Category Archives: Society

October 10

Racism in Opera: Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

On the 10th of October 1935, George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opened in the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, New York. A few years earlier, Singer Al Jolson attempted to musicalise the story starring as a comic blackface Porgy, his minstrel shows, an unacceptable racist concept nowadays. The Broadway opening was unprecedented in U.S. history due to […]

October 08

Can and Should Manners be Taught?

On the 8th of October 1952, American socialite-journalist Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette was first published . Most of us wish to be seen as well-mannered. However, acknowledging the existence of a set of rules which would dictate how to behave has largely become a derided, old-fashioned subject. Things were different in the 1950s. Vanderbilt’s 800-page tome set the standard […]

September 24

Gay Georgian London: Horace Walpole Amongst the ‘Finger-Twirlers’

On the 24th of September 1717, Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician, was born in London. Although the son of the first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, he is largely remembered in our times for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London, where he […]

September 18

Franco Moschino: Anti-Elitist Haute Couture?

On the 18th of September 1994, Italian fashion designer Franco Moschino died in Annone di Brianza, Italy. He is still seen as “the irreverent enfant terrible of the fashion industry who poked fun at the excesses of the 1980s with his “tongue in chic” designs, most memorably creating suits festooned with cutlery, jackets with faucet handles […]

September 04

Victorian Idyllism and Social Realism in Lionel Smythe’s Art

On the 4th of September 1839, Royal Academician Lionel Percy Smythe, an English artist and etcher, was born in London. Smythe painted rural landscapes, genre and maritime scenes, people and animals in both oils and watercolours. He became associated with a group of artists called The Idyllic school (or the Idyllists), a 19th-century art movement […]

August 25

Françoise Dolto: Unconscious Body Image in Child Psychoanalysis

On the 25th of August 1988, French paediatrician and psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto died in Paris, France. She is mainly known for her pioneering work in the field of child psychoanalysis and her contribution to the development of the ‘unconscious body image’ theory. She was born to a well-to-do Parisian family of engineers. Right from the start, […]

August 19

The Jewish Ghetto and Photonostalgia: Roman Vishniac’s Vanished World

On the 19th of August 1897, one of the world’s most remarkable microbiologists and naturalist photographers, Roman Vishniac was born in Pavlovsk, the Russian Empire. Within the art world, however, he is best remembered for his photojournalistic coverage of the Eastern European Jewish ghettos prior to World War II. In the late 1930s, Vishniac was commissioned […]

July 21

Herbert M. McLuhan, Creator of The Global Village

On the 21st of July 1911, Herbert Marshall McLuhan was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is considered one of the foremost theorists on the subject of mass media, including television and computer technology.  He coined the expressions ‘the medium in the message’ and ‘the global village’, and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty […]

July 01

Buckminster Fuller on Childhood and Education

On the 1st of July 1983, American neo-futuristic architect, system theorist, designer and inventor Buckminster Fuller died in Los Angeles, California. The man who used to launch his lectures by introducing himself as “the world’s most successful failure” was in fact one of the most brilliant and nonconformist minds of the twentieth century. Expelled from […]

June 30

Showmanship and Mass Frenzy: Blondin’s Niagara Stunt

On the 30th of June 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. “About 25,000 thrill-seekers arrived by train and steamer and dispersed on the American or Canadian side of the falls (…) Both banks grew “fairly black” with swarms of spectators, among them statesmen, judges, clerics, generals, members of Congress, capitalists, […]