Friday, April 30, 2010

Art brut

Personally, I believe very much in values of savagery.
I mean: instinct, passion, mood, violence, madness.
-- Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was deeply impressed by the 1924 book, Artistry of the Mentally Ill written by Hans Prinzhorn. It inspired his lifelong obsession of collecting artwork produced by children, mentally disturbed patients, prisoners and others that were free from the influence of what he called 'intellectual terrorism.'

He's credited for coining the term Art Brut (raw art) which he used to describe the work of the self taught; inspired by its complete purity, emotion, originality and subversiveness.

Dubuffet donated his collection of over 5000 works to the City of Lausanne (Switzerland) which became the heart of their unique museum, Musée de l'Art Brut, inaugurated in 1976.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anima Sola

Anima Sola or 'the lonely soul' refers to the Catholic place or condition of Purgatory. I'm fascinated by artists depictions, especially in sculpture.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Lovely blossoms, a vision of springtime.





Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Penelope Tree

Lisa Fonssagrives

Peggy Moffitt

The sort of good looks that could be described as otherworldly.

Gracefully interpreting, inhabiting clothing that would look preposterous on anyone else.

Monday, April 26, 2010


When in Rome, live as the Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere.

Capsule hotels are popular in Japan. For about $35 a night, you can reserve a unit as cozy as a coffin. Honestly, as futuristic, high-tech and strange-travel-story fodder as it must be, I wouldn't be able to seal myself into one for the night.


Automat, Berenice Abbott

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Collector of souls

Like Chekhov, I am a collector of souls... if I hadn't been an artist,
I could have been a psychiatrist. --Alice Neel

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is honoring the incomparable Alice Neel with a retrospective exhibition of 68 of her fine paintings (through June 13). Oh, to be in Houston, Texas.

In 2000, I saw an incredible exhibition of her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in in New York City. There were a few paintings of interiors and still life, but her portraits, for which she is known, were pulsing with vibrancy. It was clear that she connected with her subjects; she captured their likeness, but also their psychological spirit. Her portraits leave a brilliant impression; it's as if you just met a fascinating person and your life is changed in subtle and surprising ways.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Too big, too bright to be forgotten

Vegas, baby! It's not my kind of place, although millions of people love it. Maybe I could be persuaded to visit if the Neon Museum was part of the program. Established in 1996 as a non-profit organization to collect, preserve and study neon signs and other related artifacts emblematic of the rich history of Las Vegas, the museum has over 150 signs in their collection, each with a colorful story. What's more, there's an adjacent 'Neon Boneyard,' where enormous signs and marquees from retired Las Vegas casinos, hotels and theaters wait for a little TLC. The Neon Boneyard has been closed for improvements since February 2010, but will reopen this summer. You can schedule a tour of the museum ($15) or make an appointment to photograph the Boneyard here.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Playing cards from Peter Coddles Trip to New York, a Milton Bradley game circa 1920. An early predecessor of Mad Libs; players fill in missing parts of their designated stories with cards from a master deck. The descriptions are delightfully random (my memories of New York do not include a bunion plaster).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

10 List: Dynamic title or opening sequences

Forget simple or subtle
or something so bland you can show up late and not miss anything.
In film, a great opening grabs you by the collar and dives into the story.
In a few quick strokes,the character(s), the dilemma and the boundaries are established or in some cases, just the tone of everything to come. There are so many compelling examples, but I narrowed my list to opening scenes that are primarily without dialogue.
A lot can happen in just a few minutes.

Touch of Evil
Raging Bull
Blue Velvet
West Side Story
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Once Upon a Time in the West
Apocalypse Now


The Philadelphia Story
The Searchers
2001: A Space Odyssey

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Puff by William Wondriska (1960) is a beautiful book for
children and graphic designers


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Three interpretations of one spooked assistant.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Das hoax

Poster for Pfäfferli+Huber Pharmaceuticals,
attributed to Ernst Bettler, 1959

In the late 1950's, designer Ernst Bettler created four striking modernist posters for the Swiss pharmaceutical company Pfäfferli + Huber. According to Bettler, he was aware of the dark history of the company's experiments on WW2 German concentration camp prisoners, and hoped he could expose their involvement with his campaign. Each of the posters focused on one product and hidden within the image was a letter. The poster for the relief of headache (image above), cleverly combines the figure's arms with the text to form the letter 'A.' Displayed correctly as a group, the posters would spell out the word, N-A-Z-I. Supposedly, mere weeks after their release, the posters prompted immediate outrage and inarguably ruined Pfäfferli + Huber.

The original story of Bettler and his subversive work first appeared in the graphic design magazine Dot, Dot, Dot(issue #2), but quickly spread to design oriented websites and was referenced repeatedly. For two years the story gained momentum, until one blogger named Andy Crewdson did some research and found Pfäfferli + Huber never existed and neither did Ernst Bettler. For more about this story, read the informative Eye magazine article.

As an added bit of intrigue, Andy Crewdson created the well respected but now-defunct website, Lines and Splines. His web presence dates back several years, leaving readers chattering about who he is, where he is and what he's doing these question posted muses whether Crewdson really exists.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


In 1988 David Lynch directed four commercials for the Calvin Klein fragrance, Obsession. Each ad has an excerpt from a classic novel written by authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence and Gustave Flaubert. Below, the very young Heather Graham and Benicio del Toro share a kiss as written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and imagined by David Lynch. Not yet established as actors, she was 18 and he was 21 years old.

He knew that when he kissed this girl, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 6


People are incorrect to compare a director to an author. If he’s a creator,
he’s more like an architect.-- John Ford

David Lynch

Frank Capra

Clint Eastwood

Francis Ford Coppola

John Ford

Woody Allen

Alfred Hitchcock

Sam Peckinpah

Orson Welles

Martin Scorsese

Billy Wilder

Quentin Tarantino

Akira Kurosawa

Stanley Kubrick

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Richard Lester's high-spirited opening sequence for the Beatles 1964 film, A Hard Day's Night is often credited for influencing modern music videos.


Don't you know it's gonna last
It's a love that lasts forever
It's a love that had no past

John, Paul George and Ringo in 1964 at the Hotel George V, Paris
photographed by Harry Benson