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Left: NY, Morgan, MS G.24, fol. 25v / Right: British Library, Add 62925, fol. 67r

5 Very Weird Themes in Medieval Manuscripts

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Left: NY, Morgan, MS G.24, fol. 25v / Right: British Library, Add 62925, fol. 67r

Every generation thinks they were the ones to invent the fart joke. The truth is that people have been laughing about bodily functions—and other low-hanging humor fruit—for a long, long time, even in the margins of medieval texts. (Fair warning: Some of these images are legitimately R-rated.)


Contradictory though it may seem, the margins of religious texts were a perfect and popular place for crude humor during the Middle Ages. If the scripture was king, the margins were its jester, poking holes in the text's (or author’s) grandeur and commenting pointedly on issues of the day. Some of that commentary was nuanced or couched in metaphors. The poop drawings … a little less so.


Image Credit: British Library, Royal MS 10 E IV

Art and religious historians have debated this one for centuries. Some theorize that the snail and its trail of slime represent death; others think it signifies the Resurrection. Some believe it’s a metaphor for the lower class and their struggle against the armored aristocracy. Still others think scribes liked snails because, well, they kind of look like penises. Which brings us to our next item ...


Image Credit: Lyon, Bibliothèque municipale, Ms 5128, fol. 100r

So. Many. Penises.


Image Credit: British Library, Yates Thompson 8, f. 294r.

Margin art was a complex, labor-intensive game for both reader and scribe, as symbolic as any family crest. Lions had one meaning and monkeys another, as did their behavior and placement on the page. Illuminators swiped existing symbols and appropriated them for new, bizarre uses. If all this sounds familiar, it’s because we're still doing it.


Image Credit: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Monty Python may have made illuminated butt trumpets famous, but they certainly didn’t invent them. No, those very special instruments came straight from the borders of religious texts, where they lay for centuries, amplifying and directing farts right into the holy gospels.

(Need more marginal mayhem? Check out Discarding Images on tumblr.)

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WASProject via Flickr
The World’s First 3D-Printed Opera Set Is Coming to Rome
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WASProject via Flickr

In October, the Opera Theater in Rome will become the first theater to play host to a 3D-printed set in one of its operas. The theater’s performance of the 19th-century opera Fra Diavolo by French composer Daniel Auber, opening on October 8, will feature set pieces printed by the Italian 3D-printing company WASP, as TREND HUNTER reports.

Set designers have been using 3D printers to make small-scale set models for years, but WASP says this seems to be the first full 3D-printed set. (The company is also building a 3D-printed town elsewhere in Italy, to give you a sense of its ambitions for its technology.)

Designers stand around a white 3D-printed model of a theater set featuring warped buildings.

The Fra Diavolo set consists of what looks like two warped historic buildings, which WASP likens to a Dalí painting. These buildings are made of 223 smaller pieces. It took five printers working full-time for three months to complete the job. The pieces were sent to Rome in mid-July in preparation for the opera.

Recently, 3D printing is taking over everything from housing construction to breakfast. If you can make an office building with a printer, why not a theater set? (Though it should be noted that the labor unions that represent scenic artists might disagree.)


Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama to Launch Her Own Museum in Tokyo

Still haven’t scored tickets to see Yayoi Kusama’s world-famous “Infinity Mirrors” exhibition? The touring retrospective ends at the Cleveland Museum of Art in October 2018, but art fans who are planning a trip to Japan can also enjoy Kusama's dizzying, colorful aesthetic by visiting a brand-new museum in Tokyo.

As The New York Times reports, Kusama has announced that she's opening her own art museum in the city’s Shinjuku neighborhood. Slated to open on October 1, 2017, it’s dedicated to the artist’s life and work, and includes a reading room, a floor with installation works—including her “infinity rooms”—and two annual rotating exhibitions. The inaugural exhibition, “Creation Is a Solitary Pursuit, Love Is What Brings You Closer to Art,” will display works from Kusama’s painting series "My Eternal Soul.”

Kusama is famously enigmatic, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that news broke just recently that she was planning to launch a museum. The five-floor building was completed in 2014, according to artnet News, but Kusama wanted to keep plans under wraps “as a surprise for her fans,” a gallery spokesperson said.

Museum tickets cost around $9, and will go on sale on August 28, 2017. The museum will be closed Monday through Wednesday and visits are limited to 90 minutes, so plan your schedule accordingly.

[h/t The New York Times]


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