The Eerie Art of Thomas Kuntz

I am constantly fascinated by the Art and Science of the past, and I am particularly interested in the strange and beautiful gadgetry of earlier times. Automata are especially impressive, from any era, because they always combine the arts of sculpture and puppetry with the science of engineering to produce a wondrous effect.

The ancient art of the automaton is still alive in the workshops of some modern artists, and one of the best is Thomas Kuntz. Born in Phoenix, Kuntz is the son of a surgeon and a folk art doll-maker. Since 1986 he has been creating models and art inspired by the icons of the Silent Film Era and the occult history of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

His garage kits are some of the finest ever made, and he has sculpted wonderful busts of Aleister Crowley and John Dee. Since the turn of the 21st century, his Automata have been becoming more and more beautiful, complex and polished. Like the Automata of the 18th and 19th centuries, they are highly prized collectible art made by individual genius–wonders that cannot by nature be mass-produced.

To see a few videos documenting his amazing and disturbing work, you can follow his channel on Youtube. To see far more of his work, visit his website.

Perhaps the world’s first blood drinking automaton. Babylon regally stands 33.5″ tall, including the base. The figure endlessly pours fresh blood from the severed head of his victim into a glowing tankard and drinks it delightfully, while the headless drummer continues the beat of all who came before him, and those doomed to follow. Designed, sculpted, painted and mechanized by Thomas Kuntz. The mechanism consists of brass cams, levers and assorted components, all machined by the artist. Costume made by specialty costumer Blake Bolger…

The French poet and notorious absinthe drinker Paul Verlaine sits in the late night Parisian cafe sipping his “Humble Ephemeral absinthe”. No words flow from his quill. It’s nearing closing hour and through his blurred vision the Green Muse appears to him offering inspiration and a kiss…

“L’Oracle du Mort” (ORACLE OF THE DEAD MAN) The Fortune Telling Magician depicting an 1800’s magician from the French occult revival. This automaton was made from scratch by Thomas Kuntz. It has a very complex mechanical system consisting of hand cut cams gears levers springs, sprockets and pulleys. Such automata involve great precision and many months of intense work after a preparation time that can often be years. It requires skill sets in all disciplines including sculpture, painting, mold making, machining, engineering fabric work and cabinetry. The case is made of solid oak. It tells 7 fortunes and if one attempts to fool the magician a cheeky devil appears in the window…

About Arinn

Author, Game Developer, Anthropologist, Feminist, reformed Supervillainess.
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