“marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream”

Lois Guarino, The Owl Girl, from “Dream Transformation” series, 2001 (23.2001) (loisguarino.com)

André Breton, [André Breton], ca. 1929 (2007.25.3)

So strong is the belief in life, in what is most fragile in life – real life, I mean – that in the end this belief is lost. Man, that inveterate dreamer, daily more discontent with his destiny, has trouble assessing the objects he has been led to use, objects that his nonchalance has brought his way, or that he has earned through his own efforts, almost always through his own efforts, for he has agreed to work, at least he has not refused to try his luck (or what he calls his luck!). At this point he feels extremely modest: he knows what women he has had, what silly affairs he has been involved in; he is unimpressed by his wealth or poverty, in this respect he is still a newborn babe and, as for the approval of his conscience, I confess that he does very nicely without it. If he still retains a certain lucidity, all he can do is turn back toward his childhood which, however his guides and mentors may have botched it, still strikes him as somehow charming. There, the absence of any known restrictions allows him the perspective of several lives lived at once; this illusion becomes firmly rooted within him; now he is only interested in the fleeting, the extreme facility of everything.

André Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism (1924)”, Manifestos of Surrealism, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972, p. 3

Salvador Dalí, [Salvador Dalí], ca. 1929 (2007.25.1)

Surrealism, such as I conceive of it, asserts our complete nonconformism clearly enough so that there can be no question of translating it, at the trial of the real world, as evidence for the defense. It could, on the contrary, only serve to justify the complete state of distraction which we hope to achieve here below. Kant’s absentmindedness regarding women, Pasteur’s absentmindedness about “grapes,” Curie’s absentmindedness with respect to vehicles, are in this regard profoundly symptomatic. This world is only very relatively in tune with thought, and incidents of this kind are only the most obvious episodes of a war in which I am proud to be participating. Surrealism is the “invisible ray” which will one day enable us to win out over our opponents. “You are no longer trembling, carcass.” This summer the roses are blue; the wood is of glass. The earth, draped in its verdant cloak, makes as little impression upon me as a ghost. It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.

André Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism (1924)”, Manifestos of Surrealism, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972, p. 47

Luis Buñuel, [Luis Buñuel], ca. 1929 (2007.25.2)

Surreal is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year, for 2016. Merriam-Webster’s definition of surreal: “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream;
also: unbelievable, fantastic – ‘surreal sums of money.'”

PM, November 22, 1940, p. 22, Fun, photos by Morris Engel. (Morris Engel archive.)

Surrealists, Too Can Relax… Here’s the Proof
Nearly 1400 attended the surrealists ball given by the New York local of the United American Artists at Webster Hall last night. Pearl Reiger’s costume represents Vanity. With her was George Mann, Chicago.

Ursel Elkan, art student, said her costume was an abstraction (nudes painted on her legs). Union representatives complained crowd was cut down because 80 anxious zanies thought the party was night before.

For her costume called “table lamp,” Juliet Lee won first prize – a carved and gilt picture frame.

This dilapidated bride and groom, dancing wanly to the music of Sidney Bechet and his orchestra [Sidney Bechet!!!], won third prize – a set of oils. Among the judges was Olsen of Olsen and Johnson, Hellzapoppin.

Joop Sanders, splattered himself “Suicide,” won an easel.

Photos by Morris Engel, PM Staff.
PM, November 22, 1940, p. 22

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vu_2009_52_86c copy 2
Vu, p. 259, March 19, 1930 (2009.52.86)

Man Ray, American naturalise citoyen de Montparnesse. De peintre, il est devenu cineaste et photographe par degout d’etre oblige de peindre avec des couleurs sur de la toile. Il a voulu que ce fut la lumiere elle-meme qui se pliat aux fantaises de son imagination. Les blancs onctueux, la gamme somptuese des gris, le noir profond des papiers sensibles composent desormais toute sa palette. Des 1922 parait son premier album de rayograms. Il fut le premier a poser un objet sur une feuille de papier sensible expose a une lumiere qui, savamment deplacee, en decoupe les contours et les ombres. Voici quarte images tirees de son dernier album “oeil et photo.”

Man Ray, American naturalized citizen of Montparnesse. As a painter, he became a cinematographer and a photographer for the sake of being obliged to paint with colors on canvas. He wanted light itself to be plied to the fantasies of his imagination. The unctuous whites, the sumptuous range of grays, the deep black of the sensitive papers now compose his whole palette. In 1922 appeared his first album of rayograms. He was the first to put an object on a sheet of sensitive paper and expose it to light that skilfully displaced the contours and shadows. Here are four images taken from his latest album “Eye and Photo.”
Vu, p. 259, March 19, 1930

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¡Feliz año nuevo! 2017

Crónica, January 1936 (2055.2005)

Weegee, “Tavern of ground floor of burning building at 80 Greenwich St. is shelter for firemen overcome by smoke New Year’s Eve. Customers also had a hot time.” January, 1945 (15175.1993)

Weegee, [Shorty, the Bowery Cherub, New Year’s Eve at Sammy’s Bar, New York], 1943 (2017.1993)

Bernie Aumuller, [Man carving grapefruit, New York], 1946 (2012.121.38)

Steven Derry, [New Year’s Eve, Latin Quarter, New York], 1946 (2012.121.39)

Weegee, [“New Year’s at 5 in the morning in a night club, I found this 3 year old with his parents welcoming the New Year with milk.” And a woman with a camera.] 1943 (14228.1993)

Weegee, New Years, Stuyvesant Casino, ca. 1945 (16093.1993)

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Looking back at Fansinaflashbulb

The most popular (the post with the most views and made any time in the last eight years) Fansinaflashbulb post in 2016, as it has been for the past seven years, was “Stills from Zapruder film of JFK Assassination.” (It contains the infamous and bloody frame 313.) In 2016 the countries that visited Fansinaflashbulb the most were, not surprisingly, United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Canada. Countries that had only a single visitor in 2016 include: Iran, Andorra, Angola, Nauru, Congo-Kinshasa, Senegal, Monaco, Palestinian Territories, Cayman Islands, Seychelles, and Jersey. Often what’s unpopular is more fascinating and compelling and profound than what’s popular. As we enter the new year, here are some of best least popular posts of 2016. These are posts that are great, and are well-worth reading, but only received a few views in 2016, arranged in the chronological order of the year they were created, from 2009 to 2014.
Thanks for reading!

Thomas D. McAvoy, [Marian Anderson’s afternoon voice test at her Easter concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC], April 9, 1939 (1007.2005)

Continuity We Can Believe In

Unidentified Photographer, [Two Unidentified Women Reading a Letter], ca. 1880s (2006.52.1)


Martin Munkácsi, [Buyers assessing lots at flower auction, Aalsmeer, Netherlands], ca. 1929 (2010.110.458)

From Holland with Love

Vu, December 18, 1929, no. 92, pp. 1075-76 (photos by International Graphic Press) (2009.52.3)

Civilisation: Catcity and Dogcity

Chalil Raad, [Unidentified Woman], ca. 1900 (2012.34.27)

Awesome Rare Palestinian Vernacular Discovery!

Richard Tepe, Two Newly-born White Birds Facing Frontward, ca. 1910–40 (323.2001)

Up with the Larks!

Jürgen Schadeberg, [Nelson Mandela with Ruth First at the ANC Congress, Bloemfontein, South Africa], December 1951. Collection International Center of Photography; purchased with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2014 (2014.32.2)

Nelson Mandela by Jürgen Schadeberg

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Happy 150th birthday, Wassily Kandinsky!

150 years ago today, December 16th 1866, the painter Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow. To celebrate, here are two portraits: The painter himself and a photo of the painter hung in his studio.

Florence Henri
, Portrait de W. Kandinsky, 1934 (printed 1976), 138.1998

This portrait, by Bauhaus student Florence Henri was taken just after the school was closed down by the Nazis in 1933. He was 67 years old.

Alexander Liberman
, Wassily Kandinsky’s painting cabinet with his 1935 Two Green Dots, Paris, 1954, 119.1990

In Alexander Liberman’s book of studio portraits, Liberman explains this image as, “Kandisky’s Paris studio, as he left it at his death in 1944. Beside his carefully arranged painting cabinet, which he called “my keyboard,” stands a large serene composition, Two Green Dots, painted in 1935. The two oils under glass, done in 1911, are among the first abstract paintings. The photograph on the wall is of Kandinsky, taken in 1933.”

Liberman later describes Kandinsky’s moment of inspiration to make non-representational paintings at the age of 44, as described in his memoirs:

“Coming home at sunset from a session out of doors in 1910, his mind still absorbed by his work, he was struck as he entered his studio by an ‘indescribably beautiful painting, all irradiated by an interior light.’ In the mysterious canvas he could distinguish only ‘forms and colors and no meaning.’ Suddenly he realized that it was one of his own paintings, turned on its side. ‘The next day in daylight I tried to recapture my previous impression. I only succeeded halfway. Even with the painting of its side, I could always find the object, but the blue light of dusk was missing. I knew then precisely that objects were harming my painting.’ He wrote that he felt ‘a terrifying abyss opening under my feet.'”

Today we celebrate you, Kandinsky! Happy 150th Birthday!

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Pearl Harbor

Al Brick for Movietone News, “When ‘Arizona’s’ magazines exploded there was a roar that could be heard for miles. Then she was still.” December 7, 1941, (1406.2005)

Kelso Daly, “Brought from his bed by the thunder of exploding bombs, this pajama-clad islander has rushed out on his terrace to scan with binculars smoke-swept scene. Back and forth Jap planes roared, while at Pearl Harbor other bombs were falling from other planes,” December 7, 1941 (1489.2005)

Movietone exclusive! Bombing of Pearl Harbour – 1941

PM, December 8, 1941

75 years ago today, December 7, 1941, (Sunday, around 1 PM, in New York) the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii was attacked by over 300 Japanese planes. The next day, shortly after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day in Infamy” speech, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” The U.S. declared war on Japan. In New York City, many people gathered in Times Square, people held newspapers, one person held a camera and another person held a radio. (Speaking of radio, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and President Franklin D. Roosevelt and others can be heard on WNYC.) Almost immediately Mayor La Guardia ordered Japanese subjects in New York to remain in their homes. La Guardia said on WNYC: “I want to warn the people of this city that we are in an extreme crisis… I now want to appeal to the people of our city to be calm… You must remain cool and yet determined. We are aware of the danger ahead but unafraid. In the meantime know that your city’s government is on the job and looking after your welfare and comfort and safety… So, in the meantime, good night, and we will remain on the job.”

PM, December 9, 1941

Weegee (1899 – 1968), [“Japs Bomb Hawaii”], 1941 (15232.1993)

Weegee (1899 – 1968), [After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Times Square, New York], 1941 (15234.1993)

PM, December 17, 1941

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John Morris celebrating 100 year today

Cornell Capa (1918-2008), John G. Morris, 1964 (2011.31.4)

Cornell Capa took this portrait of me in front of the huge “contact sheet” that greeted visitors to my Independent Picture Service at 15 West 47th Street, two floors below Magnum.

Longevity and photography: This isn’t the first celebratory centenarian Fanisinaflashbulb post. “Milton Rogovin is 100!” was the first, and hopefully, this post won’t be the last.

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