Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coffin Menu, 1907

Great coffin-styled menu, via the New York Public Digital Library website. The menu is part of the vast "Ms. Frank E. Buttolph Collection of Menus" and its caption reads: "First annual convention banquet held by Theta Nu Epsilon [a chapter of Skull and Bones] at Hotel Astor, New York, New York." The notes elaborate: "Wines listed; Menu in French; Toasts listed; Lyrics to drinking song on back."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Skeleton Man Light-up Coin-Operated Amusement

From an upcoming auction at Live Auctioneers:
Skeleton Man Light-up Coin-Operated Cabinet 71'' T x 42'' H x 16'' D. 1930s generic display cabinet with six porcelain light fixtures inside and a glass front door. The figure inside is a medical composition display piece for showing lungs, heart and other organs of the human body along with six more modern Halloween masks and an assortment of rubber spiders, lizards, stink bugs, centipedes, and a skull on a stick. Unique

Unique? To say the least. Thanks so much to Mark Rowley for sending this along!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent, Belgium

When in Belgium a few weeks ago, I visited a really wonderful museum called The Museum Dr. Guislain. The museum is housed in a 19th Century pschiatric hospital and feels like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life. It is an amazing musuem, containing a few different collections: The first is outsider art, the second is an ongoing inquiry into how photography reveals attitudes about madness past and present, and the third is a history of the hospital and Dr. Guislain and, thus, the cultural history of madness.

In addition to being a really cool museum with ingeniously placed artworks in an atomospere of real 19th madhouse menace--you can almost hear footsteps ringing in the abandoned corridors--they have a wonderful museum shop featuring titles from past exhibitions, many with English translations.

More images here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Danza Macabre Website

Check out Danza Macabre, a lovingly compiled website showcasing a vast collection of historical art images dealing with death and mortality. Takes a few minutes to download, but well worth the wait; a veritable embarrasment of riches. A wide range of imagery, from medical Danse of Death woodcuts, to Durer, Goya, Bosch, Vesalius, Gautier, Robert Geisseler, and 19th century examples. Found via Wikipedia's entry for Danse Macabre.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Absinthe in The New York Times

From today's New York Times:
Dear reader! Should this column impress you as being more than usually lyrical, recalling perhaps the imagery and elegance of poetry by Baudelaire or Verlaine; should it seem a bit decadent, redolent of Oscar Wilde’s withering hauteur; should it have a touch of madness or perversity, combining, say, the tastes of Toulouse-Lautrec with the passions of van Gogh; should it simply sound direct and forceful and knowing like one of Ernest Hemingway’s characters; should it do any or all of that, let me credit something that each of these figures fervently paid tribute to: the green fairy, the green goddess, the green muse, the glaucous witch, the queen of poisons.
Read the whole article, filled with fascinating information (and purchasing tips!) here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Confronting Mortality with Art and Science Conference, 2007

Just back from the Confronting Mortality with Art and Science Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, where I presented a lecture and photographs relating to my recent project Anatomical Theatre.

I had a wonderful time; the presentations and artworks were amazing, the conference was held in a zoo from the 1840s with all the appropriate grand marble architecture, collections of curiosity, and dramatic natural-history themed oil paintings (click here to see a complete collection of photos.) We even got to lecture beneath a giant whale skeleton. I met a score of fascinating people (attendees included contemporary anatomical wax workers Pascale Pollier and Eleanor Crook, and visual artists Jo Ann Kaplan, Chantal Pollier, Beverly Ress, Bryan Green, Jeff Wycoff, and Laurie Hassold ) working at the interstices of science, art, and mortality; their work will be featured in future posts.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, 2007

Congratulations to Mike Zohn of the wonderful Obscura Antiques and Oddities for garnering the grand prize in the The Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, a Secret Science Club event held at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, last Friday night. (The first two photos feature Mike and his winning entry--see his quote, following, for more information). Other (non-grand prize-winning) entries included Takeshi Yamada's Fiji Mermaid, an "Indian Corndog," a two-headed chick (above), and a "Rump Ape."

The judges of the contest included the American Museum of Natural History's collections manager for mammalogy Darrin Lunde; Robert Marbury, co-director of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists; and Dorian Devins of WFMU and the Secret Science Club.

Here's what the champion has to say about the experience:

Ive been meaning to attend and enter this contest for 3 years now, and Im glad I finally did. The piece that I won with has been in my collection for about 10 years, and its one of my favorites. Its a Victorian shadowbox diarama from the 1880's depicting a winter scene of a cliff, covered in trees, glass icicles, snow and what appears to be 2 tiny polar bears. They are actual mounted specimens, made to look like polar bears. I believe they are in the weasel family, although one of the judges had thought they were arctic voles. I have since googled arctic voles, and I am positive they are not. Also, judging by the scale of the trees and icicles, as well as the pose of the animals, I am positive that it is supposed to be a representation of a larger scene, and not a 1:1 depiction of a smaller creature in its habitat. Apparently, the judges agree. The same judge who doubted my description, later made an announcement that he was mistaken and admitted they were some sort of weasel. I have also decided to have the winning entry on display at the store for at least a month so that It can be viewed by those who did not attend the contest, or for those who did and would like another look...

As Mike mentioned, the winning entry will be on view for the next month at Obscura Antiques & Oddities, 280 East 10th Street Between 1st and A East Village, New York City.

All images, care of "Dogseat's" Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest" photoset on Flickr. Check out the rest of the images here.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Living Dead: Inside the Palermo Crypt, Marco Lanca (2000)

Thanks so much to Herbert Pfostl (of the wonderful websites Blind Pony Books and Paper Graveyard) for alerting me to the presence of this amazing book from his collection, Living Dead: Inside the Palermo Crypt. Per my request, he kindly scanned in some images from the book and wrote a brief review for Morbid Anatomy:

A splendid photo book about the eight thousand 'paper' corpses - hanging, drained, straw filled and eyeless from 'walls darkened by death' in the niches and corridors beneath the Chiesa dei Cappuccini. Forty four saints, virgins and very old looking children, and soldiers and priests in lace and garments with stories from their 'dust filled hearts' - beautifully imagined by Laura Facchi.

Thanks Herbert!

Note: If anyone has books, images, films, websites, exhibitions, article, etc. they would like to review for Morbid Anatomy, or link suggestions of any sort, we would love to hear about it; Please email us here.