Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Balloons, Balloons, Balloons, Balloons, Balloons

Yes, someone invented the balloon. A Brazilian named Bartolomeu de Gusmao in 1709. Lest you think he also invented the term "balloon butt" a term frequently used on Brazilian beaches, he was a priest. Some early balloons were made from animal bladders, but I would far rather fill up one made of rubber or latex. Since my intent here is to establish a monopoly on balloon pictures, I should list the following subsets of the genre. Water Balloons (usually dropped on Dad or Sis) Balloon Drops (usually dropped on Republican candidates and their very old caucasian delegates) and Balloon Publicity (usually to attract attention to lemons at used-car lots) One balloon we will probably all need sooner of later is an angioplasty.

Notice how everyone in these pictures is smiling except the one who is filling hers up? It is because balloons are fun...but they are also dangerous. In particular to marine life. But at the rate we're going, that might not be a problem for too much longer, I'm afraid. I hope I didn't harsh your balloon mellow.

Group of Balloon Photographs Collection Jim Linderman

Flown Lately? Fly the Friendly Skys of the Future

Flown lately? Boy, did they have THIS wrong! A group of promotional photographs from American Airlines, 1935...showing the near future of flight through some truly visionary illustrations drawn by "H" who was surely using it. Go WISH! The Captain has turned on the "stop suffering" light. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.

Three Untitled photographs (Future of American Airlines) Anonymous 1935 Collection Jim Linderman

Black Sleaze Rocking Raunchy Drawings! The work of Bill Alexander

I wrote an earlier post on Bill Alexander, one of only a few African-American vintage sleaze artists identified to date. Information on the artist is slight indeed, but examples of his striking work continue to emerge. First, Brittany Daley's great Sin-A-Rama book collected a number of his paperback cover illustrations from the 1960s...to which I was able to add a bit with my original post. Then, the Acrobat double CD reissued the tracks from Roy Mlton's record label revealing a number of the beautiful label illustrations Bill did in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Roy knew how to rock before there was rock, and he apparently also had the good/bad taste to hire the young Alexander for the art his label's 78 records. (Don't buy the download...buy the discs! They come with a 35 page BOOK! for gawd's sake)

The drawings are great (as is the music)... if you didn't know they were done by a Black man, you might think them a tiny bit racist, but then the label wasn't releasing gospel, it was raw rhythm and blues of the most raucous kind.

Here is a sample of Bill Alexander's wonderful label illustrations, and a few of his later drawings for Eddie Mishkin's mob-run paperback imprint from the 1960s. Both, as good/bad as it gets!

(Also posted on Vintage Sleaze Art the blog)

The Andy Warhol Missing Art Link (Dull Tool Dim Bulb Greatest Hits)

My discovery which questions whether Andy Warhol learned to draw soup cans from a small Heinz tracing book he would have had access to as a child seems to be striking a nerve. Quite possible, and I will lay out the details here as a few folks have asked.

I found a small booklet in an antique mall which was originally published by the Heinz company in Andy Warhol's home town the year before he was born. The book encouraged young children to TRACE THE IMAGES contained for "fun" when the intent was clearly to imprint impressionable young minds with the Heinz logo and brand. Tracing paper was bound into the pamphlet on top of each Heinz product. The book has a date of 1927 and was published in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh was also Andy's home town and he was born one year later in 1928. As such, the small book, one of a series called "Heinz Kindergarten Books" would have been readily available to the young artist.

The images here come from the Heinz book number 6, so the series was well established and local Pittsburgh residents would have surely picked up the premium, which was free, for their children to play with.
Although not as famous as his Campbell's images, Warhol did produce art with the Heinz logo, just like the branding experts at H. J. Heinz apparently hoped he one day would! As the similarities are quite striking, and the location and dates too much of a coincidence to ignore, I believe Mr. Warhol may have played with books from the series and remembered it some 40 years later when he began using similar (in fact, nearly identical) images in his work. I am not speculating that Mr. Warhol traced this copy, as thousands of children would have had the book, but he clearly would have had access to another copy.

Have a look, consider it yourself...and contact the art historians!
Greg Allen on his blog has added some history on the book series and discusses the impact product advertising has on young minds.

The images were originally published a month ago on Dull Tool Dim Bulb, I am re-posting them along with a few additional scans. Just for the record, a Heinz Tomato Ketchup drawing by Warhol done in 1962 ( and quite similar to the very ketchup bottle shown in a tracing here from 1927) sold for over one million dollars at Christie's in 2009.

(I am reposting a few older pieces which generated interest here and there...after all, I live near the beach)

Crazy Nude Messiah and Kidnapped Converts (When Pictures do not tell the Whole Story)

Pictures often don't tell the story. A couple of dudes last year coming down from the mountain. So their woman friend dresses odd...lots of them do. Right?

This 1938 picture shows Mark Silverman (left...you know...the guy who looks like a friend of yours) and his "unwilling converts." Silverman was in fact a self-proclaimed "Messiah" who kidnapped the other two (Ms. "Button Pants" and that other guy who looks like a friend of yours) and forced them to live in the hills of San Gabriel Canyon, L.A. for 4 months. After the press was done photographing them, Silverman was taken by the deputy sheriff to a "psycopathic" ward.

Silverman forced the couple (actually his sister-in law and his brother Joe) to live nude in a cave the entire time while attempting to hypnotize them into murder and waiting "for the world's end." Prior to the kidnapping, he had gone to his mother's home where he burned her furniture and clothing. Mom was taken hostage as well, but was released earlier as mountain life wasn't good for her health. Before taking the hostages, Silverman, described as a "religious fanatic" was a shoemaker. Perhaps that explains Joe's spiffy boots! Regardless, Crazy Mark declared himself Jesus Christ and feed the pair walnuts, avocados and raw potatoes.

While being held for an insanity complaint later, Silverman denied being crazy, having queer religious beliefs and also pointed out he did not believe in nudism. Charges against him were dismissed.

Really, I thought it was a Banana Republic ad. Two questions not answered by the photo? Where did one of the victims get bell-bottoms in 1938? And why would ANYONE read fiction? This would have been damn hard to conjure up.

Also posted on my old time religion blog.

Original Press Photograph "Messiah comes out of the Hills with "Converts" 1938
Collection Jim Linderman

The World's Greatest Robot Frank Stuart's Elephant

A robotic jumbo dumbo! 8 feet tall and walking at 27 miles per hour. Mr. Stuart's handmade Elephant has 9,000 parts, a steel frame and a 10 horsepower motor. A great enough photograph, but imagine my surprise at finding a film of the big fella!



Original Press Photograph 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Nutty Macfadden, Physical Culture, True Romance and Fake True Stories

Nutty Bernarr Macfadden, also known as "Body Love Macfadden" here attempts to deal with a problem in one of his magazines, True Romances. It looks like some swindler was sending in true stories cribbed from OTHER true stories and Big Bernie didn't like it. Does Bernarr look like a fellow to fool with?

"Bernarr the Virile" is shown here modestly posing like Michelangelo's David.
Macfadden was so strange it would take a book. In fact, there have been some!

First, he invented physical culture. I know, outside of second floor gyms where men toss medicine balls back and forth in posing straps, that term isn't too often heard anymore. It was a big deal though. Bernie was a big fan of fasting. A good portion of physical culture used to consist of fasting before posing, so your muscles would appear more prominent before they started to wither away from lack of nutrition.

Second, he tried to form a religion to be known as "Cosmotarianism" That my spell checker refuses to accept it should tell you how successful it was.

In publishing, however? He was a bigger than Spielberg. Bigger than Jay-Z. Bigger than God. A partial list: Photoplay, Liberty, True Detective, True Story and legendary piece of crap The New York Graphic. The Graphic was the first real cruddy tabloid to abandon all pretense of journalism (thus setting the high standards of today) and launched the career of stilted gossip mogul and no talent powerhouse Ed Sullivan (who gave us kiddies THE BEAT....ULS)

Crazy Bernarr also wrote books. Over a HUNDRED of them. A brief sample:
Virile Powers of Superb Manhood (never far from MY nightstand)

Marriage: a Lifelong Honeymoon

Physical Culture for Babies

Be Married and Like it.

Since 1900, Mcfadden Publications has gone through many hands and many changes. However, they still publish some notable titles! One, Pizza Today (no kidding) is a trade journal written for chains who hope to eliminate every mom and pop pie maker from the universe...and American Cheerleader!

Me and Mel The Glass Bottom Boat Adventure!

Aw right MEL! Snagged the primo seats for the photo op! You won't see Mel (or his boyfriend) peering out from a poorly placed die-cut paper sleeve. Right smack dab in the middle. The Walter Ray Glass Bottom Boat at Silver Springs Florida. The amusement park is still rocking. Guess who is playing there this summer? No...not the Guess Who...FOGHAT and BLUE OYSTER CULT! What?

Walter Ray die-cut sleeve with photograph. Circa 1950?
Collection Jim Linderman

Cheescake Charlie Carries Click on Coney Island

Charlie proudly Carries Click! It isn't often one finds a picture of vintage sleaze "in situ" but here we find a happy consumer proudly displaying his August, 1938 issue of CLICK, a monthly photo pulp which put girls in cheescake on the cover. Now we know why. It worked! Maybe Charlie hopes he won't seem out of place in his duds on the beach if his reading material has a swimsuit? Summer in New York. A beautiful thing.

Also posted on VINTAGE SLEAZE the blog

Original Snapshot, Anonymous 1938 Collection Jim Linderman

Comic Genius Jefferson Machamer (Book Review from the Past)

Once you see a Jefferson Machamer drawing, you can spot another all the way across the room without your glasses on. (That is if you can FIND one...I've looked over a year and only found the one here) He must have been a wonderful fellow, as he was willing to teach others his craft for $3.00 (The price of his book "Laugh and Draw with Jefferson Machamer" when it was published in 1946) I don't think he sold many, as it is fairly hard to find today, but if you are an aspiring artist or just enjoy spending some time with a book, this is a good 'un. I hadn't seen it (or owned it) before bestowing the first annual vintage sleaze "Lead in his Pencil" award to him last year, if I had I would have also added a cash prize! Since he passed away in 1960 the check would have to be posthumously deposited, but still. As you can tell, I'm a shameless fan of his work, and if my posts generate any interest in his work my work is done. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry! Sheesh. Just one more example why the web is only good for last weeks gaffes.

As I wrote on my first Machamer post HERE his career was considerable, lengthy, productive and even legitimate. He published work in Collier's magazine as well as hundreds in the Humorama line of gag books. One brief entry on the Fantagraphics site claims artist Gary Panter is a fan...who wouldn't be? Some collectors say his women looked like men...with the shoulders he put on them, it is a good point, but let's just call them healthy. Maybe his models "pumped-up" before posing like every Hollywood glamor boy does before going on camera.

Over 100 large sized pages and every one crammed full of tips, examples, jokes, clever asides, advice and wisdom, this book is due for reprinting. Until then, used book dealers have a few around. Find one with a dust jacket!

Laugh and Draw with Jefferson Machamer Greenberg Publisher 1946 (OP)

Original Drawing "The Date Caper" by Jefferson Machamer, circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman

Charlie the Canco Robot Goes to Atlantic City

Canco makes an appearance at the National Canners Convention in 1950. The radio controlled giant, also known as "Prince Alloy Can" went to Atlantic City not to gamble or, despite how it looks, to "get a little." He went to advertise the housewives best friend, the tin can. No, cans are not tin. By now, you should be so used to the misnomers we've lived with all our lives, you should assume nothing is named correctly. The Tin Can is Steel. (And increasingly, Aluminum) Not only that, the early "tin" cans were sealed with Lead. In the U.K. "tin" cans are lined with Bisophenol A, which leeches into the food (and your child's head.) But he looks so LOVEABLE! Well, I guess.

While I am on the topic of misnomers...it seems they come in entire sentences as well! Next time you see that Toyota commercial which claims "we are spending a million dollars an hour to improve our technology" and "make our cars safe" what they mean to say is "we're fixing your brakes."

Charlie the Tin Can spokesrobot Original Press Photograph, 1950. Collection Jim Linderman

What does YOUR Swimming Suit Reveal? Summer 2010

It is SUMMER today. I am thrilled not only because I'm a summer boy...but that it is time to crank out new editions of my famous series "What Does Your Swimming Suit Reveal" ! (a favorite anywhere your laptop can, and will, get clogged with sand.) The first entry of the year includes not only the suit...but the entire HOUSE. A bathhouse to be specific. Anyone passing by can open the working door to reveal a postcard size image, in this case overdressed bathing beauties of 1905 being photographed by a "form fitting fan" with a camera. Some earlier "What Does Your Swimming Suit Reveal" entries are HERE...and as a BONUS I am including my favorite bathing suit snapshot of all time which proves that when real women have fun, they both perspire and sweat. HAPPY SUMMER.

Private Bath House Gag dated 1905 with inserted postcard Collection Jim Linderman

Untitled Anonymous Snapshot, circa 1950 Collection
Jim Linderman

WINNERS Best Makeovers 1928 Fashion Photography, Vogue, and Plus-Sized Magazines.

In 1909, Conde Nast purchased Vogue. Some believe that was the origin of modern-day fashion photography. Conde Nast, in case you do not know, is the name of an individual, not a corporation, though it could be one now. Conde Montrose Nast was a native New Yorker born in 1873. He started his magazine work at Collier's, where he remade the struggling weekly into a profitable machine. Nast left and subsequently made Vogue the premier fashion magazine in the world, along the way also developing Vanity Fair, House & Garden and Glamour.

Others claim the origin of modern day fashion photography to the pictures Edward Steichen took of of couturier Paul Poiret's gowns in 1911 which were published in Art et Decoration.

These photographs, while as far from the work of Steichen, Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Richard Avedon as they can be, none the less illustrate in 1928 "fashion" a staple of today's magazines for women...the makeover. Maybe not glamour, and maybe not even possible to determine which was "before" and which was "after" they are none the less primitive and early examples of what has become a billion dollar plus-sized industry. Speaking of plus-sized...the September 2007 issue of Vogue, the creation of which is documented in the recent Anna Wintour documentary, was 840 pages and weighed five pounds. I question whether Vogue can sustain their plus-sized magazine through another decade. I hope so. I don't read it, but the wall full of past issues on the shelve behind the bangs bedecked dynamo in "The September Issue" sure look nice.

Best Makeovers 1928 Set of four "Before and After" Portraits Photographs mounted on cardstock. Anonymous Photographer. Dated 1928 Collection Jim Linderman

Barbara Levine and Vernacular Photography

I am occasionally asked "WHERE did you get that photo?" I'll tell this time, from project b and Barbara Levine, one of those valued and kindred souls with similar esthetics you might be lucky to find when you are engaged in any pursuit, but especially when it is a quirky and personal one such as collecting images. In a field or category with the wide, undefined spaces of vernacular photography, knowing of someone with similar appreciation is especially important. Others have grappled with the perimeter and definitions, Barbara included...I don't even know who came up with the term. But I do know there are billions of photographs and if you are lucky enough to know someone who finds the same joy of the occasional unexpected miracle among them, you are fortunate. You are even MORE fortunate if that person is willing to share them, and if you are a collector and the person is willing to sell them, all the better. Barbara is both! And more.

I knew of Barbara as an author before I knew of her as an artist, collector and facilitator of fine photographic finds. Her collections, which she also shares on her website along with the beautiful photographs for sale, will knock off your socks. Just start with "dexterity puzzles" and keep going.

I will never forget receiving a note from Barbara long ago which read "If I had a blog, it would look like yours." Now THAT was flattering. I have selected only a few of the miracles for sale on Barbara's website. Your taste is different than mine, so go select your own, and if you have never visited, I bet you'll buy one (or two). When you order, ask if you can receive her newsletter. It is essential. The current issue is HERE

Barbara Levine runs project b, a curatorial services company specializing in archives, collections, and vernacular photography sales and projects. She is the author of Finding Frida Kahlo, Around The World: The Grand Tour in Photo Albums and, Snapshot Chronicles: Inventing The American Photo Album. She was formerly deputy director at The Contemporary Jewish Museum and director of exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For more information: www.projectb.com

Untitled (Oil Gusher) Anonymous Snapshot, circa 1940? Collection Jim Linderman

Other images courtesy of project b

Folk Art Diorama Display from School RPPC

As it is time for summer vacation, let's call these "end of the year" projects. A nice display of homemade student diorama constructions proudly displayed in the classroom, each with a label I hope provides the maker's name.

Pair of Real Photo Postcards, "Horstmann" Dayton Ohio Circa 1920 Collection Jim Linderman