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Dancing with death: Vintage erotica featuring women cavorting with skeletons
09.13.2017
11:14 am
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It may seem a bit early for Halloween but if Selfridges think it wise to open their Christmas department in August then I see no reason why not to share some amusingly ghoulish pictures as prep for our favorite time of year—Allhallows Eve.

So, here for our enjoyment and possible edification are some intriguing pictures of women and skeletons. “What’s going on here?” you may ask. Well, quite a lot actually. These vintage photographs and postcards of women dancing and flirting with skeletons are more than mere momento mori or snapshots of ladies at carnivals having a jolly wheeze in the face of death—they are in some respects quite transgressive.

Some of these pictures were intended as, well, shall we say, “educational erotica” giving the viewer a frisson of arousal while at the same time battering them on the head with the salutary warning that the wrong kind of boner could lead to disease and death. Something those Decadent artists used to bang (ahem) on about in their paintings.

The association of sex and death was something that would not have gone amiss with most women, for although the percentage of mothers dying during childbirth fell dramatically in the 19th-century, there was still a staggering number of perinatal fatalities—500 to 1,000 per 100,000 births.

Then again, a few of these pictures seem to show happy young thanatophiles reveling in the thrill of cavorting with their skeleton chums. Lucky old them!

The last selection comes from a series of photographs taken by Joseph Hall of a vaudeville production called Death and the Lady from 1906, which was loosely based on a 17th-century English ballad.

What I take from all these rather fantastic pictures is that Death comes for us all, so it’s never too early to get your costume ready for Halloween…
 
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More of this skeleton crew, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.13.2017
11:14 am
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Get your luxurious goth on with the skeleton sculptures of Rome
08.07.2014
09:34 am
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Sant’Agostino, memorial to Cardinal Giuseppe Ranato Imperiali, by Paolo Posi (design) and Pietro Bracci (statuary), 1741
 
There’s a romance to Catholicism that I envied growing up—services attended with Protestant grandparents provided none of the splashy aesthetics Catholicism is so famous for. We certainly weren’t graced with sculptures of super-vigorous skeletons—specifically, skeletons that aren’t letting their lack of skin and organs prevent them from leading active, productive afterlives. Skeletons with joie de décès, if you will.

These Roman skeleton sculptures (documented by Catholic death ritual hobbyist, Elizabeth Harper) exhibit an expressiveness not expected from bones of stone. Harper’s subjects hoist the doors to their own tombs, brandish banners and portraits, and even genuflect before the dead. Congregants are reminded of their own mortality, but the morbid stigma of the skeleton is eclipsed by the dynamic, lush beauty of the sculptures.
 

Gesù e Maria, memorial to Camillo del Corno by Domenico Guidi, 1682
 

San Francesco d’Assisi a Ripa Grande, memorial to Maria Camilla and Giovanni Battista Rospigliosi, skeleton by Michele Garofolino, 1713
 

San Pietro in Montorio: Detail of the relief carved on the tomb of Girolamo Raimondi by Niccolo Sale, chapel designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1640
 

San Pietro in Vincoli, memorial to Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini by Carlo Bizzaccheri, died 1610
 

San Pietro in Vincoli, memorial to Cardinal Mariano Pietro Vecchiarelli, died 1639
 

Sant’Eustachio, memorial to Silvio Cavallieri, 1717
 

Santa Maria del Popolo, tomb of Giovanni Battista Gisleni, made for himself prior to his death in 1672
 

Santa Maria del Popolo, tomb of Princess Maria Eleonora Boncompagni Ludovisi, died 1745
 

Detail of the façade of Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte, designed by Ferdinando Fuga, 1738. The inscription on the scroll reads, “Today me, tomorrow you.”
 

Façade of Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte, designed by Ferdinando Fuga, 1738
 

Santa Maria sopra Minerva, memorial to Carlo Emanuele Vizzani, by Domenico Guidi, 1661
 
Via Atlas Obscura

Posted by Amber Frost
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08.07.2014
09:34 am
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Dead media: Skeleton sculptures made from cassette tapes
05.01.2014
11:00 am
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Artist Brian Dettmer‘s sculptures are made from what he calls “antiquated media.” He’s most famous for his pieces constructed from meticulously sliced up books. The sculptures are created with surgical precision (and they’re pretty damned impressive), but it’s his skeletal work made from audio cassettes that most intrigues me. Both series are based on communicative media, its original value destroyed for repurposing as an artistic medium. I think it’s the passé modernity of the cassettes that I really love.

Books are obviously still around, but cassette technology isn’t even that old, yet it’s been largely retired outside of boutique music labels and niche collectors. It’s compelling to see representational art evoking both death and decay, made from something so simultaneously contemporary but irrelevant. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Juxtapoz

Posted by Amber Frost
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05.01.2014
11:00 am
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Rooms full of human bones: Czech master animator Jan Švankmajer’s stunning Ossuary

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Described by Milos Forman as “Disney + Bunuel,” stop-motion animator Jan Švankmajer is one of the few artists to truly translate the spirit of early-20th century surrealism for the present. Folks like Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam cite Švankmajer’s late-‘80s and early-‘90s feature films like Alice and Faust as classics in the art form.

But most of all, Burton and Gilliam point to Švankmajer’s early short films from the ‘60s through the early ‘80s. One of these, the 10-minute Kostnice from 1970—known as Ossuary—isn’t stop-motion at all. Instead, it’s a beautifully stylized study of the decoratively laid-out bones of 70,000 people in the Cemetery Church in suburban Sedlec in the Czech Republic.

Shot during the dire couple of years after the Prague Spring liberation of 1968 collapsed under an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, Svankmajer made Ossuary a grim reminder of human fallibility.

As Jan Uhde wrote in his piece on the film for KinoEye:

Film-makers, particularly those of the “Czech New Wave,” were among the most severely persecuted. The fact that a non-conformist like Švankmajer was allowed to shoot in this atmosphere at all was in part due to the fact that he was working in the relatively obscure and inexpensive domain of short film production; this may have saved him from the crackdown that struck his more exposed colleagues in the feature film studios during the 1970s.

Moreover, Švankmajer’s remarkable tenacity and creative thinking enabled him to sometimes outwit the regime’s ideological watchdogs[…] The film was commissioned as a “cultural documentary,” a form popular with the authorities and considered relatively safe politically. But the subject Švankmajer chose must have been a surprise for the apparatchiks: on the one hand, the Sedlec Ossuary was a first-rate historical site which, at first glance, suited the official didactic demand. On the other hand, there was the uncomfortable subject of decay and death as well as religion, reflecting a subtle yet defiant opposition to the loud secular optimism of the communist officialdom.

 

 
Get: Jan Švankmajer - The Ossuary and Other Tales [DVD]

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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11.04.2010
11:57 am
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