In the late 1930s, avant-garde illustrator Mahlon Blaine, working under the pseudonym G. Christopher Hudson, created a series of illustrations which were intended to become murals for the studio or showroom of noted New York City interior designer Paul MacAlister. Offering a dark and pessimistically erotic commentary on the skyscraper landscape that was taking over Manhattan, it’s unclear if Blaine and MacAlister believed these murals would ever be approved, or if the preliminary artworks were exclusively created as an oblique social satire. Blaine treated each individual painting in the series as its own completed stand alone artwork, with painstaking detail and inspired yet terrifying imagery. The series was Blaine’s last commission for some time–the following year Blaine entered psychiatric care and dropped completely out of the public eye for the better part of a decade. We are offering the complete series of ten original concept paintings, each an impressionistic story of a nude underworld goddess engaged in the horrific industry of the machine age.
In “The Toast of Manhattan” a nude goddess with serpents for hair pours a martini for a tuxedo clad robot as the adjoining stone masonry watches on disapprovingly. Even the tenements have eyes in this surrealist and inspired visionary artwork.
In the late 1930s, Blaine began work of one of his most ambitious projects (or did one of his most ambitious projects begin work on him?). With the noted interior designer Paul MacAlister, Blaine created a series of (never executed in full scale) mural studies for a proposed New York City showroom MacAlister was working on. Featuring haunting and surreal takes on the hypersexualized and industrialized culture of modernist Manhattan, the images feature giantesses in coitus with skyscrapers, and nudes on “gadgets” that seemingly demonize the ongoing machine age and warn of the perils of an industrialized modernist society.
These are some of the most detailed and colorful works that have emerged by the artist to date. Though it’s hard to imagine that even Blaine could foresee these images becoming part of the midtown Manhattan cityscape, the project gained at least some traction, and MacAlister created a 1:12 scale miniature room with his rough tempura sketches of the Blaine’s proposed murals featured in diorama.
Please visit our gallery for other examples which comprise the entire collection of the ten proposed works.