Apr 29 2012: Eighteen Plates from The Art of Macrame: Modern Design in Knotting by Joan Fisher (Hamlyn, 1972)

Despite both pre-dating and surviving the 1970s, the art of macrame is nevertheless almost entirely identified with the post-hippie decade in which handicrafts, self-sufficiency, nascent feminist politics and early ecological consciousness converged around the visual symbolism of the knotted string and woollen construction: whether a poncho, a chess set, a headband or – in one … Continue reading

Apr 24 2012: A Gallery Showing Six Generic Soviet Union Paper Record Sleeve Designs (Melodija, 1960s)

These paper record sleeves, produced by various regional branches of the Soviet Union’s state record label, Melodija, were made to provide generic covers inside which pretty much any type of music might be housed, whether classical, folk, jazz, pop or Red Army choirs. In some respects, these generic sleeves are the equivalents of the 7″ … Continue reading

Apr 19 2012: Painting Sunsets by Violet Parkhurst (Walter T Foster Publications, 1960s)

Although it’s something of a cliche to claim the general public neither understands nor likes conceptual art, or contemporary art that doesn’t show evidence of traditional skill, seeing such work as a species of charlatanry, I’m not sure the theory stands up when it’s examined in more detail. The guide to painting sunsets seen above … Continue reading

Apr 18 2012: The “Mr Universe” Magazine Giant Body Beautiful Issue Featuring Clarence Ross (1950s)

American masculinity has always been a curious creature, with its more regressive manifestations generally among the nation’s most blatantly homoerotic cultural forms: perhaps it’s a submerged consciousness of this blurring between extreme machismo and ‘lavender leanings’ that underlies much of the anti-gay discourse that surrounds images like the one above, a 1950s portrait of bodybuilder … Continue reading

Apr 14 2012: Cover Images from Comic Versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad by Homer (Classics Illustrated, 1960s)

How far does the value of a literary work reside in language and specific medium, how far in the story and broader ideas it contains? The question’s raised here by reductions (to around 25 pages each) of the two great epic poems of Homer, with each comic book acting more as a kind of compressed … Continue reading

Apr 13 2012: A Sheet of Six Moroccan Stamps (Collection de Timbres Post, Date Unknown)

A set of six used stamps on a postcard, showing variations on the image of a man I assume, from that ‘Royaume du Maroc’ tagline, to be the king of Morocco, though the general effect is not unlike Andy Warhol’s near-contemporary arrays of differently coloured silkscreen portraits of celebrities and collectors. Here, the King is … Continue reading

Apr 7 2012: Nine Hand-Coloured Illustrations From The Astronaut Book (Panther Books, 1969)

Over the next three days we’ll look at the monochrome and colour images featured in the pages of The Astronauts’ Book, an annual-style publication issued by Panther in the UK in 1969, the year of the Lunar landings. Comprising articles written (or, at least, ghostwritten) in the voices of actual astronauts (and the odd Soviet … Continue reading

Apr 1 2012: Eleven Postcards Showing Airlines And Aircraft Of The World (1960s – 1980s)

Until the sell-offs of national aviation companies during the 1980s, such as the wholesale privatisation of BA in the UK and the contracting out of such infrastructures as Air Traffic Control and baggage handling in the US (the latter had rather more to do with facilitating the 9/11 attacks than apologists for cost-cutting privatisation have … Continue reading

Mar 29 2012: Ten Postcards Showing A Variety Of Traditional And Modern Views Of Japan (1960s)

This isn’t the first time Japan has figured here, and earlier representaions were mainly drawn from the envelope of souvenirs collected by a certain Mr Ernest Dring, of Attenborough, Nottinghamshire, who – on the evidence of those contents – had a busy 1964, taking in the Tokyo Olympics and Milan, as a bare minimum in … Continue reading

Mar 24 2012: Four Colour Illustrations Showing Circus Life By Edward Mortelmans (Girl Annual, 1958)

For┬áthe first of four galleries of images culled from two different editions of Girl Annual – dating from 1958 and 1961 respectively – it seemed appropriate to single out this particular sequence of colour illustrations looking at circus life for their intrinsic interest. There’s something in Edward Mortelmans’ paintigs that reminds me of similar fine … Continue reading