Mondo Bizarro Jun 23 2020
WHO'S MINDING THE RESTORER?
Another valuable Spanish painting is ruined by someone who's all thumbs and no skills.


Spanish art restorers are in the news for the wrong reasons again. You may remember the infamous Ecce Homo disfigurement—the early 20th century fresco by Elías García Martínez that was ruined by amateur restorer Cecilia Giménez. The restoration, which took place in the town of Borja, was so botched that many Spaniards stopped referring to the painting as Ecce Homo—“Behold Man”—in favor of Ecce Mono—“Behold Monkey.” We've posted its Christ figure, angelic before, and afflicted after, below. We think the name change fits, though we think the after Christ also looks a bit like Leatherface.

The Ecce Homo fiasco soon grew to exemplify the divergent incentives of the modern world. The painting was destroyed. Its destruction turned the painting and the town of Borja into a tourist attraction. The restorer now claims she's proud of her work because of the money that tourists bring which can be used for good causes. The fact that these calamity tourists are posing with the painting only because it looks like Giménez restored it using a brush held between her ass cheeks is now immaterial. Only money matters. The money made has absolved her of responsibility for ruining the art.

The latest incident involves a more-than-century-old copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's baroque painting La Inmaculada del Escorial, which you see at top. An art collector in Valencia hired a furniture restorer to clean the painting, but the face of the Virgin Mary was damaged. The collector then hired an art restorer to repair the damage, was forced to hire a second to fix the damage done by the first, and, well, see below. Now look up top again. Now look below.
Yeah, that actually happened. We can't figure out how the second restorer made the painting look even less like the original than the first restorer. Did they not understand why they had been hired? These paintings aren't pulp art, but their destruction is like something from a comical crime novel. Not surprisingly, some Spaniards also consider these blunders criminal, and are now calling for regulation of the art restoration sector, and who can blame them?

Spanish art experts say botched restorations are more common than people know. We searched around and found a couple more, also hilariously awful (see the sculpture of St. George from the town of Estella, below). Generally, these incidents only become public when they're reported to the press or on social media, which isn't the norm, considering the embarrassment involved. But we can't help wondering if, going forward, ancient artworks will be deliberately ruined as a ploy to generate calamity tourism. We wouldn't put it past people. Maybe Behold Monkey should be renamed again, to Behold Money. Maybe Jesus has shown the way—to financial salvation.

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Sportswire Dec 20 2014
FUTBOL WEEKENDS
For a little while at least, sports can bring a nation together.

The art deco influenced fútbol poster above, which is signed in its lower right corner by an artist whose identity is unknown to us, advertises a  match between top flight Spanish sides Valencia F.C. and Real Madrid at Valencia’s Estadio de Mestalla. Months earlier Spain had become a republic after years of dictatorship under Miguel Primo de Rivera, and was about to enter into a period of unrest and rising fascism, leading to civil war and decades more dictatorship under Francisco Franco. But on this particular winter Sunday in Valencia the sole battle took place on the pitch at Mestalla. The star player on the field was Manuel Olivares Lapeña, who you see at right, but it was Jaime Lazcano Escolá and Juan Costa Font who netted goals that day. The game ended in a 1-1 draw—a triumph for a Valencia squad languishing at the bottom third of the table. But Real Madrid won the league.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 18 2014
SPACE INVADERS
Spain conquers the cosmos.

Above, assorted covers of the Spanish science fiction series Luchadores del Espacio, or Space Fighters, from Editorial Valenciana, created and written by Pascual Enguídanos Usach under the pseudonym George. H. White, with other authors like Alfonso Arizmendi Regaldie, José Luis Sanchis Benet (writing as Joe Bennett), and Pedro Domingo Mutiñó (as P. Danger) also involved. Art is mostly by José Luis Macias, with a few contributions from Vicente Ibáñez Sanchís and José Lanzón Piera. A couple of these images came from audiolibrosdebolsillo (where you can download audio copies), so thanks to them. 

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Femmes Fatales Jun 12 2014
CRAYNE SHOTS
Spain is germane only if you look closely at Miss Crayne.

American actress Dani Crayne stands in front of a piece by the Valencian bullfight painter Juan Reus Parra, who signed his work J. Reus (not J. Revs, as many websites say) and was a top artist during the 1940s and 1950s. The poster advertises the Sunday bullfights at Barcelona’s impressive Moorish-Byzantine style La Monumental bullring. You would therefore think, this being a promo photo, that Crayne was shooting a movie having to do with bullfights or Spain, but she was actually filming Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend in the U.S., and it had zilch to do with bulls, Spain, or anything remotely Spanish. She is, though, wearing a somewhat Spanish outfit, and she looks great in it, so that must be the connection. The photo dates from 1957.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 12 2009
ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN
Pistolero loses second eye demonstrating how he lost the first.

This guy is just asking for it, right? Love the cover, though. We don’t know who painted it, but we know author Keith Luger wrote quite a few westerns and space operas for the Spanish imprint Bruguera. That makes perfect sense, because he was really Miguel Olivero Tovar from Valencia, Spain. Tovar/Luger was a big deal for about ten years, during which time he published many books, made time for a couple of screenplays, and saw three of his projects optioned into movies. More Luger books below, including one concerning Sharon Tate.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
January 19
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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