To Plunge Head Foremost

Photographers Unknown, A Collection in Black and White, (To Plunge Head Foremost)

“Who then was the orthodox, who the freethinker? Where lay the true position, the true state of man? Should he descend into the all-consuming all-equalizing chaos, that ascetic-libertine state; or should he take his stand on the “Critical-Subjective,” where empty bombast and a bourgeois strictness of morals contradicted each other? Ah, the principles and points of view constantly did that; it became so hard for Hans Castorp’s civilian responsibility to distinguish between opposed positions, or even to keep the premises apart from each other and clear in his mind, that the temptation grew well-nigh irresistible to plunge head foremost into Naphtha’s “morally chaotic All.” 

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Invisible Cities

Photographer Unknown, (A View of the City), Photo Shoot

“What he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveller’s past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past. Arriving at each new city, the traveller finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Sergei Eisenstein

Sergei Eisenstein, “The General Line (The Old and the New)”, 1929, The “Cream Separator” Sequence, Co-directed by Grigori Aleksandrov, Cinematography by Eduard Tisse

Born in January of 1898 in Riga, Latvia, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein was a film director, scriptwriter, film theorist, and a pioneer in the theory and development of montage. Using his technique of montage film editing, he portrayed the rapid developments of events on the screen, separating each scene into fragments and rearranging them into his preferred order.

Eisenstein studied engineering at the Petrograd Institute of Civil Engineering, leaving in 1918 to join the Red Army in the revolution. Still a member of the Red Army after the Bolshevik seizure of power, he took part in many theater productions and was eventually assigned to organizing productions and ensembles. In 1920 Eisenstein returned to Moscow and worked with the Proletkult Theater, becoming co-director and later the most noteworthy theater director in the USSR.

While still a theater director, Eisenstein wrote a manifesto, “Montage of Attractions,” for the literary journal “Lef”, rejecting the idea that dialogue is the dominant element in theater and claiming that all the elements function on equal terms, forming a fusion or montage that made the entire work. Montage in film, as Eisenstein understood it, means that a film should be constructed not in narrative fashion but from brief segments that serve to reinforce and counterpoint one another. The meaning of the film arises from the interplay of these elements, leading the audience into new recognitions.

In the spring of 1924, Eisenstein proposed that Proletkult undertake a series of films portraying the Russian revolutionary movements before 1917. Working with cameraman Eduard Tisse, a Latvian newsreel photographer who would go on to be the cameraman on all his films, he took on the making of “Strike”, the fifth film in the series. In 1925, Eisenstein made his second and probably his greatest film “Battleship Potemkin”, examining the  mutiny carried out by sailors of the Russian warship, Prince Potemkin, stationed in the Black Sea fleet near Odessa. 

Sergei Eisenstein’s film “The General Line”was an experiment in presenting the feeling of ecstasy in film. Directed by both Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, the film, centering on a rural heroine instead of a group of characters, was a celebration of the collectivization of agriculture, a policy championed by Bolshevik Leon Trotsky.  Eisenstein used his montage method with great success in the filming of the milk coop, its sequence conceived as a enthralling spectacle of raptured faces and the triumphant introduction of new farm machinery. After Trotsky’s fall from grace, the film was quickly re-edited and released in 1929 as “The Old and the New”.

Eisenstein’s vision of Communism brought him into conflict with officials in the ruling regime of Stalin. Frequent attacks on Eisenstein and then subsequent rehabilitation would be a repeated pattern throughout his life. His popularity and influence in his own land thus waxed and waned with the success of his films and the passage of time. In 1930, Eisenstein was approached with offers from Paramount Studios for several films; however, because of his artistic approach and disagreements with scripts, the contract was declared void by mutual agreement. 

Eisenstein came back into prominence with the 1938 “Alexander Nevsky”, in which Eisenstein exchanged his montage style for one that focused and developed the individual characters to a greater extent. This was due to the rise of Socialist Realism in the arts which was becoming the cultural and artistic policy of the state. Well received, the film won Eisenstein the Order of Lenin and the Stalin Prize.  

Eisenstein’s 1944 “Ivan the Terrible, Part One”, a film presenting Ivan IV as a national hero, also won the approval of Stalin and a Stalin Prize. However, the sequel “Ivan the Terrible, Part Two, although finished in 1945, was criticized by the government and not released until 1958. All footage from the unfinished Part Three was confiscated by the state and mostly destroyed, with only a few scenes still existing.

Sergei Eisenstein suffered a heart attack in February of 1946, recovered, but died from a second heart attack in February of 1948, at the age of fifty. His body laid in state in the Hall of the Cinema Workers, was cremated two days later, and his ashes buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Ten

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Ten

“. . .In short, I often found myself in situations different from others, looked on as if I were some strange animal. I do not think this harmed me: one gets used to persisting in one’s habits, to finding oneself isolated for good reasons, to putting up with the discomfort that this causes, to finding the right way to hold on to positions which are not shared by the majority. 

But above all I grew up tolerant of others’ opinions, particularly in the field of religion, remembering how irksome it was to hear myself mocked because I did not follow the majority’s beliefs. And at the same time I have remained totally devoid of that taste for anticlericalism which is so common in those who are educated surrounded by religion. 

I have insisted on setting down these memories because I see that many non-believing friends let their children have a religious education ‘so as not to give them complexes’, or ‘so that they don’t feel different from the others’. I believe that this behavior displays a lack of courage which is totally damaging pedagogically. Why should a young child not begin to understand that you can face a small amount of discomfort in order to stay faithful to an idea? 

And in any case, who said that young people should not have complexes? Complexes arise through a natural attrition with the reality that surrounds us, and when you have complexes you try to overcome them. Life is in fact nothing but this triumphing over one’s own complexes, without which the formation of a character and personality does not happen.” 

—Italio Calvino, Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings

The Stone Cat and the Man

Photographer Unknown, (The Stone Cat and the Man)

“The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble…. They can never be solved, but only outgrown…. This ‘outgrowing’, as I formerly called it, on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency.” —Carl Jung

Busby Berkeley, “By a Waterfall”

Artist Unknown, Busby Berkeley,’s “By A Waterfall” Scene, Computer Graphics, “Footlight Parade” Film Gifs

Lyricist Irving Kahal and composer Sammy Fair had a sixteen year collaboration which started in 1926 and lasted until Kahal’s death in 1942. Among their many notable songs was the 1933 “By a Waterfall”, written for Warner Brothers Picture’s “Footlight Parade”, the third film in the 1933 Gold Diggers Trilogy. The vocal performances were done by actor-singer Dick Powell and actress-singer Ruby Keeler. 

Directed by Lloyd Bacon and presenting great cinematography by George Barnes, “Footlight Parade” contained opulent musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley whose routines contributed to the film’s success. Berkeley’s extravagant arrangement features his trademark human waterfall with its synchroniised water ballet of diving and swimming chorus girls, who produce elaborate, geometric patterns in the water.

One entire sound stage was filled with a twelve by twenty-four meter swimming pool with walls and floor made of glass. Two weeks were required for the one hundred chorus girls to practice their routines in it before shooting began. The six days of actual filming required that twenty thousand gallons of water per minute be pumped across the set to produce the required effects.

Besides the placement and movement of the dancers, the cameras also had to be positioned to film the entire scope of the choreography. Berkeley set his cameras in motion on monorails and custom-built booms to get the correct angle of shot. Since Berkeley was not hampered by the need to shoot multiple images at once for continuity, he was able to expand his creative potential by fluid camera motion and the use of intricate editing, creating fantasy out of the movement.. 

Numbers: One, Two, and Three

Photographers Unknown, (Numbers: One, Two, and Three)

“He told me that in 1886 he had invented an original system of numbering and that in a very few days he had gone beyond the twenty-four-thousand mark. He had not written it down, since anything he thought of once would never be lost to him. His first stimulus was, I think, his discomfort at the fact that the famous thirty-three gauchos of Uruguayan history should require two signs and two words, in place of a single word and a single sign. He then applied this absurd principle to the other numbers. In place of seven thousand thirteen he would say (for example) Maximo Pérez; in place of seven thousand fourteen, The Railroad; other numbers were Luis Melián Lafinur, Olimar, sulphur, the reins, the whale, the gas, the caldron, Napoleon, Agustin de Vedia. In place of five hundred, he would say nine. Each word had a particular sign, a kind of mark; the last in the series were very complicated…”
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings 

Rodrigo Muñoz Ballester

Rodrigo Muñoz Ballester, “Manuel” Series, 1983-1985, La Luna de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Born in Tangier, Rodrigo Muñoz Ballester was a draftsman, illustrator and a sculptor. He was considered one of the most representative draftsmen of Madrid’s “La Movida”, a countercultural movement that took place during Spain’s transition after Francisco Franco’s death in 1975. One of Rodrigo’s few works in the comic genre was “Manuel”, an experimental and unconventional work, telling the tale of an nonreciprocal gay love story through an autobiographical character. The “Manuel” series was published in the oversize pages of the monthly magazine “La Luna de Madrid” between 1983 and 1985.

Rodrigo’s technical perfection and his mastery of perspective are evidence of his training as an architect and his study of Fine Art. In his illustrative work, he shows his fondness for realism and the classical paintings in the Prado Museum; he also recognizes the influence of the painters he admires, such as Edward Hopper and fashion illustrator Antonio López.

In 2005, a compilation of Rodrigo Muñoz Ballester’s work, containing “Manuel” and seven other works not published in La Luna de Madrid, was published, entitled “Manuel No Está Solo”, by Sins Entido, a Spanish publisher committed to graphic novels. Unfortunately, this compilation book is currently out-of-print.

Bruce Weber, “Andy Minsker”

Bruce Weber, “Andy Minsker”, Cover Photo for Per Lui Magazine, Issue Number 29, July/August, 1985

Andrew Claude Minsker was born on March 20, 1962, in Portland, Oregon. He was named National Golden Gloves Champion in 1983 and National United States Amateur Champion by the American Boxing Federation in 1983. During his career, he tried out for the US Olympic Boxing Team, becoming the United States Olympic Trials Champion in 1984.

Minsker was a very disciplined boxer, training five days a week, every week, for the fifteen years of his career. By the time he retired from boxing, he had fought 344 matches, had never been knocked off his feet, and had won first-round knockouts against both the Yugoslav and British Commonwealth champions. In 1981 he smashed his right hand on an opponent’s head, causing major damage to his hand which was only partially repaired. Minsker continued fighting bouts, covering up his weakness, for an additional ten years, until his retirement in 1991.

Andrew Minsker was the subject of a documentary by photographer Bruce Weber entitled “Portrait of a Boxer”, a black and white film interspersed with color shots and mixed with jazz songs.The film focuses on Minsker as a coach training a group of kids in his boxing club.

Andrew Minsker is now coporate president of Andrew Minsker, Ltd, Inc, and has been with Postive Impact Unlimited in Milwaukee since 1988. Minsker continues to runs his boxing club in Oregon.

Image reblogged with many thanks to a great visual site:


Will McBride

Photography by Will McBride

Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1931, Will McBride was an American photographer, book illustrator and painter who grew up in Chicago. He studied painting under Norman Rockwell and later attended the National Academy of Design in New York. McBride studied drawing and painting at Syracuse University in New York, earning his BA in Fine Arts in 1953. After serving from 1953 to 1955 in the US Army at its base in Wùrzburg, Germany, he remained in Germany until his death in 2015.

Largely remembered as a celebrated documentarian of the new generation of postwar youth and the sexual revolution in Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s, McBride regularly photographed for a number of European periodicals, including most notably the German youth magazine “Twen.” Working in a documentary style for the purpose of telling a multi-faceted story, McBride would shoot literally hundreds of negatives while on assignment.

In 1963, the magazine “Twen” commissioned Will McBride to shoot a photo-essay on the School of Salem Castle, long considered one of the most elite boarding schools in Europe. McBride’s images chronicle many aspects of the students’ lives from meals and lessons to athletics. “Twen” published a number of photographs from the shoot at the School of Salem Castle, the most famous being “Mike Wäscht mit Anderen Schule, Salem”, a photograph shot in the communal showers. 

Exhibitions of Will McBride’s photography have included those at the Galleria d’Art Moderne in Bologna, Italy; the Dany Keller Galerie in Munich; and the Galerie Argus Fotokunst and the Haus am Waldsee, both in Berlin. In 2004, Will McBride recieved the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize, a lifetime achievement award, from the German Society of Photography.

In 2014 New York’s ClampArt Gallery held a first-time-seen  exhibition entitled “Salem Suite”, which included sixteen related photographs from the Salem shoot that were personally selected by McBride. 

Calathea Majestica

Photographer Unknown, Calathea Majestica

The tropical plant Calathea Majestica is native to South America’s countries of Colombia and Venezuela. Calathea plants are part of the family of plants known as Marantaceae, which is a species of flowering plants from tropical areas such as Africa and South America. Calathea are famous for their wide, green, colorful leaves with stripes of very light green. In nature, these plants, being very tolerant of low light, are found in jungles and at the base of trees


Armando Cristeto

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Nine

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Nine

“Ah, peace; it was peace, after all, that he wanted! Though not the peace in an empty, hollow void, but a gentle, sunny peace filled with good, tranquil thoughts. All his tender love of life trembled through him at that moment, all the profound yearning for his lost happiness. But then he looked around at the silent, endlessly indifferent peace of nature, saw the river flowing along in the sunshine, saw the grass quivering and moving and the flowers standing where they had blossomed in order to wither and then waft away, saw everything, everything yielding to existence with that mute devotion—and he was suddenly overwhelmed with the sensation of friendship and rapport with the inevitable, which can make us superior to all destiny.” 

—Thomas Mann, Death in Venice and Other Tales

A Private Point of View

Artists Unknown, (A Private Point of View), Gay Film Gifs

“There is no single form or style of portraiture. Portraiture means individualism and as such means diversity, self-expression, private point of view. The most successful images seem to be those which exist on several planes at once and which reflect the fantasy and understanding of many.”

 -Peter Bunnell, Creative Camera International Year Book 1977, 1976, p. 167

Henry Cyril Paget

John Wickens, “Henry Paget, Fifth Marquis of Anglesey”, c 1905, National Trust of England

The Marquis of Anglesey is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The title was created in 1815 for Henry Paget, Second Earl of Uxbridge, who was a hero of the Battle of Waterloo, second in command to the Duke of Wellington. Other subsidiary titles held by the Marquis are Earl of Uxbridge, Middlesex, in the Peerage of Great Britain 91784), Baron Paget, de Beaudesert, in the Peerage of England (1553), and the titles of Irish Baronet, of Pias Newydd in the County of Anglesey, and of Mount Bagenal in the County of Louth. The family seat of the Marquis is Plas Newydd at Lianddaniel Fal, Anglesey. 

Born on June 16, 1875, Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquis of Anglesey, styled Lord Paget until 1880, held the title of Earl of Uxbridge between 1880 and 1898. Notable for squandering his inheritance on a lavish social life, he was the eldest son of Henry Paget, the 4th Marquis, by his wife Blanche Mary Carwen Boyd. After the death of his mother in 1877, Paget went to Paris to live with the French actor Benoít-Constant Coquelin, who was rumored to be his real father. 

At the age of eight, Henry Paget was taken to live at the family seat in Plas Newydd when his father re-married to an American heiress. Paget attended Eton Collage, later receiving private tuition. He learned painting and singing in Germany and spoke fluent French, good Russian, and grammatical Welsh. Paget became commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 

On the 20th of January, 1898, Henry Cyril Paget married his cousin Lilian Florence Chetwynd, maintaining an unconsummated marriage for six weeks at which time his cousin left. The marriage was annulled in 1900 and one year later changed to a legal separation. On the death of his father in October of 1898, Paget inherited his title and the thirty thousand acre family estates, providing an annual income of £110,000, equal to £12 million per year in 2019. Paget swiftly acquired a reputation for a lavish manner of living, spending his money on jewelry and furs, and throwing extravagant parties and theatrical performances.

Paget renamed the family’s country seat as “Anglesey Castle” and converted the family chapel into a 150 seat theater, named the Gaiety Theater. Dressed in opulent costumes, he took the lead role in productions of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband”. From 1899, most of the performances, performed before invited notable guests,  were a variety of song and dance numbers, sketches, and tableaux vivants, stationary posed scenes with actors and props. In 1901, the Gaiety Theater was open as a public entertainment venue after having been refurbished and fitted with electric stage lighting. 

During the next three years, Paget toured with his company around Britain and Europe. The company travelled with specially painted scenery and their own orchestra; many of their props were exact copies of furniture from Anglesey Castle. Each of Paget’s costumes was specially designed and made to order, either by couturiers or by the London costumiers Morris Angel. The company, which at its largest consisted of fifty performers and crew, required five trucks for the baggage and scenery. The Marquis travelled in a powerful Pullman motor car with a personal staff of four. When at Anglesey Castle, Paget kept actors in lodgings in the neighboring village of Llanfair. 

By 1904, despite his inheritance and income, Henry Paget had accumulated debts of £544,000 (£60 million in 2019):[ on June 11th he was declared bankrupt. Everything, including his jewelry and dressing gowns from Parisian shirtmaker Charvet, were sold to pay creditors. Paget ‘retired’ to France on an income of £3,000 a year,, accompanied by a manservant, first to Dinan in Brittany and finally to Monte Carlo.  On March 14, 1905 at the age of twenty-nine, Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquis of Anglesey, died at Monte Carlo’s Hotel Royale following a long illness of tuberculosis. His remains were returned to St. Edwen’s Church, Llanedwen, for burial. 

The title passed to Henry Paget’s cousin Charles Henry Alexander Paget,  who destroyed all the papers of the 5th Marquis and converted the Gaiety Theatre back into a chapel. It was at least in part owing to the debts left by the 5th Marquis that the family’s principal English estate at Beaudesert,  Staffordshire, had to be broken up and sold in the 1930s. The Paget family moved into the family seat Plas Newydd for their permanent residence.

Henry Cyril Paget’s outrageous and flamboyant lifestyle, his taste for cross-dressing, and the breakdown of his marriage, have led many to assume that he was gay. Lawyer and early gay rights reformer in England, Harford  Montgomery Hyde, author of “The Other Love”, viewed Paget in his 1970 writings as the most notorious aristocratic homosexual at this period. Heritage Studies professor Norena Shopland, specializing in LBGT and Welsh histories, wrote that Henry Paget should be included in the history of gender identity. However, there is no evidence for or against his having had any lovers of either sex. Upon Henry Paget’s death, the deliberate destruction of his papers by his cousin Charles Henry Paget has left the matter to speculation. 

In 2017 the actor and composer Seiriol Davies wrote and performed in his play “How to Win Against History”, a musical based on Henry Cyril Paget’s life. This award-winning show was performed at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe before going on tour in Wales and England. In 2019 the show had its Irish premiere at the Dublin Theater Festival.

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Eight

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Eight

“The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography 

Born in 1915, Roland Gérard Barthes was a French social critic, literary critic and essayist whose writings on semiotics, the formal study of symbols and signs pioneered by Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, helped establish structuralism and the New Criticism as leading intellectual movements. He studied at the University of Paris, receiving a degree in classical letters in 1939 and grammar and philology, the historical study of literary texts and language, in 1943.

After working from 1952 to 1959 at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Barthes was appointed to the École Pratique des Hautes Études. In 1976 he became the first chairman of literary semiology at the College de France. His first book “Le Degré zéro de l’écriture (Writing Degree Zero)” was a literary manifesto that examined the arbitrariness of the constructs of language. His following four books applied the same critical reasoning to the mythologies, or hidden assumptions, behind cultural phenomena from advertising and fashion to the Eiffel Tower and wrestling.

By the late 1970s, Barthes’s intellectual stature was virtually unchallenged, and his theories had become extremely influential not only in France but throughout Europe and in the United States. Other leading radical French thinkers who influenced or were influenced by him included the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, socio-historian Michel Foucault, and philosopher Jacques Derrida.

In 1980 Roland Barthes died at the age of 64 from injuries suffered after being struck by an automobile in Paris. Several posthumous collections of his writings have been published, including the 1982 “A Barthes Reader”, edited by his friend and admirer Susan Sontag, and the 1987 “Incidents”. The latter volume revealed Barthes’s homosexuality, which he had not publicly acknowledged. A three volume set entitled “Oeuvres Complétes (Complete Works)” was published in 1993 to 1995.

The Black and White Collection: WP Set Seven


The Black and White Collection: WP Set Seven

“The poet must always, in every instance, have the vibrant word… that by it’s trenchancy can so wound my soul that it whimpers…. One must know and recognize not merely the direct but the secret power of the word; one must be able to give one’s writing unexpected effects. It must have a hectic, anguished vehemence, so that it rushes past like a gust of air, and it must have a latent, roistering tenderness so that it creeps and steals one’s mind; it must be able to ring out like a sea-shanty in a tremendous hour, in the time of the tempest, and it must be able to sigh like one who, in tearful mood, sobs in his inmost heart.”
Knut Hamsun

Bruce Weber, “Ian Mckellen and Friend”

Bruce Weber, “Ian McKellen and Friend (Peter Johnson)”

This image taken by Bruce Weber of Ian McKellen and Peter Johnson is from Weber’s book “The Chop Suey Club”  published by Arena Editions in 1999.

This book presents Bruce Weber’s collection of photographs mostly of Peter Johnson, a young man he met while shooting at a wrestling camp. Taken over a series of years, the photographs evolve in scope and involvement as the subject ages and grows more comfortable with the camera. It is a fascinating study of not only a young man coming of age, but of a photographers relationship with one subject over a period of time. Although an art photography book, the book’s compact size gives it a feel of a private journal rather than a glossy coffee table book. Published in a small edition, copies of the book are rare.