Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seeking Walter Potter Artifacts and Ephemera!!!


We here at Morbid Anatomy are redoubling our efforts to locate as many artifacts as we can from eccentric Victorian anthropomorphic taxidermist Walter Potter's now sadly divided up Museum of Curiosities (top image). The reason? The Morbid Anatomy Museum's inaugural exhibition--to open on April 26th of this year--will be dedicated to the work of Walter Potter, and will showcase a number of his astounding pieces, many of which have never before shown in the United States.

So, if any Morbid Anatomy readers out there happen to own any of pieces from this collection, or have any ideas as to where others might reside, we would be so very grateful if you would drop us a line at morbidanatomy [at] gmail.com and let us know.

All images above, of tableaux by Walter Potter; credits, top to bottom:
  1. Vintage photo of Potters's Museum at Bramber.
  2. Detail of The Death and Burial of Cock Robin, 1861; Photo by Joanna Ebenstein
  3. The Kittens’ Wedding; Circa 1890; Photo by Joanna Ebenstein
  4. The Lower Five; Late Nineteenth Century; Photograph by Joanna Ebenstein
  5.  A two headed kitten with four eyes under a bell jar. Photo by Chris Bradley

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    Baltimore Field-Trip! Dark Arts in the Dark Ages! Barcelona Congress! Singles Night with DJ Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker! Upcoming Morbid Anatomy Events.

    Morbid Anatomy is delighted to announce three new additions to our calendar!

    First, an exciting addition to "Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night" hosted by Daisy Tainton (Monday, Feb 10): this evening will now include DJed music by Blake Schwarzenbach, former frontman of Jawbreaker.

    We have also just added an epic field trip to Baltimore, with a special tour guide: rogue taxidermist Robert Marbury, whose Baltimore credentials include a star turn as "Angelic Boyfriend" in John Waters' Cry-Baby. Stops will include The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Baltimore, where assistant to the examiner Bruce Golfarb will lead us on a special tour The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a collection of obsessively detailed miniature dioramic death scenes, hand-crafted in the 1940s (bottom image) and Scarpetta House, a full-sized furnished room donated in which death scenes are staged to train forensic investigators. We will also visit the Great Blacks in Wax Museum and the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, where we will engage in a traditional Cognac toast.

    Another new event is our first ever Barcelona Congress for Curious Peoples, a co-production of the Morbid Anatomy Museum, Via Barcelona and Kriminal Kabarett. It will take place over Carnival week (February 26 -  March 2) and will include a a day devoted to the history of science and medicine in Barcelona with visits to the “Sant Pau i la Santa Creu” complex--the largest medieval hospital in southern Europe--and The “Royal College of Surgeons's sumptuous anatomical amphitheater (second image down); a tour of the "unusual Gracia" featuring the history of the “Devil’s House,” revolutions and freemasonry. and the circle of spiritist women in the late XIX century; A "Noir Masquerade" inside the "Atelier de la Muerte Negra", a funerary house museum in the heart of "Gràcia;"  A Hendricks-sponsored Surrealist Dinner; "Libertine Barcelona, an Erotic tour from the XVIII century," and much more. All events will be in Spanish with English translation; Click here for the full itinerary in English, and here for Spanish. More on that coming soon.

    This Thursday Jan 30, here in Brooklyn, we hope to see you at Dr. Elly Truitt's illustrated talk on "The Dark Arts in the Dark Ages." Following this is our epic Valentine's Day-week lineup, which includes the afore mentioned "Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night" hosted by Daisy Tainton (now with DJ Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker; Monday, Feb 10) followed tby "Women Who Bite: Chastity Belts, Castration Anxiety and Feminism" with Art Historian Karen Bachmann (Tuesday, Feb 11). On Valentine's Day proper, we will be hosting "Privately Published: A Descent Into Early 20th Century Mail Order Erotica" with Cranioklepty author Colin Dickey, and drinks and music by Friese Undine (Friday, Feb 14). And, the very next night, the incredible "Erotic Guide to Paris at Night, Circa 1936," a highly-illustrated lecture with "rare filmic exposes of luxury brothels, gay and lesbian cabarets, nudist supper clubs, lavish music hall productions, and love cult initiations" hosted by Mel Gordon, author of Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin (Saturday, Feb 15).

    The next week, we have our first iteration of our new Death and The Occult in the Ancient World Series with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Ava Forte Vitali on "The ‘After’ Life: Death in Ancient Egypt" (Thursday, Feb 13) followed by "Hierarchies of the Dead: Bodysnatching in Old New York" with Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses (Tuesday, Feb 18); "Selfies At Funerals: Postmortem Photography and Cultural Taboos" with Halli Gomberg (Thursday, Feb 20) and "Death in a Nutshell: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" with special guest Bruce Goldfarb, executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland (Thursday, Feb 27). 

    For the artsy and the craftsy among you, we also have a number of excellent workshops where you can learn forgotten or arcane arts in such classes as Valentine's Day Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop (Saturday, Feb 1); Victorian Art of Hair Jewelry workshop (Saturday, Feb 8); Frederik and Rachel Ruysch Inspired Wet Specimen Workshop with Moles (Sunday, Feb 9); Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class (Sunday, Feb 23); or Melanistic Pheasant Taxidermy Class (Saturday, March 8).

    Full details follow on all events and workshops follow; hope very much to see you at one or more! You can also always find a full list of events on our Facebook page by clicking here.
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    The Dark Arts in the Dark Ages: An Illustrated Lecture By Dr. Elly Truitt, Bryn Mawr College
    Date: Thursday, January 30
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    The pages of medieval history teem with sorcerers, soothsayers, and necromancers who used their knowledge to foretell the future, uncover lost treasure, and create animated statues. In tonight's lecture, historian Elly R. Truitt will discuss legendary figures from medieval history, including Gerbert of Aurillac, Gerard of York, and Albertus Magnus, in order to examine the scientific theories foundational to divination, as well as natural and demonic magic. Discover the scientific sophistication of the so-called "Dark Ages."

    More info here.
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    Special Valentine's Day Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop with Former AMNH Senior Insect Preparator Daisy Tainton
    Date: Saturday, February 1
    Time: 1 – 4 PM
    Admission: $75
    ***Must buy ticket at here
    This class is part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    Today, join former AMNH Senior Insect Preparator Daisy Tainton for a special Valentine's Day edition of Morbid Anatomy's popular Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop.

    More info here.
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    The Victorian Art of Hair Jewelry : Workshop with Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann
    Saturday, February 8
    Time: 1 – 5 PM
    Admission: $75
    ***Tickets must be pre-purchased here
    This class is part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    Hair jewelry was an enormously popular form of commemorative art that began in the late 17th century and reached its zenith during the Victorian Era. Hair, either of someone living or deceased, was encased in metal lockers or woven to enshrine the human relic of a loved one. This class will explore a modern take on the genre.

    More info here.
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    Frederik and Rachel Ruysch Inspired Wet Specimen Workshop with Moles with Divya Anantharaman
    Date: Sunday, February 9
    Time: 12 – 6 PM
    Admission: $130 Valentine's Day Special : buy two ticket for you and your date for $250 ! ( Send an email to morbidanatomylibrary@gmail.com, Get your $10 refund the day of the workshop )
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    This workshop takes as its departure the work of Frederik Ruysch (1638 - 1731), a pioneer in many of areas of research and development in anatomy, natural sciences, and of course, the preparation of wet specimen. He was also responsible for assembling one of Europe's most famous cabinets. This class will also focus on the oft overlooked collaborative efforts between F. Ruysch and his daughter Rachel. An accomplished still life painter, she  helped her father adorn his specimen with dried flowers, rare seashells, interesting stones, dried fish, and handmade lace, usually of significance to the specimen being preserved. The resulting pieces were beautiful tableaux of nature, art, and science.

    More info here.
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    Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night
    Hosted by Daisy Tainton 
    with DJ Blake Schwarzenbach, former frontman of Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil
    Date: Monday, February 10
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $15 (includes one free adult beverage)
    Tickets can be purchased here.
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)
    Single? Different? Want to meet some like-minded New Yorkers? Do your perspective paramours often tell you you're weird, or ask you why you are so interested in those creepy things? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, we hope you'll join us this Valentine's Day week for Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night!

    More info here.
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    Women Who Bite: Chastity Belts, Castration Anxiety and Feminism: Illustrated lecture with Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann

    Date: Tuesday, February 11
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Humankind's earliest cultures were matriarchal in nature. The advent of agrarian civilization witnessed women’s power gradually devalued by a growing patriarchy. Both Western and Eastern cultures have folklore and art history attesting to the leitmotif of the strong, fierce, and aggressively sexual woman rising against oppressive male authority. Tonight’s lecture--just in time for Valentine's Day!--will explore the myths, fables, and visual representations of the ferocious, toothed woman. Such imagery includes: chastity belts (and their development), male castration anxiety, vengeful goddesses, the femme fatale, Amazon warriors, and "vagina dentata." These subjects will be explored in all their frightening, savage, erotic and often humorous incarnations.


    More info here.
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    The ‘After’ Life: Death in Ancient Egypt: Illustrated lecture with Ava Forte Vitali, Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Date: Thursday, February 13
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $8
    Part of the Death and The Occult in the Ancient World Series
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    When one considers Death and the Occult in the Ancient World, often the first culture that comes to mind is that of the Ancient Egyptians. Known for their elaborate tombs, complicated religious texts, and captivating mummies, the Ancient Egyptian fascination with death has captivated public interest for centuries. This inaugural lecture in our new monthly series will introduce the mortuary beliefs, traditions, and archaeology of the Ancient Egyptians and examine whether or not they were as morbidly focused as they have traditionally been portrayed to be.

    More info here.
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    Privately Published: A Descent Into Early 20th Century Mail Order Erotica: A Special Valentine's Day Event: An illustrated lecture by Colin Dickey, author of Cranioklepty and Afterlives of the Saints with drinks and music by Friese Undine
    Date: Friday, February 14
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $12
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Tonight, join writer Colin Dickey for a peek into the world of early 20th century mail-order erotica. In order to evade post office censors, smut peddlers like Panurge Press and Falstaff Press were obligated to dress up their offerings with a veneer of scientific dross, resulting in works that were too smutty to be of any real scientific or sociological value, and yet too riddled with academic nonsense to be properly erotic. A curiously forgotten and nearly nonsensical sub-genre, these books exist in between the finely-drawn lines of obscenity and free speech, pornography and literature, and titillation and scientific inquiry. Colin will share the history of these odd publishers and choice examples from his library, including works like White Meat, Praeputii Incisio, Black Opium, The Sword and Womankind, and An Anthropological Cabinet of Curiosities. Come for the lecture, and stay for delicious artisinal cocktails and thematic tunes courtesy of Friese Undine.

    More info here.
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    An Erotic Guide to Paris at Night, Circa 1936
    Illustrated Lecture and Vintage Films with Mel Gordon, author of Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin
    Date: Saturday, February 15
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Tonight, the night after Valentine's Day, please join Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin author Mel Gordon for a highly illustrated lecture in which he traces the standard and atypical paths that international sex tourists followed during the heyday of Paris' most unfettered years. He will also screen rare filmic exposes of luxury brothels, gay and lesbian cabarets, nudist supper clubs, lavish music hall productions, and love cult initiations. The vast majority of the visual materials shown tonight have never been presented since the 1930s and were purchased from private collectors.

    More info here.
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    Hierarchies of the Dead: Bodysnatching in Old New York
    Illustrated lecture by Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

    Date: Tuesday, February 18
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Presented by Morbid Anatomy
    Stealing corpses for anatomical dissection was a way of life for New York’s earliest medical schools. It was even the spark that led to the nation’s first riot, in 1788. But who were the earliest bodysnatchers, how did they operate, and whose graves were they plundering? In this illustrated lecture, Rest in Pieces author Bess Lovejoy will discuss this forgotten chapter of New York’s medical history, with some stops in points South. She’ll also cover some archeological research on the victims of the bodysnatchers, and how they have been remembered in the New York of today.

    More info here.

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    Selfies At Funerals: Postmortem Photography and Cultural Taboos: An Illustrated Lecture By Halli Gomberg
    Date: Thursday, February 20
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Is the phenomenon of “Selfies At Funerals” a new manifestation of social media narcissism, or the last in a long line of older post mortem cultural practices? This talk will explore the complex attitudes towards death and photography over the course of American history, fom its precursors in painted deathbed portraiture, through Victorian postmortem and medical school dissection photographs and into newly emerging technologies. We will examine how society deals with our private and public mourning rituals, and why postmortem remembrance imagery can still be a cultural taboo.

    More info here.

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    Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Date: Sunday, February 23
    Time: 12:00pm - 5pm
    Admission: $110
    ***Tickets must be pre-ordered here
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    Anthropomorphic taxidermy--a practice in which taxidermied animals are posed as if engaged in human activities--was an artform made famous by Victorian taxidermist and museologist Walter Potter. In this class, as profiled by the New York Times, students will learn to create--from start to finish--anthropomorphic mice inspired by the charming and imaginative work of Mr. Potter. Your final project might take the form of a bespectacled, whiskey swilling, top hat tipping mouse; or perhaps a rodent mermaid queen of the burlesque world? With some props and some artful styling, your mouse can become whatever or whomever you want; this is the joy of anthropomorphic taxidermy.

    More info here.
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    Death in a Nutshell: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: Illustrated lecture with Bruce Goldfarb, executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland
    Date: Thursday, February 27
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)


    The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is an extraordinary collection of miniature dioramic death scenes, hand-crafted in the 1940s in obsessive detail by Frances Glessner Lee. They were -- and still are -- used to train police in the methods of forensic death investigation. Lee, a wealthy socialite with no formal education who in middle age was commissioned by the New Hampshire State Police, is considered the mother of modern, scientific death investigation; she is also said to be the inspiration for the character of Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote. Ttonight's illustrated lecture will tell the fascinating story of Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Later, on Saturday, March 29th, join Morbid Anatomy for a special field trip to Baltimore featuring a tour of The Nutshells and the forensic facilities by Mr. Goldfarb. Visits to additional "Charm City" highlights will be organized with the help of our guide, rogue taxidermist and "angelic boyfriend" Robert Marbury." Email morbidanatomylibrary [at] gmail.com to be put on the list for more information as it becomes available.
    More info here.
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    Melanistic Pheasant Taxidermy Class-Intermediate level class with Divya Anantharaman
    Date: Saturday, March 8
    Time: 1 pm - 5pm
    Admission: $435
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue), 11215 Brooklyn , NY
    Limited class size of 3 people
    ***Tickets must be pre-ordered here

    In this exclusive intermediate level workshop, we learn about the melanistic pheasant and classic bird taxidermy. These large, beautiful birds are a mutation of the common pheasant, first observed in the 1800s, and bred as a mutation in the 1920's/30's. Known for their unique coloration, exquisitely patterned feathers and iridescent green/black/purple plumage, these are very special birds!

    More info here.
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    Morbid Anatomy Baltimore Field-Trip Featuring The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained DeathDate: Saturday, March 29th









    Cost: $100 (includes luxury ground transportation in Baltimore and all museum admissions.
    Tickets can be found by clicking here
    Location: Baltimore, MD
    Please note: This price DOES NOT cover bus transportation between New York and Baltimore, or meals. please email morbidanatomylibrary [at] gmail.com with questions.

    Today, join Morbid Anatomy for a day of wondrous frolics in “Charm City” with special tour guide--and rogue taxidermist!--Robert Marbury, whose Baltimore credentials include a star turn as Ricky Lake's "Angelic Boyfriend” in John Waters' Cry-Baby.

    Stops include The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Baltimore, where assistant to the examiner Bruce Golfarb will lead us on a special tour of The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a collection of obsessively detailed miniature dioramic death scenes, hand-crafted in the 1940s and still used to train police in the methods of forensic death investigation; Scarpetta House, a full-sized furnished room donated by mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell in which death scenes are staged to train forensic investigators; the Great Blacks in Wax Museum; and the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, where we will engage in a traditional Cognac toast. Throughout the day, our delightful guide will also share with us his favorite Baltimore sights, and regale us with stories of the secret, fascinating, bizarre and sometimes tragic history of the city known affectionately as "Mobtown."

    Full info here.

    Full list and more information on all events can be found here. More on the Morbid Anatomy Art Academy can be found here.

    Image top to bottom:
    1. "The Dark Arts in the Dark Ages" : Pope Sylvester II and the Devil. Cod. Pal. germ. 137, Folio 216v' Martinus Oppaviensis, Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum. c1460.
    2. The “Royal College of Surgeons's  sumptuous anatomical amphitheater
    3. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
    4.  

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Anatomical Votives and Milagros: A Guest Post by Anatomical Artist Emily Evans

    Following is a guest post about anatomical votives by London-based anatomical artist Emily Evans, based on her dissertation on the same subject. You can her excellent artwork--which takes the anatomical body and death as a point of departure--in our gift shop by clicking here. She will also be the Morbid Anatomy Museum artist in residence for July 2014, overseeing a month devoted to art and anatomy, so stay tuned for more on that!
    A votive is an offering made usually as an act of worship to a deity or a saint in fulfillment of a vow or when expressing a vow or a wish. The custom of manufacture and use of anatomical votives was prolific in ancient Greece and Rome from 400BC to 400AD. These offerings were made to deities of health and medicine, either in the hope for a cure or in thanks for one. These often life size fragments of the human body were usually modeled in terracotta although materials including metals and stone were used for those that could afford them. They were placed in temples dedicated to the healing gods of the time, most notably, Asklepios.

    Most parts of the body were represented by these anatomical votives, each part adopting various theories for their use for healing. Votives have been found depicting practically every part of the body, both internally and externally, although eyes, head, hands, breasts, male genitals and feet were most common.
    Despite the rise of Hippocratic medicine, only the wealthy could afford a Greek doctor. Although adhering to entirely differing principles, the two beliefs of healing divinities and Hippocratic medicine co existed within society.

    Gradually the saints of the Christian church adopted the powers of the Greek and Roman deities.

    In modern day, anatomical votives are small metal religious charms that are pinned or hung at altars and shrines in thankgiving for a miracle received. Modern Catholic and Orthodox European votives are often referred to as ex votos, short for ex voto suscepto meaning “from the vow made” in Latin. In colonial Latin America, they are referred to as Milagros meaning ‘miracles’ in Spanish.

     
    They are commonly used in two types of ways; a person may ask a favor from a saint (known as a ‘manda’ in Mexico) and in order to repay the saint after the favor has been granted, they will make a pilgrimage to the shrine of that saint and leave the Milagro there. Alternatively, people might carry a Milagros with them for good luck, especially if it has been blessed by a spiritual healer.

    They can range in size from less than ½ inch to several inches and vary in style and material depending on the cultures that produce them. Most are from Peru, Germany, Mexico and Italy ranging in metals from silver, pewter, copper, nickel and other metals.

    The meanings of the votives are always up to interpretation. For example a heart could represent a heart condition or affairs of the heart. Equally a leg could mean arthritis or traveling, or a penis could mean fertility.
    Internal body parts are usually offered when asking for help with a particular ailment.
    Eye Milagros are commonly associated with the Mexican saint Santa Lucia whom people make mandas to her about eye conditions. Eyes can also be attached to the image of the deceased to represent the spirit of that person watching over us.
    Images:
    1. Breast votive, courtesy of the private collection of Elizabeth Anderson
    2. Terracotta votives, Wellcome images
    3. Italian silver stomach votive, Tesoros Trading Company
    4. Brass vertebrae votive, courtesy of the private collection of Elizabeth Anderson
    5. Brass Abdomen votive, courtesy of the private collection of Elizabeth Anderson
    6. Variety of anatomical votives, courtesy of the private collection of Elizabeth Anderson
    7. Nickel copper anatomical torso votive is also Tesoros Trading Company
    8. Eye votive, courtesy of the private collection of Elizabeth Anderson

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Tonight: "The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking" with Guardian Journalist Oliver Burkeman

    Tonight--Thursday January 23--we hope you'll join us for an illustrated lecture with Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman in which we will learn about "The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking," a concept drawn from Edgar Allen Poe’s story of the same name. Not just a literary metaphor, this idea is supported by contemporary theories of psychology and has profound repercussions in our daily lives.

    As he explains:
    The imp of the perverse is the overpowering urge to do exactly the wrong thing in any given situation: to throw yourself from the precipice – or just to spill the red wine on the carpet, or to procrastinate on a crucial project – solely because you shouldn't. It's one example of what modern psychologists call "ironic effects", which sabotage us in all sorts of ways, from habit change to climate change, and which help explain why happiness seems to elude us the harder we try to attain it... this talk will explore the fascinating world of ironic effects research, the absurdities of the positive thinking movement, and the history of efforts to defeat the imp – via a "negative path" to happiness that involves embracing pessimism, uncertainty, insecurity and failure instead.
    He will also signing copies of his excellent book The Antidote, copies of which will be available for sale at the event.

    Full details follow; Hope very much to see you there!
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    'A Cloud of Unnameable Feeling': The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking: Illustrated lecture and book signing with Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian and author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
    Date:  TONIGHT Thursday, January 23
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $5
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)
    ***Books will be available for sale and signing

    In Edgar Allen Poe's story of the same name, the imp of the perverse is the overpowering urge to do exactly the wrong thing in any given situation: to throw yourself from the precipice – or just to spill the red wine on the carpet, or to procrastinate on a crucial project – solely because you shouldn't. It's one example of what modern psychologists call "ironic effects", which sabotage us in all sorts of ways, from habit change to climate change, and which help explain why happiness seems to elude us the harder we try to attain it. This talk by Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, will explore the fascinating world of ironic effects research, the absurdities of the positive thinking movement, and the history of efforts to defeat the imp – via a "negative path" to happiness that involves embracing pessimism, uncertainty, insecurity and failure instead.

    Oliver Burkeman is the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, published by Faber & Faber, which the LA Times called "deeply insightful and entertaining". He writes a popular weekly column on psychology for The Guardian, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate and Salon. The Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has cited his journalism as evidence that 'professional standards are breaking down' in the media.

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Ivory Memento Mori-Themed Rosary, Circa 1500-1525, Metropolitan Museum of Art

    From the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the website explains:
    Rosary, ca. 1500–1525
    German
    Ivory, silver, partially gilded mounts
    Overall: 24 11/16 x 2 1/8 x 1 3/4 in. (62.7 x 5.4 x 4.5 cm) Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.306)
    Each bead of the rosary represents the bust of a well-fed burgher or maiden on one side, and a skeleton on the other. The terminals, even more graphically, show the head of a deceased man, with half the image eaten away from decay. Such images served as reminders that life is fleeting and that leading a virtuous life as a faithful Christian is key to salvation.
    You can find out more about this wonderful object by clicking here.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Offertory Box (Collecting Box) for Gravediggers, Painted Wood, 18th Century, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

    Offertory Box (Collecting Box) for Gravediggers, Painted Wood, 18th Century; found on the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery website; text explains:
    This is a rare surviving example of a collecting box for gravediggers. It probably dates from the 18th century and is made from an unidentified hardwood, which has been painted, with a skull and crossbones. The church and the people working for the parish relied heavily on donations of money to boost their meagre earnings. 
    More information--and additional views--can be found here.

    Monday, January 20, 2014

    Detail of Calvary, Ebony and Ivory, Late 17th–Early 18th Century, From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    From the Metropolitan Museum of Art website:
    Calvary, late 17th–early 18th century (detail)
    German or Netherlandish(?)
    Ivory, ebony; (a) H. (with cross)
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

    Calvary was the hill outside Jerusalem where Christ was crucified. Here, the traditional group of the Virgin, the Magdalene, and Saint John includes the Good and Bad Thieves. The suffering expressed in the contorted poses would have aided in the viewer's efforts at private devotion. In an unusual iconographic touch, the Virgin kneels at the foot of the cross, a place usually reserved for the Magdalene, who is shown in a posture more typical of the Mourning Virgin. The bearded Saint John is also uncommon, as is the oriental (Turkish?) hairstyle of the thief at the left. The distinctive carving style produced delicate but highly expressive features on comparatively small heads set against broad, flat classical draperies and heavy bodies with unusually stout wrists and ankles.
    You can learn more--and see the piece in its entirety--by clicking here.

    A Tour of Erotic Paris Circa 1936, Morbid Anatomy Singles Night, The Dark Arts in the Dark Ages, Antique Smut, and Imp of the Perverse: Upcoming Morbid Anatomy Events in New York City

    The next few weeks are very exciting ones at Morbid Anatomy Presents! This Thursday (Jan 23), we are deeply excited to be hosting Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman for a talk on "The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking." He will also signing copies of his excellent book The Antidote, copies of which will be available for sale at the event.

    Soon after, we have our epic Valentine's Day-week lineup. First up is "Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night" hosted by Daisy Tainton (Monday, Feb 10) followed the next evening by "Women Who Bite: Chastity Belts, Castration Anxiety and Feminism" with Art Historian Karen Bachmann (Tuesday, Feb 11). On Valentine's Day proper, we hope you'll join us for "Privately Published: A Descent Into Early 20th Century Mail Order Erotica" with Cranioklepty author Colin Dickey, and drinks and music by Friese Undine (Friday, Feb 14). The very next night, you won't want to miss "An Erotic Guide to Paris at Night, Circa 1936," a highly-illustrated lecture with "rare filmic exposes of luxury brothels, gay and lesbian cabarets, nudist supper clubs, lavish music hall productions, and love cult initiations" hosted by Mel Gordon, author of Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin (Saturday, Feb 15).

    If none of these tempt you, we also have Dr. Elly Truitt's illustrated talk on "The Dark Arts in the Dark Ages" (Thursday, Jan 30); the first iteration of our new Death and The Occult in the Ancient World Series with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Ava Forte Vitali on "The ‘After’ Life: Death in Ancient Egypt" (Thursday, Feb 13); "Selfies At Funerals: Postmortem Photography and Cultural Taboos" with Halli Gomberg (Thursday, Feb 20) and "Death in a Nutshell: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death" with special guest Bruce Goldfarb, executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland (Thursday, Feb 27). 

    For the artsy and the craftsy among you, we also have a number of excellent workshops where you can learn forgotten or arcane arts in such classes as Bunny/Jackelope Taxidermy (Saturday, Jan 25th); Valentine's Day Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop (Saturday, Feb 1); Victorian Art of Hair Jewelry workshop (Saturday, Feb 8); Frederik and Rachel Ruysch Inspired Wet Specimen Workshop with Moles (Sunday, Feb 9); Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class (Sunday, Feb 23); or Melanistic Pheasant Taxidermy Class (Saturday, March 8).

    Full details follow on all events and workshops follow; hope very much to see you at one or more! You can also always find a full list of events on our Facebook page by clicking here.
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    'A Cloud of Unnameable Feeling': The Imp of the Perverse and the Power of Negative Thinking: Illustrated lecture and book signing with Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian and author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
    Date: Thursday, January 23
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $5
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)
    ***Books will be available for sale and signing

    In Edgar Allen Poe's story of the same name, the imp of the perverse is the overpowering urge to do exactly the wrong thing in any given situation: to throw yourself from the precipice – or just to spill the red wine on the carpet, or to procrastinate on a crucial project – solely because you shouldn't. It's one example of what modern psychologists call "ironic effects", which sabotage us in all sorts of ways, from habit change to climate change, and which help explain why happiness seems to elude us the harder we try to attain it. This talk by Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, will explore the fascinating world of ironic effects research, the absurdities of the positive thinking movement, and the history of efforts to defeat the imp – via a "negative path" to happiness that involves embracing pessimism, uncertainty, insecurity and failure instead.

    More info here.
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    Bunny/Jackelope Taxidermy Class with Rogue Taxidermist Katie Innamorato
    Saturday, January 25th
    Time: 12 – 6 PM
    Admission: $300
    ***Tickets must be pre-purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/536313
    This class is part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    This class will introduce students to the process and techniques behind more advanced basic small mammal taxidermy. Students will learn how to skin, prep, preserve, mount, and position the animal. Attention will be focused on how to properly split, turn, and position rabbit ears. Basic armatures will be used and custom made forms (made by me) will be provided. Students will learn how to make a custom body for their specimens using an old traditional taxidermy technique of wrapping a body. Using the carcass for reference, students will learn how to build up and craft the bodies. Students encouraged to bring in any props they may want to dress the animal up in. I will provide all specimens, materials, and tools for the class. Each student will leave with his or her own finished mount.
    More info here.
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    The Dark Arts in the Dark Ages: An Illustrated Lecture By Dr. Elly Truitt, Bryn Mawr College
    Date: Thursday, January 30
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    The pages of medieval history teem with sorcerers, soothsayers, and necromancers who used their knowledge to foretell the future, uncover lost treasure, and create animated statues. In tonight's lecture, historian Elly R. Truitt will discuss legendary figures from medieval history, including Gerbert of Aurillac, Gerard of York, and Albertus Magnus, in order to examine the scientific theories foundational to divination, as well as natural and demonic magic. Discover the scientific sophistication of the so-called "Dark Ages."

    More info here.
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    Special Valentine's Day Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop with Former AMNH Senior Insect Preparator Daisy Tainton
    Date: Saturday, February 1
    Time: 1 – 4 PM
    Admission: $75
    ***Must buy ticket at here
    This class is part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    Today, join former AMNH Senior Insect Preparator Daisy Tainton for a special Valentine's Day edition of Morbid Anatomy's popular Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop.

    More info here.
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    The Victorian Art of Hair Jewelry : Workshop with Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann
    Saturday, February 8
    Time: 1 – 5 PM
    Admission: $75
    ***Tickets must be pre-purchased here
    This class is part of The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    Hair jewelry was an enormously popular form of commemorative art that began in the late 17th century and reached its zenith during the Victorian Era. Hair, either of someone living or deceased, was encased in metal lockers or woven to enshrine the human relic of a loved one. This class will explore a modern take on the genre.

    More info here.
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    Frederik and Rachel Ruysch Inspired Wet Specimen Workshop with Moles with Divya Anantharaman
    Date: Sunday, February 9
    Time: 12 – 6 PM
    Admission: $130 Valentine's Day Special : buy two ticket for you and your date for $250 ! ( Send an email to morbidanatomylibrary@gmail.com, Get your $10 refund the day of the workshop )
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    This workshop takes as its departure the work of Frederik Ruysch (1638 - 1731), a pioneer in many of areas of research and development in anatomy, natural sciences, and of course, the preparation of wet specimen. He was also responsible for assembling one of Europe's most famous cabinets. This class will also focus on the oft overlooked collaborative efforts between F. Ruysch and his daughter Rachel. An accomplished still life painter, she  helped her father adorn his specimen with dried flowers, rare seashells, interesting stones, dried fish, and handmade lace, usually of significance to the specimen being preserved. The resulting pieces were beautiful tableaux of nature, art, and science.

    More info here.
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    Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night
    Hosted by Daisy Tainton
    Date: Monday, February 10
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $15 (includes one free adult beverage)
    Tickets can be purchased here.
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)
    Single? Different? Want to meet some like-minded New Yorkers? Do your perspective paramours often tell you you're weird, or ask you why you are so interested in those creepy things? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, we hope you'll join us this Valentine's Day week for Morbid Curiosity: A Morbid Anatomy Singles Night!

    More info here._______________________________________________

    Women Who Bite: Chastity Belts, Castration Anxiety and Feminism: Illustrated lecture with Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann

    Date: Tuesday, February 11
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Humankind's earliest cultures were matriarchal in nature. The advent of agrarian civilization witnessed women’s power gradually devalued by a growing patriarchy. Both Western and Eastern cultures have folklore and art history attesting to the leitmotif of the strong, fierce, and aggressively sexual woman rising against oppressive male authority. Tonight’s lecture--just in time for Valentine's Day!--will explore the myths, fables, and visual representations of the ferocious, toothed woman. Such imagery includes: chastity belts (and their development), male castration anxiety, vengeful goddesses, the femme fatale, Amazon warriors, and "vagina dentata." These subjects will be explored in all their frightening, savage, erotic and often humorous incarnations.


    More info here.
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    The ‘After’ Life: Death in Ancient Egypt: Illustrated lecture with Ava Forte Vitali, Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Date: Thursday, February 13
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $8
    Part of the Death and The Occult in the Ancient World Series
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    When one considers Death and the Occult in the Ancient World, often the first culture that comes to mind is that of the Ancient Egyptians. Known for their elaborate tombs, complicated religious texts, and captivating mummies, the Ancient Egyptian fascination with death has captivated public interest for centuries. This inaugural lecture in our new monthly series will introduce the mortuary beliefs, traditions, and archaeology of the Ancient Egyptians and examine whether or not they were as morbidly focused as they have traditionally been portrayed to be.

    More info here.
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    Privately Published: A Descent Into Early 20th Century Mail Order Erotica: A Special Valentine's Day Event: An illustrated lecture by Colin Dickey, author of Cranioklepty and Afterlives of the Saints with drinks and music by Friese Undine
    Date: Friday, February 14
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $12
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Tonight, join writer Colin Dickey for a peek into the world of early 20th century mail-order erotica. In order to evade post office censors, smut peddlers like Panurge Press and Falstaff Press were obligated to dress up their offerings with a veneer of scientific dross, resulting in works that were too smutty to be of any real scientific or sociological value, and yet too riddled with academic nonsense to be properly erotic. A curiously forgotten and nearly nonsensical sub-genre, these books exist in between the finely-drawn lines of obscenity and free speech, pornography and literature, and titillation and scientific inquiry. Colin will share the history of these odd publishers and choice examples from his library, including works like White Meat, Praeputii Incisio, Black Opium, The Sword and Womankind, and An Anthropological Cabinet of Curiosities. Come for the lecture, and stay for delicious artisinal cocktails and thematic tunes courtesy of Friese Undine.

    More info here.
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    An Erotic Guide to Paris at Night, Circa 1936
    Illustrated Lecture and Vintage Films with Mel Gordon, author of Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin
    Date: Saturday, February 15
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Tonight, the night after Valentine's Day, please join Voluptious Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin author Mel Gordon for a highly illustrated lecture in which he traces the standard and atypical paths that international sex tourists followed during the heyday of Paris' most unfettered years. He will also screen rare filmic exposes of luxury brothels, gay and lesbian cabarets, nudist supper clubs, lavish music hall productions, and love cult initiations. The vast majority of the visual materials shown tonight have never been presented since the 1930s and were purchased from private collectors.

    More info here.
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    Selfies At Funerals: Postmortem Photography and Cultural Taboos: An Illustrated Lecture By Halli Gomberg
    Date: Thursday, February 20
    Time: 8:00 PM
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)

    Is the phenomenon of “Selfies At Funerals” a new manifestation of social media narcissism, or the last in a long line of older post mortem cultural practices? This talk will explore the complex attitudes towards death and photography over the course of American history, fom its precursors in painted deathbed portraiture, through Victorian postmortem and medical school dissection photographs and into newly emerging technologies. We will examine how society deals with our private and public mourning rituals, and why postmortem remembrance imagery can still be a cultural taboo.

    More info here.
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    Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Date: Sunday, February 23
    Time: 12:00pm - 5pm
    Admission: $110
    ***Tickets must be pre-ordered here
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue ), 11215 Brooklyn, NY

    Anthropomorphic taxidermy--a practice in which taxidermied animals are posed as if engaged in human activities--was an artform made famous by Victorian taxidermist and museologist Walter Potter. In this class, as profiled by the New York Times, students will learn to create--from start to finish--anthropomorphic mice inspired by the charming and imaginative work of Mr. Potter. Your final project might take the form of a bespectacled, whiskey swilling, top hat tipping mouse; or perhaps a rodent mermaid queen of the burlesque world? With some props and some artful styling, your mouse can become whatever or whomever you want; this is the joy of anthropomorphic taxidermy.

    More info here.
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    Death in a Nutshell: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: Illustrated lecture with Bruce Goldfarb, executive assistant to the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland
    Date: Thursday, February 27
    Time: 8:00
    Admission: $8
    Location: Observatory (543 Union Street at Nevin, Brooklyn; enter via Proteus Gowanus Gallery)


    The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death is an extraordinary collection of miniature dioramic death scenes, hand-crafted in the 1940s in obsessive detail by Frances Glessner Lee. They were -- and still are -- used to train police in the methods of forensic death investigation. Lee, a wealthy socialite with no formal education who in middle age was commissioned by the New Hampshire State Police, is considered the mother of modern, scientific death investigation; she is also said to be the inspiration for the character of Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote. Ttonight's illustrated lecture will tell the fascinating story of Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Later, on Saturday, March 29th, join Morbid Anatomy for a special field trip to Baltimore featuring a tour of The Nutshells and the forensic facilities by Mr. Goldfarb. Visits to additional "Charm City" highlights will be organized with the help of our guide, rogue taxidermist and "angelic boyfriend" Robert Marbury." Email morbidanatomylibrary [at] gmail.com to be put on the list for more information as it becomes available.
    More info here.
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    Melanistic Pheasant Taxidermy Class-Intermediate level class with Divya Anantharaman
    Date: Saturday, March 8
    Time: 1 pm - 5pm
    Admission: $435
    Location: Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space), 424 A 3rd Avenue ( Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue), 11215 Brooklyn , NY
    Limited class size of 3 people
    ***Tickets must be pre-ordered here

    In this exclusive intermediate level workshop, we learn about the melanistic pheasant and classic bird taxidermy. These large, beautiful birds are a mutation of the common pheasant, first observed in the 1800s, and bred as a mutation in the 1920's/30's. Known for their unique coloration, exquisitely patterned feathers and iridescent green/black/purple plumage, these are very special birds!

    More info here.
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    Full list and more information on all events can be found here. More on the Morbid Anatomy Art Academy can be found here.