The Dean’s Girls

He was called by his contemporaries “The Dean of Illustrators” and, yes, he was that good.  I’m speaking, of course, of Dean Cornwell.  At the height of his illustrative powers his name was as well-known in the US as Norman Rockwell, and his work nearly as ubiquitous.  These days he’s been all but forgotten, which is a shame.  Personally I prefer his work to that of Rockwell, who tends a little too much towards silliness and pathos.

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Dean Cornwell – (Title Unknown) (1)

Dean Cornwell - (Title Unknown) (2)

Dean Cornwell – (Title Unknown) (2)

Dean Cornwell - Wartime Evacuation

Dean Cornwell – Wartime Evacuation

The following was one of illustrations Cornwell did for Bruce Barton’s “The Man of Galilee” articles. They’re some of Cornwell’s best work, in my estimation:

Dean Cornwell - The Man of Galilee (1928)

Dean Cornwell – The Man of Galilee (1928)

Now we get to his murals. The first two are the same scene–they are the full painting and a sketch for the piece (respectively) from a series of murals depicting the founding of Los Angeles, all of which are in the Lowdrick M. Cook Rotunda of the Los Angeles Public Library. In fact, there’s loads of beautiful art and architecture to be seen at the library.

Dean Cornwell - The Founding of Los Angeles (mural, LA Public Library) (1932)

Dean Cornwell – The Founding of Los Angeles (mural, LA Public Library) (1932)

Dean Cornwell - Sketch for 'The Founding of Los Angeles'

Dean Cornwell – Sketch for ‘The Founding of Los Angeles’

The images for the rest of the murals are, unfortunately, not of the best quality. I don’t know their location either.

Dean Cornwell - Air - Gold in the Sunshine

Dean Cornwell – Air – Gold in the Sunshine

Dean Cornwell - Air - Gold in the Sunshine (detail)

Dean Cornwell – Air – Gold in the Sunshine (detail)

Dean Cornwell - (Title Unknown) (4)

Dean Cornwell – (Title Unknown) (4)

Dean Cornwell - (Title Unknown) (5)

Dean Cornwell – (Title Unknown) (5)

Wikipedia: Dean Cornwell

American Art Archives: Dean Cornwell

Sir Frank Brangwyn

Sir Frank Brangwyn was an English artistic powerhouse–graphic, textile and industrial designer, painter in oils and watercolors, muralist, engraver, lithographer and illustrator, he could do it all, despite having had almost no formal training. Occasionally he even took photos of models to work from later. The following is an example of this.

Sir Frank Brangwyn – Maud Cox and Professional Model (1930)

This photo was the reference for a drawing called Nude Mother and Child in Tropical Flowers which, unfortunately, there does not seem to be any examples of on the Internet. Brangwyn taught Dean Cornwell, one of the greatest of American illustrators, whose work I will be featuring soon. If you look at Cornwell’s work from around the time the photo was taken (early 1930s) it looks as if the same child–or one with a very similar haircut–appears in several of his illustrations too. That, of course, is pure speculation on my part; short hair was very popular for girls at that time. But Cornwell did go to England specifically to study mural painting from Brangwyn, and the short-haired girl appears almost exclusively in his murals. Makes you wonder . . . 🙂

The Brangwyn Bazaar

Wikipedia: Frank Brangwyn

Kurt Cobain on the ‘Nevermind’ Baby

Okay, I know the baby is a boy, but this was too good not to mention.  You’ve all seen the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind album by now, I’m sure, but here it is again:

Kirk Weddle – Nirvana – Nevermind (cover)

Well, a recent Yahoo News article on the album revealed something lead singer Kurt Cobain said concerning the album:

What, you thought some mother let her infant son be submerged in a pool with a $1 bill on a hook? Someone in the DGC art department added the single on a fishing line to Kirk Weddle’s now-famous photograph. As for the controversial decision to include the baby’s penis on the cover, Cobain would only allow it to be censored on one condition: A sticker was placed on the cover that read “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.” Thankfully, the art was left unedited, and Nevermind went on to become one of the most iconic album covers ever.

Did you catch that? Cobain said the only way he would agree to censoring the baby’s penis is if it contained a sticker reading: If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile. It’s funny and piquant precisely because there is, in my estimation, an element of truth to it. Now, I don’t believe for a minute that everyone who objects to child nudity in art is a closet pedophile. However, it is evident to me that many people are so opposed to such images precisely because they have at some point had feelings towards children that make them uncomfortable, and therefore they overcompensate, projecting and externalizing those confusing feelings. I consider those feelings normal; I am certain we’ve all had them at some point. It doesn’t make you a child molester because you may have had fleeting sexual thoughts or feelings about a child or youth.

More importantly, I think there’s pretty strong evidence to support the notion that by making an issue so taboo, we in fact contribute to the appeal of violating that very taboo. Human instincts are like rubber bands–the farther you pull them back, the harder they will snap when they eventually do. Likewise, the more you tell people they cannot have something, the more they will want it, and in their self-denial of that very fact they will become cruel and suspicious, and then you have on your hands a moral panic, which is precisely what we’ve got with this issue. Unfortunately, the real victims of this nonsense are the children themselves, who are forced to live up to a standard that for many of them is unachievable because, after all, they are human beings. That, in a nutshell, is one of the main reasons this blog exists.

The ‘let kids be kids’ argument is fundamentally a straw man argument, because it assumes that kids are one-size-fits-all when it comes to sexuality, and that size is 0. When kids do express sexual feelings or an interest in exploring their sexuality, when this is discovered they are often punished just as much as any adult who violates a child, only in a different way. Their feelings are invalidated, called improper and the child is considered ‘sexualized’ (the child-sized equivalent of the word ‘whore.’) Sometimes, in certain circumstances, the child is forced to wear the label ‘victim’ even when they were clearly not victimized. This needs to stop, because in the end it is far more harmful than helpful.

Edit: There’s a short but fascinating article that came out two days after this post was published, about Spencer Elden, the baby featured on the cover.  It is here. – Pip

Joseph Cornell

Another experimental short film, this time one directed by Joseph Cornell. It’s called The Midnight Party and was made sometime between 1938 and 1940. The film contains a lovely scene featuring a young girl riding a white pony Lady Godiva-style. You can watch the excerpt below.  The film was the centerpiece of an art show of the same name that took place earlier this year at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and which, ironically, also featured some of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s works.

Cotillion does contain some young girls, but the majority of it is circus footage of varying interest. The more fascinating film is The Midnight Party, which is, indeed, footage of a children’s party featuring scenes of them dancing, frolicking and the like. The Little Godiva girl only comes in at the very end, if you just want to see that scene, but at right under eleven minutes combined, the two films are not much of an investment of your time.

Cornell is of course recognized particularly as an innovator of sculpture and assemblage using ‘found objects.’  He was apparently extremely reclusive and wary of other people, particularly men (although he did father four children), and his last major show was arranged solely for kids.

scenes-from-midnight-party-dir-by-joseph-cornell-1938-40

*The original link to the film on YouTube was removed due to copyright infringement.  The copyright holder for this film and a number of others by Cornell is the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

Wikipedia: Joseph Cornell

Stacey Steers’s ‘Phantom Canyon’

Stacey Steers specializes in odd little animated films that incorporate old illustrations and photos, creating surreal, dreamlike imagery. The figures in the film Phantom Canyon, from which the following stills were taken, were appropriated from Eadweard Muybridge’s famous Human and Animal Locomotion (the entire series of which is available as a three-volume set for a fair price from Dover Books), including a fairy-like little girl. Note the initial parallels with the Pandora myth.

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Stacey Steers – Still from ‘Phantom Canyon’ (2006) (1)

Stacey Steers - Still from 'Phantom Canyon' (2006) (2)

Stacey Steers – Still from ‘Phantom Canyon’ (2006) (2)

Stacey Steers - Still from 'Phantom Canyon' (2006) (3)

Stacey Steers – Still from ‘Phantom Canyon’ (2006) (3)

Stacey Steers - Still from 'Phantom Canyon' (2006) (4)

Stacey Steers – Still from ‘Phantom Canyon’ (2006) (4)

Stacey Steers - Still from 'Phantom Canyon' (2006) (5)

Stacey Steers – Still from ‘Phantom Canyon’ (2006) (5)

Stacey Steers – Animations Made by Hand (Official Site)

Wiley Miller

Something a little different today. Wiley Miller’s strips are sweet and amusing. Of course, I adore the little goth girl Danae, the strip’s main character, but there are lots of great characters in the strip.

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GoComics: Non Sequitur (There are tons of good comic strips here besides Non Sequitur; have a look around.)

Wikipedia: Wiley Miller

Wikipedia: Non Sequitur (comic strip)

Ian Goulden

If you’re interested in photo-montage and collage work, you really need to take a look at the Flickr page of Ian Goulden (aka seriykotik1970).  Here’s a lovely sample of his work:

Ian Goulden – Scottish Dance with Flamingos

You’ll see more of his work here eventually, as he has some nice Alice-related pieces.

Flickr: seriykotik1970

Aaron Board

I really like Aaron Board’s work.  Deceptively simple but vested with symbolism, and classically rendered and designed, right down to the artist-created frames and icons, the word elegant comes to mind when I look at it.  Many of his drawings and paintings feature his daughters Lilah and Riley, who have even helped him create some of his work.

aaron-board-roly-poly-riley

Aaron Board – Roly Poly Riley

Aaron Board - Pubertas Ignorabimus (2004)

Aaron Board – Pubertas Ignorabimus (2004)

Aaron Board - Jesus Christ Pose (2004)

Aaron Board – Jesus Christ Pose (2004)

Aaron Board - Riley, Lilah and the Light

Aaron Board – Riley, Lilah and the Light

Aaron Board - My Child

Aaron Board – My Child

Aaron Board - Decorum (2005)

Aaron Board – Decorum (2005)

Aaron Board - Eve of the New Century (2005)

Aaron Board – Eve of the New Century (2005)

Aaron Board - Father Munchausen (2005)

Aaron Board – Father Munchausen (2005)

Aaron Board - J.C. Pose (Lilah) (2005)

Aaron Board – J.C. Pose (Lilah) (2005)

Aaron Board - Taproot Altarpiece (2006)

Aaron Board – Taproot Altarpiece (2006)

Aaron Board - Chrysalis (2009)

Aaron Board – Chrysalis (2009)

Aaron Board’s Fine Art Page (Official Site)

myartspace-blog: Art Space Talk: Aaron Board