Meticulously Fabricated Dioramas Used To Create Stunning Photographs

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French artist Didier Massard’s photography had me perplexed until I looked more deeply into his process. Massard creates these amazing images by constructing a small detailed set design or dioramas and thoughtfully integrating lighting techniques. What strikes me most about these images is that they at first appear to be paintings or digitally rendered, but closer examination reveals layering and depth that is not possible to create digitally. I read how Massard uses manual techniques to create fabricated sets, but honestly could not believe the entirety of his process until viewing this short video, where he explains his work from his studio. In the video, he also explains how his work is inspired from real and imagined places, places he’d like to visit but realizes the limitations involved in this desire.The subjects of his work vary from nature to mythology to architecture, but all of them evoke a cinematic and magical realist quality.

Massard began working as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies, but once he began this meticulously fabricated photography work, he decided to stay focused on this personal project. All of his work is drawn from his own imagination, and he calls each image “the completion of an inner imaginary journey.” Because of the highly skilled and detailed work that goes into each set design and diorama, Massard produces only a few images per year, spending months considering the manipulations for each image. For Massard, his work succeeds when it breaches a border of truth and lies, dream and reality. His work is currently on display at Julie Saul Gallery in New York City until October 19.

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Painting With Thread: Stephanie Kelly’s Finely Detailed Embroidery Dwellings

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Salt Lake City based artist Stephanie Kelly creates beautifully detailed illustrations out of thread. The series featured here is entitled “Dwellings” and speaks to the theme of domesticity that informs Kelly’s use of embroidery and her attempt to reclaim craft as fine art. Painting with thread instead of oils gives her work depth and tactility, creating rich and voluminous textures and blends. Kelly embroiders thread and fabric wallpaper pieces onto stretched canvases, which gives her work this remarkably detailed multi-textured design. Kelly began as a painter and illustrator, and was eventually given the opportunity to work with whatever medium she desired and decided to combine her skills with her love of craft. Kelly says her grandmother taught her to embroider and that this has largely inspired the domestic theme that permeates her work. Kelly’s painter’s eye applied to embroidery reminds me of the last embroidery work I posted, featuring Ana Tereza Barboza. You can watch a video profile of Kelly after the jump. (via from89)

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Spanish Artist Antonio Santin’s Deceptively Realistic Rug Paintings

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Upon first glance, these paintings by Spanish artist Antonio Santin appear to be photographs of beautiful rugs with bodies hidden underneath. Take a closer look and you can see the amazing detailed work that Santin has created in order for these rugs to appear real. Using a deeply-rooted tradition of Spanish Tenebrism and his training as a sculptor, Santin paints using the play of light and shadow to create depth and a haunting realism.

Interested in the way bodies shape fabrics, in an interview with Hi-Fructose, he says, “Painting is essentially a superficial activity, the artist’s psychology translates into a certain colored texture that will in turn eventually trigger or host the unique psychology of the beholder. Thus, according to this transitional synesthesia, any represented face is an enlivened mask. My background is sculpture, a discipline that could as well be defined as the development of structural strategies that end up supporting a surface. Not being its main raison d’être, the surface does conceal and contain the essence of the volume, whose physicality permeates its vessel while existing often only in the territory of the imagination. Therefore, whether it is a face, a dress or a rug, for me, it’s all about grasping what is hidden or concealed.  (via from89)

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Photographer Alters Your Perception Of Space With Masking Tape Created with Masking Tape Scenes

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With simple masking tape, photographer Robert Chase Heishman transforms everyday spaces into flat, geometric scenes. This effect creates an illusive new space, redefined by new boundaries. Whether the tapes’ colors are bright or more subdued, the effect is stark. He creates new shapes within the photograph, or uses the tape to create a framed effect for the photograph. If the photographs were stripped of tape, the photographs would be a bit dull. By adding the tape to some of his scenes, Heishman creates the effect of a lost dimension. Because his designs are so thoughtfully shaped, it takes more than a glance at these photographs to recognize that the tape has been placed onto the scene and not the photograph. When he’s not masking his surroundings with tape, Heishman also works with video and sculpture to explore similar themes like peripheral vision, flatness, and digital affect. He lives and works in Chicago. (via from89)

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Borondo’s Classically Inspired Street Art Haystack Portraits

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In addition to creating public work in cities, Spanish street artist Borondo has recently used spray paint to recreate monochromatic portraits using a hay stack as as a canvas. Although he’s using this unconventional material (even for a public artist), his classically-inspired style and flawless technique are sustained. No matter the materials used, each piece of Borondo’s is blended artfully into its surroundings, creating a subtle, ghostly effect. While touring Italy this summer, Borondo painted a few large public pieces, including this haystack work in Cotignola, but his work can seen around the globe. (via from89)

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Prison Art: The Story Of An Incredibly Detailed Monkey Bar Diorama Made From Scraps And Gifted To Henry Ford

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Henry Ford’s Digital Collections Initiatives Manager Ellice Engdahl recently wrote about one of his favorite artifacts of the 18,000 published online: The Monkey Bar diorama. This diorama was created by a man known as Patrick J. Culhane (various spellings) in 1914-15 during his time at the Massachusetts State Prison at Charlestown where he’d been sent after a conviction of “larceny from a conveyance.” Culhane carved and assembled this incredibly detailed piece of prison art by hand from a variety of materials, including peach pits, and scraps of wood, fabric, metal, cellulose, and plastic, all fitting into a base measuring only 16″ x 20″.

Engdahl notes that Monkey Bars were created by other prisoners in the early 20th century, and that “Culhane intended the diorama to depict many of the worldly pitfalls that had put him and his fellow inmates on a path to prison. The Bar is chock full of monkeys engaged in all kinds of rambunctious activities—drinking alcohol, gluttonous eating, smoking (cigarettes, cigars, and opium), gambling and gaming in many forms (craps, roulette, checkers, shell game, and cards), playing music, monitoring the stock market via a ticker, and even paying off a policemonkey. Clearly some of the monkeys are ready to check into (or out of) the associated hotel, as they have their suitcases with them and keys and mail are visible behind the desk.”

After Culhane finished his piece, he arranged to have it sent to Henry Ford, with a hand-written note, “Presented to Mr. Henry Ford / As a token of appreciation and esteem for his many benevolent and magnanimous acts toward, and keen interest in, prisoners / By A Prisoner.”

Engdahl surmises that Ford became interested in Culhane, and may have a hand in his release from prison, as Culhane was hired to work at the Ford Motor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1916 and Ford’s secretary corresponded with Culhane regularly.

All photos courtesy of The Henry Ford. (via Slate)

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Japanese Artist Ishibashi Yui’s Unsettling Figures

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Japenese artist Ishibashi Yui’s sculptures are both unsettling and serene. Using a variety of materials, such as wood, resin, cloth, clay, steel wire, and stone powder, she often depicts figures whose roots extend and project outward in many directions. These figures appear passive and complacent to these protruding branches, aware of the lack of control they have over this organic process. Some of these protrusions seem painful or unexpected, but ultimately inevitable. Often her figures are off-white, while their protrusions are green or red-hued. These figures are human-like, but their soft, round and white bodies give the viewer a sense they are also of the earth, resembling a plant’s bulb. Yui’s work makes us deeply aware of how we are intertwined with the natural world, and the balance and cycle of nourish and depletion that living and dying requires. (via hound eye)

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Michael Ward’s Hyperrealistic Paintings Depict Southern California Nostalgia

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Michael Ward’s hyperrealistic paintings remind me of the type of photographs I take when I travel to new cities. I am always drawn to graphic elements and the juxtapositions of buildings, signs, and their locations. And, indeed, most of Ward’s paintings are based off of photographs he’s taken over the years, primarily of Southern California. Though his work was not intended to address the nostalgia of these places, most of the images’ places he’s recreated have been altered or have entirely disappeared, his work becoming an archive of transitional places. Ward’s influences include Edward Hopper, Charles Scheeler, RIchard Estes, and Vermeer. A self-taught painter, Ward began his artistic career drawing pen and ink renditions of historical architecture, before experimenting first in gouache, then in acrylics. Of his work, Ward says,”I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.”

Phyliss Lutjeans, a museum educator and curator observes,“Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitiude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.” (via the paris review)

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