Taschen's collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous

If you want to spend the Fourth of July long weekend being transported to a world of vintage wonder, you should seriously consider picking up Magic: 1400s-1950s, a brand new book from the art-book powerhouse Taschen. Check out some exclusive artwork from the book below.

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Top image: Courtesy of the Christian Fechner Collection

Magic: 1400s-1950s is just what it sounds like: an overview of magicians from late Medieval manuscripts to the period just after World War II. The text is lovely, with essays and captions by Mike Caveney and Jim Steinmeyer that illuminate just how magicians were innovating in the field of special effects — and razzle dazzle — over a more than 500-year period. We learn that "magic is the oldest performing art," going back to the Egyptian pharoahs, and we discover why so many magicians wanted to surround themselves with mystical glamour and quasi-Satanic demon imagery.

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But really, the star of the book is the artwork, which you could easily lose a few hours in paging through and noticing weird little details. There are page after page packed with images, many of them just like the cover of Glen Gold's Carter Beats the Devil. We're incredibly stoked to be able to feature some of the artwork here, including a couple of images that are featured exclusively at io9, including the full version of the one up top:

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous

Kellar, Levitation, Courtesy of the Ken Klosterman Collection

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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Poster for American mindreading star Alexander, 1915, Courtesy of Mike Caveney’s Egyptian Hall Museum

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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Strobridge Lithograph Co. poster of the famous American magician Howard Thurston being tutored by demons and goblins, 1916, Courtesy of the George and Sandy Daily Collection.

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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Strobridge Lithograph Co. poster of Harry Houdini’s famous Water Torture Cell, 1916. Courtesy of the George and Sandy Daily Collection

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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Photograph of the Mexican magician Professor Herrmann sawing a lady in half, 1923. Courtesy of Mike Caveney’s Egyptian Hall Museum.

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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Spirit photograph of the Dutch magician E. Chambly, ca. 1890. Courtesy of the Chrisitan Fechner Collection.

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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Strobridge Lithograph Co. poster of famous American magician Howard Thurston, 1915. Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Illustration for article titled Taschens collection of classic magician art is sinister and wondrous
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DISCUSSION

I notice this article lists a $200 printing of this book. That was for the 2009 edition. The more recent one runs about $43. A bargain!