Hey, look at the dummies!
August 29, 2004 3:10 AM   Subscribe

Tragic Beauties: antique wax mannequins. "Unlike the frozen, lifeless mannequins of today, these European busts were posed for, many at the turn of the century, by flesh and blood women". (I'm not sure how this one found it's way in there.)
posted by taz (21 comments total)
This makes no sense, but it is the middle of the night here, I am sitting by myself, and looking at these pictures completely creeped me out. Not going into the other room now. Nope.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:17 AM on August 29, 2004

This post reminded me that I always meant to check ebay to see if I could buy a simple mannequin; I do quite a bit of T-Shirt airbrushing and wanted to work on a 3-D torso surface, rather than pinning it to my trusty plywood form board. Found some truly bizarre stuff a wee bit out of my price range.
posted by RavinDave at 3:30 AM on August 29, 2004

By the way, according to this International Herald Tribune article:
Trendspotters working on visual conventions predict that mannequins will become more abstract in the way they convey women's bodies, perhaps simplifying their forms to the point where they become mere suggestions of female form: an arc for shoulders, two cones for the bust and another arc, perhaps in foam rubber, for hips.
Kind of sad. I searched and searched, but could find no mannequin museum on the web - can you believe it? It seems like an internet natural. Also no luck on a history of mannequins; I found one article, but it was a pay-subscription site. This paucity of online mannequin cuilture is shocking!
posted by taz at 3:37 AM on August 29, 2004

Actually, Dave, I don't blame you.
posted by taz at 3:40 AM on August 29, 2004

Oops, sorry! The above remark should have been directed to Joey! But Dave, your Ebay idea gave me a thought: searching "vintage mannequin" brings up quite a few results.

Ebay: the de facto revolving-exhibit internet museum.
posted by taz at 3:49 AM on August 29, 2004

Along the same lines ... mondo creepy.
posted by RavinDave at 3:50 AM on August 29, 2004

Mannequins are *inherently* creepy.

I've seen angular, abstract mannequins like these here in Raleigh, Taz. It makes sense from a cost perspective, if nothing else.
posted by mediareport at 6:42 AM on August 29, 2004

Dave -- find a store that's closing down. They'll usually give you a mannequin for cheap.

There was a mannequin shoproom that I'd pass by on my way home from school when I was in high school -- god, I wish I had gone in and bought one...
posted by Katemonkey at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2004

Great site taz!
For those who aren't sufficiently haunted, photographer Daniel Morduchowicz has a spooky mannequin portfolio with some great shots - flash site, select portfolio/ fine art / mannequins.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:55 AM on August 29, 2004

very creepy, but cool--they were much more non-generic then. And that Twilight Zone ep is a classic.
posted by amberglow at 8:52 AM on August 29, 2004

I cannot belive no one has mentioned this documentary yet.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 8:57 AM on August 29, 2004

Lovely post, taz, as usual :). Looking at these images, and others I've been running across in the past couple of weeks makes me wonder about something. Was the cupid's bow mouth morphologically more prominent then, or was it just 'the look,' natural to a few, aspired to by many and achieved with cosmetics?
posted by Lynsey at 11:33 AM on August 29, 2004

Wow. Portrait of Sarek as a young Vulcan?
posted by alumshubby at 12:43 PM on August 29, 2004

[Via Boing]?
posted by milovoo at 12:48 PM on August 29, 2004

Good question, Lynsey. I'm pretty sure it's a makeup-thing. I was thinking that Clara Bow popularized the look, but when I look at actresses like Theda Bara and Lillian Gish, who preceded her by a few years, "those lips" were already obvious. But look at this portrait of Mary Pickford, for example, and then this one. In the first, her lips are natural, and in the second a good bit of artistry has evidently been used to get that perfect small-cupids-bow-mouth-beestung-lips look. also, Norma Talmadge: here, and here.

(Also interesting: look at this page of silent actresses. Almost all have "the lips". Now, look at this page of German silent film actresses. Not so much.)
posted by taz at 12:54 PM on August 29, 2004

Actually, milovoo, I came across it while looking for some Greek images. The photographer has some Greek island photos here.
posted by taz at 12:59 PM on August 29, 2004

It's not just the lips. Anyone else notice how much fuller those faces are? No razor-sharp cheekbones then...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:00 PM on August 29, 2004

Ah, but the Greek KOUROS/KOUROI smile. I envy you Taz.
posted by semmi at 3:04 PM on August 29, 2004

a different kind of tragedy...

kraftwerk, today, posing with their mannequin counterparts of old.
posted by sunexplodes at 7:26 PM on August 29, 2004

These are magnificent. Like Dave, at one point I wanted 3 or 4 mannequins to do an art piece I had in mind...but between the cost of the mannequins and the logistics of placement, the sculpture never got done...

These mannequins, however are awe inspiring, and I'd feel terrible about doing to them what I had in mind for the little plastic bodies on display at fine department stores everywhere. ;)
posted by dejah420 at 7:44 AM on August 30, 2004

Utterly hideous.
posted by ed\26h at 1:54 AM on August 31, 2004

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