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.

Maiden Voyages: March 2014

I just wanted to share a few quick updates before getting back to work. It seems this site has reached a critical mass of readers. That fact has its positive and negative points which I would like to address a bit here.

The positive side is that there are a lot of readers out there from all over the world who know a lot of things and have been kind enough to offer supplemental information and help us get our facts straight. I would like to urge loyal Pigtails readers who have joined us after November 2012 to take another look at our site and review all the old posts that have now been reinstated from the old site before the shutdown. Pip is now in the process of categorizing them in a logical manner for easy access, but I know with all the new readers out there, there are a lot of updates, corrections and other resources to inform us about. I will do my best to have such useful information published in a timely manner.

The negative side is that there are probably more people gunning for us and as a result, I am seeing some unusual behavior out there. Thankfully, there are others more experienced than I who can help advise us on what may be going on and how to proceed. Also, I am in information overload. Once Pigtails began to gain serious credibility, I have been amazed at the generosity of fans sharing information and images that I had not been aware of, despite my fairly intensive efforts.

Given the unpredictability of our lives, I am going to refrain from making any specific projections about the future and just give you a general sense of what is coming up. I wish I could dedicate all my energies to this site, but that is not practical. Both Ami and RJ have confirmed their interest in continuing to contribute, so we will see more of their work to come. There are still a handful more “Soviet” postcards to publish and I will do them whenever I need a break from some of my more arduous projects. I am currently working on major pieces about Aurelija Čepulinskaitė and Michael Otto. For those unfamiliar with Otto, he has over 80 years experience [My apologies. There was a misunderstanding because of the language barrier.  In fact, he was shooting his subjects during the 1980s.  -Ron] shooting young girls for naturist magazines and has a treasure trove of experiences and images to share. Also, sometime during the year, you can expect about 12 major updates or additions to old posts. I am especially excited about some research I have done on Joseph Cornell and will be doing a supplemental post at some point this year accompanied by some exciting video footage. I am also going to do something about this incredible backlog of information so readers will know better what is in production and what gaps we may have in our knowledge that should “get out there”.

Thank you all again for your wonderful comments and support which help us keep focused when facing the almost endless pile of leads and possibilities. -Ron

PS – I forgot to mention that our security certificate has been operating slowly so it has been temporarily disabled for most operations on Pigtails so that Pip can more quickly complete his classification system without so much hassle.  It seems with the traffic on Pigtails, the system cannot handle the volume of “handshakes” needed to confirm a secure connection and sometimes readers (and we) get a connection error.  You can still access the site using the security protocols if you wish, but you will have to manually enter the “https” address.  Otherwise, the default is the standard protocol.  At some later point, we will consider the options regarding a full security certificate.  Thank you for your patience.