Ziegfeld Follies girl Anita Page poses in “costume” with a huge scimitar in this risque 1920s promo photo.
Rare taxidermy of conjoined Siamese twin lambs with one head and two bodies.
The grim works of Edward Gorey have garnered a cult following, but no one knew quite what to think when his manuscripts first started landing on the desks of publishers in the 1950s. According to this article, when Gorey’s “The Loathsome Couple” hit the desk of Simon & Schuster editor Robert Gottlieb, it was rejected for not being funny. Gorey replied, “Well, Bob, it wasn’t supposed to be funny; what a peculiar reaction.”
One of Gorey’s strangest works is “The Curious Sofa,” a pornographic tale of horror about a sofa written under the pen name Ogdred Weary. The Curious Sofa dances discretely, almost mundanely around bizarre and obscure perversions, evident in the line “Still later Gerald did a terrible thing to Elsie with a saucepan.”
“My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that’s what the world is like.” – Edward Gorey, Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey
Controversial Norwegian artist Morten Viskum uses severed hands as paintbrushes for his series called “The Hand that Never Stopped Painting.”
The Hand with the Golden Ring (2010)
Upon his request in a detailed letter attached to his will, the body of British philosopher Jeremy Bentham was dissected and preserved after his death in 1832 by his disciple Thomas Southwood Smith. The head and skeleton were placed in a wooden cabinet Bentham called the “Auto-icon.” The skeleton was dressed in Bentham’s clothes and padded with hay.
The Auto-icon was intended to incorporate Bentham’s actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. However, Southwood Smith’s experimental efforts at mummification, based on practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand, left the head looking distastefully macabre with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull. The Auto-icon was therefore given a wax head fitted with some of Bentham’s own hair.
The real head was displayed for many years, but was locked away after it became the target of repeated student pranks at the University College London, who acquired the Auto-icon in 1850.
A 360-degree ‘Virtual Auto-Icon’ is available at the UCL Bentham Project website.