Current & Coming | By Archived articles

A Look at the Life of "Blind Tom" Wiggins

December 4, 2015  |  The once famous career of the musical prodigy Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins, born a slave and raised to entertain audiences here and abroad with uncanny feats of musical mastery, tainted virtually everyone who touched it. Wiggins’s owners exploited him and profited hugely from his earnings (his concerts and sheet music yielded an astonishing $20,000 in 1879); critics and reporters wrote about him in gaudily racist language; African-American intellectuals kept him at arm’s length dismayed by his stage antics. Yet Wiggins’s gifts were indeed awesome: he was composing music at age five and went on to master the works of Bach, Beethoven, and other composers, often in a single afternoon. He also leaped about the stage, clapped for himself, and used the racial slurs his managers had taught him though he could not have understood their import. Today he would be classified as autistic.

“Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849–1908) in a photograph of 1865 by W.L. Germon’s Temple of Art, Philadelphia.…» More

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Current & Coming | By Archived articles

Pictorialist Photography in Cleveland

November 13, 2015  |  Julia Margaret Cameron’s “photography has been a touchstone for generations of photographers. The pictorialists adored her,” writes Phillip Prodger in our article about the British photographer in this issue. And he couldn’t be more right, says Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art and co-curator of the museum’s stunning exhibition Shadows and Dreams: Pictorialist Photography in America. “While the images of the pictorialists were related in part to the impressionist painters,” she says, “the aesthetic did indeed stem from Cameron, who was an important source of inspiration not just in terms of technique, but also content. Her emphasis on imagination over fact, subjectivity over objectivity, and poetry over description became core values of pictorialism.” As examples from the exhibition, Tannenbaum cites the work of Clarence H. White of Newark, Ohio, who would probably have learned of Cameron’s work through Alfred Stieglitz’s journal Camera W…» More

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Current & Coming | By Archived articles

Gilded Age Cartoonists at the Flagler

November 13, 2015  |  Often cited as an early influence on the humor of the New Yorker magazine, Puck ran in this country from 1877 to 1918 (it began with a German-language edition). The choice of Shakespeare’s mischievous fairy as the magazine’s namesake and mascot pretty much set the tone for its lighthearted mockery, and judging by the drawings and published cartoons on exhibit at the Flagler Museum, the humor remained gentler than you would have expected from satirists in the Gilded Age. The artists’ subjects are familiar ones: country bumpkins, uppity women, fads, fancies, and, of course, plutocrats and politicians.

The Haunted Auto by Alfred Zantziger Baker (1870–1933) for the cover of Puck, 1910. Collection of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, courtesy of the Flagler Museum,Palm Beach, Florida.

One particular drawing will certainly strike a chord with contemporary viewers: The Theatre Conversationalist (1890) suggests an ornate remedy for those who would rather listen to each other than let …» More

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Current & Coming | By ANTIQUES Staff

End notes: The Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection at Drexel University

October 30, 2015  |  Little known except to connoisseurs—Amy Finkel calls it “one of Philadelphia’s hidden treasures”—the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection at Drexel University is about to come into the limelight. We spoke to Clare Sauro, its curator and the organizer of its first major exhibition, Immortal Beauty: Highlights from the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, which will be on view from October 2 to December 12 at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. Ranging from a fragment of sixteenth-century Italian velvet to a 2012 evening dress by Alexander Wang, the more than seventy-five pieces in the show are a fraction of the fourteen thousand in the collection, which was begun in the late 1890s as an educational resource for Drexel students and renamed for the Foxes last year in honor of their ongoing support.     By Eleanor H. Gustafson

What do you think will be most surprising to viewers of the exhibiti…» More

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Current & Coming | By ANTIQUES Staff

About books

September 25, 2015  |  Recent noteworthy publications that are a pleasure to read and a delight to behold

Mangle Boards of Northern Europe: A Denitive Guide to the Geographic Origins of Mangle Boards by Jay Raymond (Streamline Press). 288 pp., color illus.

By Barrymore Laurence Scherer

The term mangle board may not be familiar to most people, but a leading folk art dealer such as Robert Young of Robert Young Antiques in London knows their allure. When you encounter examples in his gallery, on his website, or at his booth at New York’s Winter Antiques Show, you are immediately struck by their beauty. Learning that they were for pressing laundry only adds to the surprise.

The fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries witnessed the heyday of the mangle board—a plank of wood, with a handle either applied or carved directly from the plank itself. Jay Raymond, author of this lavish treatise describes how they were employed: “After being washed and almost dried, the cloth would be folded into a lo…» More

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[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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