The Other Car Guy Who Was a Nazi: Survey 7: The First Mercedes

(Don’t worry, he wasn’t a full Nazi yet)

Daimler-Benz (who became a Nazi later–closer to the 1930’s) and his company invented the first petrol powered car; 35-HP Mercedes. Unfortunately Daimler died shortly before the perfection of the vehicle, but was present in the beginning projects and was directly involved in the prototypes that lead up to it.

The BPM is regarded as the first production car. In lamens terms for those of us who don’t know anything about cars, is a vehicle designed to be propelled by an internal combustion engine like we have today. Gone were the days of horse-drawn carriages and stepping in questionable mud puddles on the cobblestone streets: you now had the option to drive. Compared to other vehicles, the 35-HP was lightweight, and had a low centre of gravity, making it safer than previous engine powered models of the time., when speaking about the revolutionary quality of the 35-HP, states: “It signals the end for the carriages used in automobile manufacturing. The development of this pioneering design, which is considered to the first modern automobile,

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Prior to the 35-HP, however, Mercedes came up with an engine powered “omnibus.” To the general public nowadays, it looks a lot like an incomplete 35-HP. It appears as if the front was completely ripped off and unfinished, but hey, if it gets you where you need to go, who cares? It somewhat resembles an industrialized version of Cinderella’s carriage (displayed below. I have a point.)

Mercedes-Benz: Corporate history.

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The reason I make that comparison is not null.  This actually does serve a purpose: you can really see between the two how heavily influenced the first engine powered vehicles were by horse drawn carriages. This progression is also where the term “horsepower” comes from.

Although the 35-HP was a highly innovative and world changing invention, it is easy to see the progression as to how it arrived in society. This also was the stepping stone for the Ford Model T, one of the most consumer friendly cars in history, and one that made more of an impact on transportation due to its extreme availability. It goes without denial that the 35-HP set the standard and foundation for motorized vehicles going forward into the 20th century.

To address the Nazi thing: Mercedes Benz’s  was known for employing civilian labor, prisoners of war, and concentration camp internees during war times in his factories.  Mercedes approximate 65 000 employees consisted largely of this demographic. After the war, they did admit to  Nazi affiliations.


Lecture Summary: Survey 7

This weeks lecture covered the time span of 1905 to 1915, and discussed in depth the profound effect that modernism, expressionism, Japanism, and other artistic influences had on architecture and social discussions. We touched on “The Armory Show,” a modern art show in New York that displayed huge names in several different genres of art. I found it fascinating how intense the public’s reaction to it was.  It always confuses me that work that we know now as iconic and monumental was so often hated in the original time of it’s debut. We see this all throughout history, and it makes me question what will be the standing legacy of our time? Will it be the things that we as artists support, or the things that the public reject? What are the movements of today that will end up defining a society, and will they coincide with this phenomenon or is the view of the public changing?



Odilon Redon; A Fascinating Mind

“My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.”

~ Odilon Redon

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Odilon Redon, a frenchman, stands alone in the artistic community in his unique use of his historic inspiration and innovative immagination. He combines the brushwork of his contemporaries, the Pre-impressionists with the previous influences of the great Baroque and Rococo masters. Redon’s work is an odd combination of Francisco Goya’s otherworldly imagination and Turners’s aggressive layers of brushwork and color. Other pieces, however, maintain the simplicity of Ukio-e, while his religious interpretations compare to no other. He was a creative that the artistic audience seldom experiences, mixing the real world into the depths of his imagination; the product being a surreal journey through his psyche. Redon heavily employed symbolism, and his paintings contained complex meanings that are still debated and pondered over.

“Muse on Pegasus”

“Redon’s work represents an exploration of his internal feelings and psyche. He himself wanted to “place the visible at the service of the invisible”; thus, although his work seems filled with strange beings and grotesque dichotomies, his aim was to represent pictorially the ghosts of his own mind.”

Redon was native to Bordeaux, France, and had always been entwined with the arts. From the times of grade school he was recognized for his innate ability for draftsmanship. He would later join the war. Upon Redon’s return, his reputation would lay dormant for a number of years. It was an appearance in a  novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans, titles “Against Nature” that thrust Redon into the public eye. Oddly enough, Redon was celebrated within the artistic community and would recieve the Legion of Honor in 1903.  Acceptance and support was an extreme luxury for him, as many of his contemporaries were heavily criticized to the point of public rejection.

Redon did many works under this title, ranging in topics, composition, and subject matter.

“Christ and his Disciples”



I myself harbor a love for all things odd and strange, that defy category and speak volumes on their subject regardless of their given context, and Redon does exactly this for me. His work ranges from extremely complex to the simplest of color palettes and subject matter, and I cannot help but appreciate such a versatile artist. Apparition is an excellent example of how Redon molded the real world (recognizable figures like the butterflies and two figures on the right) combine with abstract shapes of his own mind.For myself, his art almost works as a precursor for surrealism, one of my favorite times in art history. I adore his use of colors and textures, and his religious works resonate deeply with me. This is hard to achieve with me, as I have no religious interest or background, but Redon’s renditions of the Biblical features (featured above) seem real for the first time. (Yes, this includes Caravaggio’s Jesus, even Grunewald’s Madonnas. I suppose Redon is the first one to make them seem flawed, raw, and emotional, rather than stagnant and completely void of sin, like real people are.)

“Poet’s Dream”


Bad Bitches of the 20th Century: The Suffragettes of Canada, Survey 6

Women’s suffrage in Canada was a long fought battle that yielded little results for many years. Suffragettes of the time had many issues to tackle, the first of which was the need to become “people” (a problem that wouldn’t be addressed until the later date of 1929). Full citizenship was granted to men in the mid-19th century, but explicitly excluded female voters. Like I said, women had many a battle to tackle, but they decided to start with the issue of voting, to give them a platform to influence social reform. By the end of the 19th century it was clear that there were several layers of social reform that needed to occur internationally pertaining to female treatment and their position in society.

“Suffragists were not a homogeneous group; nor did they focus only on suffrage. Campaigns also called for improved public health, equality in employment and education, social assistance and condemnation of violence.”

~, Womens Suffrage in Canada

Suffrage in Western Canada began in the 1880s. Victoria, BC, served as a social hub for the suffragette movement. Protesting would occur often; women were not ashamed to voice their opinions. They were nothing short of desperate to. Due to the lack of definition of women as peoples, women faced discrimination in every avenue they were allowed into. Crimes against women were seldom followed through with, and violence against a women in the home was not made illegal until 1983 by the Canadian government. The issue of abuse was one of the primary driving factors for Suffragettes in America and Canada alike. To be blunt, women were tired of being beaten, raped, and abused, and wanted to do something about it as quickly and as effectively as possible.


Suffrage Meeting

“Since the earliest years of the province’s history it had been widely believed that women’s roles in society should be limited to the domestic sphere. Women did work outside of the home, often out of economic necessity, but many faced low wages, poor working conditions and even violence. In addition to discrimination in education, women were considered by many to be less rational than men and of a different temperament – excuses often given to justify their exclusion from voting and public life.”


The turn of the century experienced rage like Canada had never seen before. After a House of Commons ruling in 1885 that defined voting as only available to white male citizen Canadian minorities pushed even further to be heard.

The Suffrage Campaign 

Young University students were the first among this group to lead the newly fuelled protests going into the 1900’s, and walked behind the support of Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, one of the largest women’s groups in Canada, as well as one of the largest advocates for the suffrage movement. Additionally, figures in Central Canada spear-headed their own movements, like journalist Nellie McLung.  The Canadian Encyclopedia describes McLung as  “The Prairie movement’s dominant figure.” Her literature helped perpetuate support for the suffrage movement by shunning anti-feminists. McLung also participated in a Satirical mock-parliament piece (alongside  A.V. Thomas, F.J. Dixon, Amelia Burritt, Dr. Mary Crawford) in which they debated whether to give men the vote. Women separately found support in the farming, labour, and social gospel movements.

Nellie McLung

Political Equality League Presents Petition, 1915

The Women of the Satirical piece: “Political Equality League Presents Petition, 1915,” that debated over the right of men in the voting sphere.

Success! Kind Of!

January 16th, 1916, Manitoba is the first province to grant women the right to vote. Although viewed as a monumental success, it was still 16 years after the suffragette movement began. Saskatchewan followed suit and passed the women’s vote in 1916 under a liberal government. As for our lovely British Columbia, the Canadian encyclopedia states that “British Columbia was the only jurisdiction in Canada to put women’s suffrage to a referendum of male voters, during the provincial election of 1916. Bolstered by the favourable results (43,619 to 18,604 ballots), the new Liberal government approved women’s suffrage on 5 April 1917.”

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A 1917 poster advocating for suffrage in the East, comparing the levels of successful areas of North America.

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Women protesting in the Maritimes after women in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and BC are given the right to vote.

1917 finally saw Ontario catch up to the West, and on May 24th of 1918 women were allowed to vote in federal elections. HOWEVER, all was not won. The law still restricted indigenous, Asian, younger than 21, and women without citizenship from voting. Quebec Women had to wait until the absurd date of April 25th, 1940 to finally partake in elections. Those excluded in the federal bill of women’s voting rights waited much longer than their white Canadian counterparts. It was not until the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by John Humphries) introduced in 1948 that people of “foreign” heritages could vote. Lastly, indigenous women were still banned from voting until only 58 years ago in 1960.

Lecture Summary

This week we covered “Dreams and Designers,” and we covered the years 1895 to 1905. We spoke about Women’s suffrage, obviously, as well as the aftermath of the Victorian Era and the progression of the Art Nouveau movement. I personally was enthralled with the idea of art the pre-cursors to modern art. The movement of symbolism and the beginning of the “emotional artist” is something that resonates with me. Architecture is not something that I particularly take care to notice, but the period of art nouveau particularly caught my eye. The one domed red glass ceiling especially made me take interest!….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0._CQFlflgj8w

History Spread Rational: Survey 4

In regards to my spread, I’d like to say I did a good job. Considering that I am foreign to the idea of typography and type heavy design, I was very happy with the way that I was able to incorporate text and decorative elements in a way that resembled the crowded style of the book design era, but still keep things clear and concise. However, one thing that I would change would be the spacing between the border and between the sections of text. I used gouache to keep a color that was bright but not too overwhelming, and I modeled the whole concept after Fust and Schuffer’s  “Latin mainz Psalter”, as well as William Caxton’s “Recuyell of the Histories of Troye”.

Sure It’s Shiny…But was it worth it? The Crystal Palace vs. the MLC Crystal, Survey 5

The Crystal Palace

On the heels of the industrial revolution, the amount of product and merchandise was at a monumental height. All over the world, people were producing consumer goods. India was prolific for it’s printed luxury fabric and rugs, while Japan was fresh on the scene with Ukio-e prints and obsession-inspiring accessories. Today, we have museums to exhibit interesting worldly items like these.

Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria, decided that the rest of London should be able to experience the phenomenon that was worldly culture. It was the first World’s Fair of 1851, titled “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” that gave cause to the construction of one of the most extraordinary buildings of the Victorian era.

The Crystal Palace was designed to house the World Expo, starting construction in 1850. It was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, a resident greenhouse builder.The building was an odd combination of iron and glass. Brittanica .com states the staggering dimensions of the building, citing;

” It consisted of an intricate network of slender iron rods sustaining walls of clear glass. The main body of the building was 1,848 feet (563 metres) long and 408 feet (124 metres) wide; the height of the central transept was 108 feet (33 metres). The construction occupied some 18 acres (7 hectares) on the ground, while its total floor area was about 990,000 square feet (92,000 square metres, or about 23 acres [9 hectares]). On the ground floor and galleries there were more than 8 miles (13 km) of display tables.”

A full view of the Crystal Palace after being moved to Sydenham.

To give you an idea, the Palace of Versailles covers a total area of 63,154 m2, while the Crystal Palace covers a whopping 92000. The glass was chosen to due Paxton’s background with greenhouses, and the lifting of the glass tax a few years prior allowed the 300 000 large sheets (fabricated in the largest size ever made) to be obtained easily and at a much lower cost. The total cost of the building was approximately 2 million euros, which in today’s cost would

Blueprints for the Front arch of the Crystal Palace.

The building process was as follows (as per

  • Work started in August 1850. First, the whole site was enclosed with hoardings
  • Trenches were dug
  • Then the concrete foundation was laid
  • Underground iron pipes formed the base for the columns
  • By the end of October workmen were raising 200 columns a week
  • At the same time, girders were added to support the galleries and roof
  • The most difficult part of the job was hoisting the main ribs for the transept roof
  • All 16 were fixed in one week
  • The height of the roof was designed to leave the trees undisturbed
  • The roof for the main part of the building was added
  • Glazing wagons ran in grooves in the gutters
  • In one week 80 men put in over 18,000 panes of glass
  • The boards from the hoardings were used to make the floor
  • The interior was painted red, yellow and blue
  • The Great Exhibition opened in the Crystal Palace on 1 May 1851.”

An arial drawing of the Crystal Palace by Charles Burton

After years of glorious shows and exhibitions, the Crystal palace was brought down by a number of forces. November 30th, 1936, 85 years after the vision of the World Exposition came to life, The Crystal Palace was destroyed by a fire. The majority of the Palace was completely ruined, and shortly after all that remained was again ruined by war explosives (1941). All the money and hard work proved obsolete: the cost of reconstruction was deemed unrealistic during wartimes and it was never rebuilt.

The Michael Lee Chin Crystal –  The Royal Ontario Museum

A modern day equivalent of this architectural, gem-like masterpiece could be hard to find. The Louvre is a similar structure, but was done similar to the time of the Crystal Palace. Canada holds a unique gem in the world of museum architecture; and I mean that quite literally.

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The traditional building next to the new Crystal addition, added and completed in 2007.

The Royal Ontario Museum is home to the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, an architectural and visual marvel. Inspired by it’s namesakes natural gem collection, the Crystal Palace and the M.L.C Crystal share many similar qualities in that respect.

The Royal Ontario Museum speaks on it’s new addition (added in 2007), highlighting what a feat it was to create. On their website, they state:

“Considered to be one of the most challenging construction projects in North America for its engineering complexity and innovative methods, the Lee-Chin Crystal is composed of five interlocking, self-supporting prismatic structures that co-exist but are not attached to the original ROM building, except for the bridges that link them…

The original concept art of the Crystal, done on a napkin.

The exterior is 25% glass and 75% extruded-brushed, aluminum-cladding strips in a warm silver colour. The steel beams, each unique in its design and manufacture and ranging from 1 to 25 metres in length, were lifted one by one to their specific angle, creating complicated angle joints, sloped walls, and gallery ceilings. Approximately 3,500 tons of steel and 38 tons of bolts were used to create the skeleton, and roughly 9,000 cubic metres of concrete were poured.”

The biggest difference between the two, besides the obvious juxtaposing forms, would be the materials. The Crystal palace was composed almost entirely of glass and iron, while the M.L.C. Crystal features aluminum and steel.

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A full view of the Crystal.

However, the success that the Crystal Palace experienced was not shared by the M.L.C. Crystal. People hate this thing.  “Revisiting Canada’s Most Hated Building,” “The Crystal Not Necessarily an Attraction,” and my personal favourite, “Toronto Still Not sure if it Likes the Crystal Or Not,” were just a few of the titles that came up with a quick google search. The Crystal Palace was a massive success; people viewed it as a marvel of it’s time and as a beautiful addition to London. The MLC Crystal, although modern and innovative and just as much of an architectural marvel is widely disliked. Some even want it taken down completely. The $30 million addition might not be worth it in the eyes of the public after all, perhaps they would have preferred the Victorian Crystal Palace instead of their own.

Lecture Summary:

This week’s lecture covered many things, but the one that stood out to me the most was the first world fair, better known as the Great Exposition. The Crystal Palace was created with the sole purpose of housing the World Fair, and I find it appalling that such a beautiful and intensive structure was taken down multiple times. Yes, I understand that it was a bomb threat, but still. Also, a worlds fair! How cool! The middle class world for the first time was able to see what living elsewhere was like, and I can only imagine the art that came out of Europe after this event. Imagine being in London, creating your traditional art, and then seeing all of this mind blowing shit all in one room. Crazy. I love lectures even more the more we progress through the years, because we get to see photos of people living their lives! It’s so much easier to grasp the information and empathize now that we have real images of people and what they were experiencing.