Sunday, January 29, 2012

Charles Burns: On the Darker Side of Strange

(Above) “Black Hole cover: Girl with Tail,” 1997, ink on paper, 21 x 14.5 inches
Be sure and click on the images for larger view.

(Above) “Black Hole back cover: Looking Down Hole,” 2002, ink on paper; 18 x 13 inches

(Above) “Black Hole back cover: Worm Creature,” 1997, ink on paper, 18 x 13 inches
Be sure and click on the images for larger view.

(Above) “SPX Illustration 1,” 2002, ink on paper, 16.5 x 15.5 inches

(Above) “Monica Lewinsky,” 1999, ink on paper, 15.5 x 14.5 inches

I FIRST MET CHARLES BURNS in 1982 or 1983 when he lived in St. Louis with his wife, the painter Susan Moore. He won’t remember me, I just ended up one evening at a party at their flat in University City. I was there following an art opening of Susan’s, but it was that night that I discovered something else, something amazing, something odd and wonderful... something on the darker side of strange. It was the black and white drawings of little baby-like figures drawn by her husband— Charles Burns. I became a fan—right then and there.

I asked Charles about purchasing one, and I don’t remember now the price, but it was cheap and still more money than I had. By the time I had saved the money, they had moved. Arrrgh-h-h-h!

I just finished Charles’ latest book, Black Hole. I loved it.

A few years ago, the Adam Baumgold Gallery presented an exhibition of drawings by Charles Burns. This was Charles Burns’ first New York solo exhibition and included fifty seminal drawings executed in the last 25 years. The work showcased Burns’ masterful pen and ink drawings for his award-winning comic books and other publications. Featured in the exhibition were covers and drawings for the serialized version of Charles Burns’ epic graphic novel “Black Hole,” as well as the drawings for the covers and pages of “Skin Deep,” “Big Baby,” and “El Borbah,” and a rare RAW era “Dog Boy” strip. The exhibition also had drawings and covers for The New Yorker, Esquire and numerous other magazines that included drawings of cult figures William S. Burroughs and Robert Crumb. Also included was the cover of “Permagel,” the new large scale book of Burns’ art.

Charles Burns’ drawings first became known in the legendary comics magazine “Raw” in the 1980s. His comic stories “Big Baby” and “Dog Boy” were serialized in alternative weekly papers throughout the United States. His drawings also appeared on the covers and in the pages of Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Believer and many other publications, as well as on the album covers of Iggy Pop and others. His drawings were the subject of a solo exhibition “Charles Burns” at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts Museum in 1999. His work was included in the exhibition “Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque” at the SITE Santa Fe Biennial in 2004 curated by Robert Storr. Burns contributed to the animated feature “Fear(s) of the Dark” which will be released in October by AFC. Charles Burns and his family lives and works in Philadelphia.

To see more of Charles Burns’ work just click here: Adam Baumgold Gallery. Some of the factual information above about the exhibition history of Burns came from the Adam Baumgold Gallery.

An AM repost from 1/30/09.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Stardust Drawings of Melvin Edward Nelson

(Above) Planetary Land, 1964; mineral pigment, watercolor on paper; 11 x 17 inches
(Above) Planetscape #2, n/d; mineral pigment, watercolor on paper; 18 x 24 inches
(Above) The Universe, 1964; mineral pigment, watercolor on paper; 11 x 17 inches
(Above) Atom Belt, 1964; watercolor on paper; 11 x 17 inches
(Above) Atomic-Magnetic #3, n/d; mineral pigment, watercolor on paper; 11 x 16.5 inches

I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF MELVIN EDWARD NELSON. That’s OK. One of the reasons I attend the Outsider Art Fair is to get hip to new discoveries and reacquaint myself with the work of those artists I haven’t seen for a while. There’s nothing like it—most of the top dealers in the world for self-taught art are gathered under one roof.

Melvin Edward Nelson, aka M.E.N. also stands for Mighty Eternal Nation, was born in 1908 in Michigan. Nelson was an inventor; he was fascinated with the universe, planetary bodies and atoms. He built a “Planetron” — a device which allowed him to track UFO’s. Significant to his life is the story that on one night a UFO landed in a clearing near his home. When it left, he was able to gather the dust from the landing site and began to use it in his paintings. Cavin-Morris Gallery shows his work. They are located at 210 11th Avenue, 2nd Floor, NY, NY 10001. Their telephone number is 212.226.3768.

The biographical information above came from a review in NY Art Beat.

An AM repost from 1/6/09.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Elle Italia: Evolution of the Species

Click on any image for larger view.

Magazine: Elle Italia, November 2008
Editorial: Evoluzione della specie
Model: Kemp Muhl
Photographer: Ruven Afanador

WHEN I CAME ACROSS THESE FASHION SPREADS FROM ELLE ITALIA, I was immediately drawn more to the props and setting than the fashions. The stylist did a wonderful job of creating a cross between a late 19th century medical office and that of a an alchemist’s shop. In terms of photography, I am seeing a close relationship to these spreads and that of the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, though not nearly as graphic and dark.

Ruven Afanador is considered one of the leading photographers working in celebrity and fashion photography.

His work appears in most major fashion magazines in the world as well as in The New Yorker. His commercial clients include Arista, Cacharel, Christian Dior, Elektra et al. In the fall of 2001, a decade after his work first began attracting widespread attention, he published his first book, Torero. Within a year Torero sold out and became a collector’s item within the fashion world. Sombra, a collection of male nudes inspired by still life tableaus, was published by Merrell in 2004.

An AM repost from 3/22/09.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

You’re Not Getting Older, You’re Getting Better

(Above) Comfit jar, France, c. 1880 (click for larger views)
(Above) Vivid green berry tray, early 20th. c., Michigan
(Above) Cork beehive, early 20th c., France
(Above) Cheese mold with striking blue paint, early 20th c., American
(Above) Trade Sign, mid-20th c., fragment; American

HOW WONDERFUL IT IS to witness the beauty of things with age, history, or with a long and storied past. What stories can they tell? In this day of Pottery Barn knock-offs, pre-washed jeans and “antiqued” antiques, revel for a moment in some images of objects where time has worked it’s magic. Nicks, chips, scars and cracks—all tell stories of weather, work and time.

An AM repost from 1/19/09.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Vintage European Soap Packaging

I FOUND THIS WONDERFUL COLLECTION OF EUROPEAN VINTAGE SOAP LABELS VIA MY FRIENDS at Coudal Partners. You can see more of them here. Many of these are really wonderful and very applicable to current day design styles.

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