Archive | art

Genius school, 1948

Some time ago I posted Nina Leen’s photos of 1940s teenagers that I had come across during research. Well, the other day facebook kindly showed me a link to these photos of a 1940s Genius school for gifted children that I had never seen before, and I love them! I have always thought that old time children look really serious. I’m not talking about Victorian kids who had to stay still for a long time so that the photo wouldn’t be blurry, I’m talking about kids from my parents’ generation, who knew faster shutter speeds but still look strangely serious in most of their photos. Maybe it is because, compared with the way kids dress these days, children from past decades look like little adults, or because photo opportunities were few and far between and they had learnt not to waste a photo by pulling stupid faces, or because they were taught to be serious in front of their teachers, I don’t know. Anyway, in the case of these gifted children I was totally amazed by how adult-like they seem to be, they look focused and determined, even their play looks like serious play! Here are some of my favourite photos, you can see the rest and learn more about the school here.

nina leen genius school 1940s

This one’s my favourite, a 5-year-old who taught himself to read checking out this book from the library!

nina leen genius school 1940s

It looks like they bumped into each other on their way to a business meeting.

nina leen genius school 1940s

I wonder what would happen if you taught young children how to order wine in French in this day and age…

nina leen genius school 1940s

nina leen genius school 1940s

This kid is teaching others to play chess!

nina leen genius school 1940s

nina leen genius school 1940s

Building blocks are a serious business.


Jump into the k-hole

Every time my feedly shows a 1 in brackets next to Internet k-hole I know I’m in for a laugh. This blog is like a bizarre time capsule, it’s the awkward teenage years of the past three generations, it’s the embarrassing pictures you threw away when you grew up, it’s the old family photos that you wish your mum would never show anybody, it’s the sexy pictures your pushy ex-boyfriend took of you before camera phones were invented. It’s the best thing on the Internet. The blog recently moved to tumblr, which in my opinion made it lose part of its appeal. Sure, now it is updated more often, but there was something really special about the sporadic mammoth photo dumps of yore.  Here are some of my favourite photos from the blog. I recommend that you check their archives on blogspot and follow them on tumblr, but make sure you have a lot of time when you do or you may never come back.

Warning: some of the photos on the websites are very NSFW


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Picasso in Paris

A few days ago I spent the day in Barcelona (where I will be at the time of this post’s publishing) and I took advantage of some free time to visit the temporary exhibition at Picasso’s Museum. Devorar París shows works painted by the Spanish artist during his first stay in Paris from 1900-1907, as well as paintings by other artists who were popular in the French capital at the time. It is great to see how Picasso’s art evolved into something absolutely unique and how he was influenced by painters like Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. I’m a big fan of impressionism and turn-of-the-century Paris (though not really a big fan of Picasso), so it is not a surprise that I really enjoyed this exhibition. It will be on at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona until October, so if you’re planning a trip there this summer I advise you not to miss it. Here are some works I liked:
Moulin de la Galette
The Wait (Margot)
Jardin de Paris
Crazy Woman with Cars
Van Gogh’s Still Life with Absinthe
Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Hangover

Your grandparents were once teenagers too

Today I’ve been reading about teenagers as research for some essays. In one of the books I’m reading, Jon Savage’s Teenage. The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, I came across this photo by Nina Leen and fell in love with it because, well, because it combines record shopping, teenagers and the 40s. I mean, what’s there not to love?
I wondered if the photographer took more photos about teenagers and a little google search revealed that she had indeed. I had come across Leen’s work many times before, but I never really took notice of the name or investigated further. I probably should have. Predictably, my favourite shots of hers are the ones of teenagers during the 40s and 50s. I don’t know if they are staged or not, but they seem to be a very accurate depiction of teenage life. It’s funny how, despite all the time that has passed and the changes in our lifestyle,  some of these images remain relevant.
All images in this post belong to Nina Leen.

Yad Vashem – holocaust photo archive

Last week I read an article on the Spanish newspaper “El País” about the online photographic archive of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s World Holocaust Center. I’ve alway been interested in WWII. As a kid I used to ask my great-gran (then over 90) if she remembered the war, even though Spain weren’t in it. So I was obviously all over this link.
What I’ve always found interesting about the wars is not the battles and military aspects of war, but the human side of it. What it was like to live through it, to fight in it, how it affected people in a more personal level. That’s why I find this photo archive so interesting. Anybody can submit their family photos to it, which makes it cover a wide range of aspects of Jewish life both before, during and after the war. It’s just fascinating. Here are some photos I really like.
It’s an amazing resource, especially for those whose relatives were affected by the holocaust, as you can search by place or name to find them.
Warning: Clicking on the link might make you waste a couple of hours browsing through the galleries!

Blogs I love: Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

As soon as I found this blog a couple of days ago I knew I had to blog about it. In fact, it’s been open on my browser all this time as I slowly work my way back in time and ohhh and ahhh at all the amazing pictures.
There’s something special about old kid’s books. As a kid I preferred my mum’s old books to my own shiny new ones, and some of those books became my childhood favourites. I’m very glad that she shared her favourite books with me. Going to charity shops and finding similar books to the ones we already had used to be a really big excitement. This woman does the same, but more obsessively, and she documents her findings on her amazingly comprehensive blog. Anybody who enjoys children’s literature and/or illustration should add this to their reader.

Visit her blog and her etsy shop for more.

All images in this post belong to vintage kids’ books my kid loves.



Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau’s photos are currently being shown in Spain for the first time, and this  exhibition happens to be down the road from my house. Most famous for his photo the kiss by the Hotel de Ville (which by the way was staged), I prefer some of his other images. Here are some of my favourites. You can also watch a video about the exhibition here (in Spanish).
Simone De Beauvoir aux Deux Magots

Annie Leibovitz

My friend Héctor showed me Annie Leibovitz‘s take on Disney films (or should I say several children’s stories? After all, it’s not like Walt Disney wrote Peter Pan, it’s just one out of hundreds of retellings). I think these photos are amazing and can’t believe I hadn’t come across them earlier. Here are some of my favourites. Some of these were made to advertise Disney Parks and some to be published on VOGUE.

Scarlett Johansson as Cinderella

Giselle Bundchen as Wendy.

I think one of the great thing about these photographs, apart from the fact that they manage to capture the magic of these stories wonderfully, is that the stories themselves are so iconic and instantly recognisable that the celebrity status of those pictured in them is relegated to a secondary place. In fact, it took me a while to realise that I knew the faces from somewhere else.

You can see a lot more of these photos in this forum, including a particularly distressing one of Jennifer López and her husband as Yasmine and Aladdin.

Here’s another photo by her that I really like. I feel like it belongs together with these ones because it also looks like it belongs in a fantasy world.


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