Thursday, November 11, 2010

Turn of the Century: Propaganda Art

In honor of veteran’s day, a war related post.

Getting their men and women into uniforms, and getting civilians to invest in the war effort is always a tricky task for a nation. “What are we fighting for?”; we’ll ask. “Why risk my life and my family’s well-being? Who is the enemy?  What will it do for us?”

Propaganda is an art form in itself, and these WWI posters illustrate how little has changed when it comes time for a government to spin its point of view, and get us to care.

At the same time these nearly 100 year old posters beautifully preserve the art from so many countries, each participating in this, the first “World” war.

Fear Tactics
I researched why the US government would have had to push corn at this time, but didn't come up with much. I do know that the guide on an Ellis Island tour told us that turn of the century immigrants refused to eat corn, not being familiar with it and associating it with livestock feed.

"Hurray! All four rascals in the hand."
Guilt Tactics. Poor dad.
The purpose of the original Codex Alimentarius committee was a "passive" perusal of food and it's affect on European mankind by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (with a plan to control people through food production and consumption). There is still one today (which controls even the US's food)...look it up. It's scary. 
German Anti-Bolshevism Poster (the Russian Socialist-Revolutionary Party lead by Lenin)

Polish Anti-Bolshevism poster, featuring a nude Trotsky.
This poster was designed to get people to enlist out of outrage at the sinking of the Lusitania.
And we think our modern society is numbed to violence?
Anti-British propaganda
Beautifully Illustrated campaigns to get Austrians to purchase War Bonds, which included a program to get young children to invest every penny they had.

Let's not leave out the girls...

...or the dogs.
These are actually from WWII, but holy cow. The guilt, the shame....

Eesh. I guess you CAN paint a picture of whatever you want to scare people into doing what YOU want.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fashion Photography: The Living Doll

As promised last week [see:Fashion Photography: Android Chic], I’ve compiled a group of shots using the “Living Doll/ Broken Doll” fashion shoot theme.

I suppose, as a fashion designer, the appeal of this type of shoot is to focus completely on the clothing. With a blank faced, nearly inanimate model, very little attention is being stolen from your handiwork within the scene. 

This theme also produces an interesting portrait-like effect; more static and “frozen in time” than most modern photography. Of course, an element of playfulness is always key to this approach as well.

There's the Living Barbie approach...

Unfortunately I was unable to find information (in English) on these great photos from the weird Russian photo site -


And the much more common Baby Doll Approach.....

Photography by Becky Sapp:

Photography by Cannibalized:

Photography by Anastasia Aleshin:

Unknown Photographer:

Unknown Photographer:

Photography by Philippe Roy:

Unknown Photographer:

Avril Lavigne shot for Prestige Magazine:

Unknown Photographer:

The reigning queen of the Living Doll shoot; model Lily Cole.......

British Vogue shoot featuring Lady Gaga:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guest Post: Marley (age 9) Critiques Modern Art at the DAM

Last month the boys and I went to the King Tut exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (care of my mom, who sent us tickets). 

The exhibit was great, and what you'd expect. It seemed like something they shouldn't miss. The real surprise was Marley's interest in the Contemporary wing, which we cruised through after Tut. 

He took a massive amount of photos and asked a lot of questions. I'm sure it must be very difficult to interpret modern art for a little guy, who's without a solid base in traditional art history.

Interpreting contemporary art is hard enough for adult art historians and critics. I thought it would be enlightening, interesting (and cute!) to get his impressions and thoughts on what he saw. Today he'll be my guest blogger: Marley, aged 9.

"Big Sweep", Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg, 2006

What do you see?

I see a giant broom and a giant dustpan. 

What does it mean?

I think it means to clean up your house a little bit more. 

Why didn’t they make a regular sized one?

Because they wanted people to be amused and like it a little better, and sit on it.

"The Yearling", Donald Lipski, 1997
What do you see?
A regular horse on a gigantic chair.

Why did the artist make this?
To give people a sense of humor and laugh a little bit.

"Quantum Cloud XXXIII", Anthony Gromley

What do you see?
I see a man disintegrating. Things are coming off all over the place. He’s being ripped apart.

Does it make you feel any emotion?
No, it just looks interesting and cool.

What do you see?
A man is trying to hold books, but it’s not even that many books, and he’s starting to fall down a little bit. At first he thought he’d be able to hold a lot of books and get a few ladies to see that he was strong, but it’s not really working so he is being abused.

Why does he look different than the books?

It’s hard to make books out of stone.

Untitled, Manuel Neri
What do you see?
I see a man made out of garbage and stone.
What do you see?
A little boy running around with scissors in his hand and a crow on his head. It’s very weird and interesting. It doesn’t even make sense.

What do you think about this?
Maybe someone accidentally just put it there, and they’re taking a lunch break, that’s why it’s upside down.

"Fox Games", Sandy Skoglund

What’s going on here?
It looks like all the parents and all the humans left the house and left the door open. And all of the foxes came in to the house and were having a joyful party, laughing and having fun.

Why is everything red and the foxes grey?
It makes the foxes standout a little better. If I could put speech bubbles I’d say one was laughing so hard that another got mad and jumped on him to get him to shut up.

What do you see?
It just looks like a carrier filled with very odd things.

Genevieve and the May Wolf, Kiki Smith, 2000
What do you see?
It looks like a human with a dog and the human doesn’t have any more clothes, and the dog is trying to help him find his way home.*

*Kit's Notes: I actually wrote a paper on this piece once, and the artist loves to explore The Little Red Riding Hood story and how it is a parable to scare women out of there own sexuality.

What do you see?
I see three boys hanging out talking about their day and what they do.

What do you see?
A man being attacked by a whole bunch of little toddlers, and there’s a soccer ball for some reason even though it’s in ancient Greece.


What do you see?
Maybe a dumpster next to a museum because there’s, like, thrown out artifacts. I think the artist is trying to say that you should keep things that look nice even if they’re broken.

What do you see?
I don’t exactly know because no one has clothes and no one knows whose side is whose. If this was made back when women didn’t have their rights, they could be saying that women are the same as men and that they need their rights and they’re strong, and if this [discrimination] keeps going there might be a war between men and women.

What do you see?
It just looks geeky. It’s a terrible artist because no one knows what the heck it is.

"Minotaur with Brushstrokes", Richard Patterson, 1998
What do you see?
 Looks interesting. I see a gummy, plastic Minotaur. Maybe they just painted over the butt and something on its back. (And 7-year-old Hawking adds; “Maybe there was a girl in the background putting her suit on”).