Δευτέρα, 30 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Maila Nurmi as Vampira

Maila Nurmi (1922 – 2008) was a Finnish-American actress who created the campy 1950s character Vampira. She portrayed Vampira as TV's first horror host and in the Ed Wood cult film Plan 9 from Outer Space. She is also billed as Vampira in the 1959 movie The Beat Generation where she plays a beatnik poet. The Vampira Show was an American variety show hosted by Vampira. The series aired on the Los Angeles ABC television from April 30, 1954, through April 2, 1955. The series was produced and created by Hunt Stromberg, Jr., and featured the Vampira character created by Maila Nurmi. Though the show was unseen outside of the Los Angeles area, The Vampira Show has become a cult classic, spawning fan clubs the world over.

Vampira's personality was based on elements of several silent film actresses including Theda Bara and Gloria Swanson as well as the Evil Queen from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In Vampira: The Movie, Nurmi reveals she appropriated the long cigarette holder and extra-long fingernails from the Dragon Lady character in the Terry and the Pirates comic strip. The new costume was inspired by the artwork of John Willie featured in the fetish magazine Bizarre. Each show began with the spectral image of the wasp-waisted Vampira gliding through knee-deep fog down a dark corridor toward the viewer. At the end of her trance-like walk she would suddenly let out a long, piercing scream as the camera zoomed in on her face. She would then smile and coyly remark, "Screaming relaxes me so." After that Nurmi would sit on a Victorian double-ended sofa decorated with skulls and introduce the movie of the night, sometimes pausing to play with her pet spider Rolo, talk with off-camera ghosts, torment her advertiser, Fletcher Jones, in amusing commercials, or drink a Vampira Cocktail at her poison bar.

Despite its popularity, the series was canceled in 1955 when Nurmi refused to sell her rights to the character to ABC.Nurmi revived the series for a short time in 1956 on KHJ-TV. After the series demise, Nurmi appeared in the cult Ed Wood's film Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), dressed as Vampira but out of character. The original Vampira Show has never aired outside the Los Angeles area due to it being originally broadcast live and not being preserved as kinescopes for future airings. No footage of the show is known to exist, however, in the 1990s a kinescope advertising the station's ability to draw clients to advertisers featuring Nurmi in character was discovered. The clips used in the kinescope were re-shot segments using a previous episode's script.

Δευτέρα, 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Enrique Metinides

Enrique Metinides(1934-) is a Mexican photographer known for his stark and often grisly depictions of life in Mexico City. He worked as a photographer from 1949 to 1979 as part of the "Nota Roja" (or "bloody news"), shooting arresting photos of crime, murder, airplane crashes and other disasters for Mexico City tabloids. As a photographer of accidents, disasters and tragedies, 70 years old Enrique Metinides has spent more than fifty years taking pictures of every tragedy imaginable in Mexico City. His work documents a macabre history of the city and its deterioration from the relatively peaceful and naive capital of the fifties to the schizophrenic megalopolis of the twenty first century. His camera not only portrays tragedy and its direct relation to negligence, corruption and urban misery, but also the spectacle of the tragedy, in which masses are crowded in peculiar fashion. His unique style brings together straight investigation with surreal, sensitive and hypnotic imagery.

Mexico City, April 29, 1979. This woman was a famous journalist on her way to a release party for one of her books. Two cars crashed, ran over her, and killed her. Nonetheless, her make up remains intact and her eyes seem to be staring sadly, but almost dreamingly at the skies.

A Woman Grieves over Her Dead Boyfriend, Stabbed in Chapultepec Park While Resisting Robbers, Mexico City, 1985

1971, fatal electrocution of an electricity worker

untitled, 1965

Κυριακή, 15 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Fall of Icarus

Hans Bol (1534-1593)

The ancient greek myth of Icarus is one of the most infuential, not only in art, but in the whole Western culture, because it represents not only the human dream of flying but also the dangers of a new condition that is beyond the biological human abilities and the consequent nessecity of a wise and prudent management of the new power. It also represents the consequenses of son's disobedience to father's authority and wise advice

Joos de Momper (1564-1635)
The two above paintings were inspired by Ovid's roman poemMetamorphoses : Daedalus and Icarus (verses 338-343):
Beneath their flight, 
the fisherman while casting his long rod, 
or the tired shepherd leaning on his crook, 
or the rough plowman as he raised his eyes, 
astonished might observe them on the wing, 
and worship them as Gods.

Peter Bruegel the elder (1558)
Bruegel's painting seems to be sarcastic to the romantic epic description of Ovid's verses and the above paintings. The Flight and Fall of Icarus seems to be not a cosmic event at all, but an unimportant and unnoticed event in medieval minds of simple men who are devoted to their works, giving no damn to what is happening around them.

From Bruegel's painting, the poet Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) inspired his poem «Musee des Beaux Arts» (the Belgian museum where Bruegel's paining is in) noticing the human indifference, relating this painting with the "Massacre of the Innocents" also painted by Bruegel, where the animals seem indifferent for the human suffer:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood.
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
for the miraculous birth, there always must be
children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
on a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
that even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: 
how everything turns away quite leisurely from the disaster; 
the ploughman may have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green water; 
and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen something amazing, 
a boy falling out of the sky, 
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Rubens Peter Paul Rubens (1636)

17th century

 Herbert James Draper (1898)

William Rimmer ( 1869)

 Galileo Chini (1907)

Henri Matisse (1944)

Henri Matisse (1943)

Marc Chagall (1975)

Label of Swan Song, inspired from William Rimmer's above painting

single cover art

Bruce Dickinson modified the original Icarus tale to make it an allegory of teenage rebellion against adult authority, which caused the death of Icarus in this case.

The song does a creative violation of the original narration and a reversal of its moral in order to become an allegory for the teenager’s demand for independence from the parental bonds and authority, the last, feeling unbearable envy for such disobedience, sabotaged his son’s wings to send him to certain death.

We also notice that besides the reversal of the moral of the myth, there is also the presentation of the sun, not as a dangerous burning factor, (from the ancient perception of universe where the sun is only some thousands meters above us, completely false today, because the higher you fly, the colder you feel) but in fact as life supporter (first verse) and an imaginative object of desire (fly, touch the sun)

It worths mentioning another myth about Daedalus, where his envy for his very clever inventor nephew, named Perdix or Talos, prompted him to kill his nephew by pushing him off a very tall tower, but Goddess Athena saved the child by transforming him to the bird partridge.

So, Iron Maiden made a combination of these two myths of Deadalus in order to dramatize the teenagers’ disappointment for their wings of independence, nature has offered to them, being broken by their authorities (parents, teachers, state, etc)

Κυριακή, 8 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Park of the Monsters in Bomarzo, Italy

Orcus mouth
It is the work of Pier Francesco Orsini, called Vicino (1523–1585), a condottiero and patron of the arts, greatly devoted to his wife Giulia Farnese, not to confuse with her maternal grandmother Giulia Farnese, the mistress of Pope Alexander VI. When the wife of Orsini died, he created the gardens. The design is attributed to Pirro Ligorio, and the sculptures to Simone Moschino. During the nineteenth century and deep into the twentieth the garden became overgrown and neglected, but in the 1970s a program of restoration was implemented by the Bettini family, and today the garden, which remains private property, is a major tourist attraction.

Dragon with Lions
The park of Bomarzo was intended not to please, but to astonish, and like many Mannerist works of art, its symbolism is arcane : examples are a large sculpture of one of Hannibal's war elephants, which mangles a Roman legionary, or the statue of Ceres lounging on the bare ground, with a vase of verdure perched on her head. The many monstrous statues appear to be unconnected to any rational plan and appear to have been strewn almost randomly about the area, sol per sfogare il Core ("just to set the heart free") as one inscription in the obelisks says.

Proteus Glaukos
The Park of the Monsters, also named Garden of Bomarzo, is a Manieristic monumental complex located in Bomarzo, in the province of Viterbo, in northern Lazio, Italy. The gardens were created during the 16th century. They are composed of a wooded park, located at the bottom of a valley where the castle of Orsini was erected, and populated by sculptures and small buildings divided among of the natural vegetation. The park's name stems from the many larger-than-life sculptures, some sculpted in the bedrock, which populate this predominantly barren landscape.

Προσθήκη λεζάντας


A giant who brutally shreds a character 

Hannibal's elephant

Sirene and two lions

A triton in a niche



Κυριακή, 1 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Claude Monet: Camille on her Deathbed (1879)

Camille Doncieux (1847-1879) was Claude Monet’s wife and the inspiration as primary model for his paintings for 12 years. She as 19 and he was 25 when they fell in love and get married 3 years later. She died at 32 years, after giving birth to their second son, probably by cervical cancer or tuberculosis. Monet drew her in her deathbed and 40 years after her death. Monet spoke about to his friend Georges Clemenceau, the former French prime Minister:

"I found myself starring at the tragic countenance, automatically trying to indentify the sequence, the proportion of light and shade in the colors that death had imposed on the immobile face. Shades of blue, yellow, gray… Even before the thought occured to memorize the face that meant so much to me, my first involuntary reflex was to tremble at the shock of the colors. In spite of myself, my reflexes drew me into the unconcious operation that is the daily order of my life. Pity me my friend."

Was it an early phase of bereavement with his accompanying denial and disbelief that allowed him the objectivity to complete this final portrait? His signature stands out starkly on the painting, but he did not sign it and it was never exhibited during his lifetime; the painting was stamped with Monet’s signature after his death.

This painting evokes both her passing and her physical presence, the image is sweet, angelic, passive but also energized. The picture speaks not only about the changing colors of death that struck Monet’s personal fantasy, but also about his uncanny ability to evoke peace and pain, sorrow and celebration, essential conditions in order to deal with the reality of death. That year, of Camille’s death, marked a turning point to Monet’s private life and his entering to clear Impressionism in his style.

 References: James C. Harris MD, Art and Images in Psychiatry, vol. 60, page 13, January 2003