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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Art, Advertising, History: Boris Artzybasheff


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Screening the Axis: Boris Artzybasheff, advertising poster for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company, 1942 (University of North Texas Digital Library)

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Happy Days: Boris Artzybasheff, advertising poster for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company, 1942 (University of North Texas Digital Library)

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Springs with Stings: Boris Artzybasheff, advertising poster for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company 1942 (University of North Texas Digital Library)

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Wire to the Axis: Boris Artzybasheff, advertising poster for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company, 1942 (University of North Texas Digital Library)

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Decline of a Rising Sun
: Boris Artzybasheff, advertising poster for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company, 1942 (University of North Texas Digital Library)

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Wire with a Kick: Boris Artzybasheff, advertising poster for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company, 1942 (University of North Texas Digital Library)

LOCAL SCRAP COLLECTION DRIVES TIME 08/17/1942 p. 79

Junk Rains Hell on Axis: Boris Artzybasheff, advertisement for Wickwire Spencer Steel Company, Time, 17 August 1942 (Gallery of Graphic Design)



Time cover, 8 December 1952: Boris Artzybasheff




Time cover, 19 January 1959: Boris Artzybasheff



Time cover, 6 June 1960: Boris Artzybasheff




...and no, this isn't Boris Artzybasheff, but...






SHELL RESEARCH LABORATORIES LIFE 02/14/1944 p. 72

Shell Oil Company advertisement: artist unknown, Life, 14 February 1944



... this is.




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/10/Boris_Artzybasheff.gif

Boris Artzybasheff (1899-1965): photographer unknown, n.d.


A practical, empirical
rude-mechanical

postmodern
nation

that "grew up on"
Popular Mechanics

will
never be able


to grow out of
a high school trade shop


theory of
purposive junk

6 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

My goodness, what a slice of time ("Happy Days") --

3.2

grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, green motion of leaves on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

subject, evidence of inside
the picture in a time

that is, what comes to pass
in passing, is formed

sunlight reflected in windblown channel,
sunlit white cloud above green of ridge

curtisroberts said...

The wartime Artzybasheff really amazes. I hate to say it, but each of the images reminds me of my life, at least in recent dreams. I recall the Time images, which in turn recall an era when Time and Newsweek were real magazines that had value. Like the Cold War ending and the Soviet Union crumbling, I never imagined the demise of Time and Newsweek. The Shell ad is too frightening for words, at least for me. I can't imagine putting pen to paper and coming up with that copy. Artzybasheff looks like a nice man.

TC said...

"I hate to say it, but each of the images reminds me of my life, at least in recent dreams..."

The special terror of the Artzybasheff iconography has to do with the dreams of machines, maybe, Curtis.

Through one Hot War and one Cold War Artzybasheff's hallucinated commercial-surrealist agit-prop for the Culture of the Mechanical allows the onus for overwhelming violence, racism, etc. to be passed off conveniently upon the helpful, friendly anthropomorphic assemblages of nuts and bolts that appear as the benign instruments which protect and defend our... what is it exactly? Values? Way of Life?.

subject, evidence of inside
the picture in a time

that is, what comes to pass
in passing, is formed

The happy days of the machine culture seemed just around the corner, just a moment ago... now, not so much.

(In Artzybasheff's non-commercial/non-political graphics, by the way, the Mechanical appears far less benign and protective than simply scary... in the extreme.)

curtisroberts said...

When I exercised a few minutes ago, listening to some old Impressions material (and later Curtis Mayfield performances of the same great songs), it dawned on me that the Artzybasheff images probably inhabited my mind because they still seem (for me, especially the WW II ones) so relevant. The old terrifying winnowing is now the new terrifying winnowing. He who gets to stop payment on the last tyrant's check before the end wins. I love seeing this stuff, disturbing as it is. I'm going to show Jane when she gets home from school.

TC said...

Curtis,

I can't help remembering what happened to Curtis Mayfield -- a huge mechanical contraption falling upon and paralyzing him.

(It is, in some way I do not yet comprehend, a day for parables.)

I've now added a small postscript to the original post, as part of this conversation.

TC said...

All built up with progress
But I must confess
We can deal with rockets and dreams
But reality
Ain't nothin' said
'Cause Freddie's Dead


(Curtis Mayfield, c. 1973, a quarter-century before The Wire)