Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dances by Moonlight

Upon the soft grass, in the night, the young girls with hair of violets have all danced together, one of each pair playing the art of the lover.

The virgins said: 'We are not for you.' And as if they were ashamed, they hid their virginity. A satyr played upon the flute under the trees.

The others said: 'We have come to seek you.' They arranged their tunics about them like the dress of men; and they struggled in ecstasy while entwining their dancing legs,

Then each one, feeling herself vanquished, took her lover by the ears even as one takes a beaker by the two handles, and the head bent forward, drank a kiss.

Dances by Moonlight,
Pierre Louys.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dangerous Thing

In art, only the bizarre is beautiful.

- Charles Baudelaire

Photo c.1914
North American Indian ceremonial costume
of 'Hami' (dangerous thing) worn by a Koskimo person.

Purchase Fine Art Print_________ View More Like This

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gloria Swanson

American actress Gloria Swanson was born today 23rd March in 1897.
After studying as a singer she entered the nascent film industry as an extra and bit part player in 1915. She became one of Mack Sennett's bathing beauties before an association with director Cecil B. de Mille brought her leading roles as chic sophisticates in the front line of the battle of the sexes.
Her many silent film features include 'Male and Female' (1919), 'The Affairs of Anatol' (1921),and 'Manhandled' (1924).
Despite the extravagances of the unfinished 'Queen Kelly' in 1928, she survived the arrival of sound, receiving Academy Award nominations for 'Sadie Thompson' (1928) and 'The Trespasser' (1929). However, her film career gradually dwindled away despite a sensational comeback in 'Sunset Boulevard' in 1950.

Never relinquishing her glamorous star status she continued to appear on stage and television.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Harry Houdini

Photo c.198
Houdini introduced his escape from a giant milk can filled with water in St. Louis in 1908. That same year he took the wildly popular new feat on tour in the United States, England, and Germany.

Harry Houdini (real name Erich Weiss) the great Hungarian-born American magician and escape artist was born today (March 24th) in 1874.

Houdini could escape from any kind of bonds or container, from prison cells to padlocked underwater boxes.
He was a vigorous campaigner against fraudulent mediums, and was also the president of the Society of Amercian Magicians.

Poster. c.1909

Other famous people born today: Keystone Cop actor Fatty Arbuckle (1887), Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919), fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger (1951), actor Steve McQueen (1930), artist & designer William Morris (1834), & naturalist David Suzuki (1936).

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Biggest Loser - Not here..

Obesity is not just a modern phenomenon as these these larger than life personalities will attest.

For early circus and sideshow stars such as Miss Lucy Moore, Big Joe, The Giant Children & Elvira, far from shedding their kilos, performers turned their fine forms into lucrative careers.
Exaggerated claims such as 'The Heaviest Female in the World' bought in huge crowds and large takings for exhibitors and individuals alike.

The accompanying posters of the time have a charm all of their own..

'Miss Lucy Moore - The Heaviest Female in the World'

Purchase Fine Art Print

'Big Joe - The Largest Man in the World'
Photo c.1903

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'The Giant Children'.
Poster c.1906

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Poster c.1925

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Joan Crawford

Born today (March 23rd) - although the year alludes us (a woman very good at hiding her real age), reports have it anything from 1904 to 1908!

Joan Crawford, the American Hollywood actress was born in San Antonio, Texas. A chorus girl, she arrived in Hollywood in 1924 to work as an extra at MGM, and gained some recognition in films such as 'Our Dancing Daughters' (1928), and 'Our Blushing Brides' (1930).
Creating a niche for herself as the star of many formula melodramas, usually as a working-class girl with her sights set on wealth and sophistication, she became the archetypal glamorous Hollywood Movie Queen.

She was declared 'box-office poison' in 1938, but returned as the wickedly witty husband-stealer in 'The Women' (1939). Later, she continued to suffer in jewels and ermine as the older woman beset by emotional problems in 'Mildred Pierce' (1945) which she won an Academy Award for, and 'Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?' (1962) - a stylish exercise in gothic horror. She retired from the screen after 'Trog' in 1970.

An autobiography appeared in 1962. Her adopted daughter Christina wrote a scathing attack on her domestic tyranny in 'Mommie Dearest' (1978).

Other famous people born today: Damon Albarn (1968) frontman of UK Britpop band 'Blur', Spanish Cubist painter Juan Gris (1887), film director Akira Kurosawa (1910), and singer of 'The Cars' Roc Ocasek (1949).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Salvatore Ferragamo - Shoemaker to the Stars

1938. Cork wedge platform shoe.

I have just been viewing a recent online feature on the 'future of footwear' highlighting the new season's shoes and boots on the Paris catwalk with photos of the latest pieces by Shiatzy Chen, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, and Manish Arora et al. All these wonderful creations made me think about Salvatore, the poor Italian shoemaker, who after making his first pair of shoes, for his sister, at age nine, studied his craft in Naples at 11, emigrated to Hollywood at the age of 16, and ended up making a fortune creating hand-made shoes for the stars.

1947. The 'Invisible Sandal' made with nylon thread.

He created the French toe, the Stage Toe, Roman Sandal, the Stilleto, the sculpted heel and the wedge. His platforms shoes were around long before the seventies.

His autobiography, written in 1957, 'Shoemaker of Dreams' tells the story of his passion for shoes, his rise to fame, and the beautiful women wild about his creations ... including Mary Pickford, Barbara La Marr, Greta Garbo, and Marilyn Monroe.

'I remember some of the more exotic orders: the corkscrew heels, studded with imitation pearls, for Gloria Swanson; the multicolored satin slippers for Lilian Gish, the rainbow-colored evening shoes with ankle straps and tall gold heels for Dolores Del Rio;and the serpent shoes for Esther Ralstone. These were a pair of black and gold slippers with a spike heel. To the vamp of each shoe I glued the head of a snake and their sleek, flexible bodies, with golden scales painted as life-like as I could make them, writhed halfway up her beautiful legs.'

1955. Stiletto heeled gold brocade ankle boot.

His fantastic shoes utilised a plethora of materials including diamonds & pearls, satins & silks, feathers and snake skins, snail shells, raffia, hemp, velvet, seaweed, transparent papers and glass to name just a few.

'There is no limit to beauty, no saturation point in design, no end to the materials a shoemaker may use to decorate his creations so that every woman may be shod like a princess and a princess may be shod like a fairy queen.'

Salvatore died in 1960 but the brand he created continues. 10,000 of his wonderful creations are housed in the Ferragamo Museum Collection in Florence.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Femme Fatale - The Female Criminal Exhibition

'Woman is rarely wicked, but when she is, she is worse than a man.
Italian proverb

Wicked women, seductive sinners, vicious vixens – the female criminal is portrayed in many guises in popular culture, myth, literature and history but what do these stereotypes tell us about women and crime?

Australian authorities have grappled with how to control wayward women from the moment raucous female convicts stepped ashore. The brutal reality of notorious female criminals such as ‘the man woman murderer’ Eugenia Falleni, sly grogger Kate Leigh, and poisoner Yvonne Fletcher is in stark contrast to the glamour of the noir seductress and pulp novel siren.

This exhibition examines these extremes, traversing criminological theory, popular culture and case studies.'

At the Justice & Police Museum
Cnr Albert and Phillip Streets,
Circular Quay, Sydney

Saturday 7 March, 2009 — Sunday 18 April, 2010


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Brigitte Helm

Born today (March 17) in Berlin 1906, the German silent film vamp Brigette Helm.

Although best known these days for playing the robotic Maria in Fritz Lang's classic 1926 film 'Metropolis', Helm was a well-respected and in-demand actress of the German silent film era where she featured in over thirty films until the advent of talking movies in the 1930s.

Turning down many offers from Hollywood because she would not leave her native Berlin, Helm was also originally offered the role of Lola in 'The Blue Angel', which she declined (-eventually played by fellow German Marlene Dietrich).

Brigitte Helm in Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis'. 1926

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

Other famous people born today: Pioneer of Cyberpunk Science Fiction William Gibson (1948), Singer Nat King Cole (1965), British Illustrator Kate Greenaway (1846), musician from 1960's psychedelic band 'Jefferson Airplane' Paul Kantner (1941), and Russian ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev (1938).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vaslav Nijinsky

Vaslav Njinsky was born today in 1890 in Kiev, Russia.

Considered to be the greatest male dancer of the 20th century, he was, like his sister Bronislava Nijinska, trained at the Imperial Ballet School in St Petersburg, and first appeared in ballet at the Maryinski Theatre.

As the leading dancer in Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, taken to Paris in 1909, he became enormously popular, and in 1911 he appeared as Petrouchka in the first performance of Stravinsky's ballet.

Marrying the Hungarian dancer Romala de Pulszky, he was interned in Hungary during the early part of World War I. He rejoined Diaghilev for a world tour, but was diagnosed a paroiod schizophenic in 1917. Spending the rest of his life in and out of clinics, in his lucid periods he painted and worked on a system of dance notation.

Although his dazzling career lasted only ten years, his extraordinary virtuosity and inventive choreography made an indelible mark on the history of ballet.

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

Other famous people born today: Playright - writer of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' Edward Albee (1928), actress Barbara Feldon (1933) played Agent 99 on 1960s TV show 'Get Smart', actress and performer Liza Minnelli (1946) star of 'Cabaret', and film director Jim Sharman (1945).

Don't Ever Love Me

Cover art for 'Don't Ever Love Me'. 1951.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dorothy Gish

Born today (March 11) in 1898, silent screen star Dorothy Gish.

Making her film debut as a child actress in 1912 with her sister Lillian Gish, she went on to star in over 100 two-reel films.
Dorothy retired from the screen in 1928 after making her last silent film 'Madame Pompadour' in 1927. Although overshadowed by the popularity of her sister on the screen, Dorothy went on to enjoy a long career as a stage actress.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Bohemia

An old friend, and one of my favourite books on my shelves.. 'In Bohemia' by James Clarence Harvey (1905) is a wonderful piece of nostalgia.

' What is Bohemia? 'Tis the mystic land,
Where kindred souls can grasp the friendly hand,
Where business cares, like flitting shadows pass
And disappear above the social glass,
Where doubts and fears, that all our pleasures mar,
Float off in clouds of smoke from your cigar.

It is a realm where every man is king
And friendship's smile a princely offering.
This is Bohemia, where your differences end
And life begins anew as friend to friend.

"I'd rather live in Bohemia than in any other land,"
So spake the soul of the poet, with the touch of a master hand..'

more Bohemia here

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beautiful Lugano

A recent addition to our collection, this gorgeous travel poster for Lugano, Switzerland. c.late 1940s.

Purchase Fine Art Print_________ View More Like This

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anna Held

Anna Held c.1908
This image currently under restoration - available soon as fine art print.

Born today (March 8th) in Paris c.1872 'the tiny Anna Held, with her eighteen-inch waist, was already a star earning huge sums at the Palace Theatre, London, when Florenz Ziegfeld discovered her and took her to America. He starred her in many productions including 'Miss Innocence' & 'The Parisian Model'. Singing with Gallic charm, she enchanted the public who were already intrigued by rumours of her milk baths and general naughtiness.

Anna Held worked her way up from the chorus to stardom, and married Ziegfeld (whom she later divorced). She was portrayed in the film 'The Great Ziegfeld' (1936) by Luise Rainer'.
(ref: Collector's Guide to Theatrical Postcards)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Burlesque Ball in Sydney

The Burlesque Ball will be in Sydney on March 14th, with New York's finest Amber Ray headlining an all-star local cast featuring Vivi Valentine, Lauren LaRouge, Lanie Lane, and the Swingrite Big Band

'The Burlesque Ball was born from a concept in 2005. The event coincided with the rise in popularity of Burlesque in Australia, and was the first event of it’s kind to showcase Burlesque on such a grand scale.

Jac Bowie produced the event after discovering although Burlesque was experiencing an underground movement, there were no events that focused on big props, expensive and ornate costumes - what you associate Burlesque to be when you think of the major international stars (Dita Von Teese, Catherine D’Lish, Sally Rand etc) and had a more formal vibe that appealed to guests of all ages and walks of life.'

More info & ticket purchasing info can be found here

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Lovers

Les Amoureux (Apr├Ęs la pluie)
by Francis Picabia . 1925

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sheila Terry

Stunning 1930s Hollywood actess Sheila Terry was born today (March 5th) in 1910.

This is one of my favourite photos of her, which we have colourised.

Sydney Architecture

The Garden Palace Exhibition Building in the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens which was built for the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879.

I recently came across a great site which takes a look at the architecture of Sydney past and present and, being originally from Sydney, I am finding it totally fascinating.
A huge amount of research and passion has been put into this project which includes structures both public and residential in the central business district, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Martin Place, Glebe, Sydney University, Pyrmont and much more.

More unusual destinations such as little known railway tunnels on the 'Subterranean Sydney' page, Redfern Mortuary Terminal, and Callan Park (former lunatic asylum) make intriguing reading.

My very favourite part of this site is the 'Gone but Not Forgotten' section which features buildings, tragically now demolished, that I remember well, such as the magnificent Anthony Hordern's Emporium and the Regent Theatre, to the earlier 'Garden Palace', 'Royal Arcade' and 'Sydney Arcade' which we can only imagine the splendour of.

The Anthony Hordern's Palace Emporium. I still can't believe they demolished this incredible Sydney landmark.. what a huge loss it was.

In addition to the 'Sydney Architecture' site there are also linked sister sites as part of the same project exploring the architecture of worldwide venues such as Paris, London, New York, Italy, China, Dubai and Islamic culture.

Be prepared to put aside some serious time to take in all the sights... a truly amazing and ambitious internet experience.
Visit the 'Sydney Architecture' site here

The Victorian Gothic 'Redfern Mortuary Terminal' which, fortunately, is still standing.


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