Thursday, March 31, 2011

I See Thin People

Talking to the students today about grotesque renderings of the female body in Swift's writing; made me think of Cranach, Dix, Grosz, John Currin. The woman's figure in the final frame like one of Currin's anorexines. (A word I just made up.) Anorexina?

If only losing a few pounds were this easy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Medium Is The Postage

Another attractive sub-speciality from the arcane world of "deltiology" (study of postcards): homemade cards featuring images composed from collaged pieces of stamps. This one, I think, is a really fine example. (Had the artist seen Muybridge's photographic studies of the horse in motion?) The stamp with the man's head is another nice touch: a sort of mini-Arcimboldo effect.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rembrandt Brushes

Something vaguely Southern California-ish about this postcard from the 50s or 60s. The cartoon-like painting in progress could almost be one of Raymond Pettibon's.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Russian Girls

...from the 1930s. The postcard dealer--the Estonian or the Ukrainian?--described them as 'two beautiful Russian girls.' I thought, No; then Yes; then No; then Yes...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Le Bourgmestre

Terrible things happened, but the air was more breathable then. The middle classes wore black tights and enjoyed it. Some of them, that is.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Le Roy Charles by Pinchon

'Like Sarajevo, Belfast and Dallas, Compiègne [site of British Army HQ in the end-game stages of WWI] would seem to be one of the strangely doom-laden minor cities in history: my 1920 Guide to Belgium and the Western Front notes that not only was Joan of Arc captured and turned over to the English there in 1430; Marie Antoinette, aged 15, met her future husband the Dauphin there in 1770; and Tsar Nicholas and the Tsarina were received by President Loubet at the famous nearby château in 1901.'

--From Terry Castle, The Professor ('Courage, Mon Amie')

Friday, March 18, 2011

Le Tornoi

Gorgeous image by the French artist Émile-Joseph Pinchon. Compiègne, in eastern France, is the town in which Joan of Arc was unhorsed by an archer and captured by the English and Burgundians in 1430. Her trial for heresy and execution followed in 1431. This is the first of three 'Fêtes de Compiègne' cards I've lately acquired.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Fourteen tons, I get it. But does that lady know she's sitting on the Shift Key?

Leaving Manhattan after several days--the image seems to synch with general, always thrilling, NYC mise-en-scène.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mysterious Madeleine

Promised a while ago I would post more of my 'romantic' French postcards of the 1920s. Also ventured the theory that some of the 'men' in them are actually women in drag. Case in point: I have five or six cards featuring the androgynous model on the right here, whom I believe to have been female. Something a little Billy Tipton-ish about the ears, lips, wrists, hands.

This image is part of a set of three or four but alas I don't have any of the others yet. Together they document the 'feeding of the madeleine' in all of its various suggestive stages.

Monday, March 7, 2011

See You At the Buccaneer Motel

I've been on the road for several weeks: the picaresque theme of this card (like the one before it) seems broadly speaking appropriate. Obviously, however, something has gone terribly awry in the printing shop.

I've uploaded the card right-side up and wrong-side up--or is it the other way around? Either way: heads must roll.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where's the Can

Love the color scheme. I've been obliged lately to use way too many tiny Boeing 737 toilets. Hideous plastic flooring with old bits of damp tissue that stick to your shoes. Scummy little mini-sink with soap dispenser--but what good against the bacteria on the door handles, the tray tables, and in the endlessly, whooshingly, continuously recycled non-air? Too much Diet Coke. The Dakotas below, seemingly eternally. Want to get down now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Lodged in memory: walking past the cross as an 8-year-old with my grandmother in 1962. Again, in the 1970s: running to catch the Orpington train after work (one labored briefly for a summer in a typing pool in Holborn).

In June 1909 Edith Wharton met Morton Fullerton for a sumptuous night of adultery in one of the rooms of the station hotel. (Cue post-coital sound of steam trains.) Then in her forties and unhappily married, the eminently discreet and dignified Wharton experienced with Fullerton (handsome, bisexual, writer-journalist friend of Henry James) a kind of reckless ecstasy she had never felt before. She wrote a poem about the assignation afterwards--'Terminus'--but like the affair itself, it only came to light many years after her death.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Duke of the Blues

A hand-tinted RPPC from the so called 'Golden Age' of postcards--roughly 1890-1920. The archaism and soft background focus suggest the late-Victorian images of Julia Margaret Cameron. The iconography--plumed hat, lace collar, blue cloak--brings to mind the 'fancy-dress' paintings of the eighteenth century. These drew in turn on famous Old Master paintings: witness Gainsborough's 'Blue Boy,' inspired by Van Dyck's coruscating portraits of seventeenth-century royalty. The boy's embroidered lace collar here is almost identical to one worn by Charles I in Van Dyck's 'Triple Portrait' of that glamorous yet ill-starred king.