Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dante's Inferno Watercolor Paintings, 1950's

9th Circle Treachery, circa 1950's9th Circle Treachery

Canto 3 Gate To Hell, Lost Souls Outside, circa 1950'sCanto 3 Gate To Hell, Lost Souls Outside

Geryon Leading Dante To The 8th Ring Of Hell, circa 1950'sGeryon Leading Dante To The 8th Ring Of Hell

7th Circle Woods Of Sucides, circa 1950's7th Circle Woods Of Sucides

Virgil At The Entrance Of Hell, circa 1950'sVirgil At The Entrance Of Hell

Dark Woods With 3 Beasts At Opening Of Poem, circa 1950'sDark Woods With 3 Beasts At Opening Of Poem

Thieves And Burning Soul, circa 1950'sThieves And Burning Soul

These watercolor paintings on illustration board are inspired by Dante Alighieri's "Inferno" the first part of his 14th-century poem, "Divine Comedy." The artist is unknown but the artworks were found in the midwestern United States and date circa the 1950's. 

All artworks were provided by Stephen Romano.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Sascha Schneider (1870 - 1927)

Sascha Schneider - The Shaman, 1901The Shaman, 1901
 Sascha Schneider - Around A SoulAround A Soul
 Sascha Schneider - Gram, 1894-95Gram, 1894-95
 Sascha Schneider - To A SoulTo A Soul

Sascha Schneider - Hypnotism, 1904Hypnotism, 1904
 Sascha Schneider - Ein Wiedersehen, 1900A Reunion, 1900
 Sascha Schneider - Eins is Not! (One thing is Necessary!)Eins is Not! (One thing is Necessary!)
 Sascha Schneider - Perseus and Andromeda, 1924Perseus and Andromeda, 1924
 Sascha Schneider - Mammon and his Slave, 1896Mammon and his Slave, 1896
 Sascha Schneider - Triumph of Darkness, 1896Triumph of Darkness, 1896
 Sascha Schneider - A Feeling of Dependence, 1920 (version 3)A Feeling of Dependence, 1920 (version 3)
 Sascha Schneider - A Feeling of Dependence, 1920 (version 2)A Feeling of Dependence, 1920 (version 2)

Sascha Schneider - A Feeling of Dependence, 1920 (version 1)A Feeling of Dependence, 1920 (version 1)
 Sascha Schneider - "In The Realm Of The Silver Lion 1," 1905Illustration for Karl May's "In The Realm Of The Silver Lion 1," 1905
 Sascha Schneider - llustration for Karl May’s "In The Realm Of The Silver Lion 2," 1904lllustration for Karl May’s "In The Realm Of The Silver Lion 2," 1904
 Sascha Schneider - Illustration for "In The Realm Of The Silver Lion 3," 1904Illustration for "In The Realm Of The Silver Lion 3," 1904
 Sascha Schneider - Ilustration for Karl May's "In the Land of the Mahdi 2," 1905Ilustration for Karl May's "In the Land of the Mahdi 2," 1905
 Sascha Schneider - Illustration for Karl May's "In the Land of the Mahdi 2," 1905Illustration for Karl May's "In the Land of the Mahdi 2," 1905
 Sascha Schneider - Illustration for Karl May’s "Von Bagdad nach Stambul," 1904Illustration for Karl May’s "Von Bagdad nach Stambul," 1904
 Sascha Schneider - Triumph of the Woman, 1920Triumph of the Woman, 1920
 Sascha Schneider - Christ In Hell, 1900Christ In Hell, 1900
 Sascha Schneider - The Anarchist, 1894The Anarchist, 1894
 Sascha Schneider - The Extravagant, 1903The Extravagant, 1903
 Sasha Schneider - To freedom, 1894To Freedom, 1894

"Schneider was born in Saint Petersburg in 1870. During his childhood his family lived in Zürich, but following the death of his father, Schneider, moved to Dresden, where in 1889 he became a student at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts (Kreuzgymnasium). In 1903 he met best-selling author Karl May, and subsequently became the cover illustrator of a number of May's books including Winnetou, Old Surehand, Am Rio de la Plata. A year later in 1904, Schneider was appointed professor at the Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstschule Weimar.

During this period Schneider lived with painter Hellmuth Jahn. Jahn began blackmailing Schneider by threatening to expose his homosexuality, which was punishable under § 175 of the penal code. Schneider fled to Italy, where homosexuality was not criminalized at that time. In Italy, Schneider met painter Robert Spies, with whom he traveled through the Caucasus Mountains. He then traveled back to Germany, where he lived for six months in Leipzig before returning to Italy, where he resided in Florence. When the First World War started, Schneider returned to Germany again, taking up residence in Hellerau (near Dresden). After 1918, he co-founded an institute called Kraft-Kunst for body building. Some of the models for his art works trained here.

Schneider, who suffered from diabetes mellitus, suffered a diabetic seizure during a ship voyage in the vicinity of Swinemünde. As a result, he collapsed and died in 1927 in Swinemünde. He was buried in Loschwitz Cemetery, Germany." - quote source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sascha_Schneider

Image sources include Studio Mariani Gallery, The Karl May WikiThe Sale Room, Wikimedia Commons and Mehlis.eu

Saturday, May 13, 2017

William Mortensen (1897-1965)

William Mortensen - Self Portrait of 
William Mortensen and Courtney Crawofrd, 1926
Self Portrait of William Mortensen and Courtney Crawford, 1926

It is an honor to share with you the following works by the great William Mortensen.  Many of the following images have not been shown publicly before and were taken from the original prints exclusively for Monster Brains by Stephen Romano. Also included here are original masks designed by Mortensen that were photographed by Stephen from his personal collection.  He has provided a wealth of incredibly high resolution and beautiful copies of many of William Mortensen's greatest works that I share with you below, enjoy.

William Mortensen - Ho Ho Off To The Sabboth, 1926Ho Ho Off To The Sabboth, 1926

William Mortensen - A Tantric Priest,1930A Tantric Priest, 1930

William Mortensen - LAmour, 1930L'amour, 1930

William Mortensen - The Incubus, 1924 - 26The Incubus, 1924 - 26

William Mortensen - Belphegor, 1930Belphegor, 1930

William Mortensen - The Vampires Retribution, 1928The Vampire's Retribution, 1928

William Mortensen - Preperation For The Sabbot, 1930Preperation For The Sabbot, 1930

William Mortensen - The_Old Hag, 1928The Old Hag, 1928

William Mortensen - The Worship of Isis, The Moon Goddess, 1924The Worship of Isis, The Moon Goddess, 1924

William Mortensen - The Spanish Main, 1932The Spanish Main, 1932

William Mortensen - A Spider TortureA Spider Torture

William Mortensen - Beelzebub, 1926Beelzebub, 1926

William Mortensen - Jezebel, 1924Jezebel, 1924

William Mortensen - The Old Hag With Incubus, 1928The Old Hag With Incubus, 1928

William Mortensen - The Old Hag With Skull, 1926The Old Hag With Skull, 1926

William Mortensen -  FearFear

William Mortensen - The Initiation Of A Young Witch, 1928The Initiation Of A Young Witch, 1928

William Mortensen - Human Relations, 1932Human Relations, 1932

William Mortensen - In Missa Interfectionis, 1928In Missa Interfectionis, 1928

William Mortensen - Salome, 1926Salome, 1926

William Mortensen - Sappho, 1926Sappho, 1926

William Mortensen - Masked Nude with Skull, 1926Masked Nude with Skull, 1926

William Mortensen - The Shrapnel, 1928The Shrapnel, 1928

William Mortensen - Caprice Vanois,1926Caprice Vanois, 1926

William Mortensen - Witch On Broom, 1928Witch On Broom, 1928

William Mortensen -  Untitled c. 1924Untitled, 1924

William Mortensen - Masked Woman, 1926Masked Woman, 1926

William Mortensen - Female CrucifixionFemale Crucifixion

William Mortensen - Male FemaleMale Female

William Mortensen - Nude With Small DemonNude With Small Demon

William Mortensen - Courtney with Masks, 1926Courtney with Masks, 1926

William Mortensen - Courtney Crawford with Masks, 1924Courtney Crawford with Masks, 1924

William Mortensen - Courtney Crawford with Masks, 1926Courtney Crawford with Masks, 1926

William Mortensen - Ghoul MaskGhoul Mask

William Mortensen - Face MaskFace Mask

William Mortensen - Gorilla MaskGorilla Mask

William Mortensen - Demon MaskDemon Mask

William Mortensen - Imp MaskImp Mask

William Mortensen - Faye Wray MaskFaye Wray Mask

William Mortensen - Skull MaskSkull Mask


"Mortensen began his photographic career taking portraits of Hollywood actors and film stills. In 1931 he moved to the artist community of Laguna Beach, California, where he opened a studio and the William Mortensen School of Photography.

He preferred the pictorialism style of manipulating photographs to produce romanticist painting-like effects. The style brought him criticism from straight photographers of the modern realist movement and, in particular, he carried on a prolonged written debate with Ansel Adams.

His arguments defending romanticist photography led him to be "ostracized from most authoritative canons of photographic history." In an essay, Larry Lytle wrote, "Due to his approach—both technically and philosophically in opposition to straight or purist adherents — he is amongst the most problematic figures in photography in the twentieth-century... historians and critics have described his images as "...anecdotal, highly sentimental, mildly erotic hand-colored prints...", "...bowdlerized versions of garage calendar pin-ups and sadomasochist entertainments...", "...contrived set-ups and sappy facial expressions...", and Ansel Adams variously referred to Mortensen as the "Devil", and "the anti-Christ." In addition, the more realistic photojournalism emerging from World War II correspondents, and carried in national news magazines, caused Mortensen's more posed and contrived photos to fade from the public mind. He was largely forgotten by the time of his death in 1965." - quote source


"Mortensen’s methods often made it hard to distinguish whether the results were photographs or not. He used traditional printmaking techniques, such as bromoiling, and developed many of his own. He would create composite images, scratch, scrape and draw on his prints, then apply a texture that made them look like etchings, thereby disguising his manipulations. Consequently, every print was unique. Ultimately, Mortensen’s aim was to create something that, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be a photograph, yet portrayed scenes so fantastic they caused wonder and astonishment in the viewer." - quote source


Several masks seen in Mortensen's photographs were used in the Todd Browning directed silent film "West of Zanzibar" starring Lon Chaney from 1928. The film can be viewed in its entirety at archive.org


William Mortensen - Portrait of Fay Wray, 1921-22Portrait of Fay Wray, 1921-22


"In the 1920s, Mortensen was living in Utah when he met Fay and her older sister, Willow. When the girls moved to Los Angeles, he accompanied them as Fay’s chaperon and Willow’s fiance. However, on the train ride to California, he spoke of his romantic feelings toward Fay, saying he was more interested in her than Willow. Fay later admitted, ” I felt odd, as old as a fourteen-year-old could feel. I felt happy that he admired me; I felt guilty that he did. The train rushed on and my face felt hot. I stared at the pattern in the combing jacket. To hear that he had not cared for my sister, as my mother had said, made me feel awful, even though I liked hearing what he had to say about me. I was feeling an appreciation of myself beyond what I had ever felt; at the same time, it was terribly uncomfortable to feel so old.”

While in Hollywood, Mortensen rented the Wetzel studio on a Sunday, where he spent a couple of hours taking photos of Fay in various dresses. On a separate occasion, he took her to the beach where he shot risque photos of her barely wearing any clothing at all.

As one might expect, Mortensen and Willow’s “relationship” didn’t last. Fay’s mother, Elvina, became convinced that Mortensen had sexually abused Fay. After settling in Los Angeles, Elvina demanded to see all of the glass plates he had taken of her daughter. Mortensen complied and Elvina began shattering all of them (except this one which was somehow overlooked). Years later, Faye claimed that there was no sexual abuse at all, though she admitted that on one occasion, he “ran his hand over my dress, feeling the shape of my breasts.”" - quote and image taken from the Bizarre Los Angeles tumblr.



A documentary on Mortensen titled "Monsters and Madonnas" was shared by Stephen Romano on Vimeo below..


monstersandmadonnas from stephen romano on Vimeo.



Stephen Romano has collected and curated a fantastic collection of William Mortensen's works in recent years, you can find them at www.whmortensen.com

I end this post with a quote from Stephen Romano that perfectly summarizes the artist..

"Mortensen was a master, master at lighting, master at printing, master at posing the model.  Most of all he was a visionary who understood that the camera has it's limits, and not to be enslaved by those limits but rather to invent one's own technique to perpetuate the artist's vision."

Feral House recently published a book on William Mortensen titled "AMERICAN GROTESQUE The Life and Art of William Mortensen" available directly from Feral House here.

You can also find a book on William Mortensen titled "The Command To Look, A Master Photographer’s Method for Controlling the Human Gaze" from Feral House.