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Al Capone reborn


Hi everyone. I am Peter and I would love to hear your comments on any of my images. I am always keen to learn from others
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Al Capone reborn

5 Aug 2015 3:49PM   Views : 934 Unique : 470

Remember all the films about American gangsters - Al Capone, Lucky Luciano etc. Think Boardwalk Empire and you will get the picture. Well that is an era that has always fascinated me.

I have always been interested in Social History. Even at school ( a long long time ago now Sad ) I can remember thinking " Ok so the king was killing the French at Agincourt, but what were ordinary people doing ? What was their working day like ? What did they do for fun ?". That interest has always stuck with me. It is a filter through which I always view periods of history.

And so with the prohibition period and the height of the American gangster era. What were the social attitudes then ? When they weren't killing each other with machine guns, just what was going through the minds of people in the period. There was no TV so we have to get a visual idea of the social context from the visual arts. For me that essentially says Art Deco.


Art Deco wasn't just painting geometric shapes and statues of naked ladies on lamp stands. Much of the architecture that preceded the post War "slum clearance by building new concrete slums", was a golden age. Think of the buildings - The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, The Dunlop Building in the West Midlands, The roadside cafes that became the bikers haunts, or even the local Odeon cinemas. These were all Art Deco designed.

Think of the jewel encrusted jewelry of the period. Not just wearable jewelry, but also the silver encrusted lighters and cigarette cases. Think of all of the posters of the era, with their sleek smooth lined steam trains and cruise liners. Think of the streamlined shapes of the big cars of the period. It was pure extravagance. Anything was possible.The world view of the future was overwhelmingly positive. It was a period of hope


Compare this to the start of this millennium. Economy growing. People with money to spend. There was no alcohol ban but the use of illegal drugs for social consumption in shady places was never higher. Organised crime was growing - gangster shootings in Manchester, Birmingham, London.

Lots of parallels between these two periods, but for me the key one was the way it ended. Just as the Great wall Street Crash ended the period of extravagance and a period of austerity took hold and led to a period of War everywhere you looked, so it has been in this repeat. Banking Crash, Austerity Government, Mortgages not able to cover repayments throwing people out onto the streets ( Did you ever read the Grapes of Wrath ?). It is all here now. As for the wars everywhere, was the Nazi State so different from the Islamic State ?

It is easy to get caught up in the dull, relentlessly depressive emotions of our current period of austerity, but I for one am determined to look back on the happier times ( when Oasis were singing "Don't look back in Anger" ) both of our present and of the Art Deco period.


So look out for more of my images created to remember the good times.

Now I bet some of you have different versions of this particular "Historical parallel". Let me know in your comments.


Tags: Design A Buildings History Art deco Gangsters

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