Monday, January 31, 2011
Another 'RPPC' (Real Photo Post Card) from, I think, the 1940s or 1950s. Unlike many examples of vernacular photography, it captures something rather more than mere everyday-ness. As Julia Kristeva puts it, 'In every bourgeois family, there is one child who has a soul.'
Posted by Terry Castle at 9:35 PM
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Miss Madge Lessing--stage and film star in Germany and Britain pre-1914 . Marvelous bloodcurdling hand-coloring on this card.
For more excitement, see very odd website entitled 'For The Love of Opera Gloves,' There you will find at least 50 photos--an entire gallery--devoted to pictures of Lessing wearing the fetish-items in question. So is this card, an image of a bare-armed Madge, a rarity? Further research obviously required. Yet gloves or no gloves, in every picture I've ever seen of her, Lessing has the same simpering, infantile look you see here.
Posted by Terry Castle at 11:04 PM
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
A drunken William S. Burroughs accidentally killed his wife in 1951 in the way shown here--playing William Tell. (Not while standing on his head, though, and with a handgun rather than rifle.) "I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would have never become a writer but for Joan’s death ... The death of Joan brought me into contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle, in which I had no choice except to write my way out". Or so he surmised in Queer (1985).
Posted by Terry Castle at 8:48 PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
American card from around 1900 satirizing Aestheticism and the new (and scandalous) 'Impressionist' style of painting. (Though the jaunty canvas on the easel bears little resemblance to anything remotely Impressionist.) The artist caricatured here is James McNeill Whistler, the gifted expatriate American painter--long resident in London and Paris-- whose flowing Bohemian locks, society-mad ways, and close friendship with Oscar Wilde in the 1890s marked him as worthy of lampoon by righteous pillocks everywhere. He had the last laugh. A gorgeous painter.
Posted by Terry Castle at 10:25 PM
Sunday, January 23, 2011
A hand-colored 'RPPC' (Real Photo Post Card). Almost everything is wrong with this photo-graph--- the 'landscape' orientation, the weird tilted camera angle, the man's rather sour focus on the dog. Still, it's somehow delightful. The colors of the couple's coats are beautiful; the dog poses nobly; the carousel horse (?) adds the necessary fantasy. The woman, if slightly anxious, is a person full of love.
Posted by Terry Castle at 7:40 PM
Saturday, January 22, 2011
One of the Hugo Brothers--Antoine, I think--holding up 'Adriens,' a well-known circus performer, and his sister Marguerite. Antoine (1876-1914) and Baptiste (1887-1916) Hugo, otherwise known as 'Les Géants des Alpes', were two giant-brothers, much studied and photographed at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. According to a fascinating website--The Tallest Man--over a hundred different photo-postcards of the Hugo Brothers were made in France during their (relatively short) lifetimes. I have 10 or 12 cards that feature them, sometimes together, sometimes separate.
Posted by Terry Castle at 1:55 PM
Friday, January 21, 2011
Found at a flea market in Lisbon and immediately whooshed into first place--as prime example of what literary critic Sianne Ngai has referred to as "stuplimity.' One enjoys the dispassionate expressions adopted by the band members. But who ever thought any of this was a good idea? And what must the music be like?
Posted by Terry Castle at 11:26 AM
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Part of a comic English postcard series in which little doggies get up to mischief and talk about it. This one's from 1909. I didn't realize at first what precisely was so disquieting about it---not until the word 'rippin' flipped a switch. Memories of Jack the Ripper were still very much alive in Britain in 1909: though the last of the Whitechapel murders associated with him occurred in 1891, he had never been identified or caught. (Nor would he be.) Something about the strange position of the dismembered doll makes me think the artist was familiar with the grisly crime scene photographs taken of the Ripper's victims. Jack was far more bestial than any dog.
Posted by Terry Castle at 10:43 PM
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I have multiple copies of this card, just because I love it. The anonymous illustrator's sense of anatomy--or lack thereof-- never fails to amuse. Ditto the peculiar stunt depicted. One of my other versions of the card is captioned 'A Close Shave'.
A couple of months ago I found the card posted below it (showing a pair of courting rustics) on eBay--obviously by the same very strange artist. In both cards the rendering of the feet merits serious study.
Posted by Terry Castle at 11:25 PM
Saturday, January 15, 2011
A nice, only slightly mildewed, late 19th-c. trade card for Hire's Root Beer, showing Ruth and Naomi about to break up and then thinking better of it. 'Whither thou goest,' etc., at bottom left.
'All the pathos of this touching episode of Scripture is here,' it says on the card back; 'the local color, the sentiment. It is another reading by the light of inspiration.'
Kinda hot too, I'd say--in that kinky, root-beer-splashed, Chromolithograph way.
Posted by Terry Castle at 9:33 PM
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Who will the ice pick? An example of a home-made, one-of-a-kind Valentine card. The dog assures us that 'they'--the romancing couple--are 'harmless.' Yet considering their smarmy grins and Rorschach-blot-like shadows--more ink puddles than silhouettes--one is inclined to be doubtful.
Posted by Terry Castle at 11:00 PM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Not Vicky or Christina--but I prefer these two, their reassuring composure. We are calm, we are stately; and even though we are only 5 or 6, we are entirely middle-aged and reliable, far more so than Scarlett Johansson will ever be.
Were these carnival costumes? The card: a formal studio portrait. Everything here deeply premeditated. Girls rule; boys drool.
Posted by Terry Castle at 9:31 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
This came in the mail yesterday--from Portugal, a country with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of old postcard dealers. The image is a 50s or 60s photographic reworking of a classic topos in modern comic illustration: fruits and vegetables engaged in human activities. The mascara'd eyelashes and crudely rendered tattoo give the whole scene a gritty, Cinecittà neo-realism, I think.
Posted by Terry Castle at 9:12 PM
Monday, January 10, 2011
The oxymoron: a preposterous relic posing here as Jugendstil pin-up boy. The Emperor Franz-Josef, already impossibly ossified in 1908, would live to lead the Austro-Hungarian empire into war in 1914. Decadence: when youth and age, revolution and reaction, posey and potpourri, can no longer be distinguished.
Posted by Terry Castle at 7:20 PM
Sunday, January 9, 2011
One of my older tintypes--from the 1870s or 1880s, I'm guessing. In late nineteenth=century America the tintype was the Daguerreotype of the working poor. Yet however cheaply produced, tintypes have their own kind of ragged--yet intransigent--intensity, as here.
Posted by Terry Castle at 10:37 PM
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Cléo de Mérode (1875-1966)
dancer and courtesan of the Belle Epoque,
born in the age of Victor Hugo, and died at 92,
a contemporary of the Rolling Stones
An interesting example of the habit of writing on the *front* of the card (common before postcard backs were divided in 1907)
Posted by Terry Castle at 4:23 PM