The artist Sangoma writes, "Anamorphic drawing- for anyone curious about the style. This piece is a combination of graphite, pan pastel, charcoal, and exacto knife (to trim the top of the page)."
One of my most unforgettable travel experiences was visiting the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora, near Prague. This small 19-century monastery chapel would be unremarkable, except that it is decorated with thousands of human bones and skulls. There are skull- and femur-decorated columns, hanging garlands of bones, a chandelier made of every bone in the human body, and a replica of the Schwarzenberg family coat of “arms” – that also includes leg, finger, scapula, and coccyx bones! The memory of that space makes any Halloween display seem tame and unimaginative.
If Kutná Hora isn’t in your travel plans, check out Memento Mori, a spectacular book of essays and photographs by UCLA PhD and art historian Paul Koudounaris. His 500 color photographs here are arresting, both in subject matter and photographic technique. The handsome hardbound book includes a stunning centerfold of a bejeweled and gold-encrusted mummy. The detail and visual opulence of the photo justifies the giant four-page spread. I enjoyed reading the informative essays about the use of human bones as a form of remembrance in cultures around the world, from Europe to Thailand, Japan to Peru, and from ancient times to the present day. Here’s just one fun fact: there are two venerated human skulls (ñatitas) enshrined in the homicide division of the national law enforcement agency in El Alto, Bolivia. These two cranium crime-stoppers have provided “clues to difficult cases and have been credited with helping to solve hundreds of crimes.”
Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us by Paul Koudounaris Thames and Hudson 2015, 208 pages, 9 x 13.3 x 1 inches (hardcover) $39 Buy a copy on Amazon
A woman walking around Sacramento with a skull on a stick led police to a homeless encampment where she found the cranium. Apparently someone spotted the woman marching around with the skull and called police. After police found the woman at an abandoned house, she took them to the area where they located the body.
"A call like this is not something that happens every day," Sacramento police Sgt. Bryce Heinlein told Fox 40. "We hope we can get down to the bottom of what caused this person to become deceased." Read the rest
Ferrofluid is so awesome.
Fancy's $100 neon desktop skull lamp is 15.5" x 10", with a one-year warrant and a 6' cord; the picture makes it look more decorative than functional, which is a pity, because it would great to replace a desk-light with this for close-up work, as a kind of contemporary memento mori. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest
Dead on Paper makes many beautiful, strange things, but I'm most taken by two of its custom coins. Read the rest
Monte Beauchamp’s book, Popular Skullture is a refreshing look back at the early days of mass culture print publishing, when skulls still evoked a sense of the macabre. Skulls are no longer scary symbols of death, poison, or motorcycle outlaws. As design elements they are so popular now that they appear on baby clothing. They’ve become kind of boring, because they’ve lost their punch.
Apart from a couple of short introductory pieces at the beginning, the book consists entirely of skull-themed cover art from pulp magazines, comic books, and paperback novels. With an eye for the imaginative, Beauchamp has selected covers that make clever, odd, and funny use of skulls.
One of the most iconic images of Salvador Dali's career was the photo of a skull composed from the artfully arranged bodies of nude models. Read the rest