Time Traveling with Thomas Negovan

Thomas Negovan

Thomas Negovan

At the heart of all of Thomas Negovan’s creative work is the desire to “educate and inspire.”

Negovan is the founder of the Culver City, California-based Century Guild Museum of Art, which exhibits Art Nouveau and Symbolist art from the 1880s through the 1920s. He’s unearthed rare works by Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and others, making these remarkable vintage artworks more widely available as prints, posters, and art books.

Through the gallery and his own artistic output, he hopes to pass his fascination with history on to others.

“Our daily personal experiences aren’t really that different from the experiences people had 100 years ago,” Negovan says. “When people recognize the timelessness of our common hopes and fears, it inspires compassion and gives us a deeper understanding of how we’re connected to one another.”

Glow-in-the-dark wax cylinder recording of "Welcome to My Nightmare" played on a phonograph.

Glow-in-the-dark wax cylinder recording of "Welcome to My Nightmare" played on a phonograph.

Even his musical output reflects his fascination with history. In 2011, Negovan recorded an entire album without electricity, using wax cylinder recording technology invented by Thomas Edison in the 1870s. He created a vinyl pressing of the album — called The Divine Eye — with the support of 58 fellow “anachronists and aesthetes.” (Energized by that project, he also released a Halloween-themed cover of the Alice Cooper song “Welcome to My Nightmare,” recorded onto a glow-in-the-dark wax cylinder, later that year.)

The good news for other artists interested in esoterica? “In my experience, people react very well to things that are different, as long as they’re of high quality,” Negovan says. That way, “if a project is outside of the audience’s comfort zone” — like, say, an album recorded using obsolete technology from the 1800s — ”you’ve earned their trust enough for them to take that step with you.”

The Kickstarter Gold wax cylinder edition of The Divine Eye.

The Kickstarter Gold wax cylinder edition of The Divine Eye.

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