About Leslie Tane

Leslie Tane is a curator, designer, educator, and writer living in Western Massachusetts. After 20 years of design practice, she received her MFA in Graphic Design from Vermont College of Fine Arts in October 2013. http://www.leslietane.com

Breathtakingly Ephemeral Portraits Created With Flowers And Seeds

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When vegetal artist Duy Anh Nhan Duc and photographer Isabelle Chapuis collaborate, the resulting images of people and flowers are anything but cliché. The series “Etamine” (stamen) and “Dandelion” are elegant and surreal, beautifully conceptual and expertly shot.

In “Etamine” a somewhat androgynous man is adorned in black and red and purple and yellow. “Fragile compositions of thousands of petals: carnations, anemones, irises and chrysanthemums merge with the skin.” The petals resemble feathers, as if these are sensual and captivating birds preening for the camera.

“Duy Anh Nhan Duc is an artist who handles vegetal art in a very singular way.… He merges plants with human bodies, integrates them with objects, combines them with his drawings or stages them though his short-films. Through his work, he weaves a poetic world where plants rule as masters.”

Like its seed head, “Dandelion” feels more fragile, suspended in time, as if the female model is holding her breath. Shot against a black background, the dandelion seeds are as impossibly delicate as snow or fog. Where in “Etamine” the petals have merged with the male figure, the seeds in “Dandelion” are ephemeral, pausing for a moment before floating away on a breath or a breeze.

Chapuis says, “I’m very inspired by the aesthetic movement in painting, Tim Walker. C’est l’art pour l’art. Art for its own sake. It’s only about emotion. I don’t want to accomplish anything beyond appealing to peoples’ senses”. (Source)

These series are proof of the magic that can happen when two extremely talented artists combine forces to make captivating work. (Via Ignant)

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Wei Li Makes Dangerous Popsicles In The Shape Of HIV And Other Viruses

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San Francisco-based artist and designer Wei Li is making tasty treats with unpalatable connotations. Would you lick a cactus? Suck on a virus? Would just the idea of it change your experience of a dessert? In “Dangerous Popscicle” Li makes desserts in the shape of cacti, MRSA, influenza, chicken pox, escherichia coli and HIV from just water, sugar and coloring. To make the popsicles, Li created a series of one and two part silicone molds modeled in Rhino and printed on an Objet 3d printer. She writes on her website bold or italic:

“What will happen when we put these dangerous things on one of our most sensitive organs, our tongues? Does pain really bring pleasure? Is there beauty in user-unfriendly things?

Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience. Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti are enough to stimulate your senses, even before your first taste.”

There are inherent contradictions in this project—the colors of the items look delicious, but the subject is unappetizing, but the surface is pleasingly tactile, but the structure is painful.

Aside from making the molds and freezing the pops, Li is also interested in the social interaction this project fosters. How do people react to the frozen unsavories? Try it yourself—find directions on how to make this project at Instructables. (via The Creator’s Project)

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Photographer Christian Tagliavini Painstakingly Recreates Paintings From The Medici Era

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Swiss-Italian photographer Christian Tagliavini’s contemporary antique photos blend fine arts and craftsmanship seamlessly into “1503,” his captivating portrait series. 1503 is the birth year of Agnolo Bronzino, an Italian court painter for the Medici family of Florence, whose realistic paintings had an enormous influence on portraiture.

Though Tagliavini’s photos may appear to be historically based oil paintings, they are more than just a literal translation of antiquated art through new technology. The clothes and body positioning echo Bronzino and the light in these portraits is tender and perfect, but it’s the details of the photos that emphasize the modernity of the work-the stylized outfits, exaggerated necks, translucent skin and clear directness of the models’ gazes. Unlike the bold colors of the paintings, the photographs are printed in pale, unsaturated tones, which work to make them feel more contemporary.

“Christian Tagliavini loves designing stories with open endings (requiring observer’s complicity) on unexplored themes or unusual concepts, featuring uncommon people with their lives and their thoughts made visible. This rich and exciting collision of circumstances results in photos as a final product.”

Tagliavini is impressively skilled-not only is he the photographer, he is also the costume designer, set builder, and casting director. He says, “I’m fascinated by the fact that I don’t simply release the shutter, but that the real fun for me is before I take the pictures. I say that I’m not really a photographer, but a workman of photography.”

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Grady Gordon’s Gorgeous And Gruesome Monotypes Of Skulls Are The Perfect Way To Start Halloweek!

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We’ve written about artist Grady Gordon’s ghoulish Monotype prints before, and they continue to be gorgeous and gruesome. The intricate abstractions resolve into frightening black and white faces looming out of a nightmare. In some of his latest works, eyeless monsters open their mouths in a virtual moan, showing skeletal teeth. Others include eyes, wide and staring. The patterns on their faces are organic, calling to mind beehives and wood grain and stone and fire. Finding a grimacing mouth among serenely swirling lines is jarring. The scariest prints are the subtle ones.

“grady utilizes the most crude mark-making instruments to bring about the characters that inhabit the invisible plane. he works entirely by removing thick black ink from a plexiglass surface. the monotype print is a study of impermanence. unlike other forms of printmaking the monotype offers only one copy. the original image on the plate is then given back to the ether, back into the fabric.”

This year Gordon started “Neotroglocism” with painter Ian Norstad, a classmate from California College of the Arts. Following the idea of “sophisticated mark making, crude objectivity,” they are making paintings and prints together, one of which is seen below (in color).

These prints are perfect for Halloween with their unsettling subjects and stark color scheme, but beyond the scare, elegant form and lovely technique combine to create a macabre beauty.

Follow @joaquindead on Instagram for the latest monotypes.

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Nendo Reimagines Boring Office Supplies Like Rubber Bands, Paperclips And Rulers Into Inspiring Works Of Design

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In one of those rare meetings of form and function, Nendo’s stationery and office supplies looks great and works well. The cubic rubber bands are one example. According to the company, “The geometrical shapes make the bands easy to find in a drawer and easy to pick up.” The Tokyo and Milan-based design firm created the blue, charcoal, and white three-dimensions bands for their brand ‘by | n’. They’re a part of the eleven item collection, which also includes a flip pen, contrast ruler, circle tags, paper clips, outline tray, cross pen-stand, peel pen-case, hard cover memo-pad, edge note, and dot envelope.

The contrast ruler is another success. Simple, but considered, the design has the ruler markings fade from white to black on either edge, making the ruler easy to read against all color backgrounds. Smart, too, are the paper clips that are made out of recyclable paper.

The minimalist collection sells itself, but the clever illustrations explaining the functionality of the various pieces are a whimsical touch, adding a softer element to the crisp, clean-lined, designs.

Nendo’s philosophy is clearly evident with this collection. The website states:

Giving people a small ” ! ” moment.
There are so many small ” ! ” moments hidden in our everyday.

But we don’t recognize them.
and even when we do recognize them, we tend to unconsciously reset our
minds and forget what we’ve seen.

But we believe these small ” ! ” moments are what make our days so
interesting, so rich.

That’s why we want to reconstitute the everyday by collecting and
reshaping them into something that’s easy to understand.

We’d like the people who’ve encountered nendo’s designs to feel these
small ” ! ” moments intuitively.

That’s nendo’s job.

Photos by Akihiro Yoshida. via Spoon & Tamago

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Wolfgang Laib Makes Art With Yellow Pollen Fields

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German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib creates his installations from natural materials displayed in very unnatural ways. In “Pollen from Hazelnut,” Laib collected pollen from the area around his studio for over 23 years. In the gallery, he carefully sifted the rich yellow powder into a saturated rectangular field. He says,

“I wanted to have this very intense, concentrated experience … with the pollen. So, the meadow with flowers where I collect the pollen is something very different from how you see it here, a real concentrated experience without any distractions, nothing else.” (Source)

Traditionally, conceptual art is primarily concerned with ideas—aesthetics are mainly disregarded. Laib’s pollen fields are unusual in that they have a strong conceptual basis, yet they’re also lovely and striking. The geometric shapes, as large as 380 square feet, have been described as a “vast luminous field of color” and “a blanket of pure pigment.”

Interestingly it is in the collection of the pollen and the amassed pollen itself where Laib finds the most meaning. The sifting onto the floor is almost irrelevant to him. This exchange is from an interview in The Journal of Contemporary Art

Ottmann [interviewer]: Your pollen pieces are for sale. If a collector wants to own one how exactly does that work?

Laib: He buys three jars of pollen and it’s his choice of keeping it in the jar or to get rid of his furniture and spread it out on the floor.

Ottmann: Would you go to his home and do that?

Laib: Yes, but of course I would be even happier if he would do it himself.

Some critics of the work are concerned with Laib’s “waste” of natural materials. This is not a concern for Laib, who, although he works with natural materials, does not consider himself a naturalist. It’s important to remember that the pollen is gathered by hand over a long period of time, not mass harvested, denuding the environment in one obscene swoop. From concept to exhibition, every aspect of Laib’s work displays patience, precision, and peace.

Read more about Wolfgang Laib on PBS’s wonderful Art21 website and look out for his episode airing soon!

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Bryan Lewis Saunders Creates Self-Portraits On Different Drugs

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In 1995, artist Bryan Lewis Saunders decided to create a unique self-portrait every day for the rest of his life. In 2001 he committed to taking a different drug or intoxicant every day before making his daily portrait, calling this sub-series “Under the Influence.” From absinthe and cocaine to cough syrup and computer duster he sniffed, swallowed and smoked his way through interesting art and into mild, but reversible, brain damage.

Though these are only a small fraction of the collection of over 8,600 self-portraits, they have received the most attention, resurfacing in the media over and over throughout the years. Saunders has mixed feelings about this, telling Fast Company:

“To be honest I’m not proud to be on any drugs in any pictures. I think drugs make me look really ugly. And I’m really a six trick pony, but the world only likes one of my tricks. Each year 500,000 kids around the world discover drugs and so the virus never dies.”

The portraits themselves are fascinating. Is it possible that one day of a psychotropic medicine would have such a clear effect? Are some of these images influenced by Saunders perception of the drug, and not the actual effect of the drug itself? Does it even matter?

“For hundreds of years, artists have been putting themselves into representations of the world around them. I am doing the exact opposite. I put the world around me into representations of myself as I find this more true to my Central Nervous System.”

This is art, not a science experiment. If the idea of the drugs has more of an effect on the art than the drugs themselves, that’s Saunders’ artistic prerogative. The work is provocative and often more than a little bit haunting. The brain spilling Saunders on Abilify and the dark, isolated, limbless Saunders on Nitrous Oxide/Valium represent disturbing and disturbed states of mind. Though he no longer takes drugs in the pursuit of art, the self-portrait series continues, and continues to fascinate.

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Jenine Shereos’ Creates Beautifully Intricate Spiderwebs Out Of Lace

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Boston-based artist Jenine Shereos who we’ve featured in the past for her amazing series of leaves made from human hair.  her amazing series of leaf forms made from human hair. Her more recent work revisits the idea of human-manipulated nature with “De/constructed Lace,” a site-specific installation series of knit-lace that mimics spiderwebs.

In Marnay-Sur-Seine, France she draped the knit threads in windows and doorways, looking like massive, delicate spiderwebs, echoing the white lace curtains in many local homes. The works are not perfect, Charlotte’s Web creations, but looser, more organic forms. Shereos says on her website:

“This installation of knit-lace is suspended in a state of unraveling. The process of its making and unmaking are one and the same.”

In Boston, she worked with black thread and crystals, allowing her web-like art to cast filigreed shadows on the wall amid flickering rainbows from the hanging crystal. The webs are more ominous in black, connecting to walls and windows and floor with fine strands.

“Some of these site-specific works are installed for a period of weeks for viewers to interact with, and others function as a sort of ephemeral, private performance existing afterwards in documentation. Oftentimes, collaborations intended or unintended arise within the environment; a spider spins its delicate webs from the white strands of thread suspended in an unraveling knit curtain, fibrous fragments of seaweed become embedded within a structure of knit fibers, or an array of rainbows flicker amidst white walls and black curtains.”

By co-opting the aesthetics of the natural world, Shereos creates a conscious interaction with the structure of the landscape or the architecture surrounding her art, uniting real and surreal, natural and constructed, fluidity and stillness.

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