Monday, February 27, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
|Saul Steinberg | photo by Inge Morath, 1958|
Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) is not easy to categorize within the world of art. His work resides somewhere between cartoons and art galleries, and somewhere between the written word and the picture. In fact, Steinberg considered himself a writer who happened to draw. He enjoyed the visual pun, and he made his line work pass through many dimensions.
|Saul Steinberg | detail, The Line, 1959|
The drawing above is a detail of a much longer and more elegant drawing. With apologies to Steinberg, I've shortened it for the sake of this blog format.
|Saul Steinberg | The Rabbit, 1959|
Saul Steinberg, the son of a book binder, was born in Râmnicu Sărat, Romania. He went to the University of Bucharest, where he studied philosophy for a year. He then moved to Italy to study architecture in Milan, and graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 1940. Because of anti-Semitic laws, Steinberg fled Italy before World War II. His departure from Italy was difficult; first he went to Portugal and was deported back to Italy. Next he traveled to the Dominican Republic, and then finally to the United States.
It's interesting to note that Steinberg was able to leave Italy in part because he forged a part of his passport. The visual language of passports, proclamations, and bureaucracy in general — along with the texture of elegantly indecipherable calligraphy — remained a major element of his art.
|Saul Steinberg | detail, ALBUM, 1953|
|Saul Steinberg | Prosperity, 1959|
For many years, Steinberg contributed to the New Yorker magazine. His love of the visual pun was coupled with an interest in American mythology and symbolism. Above, Unemployment is skewered by Semantics, and Inflation is skewered by Statistics.
|Saul Steinberg | Ship of State, 1959|
|Saul Steinberg | View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1975|
Saul Steinberg's most popular and enduring drawing is the New Yorker's view of the world, an idea that has been copied many times.
|Saul Steinberg | Nuthatch Still Life, 1974|
|Saul Steinberg | Louse Point, 1969|
|Saul Steinberg | The Tree, 1970|
All these images come from Saul Steinberg, an Alfred A Knopf publication that was issued in conjunction with a 1978 retrospective exhibition, held at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Friday, February 17, 2012
On Sunday, July 13, 1980, Parade Magazine published the following interesting cover:
|McAfee | Parade Magazine|
The ideal candidate would have James Monroe's hair (Monroe had an stunning widow's peak, and beautiful gray hair.), James Madison's nose and John F. Kennedy's smile. The candidate would also have Rutherford B. Hayes' brow and eyes (Hayes is shown here at a young age and before he entered politics.). To round out the image, the designer chose Herbert Hoover's jawline (at the age of 24). And to give the candidate a little personality and individualism, he included Harry Truman's bow tie (Truman was regarded as one of the best-dressed presidents.).
I thought the whole concept was very clever, but the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that it was a very, very bad idea. When you piece people together like that, you're playing Dr. Frankenstein, and you know where that leads!
I procured a stack of presidential engravings and went to work creating my own candidate. I chose Franklin Pierce's hair (sexy, wind-blown), Lyndon B. Johnson's ears and jawline (masculine), Ulysses S. Grant's eyes (soulful), Jimmy Carter's smile (engaging) and Richard M. Nixon's tie (conservative). Oh, this should be lovely!
|Mark D. Ruffner, 1980|
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
In collecting 19th century paper, my primary focus has been the trade cards and rewards of merit that were pasted into Victorian scrapbooks. Many other beautiful things found their way into those scrapbooks, such as lacy valentines, and I've never been able to resist the layered sort that follow. These are all from my collection ...
Shown at a reduced size is the envelope for the valentine immediately preceding it. The valentine was sent to Carrie Poole.
And this is the sentiment found inside.
Happy Valentine's Day, from Mark!.
Friday, February 10, 2012
|TOMMY THOMPSON, OUTFITTER | © Bama, 1973|
A 1966 vacation in Wyoming stirred within him a love for the history and people of the West, and for the great outdoors. He produced 18 paintings, all with a Western theme, which he placed in a New York gallery in 1971. They sold with such success that Bama soon moved to Wyoming and began specializing in the sort of paintings that follow.
|TOM LAIRD, PROSPECTOR | © Bama, 1972|
|BILL SMITH - NUMBER ONE | © Bama, 1974|
|GEORGE WASHINGTON BROWN, STAGECOACH DRIVER | © Bama|
|CHESTER MEDICINE CROW WITH HIS FATHER'S PEACE PIPE | © Bama, 1973|
|CHESTER MEDICINE CROW IN HIS RESERVATION HAT | © Bama, 1973|
|CHESTER MEDICINE CROW WITH HIS FATHER'S FLAG | © Bama, 1972|
|CHIEF MEDICINE CROW | amertribes.proboards.com|
Save the last photograph of Chester Medicine Crow's father,
all the above images come from The Western Art of James Bama,
A Peacock Press/Bantam Book, 1975.
James Bama was inducted into the Illustrator's Hall of Fame in 2000.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Last weekend, I joined my friends Sandy and Sue for a visit to the town of Micanopy, Florida. Unbeknown to us, one of Florida's all-time worst traffic accidents had occurred along our route about seven hours earlier. A prairie fire had started in the early morning hours, the road had been closed and then reopened, and then the driving conditions got worse again, with both smoke and fog. At least a dozen cars and six semitrailer trucks were involved in a multiple collision that took 11 lives and sent many more to the hospital. The amazing thing about the photograph above is that, while there was zero visibility, some drivers apparently continued going the speed limit!
Traffic was backed up for miles and we were delayed for almost three hours. We finally reached Micanopy by early afternoon.
Micanopy was named after the Seminole chief Sint Chakkee who ruled over all the Alachua Seminoles in the early 1800s. Sint Chakkee took the title "Micanopy," which meant "topmost king," and the whites simply called him Chief Micanopy. The Indian Removal Act of 1832 required the Seminoles to be relocated in Oklahoma, which is where Sint Chakkee died, in 1848.
Micanopy is a small town lost in time. It's streets are shaded by ancient live oaks, and today the main street is lined with antique stores and gift shops.
After a leisurely stroll through the shops and a break for ice cream. the three of us went to Cross Creek, where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived, and where she wrote the 1938 best-seller, The Yearling.
Sue, Sandy and I ordered different entrees and then shared tastes from each plate, so I can report that my meal consisted of venison, catfish, alligator, frog legs, and grits and cheese. An unusual dinner, but all tasty and good!
Posted by Mark Ruffner at 11:00 AM