Saturday, February 28, 2009

Charles Blondin Tightrope Walker

Born today (28th February) in 1824, the world famous French acrobat and tightrope walker Charles Blondin.
In 1859 he crossed Niagara Falls on a high-wire, and later did more crossings with variations such as blindfolded, on stilts, with a man (-his terrified manager) on his back, and with a wheelbarrow.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Antique Flying Machine

A unique contraption.
French print. c.1860s

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Joan Bennett

The gorgeous 1940's film noir femme fatale Joan Bennett was born today (27th February) in 1910.

Coming from a family with a long history of acting, Joan made her film debut in 1916, then acted in many movies of the 1920s & 30s. Her most acclaimed films were, however, in the 1940s when she worked with director Fritz Lang in 'Man Hunt', The Woman in the Window', & 'Scarlet Street'.

This image currently under restoration - available soon as fine art print.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surrealist Shop Window

Store window of 'Gotham' book shop in New York which was decorated by Marcel Duchamp in 1945 to promote Andre Breton's book 'Arcane 17'.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Any excuse for a Rag

Looking through a collection of old sheet music, I am easily amused by the many and varied titles of 'rag' tunes. It seems there is no situation immune from dedicating a rag to ..

'Cold Feet Rag' 1907

'Fanatic Rag' 1911

'Ragging the Baby to Sleep' 1912

'Brain-Storm Rag' 1907

... I am on the case now ...more to follow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Anais Nin

Born today (February 21) in 1903, French writer Anais Nin was the ultimate femme fatale, a passionate and mysterious woman

World famous for her steamy love affairs and extravagant bedroom exploits, the most notable was her simultaneous affairs with Henry and June Miller.

In the mid 1920s, eager to break the confines of American Victorianism both as an artist and a woman, Nin travelled to Paris, where she fell in with the legendary artistic and literary circles of the Left Bank.

For the rest of her life she lived as a liberated woman - an author of more than a dozen books, an uninhibited lover of both men and women, and an independent figure within the avant-garde worlds of Paris, Los Angeles, and New York.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Original 'Wizard of Oz'. Australian magician Hugard

'The Birth of the Sea Nymph' (also known as 'The Birth of the Pearl') was performed from 1919 to 1926 at Luna Park in Coney Island, New York by illusionist 'Jean Hugard and his modern Miracles'.

Hugard was actually born in Toowoomba, in Queensland, Australia and worked as both a bank manager and meatpacker before giving into his desire to be a magician.
In 1896 at the age of 24, he finally got an act together and toured Australia and New Zealand for many years.
In 1916 he moved to the USA and, after doing the rounds of the vaudeville circuits as an oriental magican, he eventually established his own theatre at Coney Island.
In 1943 he started his own magazine 'Hugard's Magic Monthly', and was also the author of numerous magic texts, which are still classics in their field.

(ref. 'One Hundred Years of Magic')

Hugard's 'Birth of the Sea Nymph'.
Poster c.1920

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vintage Mannequins

Swimwear mannequins. Bloomingdale's window New York City 1952.

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Andre Breton

Born today (February 19) in 1896. Andre Breton founder of the Surrealist movement, poet, art critic ... genius

'I have never known a man with a greater capacity for love, or a greater power of loving life's greatness. It's impossible to understand his hatred if you don't see that, for him, it was a question of protecting the quality of that love...Breton loved as a heart beats. He was in love with love in a world which believes in prostitution. That was what he was about.'

Marcel Duchamp

more Breton / Surrealism

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Japanese Geishas

Geisha with shamisen. c.1790s by Hosoda

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Geisha Girls. date unknown.

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Two Courtesans. c.late 1790's by Kitagawa.

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Geisha & servant. c.1770's by Kitao

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Early Electricity, Mad Scientists and Electric Sideshows

Engraving from 1793.
Legs of dissected frogs, and various metallic apparatus used to measure what was thought to be electricity flowing in animals in experiments by Luigi Galvani.

Electro Motor Man
Sideshow Poster 1924

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Sideshow poster 1908

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James F. Watson. The Electric Phenomenon.
Sideshow poster 1922

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Kim Novak

February the 13th can't be all that bad when a beauty such as actress Kim Novak was born on that day (1933). Her most notable films were 'Picnic' (1955), and Alfred Hitchcock's classic 'Vertigo' in 1958, in which she starred alongside Jimmy Stewart.

Friday the 13th

'Queen of the Lemons'. c.1920

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thirsty Koala - Survivor of Victorian Bushfires Australia

A volunteer firefighter finds a disorientated and dehydrated koala bear who has survived the recent bushfires in Victoria. Koalas normally consume very little water, but this very grateful marsupial ends up drinking 3 bottles.
found on youtube

Our hearts and thoughts are with all who have been through these horrific fires.
Donations have been rolling in via the Red Cross for the human survivors of the fires, but there are also many wildife casualities, and displaced animals needing food and assistance.
If you would like to make a donation to help Australian native animals in Victoria please contact 'Wildlife Victoria'.

For animals in NSW bushfires please contact 'Wires'.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Gypsy Rose Lee

Born today (9th February) in 1911, Gypsy Rose Lee, America's queen of burlesque who turned strip tease into an art form.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

James Dean

James Dean was born today (8th February) in 1931.

After moving to New York in 1952 he eventually got a part in 'See The Jaguar' on Broadway. In 1955 he gained overnight success in the film 'East of Eden'. He made only two more films, 'Rebel Without Cause', also in 1955, and 'Giant', released the following year, before his death in a car crash.

In just over a year he had become the personification of contemporary American youth, 'restless, purposeless and deprived of security and direction.'

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oz Magazine

Martin Sharp's Dylan cover from
Oz no. 7. October 1967

Oz magazine was founded in Australia in 1963 by Richard Neville and Martin Sharp. When moved it to London in 1967 it became, along with 'International Times', the most important underground magazine of the era.

Contributors over the years included Felix Dennis, Gary Shead, Germaine Greer, Richard Walsh and Robert Hughes. Always the centre of controversy in the straight world for its fierce anti-establishment stance on sexuality,drugs, and free speech/censorship, the whole thing came to a head in 1971 with the Oz obscenity trial.

An excellent re-enactment of the Oz trial ('The Trials of Oz') was broadcast on ABC Australia in 1991, starring Nigel Hawthorne, Simon Callow, and a young Hugh Grant as Richard Neville. The 1971 book version of the same title by Tony Palmer is also worth checking out if you can find it secondhand.

Oz no. 33. February 1971
featuring Norman Lindsay artwork on the cover.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When Good Girls Go Bad

Bad girl propaganda from 1949 (above)
and 1903 (below).

(click images to enlarge)

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Stacked Deck - Burlesque Festival Canberra

'A Stacked Deck' Burlesque Fest at Canberra Fringe
12-14 February 2009

"A three day celebration of burlesque arts!"

The Magnificent Liberté Belle and Gale & Vallance have combined forces to serve up three days of pure indulgence and dazzling burlesque spectacle in 'A Stacked Deck' at Fringe '09.

Featuring a delicious blend of live performance and panel presentations from Australia's Imogen Kelly and Lola the Vamp, as well as Russall Beattie (producer and burlesque aficianado), Fiona Patten (CEO, Eros Association) and Professor Jill Matthews (ANU). MC'd by The Birdmann, with musical entertainment from the sultry Cris Clucas and Lachlan Coventry, and refreshments from the fabulous Moveable Feasts... more


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