Sunday, December 29, 2013
I had a terrific Christmas with all my kids and their significant others present. One of our dinner guests was a special agent with the FBI. We regaled her with questions about the Bureau, one of which was, "What's a special agent? Are some poor, forlorn agents designated as unspecial, disappointingly average agents?" No, it turns out that all agents are called special.
BTW, take a look at that old "FBI 10 Most Wanted" list above. Why don't newspapers carry that list anymore? Surely readers would like to see it. A more exciting reporting of crime would give papers a needed circulation boost.
I got lots of presents. Here's one of them (above). Can you figure out what it is? A microphone you say? Nope. It's a wine stopper! It's part of a kit that includes a wine thermometer.
One of the things I gave my wife was a nifty microphone with a USB connector. BIG Mistake! She was certain that I got it for myself, which isn't true, but I confess to hoping that she would lend it to me sometimes. Geez, now I have to make it up to her somehow.
The church service on Christmas Eve was simple but surprisingly moving. The sermon reminded me of Linus's speech in the first Charlie Brown TV special (above).
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 1:47 AM
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
You did it by insinuating your shoulder into the tiny space between two kids, then a whole arm, then your body, taking care never to look at the kid you were displacing. I was good at it, but no sooner was I in than some other kid would start nudging me aside.
After the tree was decorated we'd get on our coats and walk around the neighborhood looking at our neighbors' lawn decorations. Some people covered their houses with lights. That seems a bit gaudy to me now, but at the time I thought it was the height that beauty could reach. I was awed.
Parents liked to stuff stockings with oranges and chocolate coins but on a good year you'd find a Chinese finger trap and a back scratcher. If you were really lucky you might get an Adam's magic trick, like the cup and ball or the sliding drawer that made nickels disappear.
Aaaargh! I'm too sleepy to continue. Merry Christmas Everybody!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
If you've attended art school in the last 40 years the chances are that your color classes used one of these books (above) as a text. I find that amazing since these books are intended for use by abstract artists who paint flat color fields, a category that doesn't include many artists. How on Earth did these specialized books come to dominate color education? I have a theory that might explain it, but I won't reveal it til the end of the post.
Anyway, there's more than one reason why these books get used year after year. For one thing, they're cheap. The Itten book comes in a small thin edition and the paperback of Albers' book is almost pocket-sized.
Another reason is that both books have an academic, high-minded tone. Artists seem to like that. Maybe it's because we artists flatter ourselves as being the equivalent of doctors and scientists. We like having a book on the shelf that only the select understand.
Maybe it's because a lot of our ilk used to be Marxists and Freudians and that gave us a taste for the edgy manifesto style those authors use. Itten had a keen awareness of how image can sell a product. That's him above, carefully dressed and looking like the villain in a James Bond film.
Anyway, I had a chance to thumb through the books the other day and here's what I saw.
Unfortunately at this point they branch off into the esoteric. Both write more than you need to know about simultaneous contrast. Albers gets into a long discussion of flat, transparent colors layered on top of each other (above). It absorbs a lot of his attention at the expense of concepts that might have been a lot more useful.
Itten got into esoterica of his own. That's his color square pattern above. His book is full of them. The patterns are very pretty but, really, they're just pleasing colors of different types with some pure black and white to set them off. Why devote so much ink to them?
Maybe Itten would argue that setting off colors is no small thing. Look at the target above. It's just the three primary colors set off by black and white, but what a difference the black and white makes. Black and white are powerful activators of other colors.
Now here's the theory I promised: these books get bogged down in trivia and are only minimally useful for art students not specializing in abstraction or flat graphics. I believe the reason the books, especially Itten's book, dominates art schools is that it's so beautiful to look at. Itten's patterns especially look good on white paper with black print. The paintings themselves aren't always that interesting or profound but surround them with black and white as Itten did and they're riveting. Itten's arresting page layouts also help.
In other words, the real contribution Itten made was his re-invention of the art text book. In his shrewd hands the subject of the art book was less important than the look of the book itself.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
These shapes (above) are drawn on a grid on paper, but it's not inconceivable that somebody's made a mass market cardboard mobile of this. I'll have to look it up.
Wow! I'd love to have a plaster copy of this (above)! That's Noguchi in the foreground.
Here's one that looks like it was influenced by Kandinsky.
Early on the man was a realistic sculptor. Geez, the guy could do everything!
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Can you take a few more crime photos? I warn you, it's grim stuff, not for the faint of heart.
We'll start with a crook being transported by the police. He hides his face from the photographer, no doubt because he doesn't want his mother to see the photo in the paper.
Above, Brooklyn teenagers reveal the armor they tried to wear to a rumble.
Above, a homicide victim...killed in his own apartment by a shot through the window. The picture was taken in 1925.
Across town another man was murdered, also in his own home. Police always take at least one photo from directly above a corpse in the belief that this conveys more information than any other kind of shot.
Maybe one of the murder victims was killed by one of these men (above). They're professional hitmen. Here they clown around for the camera, maybe in the belief that their lawyer will get them off. In this case they were wrong.
In 1960 John Favara (above, left), a neighbor and friend of mobster John Gotti (above, right), accidentally ran over and killed Gotti's twelve year-old son. A few months later Favara was kidnapped and "chainsawed" to death.
Probably newspapers can't run this kind of picture in our day. In my opinion that's a mistake. The news is made more exciting by pictures like this.
These photos were sampled from two interesting books: "Shots in the Dark" by Gail Buckland and Harold Evans, and "New York Noir."
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Anyway, here's my latest enthusiasm: color wheels. I like the ones figured out by Color Wheel Basics. It's a series of wheels that emphasize tints and shades, and secondary and tertiary colors.