1969: Better Than Those Motherfuckers

Wadsworth Jarrell - Compared to What - I Am Better Than Those Motherfuckers and They Know It (1969)

Wadsworth Jarrell: Compared to What – I Am Better
Than Those Motherfuckers and They Know It

My painting Compared to What: I Am Better Than Those Motherfuckers and They Know It was critiqued. The form consists of graffiti-style words and letters, mostly of the letter Bfor Black is beautifuland five figures in Cool Ade colors. The dominant figure in the painting is an African-American man sitting with his legs crossed, playing a guitar. The four figures in the background represent the European music group the Beatles. The words and letters, especially those near the end of the canvas, explode and fragment into multiple colored shapes. The white borders that rim the painting indicate that it is a poster. The statement “I Am Better Than Those Motherfuckers and They Know It” is difficult to read, because it is an intricate component of the form. Everyone agreed that the idea was well executed, and that it embodied excellent qualities. (source)

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1950: Rumble at the Café des Poètes

Café des Poètes - Orpheus (1950)Stolen poems incite a rumble in Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950).

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1957: Arketex

Arketex Ceramics Corporation Catalog (1957)

Arketex Ceramics Corporation catalog, 1957.

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1832: The Destructive Sphinx

Sphinx Exitiosa - The Destructive Sphinx

Illustrations from The Book of Butterflies, Sphinxes and Moths; illustrated by one hundred and forty-four engravings, coloured after nature; in three volumes (Thomas Brown, 1832-4)

Phalaena Flavia - The Bright Moth  Phalaena Ditaria - The Maid of Honour Moth  Papilio Rhamni - The Brimstone Butterfly  Papilio Priamus - Amboyna - The Imperial Trojan  Phalaena Caja - The Great Tiger Moth  Papilio Ripheus - The Oriental Emperor  Sphinx Statices - The Forester Sphinx  Sphinx Haemorrhoidalis - The Bloody Tailed Sphinx  Sphinx Pinastre - The Pine Sphinx  Continue reading

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1895: Long Beach

George Howell Gay - Surf, Long Beach, Rockport

George Howell Gay: Surf, Long Beach, Rockport; I made up the date.

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1629: The Most Trivial Disagreements

Theodoor Rombouts - Card and Backgammon Players Fight over Cards (1620-1629)

Such personal correspondence and diaries as survive suggest that social relations from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries tended to be cool, even unfriendly. The extraordinary amount of casual interpersonal physical and verbal violence, as recorded in legal and other records, shows clearly that at all levels men and women were extremely short-tempered. The most trivial disagreements tended to lead rapidly to blows, and most people carried a potential weapon, if only a knife to cut their meat. As a result, the law courts were clogged with cases of assault and battery. The correspondence of the day was filled with accounts of brutal assault at the dinner-table or in taverns, often leading to death. Among the upper classes, duelling, which spread to England in the late sixteenth century, was kept more or less in check by the joint pressure of the Puritans and the King before 1640, but became a serious social menace after the Restoration. Friends and acquaintances felt honour bound to challenge and kill each other for the slightest affront, however unintentional or spoken in the careless heat of passion or drink. Casual violence from strangers was also a daily threat. Brutal and unprovoked assaults by gangs of idle youths from respectable families, such as the Mohawks, were a frequent occurrence in eighteenth-century London streets; and the first thing young John Knyveton was advised to do when he came to the fashionable western suburb of London in 1750 was to buy himself a cudgel or a small sword and to carry it for self-defence, especially after dark.

—Lawrence Stone: The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (1977)

Theodoor Rombouts: Card and Backgammon Players Fight over Cards (1620-1629)

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1955: Tomorrow is Never

Kay Sage - Tomorrow is Never (1955)

Kay Sage: Tomorrow is Never (1955)


If I turn back
at least I shall not have
the sun in my face.
But then there will always be
the long shadow of myself
before me.

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1592: More Books on Books

Anthony van Leest (After Rue de Montorgueil) - Saint Matthew seated and reading from a book held by a putto, set within a fanciful architectural backdrop (1565-1575)

All I can say is that you can feel from experience that so many interpretations dissipate the truth and break it up. Aristotle wrote to be understood: if he could not manage it, still less will a less able man (or a third party) manage to do better than Aristotle, who was treating his own concepts. By steeping our material we macerate it and stretch it. Out of one subject we make a thousand and sink into Epicurus’ infinitude of atoms by proliferation and subdivision. Never did two men ever judge identically about anything, and it is impossible to find two opinions which are exactly alike, not only in different men but in the same men at different times. I normally find matter for doubt in what the gloss has not condescended to touch upon. Like certain horses I know which miss their footing on a level path, I stumble more easily on the flat.

Can anyone deny that glosses increase doubts and ignorance, when there can be found no book which men toil over in either divinity or the humanities whose difficulties have been exhausted by exegesis? The hundredth commentator dispatches it to his successor prickling with more difficulties than the first commentator of all had ever found in it. Do we ever agree among ourselves that “this book already has enough glosses: from now on there is no more to be said on it?” That can be best seen from legal quibbling. We give force of law to an infinite number of legal authorities, an infinite number of decisions and just as many interpretations. Yet do we ever find an end to our need to interpret? Can we see any progress or advance towards serenity? Do we need fewer lawyers and judges than when that lump of legality was in its babyhood?

On the contrary we obscure and bury the meaning: we can no longer discern it except by courtesy of those many closures and palisades. Men fail to recognize the natural sickness of their mind which does nothing but range and ferret about, ceaselessly twisting and contriving and, like our silkworms, becoming entangled in its own works: “Mus in pice.” [A mouse stuck in pitch.] It thinks it can make out in the distance some appearance of light, of conceptual truth: but, while it is charging towards it, so many difficulties, so many obstacles and fresh diversions strew its path that they make it dizzy and it loses its way. The mind is not all that different from those dogs in Aesop which, descrying what appeared to be a corpse floating on the sea yet being unable to get at it, set about lapping up the water so as to dry out a path to it, and suffocated themselves. And that coincides with what was said about the writings of Heraclitus by Crates: they required a reader to be a good swimmer, so that the weight of his doctrine should not pull him under nor its depth drown him.

It is only our individual weakness which makes us satisfied with what has been discovered by others or by ourselves in this hunt for knowledge: an abler man will not be satisfied with it. There is always room for a successor—yes, even for ourselves—and a different way to proceed. There is no end to our inquiries: our end is in the next world.

When the mind is satisfied, that is a sign of diminished faculties or weariness. No powerful mind stops within itself: it is always stretching out and exceeding its capacities. it makes sorties which go beyond what it can achieve: it is only half-alive if it is not advancing, pressing forward, getting driven into a corner and coming to blows; its inquiries are shapeless and without limits; its nourishment consists in amazement, the hunt and uncertainty, as Apollo made clear enough to us by his speaking (as always) ambiguously, obscurely and obliquely, not glutting us but keeping us wondering and occupied. It is an irregular activity, never-ending and without pattern or target. Its discoveries excite each other, follow after each other and between them produce more.

Ainsi voit l’on, en un ruisseau coulant,
Sans fin l’une eau apres l’autre roulant,
Et tout de rang, d’un eternel conduict,
L’une suit l’autre, et l’une l’autre fuyt.
Par cette-cy celle-là est poussée,
Et cette-cy par l’autre est devancée:
Tousjours l’eau va dans l’eau, et tousjours est-ce
Mesme ruisseau, et toujours eau diverse.

[Thus do we see in a flowing stream water rolling endlessly on water, ripple upon ripple, as in its unchanging bed water flees and water pursues, the first water driven by what follows and drawn on by what went before, water eternally driving into water—even the same stream with its waters ever-changing.]

It is more of a business to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the texts, and there are more books on books than on any other subject: all we do is gloss each other.

Montaigne, “On Experience”

The text is from the edition of Montaigne’s essays that he was preparing when he died in 1592; the lines quoted are from a poem written by Étienne de La Boétie to his wife, Marguerite de Carle.

Anthony van Leest (After Rue de Montorgueil): Saint Matthew (1565-1575)

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1978: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

Neal Adams - Superman vs Muhammad Ali (1978) [detail]

Who would win in a fight—Superman or Muhammad Ali?

The two duked it out in a 1978 comic. An evil space alien named Rat’Lar brings an armada to earth and claims that Earthlings’ warlike ways pose a threat to his race, the Scrubb; he demands that Earth’s greatest fighter battle the Scrubb champion Hun’Ya.

But a question arises: who is Earth’s greatest champion? Both Superman and Muhammad Ali step forward to volunteer, with Ali arguing that since Superman is actually himself an alien from the planet Krypton, Ali should wear the mantle.

Rat’Lar’s solution is to have Superman and Ali fight one another on the Scrubb home planet, which, orbiting a red star, will temporarily vitiate Superman’s powers. The event is broadcast on intergalactic television to thousands of planets, with Jimmy Olsen calling the fight.

Ali dominates in the bout, and, just as he pauses to call for a technical victory, Superman falls flat on his face, knocked outAli wins!

Neal Adams - Superman vs Muhammad Ali (1978) C

Ali also goes on to beat the Scrubb champion, with, perhaps surprisingly, the goddess Athena making an appearance to serve as referee.

The cover of the comic featured a host of 70’s celebrities in attendance at the fight, including Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, The Jackson 5, Jerry Garcia, Liberace, and Andy Warholas well as a number of staff and characters from DC comics and Mad magazine. Wikipedia has the full list.

Neal Adams - Superman vs Muhammad Ali (1978)

DC also printed promotional tickets for the event:

Superman vs Muhammad Ali Promotional Ticket (1978)

Penciller: Neal Adams
Inkers: Dick Giordano, Terry Austin
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Colorist: Cory Adams

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1874: Seascape

Alfred Thompson Bricher - Seascape (1874)

Alfred Thompson Bricher: Seascape (1874)

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