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A Moment of Silence for Marcel Marceau

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Over the years, I feel like I've seen Marcel Marceau around a lot. On PBS, in movies (he had the only speaking role in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, and also starred in Barbarella), and generally whenever the word mime is accompanied with a photo. Yet, it was only in reading about the 84 year old entertainer's death last night that I realized what a strange and wonderful life he led. Here are a few snippets pulled from other stories, on things I didn't know about Marcel Marceau:

1. He cracked weird jokes about magicians. (from salon.com)
heinz-01.jpg "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards," Marceau once said, "for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup."

2. He had some pretty big fans
. (from salon.com)
"To ensure his legacy, Marceau, after gentle prodding from colleagues, agreed to form the Marcel Marceau Foundation for the Advancement of Mime in New York. Foundation board members are an eclectic mix of stars that include Michael Jackson, Placido Domingo, Barbara Hendricks and Dustin Hoffman -- all devoted fans."

3. He's responsible for the greatest dance move of all-time. (from cnn.com)
mjmoonwalk.jpg "Michael Jackson borrowed his famous "moonwalk" from a Marceau sketch, "Walking Against the Wind."" According to Wikipedia (which seems to support the cnn quote here), in 1995, the pair were working on a concert for HBO together, but the project fell through.

4. He survived the Holocaust, was active in the French Resistance, saved Jewish children's lives, and worked with Patton's army.
(cnn)
"With his brother Alain, Marceau became active in the French Resistance. Marceau altered children's identity cards, changing their birth dates to trick the Germans into thinking they were too young to be deported. Because he spoke English, he was recruited to be a liaison officer with Gen. George S. Patton's army."

Picture 1.png5. He was famously chatty. (cnn)
"Never get a mime talking. He won't stop," he once said."
6. He was incredibly eloquent. (cnn)
"In 1944, Marceau's father was sent to Auschwitz, where he died. Later, he reflected on his father's death: "Yes, I cried for him." But he also thought of all the others killed: "Among those kids was maybe an Einstein, a Mozart, somebody who (would have) found a cancer drug," he told reporters in 2000. "That is why we have a great responsibility. Let us love one another.""

7. He's won a lot of things. (bbc and wikipedia)
He's been declared a National Treasure by Japan, received honorary doctorates from Princeton, University of Michigan and Ohio State, won countless grants and awards from the French government, and was chosen as a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations (for their Assembly on Aging).

8. And while there's plenty of reference to his vinyl "Marcel Marceau: Greatest Hits" on the internet"¦
1968_Barbarella_1.JPGKara and I couldn't find any real evidence of it. Supposedly, it's 20 minutes of silence on either side followed by clapping. Anyone have a copy of it?

Rest in peace, Marcel.

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0
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Get Your GIFs Ready for This International Public Domain GIF-Making Competition
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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0

Excellent GIF-making skills can serve you beyond material for your clever tweets. Each year, a group of four digital libraries from across the world hosts GIF IT UP, a competition to find the best animated image sourced from public domain images from their archives.

The competition is sponsored by Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), New Zealand’s DigitalNZ, and the National Library of Australia’s Trove, all of which host millions of public domain works. The requirements are that the source material must be in the public domain, have a 'no known copyright restrictions' statement, or have a Creative Commons license that allows its reuse. The material must also come from one of the sponsored sources. Oh, and judging by the past winners, it helps if it’s a little whimsical.

The image above won the grand prize in 2015. And this was a runner-up in 2016:

via GIPHY

This year’s prizes haven’t been announced yet (although Europeana says there will be a new one for first-time GIF makers), but last year’s grand prize winner got their own Giphoscope, and runners-up got $20 gift cards. (Turns out, there’s not a lot of money in public domain art.)

Not an expert GIFer yet? You can always revisit the audio version of DPLA’s advanced GIF-making tutorial from last year.

The fourth-annual GIF IT UP contest opens to submissions October 1.

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