Hans Baluschek and the Small Universe of European Art

If one is a long-time follower of this blog or a fan of the European arts prior to the Postmodern era, then he should now be aware, if he wasn’t before, that that world was often a fairly small and insular one.  Many of the most notable artists knew each other well, or at least knew of each other.  It could be said that much of what was recognized then as the cream of European arts and letters really became so because of the fact that a goodly number of these folks were friends and acquaintances, and I would not argue the point . . . much.  It’s true that before Postmodernism changed the creative landscape, a great deal of what registered on critics’–and by extension the public’s–radars obtained its esteem by virtue of these relationships.  Of course, whether it remained there or not in perpetuity depended on many factors which had more to do with the quality of the art and the fickle tastes of high society, but it cannot be denied that many decent artists remained unknown or ignored in their own time due to a lack of the right social connections.  This type of class elitism was hardly confined to the creative fields, of course, but it certainly existed strongly there.

Consequently, the biographies of seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century men and women of the humanities often reads like an episode of Jame Burke’s wonderful television series Connections (which Ron has mentioned here before), a chain of creativity reaching back into the Middle Ages, fostered largely by wealthy patronage and by the academies.  Even those artists who sought to change this unfair system through there work or through their social standing were still necessarily a part of it.  Such was the case with Hans Baluschek, a German painter and graphic artist associated with the Symbolists and the Berlin Secession.  Like many of the artists of that movement, Baluschek identified with the working class to some extent and sought to empower them, using his art to portray what he perceived as both the inherent dignity and the terrible conditions of the working class.

Hans Baluschek - Dancing on the Roof Garden (1926)

Hans Baluschek – Dancing on the Roof Garden (1926)

Hans Baluschek – Lost (1920)

Hans Baluschek – Transient Workers (1926)

Hans Baluschek - The Locomotive (1921)

Hans Baluschek – The Locomotive (1921)

Hans Baluschek – Working Family (1920)

Hans Baluschek - Cologne in Summer (1909)

Hans Baluschek – Cologne in Summer (1909)

Hans Baluschek - Summer Night (1928)

Hans Baluschek – Summer Night (1928)

Although Baluschek preferred to depict the working classes, he wasn’t opposed to presenting the higher classes either, particularly in contrast to the poor such as in the work Berlin Fairgrounds.  Note the lower class boy smoking in the foreground of the image.

Hans Baluschek - Berlin Fairgrounds (1914)

Hans Baluschek – Berlin Fairgrounds (1914)

I mentioned earlier how many of these artists were connected, if not directly then at least through third parties.  Such was the case with Baluschek and noted German Expressionist painter and sculptor Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.  Although Kirchner was never a member (officially anyway) of the Berlin Secession, he and his group of artists and architects known as Die Brücke were associated with it, and Baluschek and Kirchner had another connection through the person of Dr. Oskar Kohnstamm, a psychiatrist whose children became the stars of their own play and children’s book, Peterchens Mondfahrt (often tranlated into English as Peter and Anneli’s Journey to the Moon) which Baluschek illustrated.  Kirchner was a patient of Kohnstamm, whose sanitarium treated those with chronic depression.  The play’s and book’s author was Gerdt von Bassewitz, and Peterchens Mondfahrt proved to be his most–indeed, his only–successful work.

Hans Baluschek – Image from ‘Peterchens Mondfahrt’ (1915) (1)

Hans Baluschek - Image from 'Peterchens Mondfahrt' (1915) (2)

Hans Baluschek – Image from ‘Peterchens Mondfahrt’ (1915) (2)

But one of Baluschek’s most interesting paintings–to me at least–is uncharacteristic of his work in a number of ways.  First, while most of Baluschek’s paintings had urban settings, this one presents a sparse country scene.  Secondly, while the allegorical context of many of his artworks tended to be subtle, this one (called Death) is a fairly obvious Symbolist comment on a major social problem of his day: the abuse of opiates.  Opiates were fully legal in Germany in the late 19th century when this piece was created and were sold as an over-the-counter remedy for a number of ailments, even for children.  But here the children represent both the naivete many people had about the medicine’s dangers and the sort of child-like feelings of carefree bliss that opiates can sometimes induce.  Another factor which sets this piece apart from most of his later work is the odd, simple composition.  In fact, it is because of the simplicity of the composition–Baluschek relies on a handful of small, light elements at the right of the picture to balance out the heavier and darker elements on the left–that one can discern that it isn’t quite successful overall.  The left side is too heavy.  However, this is somewhat mitigated by the strange buoyancy of the poppy flowers.  The flowers appear to be almost consciously seductive, and we can see the children have fallen under their spell, with one of them, the little girl lying in the background, already presumably dead.  No doubt the boy will suffer the same fate soon enough.

Hans Baluschek - Der Tod (Death) (1895)

Hans Baluschek – Der Tod (Death) (1895)

Wikipedia: Hans Baluschek

German Cards: Hans Baluschek

A Provocative Perch

This story begins with a press photo I noticed on a sales site. I loved the impish expression of the girl while she sat on the head of the White Rabbit sculpture in Central Park, New York. Since the sculpture ties in to the whole Alice in Wonderland culture which is associated with a plethora of material about little girls, I decided it needed to be presented on this site. After a little digging, I realized this photo is historically significant as it was one of many taken during the unveiling of the statue in 1959.

Press photo (uncredited) (1959)

Press photo (uncredited) (1959)

I had no idea that this sculpture existed and even if I lived in New York, I would still probably not have known about it. Since beginning work on Pigtails and working with artists that deal with Alice lore extensively, I now feel it a duty to get to know some of this material (it would be impossible for any one person to keep track of it all). There are many sculptures in Central Park but this is one of the few depicting fictional characters. This piece features most prominently Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit along with a few other charming characters and details from Lewis Carroll’s 1865 story. The statue is located on East 74th Street on the north side of Central Park’s Conservatory Water. The publisher George T. Delacorte Jr. commissioned the work from José de Creeft, in honor of Delacorte’s late wife, Margarita, and for the enjoyment of the children. The sculpture tries to follow John Tenniel’s whimsical illustrations from the first edition of the book Alice in Wonderland. Some sources suggest that de Creeft’s daughter Donna may have served as the model for Alice. The project’s architects and designers were Hideo Sasaki and Fernando Texidor, who inserted some plaques with inscriptions from the book in the terrace around the sculpture. The design of the sculpture attracts many children who climb its many levels, resulting in the bronze’s glowing patina, polished by thousands of tiny hands over the years. The casting was done at Modern Art Foundry Astoria in Queens, New York.

Owen Kennedy - Central Park's Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Owen Kennedy – Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Pip informed me that had I been more attentive, I might have noticed that there were a number of iconic images featuring this Central Park sculpture. In 1988, it appeared in Slick Rick’s music video, Children’s Story. But by Pip’s reckoning, the most notable photo was probably the one of Jimi Hendrix and his band sitting on the sculpture with a bunch of children. It was used as the back cover of some pressings of the Electric Ladyland album. Jimi actually wanted it for the front cover, but the studio in England insisted on a more provocative photo of nude women—a rare instance where the artist wanted a tamer image than the studio! Editions produced for the American market just feature a closeup of Jimi’s head, reflecting the more prudish attitudes in the U.S.  The image was photographed by Linda Eastman, who later married musician Paul McCartney.

Linda Eastman - The Jimi Hendix Experience's Electric Ladyland (back cover) (1968)

Linda Eastman – The Jimi Hendix Experience’s Electric Ladyland (back cover) (1968)

Sculptor and Photographer Unknown - (Title Unknown)

Sculptor and Photographer Unknown – (Title Unknown)

And while we are on the subject of children playing on statues, I have a bonus for you. This photograph also appeared online, but does not have any identifying information. The seller believes the statue is somewhere in Europe, but could offer no more than that. Anyone knowing anything about this piece is encouraged to come forward with the information and perhaps some better photos.

Wikipedia: Jose de Creeft

Linda McCartney (Linda Eastman) (official website)

Wikipedia: Linda McCartney

Wikipedia: Hideo Sasaki

Central Park (official website)

Jimi Hendrix (official site)

Climbing Mt. Ambition: Brooke Raboutou

It is easy to underestimate what children are capable of when given the right encouragement. A short while ago, a friend turned me on to a video about a rock climber named Brooke Raboutou. The video is one of a series about prodigies produced by @radical.media and aired on the THNKR channel on YouTube. At the time of production, she was 11 years old and had broken a number of age records for climbs with the highest difficulty ratings—climbs that only a minute fraction of adult climbers have tackled.

@radical.media - Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (1)

@radical.media – Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (1)

I was at first tempted to produce a somewhat perfunctory post about this remarkable girl, but as it happens, I know a little about rock-climbing. My mother’s second husband was an avid climber and turned her on to the sport and I have accompanied them on a few simple climbs. Climbing is often misunderstood by outsiders who assume that it is simply a matter of strength and endurance. In fact, the most important attributes are balance, flexibility and a degree of creativity. Strength and endurance complement these skills to produce the best climbers in the world. The remarkable swiveling moves Brooke makes is hard to convey in a photo still and the video needs to be seen to get a sense of it. One of her climbing coaches says she has almost baby-like flexibility. Indeed, after learning of this story, Ray Harris at The Novel Activist—doing research on child prodigies for one of his novels—decided he had better beef up his heroine’s superpowers!

@radical.media - Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (2)

@radical.media – Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (2)

A climbing wall is like an ordinary household appliance in the Raboutou home and theirs was built by Brooke’s father, Didier Raboutou—an exceptional climber in his own right. There is also a practice ledge for maintaining finger strength, a prerequisite trait for handling “hanging” climbs. In the shots above and below, we see Brooke exercising with her mother and coach, Robyn Erbesfield.

@radical.media - Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (3)

@radical.media – Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (3)

As with all prodigies, a bit of luck is involved. Talented children need to be given the right environment in which to express their talent. The Raboutou family has encouraged athleticism in their children from a very early age.

@radical.media - Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (4)

@radical.media – Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (4)

@radical.media - Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (5)

@radical.media – Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (5)

Her mother points out that Brooke is quite driven in her ambitions and the family have never had to push her in this regard. Many a time, she could be found trying and retrying a climb until she was satisfied—even after dark. With great ambition, comes great disappointment and I was impressed by the inclusion of one scene where Brooke lost her grip and fell. You can hear her cry as the reality of her slip hit her. It was brave to include this for it shows us her humanity and is not just another showcase for her talents.

@radical.media - Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (6)

@radical.media – Prodigies: Brooke Raboutou (2013) (6)

I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but I feel it important to point out some things about climbing that accounts for some of this virtuosity. As mentioned before, strength and endurance are important in the most challenging climbs, but for a climber, lean muscle tone is paramount. I am reminded of the movie Cliffhanger (1993) starring Sylvester Stallone. Anyone who knows this actor of Rocky fame knows he is quite muscle-bound. When training for the movie, his coach reported that he had the greatest difficulty doing what is considered the simplest maneuvers simply because he has the wrong physique to be a skilled climber. By the same token, a child with sufficient discipline actually has an easier time because of the lighter body. Once adequate finger strength is developed, the child climber has a huge advantage over adults with much more experience. Another fact of which most non-climbers are unaware is that the spacing of footholds and handholds are critical in the difficulty rating of a climb. For a shorter person, reaching the right combination of holds can be a radically different experience for someone with a different center of gravity. Therefore, it might be argued that the rating of some of these climbs is really inappropriate for Brooke (and other children). Instead, what I feel is most impressive about Brooke is not her ability to break records, but her tenacity in pursuing something challenging she really enjoys; she follows her bliss.

In researching this story, I found there was little information after a couple of years ago. The only current information can be found on Brooke’s own Facebook page. She still loves climbing, but I expect that she began to take on other interests and more and more her ambitions will be focused elsewhere.

Maiden Voyages: April 2014

I know my productivity has been erratic lately so I’ll make this update brief. First of all, because of all the positive contributions to my last post, I have split it into two separate posts.  There are new images and information on the Pierre et Gilles images, so take another look. One of our fans has contributed a delightful image of girls reading that I decided to add to our Poster Child post.  We could also use some help with identifying it.

A reader wrote directly to me a short while ago about his efforts to bring the Graham Ovenden case to the attention of Miscarriages of Justice UK (MOJUK), a UK organization concerned with the unjustly convicted.  However, even so-called philanthropic organizations tend to shy away from cases that involve this kind of rabid public outrage.  If anyone would like to help us get some traction on this case, I have posted his note to me in the comments section at the end of the Fall from Grace? post.

I decided because of the unpredictability of YouTube, the charming Godiva-like excerpt from Joseph Cornell’s The Midnight Party should be contained in-house on this site for viewers to see.  There is much more to share about this intriguing artist and his work, so look for it in a future post on Pigtails.

With the help of some friends and many fans of Pigtails, I have tracked down a number of interesting films featuring little girls.  In time, I will make full reviews and even include some excerpts that can be viewed on this site.

Part of what has distracted me is that I have been working on transcriptions of Japanese work.  I have found it frustrating not being able to learn the back story of the many intriguing Japanese artists because of the language barrier.  With the help of a friend, I have been transcribing Japanese text on the computer so it can be made more openly available and translated.  I had a major breakthrough last month and am convinced that I will be able to transcribe most Japanese text now.  I had already made an English transcription of the text in David Hamilton’s Twenty Five Years of an Artist which I did while producing that post and now I have a transcription of Hajime Sawatari’s journal from his trip to England when he shot Alice (still in the original Japanese, but you can at least give online translators a try).  I intend to have a transcription page where extra text could be pasted or downloaded on demand and hopefully some Japanese experts might be inspired to offer clean English translations of these texts in time.  I have also been working on transcriptions of text in other languages as well, but I think most would agree that Japanese is one of the most challenging.

I will redouble my efforts to get more posts produced and three writers have promised me that they have interesting contributions to make as well.  Pip informs me that he has gotten more motivated lately, so I know we are all eager to see what he has to offer on Pigtails in Paint in the future.  Best wishes to all, -Ron

Post Split! Otto Lohmüller

I remember when I was little and someone explained to me about stocks and how sometimes they did this amazing thing called a split because they had become so valuable.  Likewise, when I posted a couple of random postcard images, the response was amazing and now I feel there has been so much supplemental information that this artist and those in the previous post (Pierre et Gilles) deserve their own separate posts.

The following image is a painting by Otto Lohmüller and when researching this artist, I was amazed to discover that he drew and painted mostly boys—both clothed and nude. However, there are a few charming examples of girls as in this image and another I found online. I do confess that after studying this image, I pick up a bit of gender ambiguity—not so much in the subject’s physical appearance but in her attitude.  The Russian title for this piece was “France” so I am assuming at the moment that this piece was done during the artist’s short time in France.

Otto Lohmüller – Gaelle

Otto Lohmüller was born in Gengenbach, Germany in 1943. (I’ve noted many times how 1943 seemed an auspicious year for artists—most notably Graham Ovenden and Robert Crumb.) He was a figurative painter, sculptor and book illustrator featuring mainly images of early adolescent males. Apart from the examples presented here, his portraits and sculptures included people of all ages from his town, from his travels to India and Southeast Asia and a few public figures. Lohmüller joined the the Boy Scouts in 1952 and his artistic interests at the time included Michelangelo, classical Greek works and the Boy Scouts illustrations of Pierre Joubert. After living in Paris for a short time, he began an apprenticeship in Offenburg in 1961 as a printer, and took an interest in Caravaggio. He began working on sculpture in the 1970s and eventually returned to his hometown with his wife and two sons. Since then, he has illustrated songbooks, publications of poems, and books for the local Boy Scouts—an organization with which he became devoted. In 1984 he joined the Deutscher Verband für Freikörperkultur (FKK, German Association for Free Body Culture). Lohmüller like so many before him has received grief for his portrayal of nude adolescents. This illustrates not only the ignorance and intolerance of law enforcement—this time German—but that having strong personal relationships with the models and their families means that they become vehement defenders of the artist in court.  He founded the publishing company Zeus Press to produce art volumes of his work and his published works are listed in the Catalog of the German National Library.

Otto Lohmüller - (title unknown)

Otto Lohmüller – (title unknown)

As always, if anyone can provide proper titles and/or dates to these works of art, the effort would be much appreciated.

Otto Lohmüller (Wikipedia)

Friends of Otolo (official Lohmüller fansite and museum)

Russian Style: Pierre et Gilles

Once again, this is part of a collection of Russian postcards. These along with the one in the Réti post and the Otto Lohmüller post that follows seem to have been printed by the same company. When I first saw these, I initially took them to be photographs but, as is so often the case, there is some intriguing story behind them. The artists of the first image are not credited on the postcard and clearly it is a (perhaps patent) metaphor for youth with the overly-luscious strawberries. In northern regions, strawberries are a significant herald of spring as they are the first fruit to appear after winter dormancy. Ingmar Bergman employed this symbol in the film Wild Strawberries. This postcard is one in a series called “Russian style” .

Pierre et Gilles - Girl in Garden

Pierre et Gilles – Girl in Garden

Thank you once again Vasya for pointing me in the right direction.  I found a better version of the image above so I have posted it here instead.  -Ron

Pierre Commoy (born 1950) and Gilles Blanchard (born 1953) met in 1976 and not only became partners in art, but romantic partners as well.  Commoy is a photographer and Blanchard a painter and most of their output are collaborations of retouched photographs that have an iconic feel to them.  From what I could see, their subject matter leans heavily toward the erotic incorporating hints of satire.

The original incarnation of this post only contained the image above, but Pip pointed out an interesting work featuring Eva Ionesco and Martin Loeb who acted together in the film Maladolescenza (1977), controversial for its romantic portrayal of adolescents (more on Ionesco and this film in a future post).

Pierre et Gilles - Adam and Eve (1981)

Pierre et Gilles – Adam and Eve (1981)

And to round out this post, there was another image (my apologies for it being so small) that caught my eye and is well worth presenting.

Pierre et Gilles - La petite princesse (1997)

Pierre et Gilles – La petite princesse (1997)

As always, if anyone can provide proper titles and/or dates to these works or a better version of these images, the effort would be much appreciated.

Pierre et Gilles (Wikipedia)

Signs of Civilization: István Réti

This was supposed to be another post on Soviet postcards when, to my dismay, I discovered that this particular piece had nothing to do with the Soviet Union. Postcards often have only minimal information about an artist and with luck, the artist will be of sufficient stature to have more information online. Since this image was printed in Russia, I assumed it was a Russian artist and I found nothing. Thankfully, Pip recognized the work and the artist and pointed me in the right direction.

Kenneth Clark had said it is much easier to recognize barbarism than civilization and struggled to give his viewers a kind of definition in the early BBC2 series Civilisation. Despite Clark’s uneasiness, I think the thoughtful viewer came away with three critical components of civilization: 1) There is a motivation and energy to build and develop, 2) male and female faculties are kept in balance and 3) civilization is an internationalist endeavor. That is to say it fosters artists and philosophers of such genius, they transcend national boundaries. In this way, this little postcard is small sign of civilization. It comes from a native of Hungary who studied abroad, had one of his pieces exhibited decades after his death at MC Fine Arts in Monaco where a photograph was taken for use as a postcard printed in Russia in 2013 then purchased by an American. This piece is titled “Gypsy Girl” and I would be fascinated to know something about the young girl who inspired this piece.

István Réti - Cigánylány (1912)

István Réti – Cigánylány (1912)

István Réti (1872–1945) was a Hungarian painter, professor, art historian and a founder of the Nagybánya artists’ colony, considered very influential in Hungarian and Romanian art. Réti began his studies at the Budapest School of Drawing at the age of 18 but left after a month for Munich, where he studied with Simon Hollósy, a young Hungarian painter. Later when working in Turin, Italy, Réti was attracted to the work of Jules Bastien-Lepage and then during a trip to Paris, became acquainted with the work of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. While studying at the Académie Julian there, it became a point of attraction for other Hungarian painters. In 1896 Réti returned to Hungary to become one of the founders of an artists’ colony in Nagybánya (Baia Mare in Romania since 1918). Even while teaching in Budapest beginning in 1913, he continued to be involved in making improvements to the teaching methods and theory at the school there. Réti spent the last decade of his life writing a history of the Nagybánya artists’ colony. He had long been preoccupied with contemporary questions of artistic theory and after 1920, he focused his attention on writing articles on aesthetics—influenced by Benedetto Croce and Henri Bergson. Many art historians regard his work in this area a more profound influence on artists than either his painting or teaching activities.

Soviet Postcards, Part 7: Pravda Publishing

Most people conversant in world affairs is aware of the Soviet newspaper Pravda (“Truth” in Russian), but many may not have realized that it was a publishing and printing enterprise generally. In the late 1950s and 1960s, it issued an extensive series of photographic postcards featuring children presumably depicting the joys of Soviet life. Therefore, I offer five images for your consideration here.

The first two are photographs by A. Stanovova. I like the first one especially because the girl seems to epitomize light-hearted girlishness which is kind of iconic for this site. It’s title translates to “Friends”.

A. Stanovova - Друзья. (1962)

A. Stanovova – Друзья. (1962)

The second was issued earlier and translates to “Before the New Year”. Notice the careful avoidance of the word Christmas even though that seems to be holiday being portrayed. One of our readers offers an excellent explanation for this peculiar cultural development, so please read the comment at the end of this post for more details.

A. Stanovova - Перед Новым годом. (1958)

A. Stanovova – Перед Новым годом. (1958)

The next photo by Dmitri Baltermants is titled “Reconciled”.

Edit: I have made some slight adjustments to the name of the photographer.  Ron’s use of Dm. Baltermantsa was not incorrect, but the photographer, an important photojournalist in Soviet Russia, is generally recognized in the Anglo world under the name Baltermants.  Here is the Wikipedia page on him. -Pip

Dmitri Baltermants – Помирились… (1962)

I had at first thought the artist and caption was in Serbian (they use a Cyrillic alphabet also) as the title does not make much sense translated into Russian. The artist is L. Borodulina and the caption translates as “Tuzik, beg!”.  Again, one of our readers cleared up the confusion which you can read below.

L. Borodulina - Тузик, служи! (1962)

L. Borodulina – Тузик, служи! (1962)

The last is by V. Tyukkelya depicting these naked children clearly having fun. The caption is a Russian exclamation and does not translate perfectly, but something like “All Right!” or “Yahoo!” is about right.

V. Tyukkelya - Хорошо!(1958)

V. Tyukkelya – Хорошо! (1958)

And I Bring You . . . Falles

Catholicism is not without its raucous holidays and celebrations, with quite a few of them being largely local affairs.  The most prominent one in the U.S. is Mardi Gras, which has an analog in Brazil’s Carnaval.  Both are festivals of decadence and indulgence leading up to the weeks of fasting and austerity called Lent, and there are similar events throughout the realms of Catholicism.  Although celebrated around the same time, the Valencian holiday of Falles, which officially begins on March 15th (that’s right, it starts in only a few days) and ends on March 19th, is not associated with this cycle.

Basically, Falles (a Valencian word meaning ‘torches’) is a five-day-long outdoor party held in honor of St. Joseph in which each successive day is given over to progressively bigger and more involved pyrotechnic displays, culminating on the last evening, the Night of Fire, with La Cremà.  This final spectacle is where the holiday gets its name, for during La Cremà immense wood, paper, wire and paint constructions–the falles themselves–are set alight in the streets and squares of Valencia.  What makes this so fascinating, I think, is that the falles aren’t the sloppily built towers of cheap wood you would expect them to be; no, they are in fact elaborately and carefully crafted sculptures planned, designed and constructed for months prior to Falles.  In fact, the appreciation of these disposable artworks has become an affair unto itself, with the casal fallers competing to be recognized for the best falla.

These sculptures are more often than not satirical or humorous in nature, sometimes even bawdy.  Nudity is not unusual, nor is ripping off famous or distinguished sources, which is where the satire comes in.  Keep in mind that, although there are toned-down versions of these for small children, called falles infantil, which are burnt earlier in the evening, children attend the burning of the falles major as well.

In 2013 one of the falles submitted for judgment was created by artist Manuel Algarra; it was titled Futuro a la vista! (Future in Sight!) and was a giant sculpture-in-the-round featuring toddlers engaged in a variety of occupations.  Although it was never identified as the inspiration for the piece, I immediately recognized one of the toddler figures as based on a J.C. Leyendecker-illustrated cover for the Saturday Evening Post.

J.C. Leyendecker - Saturday Evening Post - January 4, 1936 (cover)

J.C. Leyendecker – Saturday Evening Post – January 4, 1936 (cover)

I have since encountered another cover with one of the other babies–the boy with the cuckoo clock–as the central figure, and I discern, based on the consistency of their style, that all of them are actually based on Leyendecker’s work.  The final falles design can be seen in a flat conceptual form (I couldn’t find a larger version of this image, so if anyone out there has this just a bit bigger, it would be appreciated):

Manuel Algarra; J.C. Leyendecker - Futuro a la vista!

Manuel Algarra; J.C. Leyendecker – Futuro a la vista!

And here are photographs of the actual falles taken from a variety of angles:

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (1)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (1)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (2)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (2)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (3)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (3)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (4)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (4)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (5)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (5)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (6)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (6)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (7)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (7)

Although the following image focuses on a boy, I am sharing it because it really demonstrates the amount of detail that goes into the creation of these pieces.

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (8)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (8)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (9)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (9)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (10)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (10)

One can see in the background of this next photo, just behind the rocking horse, the standing pigtailed girl.  I tried to find a close-up image showing her from the front but was unable to locate one on the web.

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (11)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (11)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (12)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (12)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (13)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (13)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (14)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (14)

Manuel Algarra - 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (15)

Manuel Algarra – 2013 Falles Installation (Futuro a la vista!) (15)

A Second-a-Day

It is so easy to be out of touch with the latest technology as it is changing so rapidly around us. One of the remarkable new phenomena is the practice of using one-second clips and patching them together to tell a story. On one level, it is an interesting innovation but it also speaks to the need to find new ways to catch our attention while we are bombarded by media imagery. It also speaks to the diminished attention spans of those who have adapted well to the use of certain new technologies.

Ordinarily, I would wait to post something like this until it was properly researched since little material that comes my way is particularly timely. However, an associate of mine—who sends me a lot of curious leads—sent me this one. It is a second-a-day film just posted on YouTube on March 5, 2014. It is a part of the Save the Children, UK’s Syria campaign. It covers the change of circumstances of a little girl from one of her birthdays to the next in a theoretical scenario in which military aggression has taken place in the U.K.  Watch the video here.

Save the Children, UK (2014) (1)

Save the Children, UK (2014) (1)

Save the Children, UK (2014) (2)

Save the Children, UK (2014) (2)

This is an impressive little actress as the rigors of composing this piece and the sincerity of her numb expression at the end demonstrate.

By the time I got to see the video, there were already a lot of comments: I would say the usual gamut of mindless sentiment and requisite hate-mongering. One comment caught my eye because it is something I might have said if I hadn’t given it deeper thought. I think the commenter’s eagerness made him or her too hasty. Nonetheless, the idea was a valid one and one that I have made a few times on this blog (here and here): namely, the image of a little girl is a compelling one and that fact has not escaped the notice of top publicity people. The detractors were equally hasty, condescendingly pointing out that this is a non-profit organization and that perhaps such patent manipulation might at least have a noble purpose. Now, I am not personally familiar with Save the Children and I will not risk defamation by making declarative statements about that organization specifically. But I have learned in my years of study that almost any organization big enough to be known to the general public is driven by monetary forces that inevitably distort its stated mission and it is wise for us to view any publicity—whether it be called advertising, public relations or propaganda—with skepticism.

On another note, I would be delighted to know more about the production of this video. Perhaps the actress (or her family) will have interesting stories to tell about being selected and fascinating facts about its shooting.