Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gold Braid and Buttons

Sometimes there is nothing for it but an Enchanting Man in a Uniform. The contrast between the 'photographic' look of the face and background and the meticulously 'painted' look of the tunic only adds to the charm of this late 19th-century military portrait from Stuttgart.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Tact of the Sitter

An image, to my mind, of extraordinary composure and dignity. This is a turn of the century carte de visite ('visiting card'), i.e., a small, beautifully produced studio portrait, about 2" by 3" in size. (Similar photographs in a larger format were called cabinet cards.)

One wonders how the subject came to be looking away from the camera. The fact that she does so results, I think, in the image's overall impression of tenderness and calm. The sitter seems unselfconscious, free of perturbation--as if she were looking toward someone on one side who loves her and protects her. She thereby helps the viewer--helps us--to look at her. She accepts our curiosity with mildness and grace.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Point Loma Dreemin

I twaddled; BV scuba'd. With great success--in a kelp bed, 70 feet down.

Fish tacos in Old Town amid cornfed visitors from the heartland and Father's Day dads in polo shirts. And yes, you can see Lindbergh Field in this postcard--and my father's old aeronautics company --that is, if either had existed then.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dranem Smiling, 1910

One of many postcards featuring 'Dranem,' French music hall, operetta, and cinema star (1869-1935). His real name was Armand Ménard; his stage name being an anagram of this last. His film career began in 1902, in the Gaumont silent film, "Bonsoir m'sieurs dames," directed by Alice Guy, and lasted through the early thirties. His specialty was comic songs. You can see him lip-syncing one of them, 'Five O'Clock Tea,' in this 1905 YouTube clip:

The 'high water' pants and peculiar too-small suiting Dranem favored were a trademark: one imagines a sort of Francophone Peewee Herman.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Dreams Come True

Continuing yester- day's Outsider theme... A piece of what might be called super-sized Tramp Art, made with logs instead of match sticks. Something about the shape of the thing-- the odd look of the towers-- bring to mind those large Buddhist temples along the river in Bangkok. The wats. And wherefores.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Childhood Had Things to Offer

---I suppose. Puzzled briefly by this glossy (1950s?) item: it looked as if Goldilocks and Baby Bear were running along on lily pads. (Mental mix-up with Thumbellina, moles, stag-beetles, et al.)

Mama Bear definitely scary--rather like the hungry and irritable Ursino or Ursina who dismembered Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend in Grizzly (and in life). At the same time, lots of Borgesian visual paradoxes, especially in frantic in-flight posture of Goldilocks. The artist here might seem to be influenced by Henry Darger, only Darger's sublime Outsider works weren't discovered until the early seventies.

Monday, June 13, 2011

En Patufet

En Patufet: an influential children's magazine in Catalan published from 1904 to 1938.

And, just for you, an extra piece of wiki-erudition: 'Today patufet is a familiar word in Catalan for a very little kid or for a children's publication. Pitufos, the Spanish name for the Smurfs, comes from Patufet.'

Friday, June 10, 2011

Flapper Child

I have to deliver an address tonight to the graduating Phi Beta Kappa initiates this year. Intend to emulate the 'look' you see here. Former Secretary of State George Schultz is apparently going to be in the audience.

What I can't explain--the jagged missing pieces of emulsion. But I like them. Likewise the muted colors here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hat, Striped Pants

A nice tintype I bought at the show the other week, in part because the fellow posing reminded me a little bit in looks of the wonderful Irish writer Colm Toibin. The same sort of strong-featured phizz. Hard to know which are better: Colm's novels or his literary essays.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Then Felt I

--you can fill in the rest. A Keatsian, wild-eyed baby, for whom all is first-look. Yes: those realms of gold. But also, if you can believe it: Yankees Win on Chapman's Homer.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Wrestling Match

Two fighters: strangely bulbous. The one with huge rubbery nose appears to be wearing the bottom half of a wetsuit.