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Bizarre Posters For A Campaign Against Venereal Disease During World War 2

VD WW2 Campaign VD WW2 Campaign VD WW2 Campaign VD WW2 Campaign

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have stumbled across this bizarre series of graphic illustrations warning soldiers against the dangers of Venereal Disease. In a nationwide crusade aimed at changing a whole population’s sexual habits and attitudes, the American government enlisted the help of creative professionals. Artists, designers and ad-men teamed up to create these striking and very frank posters.

At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling. (Source)

Found by Ryan Mungia in the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine, this series of posters caught his eye primarily because of their aesthetic, more so than the unusual subject matter. He describes them as

…reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love. (Source)

Using bold shapes and colors, the designs were a success in capturing people’s attention. Plastered all over the walls at bases and training facilities, they were sure to get people talking – during a time when sex, and certainly not sexual diseases, were discussed publicly. After a significant drop in VD by 1945, the need for the poster campaign no longer existed. Even though the campaign was a success, the message had quite shocking undertones. Mungia explains more:

Once I was looking at them as a whole, I started to see certain themes arise. Women are often portrayed in a negative light, and it surprised me how they used Nazi imagery or depictions of Hitler and Mussolini to drive their message home. There’s somewhat of a disparity in them because the posters are very attractive, but their messages are very dark. There’s one in particular of a woman who looks like a skeleton and is walking arm in arm with two Axis leaders, Hitler and Hirohito. I think it’s so interesting that they suggest that the Axis powers were behind venereal disease. (Source) (Via Collector’s Weekly)

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Hinke Schreuders’s Embroidered Works Run The Gamut From Sinister To Playful

embroidered photographs Hinke Schreuders - Design

Hinke Schreuders - Design Hinke Schreuders - Design

Dutch artist Hinke Schreuders creates embroidered works that run the gamut from sinister to playful. Stitching directly on photographs and illustrations, Schreuders creates entirely new artworks by shifting the emphasis and adding pops of color or whole new objects and interactions. She transforms a dreary gray tree to a flowering one with little buds raining down like a curtain of beads. In other photographs, she applies her hand to texturing rivers with pale blue and adding spirals of threading forming fluffy white clouds.

In her previous work, Schreuders has said she wanted to “subtly confuse notions of feminine vulnerability and reinforce the position of embroidery as an artistic medium,” and she certainly continues doing so in her new work. In one piece, a naked woman is posed confidently, outlined with thread and smoking a cigarette. In another, she lends her embroidery to a photo of a woman in a white dress, adding layers and depth and somehow making the subject less passive and more engaged with the world inside the photograph. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)

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Eugenio Recuenco Recreates Picasso Paintings Through A Contemporary Lens

Eugenio Recuenco

Eugenio Recuenco

Eugenio Recuenco

Eugenio Recuenco

Spanish photographer Eugenio Recuenco has taken the timeless and iconic work of the notorious artist Pablo Picasso and translated it into contemporary photography. He models each photograph in this series after a single Picasso painting, recreating it as a seductive, contemporary photograph. Each painterly photograph is taken in such a way that even these real life women seem to be painted onto a canvas. Having had his hand in commercial and fashion photography, the influence from modern high fashion can be seen. Because Picasso’s work contains such vivid colors and a strongly recognized cubist style, the model’s make-up and clothing are a vital part of what allows the photograph to imitate Picasso’s paintings.

Cubism, the artist’s most famous stylistic period, is achieved by dissecting parts of the subject in the painting, and breaking them down into geometric forms. In this case, the subjects in the photos are women covered in geometric patterns imitating Picasso’s paintings. Recuenco brilliantly achieves this reference to Cubism not only by the women’s clothing, but also by the perfectly placed photo fragments. Several of the photos in this series are altered so that there is an abrupt crop in the image, with extra limbs on the other side. This cleverly recreates Picasso’s ever-popular figures with extra legs, arms, or eyes. Some may say that there are just some things you can do in a painting that you cannot do in a photo. Recuenco proves this wrong with his incredible and imaginative use of make-up to mirror Picasso’s fractured portraits and misplaced facial features. In one photo, an entirely new eye is created, while in another, a sharp, black line dissects a woman’s face. Intelligent and original creativity is of no shortage in this photographer’s unbelievably beautiful series paying homage to a fellow Spanish artist.

Make sure to check out Eugenio Recuenco’s new project, a short film titled “A Second Defeat.”

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Olafur Eliasson’s Somewhere Through The Rainbow

Olafur Eliasson-glass

Olafur Eliassons-stained glass


Olafur Eliassons-stained glass

Fall down the rabbit hole and take a walk on the wild side in Olafur Eliasson’s world of psychaledic prisms and dreams.  An “Alice in Wonderland” fantasized-like experience of kaleiscope and colorful imagination, testing all your senses.  A magical sight of both light and darkness.

His carefully constructed umbrella of mirrors resemble a mysterious and complicated visual spider’s web.  A beautiful complexity hard to resist visiting and walking through.  Face forward and step.  Look up, look down, to your sides and digest the vivid dream that surrounds you. Relax your eyes and allow light to enter your pupils.  The tunnels he creates are made out of various pieces and sizes of glass.  Walking through must be something like sitting on a rainbow.

Turning around sends you back into the depths of black, as the glass pieces lose their color—showcasing another dimension…. onyx city.  His work encourages you to walk through to the other side.  Standing dead center might feel like a cross road.  A contemplation.  A decision. Should I stay?  Should I go?  Should I continue forward? Should I go back? A moment of mindful reflection stirring up emotion.

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Corinne Vionnet Combines Boring Vacation Photos Into One Ethereal, Ghostly Image

Corinne Vionnet2 series "Photo Opportunities" series "Photo Opportunities" series "Photo Opportunities"

When searching for photos of popular tourist destinations, chances are many of these images look the same. Thanks to the now-ubiquitous camera phone, anyone can snap a photo anywhere. So, of course, it’s no surprise that there’s an endless amount of dull images of places like Los Angeles’ “Hollywood” sign or Rome’s Colosseum. Artist Corinne Vionnet recognized this fact years ago and crafted artworks born from banal vacation  photos. Her series is titled Photo Opportunities, and it uses at least 100 found photos layered digitally to comprise one cohesive image.

In 2005, Vionnet began searching online for pictures of tourist landmarks around the world, and she observed that most snapshots were of the existing, “stereotypical” imagery of that locale. Vantage points, lighting, visual symmetry – it all looks the same.

Photo Opportunities was recently on view at the Danziger Gallery in New York. They describe Vionnet’s pieces, writing:

Working with multiple images of different monuments, she collates around a hundred appropriated photographs for each of her layered, ethereal compositions. Underneath these beautiful ghost visions is a serious concern with how the persistence of formally repeated photographic compositions affects our cultural and historical awareness.

The Impressionist-quality of these images comment on how we experience and reflect on our environment. Even though the photo feels unique to the picture taker, it is all-too-similar and later lost in the digital ether. (Via Gawker)

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E.V. Day’s Tongue And Clam Sculptures Ooze With A Grotesque Eroticism

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Untitled (2005). Abalone, coyote tongue, black mother of pearl, and resin.

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Pearl (2005). Rubber coyote tongue, fresh water pearl, and resin.

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Tongue Tied 5 (2008). Cast rubber, nickel-plated rings and chains, on wood panel. 11 x 12 x 5.5 inches.

E.V. Day - Sculpture

Doublestuff (2004). Clam with mink and raccoon tongue and resin.

E.V. Day is a New York-based installation artist and sculptor who knows how to stimulate the senses while engaging the mind. Recognized for her bold explorations of gender and sexuality, her works ooze with a critically-engaging — and sometimes grotesque — erotic energy. This particular series is an ongoing project that Day began in 2003, and it features intriguing combinations of animal tongues, clamshells, and resin. Drenched and dripping with saliva, muscular tongues extend out of and into open, opalescent clamshells. Some are mounted on walls, with piercings and chains pulling them together; one even incorporates a nylon thong, which has been made to look grossly visceral. Most of the sculptures feature a glistening pearl as a finishing touch.

It goes without saying that the sexual imagery in this series is intensely palpable — the tongues are seen as phallic, and the clamshells and pearls evocative of female genitalia. However, Day’s work goes beyond representing biological sex in a reductionist way, and in fact resists such dualism. As her biography states, her work is aimed at “transform[ing] social stereotypes and playfully illuminat[ing] contradictions of gender roles by re-animating the recognizable into new forms and new meaning” (Source). With tongues and clams, Day has constructed a clever, dark, and almost humorous subversion of the male/female binary by creating abstract hybrid pieces; we identify sexual symbols in her sculptures, but they are fused together, interacting in surprising and unexpected ways that challenge heteronormative representations of sex. The fact that they are animal tongues adds an additional layer of categorical ambiguity and discomfort, but — aside from the initial shock and aversion — the result is a set of artworks that provoke us into reinterpreting the body’s relationship with sex and desire.

Visit Day’s website for a catalogue of her varied and fascinating work. Well-known for her suspended sculptures, other projects include animal skeletons hovering in dynamic poses, and a wedding dress exploding into abstract shards. More tongue-and-clam hybrids after the jump.

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The Dark Sensuality Of Youth In Bill Henson’s Controversial Photography

Bill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — Photography

The work of Australian photographer Bill Henson is a sensual journey into a dark, sensate, and ephemeral world. He is well-known for traversing and troubling the lines that demarcate time and space, identity, and artistic genre; as stated on the Tolarno Galleries website, he is an “explorer of twilight zones, between nature and civilization, youth and adulthood, male and female. His photographs are painterly tableaux that continue the traditions of romantic literature and painting” (Source). The mottled and dewy skin of his emotionally-rich subjects resembles the classical, artistic technique of chiaroscuro, wherein deep and murky shadows are used to create bold contrasts that illuminate the body in dramatic compositions. Similar to how your peripheral vision dims when you look at something bright in a dark room, the arched backs and turned faces of his models become the semi-obscured focus in his pieces, shrouding them in even more emotive and intangible beauty.

Henson is not without controversy, however. His work received a lot of criticism in 2008 due to complaints of indecency; his accusers deemed his images of nude teenagers as exploitative and inappropriately sexualized. His photographs were seized from exhibitions, and a public debate erupted regarding censorship. Later that year, it was settled. He would not be prosecuted, and the Australian Classification Board declared his work as “mild and justified” (Source).

Henson’s photography may evoke a sense of discomfort in some people, but to others, it resonates as passionate and melancholic portraits of youth. Many of us can probably relate to his imagery — those nights in our early adulthood, where we began to explore the possibilities and materialities of our post-pubescent bodies, connecting to them without shame, becoming self-aware of our own physical beauty, expressivity, and depth. Even his images of two or more models interacting do not seem pornographic; instead, we see people reaching, touching lightly, seeking connection, discovering the quivering electricity of the body when it comes into intimate proximity with others — the power of touch. Such nights and experiences remain forever in our memories. In this way, Henson’s work is less eroticized voyeurism than it is an exploration of our physical and emotional development.

A vast selection of Henson’s work from across the years can be seen at the Tolarno Galleries website, found here. Check out the rest of the dim and sensuous images after the jump, and please let us know how you respond intellectually/critically/emotionally to Henson’s photography in the comments below. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room Will Have You Seeing Dots

yayoi kusama installationThe-Obliteration-Room-by--007yayoi kusama installationyayoi kusama installation
A children’s project by Yayoi Kusama has people seeing dots, lots of them. Called The Obliteration Room, the renowned artist known for her sculptures and paintings of dots, decided to have a little fun with the kids. She created an interactive installation geared towards children which asked occupants to enter an all white room and stick the walls and furniture with colorful dots. This allowed participants in essence to make Kusama art. The installation was designed to enable the child part of your brain to run free and create.
Currently displayed at Queensland Art Gallery, the before and after pictures are nothing less than remarkable. In some ways mimicking connect the dots paintings where a gradual buildup occurs, we see how the all-white room is turned into a lively display of dots which turns the stark environment into a colorful painterly mess.
According to Kusama, The Obliteration Room is a place where you empty all your thoughts. The dots become therapeutic, meditative shapes which in Kusama’s case has helped her stay sane. Now at 85, the artist doesn’t keep it a secret that she lives as an outpatient at a mental hospital in Japan. In the 1960′s she was at the forefront of anti-war art demonstrations, in particular protesting the vietnam war. Her work is shown worldwide and is considered one of the more important artists of our time. (via juxtapoz)

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