What child doesn’t dread the unseen monsters potentially lurking under the bed, or stalking around the shadows outside the window? These photographs from the 1920s realize this terror in a series of comical and upsetting staged horrors.
The series of 15 photographs turned up on eBay recently, stereoviews that you could once glimpse in 3D with a coin-operated drop card machine. According to the listing, on the back of one is written: “The Goblins will get you if you don’t watch out.” And indeed, the poor girl who fitfully sleeps (or in one, randomly, prays) with a series of papier-mâché-masked bogeymen after being sheperded to her bed beneath a worn “God Bless Our Home” painting does meet an unfortunate end.
The story behind why these were made isn’t clear. Would you take your children to the stereoscopic viewer to warn them of the demons that will haunt them if they aren’t good (the traditional threat of the bogeyman)? Were they for adults to reminisce about their own childhood fears? Either way, there’s something amazingly creepy about them, from a sad-faced bogeyman suddenly looming in the window like the horse peaking his head out of the curtains in Henry Fuseli’s 1781 “The Nightmare”, to a bulbous-headed goblin grinning up from the floor. Apologies in advance if any of them lumber into your dreams.
Despite the widespread youthful panic the bogeyman instills, he’s not too common in art, although there are some frightening exceptions. Duane Michals created an unsettling bogeyman sequence in 1973 where an ominous trench coat on a stand turns out to contain a sinister creature after all. Back in the late 1700s, Goya even etched a shrouded figure approaching a mother and her children in “Que viene el coco (Here Comes the Bogey-Man).”
Yet the sequence of the 1920s photographs has a haunting, DIY approach all its own. Here are the photographs of the nightmare:
The close, careful, and subtle observation I found this year is representative of precisely why I continue to gravitate to this fair.
How do we counter stereotypes about Black mothers, while stressing the importance of memory, determination, love, and corporeality?
Featuring underwater recordings from around the world, this immersive, site-specific installation is on view at the Lenfest Center for the Arts in NYC from February 3 to 13.
With two stellar retrospectives, one time-based installation, and several commissions by local artists, the Phillips Collection has dedicated its galleries to highlighting abstract work by Black artists.
As we begin a new year, a small moment on Queer Eye makes me think about the profound effect our stories can have on each other.
BRIC’s multidisciplinary program in Brooklyn has cohorts in Contemporary Art, Film & TV, Performing Arts, and Video Art. Applications are due March 10.
Some have criticized the racist monument’s planned relocation to North Dakota, near land seized from Indigenous people.
A group called the Boriken Libertarian Forces toppled the monument hours before King Felipe VI of Spain’s visit.
Still resonating with relevance, William Gropper’s incisive cartoons in defense of the WPA go on auction at New York’s Swann Galleries together with other works by celebrated WPA artists.
Archeologists excavating in Nijmegen, the Netherland’s oldest city, found the bowl in pristine condition.
A pioneer of street photography, Levitt worked in the most crowded and poorest neighborhoods of New York searching for the theater of everyday life.