, and drug-fueled. Because of her considerable use of cocaine, Berber often hurled champagne bottles at the audience if they failed to appreciate her genius. It was inevitable their marriage would not last long and they separated in 1923.

By the time artist Otto Dix painted his famous portrait of Berber in 1925, the years of drug abuse, frenetic lifestyle, and lack of nutrition was plain to see. The painting looks more like a woman in her fifties than a twenty-five-year-old. The woman who once scandalized Berlin with her androgynous looks, her erotic and seductive dances and her sultry on-screen appearance was no longer so appealing. Berber was out of favor as a younger generation of ingenues took over. She began touring her dance shows. During one such tour in Damascus, Berber became fatally ill with tuberculosis. She returned home to Berlin where she died “surrounded by empty morphine syringes” on November 10th, 1928. Anita Berber was twenty-nine. She was buried in a pauper’s grave and may have been long forgotten had it not been for Dix’s portrait that kept her legend alive.
 
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More photos of the ‘Priestess of Debauchery,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.14.2017
09:52 am
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Cindy Sherman’s newly public Instagram feed is full of amazingly creepy new work
08.03.2017
11:08 am
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Photographer Cindy Sherman has undertaken a sustained and acclaimed critique/exploration of the nature and construction of identity, Western self-representation, the male gaze, and the presumed documentary nature of photography that’s still ongoing after forty years, by using as her subject only herself, in various disguises. In 1977 she became prominent with a series called “Untitled Film Stills,” in which she cast herself in scenes that strongly resembled classic Hollywood tropes, but which were derived from no specific films in particular. The strength of that series and her early ‘80s work made her one of that decade’s art stars, making her a key figure not just in the so-called “Pictures Generation,” but in postmodern photography overall, and she became a MacArthur Fellow in the mid ‘90s.

Sherman’s generation of artists took a lot of heat for their appropriation-happy ethos. The artists themselves saw the tactic as a means to critique the increasingly image-saturated culture of the ‘80s, but some drew accusations of merely copying work and using conceptual art as a smoke screen. In some cases that seemed justified, as in the yeah-we-get-it-already oeuvre of accomplished forger Mike Bidlo, and Richard Prince has recently been savaged for selling other people’s online photos for six figures, without seeking permission or compensating the original photographers.

But since Sherman’s appropriations were of tropes rather than of specific works, she was never really a part of that fray, and because American culture has only become MORE image-saturated, the work of her generation of artists has only become more relevant, and seems more like prophecy than theft (hell, “PROPHECY IS THEFT” sounds a lot like a slogan Barbara Kruger would proffer), and fittingly, Sherman’s new work is a series of garishly saturated and disturbingly manipulated self portraits, published to that great asylum for performative selfies, Instagram.

Via Artnet News:

Before the age of social media and its painstakingly sculpted personae, Pictures Generation artist Cindy Sherman had already established herself as the art world’s reigning queen of self-reinvention, using the camera to morph into one character after another. Though her works are technically not self-portraits, Sherman’s method of turning the lens onto herself is uncannily appropriate to our times, in which the stage-managed selfie has become so ubiquitous that it’s now fodder for exhibitions and often cited as an art form in itself.

What we see here is somewhat of a departure from the artist’s traditional model: the frame is tighter and closer to her face, in what is clear use of a phone’s front-facing camera. Plus, the subject matter is decidedly intimate in comparison to her usual work—the latest posts document a stay in the hospital. She may even be having fun with filters.

The last hospital image was posted only three days ago, so DM wishes Ms. Sherman a speedy and comfortable recovery.
 

Back from the gym!

A post shared by cindy sherman (@_cindysherman_) on

 

Oops!

A post shared by cindy sherman (@_cindysherman_) on

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.03.2017
11:08 am
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Frida Kahlo: Her final years, in black & white and color
07.31.2017
11:45 am
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Monday, I’ve got Frida on my mind, and I’ll tell you why. You see, I’ve been thinking about Frida Kahlo and her paintings and the bravery with which she countered the many unbelievable difficulties in her life. Most of our problems are but very small potatoes when compared to the physical and emotional hardships Frida endured. The cards were really stacked against her. The likes of you and me have it easy by comparison.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, it all really started when Kahlo was involved in a near fatal road accident in 1925. The bus she was traveling on collided with a tram. Frida was impaled on an iron handrail, her pelvis, several ribs, legs, and collar bone were all fractured and three of her vertebrae were displaced. She was bedridden for several months as she recuperated. The fact is: her health never really fully recovered from the damage done, and Frida was in and out of hospitals for most of her life. Her original plans to study medicine at university were now impossible, but rather than give up and succumb to self-pity, Frida Kahlo recalibrated her ambitions and decided to become an artist. She said this was her chance “to begin again, painting things just as I saw them with my own eyes and nothing more.”

A mirror was placed on her bed, enabling Kahlo to paint her own portrait. She later said that she painted self-portraits because she was so often alone and “because I am the person I know best.” After her recuperation from her accident, Frida mixed with her old school friends. She became a communist and she met the artist Diego Rivera, whom she married in 1929. It was to be a tumultuous, passionate and painful relationship. Frida later said:

There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the tram, the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.

For his lack of looks, Rivera was apparently irresistible to women. He carried out several affairs during their marriage. In constant physical pain from the accident, Frida now suffered the devastating emotional pain caused by Diego’s serial philandering. The pair divorced in 1939 but remarried again in 1940.

For all the years dedicated to art, it wasn’t until the last years of her life that Frida had her first solo exhibition at the Galería Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico, in April 1953. It was thought she would be too ill to attend, but her four poster bed was installed in the gallery and Frida was taken by ambulance for the exhibition’s opening.

By this point, Frida was in constant agonizing pain. One leg was amputated due to gangrene and a series of different infections meant she underwent several operations. She also had to deal with the damage of another one of Diego’s affairs which led her to attempt suicide in 1953. Yet, Frida ultimately overcame these problems and decided it was best that she lived. She moved the focus of her art away from herself towards the greater more pressing issue of making the world a better place for everyone.

I must struggle with all my strength to ensure that the little positive my health allows me to do [work which] also benefits the Revolution, the only real reason to live.

In her final year, Frida produced work like “Marxism Will Give Health to the Sick” and “Frida and Stalin.” She died in July 1954. The last words she wrote in her journal were:

I joyfully await the exit—and I hope never to return—Frida

Looking at photographs of Frida Kahlo, I can’t help but marvel at her strong features and character. And also how she must have taken the time every morning to “prepare a face to meet the faces” as T.S. Eliot put it. Frida crafted her own image which she maintained like an artwork throughout her life. During her final years, many photographers visited Frida at her home in Mexico. Most of the following pictures were taken by Gisèle Freund who visited Frida and Diego in 1951. The two arresting B&W head portraits of Frida were taken by Marcel Sternberger in 1952. The color portrait of Frida in hospital holding a sugar skull was taken by Juan Guzmán circa 1951.
 
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More photographs from Frida Kahlo’s final years, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.31.2017
11:45 am
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Tattoo You: Vintage photographs of women getting tattoos
07.26.2017
10:48 am
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Janet ‘Rusty’ Skuse—once Britain’s most tattooed lady.
 
Let’s try and imagine just how shocking it once must have been to have seen a young lady decorated in tattoos out shopping on the high street. It must have been quite something. These days, it’s almost de rigueur for young ladies to sport tatts. This morning, for instance, while taking the train to work, on came three young girls who barely looked old enough to be out of junior high let alone inked with a set of rather splendid tattoos. One had an eagle on her shoulder. Another had a snake curled from ankle to thigh, while the third flexed a bloody heart on her bicep. To be honest, it all seemed quite ordinary and utterly mundane. The last time I was ever surprised by a tattoo was when a friend (hi Bert) had a massive, thick, heavily veined penis tattooed on his thigh right down to his knee, no less. It was certainly a talking point when he wore shorts—but that was obviously the idea.

Tattooing has been around longer than we care to think—way back to the Stone Age apparently—and its ubiquity today tells us there is nothing outsider-ish, or edgy in having a drawing inked on the flesh. But at one time, well within living memory, a heavily tattooed woman would be considered dangerous and suspect and could probably only find work in a traveling freak show (right next to the Bearded Lady).

Which brings us to this fine selection of women going under the needle and having some fanciful designs made upon their bodies. In their own way, each of these women was a pioneer of body art at a time when only criminals, sailors and lowlifes sported tattoos.
 
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A soldier has her arm tattooed in tattoo parlor in Aldershot, England, 1951.
 
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1940.
 
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1964.
 
More ladies getting tatted, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.26.2017
10:48 am
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Occult paintings and mystical visions of female surrealist Ithell Colquhoun
06.21.2017
11:00 am
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Like the Abstract Expressionist movement that followed in its wake, Surrealism’s history has largely been written as a narrative of heroic transgressions committed by bad boys, which did no favors for the women involved in the movement. Even Surrealism’s most celebrated woman artists—Meret Oppenheim, whose “Breakfast in Fur” was the first objet acquired by MoMA, and Lee Miller, who moved on from Surrealism to become a celebrated photojournalist—are arguably as well or even better known as nude models for photos by Man Ray as for their own achievements.

Not only was that at work in ensuring that painter/poet Ithell Colquhoun remained an obscure figure, there’s her strong supernatural bent. Surrealism’s interest in automatism in writing and drawing was held in service of suppressing the discipline of the conscious mind in order to develop the unconscious, triggering creativity-enhancing states. But Colquhoun used Surrealism’s methods in service of Hermeticism. She sought not merely the unconscious, but the mystical and transcendent. This pursuit led to her ouster from the official English Surrealist group in 1940. She continued to paint, eschewing her early representational style in favor of increasing automatism, and she increased her involvement in the occult, participating in the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the Golden Dawn splinter group Stella Matutina.

Colquhoun’s biography and body of work merit far deeper exploration than I can offer here, and I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in Surrealism or esoteric art who don’t already know her to engage in that deep dive. The video at the very end of this post isn’t a terrible place to start. What concerns us today is a suite of her paintings and connected esoteric poetic writings called Decad of Intelligence. Based on an early Kabbalistic treatise known as the Sefer Yetzirah, the ten painting/writing pairs were created in 1978 and 1979, based on ten “Sephiroth,” aspects of infinity revealed in creation. The Decad has been published in full for the first time as an extraordinary set of prints and an accompanying book by Fulgur Limited, a UK publisher concerned with the intersections between the esoteric and visual art (if you’re familiar with Abraxas Journal, you know Fulgur). From Dr Amy Hale’s introduction:

A key to understanding the way in which the Decad was designed to work may be found in Colquhoun’s relationship to colour theory, in which she was interested from early in her formal arts training. In the 1930s she studied at the London atelier of Amédée Ozenfant, who spearheaded scientific colour theory in Britain, particularly concentrated on the effects of colour in architecture. Colquhoun’s own studies of colour theory were underpinned by her interest in the Golden Dawn magical system and reinforced for her the idea that colours hold the power to communicate both concrete and more ineffable spiritual principles. Similarly to the theories put forward by Kandinsky in his 1911 text Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Colquhoun believed that colours were themselves intelligences and gateways to other planes of existence.

The Decad of Intelligence…was designed to be a small book of ten enamel pieces, each depicting a different sephira, accompanied by a description of their properties. The enamel is thickly laid on the paper, and each piece is a colour study, encompassing the colours of each of the four colour scales of the Tree of Life. Her text is extremely regular in construction, and provides a list of of the correspondences of each sephira, including its location, corresponding part of the body, elemental and planetary associations, fragrances and flowers, alchemical associations, and the vision that the sephira is intended to inspire.

The prints in the folio are quite vivid, printed with metallic highlights that help to capture the essence of the enamel originals. The versions of the same works in the booklet are still quite nice, but less expensively printed, and the digital images we have to share with you resemble the latter more closely. They give you the idea quite well enough. Elements of the corresponding poems were derived from information found in Aleister Crowley’s Liber 777, and perhaps accordingly, the Decad of Intelligence is limited to 777 copies.
 

 
ABSOLUTE OR PERFECT INTELLIGENCE

Sphere of Mercury
Pillar of Water
Splendour a Hermaphrodite

Opal storax moly
Quicksilver mescal
Left foot navel
The names versicles and apron octagram
Zinc Venus as metal

Jackal of the west healer of plagues
Truthfulness angelic Sons of God
Analysis into Four Elements vision of splendour
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.21.2017
11:00 am
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Crystal Uterus jewelry: Sacred and feminine
06.12.2017
09:59 am
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“Jewelry,” Elizabeth Taylor once said, “has the power to be this one little thing that can make you feel unique.” Romanian-born artist Ouvra (aka Maria Rozalia Finna) creates original, bold, and beautiful jewelry that would make anyone feel unique.

Ouvra produces Crystal Creatrix Pendants in collaboration with the outlet Crystal Child. Her designs look like the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes of the female reproductive system and are tagged #scaredfeminine and #divinefeminine on her Instagram feed. Ouvra’s designs “explore the feminine experience, its intuitive receptivity & connectivity to nature, through bio-electric creative fertility.”

The pendants consist of “aurafied agate” together with a pair of rainbow moonstones set in an electroformed copper base attached to a copper chain. Each pendant is completely unique and available in various different sizes and designs—including some with Ethiopian Opals and an Amethyst Aura Quartz cluster. To purchase one of Ouvra’s beautiful pendants check Crystal Child for details.
 
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See more of Ouvra’s beautiful pendants, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.12.2017
09:59 am
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Zoë Mozert: The pinup model and artist who painted actress Jane Russell’s most iconic image
05.31.2017
10:44 am
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Artist Zoë Mozert painting actress Jane Russell for the iconic image used for the 1941 film ‘The Outlaw.’
 
Zoë Mozert was not only one of the most well-known pinup model painters of her day, she was also a pinup herself and her work and image have appeared in hundreds of magazines and on film posters. Though there was no shortage of female models willing to pose for her, Mozert often used herself as a subject and why not? Mozert was gorgeous—the perfect embodiment of the quintessential blonde bombshell—and her successful modeling career helped to fund her art school education at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Design. Mozert would later head to New York City to start her long career as an artist.

Mozert’s work was unquestionably on par with her male peers. She would go on to become part of an exclusive all-girl artist “club” that included two other prominent female artists—the creator of the “Coppertone girl” Joyce Ballantyne and Pearl Frush whose photo-realist paintings broke sales records due to their popularity. In the early 30s, Mozert’s work was everywhere including ads for popular products like Kool Cigarettes and Dr. Pepper. She scored a lucrative long-term contract with Brown & Bigelow, who in the 1940s were the largest publisher of calendars in the world.

Mozert would also work as an artist for Warner Brothers where her art was used not only for movie posters but for props that appeared in the films themselves. Her artwork associated with two films that would add more noteworthy credits to Mozert’s expansive resume: the poster artwork for Carole Lombard’s 1937 film True Confessions and the notorious image of Jane Russell for the 1941 film The Outlaw. The sessions with Russell were thankfully photographed for prosperity (pictured at the top of this post).

I’ve included a mix of Mozert’s stunning work as well as a few photographs of the artist in action below. Some are NSFW. Just like Jane Russell and a gun.
 

Mozert’s portrait of Jane Russell that was used for the movie poster for ‘The Outlaw.’
 

 

The gorgeous and talented Mozert modeling for fellow pinup artist Ed Moran.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.31.2017
10:44 am
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Bohemian like you: Vali Myers the Witch of Positano

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Vali Myers was never going to be ordinary. Her talent, wayward spirit and shock of flame-red hair marked her out for a life less ordinary. Ordinary was nice and nice was boring and Vali Myers hated boring.

But Vali had come from ordinary. She was born in Canterbury, Sydney, in 1930 to a wireless operator father and a talented violinist mother. Her mother had given up her career with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to raise her family. Vali watched in growing horror as her mother slowly fell to pieces with the frustration of her small town life. Wives were expected to be drudges for the benefit of their husbands and nothing more. Her mother’s unraveling inspired Vali to focus on and nurture her own talents. She was good at art and loved to dance. She hated school and had difficulties with reading and writing. Her classmates thought her odd, but Vali thought them odd and frighteningly unimaginative.

She quit home at fourteen and worked in a factory to finance her ambitions to become a dancer. Vali eventually became a principal dancer with the Melbourne Modern Ballet Company. This early success confirmed her belief there was more to life than just being some man’s wife as most women her age were expected to be. She later told photographer Eva Collins:

Men always have women backing them up. But show me the bloke who back up his woman if she is an artist. They don’t like doing that, makes them feel like they’re sitting in the back seat. If a man is a real man, why does he need a woman to clean for him? He should look after himself, otherwise, he should go back to his Mummy!

At nineteen, Vali traveled to Paris where she earned a meager living dancing in cafes. For three years she lived on the streets in a hand-to-mouth existence with many of the city’s homeless youngsters. But she was free to do as she pleased and had the opportunity to mix with many of the city’s famous artists and writers like Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet, Django Reinhart, and Jean Cocteau, with whom she often smoked opium.

This gaggle of young beatniks on the fringes of Paris attracted the interest of Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken, who chose the iconic Vali as the main character in photo-essay Love on the Left Bank (1954). Van der Elsken’s black & white photographs followed Vali as young beatnik girl “Ann” through the gangs of bohemians, musicians, and vagabonds who hung around the bars, clubs, and flophouses of St Germain-des-Prés. Vali’s distinctive look inspired a whole generation of women including Patti Smith who later described Vali as:

...the supreme beatnik chick—thick red hair and big black eyes, black boatneck sweaters and trench coats.

Though a freeform impressionistic tale, van der Elsken’s book did capture much of the life Vali was living among the “young men and girls who haunt the Left bank”:

They dine on half a loaf, smoke hashish, sleep in parked cars or on benches under the plane trees, sometimes borrowing a hotel room from a luckier friend to shelter their love. Some of them write, or paint, or dance.

Vali was dancing and painting and keeping a journal of her daily life. She was occasionally arrested as a vagabond but was usually bailed out by Jean Cocteau. During this time, she met and married Hungarian architect Rudi Rappold and for a time they lived in Vienna, Austria, and then in Positano, Italy. After Rappold’s death, Vali remained in Italy where she had gained the moniker “the Witch of Positano” because of her outsider existence. She continued to paint and write and spend time looking after the local wildlife.

In the sixties, Vali moved to London and then to New York. She was a friend and muse to Salvador Dali and became friends with the likes of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful. In 1968, Vali starred with Marianne in a little-seen film called Dope about London’s drug scene. Vali then moved to New York where she lived at the Chelsea Hotel. It was here she met Patti Smith for whom she famously tattooed a lightening fork on her knee. But Vali didn’t like New York. It was brutal, hard and false. After an aneurysm in 1994, Vali eventually returned to Australia.

With her gypsy dress, her flaming red hair and distinctive facial Maori tattoos, Vali was instantly recognizable wherever she went. But it was her outsider artwork that achieved the greater attention. Her paintings were bought by museums and galleries in America, Europe, and Australia and were collected the likes of Mick Jagger and George Plimpton.

Vali died from cancer in February 2003. She had no regrets. She had lived her life as she wanted to live it. On her deathbed she said:

I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know, love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead. I’m in the hospital now, and I guess I’ll kick the bucket here. Every beetle does it, every bird, everybody. You come into the world and then you go.

 
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Vali in Paris photograph by Ed van der Elsken.
 
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See some of Vali’s artwork and more iconic photos, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.19.2017
12:06 pm
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‘An ABZ of Love’: Kurt Vonnegut’s vintage go-to guide on sex and sexuality


The great Kurt Vonnegut.
 

“An erect penis has no resemblance to the kind that they have seen on statues in parks or on small boys paddling the seashore.”

—Authors of An ABZ of Love, Sten and Inge Hegeler on what it is like seeing a penis for the first time.

 
Inge and Sten Hegeler were a bit like the Danish version of Masters and Johnson, the transformative American research team that revolutionized human sexuality. Hegeler was a psychologist and author who specialized in sexology. In 1948 Hegeler published the book Hvordan, Mor? ( How, Mother?) which was considered one of the first books of its kind to detail such direct, honest advice on how to provide sexual education to kindergarten-aged children. After getting his own psychology practice up and running he and Inge would go on to publish a few other notable books including one that Kurt Vonnegut kept on his own library shelf, An ABZ of Love.

Vonnegut was so taken with the publication that he wrote a letter to his wife letting her know where she could “find” the book in his library. The book itself, which was self-published by the pair in 1962, was exhaustive when it came to its range of information. And I mean they covered everything including topics that were (and are still by some) considered taboo which made ABZ a rather boundary-smashing publication that voiced a clear, positive opinion about equality and its relation to gender, color or one’s sexual identity. They were also fond of using proper words such as “cock,” “pussy” and “fuck” to describe specific actions or attributes within the book’s nearly 300 pages. No wonder Vonnegut adored it enough to write his wife a love-letter of sorts about it. In fact, here’s a short epigrammatic passage from ABZ that sounds a whole lot like Vonnegut wrote the advice himself.

So there are two paths we can take: one is try to deny and suppress our emotions and force ourselves to think sensibly. In this way we run the risk of fooling ourselves.

Hi ho. At this point, it seems pretty clear to me that everyone should own a copy of An ABZ of Love. It is also quite possible that there are many among us that could use a little refresher course on the ins and outs of what we all think about every single day, sex, as it just doesn’t come in one flavor. You know like vanilla? I’ve included many illustrations by Krag from the vintage book, which has been published in fifteen different countries, along with their often amusing captions below. Many are NSFW.
 

Text reads: “It is possible to be lonely in a group, too.”
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.10.2017
07:14 am
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