The image above was Friday. It's a shot I take every year in all seasons, a stop on the way home. From bare to green to rich autumn hues, to the last wan days. The shot's still accurate today, because the worst didn't happen:
We didn't get the dreaded flurries.
Saturday's forecast called for five minutes of flurries. Nothing bad, nothing that would stay around, probably, but enough to let you know who's in charge now. It was cold, with wind, with an edge, with a gripe, with a beef, with a personal argument against you, you who'd sailed through all these warm months with such confidence, you who acted as if this would never happen again. Well, it's going to happen again, brother, and it's going to be the truth of the world for the next five months and you'd best get used to it.
But there was sun on Sunday. Cold sun.
It's still a beautiful world.
I have found the Rosetta Stone of 1920s advertising.
Do tell, you say, as your eyes glaze slightly and your finger moves to the mouse or key that enables you to scroll down quickly
Well, it’s probably something other people know, or knew, and if you’re in the business of figuring out the history of the medium 100 times ago, this will all be “well yes, we knew that.” But I didn’t, therefor the discovery is tremendously important.
It’s the book of 1923 ad art awards.
So it has names. So we can finally know, and by we I mean Me, and any of you who wandered back into the Gallery of Regrettable Foods Jell-O section, who the artist was, or might have been.
The art is remarkable, and varied.
|The scans are bad, and they're monotone and yellowed. I tried to do what I could with this one.
Another cover: an ever-so-modern young woman, chic and smart.
For example: the S. W. Straus building. This one took top prize in the architecture division, I think.
S. W. Straus would be Simon William Straus, who also built the Ambassador hotels in various cities, and the Straus building in Chicago. Surprisingly modest structure for the firm, which usually went BIG.
It’s gone now. Anyway, the artist was Sidney E. Fletcher. The scans, like almost everything scanned at a certain point on archive.org, is murky. But you still find the details of a lost world - not just the architecture, but the ea of hats and open-topped buses.
It’s gone now.
Anyway, the artist was Sidney E. Fletcher. Someone with that name - or rather, a Mrs. Sidney E - shows up in the 1930s social pages in California, a lot. I can’t find much about him, which is maddening - although it seems that he went on to significant success as an illustrator of Old West scenes.
This was one of the Jell-O ads. It's by Linn Bell, in his Cezanne-Manet period.
From Henry Howard Moust, working ham into the same late 19th century French styles:
More is known about this fellow: F. R. Grugar. He got the top prize for this one, a Yuban coffee ad. No doubt better in color.
He seems to be one of the biggest names of the era. None of which anyone seems to remember. Why should they? They weren’t feted in the arts journals or admired by the critics of Fine Art, because they worked in a debased culture - advertising - and practiced reactionary styles.
Lots of prize-winning Lydecker, of course:
I just like this one for its treatment of the eggs.
I'm sure that the artist wasn't particularly thrilled with the job. Debasing one's talents to sell shortening. But hey: it's a living.
Way way way back in 1932:
It’s one of those atmospheric pieces - meaning, no actual horror. Like Nosferatu, but less saturated in dread and off-kilter skewed reality. Basically, a guy shows up, and - well, I’ll let the imdb summary tell the tale.
Allan Gray arrives late in the evening to a secluded riverside inn in the hamlet of Courtempierre. An old man enters his room, puts a sealed parcel on the table, blurts out that some woman mustn't die, and disappears. Gray senses in this a call for help. He puts the parcel in his pocket, and goes out.
He goes to a house where there’s a peculiar doctor:
All is not well. Again, from the summary:
Most of the cast in Vampyr were not professional actors. Jan Hieronimko, who plays the village doctor, was found on a late night metro train in Paris. When approached to act in the film, Hieronimko stared blankly and did not reply. Hieronimko later contacted Dreyer's crew and agreed to join the film.
The doctor receives a bottle of poison from a strange, old woman.
And here the movie does tell you that something OMINOUS might be happening:
So it’s a bit more literal than some of the reviews might insist.
It’s slow and “atmospheric” and not to all tastes; I found it interesting. It's full of striking images that build the dread:
You can understand why David Lynch might have liked it.
One more thing:
And therein hangs a tale.
The French-born scion to a wealthy Russian-Jewish family, Nicolas, the 5th Baron de Gunzburg was known in Paris for his lavish costume balls and was popular with the artistic and social elite of the 20s and 30s. He yearned to become an actor and financed Dreyer's now-classic Vampyr in exchange for landing the lead role, using the screen name "Julian West.”
His film career never went anywhere, so he moved to New York, became editor of Town & Country, and hung around with Noel Coward and Lauren Bacall. Then he because an editor at Vogue. Then Harper’s Bazaar. A well-dressed and civilized fellow, with one of the most famous arty-scary movies to his credit.
I think he would've been an interesting fellow with whom to have cocktails and dinner.
That'll do: off on another week of stuff, and I hope you enjoy it. We close up the Hotel section of the matchbooks today, with only two examples. Sorry!