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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.)

1. POOPING

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.

2. ATTACK SNAILS

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 ...

3. GENITALS

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

So. Many. Penises.

4. THE ANIMAL-ON-ANIMAL CAROUSEL

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.

5. BUTT TRUMPETS

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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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Made.com
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What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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