Showing posts with label folk art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label folk art. Show all posts

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Handmade Flash Cards

LAST WEEK I DID A POST ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF THE SILHOUETTE IN PHOTOGRAPHY. Based on that, folk art and extraordinary objects dealer Joshua Lowenfels of NYC sent me these incredible vintage flash cards, made to teach a child to recognize animals by their form.

What you see here are small handmade flash cards, probably from the first part of the 20th century. There are 21 in total that he has, all made from black cut paper lightly glued on these wonderful speckled cards. They are each about 5 x 8 inches in size, and each one is signed on the back. Josh says they are each signed by a woman on the back, and she was from the rural Midwest.

What I like about these besides their complete charm as part of Americana, but that the maker took some unique artistic liberties as she cut the paper. Take the goat, for example. His head is bent down, so we can only see one ear and have to imagine the other. Sweet.

Joshua Lowenfels has some of the best, most extraordinary stuff in the country. Ahhh-h, if only I were a rich man....

Monday, May 7, 2012

Love of Someone’s Life

HERE IS A REALLY ODD, COPPER ENCASED SILHOUETTE, CIRCA 1820, of a woman with a huge head and tiny little flipper-like hands. Turn the small oval frame over and you will find a finely interwoven, heart-shaped design in braided hair with the initial “M” in the middle of the hearts. Probably a love token, this object was spotted on eBay.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Modernist Bird

HERE IS A CARVING OF A BIRD IN OUR COLLECTION. IT WAS IDENTIFIED by a reader as a European Great Spotted Woodpecker. I think it may be 75+ years old. This bird, painted with broad shapes and squiggles to define various areas, is more akin to modernist painting than it’s more realistically painted counterparts of the day. When I see this bird, I think of modernist painters like Arthur Dove (no pun intended), Georgia O’Keefee and others.

Thanks to reader Harry, for the ID.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Button Suit of Ruby Ann Kittner, c.1935

Mrs. Ruby Ann Kittner and her husband Jake lived in Clinton, Iowa during the 1930s and 1940s. It looks as if Ruby was a button collector and seamstress, and poor Mr. Kittner was her display model. What a sweetie she must have been! This suit of clothes was in our personal collection for several years, and I must say, it was probably one of the most memorable and unique folk art pieces I have ever had the privilege to own. It was THE thing people commented on the most. The suit was too small for me to ever try on, but I will tell you, it was extremely heavy. It is very rare to find a folk art object of such quality with photo documentation like this. The story goes that this was first found in a thrift store in Iowa about 10 years ago. It changed hands twice before I acquired it.

Recently, this incredible button suit was exhibited at The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI. I no longer own this, it is now in another private collection.

An AM repost from 12/22/2008.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vintage Roller Skate Boxes

JOEY LIN HAS ONE of the best blogs on art and beautiful things I have seen. You can count on Joey to uncover some amazing objects, objects which will open your eyes and your imagination. His vision and mine seem to overlap so many times I feel as if I know him well—though we have never met in person.

These vintage roller skating boxes, hand embellished and decorated by by their long ago owners, are just a sampling of what he has to offer. Check him out on his blog Anonymous Works

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Found Postage Stamp Collages

Click on any image for larger view.

Click on any image for larger view.

Click on any image for larger view.

Click on any image for larger view.

IT’S ALWAYS FUN TO FIND SOMETHING WORTH taking home at a flea market. Better yet, it’s good to find something quite outside the ordinary where a creative act has taken place. My friend, photographer and raconteur Francois Robert, spotted these stamp constructions a year or so ago at a flea market. Apparently, someone was moved to recycle a collection of used postage stamps—the impetus for many a folk artist throughout history. Whether it be a few hundred bottle caps, popsicle sticks, old sewing spools, soft drink pop tops—whatever— if there are a lot of something, creative people will often find a way to put the objects to use.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

American Figural Cane

AMERICAN FIGURAL CANE, Enigmatic figure above a coiled rattle snake; late 19th/early 20th c., black walnut; 28 inches.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Whimsical Man

Click any image for larger view.

HERE’S A REALLY UNIQUE ANONYMOUS 19th CENTURY TIN WHIRLEYGIG, beautifully formed with concave and convex planes to catch the wind. The form is very whimsical and the paint is subtle. Thank goodness he has survived long enough to be appreciated and protected, as life for these little guys could be short.

height: 18- 3/8
depth: 3- 3/8
width/length: 11 in.

Via 1stDibs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Phrenology: Feel My Head!

(Above) Phrenology head, American, c. 1900 from the Hill Gallery in Birmingham, MI. Carved and painted wood, 12” x 8” x 11”. Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Click for larger view.
A phrenological head developed by the American brothers Lorenzo and Orson Fowler, to assist in the reading of a subject's skull, 1860-1896, and a case of small heads made in 1831 by William Bally of Dublin, Ireland, to illustrate the theories of phrenology.

(Above) Definitely, click for larger view!
An amazing collection of heads found in the collection of The Science Museum, South Kensington, UK.

Click on image for larger views.
(Above) Phrenology originated with Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a German physician, assisted by his colleague, Johann Kaspar Spurzheim (1809-72). Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. Gall and Spurzheim eventually disagreed and went on to promote rival systems of phrenology. These heads are numbered according to Spurzheim’s classification. The heads may have been used to teach phrenology but were probably made as a general reference collection. A wide range of different heads are present. For instance, head number 54 is that of a scientific man; head number 8 is recorded as the head of an ‘idiot’. The heads were made by William Bally, who studied under Spurzheim from 1828 onwards.

(Above) Phrenology Head Diagram from a booklet, American, c. 1900. This was found at Heir Antiques. Click image for larger view.

(Above and below) Click on image for larger view.

(Above) Here’s a rare carved Phrenologist’s head, used as a table top model illustrating the properties associated with various parts of cognitive abilities and their location inside the brain. This head is carved and painted with inked descriptions along the scalp. Sensitive rendering of the face and inlaid glass eyes add to its presence. c. 1870. It stands at 10” h.
This was found at One Good Eye Antiques.

I DECIDED TODAY TO DIG UP WHAT I COULD FIND ON AUTHENTIC, VINTAGE PHRENOLOGY HEADS. You have all probably seen recent imitations, they are kind of cool and interesting. The early, hand made versions are quite rare. Phrenologists believed that the contours of the skull followed the brain’s shape, with each region responsible for an aspect of personality or behavior. Feeling the lumps was like reading the mind. Phrenology never achieved the status of an accredited science, but it had a huge following at one time. Most of these designated areas were pure guesswork, but many people enjoyed the study of it, right or wrong. Victorians liked to decorate their homes with not only art, but scientific objects like botanical specimens, microscopes, class-cased diorama’s, stuffed exotic animal specimens—so phrenology heads just added another level of “science” to their collections.

Phrenology was first explored by Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), a Viennese physician.

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