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‘Watchmen’ remix tackles the godawful 2016 presidential campaign
05.01.2017
02:02 pm
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Whether you consumed it at the time or some years later, one of the cultural rites of our era is spending a couple days devouring all of Watchmen, the genre-bending, formally rigorous 12-issue superhero tale by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and John Higgins that was published at DC in 1986 and 1987.

Watchmen managed to point up the silly pretensions of costumed crimefighters even as it offered no fewer than three examples of truly exceptional men doing truly exceptional things in Ozymandias, Dr. Manhattan, and Rorschach, all told in a savvy counterfactual timeline featuring a fictitious third term for President Richard Nixon.

I don’t know if it’s that (shudder) third term or the golden trappings of the successful businessman Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias that reminded Aaron Edwards and Arlen Schumer of our current predicament with a distinctly un-super businessman occupying the Oval Office. In any case they have decided to replay the entire election as a Watchmen remix, with Trump in the Ozymandias seat and Hillary Clinton as….. wait for it… Dr. Manhattan. I suspect this interpretation will not go over in all of the precincts of our great nation. By the end of Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan is all-powerful but essentially removes himself from the narrative as his increasingly “universal” mindset makes him insensible to mere human concerns.

On January 20, 2017, Edwards and Schumer unveiled the first installment of “Who Watches the Men?” called “Trump Rises,” on The Outline, and today, May 1, comes the second one, with the title “Hillary’s Escape.” I’m looking forward to more of these.

Weirdly, in the role of Rorschach we have none other than .... Anthony Weiner! (Perhaps Nite Owl will be ....  James Comey?)

If you’re not into Watchmen, It’s worth noting that the entire story is told in a long series of nine-panel pages with each cell being the exact same size (there is one exception to this rule), and Edwards and Schumer have done a wonderful job of sticking to that premise.

Here are some of the panels from the strip, but I recommend you read it all at The Outline.
 

 

 
More after the jump…......

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.01.2017
02:02 pm
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‘The Underside of Power’: New video from Algiers
04.27.2017
09:41 am
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Algiers have had a hell of a couple of years. In 2015, they dropped a fiercely original debut album that found an uncharted sweet spot between industrial rhythm and noise, post-punk guitar skreeeee, and the smoldering intensity of Southern black gospel. Wide acclaim, a few videos, and heavy touring followed, and the band’s core trio of singer/guitarist Franklin Fisher, bassist/synthesist Ryan Mahan, and guitarist Lee Tesche was augmented by touring (and now permanent) drummer Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party. In between all their rock labors, they wrote a second album, The Underside of Power, and WOW.

The Underside of Power, despite being written and recorded under duress of time, shows remarkable growth. The band’s disparate influences remain, but the album is characterized by a weird irony: the debut was written via file-swapping, when the band’s members lived in three different cities, but it feels like a rock band’s record. The second album, though it’s the product of a seasoned touring unit with a full-time drummer, feels more like the work of an electronic composer. That’s due to a combination of the band’s build-it-up-high-and-rip-it-all-down working method and Mahan’s stepping to the fore as the band’s primary tunesmith.

What haven’t changed are Fisher’s lyrical themes—his righteous and soulful declamations against injustice and abuse of power make Algiers one of this era’s most convincing purveyors of protest music. As a multi-racial band from Atlanta, GA, they engage head-on with race as well, a topic they handle powerfully on the song “Cleveland.” This one’s close to my heart—I’m born and bred in that fabled grey city, and the song deals in part with the extrajudicial execution of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland’s police. I know the neighborhood where Rice was killed quite well, and I pass that rec center often. It is still impossible to be anywhere near that block and not think about the senseless murder, the police’s wagon-circling around the shockingly incompetent officer who drive-by shot the poor kid, and the local media’s complicity in selling the cops’ ever-changing stories of how the shooting happened. That horrific event was a massive trauma in the black community, and more specifically still Rice’s family, but it was also, more broadly, Cleveland’s trauma (and it remains our shame), and hearing outsiders confront that event artistically is moving and illuminating.

Fisher and Tesche were kind enough to spend a good chunk of an afternoon chatting with me about the new album, how touring has changed them and their work, and “Cleveland.” A goofy phone connection rendered a couple of Fisher’s comments unintelligible. Any errors are my own interpolations. I did my best to faithfully preserve his meaning and tone, scout’s honor.

Dangerous Minds: The new album was made in a somewhat and unfortunately different world than the first one, and I was wondering to what degree the primaries and their attendant escalation of American racism and violence had an impact on the new music? And since, broadly speaking, you’ve been dealing with themes of injustice anyway, would it have been so different an album had last year gone differently?

Fisher: Yes, I think all of it except maybe “Cleveland” was written last year between June and the end of the year, but that being said, American racism and violence are always there.

“Death March” was about Brexit, the inspiration for it came from Brexit—the recording sessions started when we were in the North Country, and there was this cloud hanging over everybody. But at the same time, we were in this very expensive, very nice setup with these two professional producers, and we were kind of being forced to create, and I hit a wall, so I just went through the newspapers and responded, and everybody around us was devastated by it in ways we’d find out about on our own terms when Trump won the election a few months later.

Tesche:  From my perspective, when I was a teenager I was really into DC Hardcore, and I was feeding off of the Riot Grrrl movement and all that stuff, so everything that I’ve always been a part of has had some sort of greater political context or message, and I feel like we’re kind of all the same that way, so I don’t really know if the new record would have been that much different thematically, but throughout the whole process, one event after another changed our moods. When Brexit happened we were in England, and the U.S. election happened towards the end of tracking and mixing, and those things definitely influenced the very final shape and character of these songs.

DM: The Underside of Power feels more like an electronic album than the debut does—the guitars seem less prominent. Also Underside seems like it features more uptempo stuff compared to all of the first album’s slow-burners. Has your writing process changed much between the albums?

Tesche:  Not really. The way things got shaped in the mixing process, there were lots of guitars and lots of crazy sounds, and stuff was piled on, and as we made our way through the mix we pulled things back and peeled things off. It’s a result of that process more than the writing, just later on deciding what we wanted to push to the front. We were touring together for a year and a half, and when we recorded the second album we were coming from more of a live band perspective, and I think we were all kind of pulling things in different directions. This one may be more of a “soul” record than the first in a certain sense, but it’s hard to quantify those things, and we didn’t really have that kind of intent when we went in. We all set up to write sketches individually and we each had our own motivations, and so we all ended up with our own frustrations, and that’s what keeps you working towards the next one. Maybe the songs surprised us in how they turned out, but that’s how they exist, and maybe when we go out and play live, they’ll change and morph.

Fisher:The first record, we wrote it almost exclusively through online file swapping when we lived in three different cities. This record more was written when we were all together. I don’t think there’s any prescription or specific method for our writing. We did go away after the first couple months of touring and everybody kind of worked on compositions to bring back to the group, to see what we had, and what we could work on. The majority of the compositions on this record are Ryan’s, he’s gotten really hands-on with electronic programming.

Tesche:  There are a lot of different forces at play. On one hand, when I work on guitar stuff I try to approach it from an abstract perspective, to challenge myself to find a role for guitar that’s not just riffing, and Frank’s guitar playing was a response to that too. Not that we avoided normal guitar stuff altogether, but with Ryan writing the majority of it, and coming from this more synthetic place, guitar-wise you have to approach that somewhat delicately, because if you just come in and try and do a bunch of punk rock stuff on top of that, you can end up in a really awful place. It’s more about understanding what the songs are becoming, and what they’re supposed to be. The next record could be full of Iron Maiden leads, who knows?

Fisher:I’m still learning my role as a singer more than a guitarist. I’ve always been the guitarist in the bands I’ve played with since I was a kid, and there’s not really a need for me to do that so much with this band. Our process is such that we’ll tend to use a maximalist approach, in that we’ll just pile things on and pile things on, and then we stand back and look at it and then start stripping things away. I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that usually any guitar part that I’ve written is one of the things that winds up getting stripped away [laughs] so this record was the beginning of me coming to terms with my designation as a singer, exploring that instead of trying to force my guitar into songs. Like Lee said, you have to be careful, otherwise it turns into a really strange nasty brew of guitar music and electronics that can go sideways.

Tesche:  I think by design, part of the sound we’re crafting works well without much guitar in there, which of course is interesting for us as guitar players, becoming more choosy about when to play. With the last record, they took their final shape in the studio, and when we started performing the songs they became something else. I think these songs are going to go the same way, it’ll turn into something else. It’ll be after a few months touring that we’ll start to fully understand what this music is and what it should do.

DM: Franklin, earlier you mentioned that the song “Cleveland” came before the rest of the album. You guys probably guessed I’d have something to say about that one—was that a response to the Tamir Rice execution?

Tesche:  Frank can go into more specifics on that because that one was largely written by him, and there are a number of different levels to it, but yes. It does reference that, and the choir sample is the Reverend James Cleveland. It’s a multi-faceted reference in that sense. And I also recall the coincidence that when we recorded that song we were working with Adrian Utley from Portishead, and they early on started out in this little town called Clevedon.

Fisher: There’s a recurring pattern of people mysteriously dying in police custody, people who’d seemingly been lynched but the local police had swept it under the rug, time and again, going back years. I wanted to kind of do something to try to confront the fact that this is happening, happening all the time, it’s an ongoing symptom. The song’s title was meant to invoke Tamir Rice without actually mentioning him, because he’s a symptom of something that’s as old as this country, being lynched by police, no matter how old you are, and if you’re a person of color, it’s something you’re always afraid of, either consciously or in the back of your mind. If you read some of these cases, it’s beyond absurd, and it becomes sickening how there’s never justice or closure for these families. Like Keith Warren—I think this was in like ’89, in Maryland. Good student, intelligent kid. He was found hanging in the middle of the forest, from a tree that was bent over from his weight. And they cut the tree down and embalmed him before any evidence could be taken, before the crime scene was surveyed. Before any real work could be done on the case they basically called it off and deemed it a suicide. On what would have been his 25th birthday, a box of photographs of the crime scene showed up on his mom’s doorstep. His mom realized that the clothes he was wearing weren’t his, and there were so many other things that made no sense, and there’s still no closure for his family. His mom thought his friends sent her the pictures because they knew something but were afraid to talk, and shortly after, one of his friends died in a suspicious bicycle accident.
 

 
Though the new album isn’t due until June 23rd, the band released the first video from The Underside of Power this morning—and it’s the album’s title track. It features the band plotting antifa resistance in an underground bunker/undisclosed location, and it’s sprinkled liberally with vintage clips from the Civil Rights movement era so nobody can miss the point. Fisher is pretty awesome in it, and he had this to say about the song (this is quoted from press materials, it’s not from our interview):

I heard someone say once that you don’t know what real power is until you’re on the wrong side of it. That was the inspiration for ‘The Underside of Power’ To be someone who has known first-hand, the full brunt of institutional force, the feeling of being completely vulnerable to it and powerless against it, is a bitter reality for the vast majority of people. The image of an insect being squashed by a boot comes to mind. But with that image comes a slightly hopeful paradox: just as all systems have inherent flaws, so does the proverbial boot, which leaves the slight possibility for the insect to creep through and bite back.

 
Watch the new video from Algiers, after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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04.27.2017
09:41 am
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The Smiths trash Trump with Record Store Day gag
04.24.2017
07:07 am
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The Smiths’ 2017 Record Store Day 7-inch release came with a not-so-secret message to the U.S. inscribed on the record’s A-side: “Trump Will Kill America.” While I can’t say enough great things about this awesome stunt, it is a rather depressing reminder that this becomes truer every goddamned day. The 7-inch itself is a mix of two previously unreleased demos for “The Boy With the Thorn In His Side” and the flipside features “Rubber Ring” recorded at Drone Studios in Chorlton where the band recorded a bunch of demos back in the 80s. Actor Albert Finney, seen in the “Angry Young Man” phase of his long career, is pictured on the cover.

The news was widely spread across social media by Record Store Day shoppers who discovered the etching on the run-out groove on the A-side and deservingly dragged Donnie on his favorite communication vehicle, Twitter. In case you missed all of that, I’ve included a few posts from Smiths’ fans showing off their records at the expense of our current “president.”
 

The etching on The Smiths’ 2017 Record Store Day 7-inch release.
 

 

 
HT: Slicing Up Eyeballs

Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.24.2017
07:07 am
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Small World: Artist’s miniature models have BIG political message
04.20.2017
08:42 am
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Sometimes cliches are true. Strong medicine does often come in small bottles. We need only to look at the work of artist Isaac Cordal to apprecaite the truth of this adage. Cordal produces handcrafted minature cement scupltures which he then places in urban landscapes and photographs to make big and important statements.

His miniature sculptures—half-submerged in puddles, imprisoned in filing cabinets, or choking in dirt and rubble—critique modern life. Isaac describes his work as making “small interventions in the big city.” His figures depict the ruinous greed of corporations and politicians who devastate the world through their thoughtless actions. Cordal’s subject matter is climate change, the plight of refugees, and the destructive nature of capitalism.

Cordal’s artwork is powerful and eye-catching. He has exhibited these incredible tiny sculptures on sidewalks and public locations all across Europe. He’s like a movie director creating highly iconic and dramatic scenes which shock the passerby into questioning what it is they have just seen and thinking about how it reflects the world in which we all live. More of Isaac’s work can be seen here.

From such small acorns do mighty oaks grow.
 
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See more of Isaac Cordal’s minature marvels, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.20.2017
08:42 am
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Freakishly realistic masks of Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-un for sale on eBay
04.19.2017
08:35 am
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Hyperflesh is selling their freaky-as-fuck silicone masks of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un on eBay. These are jaw-droppingly realistic. I cannot get over the detail. They even captured Trump’s preposterously awful combover (that can’t have been easy) and horrible old man skin down perfectly. You can click on each image to get a closer look.

These masks made their debut at Monsterpalooza 2017 and appeared in a viral video viewed by over 60 million people on Facebook. 

Anyway, the masks can now be yours! Donald Trump‘s current bid is $4,200. Vladimir Putin is at $2,250 and Kim Jong-un is at $3,050. Obviously these prices will change as more people bid on ‘em.


 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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04.19.2017
08:35 am
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Sean Spicer’s Hitler remarks mashed up with ‘Veep’ is genius funny
04.12.2017
11:18 am
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This clip hardly needs any setting up as apparently the entire world watched in hilarious horror as Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer stepped on his own dick (repeatedly) yesterday with his spectacular “Hitler didn’t gas his own people” gaffe and subsequent humiliating abject apology tour.

Clearly the man is a bungling fool, and in way over his head, but that could be said of many if not most of the people working in the White House. Say what you want about Spicer, he may be an idiot—and he should certainly be dismissed from his duties pronto—but at least he’s (probably) not a Russian operative. Have some perspective. It’s 2017.

Below, a genius Veep-Spicer mash-up that was noticed and tweeted by Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus who remarked that the clip “feels like an Emmy-winning episode to me.”
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.12.2017
11:18 am
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The anti-communist, anti-capitalist satirical collages of hobo artist Ion Bârlădeanu
04.03.2017
09:16 am
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Romanian artist Ion Bârlădeanu was making collages for twenty years before the art world got hip to his work in 2007. Suddenly Bârlădeanu was supposed to have worth because someone else said he did. Bârlădeanu didn’t give a fuck. He was a hobo living in a garbage dump. He kept on doing what he was doing because that is what he does. The only thing a little recognition from a bunch of champagne-guzzling art critics meant was money to buy beer, to buy smokes, to get an apartment in Bucharest.

Born in 1946, Ion Bârlădeanu was a farmer, a stevedore, a security guard and a gravedigger before he decided to become an artist. He was homeless. He scavenged. He made collages out of whatever he could find. He was inspired by the Romanian Revolution of 1989 that deposed dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and ended 42 years of communist rule in Romania. His subject matter was the fall of communism, the failure of capitalism, and the insidious superstition of religion.

Bârlădeanu has said he never had fun making his collages because he was a down-and-out. Now his work hangs in galleries across the world. Bârlădeanu describes his satirical, politically-charged collages as film stills from as yet unmade movies.

An exhibition of Ion Bârlădeanu’s artwork is currently on show in Action, Camera at the Gallery of Everything, Lonon until June 18th.
 
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More collages by Ion Bârlădeanu, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.03.2017
09:16 am
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‘Smash the State’: Joey Shithead of D.O.A. is running for political office
03.31.2017
09:11 am
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via Greens of British Columbia
 
West Coast punk legend Joey “Shithead” Keithley of D.O.A. is running for office in Burnaby, B.C. Keithley will stand as Green Party candidate for Member of the Legislative Assembly in the May 9 election. His promise:

If I am elected I will be a strong voice for regular folks, the same way I have been in DOA. These are some of the issues I will fight for: affordable housing, creation of jobs through green technology and alternative energy, lower cost daycare, affordable post-secondary education and income equality. I will also stand against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline that threatens BC’s beautiful coast with potential spills of dirty tar sands oil from Alberta. I will also work towards making the 1% pay their fair share.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.31.2017
09:11 am
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How to lie in 14 steps: the WikiHow guide to dishonesty
03.24.2017
08:33 am
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Writing for Esquire in 1969, Gore Vidal laid bare a “demagogic strategy” William F. Buckley used to befuddle opponents:

If one is lying, accuse others of lying. On television this sort of thing is enormously effective in demoralizing the innocent and well-mannered who, acting in good faith, do not lie or make personal insults. Buckley has made many honorable men look dishonest fools by his demagoguery, and by the time they recover from his first assault and are ready to retaliate, the program is over.

Why is this effective? Because the thought of lying in public, where a judge, policeman or journalist might hear, gives good citizens the cold sweats. The mere accusation unleashes the bad conscience of the regular taxpayer and snaps his mind neatly in half. Did I fail to give a full and accurate account? Am I guilty of an act of omission, if not commission? Could I have used a more charitable adjective? Perhaps I did mischaracterize certain of my honorable friend’s views, etc.
 

 
We at Dangerous Minds don’t believe the strategies and tactics of dishonesty should be the preserve of the rich, the powerful, and the stupid, and few other “content providers” will tell you the score. While the New York Times may report on “How to Improve Your Productivity at Work,” the Gray Lady is unlikely to teach you how to play fast and loose with the facts. Less reputable outlets than ours will lie to you, which can be instructive, but they will do nothing deliberately to wise you up.

That’s why, until they start teaching us how to do our own surgeries, WikiHow’s lying clinic is likely to remain their most useful public service. 

I won’t list all of their 14 steps to falsehood, but here are some of the basics. Rehearsal is a key part of the technique. Repetition gives purchase to the most absurd, self-contradictory assertion. There are a few body language tips:

Be sure not to rub your face too much, sway back and forth, or shrug your shoulders a lot. Keep your arms down at your sides rather than folding them across your chest. Don’t blink more often than normal or turn your body away from the person. All of these are signs that you are lying.

(But what if you want people to believe you’re lying? It would be interesting to try all of these gestures at once while scrupulously telling the truth, as an experiment.)
 

 
Another pro tip from WikiHow: lie before you have to. Take the initiative. I think this means you run into the living room with icing in your nostrils and scream “I did not eat the cake that is not missing!”

The Community Q&A covers likely eventualities: “What if the person has found evidence?” “Is covering up your bad deed with a less significant bad deed a good strategy?” “If I need to, how do I force tears?”

This last question is misguided. Just tell the sucker you’re crying.

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.24.2017
08:33 am
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The ‘degenerate art’ of Rudolf Schlichter
03.23.2017
01:18 pm
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A surrealist-style painting by German artist, Rudolf Schlichter.
 
At the age of 26, while he had been pursuing his studies at the Art Academy of Kunstakademie in Karlsruhe, German artist Rudolf Schlichter was drafted into the army. Following a successful hunger strike, Schlichter was dismissed from his duties and returned to the bustling, forward-thinking town of Karlsruhe. Schlichter didn’t stick around for long and soon set off for Berlin where he fell in with the Dada scene and became a communist.

Schlichter made a successful living in Berlin from his illustrations. He transitioned from Dada to the “Neue Saclichkeit” movement (or “New Objectivity”) that used realism to express skepticism related to current events. He quickly became one of the most influential and critically important contributors to this quasi-Expressionism. Within New Objectivity there were two additional artistic courses: The “Verists” were known for using portraiture as a vehicle for their hostility toward authority figures, affluence and the oppression of society. The works of the great Otto Dix played a large role in this sub-component of New Objectivity. The other was commonly referred to as “Magic Realists” who were in opposition to the German style of Expressionism. Probably the most notable Magic Realism artist was Georg Schrimpf whose work was a crucial part of New Objectivity. Now that we’ve got your mini subversive art lesson out of the way, here’s a bit more on Rudolf Schlichter whose work, though not initially, was reviled by the Nazis.

While Schlichter’s body of work is as vast as it is diverse, there were many recurrent points of interest and themes, especially erotic ones, in his paintings and illustrations. Often his subjects were comprised of various bohemian movers and shakers and other residents who were part of the vibrant counterculture of the streets of Berlin where he spent much of his time. In 1923 Schlichter provided 60 illustrations for an edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. At the end of the 1920s, Schlichter returned to being a practicing Catholic and would end up doing illustrations for various religious publications put out by the church including a youth-oriented magazine called Jungle Front. The illustrations in the magazine often cast a disparaging light on the politics of Adolf Hitler. Coincidently at the time of its publication, Schlichter also belonged to the exclusively German art organization run by the Third Reich, “Reichskammer der bildenden Künste” or the “Reich Chamber of Fine Arts” headed up by propagandist extraordinaire Joseph Goebbels. And as you might imagine the jab didn’t go unnoticed and Schlichter was promptly ousted. His work was removed from galleries and destroyed and Schlichter’s name was added to the “degenerate art” list kept by the Nazis. Which in my mind is always the right kind of list to be on, in any time period.

Though he would pass away at the age of 65, a little more than a decade prior to his death Schlichter produced many remarkable pieces of surrealistic style paintings. Which would lead to the artist being dubbed “the German Salvador Dali.” I’ve included a few of Schlichter’s surrealist works as well as a nice sampling of his erotica below. Which means much of what follows is NSFW.
 

 

“Blonde Enemy” 1922.
 

“Dada Roof Studio.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.23.2017
01:18 pm
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