Category: Art Gallery

Sensible Women by the Russian Painter Vladimir Volegov

Sensible Women by the Russian Painter Vladimir Volegov

Born in Khabarovsk, Russia, Vladimir Volegov began painting at the age of three and his talent would be noted repeatedly through out his adolescence. After having attended the Art School “Krivog Rog” and having served in the army, Vladimir Volegov has admitted to the Lvov Polygraphic Institue in the former Soviet Union.

Beginning in 1984 Vladimir began participating in, and winning international competitions for poster art. Vladimir moved to Moscow in 1988 and before long Vlodemir’s career in commercial art was in full swing. Notable Russian publishing houses sought his talents to design posters and CD and cassette covers for musical groups, while working with the publishing houses he continued to work on his paintings and particapate in exhibitions.

In 1990 Vladimir began traveling to Europe where he earned money by painting portraits on the streets of Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, and other European cities. It is with this experience he further honed his skills in depicting the human form. Over the past fourteen years, his art has evolved into the striking figurative work he creates today. Vladimir’s vibrant color palette and bold strokes coalesce to create evocative images that possess a timeless sensibility.

In February 2004, Vladimir has signed the long-term contract with American Publushing House Soho Editions.

Sensible Women by the Russian Painter Vladimir Volegov

Sensible Women by the Russian Painter Vladimir Volegov

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Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine art and architecture, works of art and structures works produced in the city of Byzantium after Constantine made it the capital of the Roman Empire (A.D. 330) and the work done under Byzantine influence, as in Venice, Ravenna, Norman Sicily, as well as in Syria, Greece, Russia, and other Eastern countries.

For more than a thousand years, until the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, Byzantine art retained a remarkably conservative orientation; the major phases of its development emerge from a background marked by adherence to classical principles.

Artistic activity was temporarily disrupted by the Iconoclastic controversy (726–843), which resulted in the wholesale destruction of figurative works of art and the restriction of permissible content to ornamental forms or to symbols like the cross. The pillaging of Constantinople by the Frankish Crusaders in 1204 was perhaps a more serious blow; but it was followed by an impressive late flowering of Byzantine art under the Paleologus dynasty.

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine Art

Mosaic

Byzantine achievements in mosaic decoration brought this art to an unprecedented level of monumentality and expressive power. Mosaics were applied to the domes, half-domes, and other available surfaces of Byzantine churches in an established hierarchical order. The center of the dome was reserved for the representation of the Pantocrator, or Jesus as the ruler of the universe, whereas other sacred personages occupied lower spaces in descending order of importance.

The entire church thus served as a tangible evocation of the celestial order; this conception was further enhanced by the stylized poses and gestures of the figures, their hieratic gaze, and the luminous shimmer of the gold backgrounds. Because of the destruction of many major monuments in Constantinople proper, large ensembles of mosaic decoration have survived chiefly outside the capital, in such places as Salonica, Nicaea, and Daphni in Greece and Ravenna in Italy.

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Painting

An important aspect of Byzantine artistic activity was the painting of devotional panels, since the cult of icons played a leading part in both religious and secular life. Icon painting usually employed the encaustic technique. Little scope was afforded individuality; the effectiveness of the religious image as a vehicle of divine presence was held to depend on its fidelity to an established prototype. A large group of devotional images has been preserved in the monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai.

The development of Byzantine painting may also be seen in manuscript illumination. Among notable examples of Byzantine illumination are a lavishly illustrated 9th-century copy of the Homilies of Gregory Nazianzus and two works believed to date from a 10th-century revival of classicism, the Joshua Rotulus (or Roll) and the Paris Psalter.

Other Arts

Enamel, ivory, and metalwork objects of Byzantine workmanship were highly prized throughout the Middle Ages; many such works are found in the treasuries of Western churches. Most of these objects were reliquaries or devotional panels, although an important series of ivory caskets with pagan subjects has also been preserved. Byzantine silks, the manufacture of which was a state monopoly, were also eagerly sought and treasured as goods of utmost luxury.

Byzantine Art and Architecture in Ancient Istanbul

Byzantine Architecture

The architecture of the Byzantine Empire was based on the great legacy of Roman formal and technical achievements. Constantinople had been purposely founded as the Christian counterpart and successor to the leadership of the old pagan city of Rome. The new capital was in close contact with the Hellenized East, and the contribution of Eastern culture, though sometimes overstressed, was an important element in the development of its architectural style. The 5th-century basilica of St. John of the Studion, the oldest surviving church in Constantinople, is an early example of Byzantine reliance upon traditional Roman models.

The most imposing achievement of Byzantine architecture is the Church of Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia. It was constructed in a short span of five years (532–37) during the reign of Justinian. Hagia Sophia is without a clear antecedent in the architecture of late antiquity, yet it must be accounted as culminating several centuries of experimentation toward the realization of a unified space of monumental dimensions.

Throughout the history of Byzantine religious architecture, the centrally planned structure continued in favor. Such structures, which may show considerable variation in plan, have in common the predominance of a central domed space, flanked and partly sustained by smaller domes and half-domes spanning peripheral spaces.

Although many of the important buildings of Constantinople have been destroyed, impressive examples are still extant throughout the provinces and on the outer fringes of the empire, notably in Bulgaria, Russia, Armenia, and Sicily. A great Byzantine architectural achievement is the octagonal church of San Vitale (consecrated 547) in Ravenna. The church of St. Mark’s in Venice was based on a Byzantine prototype, and Byzantine workmen were employed by Arab rulers in the Holy Land and in Ottonian Germany during the 11th cent.

Secular architecture in the Byzantine Empire has left fewer traces. Foremost among these are the ruins of the 5th-century walls of the city of Constantinople, consisting of an outer and an inner wall, each originally studded with 96 towers. Some of these can still be seen.

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The tragic true story behind The Danish Girl

The tragic true story behind The Danish Girl

Lili Elbe defied convention and pushed the boundaries of medical science to become the first transgendered woman. But at what cost?

Einar Wegener would kill himself in the spring. He had chosen a date – May 1, 1930 – after a year spent in torment. The cause of his suffering was quite simple: he was sure he was a woman, born into the wrong body. Or perhaps it was more complicated: sometimes Wegener, whose life is soon to be portrayed on film by the Oscar-winning British actor Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, felt he was two people in the same body, each fighting for supremacy.

One was a Danish landscape painter, a steadfast man who, in his own words, “could withstand storms”. He was married to a woman whose strength and talent matched, or perhaps even surpassed, his own: Gerda Wegener, a successful Art Deco illustrator who produced portraits of fashionable women for magazines such as Vogue and La Vie Parisienne.

The other shared none of these qualities. Lili Elbe was, as she set down in letters and notes for an autobiography, a “thoughtless, flighty, very superficially-minded woman”, prone to fits of weeping and barely able to speak in front of powerful men. But despite her womanly defects, by February 1930 she was becoming too powerful for Wegener to resist. “I am finished,” he wrote at the time. “Lili has known this for a long time. That’s how matters stand. And consequently she rebels more vigorously every day.”
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Tango Dancers in Streets of San Miguel De Allende

Tango Dancers in Streets of San Miguel De Allende

The history of Tango Dance is based on many years of study and research in Buenos Aires. The subject is a huge one, and the great dancers, those who were genuinely part of the living culture of Tango, have tended not to have academic backgrounds, while the academics in Argentina have tended to neglect the dance, concentrating instead on the music. There are many gaps in our understanding of Tango’s history, particularly the history of the Dance, that might never be fully filled.

If I talk about the history of Tango Dance, I need to divide it into four periods. First there are the things that I have seen myself. I first went to Buenos Aires in 1993, ten years after the Tango Renaissance began. I will tell you as accurately as I can about the things that I have seen.

In my research I have spoken to many people who were living witnesses to the story of Tango. I have spent a great deal of time listening to great dancers, getting to know them, and trying to get to the full picture behind the individual stories. I can take this second period back to about 1940, practically to the beginning of the Golden Age of Tango Dance.

Before that is the period for which we have some kind of evidence – sound recordings, photographs, film clips and contemporary accounts. I shall try to pick my way through the evidence I have found to give the important facts about Tango History.

And before that is the pre-history of Tango Dance. This is the period when the contemporary evidence is practically non-existent. Our understanding is based on later commentators. I will present the few facts that we have, and do my best to interpret what little evidence there is. No one will ever know the full story of how Tango began. All anyone can do is give you his or her best guess.

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Art Gallery – Heart Notes Panel Wall Art

Art - Heart Notes Panel Wall Art
Art – Heart Notes Panel Wall Art by RomoMonroe
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Matte Wall Panel (14×11)

Decorate your space with custom Wall Panels that are as unique as they are versatile. Mix and match your pieces with traditional art and canvas prints for a fresh wall! Your custom photos and art are directly printed on MDF, a durable substrate that produces vibrant images for long term display. These wall panels are heavy weight with beautifully burnished sides that add character.

Dimensions: 14″ (length) x 11″ (width) x 0.75″ (height).
Printed using UV high-res printing, producing vibrant, long lasting images.
Designed with a key-hole for easy hanging.
Finished with organically burnished sides.
Designer Tip: To ensure the highest quality print, please note this product’s customizable design area measures 14″ x 11″.

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10 Things you may not know about the Brooklyn Bridge

Long exposure wide angle view from the Brooklyn Panel Wall Art
Long exposure wide angle view from the Brooklyn Panel Wall Art by iconicnewyork
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The Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public on May 24, 1883, thereby connecting Manhattan with Brooklyn for the first time. Dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” early visitors gawked at its immense granite towers and thick steel cables, not to mention its birds-eye views. The bridge, which took 14 years and around $15 million to complete, remains among New York City’s top tourist attractions and a busy thoroughfare for commuters. On its 130th birthday, here are 10 things you may not know about the frequently photographed landmark.

1. Boss Tweed helped get the project started.

William M. “Boss” Tweed, the infamously corrupt head of New York City’s Tammany Hall political machine, latched on to the Brooklyn Bridge project from the very beginning. According to sworn testimony he gave later, he facilitated up to $65,000 in bribes to New York’s aldermen in order to win their backing for a $1.5 million bond issue.

He then became a major holder of bridge stock and joined a committee charged with managing the project’s finances. Tweed allegedly hoped to skim money from the city’s bridge contracts, much as he had done with other large public works. But he was arrested in 1871 before he could fully realize his plan. It has since been estimated that Tweed and his cronies stole at least $45 million, and perhaps as much as $200 million, from the public coffers during their time in power.

2. At least 20 people died during the bridge’s construction.

The first fatality came in 1869 before construction had even begun. German-born John A. Roebling, who designed the bridge, was taking compass readings one afternoon when his foot was crushed between some pilings and a boat. His toes were amputated, and a few weeks later he died of tetanus.

Other workers fell off the 276-foot-high towers, were hit by falling debris or succumbed to caisson disease, better known as “the bends. “No official figure exists for the number of men killed, but estimates range from 20 to over 30. Dozens more suffered debilitating injuries, including Roebling’s son Washington, who became bedridden with the bends after taking over as chief engineer from his father.

3. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world—by far.

A few high-profile collapses in the first half of the 19th century prevented suspension bridges from immediately catching on. Undeterred, Roebling figured out how to stabilize them, largely by adding a web truss to either side of the roadway platform. He built four suspension bridges in the 1850s and 1860s, including one over the Ohio River and another near Niagara Falls. All would later be dwarfed by the Brooklyn Bridge, which, with a main span of more just over 1,595 feet, was by far the longest suspension bridge in the world. It remained that way until 1903, when the nearby Williamsburg Bridge overtook it by 4.5 feet.

4. The bridge opened with a massive celebration.

Huge crowds gathered on May 24, 1883, to watch the bridge’s opening ceremony, which The New York Times described, in reference to Brooklyn, as “the greatest gala day in the history of that moral suburb.” President Chester A. Arthur, New York Governor (and future president) Grover Cleveland and various local politicians marched onto the bridge, accompanied by a military band and an attachment of troops.

Celebratory cannon fire rang out when they reached the Manhattan-side tower. The festivities also included an hour-long fireworks display, receptions and a number of speeches. Just before midnight the bridge opened to the public, and more than 150,000 people streamed across over the next 24 hours. Not everyone was happy, however. Many Irish boycotted the ceremony because it coincided with the birthday of British monarch Queen Victoria.

5. A tragedy occurred almost immediately.

A week after the opening, on Memorial Day, an estimated 20,000 people were on the bridge when a panic started, allegedly over a rumor that it was about to collapse. Twelve people were crushed to death on a narrow stairway, and others emerged bloodied and in some cases without clothes. One eyewitness described men and women “with their limbs contorted and their faces purpling in their agonized efforts to breathe.” No changes came about in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, except that more police were stationed on the pedestrian promenade.

6. The bridge toll was higher then than it is now.

When the Brooklyn Bridge first opened, it cost a penny to cross by foot, 5 cents for a horse and rider and 10 cents for a horse and wagon. Farm animals were allowed at a price of 5 cents per cow and 2 cents per sheep or hog. Under pressure from civic groups and commuters, the pedestrian toll was repealed in 1891.

The roadway tolls were then rescinded in 1911 with the support of New York Mayor William J. Gaynor, who declared, “I see no more reason for toll gates on the bridges than for toll gates on Fifth Avenue or Broadway.” The Brooklyn Bridge and three other bridges that likewise cross the East River have stayed free ever since for both walkers and drivers, even as New York’s other major bridges and tunnels have gotten steadily more expensive.

7. At the time, the bridge connected two different cities.

Brooklyn did not become part of New York City until 1898, following a referendum that passed there by just 277 votes (out of more than 129,000 cast). Prior to the merger, it was the fourth most populous city in the country—behind only New York, Chicago and Philadelphia—with loads of manufacturing jobs, many churches, relatively low crime and good schools.

8. The bridge quickly became a cultural sensation.

The Brooklyn Bridge has arguably inspired more art than any other manmade structure in the United States. Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and dozens of other well-known painters have incorporated it into their works, as have photographers (Walker Evans); documentarians (Ken Burns); playwrights (Arthur Miller); novelists (Henry Miller); newspaper columnists (Jimmy Breslin); urban historians (Lewis Mumford); poets (Jack Kerouac); and musicians (Wyclef Jean).

It likewise has had a slew of TV shows and movie cameos, including “The Docks of New York,” “It Happened in Brooklyn,” “Moonstruck,” “Godzilla” and “Spider-Man.” Meanwhile, advertisers have used the bridge to sell everything from Vaseline to Absolut Vodka, and it is even the symbol of an Italian chewing gum.

9. The bridge has always attracted daredevils and showmen.

Circus entertainer P.T. Barnum took 21 elephants over the bridge in May 1884 to show that it was safe. The following year, Robert E. Odlum, a swimming instructor from Washington, D.C., became the first to leap into the East River below. He died, but a number of later jumpers survived, including one man allegedly trying to impress his girlfriend and another who wore large canvas wings. Other stuntmen have flown planes under the bridge and bungee jumped from or climbed its towers.

  1. Peregrine falcons nest atop it.

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on record, capable of reaching speeds over 200 miles per hour. They disappeared from the eastern United States due to DDT poisoning, but made a comeback after the pesticide was banned in 1972. Surprisingly, the birds soon began thriving in New York City, where they nest on bridges, church steeples and skyscrapers. Today, about 16 pairs of peregrines live in the Big Apple, and the Brooklyn Bridge has become one of their regular nesting sites.

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The Gilded Age of American Civilization

Fashion Poster
Fashion Poster by Incado
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The ways in which society may amuse itself around, in any country and at any time, an exceptional opportunity for the display of wealth and the assertion of social importance. Thorstein Veblen has graphically demonstrated this conscious or unconscious motivation in many forms of recreation.

It is clearly evident throughout American social history. The worthy citizens of eighteenth-century Philadelphia vied with each other in the magnificence of their banquets, loading their tables with massive silver plate and serving such a choice selection of imported wines that the visiting John Adams stood amazed at the “sinful feasts.”

The planters of Virginia rode to hounds in close imitation of the English country squires whose social status they sought to emulate in every possible way. Merchants of New York and Boston were already aspiring to yachts in the 1850’s, their sons to membership in the exclusive boating clubs, while all the fashionable world sought out Saratoga or Newport as a step upward on the social ladder.

It was in the latter half of the 19th century, however, the Gilded Age of American civilization, that society most flagrantly bent its pleasures to display. The newly rich born of industry’s great advance since the Civil War-owners of railways, coppermines, textile-mills, steel-plants, packing-houses, and cattle ranches.

A little band of idle rich held the final redoubt in the fashionable world of the 1880’s and 1890’s, and the families of the new plutocracy felt it essential to prove beyond shadow of doubt that they too were idle and rich. It was not in the American tradition, which esteemed riches and abhorred idleness, but urban society was running after strange gods. And, in any event, the new plutocrats generally supplied the riches and left it to willing wives and a younger generation to demonstrate the idleness.

Concert singing, visits by foreign musicians, and orchestral playing also revealed a growing taste among the sophisticated for more serious music. Jenny Lind had paved the way for the tours of European artists in the middle of the century, and Ole Bull had made two memorable visits. In the 1890’s Ysaye, Paderewski, Fritz Kreisler, Adelina Patti, Melba, Calvéé, and Madame Schumann-Heink were all on tour. Symphonic music had had its start with the organization of the New York Philharmonic as early as 1842, but it was not until 1878 that this orchestra had any real rival. In that year the New York Symphony Orchestra was established, to be followed in another three years by the Boston Symphony, and in 1891 by the Chicago Orchestra. Walter Damrosch and Theodore Thomas were adding a new interest to the musical scene.

Grand opera also had become firmly established. It had long been a distinctive feature of the social life of New Orleans, and there had been various attempts to introduce it in New York and other cities. Troupes of Italian singers had come and gone; elaborate opera houses had been opened-usually to fail after one or two seasons. “Will this splendid and refined amusement be supported in New York?” we find Philip Hone asking in 1833. “I am doubtful.” And for almost half a century his doubts were largely justified. It was in 1883 that the Metropolitan Opera House, costing nearly $2,000,000, provided grand opera with its first really permanent home in America.

With the first post-war boom in the 1860’s, observers began to note that New York society was becoming entirely based upon wealth, social prestige being won by those who had the most splendid carriages, drawing-rooms, and opera boxes. George Makepeace Towle has described the balls and assemblies-ladies in sparkling tiaras, suppers of oysters and champagne, fountains gushing wine or sprays of perfume. He was somewhat horrified by “so unceasing a round of glittering gaiety and dissipation.”

The advance of the new millionaires was picturesquely described as “the Gold Rush” by representatives of older social traditions. “From an unofficial oligarchy of aristocrats,” Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer sadly wrote, “society was transformed into an extravagant body that set increasing store by fashion and display.”

Nor was New York alone in this competitive rage for showy display. A sycophant press might boast that its ornate fancy-dress balls and ten-thousand-dollar dinner parties were the most expensive ever known, but the world of fashion throughout the land was closely following its lead. There was an epidemic of gaudy magnificence in the amusements of what went for society. One Chicago magnate brought an entire theatrical company from New York to entertain a group of his friends, and a wealthy woman in another city engaged a large orchestra to serenade her new-born child. San Francisco was notorious for its “terribly fast so-called society set, engrossed by the emptiest and most trivial pleasures.” A fortunate miner who had struck it rich in Virginia City drove a coach and four with silver harness; another had champagne running from the taps at his wedding party.

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Black Hills National Forest Canvas Print

Black Hills National Forest Canvas Print
Black Hills National Forest Canvas Print by SeeAmerica
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Black Hills National Forest Canvas Print

Illustrated by Matt Brass. Matt is an art director, family man, and filmmaker in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has been in marketing and advertising for 14 years. He has worked on various national accounts but has not lost his first love, illustration and design. Black Hills National Forest is located in southwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming.

The forest has an area of over 1.25 million acres and is managed by the Forest Service. Forest headquarters are located in Custer, South Dakota. This design is from Creative Action Network’s See America collection. Over 75 years after the government first commissioned posters to showcase the country’s most stunning natural features under the banner: “See America,” the Creative Action Network (CAN) & National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) have set out to do it again by launching a new version of See America, enlisting artists and designers from all 50 states to create a new collection of artwork celebrating our shared national parks and other treasured sites.

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Retro Captain America and Marvel Entertainment character library

Captain America Character Art Classic Round Sticker
Captain America Character Art Classic Round Sticker by AgeOfUltron
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With a library of more than 8,000 characters, Marvel Entertainment, LLC is one of the world’s preeminent character-based entertainment companies. Marvel’s operations are focused on utilizing its character franchises in licensing, entertainment, publishing and toys. Marvel Entertainment’s areas of emphasis include feature films, DVD / home videos, consumer products, video games, action figures and role-playing toys, television and promotions. Rooted in the creative success of more than 60 years of comic book publishing, Marvel has successfully transformed its cornerstone comic book characters into blockbuster film franchises.

In December 2009, The Walt Disney Co. completed its acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and its library of characters. “The Walt Disney Co. is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses,” said Marvel Chief Executive Ike Perlmutter. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”

Marvel Studios’ Hollywood renaissance has been nothing short of spectacular, with record-breaking franchises such as “Iron Man,” “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “The Fantastic Four” and “Ghost Rider” – resulting in a string of eight consecutive #1 box office openings. Since 1998, Marvel films have grossed more than $6.1 billion worldwide at the box office, firmly establishing the company as one of the most successful entertainment brands in the world.

Marvel Entertainment is currently in production on “Captain America: The First Avenger,” directed by Joe Johnston, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Its future slate of films in development include, “Marvel Studios’ The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Spider-Man 4,” “Deadpool,” “Ant-Man” and “X-Men Origins: Magneto.”

President of Marvel Entertainment and “Thor” producer Kevin Feige explains why Marvel has been so successful in adapting its comic book characters to the big screen: “The secret to Marvel comics is the depth and complexity of the characters, all of whom are flawed in some way,” says Feige. “That’s what makes our characters interesting and why they have withstood the test of time. This dynamic has also allowed us to successfully transition Marvel characters into the film medium and expose them to a large segment of the audience that has never read a comic book. We have also been very fortunate that we have been able to attract uniquely talented actors and directors, as well as the best film technicians from top to bottom which has resulted in the best kind of mega-event movies out there.”

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.

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Art and Escapism

Art and Escapism

“The movie is the art of the millions of American citizens,” an English writer in the Adelphi discovered, “who are picturesquely called Hicks-the mighty stream of standardized humanity that flows through Main Street… The cinema is, through and through, a democratic art; the only one.” Nor would this commentator have had it otherwise.

The attempt to educate the public to higher standards of taste except through the movies’ natural evolution in response to a gradually maturing public sentiment was pious humbug. Europe had failed to realize the possibilities of the moving picture and was hiding behind that “singularly putrescent hypocrisy that masquerades as ‘artistic culture.'”

The reigning stars during the thirties also revealed how diverse moving-picture entertainment had become. Micky Mouse rivaled Greta Garbo, and the Dionne quintuplets competed with Clark Gable. Lawrence Tibbett and Zazu Pitts, Will Rogers and Jean Harlow, Adolphe Menjou and Shirley Temple, Bette Davis and James Cagney, Mickey Rooney and Vivien Leigh, each had an enthusiastic following.

The movies’ success in reaching such a broad public had long since had a most far-reaching effect on other forms of entertainment. From nickelodeon days they had been gradually drawing off the patrons of the popular melodrama, the devotees of variety and burlesque. They now dominated more completely than ever the whole field of commercial amusement. The people’s theatres were either closed or made over into movie palaces, variety shows were so reduced in number that the old two-a-day vaudeville circuit was completely disrupted, and the doors of the local opera houses (unless they too were wired for sound) were everywhere boarded up. The triumph of the movies over the popular theatre was complete.

The legitimate stage which was primarily centered in New York — the theatre of classical drama, sophisticated comedy, problem play, and also musical revue — remained a vital force. It was perhaps more important in some ways than in the nineteenth century. If vaudeville had left it free — or forced it — to go its own way without considering entertainment that would appeal to the urban workers, it was now more than ever the arbiter of its own fashions. It could encourage playwrights — Eugene O’Neill was the country’s leading dramatist — who really had something to say. It could present plays dealing with social problems, and musical comedy that deftly satirized the current scene.

The 1930’s saw a revival of stock companies, especially summer stock; other cities followed the lead of New York with its Theatre Guild and Group Theatre; the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union staged a musical skit which played on Broadway and toured the country; and the Federal Theatre Project became for a time an active force in the theatrical world. Under such stimulating influences there also sprang up a mushroom growth of community theatres with some five hundred thousand amateurs playing before an estimated annual audience of fifteen million.

Escapism that is not an escape from or to anywhere, but an escape of our utopian selves, has always been present in the idea of Camival, where the inhibitions which bind us to conventional roles are loosened. It is our Camival selves that we take on holiday, and the holiday resort – from Atlantic City to Blackpool to Pattaya – has always been a place of loosened inhibitions. If it is the crime of popular culture that it has taken our dreams and packaged them and sold them back to us, it is also the achievement of popular culty’ne that it has brought us more and more varied dreams than we could otherwise ever have known.

Popular amusements had more generally evolved from diversions that were originally available only to the wealthy. The theatre in America had at first been primarily class entertainment, the democratic audiences in the large playhouses of the mid-nineteenth century, as we have seen, offering a marked contrast to the more exclusive theatre patronage of the colonial period.

And from this gradually democratized theatre had developed the even more popular minstrel shows, burlesque, and vaudeville. But the first appeal of moving pictures was to the masses rather than the classes. They were cheap and popular from the very beginning. The support which in time enabled them to raise their standard of entertainment came entirely from their nickel-paying customers.

Their early development along such unashamedly popular lines was not by any means inevitable. It was in part due to the class of people who happened to take them over. The outstanding figures were Jewish garment-workers or fur-traders who bought up the penny arcades, and then the nickelodeons, to merchandise films as they would any other commodity. And their dependence on a mass market led to their continuing to place emphasis on quantity rather than quality.

They were not troubled by an artistic conscience, not concerned with culture, in promoting this profitable business. But at the same time what might superficially be dismissed as merely shrewd commercial tactics represented an approach to the development of this new amusement which would not have been possible in any other country. It reflected a democratic concept of the general availability of popular entertainment which was thoroughly American.

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