L’Amour (1935). Photograph: William Mortensen
Our friends at Feral House have a new book coming out on the work of photographer William Mortensen, called American Grotesque. Chris Campion of the Guardian has a nice profile of Mortensen and his lurid, heavily retouched photographs of "death, nudity and torture." Ansel Adams and his pals in Group f/64 loathed Mortensen (even though they happily used processing techniques invented by Mortensen).
Even after Mortensen’s death in 1965 from leukemia, Group f/64 and their flunkies the Newhalls could not stop talking of their loathing for him. Beaumont described his work as “perverse”; Willard Van Dyke, a founder of Group f/64, said “his work was disgusting”; and Adams summed him up with the words, “For us, he was the antichrist.”
Ultimately though, for all the griping of Adams and f/64, it turns out that Mortensen was the true modernist all along, not them. For today, we are surrounded by images of the fantastic and unreal. In comic-book movies such as Spider-Man and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, special effects merge seamlessly into the action and the monsters appear as real as humans. A photograph is rarely just a photograph these days, seen without filters or retouching. And, thanks to sites like Instagram, many of Mortensen’s painstaking techniques can now be applied with the touch of a button.
William Mortensen: photographic master at the monster’s ball
The Betabrand retail store in San Francisco's Mission district now sports a grotesque window display of Santa Claus, entitled Santa the Hutt. Chris from BetaBrand writes, "Our aim: To poke fun at holiday excess and explore anti-Santa sentiment.
Our achievement: Over a thousand people have taken holiday photos at our Valencia Street store since rolling him out last week. "
Read the rest
Roboticist film-maker John Nolan's gallery of animatronic creations is a treasure-trove of wonderful, grotesque creations in states of partial undress.
www.johnnolanfilms.com: gallery of photos
The Art of Tony Millionaire
is a beautiful and demented treasury of the works of Tony "Maakies" Millionaire, who manages to turn out some of the weirdest and angriest comic strips in the business while simultaneously writing sweet and lovely children's books employing the same characters (some trick!).
TAoTM is about what you'd expect from a major retrospective of a versatile, talented cult illustrator: perfectly reproduced art from across his career, from adolescent zines to the present day, with several full-page color plates and lots of real rarities. Interspersed with this is some of the weirdest, most unbelievable, scariest and grossest anaecdotes about Millionaire's life that you could hope to read.
As with all of Millionaire's work, TAoTM is a study in contrasts: the sentimental, the heroic, the grotesque, the scatological, often in the same page (sometimes on the same line). It's an experience like no other.
The Art of Tony Millionaire
(Thanks, Dark Horse, for sending me a review copy!)