Amoeblog

Man Ray

Posted by Whitmore, August 27, 2008 11:55am | Post a Comment


Often cited as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Man Ray, was born Emmanuel Radnitzky on this day, August 27, 1890 in Philadelphia. He significantly contributed to the Dada, Surrealist and Avant-Garde movements of the 20th century and was a significant voice in the Parisian art world after The Great War. Though he mostly considered himself a painter, it’s as a photographer and film maker he is best remembered, not only for his experimental photography and films of the 1920’s and 30’s but for his fashion and portraiture work also.

A side note, during the Second World War, Man Ray returned to America, settling in Hollywood from about 1940 until 1951 at 1245 Vine Street-- the Villa Elaine apartments, across the street from the old Hollywood Ranch Market, right around the corner from present day Amoeba Records in Hollywood.




Lisette Model

Posted by Whitmore, August 24, 2008 01:33pm | Post a Comment

If any of you west coast jetsetters are planning on swooping down onto the Big Apple this next week, there is an exhibition at New York’s Zabriskie Gallery of a photographer whose work is definitely worth checking out.

Born Elise Amelie Felicie Stern in Vienna in 1901, Lisette Model was schooled as a classical musician, but soon after arriving in Paris in 1926 she took to the visual arts, picking up photography. She moved to Manhattan in 1938. Later that year she was hired as a staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar, and began to photograph not only street life, especially the Lower East Side, but also the nightlife of New York City’s cafés and bars. Model, along with Berenice Abbott and Weegee, became the photographers who most captured the ebb and flow of mid-century New York and its anomalous collection of eccentrics, curiosities, elastic cityscapes and culture.

In 1951 Model was swayed by Berenice Abbott to teach at the New School for Social Research in New York. Several of her students would become some of the most prominent photographers of the second half of the 20th century, including Rosalind Solomon, Bruce Weber and her most famous protégé, Diane Arbus. Model would continue to teach until her death in 1983.

Lisette Model was said to be direct yet enigmatic at the same time, inventing her myth and simultaneously denying its existence. She had a knack for intimacy, and even when photographing her most unusual subjects she maintained and revealed their self-owned dignity. Then again, some of her photographs have a harsh, claustrophobic feeling, situated along a dark and troubling and misanthropic edge.

Model’s photographs have been acquired by numerous museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Chicago Art Institute, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institute.

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Charles and Ray Eames

Posted by Whitmore, August 22, 2008 08:38pm | Post a Comment


… once again I’m a day late and a dollar short, but that’s just the beginning…

Yesterday was the thirtieth and, oddly enough, the twentieth anniversaries of the deaths of legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames. Mostly known for their furniture design, their work also includes major contributions in industrial design, graphic design, architecture and film. Charles died August 21, 1978, Ray died on the same date, ten years later in 1988.

Architectural colleagues Charles Eames and Ray-Bernice Kaiser married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles to open their own firm. In 1946, as part of the Arts & Architecture magazine's "Case Study" series that commissioned architects of the day to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes, the groundbreaking Eames House design was selected. Built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at 203 North Chautauqua Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades, and once a part of Will Rogers' estate, this unique house, also called Case Study House #8, used pre-fabricated steel parts and was hand-constructed in a matter of days. The structure was entirely constructed from "off-the-shelf" parts available from steel fabricator catalogs. However, immediately after the Second World War, steel was in very short supply, which explains the three year delay in construction. The Eames house was completed in 1949.

Working from their office located at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, Charles and Ray Eames’ hit their stride in the 1950’s in modern furniture design. Their landmark and highly collectible furniture includes early molded plywood chairs and their innovative use of materials, such as the fiberglass and plastic resin. Aside from the molded-plywood DCW (Dining Chair Wood), other classic furniture designs include the DCM (Dining Chair Metal with a plywood seat), the Eiffel Plastic Armchair and side chair from 1959, the Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman from 1956, the Aluminum Group furniture series and the wire mesh chairs designed for office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, 1962’s Eames tandem sling seating, as well as the Eames Chaise designed specifically for film director Billy Wilder in 1968. At the time of Charles’ death they were working on what would be their final design, the Eames Sofa, which went into production in 1984.

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Mr. Bubble

Posted by Whitmore, August 7, 2008 11:26am | Post a Comment
Sad news from the world of high finance and squeaky clean kids: Yesterday, it was announced that Mr. Bubble has passed away. The happy, pink faced bubble bath icon became yet another victim of these changing times, and perhaps a victim of modern kids who just don’t know how to roll around in the muck anymore -- except in chat rooms on the internet. Mr. Bubble, who always refused to give his actual age, was believed to be in his mid fifties.

Born in North Dakota, Mr Bubble was created by the entrepreneur Harold Schafer (1912 - 2001), who founded the Gold Seal Company during The Second World War. Schafer also invented Glass Wax and Snowy Bleach; each of these brands became the number one selling products in the world in their respective categories by 1960. In 1986, Schafer retired and sold his Gold Seal Company.

Ascendia Brands, the Hamilton, New Jersey based present day owners of Mr Bubble and makers of health and beauty products such as Baby Magic and Calgon, said they have filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and are seeking a buyer for the business. Reports say Ascendia and five affiliates listed debt of $279 million and assets of $194.8 million as of July 5 in Chapter 11 documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

So tonight, when you slip into your bath with your glass of sherry or a cup of chamomile tea, think of what Mr Bubble used to sing to filthy and grubby kids everywhere, “I’m Mr. Bubble and you can watch me pop!”



Bud Browne 1912 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, July 31, 2008 08:32am | Post a Comment


Last week ‘the father of surf films,’ Bud "Barracuda" Browne, the onetime lifeguard who began showing his 16-millimeter movies commercially in the early 1950’s, died in his sleep at his home in San Luis Obispo. He was 96.

Born July 12th, 1912, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, Browne began swimming competitively at age seven. He attended USC, was captain of the swim team and in 1933 ranked second in the nation as a collegiate swimmer. While working as a lifeguard at Venice Beach in late thirties, Browne was introduced to surfing. In 1938 he went to Hawaii to ride the big waves in Waikiki, taking along an 8-millimeter movie camera to film the local surfers. One his first and most prized reels of film recorded the legendary king of the surfers Duke Kahanamoku.

During World War II, Browne served as a navy chief specialist in athletics (earning the nickname "Barracuda" for his long lean look). Following the war he became a teacher in Los Angeles, working as a middle-school physical education instructor and also attended USC Film School. He upgraded his camera to a 16-millimeter Bell & Howell. In 1953, after spending several years filming surfers in Hawaii, Browne pieced together enough footage to compile a 45-minute film. Hawaiian Surfing Movie debuted at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica.

Browne eventually gave up his teaching gig and took to chronicling the 1950’s surf scene full time, releasing at least one movie a year between 1953 and 1964. With films such as Trek to Makaha, The Big Surf, Surf Down Under, Cavalcade of Surf, Locked In and Gun Ho!, Browne documented all the surfing greats of the longboard era, like Phil Edwards, Buzzy Trent, Greg Noll, Miki Dora, Linda Benson and Dewey Weber, plus the first-generation of shortboard riders, like David Nuuhiwa, Nat Young and Gerry Lopez. In addition to completing nearly 20 of his own films, he also contributed footage to other projects such as Big Wednesday, directed by John Milius, Greg McGillivray/Jim Freeman’s Waves of Change (also known as The Sunshine Sea) and their 1972 classic Five Summer Stories. In the early 1990’s Browne began re-editing some of his earlier efforts. The first project, Surfing the 50's, honed his best color footage from the eight films he produced during the fifties. That success led to re-releasing some of his other movies such as the 1963 classic, Gun Ho!.

As a surf-film pioneer, Browne had a huge influence on those who came after him like Bruce Brown (The Endless Summer) and photographer John Severson. Bud Browne was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1996. This past March, he was honored at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for his lifetime achievements to the genre of surf films.

Here is some of Browne’s footage used in a Hamms Beer commercial from 1965.

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