Thursday, 28 October 2010

Born Modern

Recent purchase: Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig by Steven Heller and the subject's widow, Elaine Lustig Cohen. I haven't read this yet, but it's well worth buying for the images alone. Lustig's achievements are pretty extraordinary: interior and textile designs as well as the stunning book and magazine covers (check out the Alvin and Elaine Lustig Flickr pool), and all before a tragically early death at the age of forty. See also: Cut and paste heroes: Elaine Lustig Cohen pays homage to graphic design's modernist forbears.

Marianne Brandt

Photomontages by German designer/artist/photographer Marianne Brandt (1893-1983). Rejecting her Expressionist beginnings, Brandt joined the Bauhaus in 1923, and by 1928 was director of the metal workshop, having succeeded Moholy-Nagy. While her designs for mass production - lamps, teapots etc - were highly successful, her collages were seemingly not intended for public display, only coming to light in the 1970s.

These images are from the now-absurdly expensive Tempo Tempo: The Bauhaus Photomontages of Marianne Brandt. There's a decent article on Brandt at Artnet, while examples of her industrial designs can be seen here and here.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tale of the Military Secret

These incredible kids' book illustrations were a chance find at Bookvart. They're from Tale of the Military Secret (1935) by Arkady Gaidar, and Google translates the illustrator's name as Alexander Danilov, but I can't find any further information at present. If you know anything about these, please leave a comment, I'd very much like to find out more about the artist.

Update: according to Bookvart, these are by Danilov - you can see more of his work here and here - and this edition is from 1987.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Strange Attractor

This will be old news to some readers, but the Strange Attractor Press has been "celebrating unpopular culture" for a number of years, with both print and audio releases. I haven't heard any of the latter yet, but I recently got hold of journals two and three (the first being out of print), and although I've barely begun to dip into the second, highlights so far include a fascinating piece on ancient Peruvian monuments and the likely influence thereon of widely available hallucinogens; John Coulthart on German-American collagist Wilfried Sätty; and an article on influential film-maker, writer, choreographer and "voodoo priestess" Maya Deren.

Collages by Wilfried Sätty

Maya Deren in Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Also available from Strange Attractor is Welcome To Mars by London-based writer (and former Biting Tongues vocalist) Ken Hollings, which explores the gray areas between science and science fiction in the US from 1947-59, and covers vaguely similar territory to some of Adam Curtis's documentaries. Highly recommended.

The Strange Attractor blog can be found here. Forthcoming releases apparently include the overdue journal four, and a biography of Austin Osman Spare.


Lorenzo Mattotti's Chimera #1 is an almost wordless, part-abstract and highly ambiguous comic that sees the artist working entirely in black ink. Rather than a conventional narrative, it appears to be intended as a series of dreamlike metamorphoses. Two small children lie under a tree watching the sky, as Mattotti's loose, swirling line gradually builds from almost perfunctory to densely textured in later panels, and coalesces into forms such as giants, rabbits, birds and forests. Published by Fantagraphics, Chimera is nothing if not ambitious, and it's a shame that there's reportedly little chance of a sequel.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Drawings by Bellmer

Following on from this post, a few more drawings by the great German Surrealist. Images taken from a long out-of-print book I found in the library, The Drawings of Hans Bellmer. I tend to find these more compelling than his better-known doll sculptures.