sich damenhaft benehmen.

Light Drawings — photographs of Pablo Picasso by Gjon Mili, 1949

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It would be very curious to record by means of photographs, not the stage of the picture, but its metamorphoses  —Pablo Picasso

When LIFE magazine’s Gjon Mili, a technical prodigy and lighting innovator, visited Pablo Picasso in the South of France in 1949, it was clear that the meeting of these two artists and craftsmen was bound to result in something extraordinary. Mili showed Picasso some of his photographs of ice skaters with tiny lights affixed to their skates, jumping in the dark — and the Spanish genius’s lively, ever-stirring mind began to race.

“Picasso” LIFE magazine reported at the time, “gave Mili 15 minutes to try one experiment. He was so fascinated by the result that he posed for five sessions, projecting 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles and his signature. Mili took his photographs in a darkened room, using two cameras, one for side view, another for front view. By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space.”

This series of photographs, known ever since as Picasso’s “light drawings,” were made with a small electric light in a darkened room; in effect, the images vanished as soon as they were created — and yet they still live, six decades later, in Mili’s playful, hypnotic images. Many of them were also put on display in early 1950 in a show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Finally, while the “Picasso draws a centaur in the air” photo that leads off this gallery is rightly celebrated, many of the images in this gallery are far less well-known — in fact, many of them never ran in the magazine — but they are no less thrilling, after all these years, than the iconic picture of the archetypal creative genius of the 20th century crafting, on the fly, a fleeting (albeit captured forever on film) work of art.


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TRANSMORPHISM « Leif Podhajsky

All work © Copyright 2012

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Custom BMW motorcycle

BMW Motorrad has a gap in its product range large enough to drive a Bundeswehr Unimog through: it doesn’t have a retro roadster to compete with the hugely popular Triumph Bonneville or the expanding Moto Guzzi V7 fleet. Which is strange, given the remarkable popularity of the classic R-series with custom builders.

Here’s the latest vintage Beemer to catch our eye. It’s an R80/7 built by Luka Cimolini in his garage in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Luka’s original plan was to customize a Dnepr, but documentation issues put paid to that. So he snapped up a 1977 R80 in the UK and shipped it to eastern Europe.

Custom BMW motorcycle
It took Luka two years to build this machine, his first custom. But he’s hit the ball out of the park at the first attempt. Slammed low and with a kicked-up seat, he’s given the high-riding R80 a low and sporty stance.

The mods are extensive, with the most obvious being front forks dropped almost two inches and 11-inch shocks fitted at the back. The rebuilt engine is hooked up to universal Megaton reverse cone mufflers, and Luka modified the subframe to take the custom seat unit. The fenders are bobbed BMW originals, and BMW /5 headlight brackets cradle a customized Dnepr lamp. The brake and clutch levers are Triumph, the steering damper knob is from a BMW R26, and the tacho is from an R69S. The grips are Lambretta.

Custom BMW motorcycle
It’s a wide-ranging mix of parts, but they hang together remarkably well. The bike can hold its own against airheads from established builders such as Cafe Racer Dreams and El Solitario.

BMW, it would seem, is taking note of the trend. One of the biggest news stories from this week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan is the announcement of a retro roadster from BMW, to be revealed next year. A development of the LoRider concept, it’s likely to be powered by the current air/oil-cooled, 1170cc boxer motor and feature inverted forks. Can’t wait.

Images © Ciril Komotar. With thanks to Andraž Kopitar of the leading Slovenian custom motorcycle site 7seven Customs.

Custom BMW motorcycle

via BikeEXIF

brooklyn graffiti artist DAIN

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true gangsta grandpa

A fairly elderly man – yet prolific graffiti artist- spends the later days of life pasting collage artwork out of portrait photography on the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood.

And this OG isn’t doing this for money, or to be ‘cool’ with the ‘kids these days’ – but because it’s something which brings him a lot of satisfaction – as natural to him as breathing. Continue reading

Jack Kerouac Reads from On the Road (1959)

Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in three very short weeks in 1951. But then it took six years for the book, famously written on a long scroll, to reach the reading public in 1957. Shortly after its publication, critics were at least quick to recognize what the book meant. One New York Times reviewer called it “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago asbeat.” Another saw in the novel “a descriptive excitement unmatched since the days of Thomas Wolfe.” 54 years later, those early reviews have withstood the proverbial test of time. These days, Modern Library and TIME place the novel on their lists of the 100 greatest novels.

And now the vintage clip — Jack Kerouac, the man himself, appearing on The Steve Allen Show in 1959, first fielding some questions, then reading from his beat classic.

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Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg Visit the Grave of Jack Kerouac (1979)

Above you can watch a rare 1979 meeting, of sorts, of three hugely influential twentieth-century cultural minds: Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, and — in spirit, anyway — Jack Kerouac, who died ten years before. This clip, though brief, would be fascinating enough by itself, but Sean Wilentz provides extensive backstory in “Penetrating Aether: The Beat Generation and Allen Ginsberg’s America,” an essay fron the New Yorker. “On a crisp scarlet-ocher November afternoon at Edson Cemetery in Lowell,” as he describes it, “Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg visited Kerouac’s grave, trailed by a reporter, a photographer, a film crew, and various others (including the young playwright Sam Shepard).” There “Ginsberg recited not from Kerouac’s prose but from poetry out of Mexico City Blues [ … ] invoking specters, fatigue, mortality, Mexico, and John Steinbeck’s boxcar America, while he and Dylan contemplated Kerouac’s headstone.” Why that particular collection? “Someone handed me Mexico City Blues in St. Paul in 1959,” Wilentz quotes Dylan as having told Ginsberg. “It blew my mind.”

In the piece, which comes adapted from his book Bob Dylan in America, Wilentz goes into great detail describing Dylan as a link between two sometimes compatible and sometimes antagonistic subcultures in midcentury America: the folk music movement and the Beat generation.  “I came out of the wilderness and just naturally fell in with the Beat scene, the bohemian, Be Bop crowd, it was all pretty much connected,” Wilentz quotes Dylan as saying in 1985. “It was Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Ferlinghetti … I got in at the tail end of that and it was magic … it had just as big an impact on me as Elvis Presley.” Wilentz describes Dylan relating to Kerouac as “a young man from a small declining industrial town who had come to New York as a cultural outsider more than twenty years earlier—an unknown bursting with ideas and whom the insiders proceeded either to lionize or to condemn, and, in any case, badly misconstrue.” The Beats showed Dylan a path to maintaining his cultural relevance, a trick he’s managed over and over again in the decades since. “Even though Dylan invented himself within one current of musical populism that came out of the 1930s and 1940s,” Wilentz writes, “he escaped that current in the 1960s—without ever completely rejecting it—by embracing anew some of the spirit and imagery of the Beat generation’s entirely different rebellious disaffiliation and poetic transcendence.”

Note: Do you want to hear Sean Wilentz read Bob Dylan in America for free? (Find an audio sample here.) Just head over to and register for a 30-day free trial. You can download any audiobook for free. Then, when the trial is over, you can continue your Audible subscription, or cancel it, and still keep the audio book. The choice is entirely yours. And, in full disclosure, let me tell you that we have a nice arrangement with Audible. Whenever someone signs up for a free trial, it helps support Open Culture.

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Founder of music label Case/Martingale and recent resident DJ at Marie Claire magazine, music maker and producer Christ Lawhorn has created Fugazi Edits, a new record made entirely by sampling every single song in the band Fugazi‘s discography. The instrumental album includes excerpts from 100 Fugazi tracks to form a dual personality record, with one part remaining true to the band’s tone and the other being more experimental. Samples of each are available directly from Lawhorn’s site.


Coming as a surprise to most Fugazi fans—the band hasn’t produced a record in nearly 10 years—Lawhorn’s edits have in fact been approved for release by Fugazi founding member Ian Mackaye and record label Dischord. Profits from Lawhorn’s single-handed work will be divvied up between two charities. Initially released in early August as a limited edition run of 1,000 for a select number of indie record stores, Fugazi Edits will release to the general public in the weeks to come. Keep an eye on Chris Lawhorn online for updates.