Every month Beautiful Bizarre Magazine chooses one of our favourite creatives to TAKE OVER social media for the day. For November, we chose Ryan Matthew Cohn and Regina Marie Cohn of Oddities Flea Market to share with us the artists who have inspired them.
The Oddities Flea Market
Hi there. We are Ryan Matthew Cohn and Regina Marie Cohn, a husband and wife duo that bring highly curated events and activations to the oddities community around the globe. My lifelong passion and obsession with collecting and creating works of art focusing on natural history and anatomy have led me around the world and gained me (and Regina) entry into many of the hidden and obscure establishments that focus on these lost art-forms. My knowledge and expertise on the subject of oddities granted me the opportunity to be one of the 3 co-stars of Science/Discovery Channel’s “Oddities” which ran for 75 episodes.
Regina and I met 6 years ago when she was seeking to obtain a Tibetan “Kapala” skull from my personal collection. Our bond was instant and we were married in less than a year. Soon after we married, together we purchased “Castan’s Panopticon”, a 19th century medically based wax museum that at the time was located in Munich, Germany. After bringing this vast museum from Europe to the US, The collection was then purchased by Alamo Drafthouse NYC and House of Wax Bar was born. H.O.W. is a Victorian-esque fully functional bar (we have cocktails with names like “anatomical Venus”& “The Butcher of Hanover”) showcasing this rare one of a kind collection featuring medical abnormalities, infectious diseases, anatomical Venus’s, artificial deformation, anthropological busts, and death masks all made of wax (all the good stuff).
After a long standing career in high end fashion world, Regina decided to join forces with me and utilize all of the knowledge she had obtained managing successful business’s over the years. Together we formed “Curated by RMC”, a company which focuses on curated events and activations such as Oddities Flea Market, NYFW, book launches, gallery exhibits, private tours, workshops, and special events at House of Wax Bar. We are excited to take over Beautiful Bizarre for the day! Here are some of the influential artists who drive the work that we create.
Portrait by @scottirvine57 & @kimmibird, 2nd photo: @morbidcurio, 3rd photo: @sdz_photo, 4th photo: Oddities Flea Market at the Globe Theater in Los Angeles, California, picture by @fostertheexplorer.
We first discovered Mexico born artist Emil Melmoth after visiting his first solo show at Last Rites Gallery in NYC. His darkly surrealistic creations draw a difinitive influence from the early anatomical European waxworkers of the 19th century. His subject matter showcases religious and sometimes alchemical and astrological themes, as well as images gathering bones, roman numbers, livestock animals, limbs and imperfect bodies generally surgically severed. We find his artworks to be among the most finely detailed and ultimately graphic of all of the modern working wax artists of today. We hope to add one of his sculptures to our personal collection in the near future.
The jeweled skeletons of Catholic martyrs in European catacombs, the left arm of St. Thomas Aquinas in Naples, the mummified remains of St. Frances Cabrini lying in an assuming midcentury chapel in Manhattan—relics and reliquaries hold special fascination for us as collectors of human remains. Housed in ossuaries, churches, and collections both public and private, these pieces—sometimes of dubious origin—are venerated by the faithful and marveled at by the curious. Recently on a trip to Bologna, Italy we witnessed in a closed chamber of an 18th century church as patrons wept at the feet of the mummified remains of Saint Catherine, Patron saint of the artists. Besides their aesthetic and artistic beauty they still are very important and holy to many religions.
Photos by Paul Koudinaris
As enthusiasts and collectors of finely crafted Victorian taxidermy, we often discover that much of what presents itself to us in the marketplace is either in very poor cosmetic condition or crudely fashioned by amateur taxidermists from years passed. Its quite rare to find a taxidermist that can encompass the style and aesthetic of Antique natural history and intertwine it with a 21st century flare and modern knowledge of the craft. Fine Taxidermy Dutch Artist duo Sinke & van Tongeren take that very concept of 17th Century Flamboyant Taxidermy and recreate a 21st Century modern day work of museum quality art. Their works are collected around the world with their second exhibition entirely acquired by Damien Hirst for his ‘Murderme’ Art collection. They strictly work with animals from Zoo’s and breeders that died of natural causes (none of their specimens have been taken from the wild). @finetaxidermy is considered by us to be the most innovative and skillful taxidermists of the 21st century.
The medical museums of Europe like La Specola in Florence, the Josephinum in Vienna, and the Fragonard in Paris are treasure troves of inspiration for people like us, presenting views of both the human body and natural world that disappeared from public spaces as science advanced and sensibilities changed. Inside, you’ll find Anatomical Venuses, dissected women in semi-erotic poses, and écorchés, figures flayed open to display the musculature beneath our skin. These objects function as both instructional models and works of art, and belong to a muddled category that just doesn’t exist today in art or science.
We definitely consider our most recent visit to La Specola museum in Florence, Italy one of the crowning jewels of our museum visiting repertoire. La Specola is the oldest and exstensive Wax collections in Europe dating back to the 18th century.
Some of the most impressive wax moulages were those of Clemente Susini (1754-1814) and Gaetano Zumbo (1656-1701) two of the most renowned Florentine wax modelers of this time period. The museum is currently closed for approximately 2 years to undergo an lengthy restoration of the building.
Photos by Ryan Matthew Cohn
There’s no way around it—our collection and work heavily on the fascination of death! That’s why vanitas are especially interesting to us. Vanitas are Dutch still-life paintings from the 17th century that use symbols of death or change—cut flowers, overripe fruit, extinguished candles, and skulls to remind us of our inevitable mortality. We draw on this genre when styling tablescapes, photoshoots, and fashion events. Vanitas are dark, gloomy, and often incredibly beautiful.
4th photo: @finetaxidermy
When I learned about French anatomist Claude Beauchene, everything just clicked. For me, Beauchene was someone who had found the perfect marriage of art and anatomy with his “exploded” skull preparation. With techniques I gained from years of experience as a custom jeweler—each piece of metal painstakingly cut, formed, and manipulated to perfectly match each section of the individual skull—I was determined to revive this lost art form. Beauchene is definitely where it all began.
Interior design influences both our work and personal space, and Malplaquet House is a visual source we return to again and again for ideas and inspiration. Located on Mile End Road in London, it is a Georgian landmark built in 1742 by Thomas Andrews. It was first occupied by a wealthy Jewish widow, and subsequently by brewer Harry Charrington, who drastically altered the property during his more than three decades as a resident. In the 19th century, the house hosted a number of small businesses, was home to a local union beginning in 1910, and survived, although with some damage, the London Blitz of WWII. Uninhabited for over a century, Malplaquet House was purchased in 1998 by museum director Tim Knox and renowned landscape gardener Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, and filled with objets d’art and esoterica from their own collections.
The term “Maximalist” is almost an understatement when being used to describe the Malplaquet House. Why have one when you can have ten tends to be our mantra. #maximalistsforlife.
Photo credit: @philippedebeerst
Huge thanks to today’s Guest Curators Ryan Matthew Cohn and Regina Marie Cohn of Oddities Flea Market for sharing their art loves and inspirations with us!
Oddities Flea Market Social Media Accounts