Brutal Photographs Of Teen Boxers Before And After Fights

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For his powerful series 141 Boxers, photographer Nicolai Howalt shoots young amateur boxers in Denmark before and after their first brutal fight. The artist, known in part for his elegant images of car wrecks, once again finds an eerie beauty in violence, capturing sweaty faces sprinkled in fresh blood. On the left, his subjects present their game faces, poised in a moment of calm determination prior to the battle; on the right, the violence and competition has ended, leaving their faces bruised and swollen.

For these teenage athletes, the first foray into the ring presents itself as a rite of passage out of childhood and into manhood. Afterwards, they are irrevocably changed, as if all of puberty were condensed into a single test of machismo. As viewers, we might be unsettled to see these round, blushingly cheeks marked by punches; though outwardly baby-faced, Howalt’s subjects possess a knowingness and understanding of aggression that transcends their youth. Thrust into the environment of the controversial sport, these pimpled, wide-eyed adolescents are aglow with their own glistening sweat and an uncomfortable sense of adult virility.

Arranged neatly in a grid as they are in gallery installations, Howalt’s violent images are paradoxically sterile. Set against a pale gray background, his subjects seem restrained in a way that contradicts the nature of their sport. Many of the photographs look like clean mugshots pinned cleanly and simply on a wall; the young boxers are at the mercy of our judgement. Do we condemn or celebrate this ruthless sport? Take a look. (via Agonistica)
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Astounding Human Skulls Carved Into Delicate Mother Of Pearl Shells

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Carved carefully into the delicate surfaces of shells, Gregory Halili’s magnificent human skulls look like forgotten human fossils, discovered long after the extinction of our species. The New Jersey-based artist draws inspiration from the wild plant and animal life the Philippines, where he lived into his teenage years; his medium, black-lip and gold-lip mother of pearl, are gathered from the shores of the island country. The artist’s shimmering skulls are complex bas-reliefs, and his technique, which includes detailed oil painting, is evocative of ancient coins; in the place of hard metal lies a soft partially organic material, and portraits of kings are replaced with ominous skulls.

Halili’s skulls are poignantly fragile, far less durable than human bone. A single slip of a tool, and the tender piece is ruined. The shape of the shell lends itself to the humanoid form; encased within its circular bounds, the skull appears like a child in the womb. The shell material that once protected a gastropod with maternal determination, softly frames Halili’s expert carving. In this way, the artist forces a collision between birth, the “mother” of pearl, and death, represented here with the skull. Like relics washed ashore, these masterful pieces serve as a memento mori, reminding us of our own mortality, our creation and our inevitable demise. Take a look.

Halili’s work will be on view at New York City’s Nancy Hoffman Gallery beginning October 30th and through December 13th. He also has an upcoming show at Manila’s Silverlens Gallery. (via Colossal)
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Astounding Close-Up Photographs Of Animal Eyeballs

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Husky Dog

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Kramer’s Parrott

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Discus Fish

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Horse

For his series Animal Eyes, the Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan captures close-ups of animal eyeballs belonging to diverse creatures, revealing both the complexity and universality of the organ. Beneath his macro lens, these small circular organs appear paradoxically vast; at times, their curved surfaces resemble the entirety of planet Earth as seen from space, cloudy with ribbons of pigmentation. Here, the eyes, considered to be windows to the soul, reflect back a cosmic realm that evokes the metaphysical, but at the same time, they are startlingly material. The pupil, a seeming abyss ascending into the unknown, is cushioned by substantial tissues that ground us firmly within the corporeal world.

Though the species shot here vary immensely, a comforting uniformity emerges from the images; through the changes in iris hue and pupil dilation, there is a shared urgency in each gaze, a sweeping desire simply to see. The horse, his eyes veiled in straw-like lashes, fixes the lens with the same intensity as the hippo, whose wrinkled, fleshy eyelids peel back. Where most photography relies upon the assumption that we may watch without fear of being observed ourselves, Manvelyan’s images inspire within us a sense of being seen; are these opened eyes, these celestial orbs, looking back at us? What do they see? Check out the artist’s photographs of the human eye here. (via Agonistica)
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Disturbing Typeface Imitates The Human Body

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For his series Evolution of Type, the artist and graphic designer Andreas Scheiger creates living, breathing fonts; his ABC’s might be dissected like a human limb, revealing boney spines and straining ligaments. With surgical precision, the flesh of his curvy S is pulled back in a manner that is both grotesque and sensuous. In this strange marriage of art, language, and science, the artist is inspired in part by Victorian sentiments and the emergence of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species and the theory of evolution, which spurred medical debate and disillusioned many a spiritualist.

Scheiger’s work is profoundly influenced by seminal Vicorian text The Alphabet and Elements of Lettering, written by Frederic W. Goudy, the designer behind famous typefaces like Copperplate Gothic and Goudy Old Style. Schneiger imagines the literal manifestations of Goudy’s analogies, which compared lettering to animated organisms; like creatures extinct and in existence, language too has a history, bringing with it the ability to record and preserve human thoughts and discoveries.

Within Schneiger’s imaginative font, E’s are skinned to reveal a muscular-skeletal system; deeper still, is a network of red and blue veins and capillaries that transport oxygen to some unknown organ. Much like actual bodies, these letters are capable of deterioration and decay; a G appears lifeless, mounted like dinosaur bones. Similarly, a P gets trapped and preserved in amber, and a prehistoric J is fossilized in stone. The terms “the life of language” or “the body of text” become spell-binding realities in this whimsical and thoughtful series. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)

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Karl Lagerfeld Builds A Life-Size Chocolate Statue Of Model

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In what is perhaps his most extravagant creation to date, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has created a life-size chocolate sculpture of his top model and muse Baptise Giabiconi. The male face of Chanel, who travels most everywhere with Lagerfeld, is shown here as a solid mound of rich dessert, reclining on a bed inside a hotel room made entirely out of chocolate. The piece was presented in Paris in 2011 as part of a promotion for ice cream brand Magnum, for whom the designer directed a commercial staring Giabiconi and Rachel Bilson. The strange yet endearing sculpture holds a Magnum ice cream cone in his hand, which luxuriates suggestively over his thigh and a pair of tiny tighty-whitey briefs.

Lagerfeld, who has ignited anger and criticism over the past few years for his arguably classist sentiments, certainly does not spare any expense in this sweet and decadent installation. In some ways, the piece is an ironic epitome of a consumerist fashion industry. Laid on this pristine white bed, the chocolate man stands in for everything our culture devours: expensive food, lavish furnishings, and even sexual gratification. Do we consume fashion models in the same way in which we devour ice cream? As far as artwork goes, this is about as shamelessly commercial as you can get, and yet it maintains an undeniable charm in its blatant self-awareness. Lagerfeld’s statue is both hilarious and compelling, standing at the intersection of capitalism and sexuality. Take a look, and for more chocolate artwork, check out Anya Gallaccio’s dark chocolate-covered room here. (via Gawker, NY Mag, and Telegraph)
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Clever Photos Make Fun Of Celebrity Selfies

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For “Phonies,” the UK photographer Dan Rubin turns celebrity selfies into works of fine art. In his unusual street photographs, the smartphone itself stands in for the face of passersby,  projecting the grins of social media-savvy stars like Kim Kardashian, James Franco, and Harry Styles. Rubin’s series is equal parts playful and scathing, capturing the narcissism of celebrity in the 21st century in such a way that highlights the anonymity of the digital age.

Within the medium of street photography, normally characterized by raw and gritty from-the-hip shots, Rubin replaces candid captures with shiny screens projecting perfectly made-up celebrity faces. In these clever doubles, these photographs of photographs, notions of identity are complicated. Our faces, especially in photographs, have the power to betray our innermost selves and to define our perceptions of that self; here, the subject’s visage is shown only to be a reflection of the media we consume. As we are continuously bombarded with social media, how do we shape our egos in relation to the rich and famous?

From images, we derive meaning. Flawlessly inserting the HTC One mini 2 phone into his compositions, the artist creates a hybrid human that is simultaneously a celebrity and just another face in the crowd. As we become more vain and the innocent selfie borders on arrogant self-indulgence, do we stifle our individuality? Here, the realm of social media is ambiguously seen, a powerful force that is both fun and disconcerting. Take a look.
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Dan LuVisi’s Violent Portraits Of Childhood Cartoon Characters Are The Stuff Of Nightmares

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“Your childhoods belong to me now,” says the concept artist Dan LuVisi of his terrifying portraits of beloved cartoon characters turned grotesque and murderous. LuVisi’s chilling series, titled Popped Culture, holds a scathing mirror to Hollywood ethics, to the exploitation that goes on behind the scenes of even the most innocent movie productions. Accompanying each of his images on his blog, the artist, who has a background in comic books and has illustrated for DC’s Batman and Superman, includes short stories outlining Tigger and Goofy’s tragic path to corruption.

LuVisi’s spare text reads quite like a noir mystery novel, filled with darkened, moody diners and mugs of bitter coffee. The characters that we associate with our own youths age, hardened by years out of the limelight. The residents of Sesame Street are seemingly evicted, cast out into a generic urban cityscape simply called “THE STREET.” Seduced by industry executives, Kermit takes a role in a brutal adult film. Those who refuse to compromise themselves for the sake of the industry are defeated, as is the case with poor, piteous Gonzo.

The Disney cartoons fare worst of all, transformed from lovable animals into nightmarish ghouls. Mickey Mouse’s gaunt body grows saggy with age, his small, round ears torn and his slimy tongue dripping hungry drool. Donald Duck’s beak opens to reveal rows of teeth, emerging like claws and cruelly lining a mass of tissue; a tiny drop of blood stains his collar. In these disturbing images, we find both humor and pain, forced to reconcile our nostalgic hopes with the realities of Hollywood corruption. (via Demilked, Huff Post, and Elite Daily)
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Grotesque Photos Capture The Pains And Joys Of Womanhood

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In her visceral, raw still lifes, the 21-year-old photographer Madison Carroll captures the grotesque remains of meaningful moments gone by. Used condoms, pregnancy tests, and blood stains grace her compositions, punctuating a narrative that skips dizzyingly from girlhood to womanhood, from innocence to experience. As if plucked from last night’s waste basket, these soiled items emerge; in the context of Carroll’s clean, immaculate technique, they become all the more haunting.

As if part of some unusual crime scene, waste products are left out, forensically archived by Carroll’s lens. Here, rotting fruit and old bandaids mark not a murder but the more gradual, subtle trauma of growing up, of being woman. Like a pool of blood, tea spills from a delicate, shattered china cup; a lemon, once fresh and aromatic, rots. An egg cracks, the yoke spilling out into a satin pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear like a giant, monstrous ovum released during menstruation.

In Carroll’s disturbing yet thrilling realm, the dangers and joys of femaleness collide in a moment of brutal self-reflection. Death and fertility become indistinguishable. In a frilly, feminine doily, a cockroach lies dead, rotting beside a snuffed-out cigarette. A Clear Blue pregnancy test sits on an old rust-stained rag, the urine and tissue in the toilet simply a blurred afterthought.

Like a hoarder of significant items, Carroll’s lens seeks out that which might be thrown away, forgotten by time. A male lover, sprawled on the bed, is captured asleep, in a state of heightened vulnerability, his pale nakedness pressing against the border of the frame. At the artist’s feet, a condom evidences the intimacy that occurred minutes or hours before. (via Feature Shoot and iGNANT)
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