“the government of the people, by the people, and for the people”

John F. Jarvis, Washington Inaugurated first President of the U.S., ca. 1890 (2012.45.48)

Washington Inaugurated first President of the U.S.
New York, April 30th, 1789. The principles figures in the panel are portraits [of] John Adams, Vice President stood on his right, Mr. Livingstone the Chancellor then came forward in the advance of Roger, Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, General Knox, General St. Clair, Baron Steuben and others. The oath was read by the Chancellor, the hand of Washington lying on the open Bible as he took the oath, and, in the act of kissing the Bible, he was heard distinctly to say: “I swear so help me God.” The Chancellor then said “It is done,” and turning to multitude, proclaimed “long live George Washington, President of the United States.”

Mathew B. Brady, [Abraham Lincoln], May 16, 1861, (2009.15.1)

(This portrait is currently on display in the exhibition: “Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection.”)

Tichnor Bros., Inc., [Freedom], Stefan Lorant Collection

Thomas McAvoy, [Marian Anderson and her mother on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after her Easter concert, Washington, DC], April 9, 1939, (1083.2005)

Contralto Marian Anderson’s historic Easter concert, which drew over 75,000 listeners to the Mall, foregrounded the general issue of racism in the United States as well as the specifics of segregation in the nation’s capital. A world-famous singer, Anderson was not allowed to rent the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Washington venue, Constitution Hall, due to their “white artists only” policy. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and thousands of other members resigned from the DAR in outrage. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, encouraged by both Roosevelts, Anderson’s manager Sol Hurok, and Walter White of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, arranged for the outdoor Easter concert of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Anderson eventually performed at Constitution Hall, at a war relief concert in 1942 and the beginning of her American farewell tour in 1962. (1083.2005)

Cornell Capa, [John F. Kennedy campaigning in Spokane, Washington], September 6, 1960 (106.2004)

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“A joyous confusion of the mysterious, the unknown, and the miraculous” – Jean Painlevé, Vu 1931

Vu, March 25, 1931 (2011.7.32), p. 420 (photos by André Raymond)

Mysteries and Miracles of Nature
Does the complete understanding of a natural phenomenon strip away its miraculous qualities? It is certainly a risk. But it should at least maintain all of its poetry, for poetry subverts reason and is never dulled by repetition. Besides, a few gaps in our knowledge will always allow for a joyous confusion of the mysterious, the unknown, and the miraculous.

We all seek, more or less consciously, to increase our knowledge of the unknown—if only out of a lazy desire to turn something that once required thought into something that no longer does. We then use this knowledge to predict, from a safe distance, phenomena in a variety of fields and to produce more numerous and more fruitful hypotheses that we hope will finally explain Nature once and for all. It is the preservation of our species that is at stake and incites this eternal curiosity. But compared to Nature, Man’s imagination produces weak revelations… Let us not confuse figments of the mind with actual experience. Instead, let’s distract our insatiable curiosity for a moment with the simple contemplation of natural givens: subjects of wonder, charm, or horror, whose mystery seizes us when we seek to understand and identify with them.

It’s no wonder the casual observer feels unsettled by the lack of order that seemingly rules over the planet’s millions of animals. Our narrow minds need the comfort of carefully crafted logic and clear delineations.

Vu, March 25, 1931 (2011.7.32), p. 421 (photos by Elie Lotar)

But let’s take a quick journey. It will be a disorderly one, but then again so are our subjects. We’ll begin with the obvious observation that from the top of the food chain to the bottom, animals are always being eaten by other animals. We then notice that certain foods, though very similar, seem to be more preferable or more suitable. The same goes for habitat. These subtle variations in food and environment have the power to play endless tricks on us…

But all this action can be distracting and sometimes nothing is as astonishingly splendid as the most static forms of life, which allow us to dream each moment without imposing coherence on us. From the enigmatic fancies of the cat to the sadness of the seahorse that has lost its arms; from the fireworks of a giant fan worm to the dance of the starfish; from the oblique walk of the crab to the balled-up attention of the spider; from the charming games of the otter to the ethereal pulsation of the jellyfish; from the color of butter- flies to the song of birds; from mollusks that cover the sea with veils of blue to animals in the shape of leaves, branches, or flowers; there is an infinite field of magnificent and continual joys that prevents us from completely elucidating the mystery or the miracle.

Vu, 1931

Translation by Jeanine Herman.
Andy Masaki Bellows, Marina McDougall, Brigitte Berg editors. Translation By Jeanine Herman. Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé. San Francsico: Brico Press and Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000

Sources: Jean Painlevé Archives, Les Documents Cinématographiques, and Andy Masaki Bellows, Marina McDougall, Brigitte Berg editors. Translation By Jeanine Herman. Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé. San Francsico: Brico Press and Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.

Vu, March 25, 1931 (2011.7.32), p. 1

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I Love You

Tracey Mancenido-Tribble, James Frank TribbleI Love You, Harlem, 2011 (2013.60.115)

Lou BernsteinN.Y. Aquarium, 1977 (95.1992)

Weegee, [Act of Love, Astor Theatre, Times Square, New York], 1954 (14698.1993)

Jürgen SchadebergGolf Lesson, Alexandra Township, 1954 (2014.8.5)

Regards, April 14, 1938 (2007.71.125)

Ed KashiGerald Gross and Ricky Caminetti fell in love in their eighties. She refused to sleep with him before they got married, so he proposed within a week of their first date. Their wedding was held at a synagogue in North Miami, and over 200 guests attended, 2000 (2006.41.9)

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love to love

Weegee, [Couple kissing, New York], ca. 1945 (2091.1993)

Weegee, At a Midtown Bar, New York, ca. 1942 (2164.1993)

Weegee, Lovers at the Palace Theater, New York, ca. 1945 (wn.820)

Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 220-221

Weegee, Village Party, New York, ca. 1956 (16906.1993)

Weegee, Boy meets girl – from Mars, ca. 1955, (16855.1993)

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Dog Show (pretty happy)

Lisette Model, The Dog Show, New York, 1950 (37.1993)

Lisette Model, The Dog Show, New York, 1950 (61.1993)

Lisette Model, The Dog Show, New York, 1950 (65.1993)

John Albert, [Unidentified Bulldog standing and licking its nose, New York], 1944 (2013.115.40)

PM, February 13, 1941, p. 25

Champion My Own Brucie Repeats as Best in Westminster Show

Madison Square Garden – the world’s largest (and most comfortable) dog house the past two days and nights – was filled with enthusiastic admirers of purebred dogs last night for judging for the biggest prize in dogdom – best-in-Westminister-show.

And at 11:20 p.m., the six best-of-breeds were brought to the judge’s circle. In exactly 14 minutes – one of the fastest judgings on record – Champion My Own Brucie, the same smooth, showy Cocker Spaniel that won the best-in-show last year, repeated his victory to thundering applause…

Earlier in the day, Brucie had been selected as the best sporting dog in the show over Maro of Marador, a grand Orange Belton English setter. The judges had a tough time on this one. But Brucie came through.

Brucie was in there against an Afghan Hound, a Collie, a Kerry Blue, a Miniature Pinscher and a poodle. His selection was the hot tip early in the evening. Brucie is owned by Herman E. Mellenthin of Schenectady [Poughkeepsie].
PM, February 13, 1941, p. 25

Herman E. Mellenthin was born in Wisconsin and had his first Cocker Spaniel when he was seven and opened his first kennel, named Nihtnellem, when he was seventeen. Mellenthin, after over 30 years of dog breeding experience, bred, owned, and showed Champion My Own Brucie. A year and a month after My Own Brucie’s second consecutive Westminster best-in-show award Mellenthin had a heart attack and died at aged 53 in March, 1942.

Starting in 1937, and for the next four years, Champion My Own Brucie won approximately 160 trophies. In 1940, My Own Brucie bested over 2,700 dogs, and in 1941, My Own Brucie competed against over 2,500 dogs, to win consecutive Westminster best-in-show awards. Former president Herbert Hoover attended the sixty-fifth annual Westminister dog show in 1941; Champion My Own Brucie was 5 years old. In February 1943 he was “commissioned a general in the War Dog Fund of Dogs for Defense,” as reported in his New York Times obituary. One of the most popular, admired, and famous dogs of the late 1930s and early 40s Champion My Own Brucie, described by The New York Times as “a superbly beautiful jet-black cocker spaniel” and “one of the greatest specimens ever produced in this country both as a show dog and as a sire,” was not shown after his success at the 1941 Westminster show, died at age 8 in 1943.

Hugh Broderick, [Police dog Tim and Charles Bossman posing with Tim’s hero award, given for his rescue of Charles, New York], 1941 (2013.115.497)

Eleven-year-old Charles Bossman of 308 Mott St., Brooklyn, was buried by a wall of fallen bricks last May and Tim, an eight-year-old police dog barked until the boy was rescued. Last night in the Garden, Lowell Thomas decorated Tim, and Charley was there to watch. Both look pretty happy.
PM, February 13, 1941

Tim, a dog, was a hero for saving the life of a young Bossman. The details as reported in the dailies differed a bit. The Daily Worker‘s coverage was the most colorful: The Daily Worker reported that the empty lot in the back of 284 Mott St., an abandoned five-story tenement, was the only playground in the Mott Street neighborhood and at 11 a.m on Tuesday, May 28th, the back wall fell. “Out of the wreckage of the 50 foot rear wall crawled a blood-stained dog which barked, ran to a spot and started digging. Firemen and volunteers dug out Charles Bossman, 11, who was taken to Columbus Hospital with serious injuries.” (The Daily Worker, May 29, 1940, p.3.)

The Brooklyn Eagle wrote that “two school boys were playing in the rear of an abandoned building at 284 Mott St., Manhattan, shortly after noon today when the entire rear wall collapsed…. Dog Leads to Rescue. Tim, an 8-year-old police dog, guided rescuers to Charles. The dog was standing across the street with his owner, John Nuccio, of 265 Elizabeth St, when the wall collapsed.” (The Brooklyn Eagle, May 28, 1940, p.3.)

“A special dog hero award… went to Tim, a German shepherd dog owned by John Muncio. Tim saved the life of 11-year-old Charles Bossman, who was buried under bricks and debris when a building collapsed. The German shepherd led his owner to the wreckage, and this led to the discovery of the lad. Little Charley was present last night as Lowell Thomas, news commentator, [Lowell Thomas (1892–1981) was a broadcaster, journalist, and an advocate of Cinerama] announced presentation of the award.” (The New York Times, February 13, 1941.)

The Brooklyn Eagle described the presentation of the hero’s award trophy to the German Shepard Tim as a “sentimental interlude.” “Owner John Nuccio and the rescued victim were there and enjoyed the show beatifically. Tim showed what he thought of all this human nonsense (a) by barking at the applauding fancy… and (b) snarling at news-cameramen.” (Brooklyn Eagle, February 16, 1941.)

Tim, the real best-in-show, presumably the only life-saver, wasn’t snarling at Hugh Broderick when he made his great photo; in fact they both look “pretty happy.”

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Atget’s Magnificent Door Knockers (3)

Eugène Atget, Door Knocker, Hotel Jean de Fourcy, 30 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois 30, Paris, 1908 (2011.52.17)

Google Street View, 30 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, August 2017

Sadly this magnificent door knocker appears to no longer exist in the wild. (Although it appears to have an excellent replacement.)

Eugène Atget, Heurtoir, 10 Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile, Paris, 1909 (2009.79.42)

Google Street View, 10 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, May 2018

This magnificent door knocker, hundred years after Atget’s beautiful photo was made, appears to still exist in the wild…

A selection of Eugène Atget’s magnificent door knockers presented in chronological order and a Google map.

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Feet in the Water and the Desire to Press On: Jean Painlevé – Voilà, 1935

Jean Painlevé. Voilà, “Les pieds dans l’eau,” May 4, 1935 (2007.71.30)

“Jean Painlevé: décrit le travail ingrat mais passionnant des chasseurs d’images a l’affut des petits animaux aquatiques: les pieds dans l’eau” by Jean Painlevé.

les pieds dans l’eau
In our decade-long effort to develop a technique for making documentary science films, Geneviève Hamon, André Raymond, and I have come up against thousands of obstacles. But life is kind. Aside from a few dead ends, each difficult or perilous situation has brought happy rewards.

In choosing the aquatic world as a field of investigation, we have encountered two problems, nonexistent elsewhere:

1. Establishing the basis for the study of aquatic animals which, unlike that of land and air animals, has so far been conducted in a summary and backward fashion.
2. Obtaining photographs that are as clear and illustrative as possible under the most realistic conditions.

Our investigations continue today and often give rise to surprising facts that contradict previous findings. With each new animal that we film, our technique is modified. Each shot takes into account an animal’s individuality…

Jean Painlevé. Voilà, “Les pieds dans l’eau,” May 4, 1935, p.5 (2007.71.30)

The job has its joys for those who love the sea. (For those, that is, who love the sea to the exclusion of all else.) Wading around in water up to your ankles or navel, day and night, in all kinds of weather, even when there is no hope of finding anything; investigating everything whether it be algae or an octopus; being hypnotized by a sinister pond where everything seems to be watching you even when nothing lives there. This is the ecstasy of an addict, the ecstasy of a hunting dog bounding across a field, crisscrossing it with euphoric expectation, even though each hidden crevice it stumbles over reveals, at most, a rotten potato…

But there are consolations: the greatest being the ability to eat one’s actors — crab, shrimp, sea urchins, squid, all finely cooked in new and unusual ways. Of course, there is much to consider before tossing them in a pan. There are one hundred seven varieties of bouillabaisse to choose from. Should one use garlic or not? Prepare it au gratin? Sautéed in red wine? Add sardines? Classical gourmets may be offended, but the bouillabaisse of Marseilles cannot be imitated, so anything is allowed…

After several years of working on strictly scientific or surgical films — which earn nothing, or rather, no more than public documentaries do, but at least they cost less!—we returned to our investigations and created a new group called The Seahorse [1933]. (For those still interested in gastronomic matters, sad news: this creature can only be used as a toothpick.) This only proved that the difficulties continue. Whatever improvements had been made were quickly canceled out by new needs. Just like airplanes, the cameras we construct are obsolete the moment we try to use them…

Jean Painlevé. Voilà, “Les pieds dans l’eau,” May 4, 1935, p.6 (2007.71.30)

The biggest problems often involve the smallest subjects. For example, insects such as the tiny dytiscid, which we used in the film Freshwater Assassins [1947], were somewhat compromised. With bigger animals, success is a question of sheer willpower and tenacity. For The Seahorse, the enormous aquariums, which were made entirely of glass, shattered on two occasions…

…The next three days were spent constructing a watertight case that enclosed a camera so that I could use it, along with a breathing apparatus, in the Bay of Arcachon. It was lovely; the underwater beauty seductive. It is easy to lose oneself in the water’s depths.

So, in sum, just when you think you have finally perfected a technique, you are forced to change it. We now use color in some of our documentaries, just as cartoons do. And we now bring spotlights into the water with us. Through it all, however, we have kept the pioneers of film in mind: they exemplify the desire to press on, regardless.

Jean Painlevé. Voilà, “Les pieds dans l’eau,” May 4, 1935 (2007.71.30)

Translation by Jeanine Herman.
Andy Masaki Bellows, Marina McDougall, Brigitte Berg editors. Translation By Jeanine Herman. Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé. San Francsico: Brico Press and Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000 pp. 124-128

Sources: Jean Painlevé Archives, Les Documents Cinématographiques, and Andy Masaki Bellows, Marina McDougall, Brigitte Berg editors. Translation By Jeanine Herman. Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé. San Francsico: Brico Press and Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.

Jean Painlevé. Voilà, “Les Pieds dans l’eau,” May 4, 1935 (2007.71.30)

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