The Paris Flat That Time Forgot

Via Daily Telegraph / How To Be A Retronaut / Thomas Negovan:

“Mrs de Florian never returned to her Paris flat after the war and died at the age of 91 in 2010. Behind the door, under a thick layer of dust lay a treasure trove of turn-of-the-century objects including a painting by the 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.”

“Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, one expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.”

“‘There was a smell of old dust,’ said Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery. Walking under high wooden ceilings, past an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, he spotted a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war, as well as an exquisite dressing table…”

(Read more at the Daily Telegraph.) 

Paul Komoda’s King Thalidomidas

Artist Paul Komoda – whose Elephant Man sculpture, Syphilis lady bust, and ‘Blind Love’ illustration were previously featured on Coilhouse – recently sculpted King Thalidomidas, a new model resin kit available from Artist Proof Studio. King Thalidomidas is available for purchase, or you can enter in a contest to win this sculpture, or one of their many other gorgeously grotesque pieces, simply by commenting on the the Artist Proof blog. Details here.

Bone China Autopsies by Beccy Ridsel

Fine china should be handled with care, as demonstrated by artist/sculptor Beccy Ridsel earlier this year. “This work was an installation, set up as a lab experiment in progress, complete with scalpels, lab coats, needles and a microscope. Piles of dicarded, cut-up craft objects lay about the desk, some with their innards seeping out, others rearranged, Frankenstein-style.” The purpose of Ridsel’s experiment was to find the point at which craft transforms into art, a problematic division she discusses in a post on Yatzer. She notes at the end of the article, “I am currently working on domestic variations of these pieces; the irony of [this] isn’t lost on me.”

[via Asha Beta]

Superhero Hideout of the Week: Brooklyn Clock Loft

Behold: my dream lair. Unfortunately, being located in Brooklyn, this loft probably costs a gazillion dollars. Still, one can dream!

The furnishings in this image, however, are far too benign. You all know that I’m decorating-challenged, but even I can see that the tremendous potential of this space been wasted. I’m not saying that we need to completely goth it up in here with coffin furniture and I.V. bag-styled lamps – love that stuff, but not for this. Still, I’d much rather see this space looking like it belongs to a dignified shut-in taxidermist, and not someone’s rich aunt.

So, Coilhomeboys and girls, how would you design this space if it were yours? For more jealousy inspiration, see below. For some reason, though, I’m tempted to skip out on the cabinet-of-curiosities thing altogether and make it totally disco.

Images by Michael Weschler for the NYT article “The New Antiquarians

Jessica Joslin’s Love Letter to Wisconsin

Please welcome guest-blogger and wunderkammer artist Jessica Joslin’s formal addition to our Staff Page! – Ed.

One of the things that I love about living in Chicago is that it’s merely a hop, skip and a jump away from Wisconsin. For those of you on the coasts, that statement may make little sense. Still, I am wholeheartedly convinced that there’s magic there. Wisconsin’s had far more than its share of brilliant eccentrics, outsider artists and charming crackpots. From Alex Gordon’s jaw-droppingly magnificent House on The Rock –a place whose wide-ranging wonders utterly defy description— to the architectural gems of Gordon’s sworn enemy, Frank Lloyd Wright, to the strange and beautiful man-made grottos that dot the countryside, Wisconsin is a treasure trove of wonderful weirdness.

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910-1983) was a true Wisconsinite, in the very best (and most eccentric) sense of the word. He lived in a world of his own making, hidden away in a modest house in Milwaukee with his beloved wife and muse Marie. During the days, he worked as a baker, but in his own words, he was a “Freelance Artist, Poet and Sculptor, Inovator [sic], Arrow maker and Plant man, Bone artifacts constructor, Photographer and Architect, Philosopher.” In each of his chosen disciplines, Von Bruenchenhein was incredibly prolific. When his work was discovered shortly after his death, his home was literally stuffed to the gills with his creations. His paintings are vivid, apocalyptic explosions of color, swirling with mysterious monsters and elusive, organic forms. The distinctive surfaces are partly a result of his process. Since brushes were often an unattainable luxury, he used his fingers, twigs or bushes made of  his wife Marie’s hair. Marie herself is a lovely enigma. Eugene clearly adored her. She was his one and only model in a series of photographs influenced by the pin-up imagery of the time. In his images, he turned her into a queen, a goddess, a siren… constructing crowns out of tin Christmas ornaments and adorning her with wreaths of pearls.

Left: one of Von Breunchenheim’s bone chairs. Right: A photographic portrait by Von Breunchenheim of his beloved Marie.

It was Von Bruenchenhein’s bone chairs that first caught my eye. They are tiny and intricate, constructed from the detritus of many a chicken dinner. Apparently, he ate a lot of chicken, because he also constructed wonderful little bone towers. They look almost like architectural models of the Watts towers.

I am also fascinated by a snapshot of a wall in his home, probably in the basement, scrawled with his philosophical musings. “Death haunts men forever and finally wins” is written directly underneath “Electric meter” and “Water and Gas.” It’s as if he felt that his revelations needed to be put somewhere permanent, somewhere that could not be misplaced like a sheet of paper. It’s like having the rare chance to peer into his head. Next to a pin-up in a bikini, ever the romantic, he writes: “All go down the drain. Collect yourself. Tomorrow it is too late. Make love worth ALL” – and above a dark water stain, there is “Love is a fire ever bright.”

To see more, visit his extended biography at Kinz + Tillou and view a great collection of photos at the Hammer Gallery site. More images after the jump!

Ikea Heights

For anyone who has ever visited an Ikea store the video above should come as no great leap of logic. Wandering through the various furnished rooms, as meticulously arranged as any stage set, one is almost overpowered by the urge to simply set up camp in a disembodied kitchen and pretend to inhabit it. How many times have I lounged on a severe, uncomfortable sofa and resisted the urge to yell at passers-by to stop blocking my view of the fake plastic television in the press-board entertainment unit? How often have I managed to restrain myself from sitting down at a cheaply veneered computer table in front of a hollow, faux-monitor, and begin masturbating furiously, stopping only occasionally to remonstrate gawking shoppers for “not knocking first”?

Don’t you judge me.

The people at Channel 101 know these desires. They have seen the potential of the Ikea model of retail stores and they have taken full advantage, using the ready-made rooms as the backdrop for their melodrama Ikea Heights, which details the scandalous goings-on in the living-room, kitchen, office, and bath sections. It’s a tale of murder, deception, sex, and greed. Also, polyester.

Men of Mortuaries – The Calendar of Sexy Undertakers

At SocImages, illness Gwen describes ways in which morticians/funeral directors have sought to remove some of the stigmas associated with their profession:

In my Intro to Soc course I assign K.R. Thompson’s article “Handling the Stigma of Handling the Dead: Morticians and Funeral Directors” (Deviant Behavior 1991, v. 12, p. 403-429). Thompson looked at how those involved in preparing the dead for burial and planning funerals try to manage the negative perceptions they suspect much of the public has of them. Language was a major way they tried to do this–redefining themselves as “funeral directors” rather than “morticians” or “undertakers,” referring to dead people as “the deceased” rather than “the body” or “the corpse,” “casket” rather than “coffin,” and so on. The point was to try to reduce the association with death–to never blatantly refer to death at all.

They also tried to avoid what they felt were stereotypes of funeral directors. Some mentioned trying not to wear black suits, and one man went so far as to keep hand warmers in his pockets so his hands would be warm when he shook family members’ hands–a reaction to what he said was a belief that funeral directors have cold, clammy hands. Others lived in a different town than where they worked and tried to keep their careers secret.

In 2007, California-based funeral director Kenneth McKenzie went one step further to battle the stereotype of the gaunt, morbid mortician by releasing the “Men of Mortuaries” calendar. According to an Obit Magazine article about the calendar, the hundreds of applicants for the 2008 calendar were narrowed down by a mixed-race panel that included a gay older man, a gay young man, a straight older man, a straight younger man, a young straight woman and an older straight woman “to hear all voices.” McKenzie sold 20,000 calendars in 2008, and proceeds went to an organization McKenzie started to support women who, like his sister, were undergoing breast cancer treatment.

On a (kinda) related note:

The Mystery of Home Decorating

I know nothing about making a home look beautiful or cozy. Decorating was not a family value. When we first moved to America, my parents were too busy and poor to worry about picking out shower curtains, and by time a little decor became financially feasible, years of thrifty practicality had turned shabbynot-so-chic into a permanent household motif: for example, all throughout my teens, our living room furniture consisted of two car seats taken from a minivan. “Why, these are just as comfy as any regular armchair!” my dad assured me. As the pace of life slowed down, my parents began to decorate, but it was too late for me to learn from them and their adorable garden gnomes.

A glorious decoupaged ceiling, courtesy of a DIY tutorial on Apartment Therapy. Probably outside my current skill level.

When I moved out, my underdeveloped sense of decorating received little nourishment in the college dorms or in my first apartment, a leaky two-bedroom North Philly. My roommate slapped up ’80s beer posters with chicks in gold lamé suits; I cut my favorite images out of a Werner Pawklok book, put them into $3 frames from CVS, and hung them lopsidedly nearby. My first “real” apartment never reached its full potential; I was too busy with my first “real” job. In LA, an array of confusing and bizarre living situations left little room for creativity. My first housemate on the West Coast turned out to be an animal abuser: I’d often come home to find her watching reality TV, surrounded by steaming piles of turds littered throughout the living room and kitchen, left there by her sickly animals, which were often dressed in ridiculous gowns that covered up oozing lesions. Decorating that place was the last thing on my mind. When that living room situation reached its inevitable meltdown, I started bouncing around from one sublet to another, moving from shoebox to shoebox until finally, through a set of circumstances that would take too long to describe here, I ended up living in a closet. Not figuratively – literally. It was there that I finished Issue 02.

Stuff I’d like to decorate with, in theory. Laura Zindel & Dylan Kehde Roelofs

But this post isn’t a solicitation for pity, dear reader. I’m writing to seek advice! For my luck has finally changed. The dream apartment has fallen into my lap: hardwood floors, a little garden, a bay window. Having a lair that delights the senses is all about inspiration and self-respect, and I don’t want to let this opportunity pass me by. Except – I know nothing about decorating. Walking into a person’s nicely-arranged space feels like wandering into a museum, full of wondrous objects mystically aligned through a studied science that takes years to master. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t even know where to start.

So I thought I’d start by asking you guys. What tips do you have for someone who has never decorated before? I don’t the first thing about painting a wall or figuring out where to hang a picture. What home decor blogs do you like? What cute Etsy sellers do you reccomend? But more importantly than that, I’m curious to hear about people’s decorating experience. How did you approach the problem of decorating your very own space, for the very first time?

Paul Komoda’s Bust of Joseph Merrick

There is only one Paul Komoda in this world. Our first mention of this artist came back in October of 2007 when we first launched – we featured the piece “Blind Love.” This time, I’d like to share with you Paul’s creepy, emotional take on Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. In addition to being a fantastic artist, Paul also happens to be my best friend in the world. He was there the night that Zoe, Mer and I were all together in the same place, at the same time, for the very first time. ComicCon 2007, Dr. Sketchy’s. Nobody knew each other well at all then, yet. They had us drawing an imaginary George Takei for some reason, in addition to the posing Sketchy’s model. We recognized Mer (whom I’d met only once before) on the street due to her green dreads. Zo was the model, and had a terrible cold. Her usual, high-pitched voice sounded so low that weekend that it was as if she’d been smoking 10 packs a day since she was 2. She was talking to Mer for the first time and I kept saying “this isn’t really what she sounds like!” It was a magical night. Warren Ellis (drink!) was at that ComicCon too, and Molly Crabapple was at Dr. Sketchy’s. That one night had 2 magazine contributors and all 3 editors… before anyone even knew there’d be a magazine.

Anyway, so here’s Paul. Many years ago, we watched David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (see full movie here) together. Now we quote that movie at each other all of the time. Paul just moved to California – 5 minutes away from me! – after living on the East Coast his whole life. The first thing he said when he entered his new room: “this… is my home. I have a home.” Expect great things from this fellow East Coast expatriate, who has finally become one of us, one of us, gooble gobble.

The Sublime, Nihilistic Elegance of Assquatch Art

Occasionally, while exploring the wild untrammeled frontiers of the world wide interwub, you’ll stumble across something so revelatory, so mind-bogglingly exquisite, it knocks you back several feet, clutching your head and speaking in tongues. Today I had just such an experience. Like Nietzsche who gazed too long into the abyss or Icarus who flew too close to the sun, I shall never be the same, for I have seen the cruel, implacable face of G*d:

Three examples of finely crafted deer butt alien head taxidermy, a.k.a. “assquatch art.”

Via Redneck Craft Tips by Don Burleson (the web page that cracked my poor brain open like a pistachio nut):

For centuries, families have enjoyed the camaraderie and joy of making alien heads from deer butts. Join the fun! Once you know the secrets, it’s easy to transform an ordinary deer butt into a work of redneck fine art. Let’s take a closer look at this ancient and noble craft…

All you need to create your own deer art is a styrofoam mannequin head, a fresh deer butt, a sharp knife and some glue and you are ready to get started making your own deer masterpiece.

This is indeed a disturbing universe.

Many people say that the real red neck art is the shaping of the deer anus to look like a mouth. This is the true test of the artists loving hand.

The anus can be made very simple, or you can stretch the anus for realistic effects such as smiles and frowns. In general, the leading deer butt artists concentrate on the details of the mouth.

Thank you, Mr Burleson, for exposing an ignorant city mouse like me to this rustic art form. Not since 1996 –when I fished a homemade hunting video called Mostly Squirrels out of the bargain bin at Poughkeepsie Video Barn– have I known such divine ecstasy.