Fantastical Destinations: Beauty in Decay, Movie Art, and A Controversial Travelogue

Eleonora Costi via Atlas Obscura

Documenting the Beauty of Italy’s Abandoned Villas: The Photography of Eleonora Costi – Atlas Obscura

Abandoned places are a reliable source of wondrous imagery, juxtaposing our species’ resourcefulness in building with our tendency to lose interest in anything considered old or outmoded. In populous areas, such spaces are reclaimed in one way or another–either refurbished or demolished to make way for projects that fit with current needs. Far more fascinating, however, is what happens to abandoned buildings in more remote locations. This gradual slide into decay is captured poignantly by photographer Eleonora Costi, whose haunting work is profiled in Atlas Obscura.

Roger Corman’s “Fall of the House of Usher”


I love paintings that appear in movies. This probably accounts for my warmer-than-they-should-be feelings towards Night Gallery, a show I can admit is far less good than Twilight Zone and yet which I will always gravitate towards. It’s a special delight when I get to learn more about the creators of movie paintings, so Dangerous Minds’ recent profile of artist Burt Shonberg was a welcome read. Not only do I now know who created the ghostly portraits in the Corman version of Fall of the House of Usher, but Shonberg’s bio also includes a cameo by occult superstar Marjorie Cameron!

Clare Sheridan

Russian Portraits (1921) – Public Domain Review

All travelogues should come with a whiff of scandal. The Public Domain Review curates this noteworthy book by English sculptor Clare Sheridan, which you can read in its entirety. Written after her travels to Soviet Russia and shortly before the creation of the Soviet Union, the book excited the wrath of Winston Churchill.

By the time [Clare Sheridan] met Kamenev in London, she was an established artist of independent means, but she had never been published. When Kamenev personally invited her to travel back with him to Russia to make busts of his fellow revolutionaries she seemed to jump at the chance. Perhaps she smelt a great story. Certainly she wanted adventure and to know the truth about the Bolsheviks — “these wild beasts who have been represented as ready to spring upon us and devour us!” Kamenev managed to secure her passage to Moscow, getting her a berth on the trade delegation’s boat to Stockholm, and from there the Estonian visa she needed to reach Russia. She would stay at the Kremlin for two months, producing excellent models of Trotsky, Lenin, and other Soviet bigwigs.