Thursday, January 13, 2011

13 January 1957 “A Do It Yourself Coffee Table and Clowns:Once The Darling of The 1950’s”

doityourselftable1 I thought I would share this lovely little ‘Do-it-yourself’ idea from one of my magazines. It is a very clever mid-century modern design for a coffee table, utilizing a door. I think it could also be made more Early American by some clever painting or decoupage techniques. Or, simply paint it a solid color. I think it would be fun to attach some metal office baskets underneath (you could do this easily when it is turned upside down) so you could store magazines and things underneath out of sight, but easy to get to.doityourselftable2
In the 1950’s and earlier, the clown was seen as an endearing character. Usually funny and jovial, though sometimes a sad clown, it represented the fun and excitement of the circus.
Here is a kid’s show featuring a Clown from the early 1950’s:
Clowns played a major role in graphic arts/advertising, children’s books, fabric, wrapping paper, even household items such as lamps and chairs. Even Food was often given these delightful creatures as a theme.clowncupcakesclowncake
batteryclowntoyThese battery operated toys were very popular during the 1950’s. And of course, the clown played a major role here as well.
clowninthebox The fear of clowns must have come after the 1970’s because I recall, as a small child in the late 70’s, having one of these type of Jack in the box with the clown face.
  These Hazel Atlas Milk Glass tumblers and Cookie jars are Kitsch today, but the bright colors exemplify the 1950’s kitchen palete of red/pinks, soft blue/teal, yellow and red. clownmilkglass  They show that the clown was not meant only for children. Many a homemaker would have been proud to have these in her kitchen.clownteaset These, to my modern sensibilities, are a bit more menacing.clownhamburgers Before Ronald, Clowns were still considered good fodder to sell food.1957clownpatternAnd toy clowns abound during this decade. This McCall’s pattern features one as part of this sew your own toy collection. To my old modern sensibilities he almost has a sinister grin, but I think this is due to my modern view of clowns.
craftclownCertainly Clowns played a major role as a ‘go-to character’ in arts and crafts. (This thanks to Kitschy Kitschy Koo)clowngame  And toys such as these would have been happily received and possibly wrapped in papers such as this. clownwrappingpaper
Today, many of us have a very different view of the clown. We often view them as kitsch or sometimes even menacing and evil. That is probably due to the Poltergeist films where a toy clown attacks the family. There is also the horror writer Stephen King to thank for menacing clowns as well. I am not sure why they recieved that eventual position in the collection of frightening creatures. That is of course unless those children of the 1950’s (who King and Spielberg certainly were) had nightmarish moments as children with toys or bedroom furniture.
Though this looks darling to me clownlamp it might have frigtened King or Speilberg late at night, with the long shadows cutting across it. Or perhaps the moonlight hit thisclowndoll just so, and nightmares ensued.
We do know that the Clown was one of the major choices for children’s Halloween costumes, both in the happy varietysimplicityclowncostume clowncostume and the clown’s wayward cousin, the HOBO hobo .
Even the art world was subject to these characters as we see in this 1955 painting by the artist Bernard Buffet. bernardbuffetclowns He was a French Expressionist and was a member of the anti-abstract group "L 'homme Témoin”. I suppose the irreverence of representational art in the form of the clown was their way to counter the growing popularity of Abstraction in the 1950’s.abstraction
Since that time, the clown has made many appearances in art, often with much irony or again with the ability to menace either out of fear or fear of good taste.
Any way you slice it, the clown elicits some response. There is no middle ground for these bright characters. You either coil in fear, raise your nose in disgust of Kitsch, or hold out your arms in a ‘Gimme Gimme’ stance, wanting to take them home with you.
I have a love hate relationship now after living two years in the 1950’s. My once clean cut hatred has become a see saw response of joy and disgust. Again, a response for sure, no hum-drum indifference.
How do clowns make you feel?
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