Archived entries for

Richard Serra: Hand Catching Lead, 1968

Health care acrobats

“Health care for poor New Yorkers, 1890s-style: Medical care in the city’s poorest slums was pretty nonexistent in the late 1890s. So social reformer Lillian Wald—founder of the Henry Street Settlement and namesake of a housing project on Avenue D—established a visiting nurses service. Her Nurses’ Settlement eventually had a staff of about 100 blue-uniformed nurses who went from tenement to tenement offering free or low-cost check-ups and treatment, mostly for immigrant mothers and kids. Rather than climbing all those tenement stairs on their rounds, the nurses simply hopped from rooftop to rooftop, like this nurse is doing here.



via Ephemeral New York.

New York’s Photo League

The Photo League was a New York City–based organization of professional and amateur photographers. A splinter group of the Film and Photo League, it was founded in 1936 by photographers Sid Grossman (1913–1955) and Sol Libsohn (1914–2001). Many of its members were young, first-generation, working-class Jewish Americans.

In keeping with its educational, activist, and aesthetic goals, the League offered lectures, darkroom access, and classes on history and technique, as well as exhibition opportunities. It promoted photography as a fine art and also championed the use of documentary photography to expose social problems and instigate social change.

During its fifteen-year existence, the League was among only a handful of places in New York that offered study in documentary photography, and it was unique in offering inexpensive classes and darkroom access.

The majority of the Photo League images were taken in New York City, but members also took photographs across the United States—for instance, in rural communities in the south—and, during World War II, in Europe, Asia, and Central America. Most of the photographs document ordinary people and everyday life and celebrate democracy in all its diversity. The photographs also include images of poverty and other hardships, which is not surprising given the social conscience of most of the members.

The League published a newsletter called Photo Notes, through which its members’ images, educational philosophies, and ideological stances and debates could be further disseminated.

via The Jewish Museum New York | Overview.

London, 1560 – 1693


Braun and Hogenberg, Civitates Orbis Terrarum I A. Anonymous engraving circa 1560.


Norden’s map of Westminster, surveyed and published 1593.


John Norden & Pieter Van den Keere, 1593


London. 1616. Visscher.

A Plan of the City and Liberties of London after the Dreadful Conflagration in the Year 1666

“This is an engraving of Wenceslaus Hollar’s map of London after the fire. The white area shows the extent of the ruins – 436 acres in total (373 acres within the City walls and 63 outside). This was about one-third of the total size of London at the time. Over the winter this area became the haunt of thieves. They looted the destroyed buildings and dragged passers-by into cellars, robbing them and leaving them for dead. People were afraid to go there at night. The rebuilding started in a piecemeal fashion as and when people found the money. Samuel Rolle commented in 1668 ‘Is London a village that I see, the houses in it stand so scatteringly?’ He also noticed that people were reluctant to move into their new, isolated, homes: ‘they refrain to go to them till their neighbourhood be increased’.”See more


London, 1695 Robert Morden (detail from Middlesex in Camden’s Brittannia)


Londini Angliae regni metropolis delineatio accuratissima / autore F. de Witt; ca. 1:13.000; Amsterdam : F. de Witt, c. 1693


Two revolutions

There were, we may oversimplify, two revolutions in mid-seventeenth century England. The one which succeeded established the sacred rights of property (abolition of feudal tenures, no arbitrary taxation), gave political power to the propertied (sovereignty of Parliament and common law, abolition of prerogative courts), and removed all impediments to the triumph of the ideology of the men of property – the protestant ethic. There was, however, another revolution which never happened, though from time to time it threatened. This might have established communal property, a far wider democracy in political and legal institutions, might have disestablished the state church and rejected the Protestant ethic.

Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down:
Radical Ideas in the English Revolution, Penguin; New Ed edition, 1991, via English Revolution – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Antonio Gramsci – The Modern Prince: Brief Notes on Machiavelli’s Politics

The basic thing about The Prince is that it is not a systematic treatment, but a “live” work, in which political ideology and political science are fused in the dramatic form of a “myth”. Before Machiavelli, political science had taken the form either of the Utopia or of the scholarly treatise. Machiavelli, combining the two, gave imaginative and artistic form to his conception by embodying the doctrinal, rational element in the person of a condottiere, who represents plastically and “anthropomorphically” the symbol of the “collective will”. In order to represent the process whereby a given collective will, directed towards a given political objective, is formed, Machiavelli did not have recourse to long-winded arguments, or pedantic classifications of principles and criteria for a method of action. Instead he represented this process in terms of the qualities, characteristics, duties and requirements of a concrete individual. Such a procedure stimulates the artistic imagination of those who have to be convinced, and gives political passions a more concrete form.

Nine Dragons








Wikipedia: The Nine Dragons handscroll (九龙图/九龍圖), painted during the Song Dynasty. See WU, T. (1997). Tales from the land of dragons: 1000 years of Chinese painting. Boston, MA, Museum of Fine Arts. Pages 197 – 200.Ink and red on paper.

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