In public memory, the late magician Ricky Jay is remembered as a sleight of hand virtuoso who could perform marvels with a deck of cards. His work is eternalized in numerous TV and film appearances, which often included shooting cards like darts at various objects, most famously a halved watermelon. But the legendary performer, who passed away in 2018, was also a renowned magic scholar who authored 11 books and amassed a collection of about 10,000 rare books, posters, and artwork about all things esoteric. On October 27, a portion of his vast collection will go on an auction at Sotheby’s, offering his fans a chance to hold possession of these enchanting items.
The sale includes 634 lots of antique books, broadsides, handbills, and prints documenting centuries of magic, circuses, and more. Among the more eccentric items are several 17th-century broadsides advertising “learned animals,” like an “accomplished horse” who could speak English, French, and Italian and a card-playing pig. Harry Houdini, the master of escape acts, features prominently in the collection with 1913-1915 posters promoting his “Water Torture Cell” stunt. Another poster from 1913, beautifully illustrated by famed German lithographer Adolph Friedländer, features a stock levitation image for magicians to use on the road.
More standouts include a late 19th-century charming tabletop game featuring a moving trapeze artist and an “automaton,” a mechanical doll with which Jay appeared on stage. And we would be remiss leave out an 1818 etching of Madame Giradelli, also known as the “celebrated fireproof woman,” who was famous for “passing a lighted candle under her arms, dropping sealing wax on her tongue, and cooking eggs ‘fit for eating’ while holding boiling oil in her hands,” Sotheby’s quotes from Jay’s writings.
Get a taste of this rare and fascinating collection of curiosities in the following selection of images.
Lewis’s tattered canvases and pasted over drawings mirror a world in need of constant upkeep and repair.
Seeing the Toronto Biennial of Art through my daughter’s eyes helped me push past some of its challenges by experiencing it on a primordial level.
Who says tragedy has to be tragic? Co-presented with National Black Theatre, this fresh, Pulitzer-winning take on a classic centers Black joy and liberation.
With its titular blend of Western culture and Asian ethnicity, Tyrus Wong’s “Chinese Jesus” painting embodies Asian American identity.
Prehistoric Planet is visually ambitious, but the docuseries often fails to contextualize those visuals for the curious viewer.
For the triennial’s eighth edition, work by more than 70 artists is featured in 12 exhibitions and a polyphonic program, installed at various locations throughout the German city.
Imelda Marcos and her husband were accused of plundering billions of dollars from the country.
Probably not, but it sure looks like one.
This exhibition explores the work and short-but-impactful life of the groundbreaking ceramic artist. Now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
I won’t bother you with talk about how obscenely decadent and out of touch the Frieze art fair is. And yet…
Curators Tahnee Ahtone, La Tanya S. Autry, Frederica Simmons, Dan Cameron, and Jeremy Dennis offered the public a window into their curatorial processes through the work they produced during their fellowships.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Jeremy Dennis presents an exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.