Halloween scenes

"I eated his brain"
Halloween portraits, except second and last, from the notable collections of Geoffrey Hudson.
Second and last taken in Cold Spring, NY 2008.

ADDENDUM: Oh good Lord, how did I miss this? Haunted Air.
Found photos dating from 1875 to 1955, compiled by the evocatively named Ossian Brown.
With a forward by David Lynch.


Dancing Dogs and Posture Masters

There's no date on this but it looks to be about 1790s.
It looks exactly like Barnum's Feejee Mermaid exhibited about 50 years later!

It seems the mermaid had been in circulation for quite a while...

Anthony Maddox, English posture-master
Dancing Dogs: I rather like "A Lady in her Equipage" and "2 Dogs with Milk Pails"
Margaret Finch, Queen of the Norwood Gypsies, died aged 108
Mr. Makeen, Equestrian Hero
Finds from the collection of 18th Century Entertainment Ephemera at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.


ice cream and architectural loss

image from Plan 59
images from Host of the Highways; more HoJos here
Note the Trylon and Perisphere of the 1939-40 World's Fair in the background
Photographs of demolition, March, 1974 by Jeffrey Morris
At the Museum of the City of New York there is an exhibit on the Colonial Revival style in architecture and decor. I only recently paid any attention to Colonial Revival. It's rather ubiquitous in architecture of a certain era, and showed up on a lot of banks and public building. Also, there are many perfunctory examples around so its a style that's easy to be blind to. While I havent gone to the museum, I happened to discover that one of the buildings discussed in the show was the Howard Johnson's on Queens Boulevard I used to go to as a child. Wow. I hadn't realized it was a flagship restaurant. Built in 1940 in an inflated Federal style, it cost a reputed $600,000, a tremendously high figure for that time. As you can see from the images above there was a grand staircase, murals, porticoes, chandeliers, broken pediments and dormers. Graceful, lovely, and with unbelievable (and rather patrician) style in which to serve fried clams and ice cream sundaes to the masses, it could supposedly accommodate 1000 patrons. A contemporary description was rapturous:
The three dining rooms are so restfull (sic) and so attractive that at first we miss some of the details which go to make their perfection ... the thick soft carpets ... the glittering chandeliers ... the blue green Venetian blinds, the maroon leather upholstery ... the restrained use of color in walls and draperies ... the charm of a light-fountain playing in the Empire Room.
I'm sure it must have lost some of its luster by the time I went. Sadly, I dont have much of a memory of the building beyond the vague notion that it was big and nice and I liked it. I do remember the peppermint stick ice cream pretty well, though: gooey bits of candy cane leaving red spots as they "melted" in a pale pink ice cream suspension.

In another incidence of aesthetic tragedy so common in the borough of Queens, this is what replaced the Howard Johnsons.


mid century line art

Several images above from my copy of the New York Art Directors Club Annual for Advertising and Editorial Art 1952. Anonymous ad for Davis Delaney Printers, David Stone Martin, Ben Shahn from Love and Joy About Letters, Arden Poole for Lucien Lelong, Pat Prichard, Miroslav Sasek from This is Paris 1959, Ben Shahn book jacket 1962, "Andrew Warhol" for CBS Radio, Ronald Searle, Olle Eksell drawing on the cover of a Swedish magazine 1949, Ben Shahn, Arno Schuele book jacket

Somewhere around mid century a style of spidery line art emerged and went on to become ubiquitous in commercial art. Hand lettering too— some of it influenced by the rediscovery of 19th century ornamented wood type (see the Shahn book cover above). The pen and ink style was spindly and almost brittle— sometimes the lines incorporated ink blobs as though the pen scratched and stuttered its way across the paper. As you can see from the few samples above, big names like Ben Shahn and Ronald Searle worked in it, and relatively unknown illustrators like "Andrew Warhol" adapted it too. I recall a few Bugs Bunny cartoons from the 1950s that had some of it going on, and even Edward Gorey, in his early book jacket work, seemed to be influenced by it. It lasted organically as a popular style through the 1960s with some holdouts (like Searle and Saul Steinberg) simply continuing into the 70s and beyond in what had always been their personal style. I wish I understood better where it came from...


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