vintage

A Gritty Photo Tribute to 1970s and 1980s New York City

Former mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to scrub New York City clean in the 1990s, but nostalgia for notoriously gritty New York in the ‘70s and ‘80s remains at an all-time high. An exhibition at Lot 180 remembers a city that was, with a collection of photos, vinyl cover art, posters, and more. Cultural icons like Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, and Jean-Michel Basquiat (and his graffiti tag SAMO) populate the collection. This isn’t the “Disneyfied” New York City of today. Street photography from artists such as Robert Herman and Fernando Natalici depict the city’s graffiti-filled trains, the XXX theaters of Times Square, and other relics of a bygone era. The exhibition, which you can preview in our photo gallery, runs through September 1. … Read More

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Miniature Paintings Enshrined in Vintage Books

Joseph DeCamillis, who we first learned about on Beautiful/Decay, transforms vintage books into works of art by inserting miniature copper oil paintings into their covers. But his altered books are more than just two-dimensional pictures. DeCamillis collages other materials and personal writings with the paintings that play off the cover text, creating new narratives. Combining DeCamillis’ talent with his love of collecting and literature, the paintings are created with brushes that have three hairs or less. They are the size of a postage stamp. Once completed, DeCamillis seals the books shut forever. “Enshrining the miniatures in altered books establishes them as icons,” he writes on his website. The highway imagery is inspired by DeCamillis’ time living on the road in an old motor home. See more of DeCamillis’ whimsical book paintings in our gallery. … Read More

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Dazzling 19th-Century French Book Advertisements

A popular figure in France’s social scene, and a successful poet and playwright, Victor Hugo spent nearly 20 years planning and composing Les Misérables. It received lukewarm reviews, but the book became a commercial success after its first printing in 1862.

The excitement the novel generated leading up to its publication was unprecedented. Advertisements displayed around the city of Paris introduced passersby to the characters struggling to start anew amid the 1832 June Rebellion in the City of Light. It was a bona fide media frenzy well before the age of the Internet. … Read More

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Vintage Photos of Spring Breakers

Spring break season is upon us — a time when students everywhere step away from the books to decompress and indulge. Films like Spring Breakers paint a colorful picture of the MTV generation binging on drink, drugs, and sex once the temperature starts to rise and their weeklong break from the stresses of school affords them the freedom to sow their wild oats. Were the students in past a tamer bunch? Celebrations seem wilder these days, but some things never change — as evidenced by these vintage photos of spring breakers ready to get their party on. … Read More

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Lost Photos of Kansas City’s Underground Drag Scene During the 1960s

When we think of places where drag and ballroom culture has thrived, cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. spring to mind — but many don’t realize that there was a vibrant community in the Midwest during the ‘50s and ‘60s. In 2006, artist Robert Heishman uncovered a group of slides in a Kansas City salvage yard labeled, “Jack’s Slides: Chicago and Kansas City.” Heishman found a stash of images featuring beautiful drag queens, but the photographer remained a mystery. … Read More

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10 Famous Musicians’ Hilarious and Surprising Ad Jingles

Brand endorsement is an eternally tricky thing and can easily segue into crass commercialism if not presented thoughtfully. That’s what these musicians must have struggled with when the sponsors came calling for their pound of flesh — but then again, a large paycheck is a seductive thing on its own. Here are ten stars who sang about soda, cereal, and more with dollar signs in their eyes — most of whom we never expected to see belting one out for the ad man. … Read More

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Haunting Photos of Elaborate Gowns Frozen in Ice

Vancouver-based environmental artist Nicole Dextras, who we first learned about on Beautiful Decay, works with ephemeral materials such as plants, water, and flowers. For her installation series IceShifts, Dextras froze elaborate gowns in five-foot-tall blocks of ice, illuminated them at night, and photographed the results. “This frozen wardrobe acts as a metaphor for the multilayered affinities between the self and the environment,” Dextras explained. “On a deeper level, the mercurial aspect of ice alludes to the transient nature of the environment and of the inherent poetic beauty of the ephemeral.” The frozen dresses resemble icy sirens, dancing and drawing us near. See more of Dextras work in our gallery. … Read More

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12 Curious Vintage Sex Books

With Valentine’s Day approaching, love is in the air. Ignoring the whole corporate manufactured holiday thing, we can’t think of a better way to get you in the mood for love than with a fun, vintage book about sex. Part curious time capsule, part laugh riot, these guides are sure to charm. Head past the break to indulge in some good old-fashioned loving between the pages of these sexy (and chuckle-worthy) manuals. … Read More

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Vintage Holiday Cartoons You Can Watch Right Now

Once upon a time we were all small and a lot less jaded — and that’s when the holidays were the most fun. We’ve been getting into the spirit of the season by examining holiday traditions and curating some fun gift guides, but today we’re taking it back to the golden age of cartoons. These vintage animated shorts are probably before your time, but they should help inspire memories of old-school holiday celebrations and make you feel like a kid again. … Read More

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The Most Deranged Horror VHS Cover Art

Let’s have a moment of silence for the granddaddy of commercial video stores: Blockbuster first opened its doors in 1985 today. Whether you rented films at your local mom and pop shop, or ventured to the chain that has been steadily fading into obscurity, movie memories were made in the aisles of those stores thanks to the visual impact of DVD and VHS cover art. VHS has been making a comeback, with multiple documentaries and limited-edition videotapes being produced in recent years, and the format reminds us of the heyday of horror cinema. With Halloween around the corner and outrageous VHS box art on the brain, we hunted for some of horror’s most deranged cover images — the gory, creepy, and bizarre artwork that beckoned to audiences from the shelves of video rental stores everywhere. Travel back to the days of VHS, below, but be warned that some images may be upsetting to horror newbies. … Read More

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