Chung Ling Soo

Artist Unknown, “Chung Ling Soo”, 1908 Advertising Poster

This rare 1908 poster advertised a tour of the talented magician Chung Ling Soo. It is one of eight different known posters of the magician’s tours.

Born William Ellsworth Robinson in Westchester County, New York in 1861,Chung Ling Soo was a behind-the-scenes designer of magic tricks for headliners Harry Keller and Alexander Herrmann before he struck out on his own. Around 1900, while in Europe, he adopted the Chung Ling Soo persona.

Robinson went to great lengths to preserve the illusion, limiting his speech on stage to the occasional bit of broken English and relying on an interpreter to talk to journalists. Robinson in his persona of Chung Ling Soo performed a bullet catch trick at a show in London, England in 1918; it was one of the big theatrical showpieces of his performances. Instead of catching the bullet on a plate, the bullet hit his chest. Robinson died a few days later at the age of 56.

Rudy Burckhardt, “Willem de Kooning”

Rudy Burckhardt, “Willem de Kooning”, 1950, Silver Gelatin Print, 21.6 x 18.4cm, Private Collection

This photograph taken by Rudy Burckhardt shows Willem de Kooning in his Fourth Avenue, New York, studio with drawings related to his “Woman I” painting in the background. “WomanI” was one of a series of six oil on canvas paintings centered upon a single female figure that de Kooning worked on from 1950 to 1953.

When de Kooning began to paint “Woman I”, abstraction was dominant in American art. Artists and critics had declared the human figure to be an obsolete subject, and de Kooning himself was enjoying acclaim for the abstract compositions he had been producing over the previous years. Many of his peers saw “Woman I” as a betrayal, a regression back to an outmoded tradition.

The painting also subjected de Kooning to accusations of misogyny, as viewers perceived his portrayal of its female subject to be menacing, objectifying, and violent. For de Kooning, however, this was a continuation of his earlier explorations of the human figure and an opportunity to further experiment with the wide-ranging methods of applying paint to canvas.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 6th of September, Solar Year 2018

Crates of Lathe

September 6, 1642 was the day that theater experienced both a major closing and a major reopening 277 years apart.

The major closing was the banning of all theater at the start of the English Civil War. On September 6, 1642, by an act of Parliament, all theaters in England were closed. This meant specifically that the great playhouses and theatrical companies of London, many from the Elizabethan age, ceased operations for good. The reason given for the ordinance was that attending theater was “unseemly” during such turbulent times.

The real reason was that the playhouses had become meeting places for the Royalist opposition, a group against the Parliament.   Their Puritan rivals, who controlled Parliament, understood this and closed the theaters.  Within a few years most of the grand old structures, now abandoned, had decayed beyond use or were dismantled altogether, leaving no visible trace of the playhouses of Shakespeare’s day.

Theatre would remain illegal until the end of the Interregnum in 1660, when the Puritans lost power and the monarchy was restored. Almost immediately, playhouses reopened and theatrical entertainments resumed. Theatre returned full force with the Restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II, leading to a revival of English drama and performance that paved the way for the great age of acting and wit during the eighteenth century.

it was also on this day, September 6th, that theaters reopened. On September 6, 1919, the great Equity Strike in New York and Chicago by theater actors came to an end. Broadway producers had finally reached an agreement with the upstart actors’ union, the Actors’ Equity Association. The only exception was Broadway’s biggest star and largest employer George M, Cohen who was granted a singular exception to continue as before without unionization.

The strike lasted a month and had closed nearly 40 major productions across the city, with revenue loses in excess of three million dollars.  The two sides reached a five-year deal that finally recognized Equity as the professional actors’ union.  Over the next few years working conditions improved and Broadway flourished for nine years until the 1928 season. The advent of “talkies” caused a decline in the theater with a noticeable lack of attendance and thus profits. The stock market crash of 1929 reset the commercial theatre’s entire economic picture for the next several decades.

Jeffrey Milstein

Jeffrey Milstein, Five Photographs from His Series LANY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York, Published by Thomas & Hudson,

Using the highest-resolution cameras available mounted to a stabilizing gyro, Milstein leans out of helicopters and does steep circles in small airplanes over Los Angeles where he grew up and over New York where he now lives, looking for shapes and patterns of culture from above, continually awed by the difference between the aerial view and the view on the ground.

Millstein emphasizes the abstraction of pattern and reveals aspects of urban design and planning of both cities at the same time as he offers an intensification of detail and an abundance of information. He composes his images so that the viewer is still vividly aware of the human scale.

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Claude Buck


Claude Buck, “Self Portrait”, 1917, Charcoal and Crayon on Paper Mounted on Paper-Board Sheet, 20 x 12.7 cm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC

Claude Buck started to paint when he was very young; at the age of eight he applied to be a copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum rejected him because of his age, but Buck kept asking and three years later was finally granted permission to copy the old master paintings. Buck was the youngest artist ever to study at the National Academy of Design, where he spent eight years creating works inspired by romantic literature.

In 1917, Claude Buck founded the ‘Introspectives’, a group of four painters who created surreal images and believed that the ‘poetry’ of a picture meant more than the imitation or even the representation of nature. Later in his career, however, Buck completely rejected these strange, dreamlike themes and joined the Society for Sanity in Art, which celebrated straightforward, representational painting. He was also a leading member of the avant-garde Symbolism artist movement in Chicago.

Claude Buck was known for his fantastic, sometimes disturbing images with allegorical and literary themes drawn from writings of Edgar Allen Poe, operas by Richard Wagner, classical mythology and New Testament writings from the Bible. Some of his early paintings had Luminist movement elements achieved with light-toned paints worked with transparent glazes.

George Luks

George Luks, “The Wrestlers”, 1905, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 66 Inches, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The 1905 oil painting “The Wrestlers”, depicting two nude men wrestling,  is George Luks’ best known work. He painted it in order to shock the members of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts whom he thought were idiots. This painting was displayed at “The Eight”, the 1908 Ashcan School exhibition at the Macbeth Galleries on Fifth Avenue in New York.

Joyce Pensato

The Work of Nat.Brut Artist Joyce Pensato

Brooklyn born artist, Joyce Pensato’s skill for accumulation has become central to her identity and, consequently, her approach to art-making. Mess, dirt, and detritus – these are the properties that are ingrained in the artist’s work. To Pensato, pop culture, it transpires, equates to troublesome histories indicated by soiled physical appearances.

Her large-scale enamel paintings and charcoal drawings mimic the mess of her studio. The faces of her comic-book characters appear through a vigorous blast of layered drips and scratches, mainly in black, white and silver. Her brushstrokes are fierce and unending, often giving the impression of having been sprayed on at great speed.​

Tomer Hanuka

Tomer Hanuka, Illustration from the book “The Divine”, 2015

At age twenty-two, Tomer Hanuka, an Israeli illustrator, moved to New York City. Following his graduation from the School of Visual Arts, he quickly became a regular contributor to many national magazines. His clients include Time Magazine, The New Yorker, Spin, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, MTV, and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Tomer co-created “Bipolar” with his identical twin brother Asaf for Alternative Comics. “Bipolar” is an experimental comic book series for which Tomer was nominated for the Eisner, Harvey and Ignatz awards. In 2006, Tomer published “P;acebo man” published by Alternative Comics), which compiles much of his work from “Bipolar”. He currently lives in New York City.

Published in 2015, “The Divine” is a graphic novel written by Lavie and illustrated by the twin illustrators Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka. It’s the story of Mark, an explosives expert who, despite his better judgment, signs onto a freelance job with his old army friend, Jason. In Quanlom, a fictional Southeast Asian country, the pair are assisting the military when Mark is lured in by a group of child-soldiers, led by 9-year-old twins nicknamed “The Divine”, who are intent on forcing a showdown between ancient magic and modern technology.

Stanley Borack

Illustrations by Stanley Borack

Born in Brooklyn, Stanley Borack served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and studied art at the Art Students League of New York under the G.I. Bill.  He began his career as professional illustrator in 1950 and, up until he retired at the end of the 1970s, he did hundreds of covers for pulp magazines and paperback book publishers.  Among collectors, he is especially known for the racy covers he did for Ted Mark’s Man From O.R.G.Y. series.  After retirement, his spent his remaining years doing painting of the Old West for fine art galleries across the country.

Rodney Smith

The Photography of Rodney Smith

Rodney Lewis Smith was a New York based fashion and portrait photographer. After he studied English Literature and Religious Studies at University of Virginia in 1970, Smith went for his graduate degree in Theology at Yale University in 1973. From eighty-eight rolls of film shot in Israel in 1976, Smith ended up compiling two portfolios, which later became his first book: “In the Land of the Light: Israel, a Portrait of Its People” which was published in 1983.

Smith primarily photographed with a 35mm Leica M4 before he transitioned to a 120/6×6 (medium format) Hasselblad with a 80mm lens. He preferrred natural light to illuminate his subjects, but occasionally would use continuous lighting. Smith shot predominantly in black and white, until 2002, when he first began to experiment with color film. His work is commonly referred to as classic, minimalistic, and whimsical.

Carlos Soto

Carlos Soto, “Libertad”, Linocut

Carlos Soto is a New York-based artist. Soto is a theatre maker, performer and designer concerned with the body as a site in which narrative threads of the personal, sexual, social and political become knotted; focusing on the poetics of the moving body and its opposition to language; broaching the unspeakable: absence, solitude, the monstrous, anger, horror and pleasure.

Elizabeth Coyne

Four Paintings by Elizabeth Coyne

Elizabeth Coyne was born in Minnesota and raised in California, Canada and Indiana. In the early 1980′s, she moved to New York where she had numerous exhibitions in the 1980′s and 1990′s. She has Masters of Fine Arts in painting from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from Purdue University. Elizabeth Coyne has also studied and lectured at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently working on a series of paintings based on the images from her monoprints which deal with tangible and intangible realities.

‘My paintings offer contemplation into life and into possibilities of existence. For me making art is about not only seeing and looking at the world around me- but also knowing that world and absorbing it. I have developed a personal invented language of images and symbols based on the natural world. This visual language is collected from connections that I make in an ethereal way, mental images built  from the logic of the materials I work with.

This world I make in a painting, describes abstract places and relationships and it is a physical transcriptive process, where each painting is a synthesis of the  mind. An image is composed from different sources, both products of my imagination and transcriptions based on my perceptions. Painting has become a way of mapping my thoughts and experiences – a  type of private cartography. “ – Elizabeth Coyne

Forrest Williams

Forrest Williams, “Interval”, 2001, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Forrest Williams studied English and Art History at Edinburgh University, Scotland. He graduated from the New York Academy of Art, New York, with a MFA in Painting. Williams  currently works and lives in New York.

“My paintings are about men: about being a man as I see it and about relationships between men. They depict individual men, but they’re not portraits. The men inhabit a particular place, but it isn’t real. It’s an ambiguous, interior territory, where things are and are not what they seem.”

The paintings are staged scenarios, theatrical moments, and the men who inhabit them are the actors. The reality lies in the emotional core of this world — intensely felt but highly contained. My model Lorenzo called it “emotional purgatory.”

Although they’re a group of anonymous men, they’re at the same time self-portraits I suppose. Perhaps these are worlds of their own making — worlds with outsides and edges and unknown terrains beyond. This is the region where desire and doubt, longing and reticence, intimacy and uncertainty coexist. It speaks of absence as much as presence.” – Forrest Williams

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