“Toscanini’s Magic Wand”


Lucien Aigner, [Lorin Maazel conducting the National Music Camp Orchestra or the Interlochen Youth Orchestra], 1939 (2013.112.140)

PM, July 6, 1941, p. 14
Lorin Maazel, Age 11, Takes Up Toscanini’s Magic Wand
“The NBC Summer Symphony obeyed him last night.
He rehearses and conducts without score to the amazement of veterans.
He composes as well as conducts, and has played the violin since he was 5.
And he will conduct the NBC Orchestra again next Saturday night.”

“…in July 1941, Arturo Toscanini invited him to conduct the NBC Symphony in a concert — works by Wagner, Mendelssohn and Dika Newlin [Newlin’s NY Times obituary: “82, Punk-Rock Schoenberg Expert, Dies“] — broadcast nationally from Radio City Music Hall. The orchestra, outraged at the idea of being led by a child, greeted him at the first rehearsal with lollipops in their mouths. He won their respect the first time he stopped the rehearsal to point out a wrong note.” NY Times, July 13, 2014

PM, July 6, 1941, p. 14
On the same page a significantly cropped Weegee photo was published… all in a record of a New York day…

Maestro Maazel’s website.
Maestro Maazel’s NY Times obituary.
New Yorker culture blog.

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Snapshots of Harlem

Every year since 2002 the Studio Museum in Harlem has commissioned artists through Harlem Postcards to photograph Harlem as part of an ongoing project to discover and illuminate the cultural, political, and aesthetic diversity of the community. Their unique depictions are then produced into free limited-edition postcards. 2012 marked the 10th Anniversary of this project.

Larry MantelloWelcome To, 2007 (printed 2012) (2013.60.71)


Miguel Calderón
Purple Haze/Purple Rain, 2008 (printed 2012) (2013.60.16)


Kambui OlujimiGoing Postal, 2007 (printed 2012) (2013.60.87)


Xavier ChaSense in Front, 2007 (printed 2012) (2013.60.20)


Frank StewartGod’s Trombones, 2009 (printed 2012) (2013.60.107)


Kwaku AlstonSpring Time in Harlem, 2010 (printed 2012) (2013.60.3)


James Frank TribbleI Love You, Harlem, 2011 (printed 2012) (2013.60.115)


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Happy 4th of July!


Leonard Speier, West Side Highway, NYC, July 4, 1976 (351.1981)

For a dyn-o-mite celebration you have to see the fireworks. This year they will be over the East River and don’t forget to bring your flag!

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Canadians Abroad: Claude & Kit’s European Adventure

The first caption reads, “Just before we left home June 19, 1929”. And so begins the 67 page travel album that chronicles the summer adventures of Claude and Kit, a Toronto couple setting forth from Canada on a European vacation with friends that will take them to England, Wales, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France before returning home August 26th.

Unidentified Photographer [Album of Claude and Kit’s European travel photographs] page 1, June 19 – August 26, 1929 (2009.32.70)

The album begins with photos of the couple in front of their home and with friends as if to anticipate the changes that will embrace them as a result of their travels; as if somehow they will be different and this difference will be proven with a photograph before and then again after their return. It becomes part of their narrative structure, a kind of ‘Once Upon a Time’ but in picture form. And from this point the story sets forth, taking them first to Montreal where they board the ocean liner R.M.S. Aurania. Four full pages are dedicated to the ship – its moorage, stock photos of the interiors, activities on deck where people gather to play shuffleboard and sit in the sea air to wait out the crossing.

Unidentified Photographer [Album of Claude and Kit’s European travel photographs] page 5, June 19 – August 26, 1929 (2009.32.70)

Then the story is punctuated. “Iceberg as seen from our ship” captions the photo inserted between the photos of the Aurania and the ones of them landing in Europe; its inclusion conjuring up what Claude and Kit may have been thinking upon its sighting. It had been seventeen years since the sinking of the Titanic and although the terror of that tragedy will have softened, to this day an iceberg in the north Atlantic remains an icon for that fateful voyage.

Claude and Kit arrive in England July 1st, 1929 and after a short stay in London set off for an extensive schedule of historical highlights throughout the English countryside that include the Thames, The Lake District, Wordsworth’s grave, a multitude of Castles, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Shakespeare’s birth and death place, Wales, Oxford, Canterbury, to name but a few, before setting off across the English Channel for the Netherlands.

Unidentified Photographer [Album of Claude and Kit’s European travel photographs] page 28, June 19 – August 26, 1929 (2009.32.70)

In the Netherlands they are charmed by the seaside, the canals, the architecture and the Dutch locals. The carefully annotated album of names and places also reveal a personal relationship to the American painter John Rettig (1855 – 1932). Rettig is seen here posing with Claude and Kit in front of his studio in Volendam where he has set up a second home to paint the Dutch people and countryside. Incredibly, photos of his models are inserted here and show men and women dressed in traditional Dutch costumes. The caption reads, “Models for John Rettig, Cincinnati artist”.

Unidentified Photographer [Album of Claude and Kit’s European travel photographs] page 41, June 19 – August 26, 1929 (2009.32.70)

Claude and Kit continue on at an exhaustive pace to visit a multitude of cities in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France, each time showing a ‘last image’ as they leave the country, “Our last view of England”, “Last of Holland” etc. Finally we see them, exhausted but happy, New York bound on the R.M.S. Carmania, destined to arrive home a day later in Toronto.

We never find out how their travels abroad affected Claude and Kit and if they were wondrously and forever transformed by their experiences. Our only clues are the occasional exclamation mark and personal comment and the extensiveness by which they documented particular events or places. However we do know that when they saw the steamship heading for Europe on their return, nostalgia had already set in and it was worthy enough for a photo and caption, “Mid Atlantic – a ship bound for Europe – we all wished we were on it!

Happy Canada Day!

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42 Years Ago Today

Paul Seawright, Untitled, 1992 (3439.1992)

Saturday 1st July 1972
“One man had been shot three times in the head and neck and the other five times. The bodies of the two men were found in the cricket ground by two children at play”

(This post was created in June 2012.)

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Collective Presence, Collective Resistance

The fierce pussy collective challenge lesbian and queer invisibility by asserting their identities through a number of public projects that push back against heteronormative culture. The increased attention to AIDS and gay rights in the early 1990s galvanized the group of queer artists to establish a collective. One of their early projects juxtaposed their baby photos with text that related to social assumptions about gender presentation, relationships, and identity. In one image, an infant in a striped pinafore is captioned with “DYKE” in large type. The crudely photocopied image reads as even more offensive when the viewer is confronted with a homophobic slur. By layering words or phrases traditionally used to incite negative judgment on top of their own baby photos, the group is able to reclaim hate speech while making a compassionate observation about societal pressures to label individuals from a young age. Additionally, the use of personal photographs creates a tension between the struggle for personal identity and a collective representation of lesbian or queer peoples.
fierce pussy collective, Dyke, 1991-95, (1161.2000)

The collective’s projects are largely based in street advertisement, using tactics such as wheat paste posters, redesigning and renaming public spaces, and public distribution of buttons and stickers. However, unlike traditional advertisements, the content of their work is not easily absorbed due to the intentional use of provocative language. fierce pussy confronts the passive consumer with messages designed to unsettle them.

fierce_pussy_1145_2000fierce pussy collective, Are you a boy or a girl?, 1991-95, (1145.2000)

fierce pussy’s work gains its power from the space between perception, identification, and our relation to society. Friction develops within their compositions—while visually minimalistic, the content is not easily digestible. Tension builds between the “impersonal” object (wheat paste poster, road sign) and captions that speak directly to the viewer with sincerity. More contradictions arise from fierce pussy’s choice of subject matter as they address and question sexuality, gender presentation, feminism, and power structures all in the public space—directly challenging social taboos.

fierce_pussy_1144_2000fierce pussy collective, Fierce Pussy’s Street Wheat-Pasting Campaign, 1991-95, (1144.2000)

The collective still works today, with their most recent exhibition at White Columns gallery in New York, September–October 2010.


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From Whence The Clouds They Came

Frank Wendt, Jump from the Clouds with the Aid of a Parachute, 1899 (2011.47.123)

Robert Capa, [Student makes first jump from 300m, Parachute School, Paris], Fall 1935 (197.1992)

Robert Capa, [French air force parachute school at Avignon-Pujaut], 1939 (2010.85.570)

Martin Munkacsi, [Student pilots with parachutes, Schleissieim flying school, near Munich], 1928 (2009.6.9)

Robert Capa, [Students gather up parachute after landing, Parachute School, Paris], Fall 1935 (202.1992)

Jill Freedman, Riding It Down, 1971 (1.1978.b)

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