December 12

The Motel, Unsettling Icon of Popular Culture

On the 12th of December 1925, Arthur Heineman opened the first recorded motel along Highway 101 just north of San Luis Obispo, California. As he couldn’t fit in the full name ‘Milestone Motor Hotel’ on the sign, he left it as ‘Motor Hotel’, which then came to be abbreviated as mo-tel. This first example of […]

December 11

Art and Insanity: Séraphine Louis, Naïve Genius

On the 11th of December 1942, a naïve painter, Séraphine Louis, also known as “Séraphine de Senlis“, died in a Villers-sous-Erquery hospital in northern France, although according to her mentor, Wilhelm Uhde, she died at Clermont’s lunatic asylum in 1934. It is questionable then whether Uhde wanted to withdraw from being associated with the mentally ill painter or […]

December 10

Beyond the Veneer: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

On the 10th of December 1928, Glaswegian designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh died in London relatively unknown and destitute. He was one of the artists who reaffirmed craftsmanship at a time of emerging Northern industrialization. He agreed with those in the British Arts and Crafts Movement who hailed a return to the individual touch […]

December 09

Troublesome Love of Edith Sitwell

On the 9th of December 1964, Dame Edith Sitwell, a British poet and critic, died in London. Both as an artist and as a public personality, she was a provocative and controversial figure. Her poetry, influenced significantly by the French symbolist movement, was often experimental and multidimensional. In her early career she focused mainly on […]

December 08

The Passions of Camille Claudel: Sculptor, Woman

On the 8th of December 1864, Camille Claudel was born in Fère-en-Tardenois, Aisne, northern France. As a teenager, Claudel was determined to make it as an artist in Paris, so she convinced her parents to fund her studies at the Academie Colarossi. Here, she met Rodin who was filling in for her teacher Boucher. Very […]

December 07

Louis Prima: Just a Gigolo

On the 7th of December 1910, Louis Prima, an American trumpet player and singer of Italian descent, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His performances, starting from the jazz infused 1920s right up to the  pop and rock dominated 1960s at the end of his career, were a rich combination of musical showmanship, comic genius and Italian […]

December 06

The Earliest Encyclopædia Britannica

On the 6th of December 1768, the first part or ‘number’ of 100 thick pamphlets which made up the first ever Encyclopædia Britannica appeared in print in Edinburgh, sold for 6 pence a piece. In our times when digital versions of the Britannica  online and on optical discs can be accessed from various modern gadgets, the graft […]