Artwork of the Day: Marilyn Monroe


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Tomorrow, Erin will be back and running this feature so I’m going to share one final image.

I’m not sure who took the picture above.  A lot of sites incorrectly credit Otto Bettmann.  I nearly made the mistake of crediting old Otto myself.  However, Otto was not a photographer.  Otto was an archivist and the picture above was a part of his collection.  But regardless of who took the picture, it’s an iconic image.

Two more things to say:

First off, I have to say thank you to Erin for trusting me with Artwork of the Day.  When I first told her that I’d be willing to fill in for her while she spent this week cataloging our mom’s doll collection, I’m sure that there was a part of her that worried I’d use it as an excuse to spend the whole week posting Degrassi screenshots.  I’ve seen firsthand the amount of time and thought that Erin puts into finding and selecting each day’s image.  But she took a chance on me and I had a lot of fun doing it!

Secondly, from me and everyone else here at the Shattered Lens: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ARLEIGH!

 

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Artwork of the Day: New York Movie


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New York Movie (1939, Edward Hopper)

I could never work in a movie theater.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love movies, as anyone who has spent any time reading this site should know.  I consider both the Alamo Drafthouse and the Dallas Angelika to be a second home.  But, even if I didn’t have a degree and I was totally alone in the world and I desperately needed a job, I could never work at either one of them.  I would be scared that, if I did, the act of going to the movies would lose its magic.  My love of film would be destroyed by the drudgery of employment.  (For that same reason, I could also never work in a book store.)

That’s something that I find myself thinking about as I look at Edward Hopper’s New York Movie.  As a writer, it’s impossible for me to look at any painting or photograph without immediately trying to turn it into a short story.  While the theater’s the audience is sucked into the fantasy of cinema, the usher stands to the side and appears to be lost in thought.  Much as I’ve looked at John French Sloan’s Movies, Five Cents and subsequently spent hours considering who the woman in the audience is looking at, New York Movie has inspired me to spend hours wondering what the usher is thinking about while the audience watches the movie.  Is she bored or is she sad?  Is she thinking about the movie or the audience or about what she’s going to do when she gets off work?  Does she like the movie, does she hate the movie, or has she reached the point where she doesn’t even notice the movie?

Edward Hopper’s best known work was Nighthawks, that famous painting of four people in an all-night diner.  Hopper’s model for New York Movie‘s usher was his wife, Jo, who posed under a lamp outside of their apartment.

Artwork of the Day: Movies, Five Cents


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Movies, Five Cents (1907, John French Sloan)

How long have movies been an important part of life?  Well, consider this.  The painting above, John French Sloan’s Movies, Five Cents, was painted in 1907!  It depicts what most of us, up until a few years ago, would have considered to be a fairly modern scene.  A group of people sit in a theater and watch a movie.  Well, almost all of them are watching.  The center of the painting is the one woman who is not watching the movie but who instead appears to be staring straight at the observer.  Is she watching us or has she caught us watching her?

Of course, today, things are changing.  There are so many new ways to watch movies that it’s hard not to feel that the whole ritual of going down to a theater to see the latest release will soon be as passé as dial-up internet or having a landline phone.  Right now, you look at this painting and you marvel at the very idea of being able to see a movie for five cents.  In the future, we may find ourselves marveling at the idea of actually leaving the house to watch a film.  We may look at this painting and say, “This painting reminds me of what it was like when movie theaters still existed.”  And then our children will say, “What’s a painting?”

That’s life.

Til then, I love this painting.  Movies, Five Cents is a prime example of the Ashcan School of art.  Inspired by socialism and Marxism and all that stuff, The Ashcan School rebelled against both impressionism and academic realism and instead, attempted to capture scenes of real life, especially among the poor.  John French Sloan was one of the leading artists in the Aschan School and he remained a fervent socialist for his entire life.

Is there a political subtext to Movies, Five Cents?  Honestly, who cares?  I’m more interested in trying to figure out what movie they’re watching.  It looks romantic!

Artwork of the Day: Blood Freak


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Today’s artwork of the day has a Thanksgiving theme!

Now, it may not be obvious from looking at the poster above but 1972’s Blood Freak is a film that is uniquely suited for today’s holiday.  What’s the film about?  Well, in short, it’s about a kinda beefy dumb guy who gets a job working at a turkey farm.  He spends all of his time surrounded by turkeys.  Well, except for the time that he spends smoking dope!

That’s right — marijuana!  The weed with roots in Hell!

He takes a few hits off a joint and, when next he awakes, he discovers that he has been transformed into a blood-thirsty monster that has the body of a man and the head of a turkey!

No, this movie is not a comedy.  At least not intentionally.  However, it is a classic.  And so is the poster! Needless to say, the woman on the poster never appears in the film but the artist, whoever he was, did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the turkey monster.

The only unfortunate thing about the poster is that it doesn’t include a picture of the narrator.  That’s right, Blood Freak has a narrator.  He pops up randomly through the film, sitting behind a desk and smoking a cigarette.  At one point, his narration is interrupted by a sudden coughing fit.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Happy birthday, Erin Nicole!

(And if you want to read more about Blood Freak, check out my review here!)

Artwork of the Day: They Call Her One Eye


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They call her One Eye.

Of course, her name was originally Frigga.  It was only after she was kidnapped, forced into prostitution, and had her eye removed as a punishment that Frigga became known as One Eye.

And, in much the same way, They Call Her One Eye was originally known as Thriller, A Cruel Picture.  It was a Swedish picture, a feminist-themed revenge flick that had been banned for both its brutal violence and its explicit sexual content.  In 1974, when American International Pictures brought Thriller to America, they cut out the hardcore sex scenes, left the violence untouched, and gave the film a new name: They Call Her One Eye.

They also came up with the absolutely brilliant artwork seen above!  Even if They Call Her One Eye wasn’t one of the best and most subversive grindhouse films ever made, it would still deserve a place of honor just because of this poster.

It’s a classic in every sense of the word.

(And after looking at the poster, why not check out this list of Arleigh’s nine favorite revenge films?)

 

Artwork of the Day: Ms. 45


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I don’t know who designed the poster for the classic 1981 film, Ms. 45, but it is truly brilliant.

Directed by Abel Ferrara, Ms. 45 tells the story of a mute seamstress named Thana (played by Zoe Tamerlis) who, after being raped twice in one day, uses a 45 caliber pistol to take revenge on almost every man in New York City.  The film’s tagline announces, “She was used and abused — and it will never happen again!” and Ms. 45 is a feminist masterpiece, one that exposed and attacked the same type of men who, undoubtedly expecting to see a typically low-budget, nudity-filled revenge flick, probably flocked down to 42nd Street to see the film when it was originally released.

Like the film itself, the poster is a work of transgressive brilliance, promising sex and violence while, at the same time, announcing that Thana was never again going to be a victim of an exploitive and patriarchal society.  One can only imagine how many men were lured into the theater by the legs on this poster, just to then by left in a state of shock as they literally watched themselves being blown away and punished for their misogyny on screen.  (Reportedly, even the most hardened of grindhouse audiences were left stunned by Ms. 45‘s intense final scene.)

The poster for Ms. 45 is definitely one of the best in grindhouse history and it’s also our latest artwork of the day!

(If you want to read more about my feelings about Ms. 45 and grindhouse cinema in general, please be sure to read my rightfully acclaimed essay on the subject, Too Sordid To Ever Be Corrupted.)

 

 

 

Artwork of the Day: Disco Dilemma


By Mort Kunstler

By Mort Kunstler

Do a google search for “Disco Painting” and this is one of the first images to come up.  Entitled Disco Dilemma, it was painted by Mort Kunstler and, according to what I read online, it was used as the cover for the January, 1968 edition of a magazine called For Men Only.

(As my friend, Mark the Australian hippy, once pointed out, Kunstler is German for artist.)

A part of me wonders if that date is correct.  Did they have discos in 1968?  To me, this seems more appropriate for 1978 than 1968.  Just check out that ascot on the bearded man over on the far left side of the picture.  (The bearded man, incidentally, bears a vague resemblance to Charlton Heston.  Heston famously wore a similar ascot all through Soylent Green.)  According to Wikipedia, For Men Only published from “at least the 1950s to the 1970s,” which is pretty damn vague for the internet’s go-to source for information.  Wikipedia also states that it started out as a “men’s adventure” magazine before going pornographic in 1970.  Personally, I just think it’s amusing that there actually used to be a magazine called For Men Only.  Is that a threat or a dare?  If I found an old copy of For Men Only and I opened it, would it lead to some sort of Ark of the Covenant-style divine retribution?

(“CLOSE YOUR EYES!  DON’T LOOK AT IT!”)

Well, regardless of when this was actually painted or if I would even be allowed to be in the same room as the actual magazine, here’s Disco Dilemma!

(Speaking of disco, be sure to check out my reviews of Skatetown USA, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Saturday Night Fever, Prom Night, Staying Alive, and Thank God It’s Friday!)

(And remember…if I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody, baby….)

(…’Cause we’re living in a world of fools. Breaking us down when they all should let us be. We belong to you and me…)