Use of Vintage Imagery

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Late 19th-century botany books, vintage pin-ups, antique maps, circus posters, and etchings of once-novel machines like the phonograph or stereoscope—these relics of past visual cultures fascinate many artists working today. This tendency has its roots in the work of American collagist Joseph Cornell, who in the 1930s frequented used bookstores and antique shops in search of arcane printed matter and historical curios for his works. Emerging from a tendency toward assemblage in 1950s San Francisco, Bruce Conner, long an enthusiast of popular art from the late 19th century, created a series of collages that brought together vintage printed sources. From the “twee,” old-timely world of filmmaker Wes Anderson to the popularity of cursive fonts and handle-bar mustaches, this antiquarian sensibility continues to resonate in contemporary culture at large.

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