Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Black History Month, Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington, REPRODUCTION NUMBER:  LC-USZ62-119898, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs DivisionTITLE: [Booker T. Washington, half-length portrait, seated at desk, facing right], CALL NUMBER: LOT 13164-A, no. 10 [P and P], REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-119898 (b and w film copy neg.)LC-USZ62-36291 (b and w film copy neg.)
Digital ID: cph 3c19898 Source: b and w film copy neg. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-119898 (b&w film copy neg.) , LC-USZ62-36291 (b and w film copy neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Retrieve higher resolution JPEG version (86 kilobytes)

January 15, 1901, Republican Booker T. Washington protests Alabama Democratic Party’s refusal to permit voting by African-Americans. Freedom Calendar 01/14/06 - 01/21/06

MEDIUM: 1 photographic print. CREATED/PUBLISHED: [between 1890 and 1910], NOTES: Booker T. Washington Collection (Library of Congress).

REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-119898]

DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c19898 hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph, (b and w film copy neg. LC-USZ62-36291) cph 3a36702 hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ , VIDEO FRAME ID: LCPP003A-36702 (from b and w film copy neg. LC-USZ62-36291), CARD #: 98500608

Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published works before 1923 are now in the public domain.

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Fans of Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and other popular graphic novelists patiently explained to me last week that I am wrong to expect "slick, commercial" design in art that deals with higher truths about alienation and the tortured soul of the artist. Technical skill may be important for commercial art used to sell Coca-Cola, but is less relevant to today's more honest and personal artwork, with its tragic or subversive messages.

I admit it's difficult to criticize Maus or Fun Home merely because the authors do not draw well. But personally, I don't think the epithet "commercial" is a useful tool when seeking out quality art. Many bad pictures of sincere, personal subjects can be found hanging in art museums. Many brilliant pictures of dishwashing detergent can be found in magazine ads. As far as I know, nobody has yet established a connection between purity of motive and quality of picture.

It may be sad that, as Thoreau remarked, "most men lead lives of quiet desperation," but after reading Chris Ware, we might wish that desperate men would be a little quieter.

If artistic purity is what matters to you, I'm not sure you'll find much difference between commercial illustration, graphic novels and the pictures hanging in the Museum of Modern Art. They are all commercial. (Andy Warhol famously remarked that "good business is the best art.") Instead, try setting your sights a little higher and check out the true "outsider" artists. If the stink of commercialism offends you, you have to be prepared to hang around artists who don't use soap regularly.

Henry Darger

Often untrained, working in obscurity and poverty, ignored by the New York glitterati, "outsider" artists work only to serve their god or their muse, or sometimes their alien leaders on the planet Zarbtron.

For example, the artist Henry Darger was an impoverished janitor and dishwasher who lived for 50 years in a shabby apartment so tiny he had to sleep sitting up. He worked late into the night illustrating his magnificent graphic novel, In the Realms of the Unreal.

Henry Darger

Darger led a life of isolation and pain that makes Jimmy Corrigan's life look like a day at Disneyworld. Yet, Darger's artwork is filled with dazzling images. He did not use his suffering as a justification for ignoring composition, design, color or the other standards inherent in his chosen medium. His beautiful pictures were able to advance, rather than work in opposition to, his troubling personal message.

It is also worth noting that Darger never dwelled on his own suffering and insecurities. Instead, he elevated his personal misery to epic tragedy with his art. You will find no self-obssessed whimpering in Darger's work.

Henry Darger

Darger kept these exquisite illustrations to himself until the day he died. He was not working to impress the critics or harvest royalties. He used art to struggle with his own personal demons.

Henry Darger

Another "outsider" artist, James Hampton, was a janitor who lived a lonely life of poverty. Beginning in the late 1940s, Hampton began writing about his religious visions using pictograms and secret codes.

He drew marvelous symbols such as lightning bolts and omniscient eyes. Hampton spent the last fifteen years of his life integrating these symbols and pictograms into astonishing sculptures comprised of aluminum foil, light bulbs and pieces of old furniture.

He called his strange and beautiful masterpiece, "The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly."

James Hampton

Like Darger, Hampton was not out to impress Art News. He did not whine or complain about the unfairness of life. Hampton's own landlord had no idea what Hampton was up to. After Hampton died, his landlord was shocked to discover Hampton's masterpiece in the unheated garage where Hampton had labored all those years.

James Hampton

The Throne of the Third Heaven is made up of 177 separate art objects, combining words, symbols, drawings and sculpture. Standing before it, the cumulative effect is enough to inspire dread for your immortal soul.

Although they never received recognition during their lives, the work of Darger and Hampton is superior to anything I have seen from Spiegelman or Ware. Darger and Hampton worked with greater handicaps, under more difficult circumstances, and yet made better art.

There is also an important philosophical difference here, which should probably be irrelevant to a blog about illustration, but which I confess colors my judgment. It seems to me that the artistic response of these outsider artists to personal pain and the weight of their humanity was a more noble, less self-indulgent response. The guys who seem to know the most about this tragedy business-- Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripedes-- remind us that suffering and doom are an inescapable part of the human condition, and that our only meager defense is the tragic hero's capacity to elevate mere misery into the majesty of tragedy. This is done through courage, perseverance and understanding in the face of hopelessness. (Not much of a consolation prize, I admit, but hey, what other options are you offering?) My purely subjective judgment is that Jimmy Corrigan dwells at the misery level, and I find no nutritional content from visiting him a second or third time.

One of my readers, in explaining where I've gone wrong, compared Chris Ware to Shakespeare. In my view, for all his sincerity, Chris Ware's work is artistically feeble compared to Darger's.

There are of course thousands of other "outsider" artists, some making beautiful art, some making terrible art. But if you genuinely reject "commercialism" in art and strive for artistic purity, put down your graphic novels and invest a little time with real outsiders.

Wrestling in 1500

"In Saint George’s name commence, and show to the first, over the
opponent.High or low movements, this is how the wrestling begins."

"When he holds himself completely erect and braces from behind, thus you have
him in the Hacken (Leg Hook). So use this technique, that is called the Sthragft."

"When he will pull your Hacken from his leg. Thus use this
technique. It is called the Rigel (bar or barrier). "

"Then he has lifted you completely and has made you come against your will. So use the technique that you see here.Thus he must let go of you or you break his arm."

"The opponent grabs you first.Thus use this
technique, it is called the Abstok (pinning down)."

This treatise from ~1505 by Hans Wurm is another in the large body of illustrated German combat manuals, the Fechtbücher. It continues a tradition of describing the kampfringen - a system of combat grappling or wrestling originating with the teachings of Ott Judd from ~the early 15th century.

"Thanks to... Mitchell Hooks"

From McGinnis Paintings.com:
"Arriving in New York, I went to work at Chaite studios in the company of Frank McCarthy, Bob Peak, Mike Hooks, Jack Thurston and, briefly, Bernie Fuchs, to name only a few; a rich learning experience, but I was doing routine studio work with little direction. One evening after work I met Mike Hooks on a street corner with his agent, Don Gelb. He suggested I show my work to Don. Don took my samples to Walter Brooks at Dell. I was assigned two covers and my book cover career began. Thanks to the generosity of Mitchell Hooks, a great artist and gentleman."

When I put together these posts, one of the first steps I take in researching is to do a simple Google Image Search. "art by Robert McGinnis" turns up 601 hits. "Art by Mitchell Hooks" returns 39.

Again from McGinnis Paintings.com:

"As with many young artists, there was a point to which one can look back and say, 'That made a difference.' Bob attended a lecture given by Coby Whitmore, another Buckeye, and by then an established star in New York. This was the impetus for Bob to come to New York."

My Google Image Search of "art by Coby Whitmore" returned 14 hits.

Ballet Sketch

Spanish Dance

Afro-Congo Ballet


Fire study 3. Theatre des Champs Elysees, July 4, 1927.

Congo Dancer Rowan Maiden

Joseph Paget-Fredericks (1905-1963) inherited his parents love for collecting theatre memorabilia and studied art at the University of California and in Europe. His family had close ties to the elite ballet companies and he was appointed Artistic Director for Anna Pavlova's world tours in the early 1930s.

He went on to become the first lecturer in dance in the United States, taught colour and design and released several childrens books; and also a book about Pavlova from a planned series of ballet recollection pieces.

The online version of the Joseph Rous Paget-Fredericks Dance Collection, ca. 1913-1945 consists of 8 thumbnail pages (3 of photographs) of 368 images at UC Berkley's Bancroft Library. The material is either original drawings by Paget-Fredericks or material he collected. It would be fair to say that Anna Pavlova dominates the web collection, one way or another. Summary and biography.
"The categories by subject include: Isadora Duncan; Loie Fuller; Vaslav Nijinsky; Anna Pavlova; Ruth St. Denis; other dancers; decor and costume designs for ballets; other figure and costume studies; illustrations and graphic design; miscellaneous drawings and paintings; juvenilia; historic dance costumes; printed pictures and clippings; photographic prints; portraits; and works by other artists in various media."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Black History Month, Robert B. Elliott

Robert B. Elliott, Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-2247, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs DivisionTITLE: The shackle broken - by the genius of freedom / lith. and print by E. Sachse & Co.. CALL NUMBER: PGA - Sachse--Shackle broken... (D size) [P and P], REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-2247 (b and w film copy neg.),
Digital ID: cph 3a05962 Source: b and w film copy neg. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-2247 (b&w film copy neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Retrieve uncompressed archival TIFF version (1,830 kilobytes)

January 6, 1874, African-American U.S. Rep. Robert B. Elliott (R-SC) delivers eloquent hour-long speech supporting Republicans’ civil rights bill. Freedom Calendar 12/31/05 - 01/07/06

SUMMARY: South Carolina Republican representative Robert B. Elliott's famous speech in favor of the Civil Rights Act, delivered in the House of Representatives on January 6, 1874, is memorialized here. The Act, which guaranteed equal treatment in all places of public accommodation to all people regardless of their "nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political," was passed on March 1, 1875.

The central image shows Republican Congressman Elliott speaking from the floor of the House of Representatives. Hanging from the ceiling is a banner with a quotation from his speech: "What you give to one class you must give to all. What you deny to one class. You deny to all." Above are two Civil War scenes of black troops in action. On the left is a full-length statue of Abraham Lincoln, holding a bundle of arrows and his Emancipation Proclamation, standing before the U.S. Capitol.

On the right is another statue, of Republican Civil Rights advocate Charles Sumner holding the "Bill of Civil Rights," in front of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Below Sumner are his words, "Equality of rights is the first of rights." Beneath the central scene is a view of a small farm with its black owner, family, and laborers. The caption below is "American Slave Labour is of the Present--We Toil for our Own Children and Not for Those of Others."

At the far left are two black soldiers, and on the right black sailors. Below them are Lincoln's words, "Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion full one hundred thousand are now in the U. S. Service" and "So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any." The words "Army," "Navy," "Jury," "Ballot," "Liberty," and "Equality" are inscribed in the borders. Further extracts from Elliott's speech appear throughout

MEDIUM: 1 print on wove paper : lithograph ; image 49.8 x 49.7 cm. CREATED, PUBLISHED: [Baltimore] : Pub. E. Sachse and Co., 5 N. Liberty St., Baltimore, c1874.

NOTES: Title from item. "Entered ... 1874, by E. Sachse & Co. of Baltimore ...", Washington in the New Era, 1870-1970, p. 6, "Negro History: 1553-1903," p. 74, Published in: American political prints, 1766-1876 / Bernard F. Reilly. Boston : G.K. Hall, 1991, entry 1874-1.

REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

DIGITAL ID: (b and w film copy neg.) cph 3a05962, hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/, CARD #: 2003690777

Credit Line: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-2247]

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Hard Boiled McGinnis

I've got this really nice book called "The Paintings of Robert E. McGinnis" by Arnie and Cathy Fenner. In the introduction by Al Fick we are told McGinnis painted over 1200 paperback book covers! That's not to mention his many movie posters ( the James Bonds are certainly memorable ), western paintings, adventure illustrations for every major magazine publisher, hardcover dust jackets, record albums, commisions and personal work.

A quote from McGinnis in that introduction: "All I want to do is paint."

This week's images are courtesy of Ken Steacy - many thanks, Ken!

Coins and Conscience

La Poire Tapée
Lithograph by unknown artist ~1848
"A pear-headed [King] Louis-Philippe runs from an angry crowd while money falls out of abag he carries. The title is a play on words—it can mean a pear that has been dried in the oven, or it can refer to the slang meaning of "taper," to borrow money from someone."

Marriage for Wealth Officiated by the Devil
Engraving by Jan Saenredam ~1600
"The second of three numbered engravings after Goltzius called the Marriage Trilogy. A devil joins the hands of a couple as she blows a stream of coins and smoke, symbolizing the transience of honor and material possessions."

The Two Deaths
Late 16th century engraving by Hieronymus Wierx after Marten de Vos
"A narrative in two parts. At left, a pious man receives riches from heaven; at right, Death prepares to strike a miser amidst his wealth."

[detail from above]

The Unhappy Lot of the Rich
Engraving by Phillip Galle 1563
"Plate one of his series of six engravings after Heemskerck with this title, published in 1563. A later state, shown here, called Divitum Misera Sors, was issued by Joannes Galle. Illustration of Matthew 19:23-24. A rich man tries to enter the gate to Heaven, but his money bags hold him back. Behind him, three men try to lead a camel through the eye of a needle."

De Beurs Stock Exchange
Early 17th century engraving by unknown artist
"The Amsterdam exchange, situated on the Amstel River, was designed by Hendrick de Keijser and opened in 1611. Trading was carried on in the open inner court."
(still going)

Der Bruder Esel mit dem Gelt [detail]
"An ass is pictured defecating coins while peasants, merchants, and noblemen run to catch them."

Midas, Transmuting all into Gold Paper
Engraving by James Gillray 1797
"[S]atire on the creation of legal tender bank notes by the Bank of England. William Pitt is pictured spewing paper money out of his mouth, while gold coins are locked up in his stomach."

Le Cornard Contant
Early 17th century engraving by CLD Ciatres
"Possibly a plate from his Oiseaux et Grotesques. The "happy cuckold" does not mind his lost honor, because his "horns of plenty" bring him immeasurable happiness. (French caption)."

Coins and Conscience - Popular Views of Money, Credit and Speculation is a presentation of 70 satirical, allegorical, religious, parodic and caricaturic prints (among some other faithfully rendered works) from the Bleichroeder Collection at Harvard Business School's Baker Library.

I think this is a brand new exhibition, which I found completely by accident, searching for a map of all things. There are high resolution images available and I know I've posted a couple of these prints before, including yesterday, but these Harvard files are of a very high quality. The exhibition includes an introductory essay.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ibex (Capra ibex)

Title: Ibex, Alternative Title: (Capra ibex), Creator: Stolz, Gary M.   Source: WO8227-001, Publisher: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Contributor: DIVISION OF PUBLIC AFFAIRSTitle: Ibex, Alternative Title: (Capra ibex), Creator: Stolz, Gary M. Source: WO8227-001, Publisher: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Contributor: DIVISION OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
Language: EN - ENGLISH, Rights: (public domain), Audience: (general), Subject: mammals, New Mexico

File size: 221 KB, Format: JPEG image (image/jpeg), Dimensions: Screen: 1142px x 764px, Print: 7.61 x 5.09 inches, Resolution: 150 dpi (mid, presentation quality), Depth: Full Color.

Unless otherwise indicated, resources in the Digital Library System are in the public domain. No restrictions or copyrights are placed upon these materials. You may credit the source of the resource using the information contained in the "Creator" or "Rights" field of the resource record. Download Full High Resolution Image

Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Ibex, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"An ibex, also called steinbock, is a type of wild mountain goat with large recurved horns that are transversely ridged in front. Ibex are found in Eurasia and North Africa.

The five species of ibex are grouped with four other species in the genus Capra.

The Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) is the best known. The Iberian or Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica) had smoother and more spreading horns.

Legend had it that the ibex's spine was rigid, so that the goat could not look back. If threatened from behind, it would jump off a precipice and land unharmed on its horns.

The kri-kri, sometimes called the Cretan Ibex, is a subspecies of the Wild Goat, Capra aegagrus"

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Ibex".

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Monster Devilry

(after) Liber Floridus by Lambert de Saint-Omer : 'Le diable Beenoth'
15th century parchment miniature from Musée Condé, Chantilly.

Le grand diable d'argent : patron de la finance (the great money devil)
undated but the printer was active 19th century.
from: Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires

Le Loup Garou : The text beneath reads something like:
'The ferocious beast named hyena eats humans, particularly women and children, tearing out their hearts and ripping off their heads. It reeked carnage in the Auvergne region of France'.
This copper plate engraving bears the date 1767.
from: Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires

Approximately says: The state of a sinner in denial who thinks of other things
that he sees around him and in his soul (at least, that's what I think it says)
17th/18th century
from: Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires

Frontpiece by Phillip Galle for a late 16th century edition of the
Hunting series of illustrations by Johannes Stradanus.
from: Musée National de la Renaissance, Ecouen.

Harpie Male ~1840
either a newspaper broadsheet or a print (text down either side of the illustration) from: Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires

All these images were found wandering around L’agence Photographique section of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux. I actually went looking for a few of these images at their original repositories but I couldn't find them so I think the RMN has the only copies of example images for some of the institutions it represents. There are paintings and sculptures and pottery etc.
Love the monsters. [1st & 3rd images are slightly retouched]
Addit: english search page

Who drew this?

And who drew this?

What about this? Who drew this?

And how about this? Its so great - but the identity of the artist who drew it will probably never be know. That's sad...

I love these old ads done in 50's cartoon styles. Sometimes the illustration was just a minor supporting element in an otherwise photographic ad, but still, those tiny anonymous cartoon illustrations had so much character and vitality that they deserve closer examination.

That's why I've created a Flickr set called Ads w/ Cartoon Elements. I'll be adding to it regularly so if this is your sort of thing too, you might like to go check it out (and maybe bookmark it).

BTW, I'm not alone in my love of this kind of stuff... there are other folks on Flickr who share my passion and are adding their own scans. Take a look at Mid-Century in Print, The Retro Kid, Vintage Advertising and most recently, a new group called Allan & Todd's for a pleasant trip down Memory Lane. A great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.