Friday, December 31, 2010


Prior to starting my collection of photography books (circa 1973 in New York) the only exposure I had to the word NUS was in an ad at the back of an early 1960s American men's magazine: "Exotic French books (in the ad, an illustration of NUS covers, including the Andre de Deines color cover below) imported directly from Paris". The ad was very appealing, but who knew what you'd get after responding to a girlie magazine ad. 

A few years into collecting I found two or three volumes of NUS and was pleasantly surprised to see that they were filled with exceptional photographs, beautifully printed with full-page gravures of female nudes. Fast forwarding about five years, as my collection was growing, I starting attending auctions of photography books. That is where I saw  N 
                        S  edited by Daniel Masclet (below) for the first time. I had to have it for the growing part of my collection concerning books on the nude, but it was more than I could afford and I dropped out of the bidding. Fast forward again to my early days in Paris, circa 1985. On one trip that year, at a bouquinistes stall on the left bank, there was NUS, seemingly waiting for me. It was wrapped in heavy plastic, taped shut like a parcel ready to be mailed, 40F (forty francs - at the time $4.00!) written in bold black marker on the front. I should say "they were wrapped..." as there were four or five copies of this, up until that moment, rare book, presented as a 50 plus years old "remainder" on the quai in Paris. 

I bought the three copies that looked like they had just arrived fresh from the publisher (left behind the copies that were a bit damaged) and got my 10% percent discount to boot. Over the years I bought as many copies as I could find in and around the quai, the price inching up to 100F. Then, like all desirable remaindered books, they disappeared. 

Years later they began reappearing in the windows of better book shops for 250F and up. When the euro was introduced in 2002 and prices for all consumer goods took a big jump, the price was 250/300 Euros. Today you can find copies on-line starting at $1,200.00 and up to $2,500.00. Realistic price is $750.00. I'd like a few more of those copies wrapped in plastic...please!

Today's post: an homage to le NU ~ NUS ~ NUES ~~ NUDE ~ NUDES ~ NAKED

The first modern French book of the nude to be published in Paris was Daniel Masclet's NUS with stunningly simple typography on the cover plus 
burgundy colored tie-binding. 
NUS. La Beaute de la Femme. Album du Premier Salon International du Nus Photographique. Published by Chez Braun and Daniel Masclet. Paris, 1933. 
Includes photographs by Laure Albin Guillot, Pierre Boucher, Frantisek Drtikol, AndrĂ©as Feinenger, Emil-Otto Hoppe, Moholy-Nagy, George Platt Lynes, 
Man Ray, Marcel Meys and others.

Formes Nues. Albert Mentzel, Albert Roux (Editors): Paris: Editions d'Art Graphique et Photographique, 1935. Text in English, French, and German. Folio size with spiral binding.  Cover photograph by Man Ray. 
Ninety-six full-page photographs plus twenty-two pages of text in French, German and English. Beautifully printed in gravure including photographs by 
Laure Albin-Guillot, Pierre Boucher, Brassai, Louis Caillaud, Frantisek Drtikol, 
Nora Dumas, Andreas Feininger, Raoul Hausmann, John Havinden, Florence Henri, Andre Kertesz, Edmund Kesting, Ergy Landau, Jacques Lemare, Herbert List, Kefer-Dora Maar, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, George Platt Lynes, Therese Le Prat, Man Ray, Franz Roh, Maurice Tabard, Maurice P. Verneuil and others.

Etudes de Nus. Editions du Chene. Paris, 1948. Beautifully printed in gravure, folio size publication with 24 photographs on plates, loose in the wrapper, ready to be framed. Includes female nudes by Brassai, Nora Dumas, Feher, Pierre Jahan, Ergy Landau, Liu-Shu-Chang, Philippe Pottier, Jeanne Robert, Seeberger and Sougez. 

Le Nu en Photographie. Marcel Natkin. Paris, 1949. Photographs by Man Ray, Pierre Jahan, Pierre Boucher, Brassai and Emmanuel Sougez.

 NUS Academics Dans La Nature. En Relief par les Anaglyphes.
Paris, circa 1935. Nudes outdoors photographed in 3-D.

The following seven cover illustrations are from the NUS series published in Paris starting in 1949. The series was numerically consistent until volume 4 or 5.  At that point the serial information was dropped and then restarted a few years later making it impossible to figure out the correct publishing sequence. Nonetheless, the quality of each volume was always consistently high, impeccably printed in full-page gravure and filled with images by some of the best photographers working in the genre. The series ended circa 1960. 

 NUS. Photos Originales d'Andre de Deines. Paris: Societe Parisienne d'Editions 
Artistiques, circa 1949. De Deines was noted for posing his models outdoors and was one of the first to photograph Marilyn Monroe.

 NUS Exotiques. Photos by Paul Facchetti. Paris: Societe Parisienne d'Editions 
Artistiques, circa 1949. Unique in the series featuring photographs of black models.

 NUS. Photographies Originales d'Andre de Deines. Paris: Societe 
Parisienne d'Editions Artistiques, circa 1949. 

 NUS par Andre Steiner. Paris: published not indicated, 1953.
All photographs by Andre Steiner. 

Nus Academiques. Paris: Societe Parisienne d'Editions 
Artistiques, circa 1950. Collection of female nudes by
various photographers.

Etudes de Nus par Andre Steiner. Paris: Editions Tiranty, circa 1952.
All photographs by Andre Steiner.

NUS. Ondines. Photographies par Serge Jacques. Paris: Editions 
Mistral, circa 1950. Sixteen plates loose in the wrapper, ready to be framed.

Le Nu International. Paris, 1954. Preface by Pierre Mac Orlan. Edited by Otto Steinert, the force behind the then emerging "subjective fotografie" movement in Germany. This is the French edition of Akt Internationale published one year earlier.
Exceptional collection of avant-garde, experimental and conventional nudes, printed in fine gravure including Berko, Brassai, Fukuda, Hajek-Halke, Henle, Landau, List, Masclet (in homage as recognition for his classic NUS published 20 years prior?), Schall, Strache, Edward Weston and others.

Click here to see the Nus items in my eBay store

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cigarette Cards: circa 1900 ~ 1930s

Cigarettes cards appeared for the first time as a premium in the United States, circa 1875.
It was in the U.K. in 1887 that W.D. & H.O. Wills began including advertising cards with their cigarettes. Other cigarette producing tobacco companies soon followed suit and by the turn-of-the-century the cigarette trading card was quite common and collectible. By the 1920s the cards became so popular that the cigarette companies and "aftermarket" vendors starting making albums to hold the cards, usually produced in thematic, numbered sets of 20, 50 or 100.

(above) Hand-tinted, real photo Melia cigarette card, circa 1925.
Photograph by Albert Wyndham Studio, Paris

The cards from the U.K. are ubiquitous and best known, therefore I will focus on the hand-tinted, real photo cigarette cards from north Africa, circa 1905~1920s and the movie star albums from Germany, circa 1930s.

Cigarettes Clement, Oran (Tunisia), circa 1905~1910
Hand-tinted, real photos of Parisian music-hall performers

Cigarettes Le Nil, Tunisia, circa 1920
Sepia-toned real photos of performers, actresses mounted 
into a period album.

Cigarettes Bastos, Oran (Tunisia), circa 1925
Beautifully printed in toned gravure, nude and risque
images of performers

The German cigarette companies followed suit with cigarette card sets and albums of their own. Not only were they aware of what the English cigarette companies were doing but also of two major German companies, Stollwerck (chocolate) and Liebig (beef extract/bouillon), both of which created beautiful and pedagogical collectible trade cards as premiums. Liebig began issuing its cards in 1872; Stollwerck a bit later, circa 1890s. Stollwerck's name as a chocolate maker, known worldwide, was guaranteed at the 1893 World Colombian Exposition in Chicago where, the 38 foot high, 15 ton Stollwerck pavilion (below), replicating a Renaissance temple, was constructed completely of chocolate. 

With the creation of German cigarette cards in the late 1920s/early 1930s, the focus was on the international cinema and the actors and actresses that starred in them. Soon after cigarette cards were being used to tell the story of the rise of national socialism, the history of the German people, the Olympic Games of 1936 in Berlin, modern dance, the circus, German vaudeville (variete) and much more. 

(above and below) Two illustrations showing 21 cards of actors and actresses
from the Moderne Schonheits Galerie series, circa 1933. 
Published by Kur Mark the series comprised 300 cards.
One of the most elaborately designed and beautifully produced cigarette card sets ever made with amazing embossed borders and impeccably 
printed, color-ized photo portraits.
Cards measure 2" x 2.5"

Wer ist die Schonste Frau? Who is the Most Beautiful Woman?
Germany, circa early 1930s. High quality album with black & white real photos.
Album cover above; album page below.

Salem (Cigarettes) Gold-Film-Bilder. Album 1.
Germany, circa early 1930s. Color-ized printed photographs with gold backgrounds.
Album cover above; album page below.

Die Bunte Welt des Films. The Colorful World of Films. 
Germany, circa early 1930s. Color-ized, printed photographs with a "tri-tone" appearance.
Album cover above; album page below.

Farb-Filmbilder. Film Pictures in Color. 
German, circa early 1930s. Color-ized, printed photographs with a "tri-tone" appearance.
Album cover with tipped-in photo, above; album page below.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 24, 1925

Le Sourire. 28th Year, Issue #451
"A very nice beard". Illustration by Maurice Milliere

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Favorite Film Posters: Risque + Sexploitation

Slaves In Bondage, 1937

 Confessions of a Vice Baron, 1943

 Fingerprints Don't Lie, 1951

 Blonde Bait, 1956

 The Blonde With Green Eyes
Belgian release, circa 1957

 Teaserama. Irving Klaw film with Betty Page and Tempest Storm, 1955

 The Fruit is Ripe, circa 1960

La Diosa Impura (Mexican), 1963

 Le Diabolique Docteur "Z" (French), 1966
Jesus Franco director

 Il Porto del Vizio (Italian), 1956

 Die Satansweiber von Tittfield
German release for Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Russ Meyer director, 1966

 Maitresse, 1975. Directed by Barbet Schroeder
English release. Poster designed by Allan Jones.

Strip Tease. France, 1963
Starring Nico. Music by Serge Gainsbourgh

Paris Artist's Ball circa 1913 ~ 1932

Le Bal des 4Z'Arts, the Four Arts Ball, began in Montmartre in 1892. It was a carnival-like celebration organized by the graduates from the four different creative disciplines of the l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts: architecture, painting, sculpture and printing. The bal immediately took on bacchanalian, orgiastic aspects and is credited with the invention of the strip-tease, documented as taking place in front of the Moulin Rouge in 1893. 

Bal participants were obliged to arrived in costume, however after hours of informal parading through the streets of Paris, much of what was worn was removed, resulting in ad-hoc displays of public nudity. Many Parisians and public officials objected to the lack of proper attire of the bal participants as well as the noisy parading through the streets. Nonetheless, the bal endured until 1966 and was in it's golden age from 1915 through the 1930s.

Above is the cover of a special issue of EROS magazine devoted to the Bal des 4'Zarts, published in Paris, circa 1922 with text by Parisian artist and writer Andre Warnod. It includes full-page facsimiles of the original, small format posters created by beaux-arts students + photographs of the participants as well as a basic history by Warnod. The following five illustration are from this special issue.

 Poster for the 1920 Bal by P.Labbe

 Poster for the 1914 Bal by Georges Barbier

 Costumed participants photographed during the parade

 Poster for 1921 by P.Labbe

 Costumed participants (togas were popular for many years) photographed 
during the parade

 Original photograph 4.5" x 6.25" circa 1923 showing a  
large group of participants

The next eight illustrations are scans of the original posters from a collection assembled approx. 10 years ago. They measure from 5" x 7" to 6.5" x 12". The posters were beautifully printed, most often by letterpress on quality art-paper. In most instances the posters served a dual purpose: to promote the bal and also to provide a ticket for each one of the participants for entry to the after parade party. After paying for the ticket it was rubber-stamped and signed by members of the committee.

Poster with ticket attached, 1932

Poster with ticket removed, 1913

Poster with ticket attached, 1924

Poster with ticket attached + signatures and rubber stamp, 1925

Poster will ticket attached, 1923

Poster with ticket attached, 1925

Small format announcement, 1920

Poster with ticket attached + signatures and rubber stamp. Note signature 
of Leo Fontan artist, illustrator and editor 
of La Vie Parisienne