It renders men helpless

Yes, you guessed right.

It’s love.

But ask men about being helpless and their romantic tales would turn out to be remarkably different.

Being helpless in the face of something you didn’t purposefully cause, like unrequited love, is one thing. Being a helpless idiot and facing the consequences of your own romantic deeds, like texting a very wrong person about your feelings, is quite another.

We feel sorry for the former (“Poor guy”), and sneer at the latter (“Friggin’ idiot”) in dramas and comedies, respectively.

The icon of the poor-guy type of helplessness and the resulting out-and-out gloom (what today is often diagnosed as depression) was created by Mikhail Vrubel in 1890 and is called the Seated Demon.


Originally, it was an illustration to the eponymous Lermontov’s poem, in which the Demon falls in love with a mortal girl. This, as you and I understand, is a hopeless affair: everyone knows angels do not have sexual organs, and a fallen angel doesn’t grow a penis after his fall: unlike socially responsible employers gods don’t award bonuses when they kick you out.

Anyway, this is a great painting that came to symbolise a lot of things Vrubel had never intended. He explicitly wanted to paint a powerful spiritual being that wasn’t so much evil as suffering. Today, it is seen as an icon of helplessness in the face of fate, consumerism, and selfie sticks. Yes, for some reason girls love taking their pictures in front of it. Is it because they enjoy it when strong and attractive men are helpless?


Some experts believe an alternative explanation for the selfie epidemic is trite but true: girls don’t care about the meaning of the painting. They see it as a nice backdrop to their own splendid image.

The Demon is the Poor Guy we all feel sorry for, and as time goes by, the image remains quite contemporary: an office clerk. honest and capable, but laid off due to an economic downturn, can very much sympathise with this painting, even though his situation is, perhaps, the last thing Vrubel could have imagined.

The Helpless Idiot icon can also be found in Russia, though originally it was created by a foreigner.

It is the statue of Orpheus by Antonio Canova, a neoclassical sculptor from Italy. The English must love him for the same reason the Greeks should hate him. His recommendation was the decisive last drop in acquiring the Parthenon marbles.

According to Greek myths, Orpheus was a great poet, singer and composer. One day, his beloved wife Eurydice died from a viper’s bite.  Given that “1000 Ways to Kill a Mortal: from Mildly Sadistic to Uber Cruel” had been the all-time bestselling manual on Mount Olympus ever since Zeus’ father took to eating his children (and until it was replaced by Fifty Shades of Grey), a viper’s bite was not the worst way to go.

Regardless, grief-stricken Orpheus began composing and performing tunes of such grandiose sadness that even rabbits were weeping instead of making more rabbits. Eventually, local gods, nymphs, and neighbouring people conspired on sending Orpheus on a tour of the underworld, the only 100% sound-proof place in the known universe, in search of his diseased wife. The sad singer travelled there,  and performed for the underworld’s ruling couple, Hades and Persephone.

The legend says Orpheus softened their hearts, and they allowed him to take his wife back to the surface. The true story was that the concepts of hell and tormenting the dead had not been invented yet, and Hades couldn’t imagine why his subjects should be suffering more than they were suffering already, what with already being dead, yeah? Also, he couldn’t revive the dead, despite all the rumours to the contrary. So, Hades made a deal with the singer, that he could take his wife to the upper world only if he came first, she followed him, and he never looked back until he came out of the underworld. Otherwise, the girl would be lost to Orpheus forever, which would be his own fault this time around.

The Bible then borrowed the story, with God turning Lot’s wife into a salt statue when she looked back at the destruction of Sodom. Curiosity, impatience, and peep-show addiction are sinful in most religions.

A special notice to police personnel working speed cameras:  you understand you are damned, don’t you?

Of course, Orpheus looked back, because romantic men always do, and just as certainly, his wife was pulled back into the underworld. This is the moment that Canova sculpted for the Russian Empress more than 200 years ago:


Hades’ brilliant idea was to shift responsibility to Orpheus because guilt would prevent him from both (a) coming back to the underworld and (b) depressive singing in the upper world. Since then, this guilt trick has become a popular tool in male-female relationship management.

Having made a helpless idiot of out himself, Orpheus vowed to never touch a woman. This dramatic story could end right there and then with a strong moral message to everyone’s satisfaction, but no, ancient Greeks were never happy with straightforward plots.

Orpheus began touching and seducing boys. Eventually, enraged local women murdered him for this “substitution” behaviour. Andrea Mantegna painted the moment and Durer copied the now lost painting in 1494:


The banner at the top leaves the observer in no doubt as to the reason for this outburst of female cruelty. It reads “Orpheus, the first pederast”.

Strangely, this part of the story seems to have been lost in the mists of time. Otherwise, the organisers of Golden Orpheus, a major East European pop music contest, could be held responsible for something even more horrible than promoting dreadful singing.

This summer, I ran into Orpheus in Carrara. The local museum staged a show of Canova’s works,  and I had a chance to get face to face with Orpheus. He does look like an Internet meme, ready for the taking, with his exaggerated facial despair on top of a beautiful neoclassical body.

This disbelief, I guess, eventually killed neo classicism. Beautiful suffering or the suffering of the beautiful is a difficult concept to have faith in. In today’s glamorous world it’s the non-beautiful who struggle in pain and vain.

This is also why contemporary attempts at revival of neo-classicism invariably end up in kitsch.

Can religious fanatics be blamed for art destruction?

The other day, a group of Orthodox Christian activists burst into a sculpture show in the centre of Moscow to protest against supposedly blasphemous representations of Christ among dozens of artworks from three non-conformist Soviet sculptors exhibited there. They harmed a few graphic works but no damage has been done to the sculptures.

The protest outraged a number of Russian intellectuals who as one spoke against this mediaeval ISIS-style vandalism, expressing hopes the law would not dismiss the protesters unpunished.

Come on.

It is not the first time that it happens, and it will be happening more and more often in Russia. Don’t look so surprised and indignant. The rise of art vandalism in Russia is as obvious and predictable as Putin’s next presidential term.

Whenever a big idea takes hold of a collective mind, art that contradicts this idea gets destroyed. It happened when Christianity became the official state religion in the Roman Empire; it happened in the wake of the French Revolution; it happens today in the Muslim Caliphate of the ISIS; and it takes place in Russia, dizzy from its illusions of grandeur amid bulldozed geese and incinerated peaches.

As any religion is, ultimately, just a therapeutic practice to fight the fear of death, destruction of art is its unavoidable consequence. It’s like a lease of premises which is the fixed cost of running a shop. The more people believe in your version of god, the safer you feel about your own choice of religion, the more purpose and sense you find in life and the less you fear death. Anything that contradicts your version represents doubt, and doubt equals a renewed fear of death, and people most afraid their beliefs are in danger start crushing statues and burning books. This also explains why fresh converts are often more violent than established believers, and why religious fanatics are most dangerous immediately after they’ve won a war or went legal.

It practical terms, it means that artworks should be better guarded, removed to safe heavens, and not exhibited in places with a high concentration of religious activists (not religious people!), because you never know what their god may whisper into their activist ear tomorrow.

There are and can be no religions of peace, because a peaceful religion has a zero chance to survive.

It doesn’t mean, of course, that all Christians, Muslims, or Buddhists are intolerant of artworks created by people with a different worldview. It just means there will always be a varying share of people within these (or any other) religions who believe destroying art and killing unbelievers is their duty and a path to salvation and life eternal.

It is the reality, and artists need to adapt to it, just like European couples visiting Dubai learn not to kiss in public, albeit sometimes in the hard way. Leaving a country with a lot of religious activists for a country with a few of them is also an option.

In the very distant future, when the human life expectancy climbs up to 250 years, there would be less fear and more tolerance. What’s important is that we find practical ways to protect controversial art until then.

I welcome alternative opinions, unless they are accompanied by death threats, of course.

In the meantime, here are Vadim Sidur’s sculptures that made the Christian vandals go bananas:

Does any one of them seem blasphemous to you?

Once, I seriously contemplated buying a sculpture by one of the three artists (Nikolai Silis), but didn’t go for it because of value concerns (the price seemed too high given that uncountable copies of the original version had been made by the sculptor).

This is Don Quixote. The daisy in his hand can be replaced by a live flower. In fact, you can change flowers in his hand as often as you want. It is an interactive artwork that can be an icon of curiosity and interest in life in all its forms.



Tortured Babies and Chained Black Slaves

Now that we have explored the ground floor of the Giovanni Fattori museum and haven’t yet seen anything from Giovanni Fattori himself, we need to get one floor up, to finally get to know the painter.

And what a staircase is it to climb! On my scale of gaudy, it stands a notch behind Jeff Koons.


Yes, ceramic banisters of traditional Tuscany design are interspersed by putti.

As you climb the first flight of stairs they face you, the next flight presents you with a spectacular view of their very un-childish bottoms:

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They are far from being happy, what with the iron rods stabbed in their heads! If you bend down to get to know them better, you get a feeling that something creepy must have been happening in this luxuriant and opulent villa when its owners were alive.

Once you’ve mastered the stairs, catching an unhealthy dose of putti suffering along the way, you get to a spacious hall with a lot of people on the ceiling.


It is an interesting moment in the history of Livorno, and art history, in general.

It is the unveiling of an addition to a monument to Ferdinand I de Medici in 1624. The statue itself was erected in 1601 to celebrate naval victories of Ferdinand over Moorish Corsairs. The statue was made by Bandinelli, an admirer and rival of Michelangelo but without any talent for large forms. I wrote about the guy here, and if you have been to Florence, you must know his major work that stands next to David.

More than 20 years later after Ferdinand the Victorious was erected, it was decided to add captive Moors, who – coming from North Africa – were usually dark-skinned or black. Painted bronze was seen as a fitting material, and Pietro Tacca, a former pupil of Giambologna, was commissioned to make four figures of defeated pirates.

It’s not often that one can see a sculpture which accessory part is better sculpted and more expressive than the main one.


An observer cares more about the Moors than the dude who defeated them.


Everything about them is spectacular: their twisted bodies, their faces, of which some are rebellious, and some quite resigned.

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There is a legend that Tacca used two real slaves as models for his sculptures who were set free when the work was completed. One of them settled in Florence, but would take his family to Livorno whenever possible to boast of the likeness of his face to one of the bronze Moors.

Of course the Moors don’t look as black today as in the ceiling fresco, but someone who doesn’t know the real history behind this sculpture may see the whole composition as an offensive symbol of racial superiority. And, believe me, in the presence of black people selling fake bags nearby with white tourists taking pictures of the monument with their uber-expensive Leicas, Canons, and Nikons, this modern interpretation of a historic sculpture does not seem all that irrelevant.

Enough of the creepy stuff. Our next stop is at Italian art of the 19th century.


The Yin and Yan of Italy, and tortured babies

What I love about Italy is that it is a patchwork of different epochs, styles, and cultures, which are often quite opposing and contradictory but peacefully co-existing. The symbol of Yin & Yan should have been invented in Italy.

Take Forte dei Marmi, a paradise spot for millionaires, their kids, nannies, fitness instructors, and cocaine suppliers. It is white (no black people except peddlers of fake LV bags), posh, and clean as the bottom of a cat with obsessive compulsive disorder centered on the cleanness of its bottom. I know some people believe cats are normally born with it, so imagine it to be double the norm.

Its boutiques stay open until midnight absorbing the apre-dinner crowd wearing a relaxed mix of casual attire and expensive diamonds. If you cringe at “expensive diamonds”, trust me, it is not a tautology in Forte. There are diamonds, and there are expensive diamonds; and the latter are noticeably different to the former in size and quantity. It’s the kind of diamonds that make you murmur, “It must be a fake” when you see them except that they are not. Don’t worry, though, Forte is a safe place. Of course, once a year a Rolex gets forced off the manicured hand of its wearer or a villa is robbed while its residents are put to sleep by some soporific gas, but given the number of Swiss watches and luxury homes in the area, it’s a small price the rich have to pay for being open-minded about the inclusion of the more unstable East European countries into the EU. Ultimately, the Forte’s rich would either earn their money back off those nations or steal it from their own. Fair’s fair. And yes, the word “earn” in Forte has a very different meaning to the same verb in, say, neigbouring Livorno.

In Livorno, the opposite of Forte, you don’t wear an expensive watch, because Livorno’s large immigrant community keeps a close watch on you at all times. A non-prejudiced tourist may take those stares for a sincere wish to help with city navigation, but the inner genius of intuition whispers that it is better to stay inconspicuous. Show off is never welcomed by socialists, and there are many of them in Livorno, for it is a place that has been holding socialist ideas close and dear to its heart ever since the communist party was founded there almost a hundred years ago.

Not that Livorno’s infatuation with communism has done anything good for the city. It is not a prosperous community, not very clean, and you won’t be able to pop into a Hermes store after your mid-night MacDonald’s dinner. While activists are busy leaving communist graffiti on the walls of public buildings, its churches crumble, its businesses twinkle out of existence, its palaces decay and peel off as if cursed by their capitalist ex-owners, with the net effect of activists’ leaving even more communist graffiti.

There is still a lot of charm in this fading star of a town, bombed flat during the WWII, and rebuilt by post-war architects who will not be celebrated in any foreseeable future for the beauty of their creations:

Do I like Livorno? Well, you might have already guessed that I hate Forte dei Marmi, the modern vanity fair for corrupt politicians, oligarchs (mostly Russian and the former ex-USSR, of course) and their menials. Forte is not a place where money creates anything good or anything at all. I am allergic to it so much I never take pictures there, and leave the town as soon as the annual obligatory dinner with friends who happen to like Forte is over. But, if you are interested, here are some good links 1, 2.

My dislike for Forte (let’s say it is Yin) doesn’t make me a big fan of Livorno (which is Yan), though. I am a firm believer that socialism is bad for you. If you contract socialism, you need to be isolated at the first signs of the disease . If you happen to be a socialist, please don’t even think about dissuading me: I’ve lived a half of my life under this “just” social order. Very few things make me happier than hitting a communist on the head with a tome of Das Kapital by Karl Marx.

Yet, Livorno is Italy, and Forte is not. It can be easily proven by arts and culture. In Forte, art galleries are outlets for gaudy po(o)p art that discredits the country’s culture and heritage. In Livorno, good art can still be found, and to see it we’ll go to Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori.

It is housed in a building that doesn’t strike you as a museum (Yan). It looks abandoned, like a homeless person slumped against the wall, when you are not sure if he is asleep temporarily or eternally.

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As you enter it, you are hit by the past glory of the prosperous capitalistic Livorno (Yin) mixed with the scent of imaginary mothballs (there are no real mothballs there, but you still can feel the smell).


Putting contemporary art in a historic setting is one of the oldest curatorial tricks to show that creative life is still pretty much alive and kicking, and it is also a kind of Yin&Yan.


Yet, when I was there, I had a feeling Livorno’s contemporary art has lost the vitality required to make something beyond eye-pleasing decorative pieces. Perhaps, it was just too hot outside, and I missed the breakthrough kind of art.

Fortunately, there are a few great artworks well worth a detour, as they say in tourist guides.

This painting by Neri di Bicci is a good example of the decorative branch of the Renaissance that ultimately peaked out at Botticelli (as opposed to the humanistic chapter of Masaccio and Michelangelo).

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Neri di Bicci, Crucifixion, second half of the 15th c. Florence

If you have been to the Medici Palace in Florence, and visited the Magi chapel frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli, you’d understand what I mean.

Why is it an interesting piece of Renaissance art?

It is a multi-figure composition where everyone is visible and has a role. Bicci shows a broad range of emotional states: sorrow, contrition, disinterest, curiosity, disapproval, approval, etc. You can play a game of mapping emotions against each character or group of characters in this painting and see if you and your friends are good at recognising emotions.

I will focus at a few elements in this painting, but before that notice how this representation of Christ’s last passion is soaked in passionate red. It was an expensive colour at the time, by the way.

bicci1. The land


It is a very narrow strip of land that is painted in such a way that it creates the feeling of a flat on which the whole composition is built, and takes you inside the painting, without directing you to anything particular at all. Clever.

2. The mourners


The beauty here is not in the suffering of collapsing Mary (that was not an innovation even then), but the attitude of the saintly ladies who support her. They don’t have time to cry or agonise over the Crucifixion, which has already happened; they have a more immediate and pressing task at hand. They don’t look up at Christ: that can wait. They care about his mother. And that is very true, much more so than the scenes painted with greater mastery by Rogier van der Weyden about the same time, or by Rubens much later.

Two fragments from Weyden's and Rubens' Crucifixions

Two fragments from Weyden’s and Rubens’ Crucifixions

When an old woman collapses one has to look down to support her, and even if the old woman doesn’t collapse (but you know she’s suffering a lot) you don’t lean on her while walking at the same time.

3. Gamblers

This is an important scene to which attention is drawn specifically by the hand and finger of a mounted man above them. Roman soldiers are drawing straws for Christ’s possessions.gamblers

They stand next to the group of mourners but seem oblivious of the dramatic events taking place around them. They are fully engrossed in their get-rich-quick game. Of course it was meant to be a moral lesson (with the point driven even further by having the three ages of man in this group), but… yeah, men are like that. The whole world would be collapsing around them, and they’d keep thumping through news on their iPads.

4. St.John


Yes! Women tend women, men think of bigger issues. One man looks up, St.John looks down, and the observer looks up and down, thinking of Christ’s sacrifice and his own future lifestyle choices. St.John didn’t come out well on my camera, but the strained concentration on his face can still be seen, that together with his clasped hands tell you a lot about the inner pain inside the man.

5. Torturer


This man is the most ugly character of all the Roman soldiers. He enjoys inflicting unnecessary pain on a powerless condemned brigand as a cruel boy pinching wings off a fly to see how it’d wriggle, unable to take off. His helmet is splashed with blood that he doesn’t seem to notice: the suffering of the crucified man is holding his undivided attention.

You probably won’t shake the man’s hand if you met him socially, but…look inside your own mind and remember if you have ever inflicted unnecessary pain on someone. The point is not to brand the man as a horrible brute.

This Crucifixion is an interesting piece, but we have to keep going, and climb an amazing staircase to the first floor with 19th century paintings by Giovanni Fattori there.

And that’s when the tortured babies come into play, the total Yan to Neri di Bicci’s Yin.

Stay tuned for the horror, I’ll post it soon.

Vaccinate against fear of Picasso

We all know Picasso was a genius who was not just practicing, but creating “isms”; who was not teaching, but inspiring artists; and whose single painting could feed half the kids in Africa if US billionaires and Qatari sheikhs who buy and sell the stuff would give their Picasso money to charities.

Then we look at some of his paintings and feel we don’t want to be asking ourselves the basic question of why Picasso is great or inspiring. Because we don’t always know the answer, or suspect we may not like it once we get enlightened.

Shall we be afraid of Picasso’s bizarre works, like this one? Not any more, if you get vaccinated by a healthy dose of cynicism. Roll up your sleeve, you won’t feel the stab.

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It is, surely, a naked woman. An art historian would readily provide you with her name, her date of birth, and the year of her first intercourse with Picasso. Is it important? Only if you are contemplating a career in time-travel and mental help to sexually overheated geniuses.

Forget art history, trust your instincts.

What, if anything, is great about this painting?

If you take a girl, put her on a blue towel on a public beach in a pose like that, and have her photographed, you’d get banned from the beach, possibly arrested for indecent behaviour, and most likely sued by the girl after the paramedics help her untwine her limbs with massive injections of muscle relaxant.

But if you paint her surrealistically you become a prophet and a genius. Why?

For three main reasons.

1. She is one with the elements

  • Her towel is both a towel and the sea
  • The sky is also the sand and earth.
  • Her body is the green of life but also the colour that you get when mixing yellow and blue which stand for the different elements in this painting
  • The elements penetrate her and she penetrates the elements (just an example):


  • Parts of her body resemble some of the major elements:

fragment2_1Why is it important that she’s one with the elements?

Do I really need to explain this? For the same reason Venus was born out of sea foam, and Eve was created from Adam’s rib. For the same reason men avoid meeting their girlfriend’s parents before they get steeped in marriage plans. Love and beauty must be god-given, just like the elements. It is very difficult to really fall in love with the product of someone else’s love-making. Meeting the mother-vagina and father-phallus prematurely is a death blow to a budding relationship.

There is another theory which states that a promiscuous man’s best defense is a claim that he is attracted to women at the primeval, elemental level, like a flower that is attracted to the sun or a fish that finds it difficult to stay away from water. The expected response from the addressee of this tirade is “Darling, you should see a therapist” instead of the more normal “get the f** out of my house, you creepy bastard!” What is really surprising is that it is known to work, if therapists are to be believed, of course.

Given that the words “muse”, “mistress”, and “model” had the same meaning in Picasso’s vocabulary, I’d say he was an adept of this doctrine.

2. She is built of phallic Lego blocks

Look, all the body parts are disconnected. And most of them represent phallic Lego blocks.

IMG_0995 - копия (2)If you don’t see it here, I can’t help you. If no one sees it here, except me, it’s me who can’t be helped. Yet, I am full of hope I am not alone.

If you have friends around you now, feel free to entertain them by the competitive counting of stylised phalluses in this painting. Don’t forget to tell me how many they find.

Why is this phallic symbolism important?



Picasso doesn’t give you a porno image to fantasize about. He gives you inspiration to create something that would be your own sexual object, in your own wicked mind, made out of your own naughty fantasies.

3. Now, if you have a phallus, you can insert it anywhere.

It’s not enough to have a girl built. She has to be built in a way that she can be made love to in more ways than a seasoned Kamasutra practitioner can imagine.

Picasso was a first-class maniac, for the number of orifices, pathways, and spots which a phallus owner may explore here is beyond the wildest dreams of a porn-director.

Play your own game with it, but notice that even the towel’s folds are quite suggestive:

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To sum it up:

It is not a pornographic image to stimulate arousal. It is a DIY set to inspire you to create your own pornographic universe. If you have a working phallus, and are not a member of any religious order that prevents or limits its use, this Picasso is for you.

I am sorry if you are a Catholic priest. I should have posted a warning for you at the top, “This material is of no practical value to celibate readers. Proceed at your own risk”.

If you are a woman, it’s tricky. This Picasso is a lot like a blot drawing that shrinks love shoving in front of their patients. What you see there reflects who you are and whether you should be locked away or allowed to walk free until your next visit. It is a dangerous ground to explore. For instance, if you say you stand against female objectification, and this Picasso resonates with you at some level, it is a sign you are not against female objectification at least a couple of hours a day.

If you are Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, I’d love to know how you feel about this painting. You can probably experience it from two perspectives, so to say. It must be double fun.


Having received a few very valuable comments to this post, I feel the need to take the proverbial tongue out of my cheek and say that Picasso is not an “easy listening” kind of art. The problem with Picasso is that he is so often referred to as a “genius”, that we expect his art to be understood at once, be instantly gratifying, and immediately pleasing. It doesn’t work this way.

If I peel mockery off this post, this painting would emerge as a very strong statement. It addresses the sexual revolution or evolution of the 20th century in a way few artworks can hope to achieve. Think of the consumer attitude to the female body that permeats the society through pop culture and advertising, disguising itself in the false robes of romantic admiration. “You are like a star, like a breeze for my soul! — Now let’s shag, and be done with this romantic nonsense”. It is all in there, in this painting, explicit and concentrated. It is not a woman in the painting. It is the raw, hungry male consumer attitude to women. Do I need to have the same attitude to admire the painting? No. Can I admire the painting for its ability to express this attitude? Yes.

Patriotic marketing in photography history

I am sure you loved the cigarette spy camera from my previous post, and many of you now want to find or buy it for your collection. If it turns out to be unavailable, here’s another idea. In 1888, this hand-held camera was introduced by a guy from Geneva, who used advantages of the flexible film developed by George Eastman for Kodak.


It is a dream item for collectors too, especially those with alcoholic tendencies: I am sure you’ve noticed it is ideal for hiding a bottle. If no such need arises, it can be resold in another fifty years at a profit.

This camera is valuable because it didn’t live long: Kodak was fast to reformat the world of photography with its compact offer.

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Unlike Ford who insisted on staying black, Kodak also offered cameras that were pink (for ladies) and green (for boy scouts):


This is the right spot to stop and wonder how much the world has changed in a hundred years! I mean, no producer cares a bit about boy scouts anymore. It’s all about the empowerment of women with a zillion shades of pink and gold.

If you don’t think that offering a wider range of pink is about female empowerment, I know two things about you. First, you are not in marketing. Second, you have been had by people who are in marketing. For instance, think of the Dove brand that claims to empower women by promoting real natural beauty, but introduces pink bottles to accelerate sales. They know that at the end of the day, when the dust of facebook fights around women’s issues settles down, pink still sells like hell.

I am not saying this to start a discussion, but merely to softly land on the planet of marketing,   exclusively inhabited by beautiful people and A-list celebrities who can never tell a truth that wouldn’t be a lie at the same time.

This is a Kodak ad from the Great War. I urge you to read it (it’s clickable). Selling cameras to people who most likely will be dead before they can start using the product under the pretext of fighting trench boredom is very clever, but a tad cynical, don’t you think? Or is it just me?


Monotony and not bullets, you say? Taking photos in the trenches, while being gassed by the Germans? Really? But I admit, it reads nice and quite convincing.

PS All this wonderful stuff comes from Vevey Museum of Photography. If you are a Nestle employee, make sure you get there (Nestle is headquartered in Vevey). If you are not a Nestle employee and don’t live nearby, I can’t imagine what accident can bring you over to this beautiful spot in Switzerland, except, perhaps, the two first weeks of July when Montreux, a neighbour town, hosts a jazz festival.


CU on most expensive camera

This is not your average pack of John Player Specials. It is a close-up on a photo camera, produced in Kiev, Ukraine (then a republic of the USSR), for the KGB. Despite the KGB had never used this spying tool, it became one of the most sought after collection prizes.

If you happen to find one in the attic, don’t smoke it. It can buy you a new house.


Stay tuned for more bizarre photography stuff! )