outgoing mail: the golden age

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The most enjoyable aspect of studying eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art last semester was reveling in how downright nerdy many experimental European artists were–in one fascinating example, the German Romantic painters who called themselves the Brotherhood of St. Luke basically cosplayed as medieval monks, and would paint each other dressed up as romantic figures from a seemingly distant past. In Johann Friedrich Overbach’s Portrait of the Painter Franz Pforr, Overbach depicts his buddy in an anachronistic paradise–he even gives him a pious medieval babe for a wife in the background, though Pforr was unmarried!

Perhaps my own romanticized fixation with various aspects of the past — including as the nineteenth-century William Morris designs I transformed into my outgoing Christmas mail — becomes less strange when contextualized within each generation’s endless cycle of “golden age” nostalgia.

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be yourself, unless you can be a medieval unicorn

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Unicorns! How curiously you’ve evolved in the popular consciousness over the past thousand years or so. I’m not one to consume sugary beverages named after these beguiling creatures, nor particularly a fan of the stylized neon unicorn that seem to permeate our visual culture these days – but man, do I love medieval and early modern unicorns.

This dress satisfies my fantasy need in a subtle way: spotting the unicorn amidst this pastel castle landscape is a true challenge, and from afar, the print looks like a simple blend of Fauvist colors. No one needs to know that a fairy tale is taking place on my very skirt!

(By the way, that handsome fellow above is from a sixteenth-century Swiss woodcut, back in the days when unicorns still had teeth!)

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