Παρασκευή, 30 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Charles Verschuuren's macabre theater posters

Charles Verschuuren (1891 - 1955) was a Dutch painter and illustrator mainly for posters , both advertisements for various products like theater and movie posters. Best known is perhaps his poster for the film The Jantjes.

Κυριακή, 25 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Étienne-Gaspard Robert's Phantasmagoria

Phantasmagoria was a form of theatre which used a modified magic lantern to project frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, frequently using rear projection. The projector was mobile, allowing the projected image to move and change size on the screen, and multiple projecting devices allowed for quick switching of different images. Invented in France in the late 18th century, it gained popularity through most of Europe (especially England) throughout the 19th century.

Étienne-Gaspard Robert (1763–1837), was a prominent Belgian stage magician and influential developer of phantasmagoria. Alongside his pioneering work on projection techniques for his shows Robert was also a physics lecturer and a keen balloonist at a time of great development in aviation.

Robert developed a phantasmagoria show based around his projection system and the use of other effects and techniques. Robert scripted scenes that involved actors and ventriloquism alongside his projections, creating a convincing impression of the appearance of ghosts. Robert used several projection devices in a variety of ways, including rear projection and projection onto large pieces of wax-coated gauze (giving the image a more translucent appearance). He also used smoke and mirrors to further disguise the mechanisms behind his show.

In 1797, Robert presented his first "fantasmagorie" at the Pavillon de l'Echiquier in Paris. The macabre atmosphere in the post-revolutionary city was perfect for Robertson's Gothic extravaganza complete with elaborate creations and Radcliffean décor.

After discovering that he could put the magic lantern on wheels to create either a moving image or one that increased and decreased in size, Robertson moved his show. In an abandoned crypt of a Capuchin convent near the Place Vendôme, he staged hauntings, using several lanterns, special sound effects and the eerie atmosphere of the tomb. This show lasted for six years, mainly because of the appeal of the supernatural to Parisians.

Robert mainly used images surrounded by black in order to create the illusion of free-floating ghosts. However, he also would use multiple projectors, set up in different locations throughout the venue, in order to place the ghosts in environments. For instance, one of his first phantasmagoria shows displayed a lightning-filled sky with both ghosts and skeletons receding and approaching the audience. In order to add to the horror, Robert and his assistants would sometimes create voices for the phantoms. Often, the audience forgot that these were tricks and were completely terrified:

“I am only satisfied if my spectators, shivering and shuddering, raise their hands or cover their eyes out of fear of ghosts and devils dashing towards them.” Robert wrote.

In fact, many people were so convinced of the reality of his shows that police temporarily halted the proceedings, believing that Robert had the power to bring Louis XVI back to life. Once the show was back, Robert was exposed to the law again, this time in the form of a lawsuit against his former assistants who had started their own phantasmagoria shows using his techniques. It was this lawsuit in 1799 in which Robert was required to reveal his secrets to the public and magic lantern shows popped up across Europe and in the United States shortly after, though many were not as elaborate as Robert's. (wikipedia1 and wikipedia2) His tomb in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris is a piece of sculpture art and was inspired by his spactacles:

Τρίτη, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Ben Tolman

Ben Tolman lives and works in Washington DC. He recieved his MFA in 2012 from American Universiy and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the prestigious Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

As artist states in his SITE:

I was raised in a conservative Mormon family. The meaning of life came in a neat packaged box but fell apart with the slightest bit of scrutiny. Long ago as a child, I abandoned any existing cultural mythology as an explanation for life and have been exploring this mystery, and creating my own mythology through art, ever since. Without any prepackaged creation stories, I have the freedom to just reflect on the mystery, beauty and horror of it all without any prejudice. The more I learn, the stranger everything becomes. But this grandeur of possible thoughts and experiences has to still be tempered with the same mundane tasks and struggles of the daily slog through life that has always been with mankind.

 Visit also his deviant art for more of his work

Πέμπτη, 15 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Κυριακή, 11 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Poveglia, the Haunted Island (?)

Poveglia is a small island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. A small canal divides the island into two parts. It is off-limits to visitors. Presently, the island is closed to locals and tourists and remains under Italian government.

In recent times, some legends have arisen about the island, about scary voices of dead from the past scaring any visitor or inhabitant of the island.

According to legend, during Roman times it was used to isolate thousands of plague victims, and during the three occasions when the Black Death spread through Europe, the island was effectively used as a lazaretto and plague pit – it was considered an efficient way of keeping the infected people separated from the healthy. According to this version, over 160,000 people died on the island throughout its history. The island used in 1576 to accommodate those hit by the plague was not Poveglia, but Lazzaretto Nuovo.

Another legend surrounds a building erected in 1922 on the island, which was used for various purposes, including usage as a mental hospital.The legend states that a particular mental health doctor tortured and butchered many of the patients, before going “mad” and jumping to his death from the bell tower. According to that same legend, he survived the fall, but was ‘strangled by a mist that came up from the ground’. Its ruins remain to this day. The institution in question has been described as a retirement home,but evidence on the island shows that despite the controversy, at least part of the building housed mental patients.

The island has been featured on the paranormal reality shows Death in Venice: Demon Doctor, Ghost Adventures and Scariest Places on Earth. More details of the creepy stories HERE

Δευτέρα, 5 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Marcel Chirnoaga (1930 - 2008)

Marcel Chirnoaga (1930 - 2008) was one of the most important contemporary Romanian artists, world-renowned for his original and profound style, although he was mostly a self-taught artist. His choice of subjects - mythological themes, fairytales, legends, animals, fantastic beings, literature - often led to criticism from those who wanted a more "realistic" approach, but Marcel Chirnoaga continued to work this way and enjoyed his success. Most of his large body of work - he created over 3000 compositions - are in the field of graphical arts and engravings, and nowadays even the modest sketches and drawings have impressive prices for a Romanian artist. He preffered to created series of works, with a general theme, such as "Unavoidable Monsters", "Dante's Inferno", "Don Quijote", "Apocalypse", "The Ten Comandments" and many others, each highly successful and popular. He also produced a small number of sculptures, graphics for postal stamps and mural paintings. (SOURCE)