Vintage

Saugatuck Summer Art School

when i was compiling yesterday’s post about art appreciation i came upon these photos taken by Wallace Kirkland for Life magazine. the photo essay shows scenes from a summer art school in 1948, and after a bit of googling i discovered that the school in question still exists! OxBow is situated in the Saugatuck area of Michigan, and was established over a century ago.

Founded by Frederick Fursman and Walter Marshall Clute, artists from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ox-Bow was to serve as a respite for artists from the industrializing havoc of Chicago. Today, Ox-Bow’s longevity is due to the strength of this mission and the artists who have held true to it.

it all looks like a dream to me – hanging out, drawing and screenprinting and making ceramics and taking boats across the lake to do plein air painting… a dream! and man were these girls in the 40s awesome. i love their rolled up jeans and casual white shirts. saugatuck summer art school looks pretty damn cool.

this last photo was taken by Loomis Dean in 1949. “Nude Model Doris Fischer smoking cigarette as she takes a 5 minute break fr. posing for a half hour for students at Oxbow, The Art Institute of Chicago’s summer school.”

edit: i received an email from Professor Tony Jones, who is the Chancellor & President-emeritus of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago telling me a bit more about the school…

Hello Diana in Capetown, South Africa, this is Tony Jones in Chicago, USA, sending to say a big Thank You for the story you posted about the Oxbow Summer School of Painting in Saugatuck, Michigan, USA.

You are most perceptive (as are those who left comments) – Oxbow is indeed an idyllic place, almost a dream-definition of what a summer art camp of the beach would look like in a fantasy. But fantasy not – it’s real, and if you saw it today, the years between 2013 and year when these photographs were taken, 1948, would melt away. Oxbow is a flourishing haven for artists, and is run by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (which is 150 miles away on the other side of Lake Michigan – Oxbow is on the west coast of Michigan – what is called “The Sunset Coast”). In the photograph showing the model atop a dune, being painted by a group of students, it shows the big lake in the background – but the pictures of students in canoes is the Oxbow Lagoon (now, how romantic is that ? – a private freshwater lagoon, with no powerboats, no jet-skis, and partly covered with flowering water-lilies, just like Monet’s gardens at Giverny. Artists mount easels on the canoes and paddle out into the lily-fields to paint directly from nature).

And speaking of models – yes, we still teach a class called The Figure in the Landscape, and you’d find a model posing (wearing only bug-spray) and students painting her … along with classes in sculpture, printmaking, bronze-casting, wrought-iron, ceramics, textiles, papermaking, and glassblowing … in a wonderful open-air hot-glass studio right on the edge of the lagoon.

Oxbow is now over 100 years old and we still run it as it always was – an escape from busy downtown Chicago to a silent, calm, rustic retreat of about 150 acres, set on the lagoon, surrounded by thick woodlands, several herds of deer, with no cars, no streetlights, just studio and very basic cabins for sleeping, beautiful workshops and The Inn, the gathering place where we provide all meals (the belltower chimes and you come back from wherever you are and eat en famille – then go back to your work. At Oxbow you come just to work, there are no distractions, you are there at your own speed to draw or dream). Oxbow is a very special place, deeply loved by all who attended or taught there, and we keep it that way – and the list of alumni is quite extraordinary : imagine the summer when one of the students, short of cash, but with a culinary talent that matched his art ability, agreed to be the paid cook … and returned the following summer from his Art Institute studies in sculpture to work in the Oxbow studios – he is Claes Oldenburg, founder of the Pop Art movement in New York, and one of America’s leading and most influential artists (and Oxbow alumni !).

This article from LIFE is really a joy – and quite a number of the people in the photographs have been identified, some still alive and recalling the period well. I’m contacting LIFE to see of they still have the originals and the out-takes that never made it to the magazine – I am currently writing about the School of the Art Institute and it’s various off-site art-camps (in Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan and even Mexico), so your link came to me with great delight – thanks thanks and thanks again.

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Found

National Geographic have set up a tumblr called National Geographic Found, to celebrate their 125th anniversary, where they’ll be sharing photos from their archives – many of which have never been seen before.

FOUND is a curated collection of photography from the National Geographic archives. In honor of our 125th anniversary, we are showcasing photographs that reveal cultures and moments of the past. Many of these photos have never been published and are rarely seen by the public. We hope to bring new life to these images by sharing them with audiences far and wide. Their beauty has been lost to the outside world for years and many of the images are missing their original date or location.

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Exploring Shorpy

i haven’t visited Shorpy in a long time, but since i’ve been enjoying the latest seasons of period dramas like Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire lately i thought it was time for a deep browsing session. it’s remarkable to see how rapidly things changed at the turn of the century (this is all i kept thinking when watching the season finale of Downton Abbey – how weird to see the characters in the context of a roaring twenties dance club). these photos are in chronological order and range from 1900 through to 1977, and though they are by no means comprehensive or representative of all those decades it’s still pretty cool to see how time goes by. it’s also interesting to see how photos changed when cameras became a staple of every home – a lot of vacation pics and posing in front of cars.

all images courtesy of Shorpy.

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Mark Shaw

you’re probably familiar with the work of fashion & celebrity photographer Mark Shaw, who was especially well known for his collection of photographs of the Kennedys. he shot over 100 stories in his 16 year career with LIFE magazine in the 1950s & 60s, and was one of the first photographers who documented backstage fashion at couture shows like Balmain and Balenciaga. if you’re feeling flush you can buy limited edition original prints of his work from the Andrew Wilder gallery. Here are some of my favourite stories he covered.

Audrey Hepburn

Portraits for LIFE Magazine of Hepburn while filming Sabrina. This entire shoot had lingered forgotten for more than fifty years in a box at the home of Mark’s first wife and were rediscovered in 2008. Initially Audrey Hepburn did all she could to avoid Mark Shaw’s cameras. When she realized they shared intense devotion to their work, she began to treat him like a member of the family.

Jackie Kennedy & family

These images were taken for an assignment from LIFE magazine about Jackie Kennedy which ran in 1959 while JFK was making his White House run. In the late 1950′s and early 1960′s Mark Shaw worked extensively as the “unoffical” family photographer to Jackie and John F. Kennedy.

Coco Chanel

Chanel was quoted at the time as saying that “Shaw had crept as close to her as anyone is likely to get with their LEICA on”. Shaw’s informal, grainy, black and white images of Chanel were captured using an unobtrusive 35 mm camera and film processing methods that enabled him to eliminate all other photographic equipment. The result is a highly personal and intimate look into a day in the life of this iconic woman.

Various artists - PicassoChagall, Fernand Leger & Miro

backstage at Balmain, 1954

various fashion editorials photographed in St. Tropez, Paris, Portofino

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Nemadji Pottery

one of the things i’d like to do at home is build up my ceramics & glassware collection. i’ve been buying a few knick knacks here and there, which is always a slow process as you tend to find them sporadically (and need to resist the urge to buy an entire collection that you won’t necessarily love years down the line). so when i spotted these colourful marbled pots on Etsy i kind of fell in love, and did a bit of reading up on their origin. found this little piece of Fab.com which explains,

Nemadji pottery is that early 20th century invention that somehow got mixed up with a Native American tribe. The Minnesota-based Nemadji pottery company began manufacturing this colorful, swirled pottery in 1929 and promoted it as being “Indian inspired.” Over the years, advertising became truth in the minds of many, leading to mistaken claims over authentic Native American pottery.

i would probably end up filling my house with these, if only i could get my hands on some locally. you can find them on Etsy and eBay – click on the pictures to be taken to the source (some of them are already sold, unfortunately!)

 

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New York in the 80s

i still haven’t been to new york. right now it’s a matter of saving saving saving so i can get there one day. every time i’m tempted by a beautiful piece of furniture or a new jacket i think, must save for new york. in the meantime i’m living vicariously through other people’s new york related stories, photos, films… which is why i so enjoyed browsing through New York In the 80s, a collection of photographs by Steven Siegel.

I’ve been photographing the streets and subways of New York for the past 30 years. When young people today look at my shots from the 1980’s, they are aghast. To them, New York of the 1980’s is almost unrecognizable. And they are right.

that’s just an excerpt from Steven’s thoughts about this moment in time that he captured and so generously shared – read the rest here and check out the his other sets for more NY related photography.

“with a flourish the waitress leaves behind rearrange smears”

all photographs by Steven Siegel.

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The Art of Vogue Covers

i was given a wonderful gift recently from Anton’s gran, who was cleaning out her book collection and came upon an old copy of The Art of Vogue Covers. it details the illustrated covers of British Vogue from 1909 through to 1940, including the entire collection of covers between 1920-1930. i was only familiar with a few of the illustrated Vogue covers (a handful of which were turned into posters and probably hang in many a college dorm room), so i thought i’d scan in some of my favourites and share them with you.

most of the work showcased in the book are by seasoned Vogue illustrators Helen Dryden, Georges Lepap, Harriett Maserol, George Plank and Eduardo Benito amongst others. if you’d like to see more please let me know and i’ll continue adding them to the flickr collection, this is literally just the tip of the iceberg.

see them all here.

 

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Take Your Pleasure Seriously

when you look at pictures of Charles and Ray Eames one of the best things about this talented and innovative couple is that they really looked like they always had so much fun together. which is why i wasn’t surprised when i stumbled upon some Life Magazine pics of a range of toys that they designed in the early fifties. the Eames’ didn’t have children of their own (Charles had a daughter with his first wife) but I could imagine that if they ever did they would have created an amazing world for them to play in.

did you know that Ray died ten years to the day after Charles did? Another lovely factoid is that they used to serve bowls of flowers to their dinner guests as a “visual dessert”. If you want to know more about them and their extraordinary body of work you should watch the PBS documentary Eames: the Architect and the Painter.

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