In 2004, artist Kim Alsbrooks began painting regal portraits on discarded cans in a series titled My White Trash Family. The work, which features both male and female subjects dressed in elaborate wigs, stately ascots, and enormous hats, is a juxtaposition of literal trash and fine portraiture. It was as initially inspired by Alsbrooks’ friend, a women’s history professor, who pointed out the historical biases that are present in art. In response, Alsbrooks’ tiny paintings mimic those that you’d find in museum collections. The fact that these exquisite works are produced on trash rather than quality materials is both ironic and amusing.
My White Trash Family is prolific; Alsbrooks has produced over 600 paintings since it started. All beverage cans are pre-flattened, mostly by passing cars or trucks. She describes her technique, writing, “One cannot flatten the trash. It just doesn’t work. It must be found so that there are no wrinkles in the middle and the graphic should be well centered. Then the portraits are found that are complimentary to the particular trash. Generally I depict miniature portraits from the watercolor on ivory era (17th-18th century more or less). The trash is gessoed in the oval shape, image drawn in graphite, painted in oils and varnished.”
Part of the success of this series is found in the dedication to craft, and the fact that she paints miniature portraits really well. But, what ultimately makes these works appealing is not necessarily tangible. The reference to high society and its traditional paths challenged by cheap, “lower class” items is instantly recognizable and relatable at a time when the one percenters rule the world. (Via Booooooom!)
Budapest-based designer Zsolt Molnár created an illustrated poster for every episode of the popular television show, Breaking Bad. It took the designer five months to produce 62 full-color posters, which are minimalist representations of iconic moments in each episode and include an important object or person that’s accompanied by a memorable quote.
If you’ve ever watched Breaking Bad, you’re aware that it’s basically an hour-long anxiety attack. The tension between characters and situations in the show is intense and suspenseful. It takes place in New Mexico, and in every episode we’re inundated with saturated colors of sand and the desert. Molnár styles his illustrations similarly, like gritty texture with a pop color, like Walt’s green shirt or a destroyed pink teddy bear. They are contained in their compositions, and rely on symbolism of objects and colors in every poster.
Molnár has posted his handiwork on his Tumblr. If you haven’t seen the entire show and don’t want any potential spoilers, then you might want to hold off on scrolling through the his series until you’ve watched it. (Via Buzzfeed)
New York-based artist Lee Price paints realistic portraits of women as they are caught in intimate moments consuming sweet treats and decadent desserts. They are either in bed or in the bathtub, both places where eating is seen as somewhat taboo (aside from the occasional breakfast in bed). Here, we are the voyeur, gazing at not only their location, but what they are eating. In a short statement about her work, Price writes:
In this society, there’s so much pressure for women to be thin. We’re not supposed to have appetites – and not just for food, but for a lot of things. We’re the givers and not the consumers, and I think some of my recent paintings are about the women staring at the viewers and saying, ‘I’m not going to censor my appetite.’
The women in Price’s work are unapologetic about what they enjoy, and it ultimately seems like they are liberated doing so. Many of them look straight at us instead of shying away. As she insinuates in her statement, Price’s work touches on the repression of desire, and the fact that they match our gaze communicates that they are taking control. (Via iGNANT)
Photographer Antoine Rose captures Miami’s beaches and its coastline in the series Up in the Air Miami. Shot from a bird’s eye view, umbrellas, beach goers, and yachts are miniaturized and abstracted, and look like tiny toys used in a diorama. The candy-colored images offer an unusual glimpse into a day on the water, as we see only a general depiction of the beach yet its captured on a large scale. We aren’t offered many details, but still, there is a lot of energy in these photographs. Rose communicates leisure, and minuscule figures evoke the famous French post-impressionist “bathers” series by Cezanne.
Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City is exhibiting Rose’s works, and they describe how the extreme point of view affects what we’re seeing:
… people sharing common behaviors and exposing themselves like hedonistic herds. The stills of people swimming, surfing or just sitting down on their beach pads suggest a showcase or, given the distance, an Insectarium. One can even see a religious connotation: the bird’s eye view makes people seem insignificant dots in the infinite space of the universe, crushed by the immensity of the water field, recalling the biblical universal flood; seen from the sky, like through god’s eyes, people and nature coexist in harmonic or tense relationships. -Eduard Andrei
Miami isn’t the first or only place that Rose has photographed. Previous series of Up in the Air include the Hamptons, Long Island, and Wollman Skating Rink in New York City. To capture these images, he is situated outside of a helicopter that flies as low as 600 feet.
Taking your average shovel, bucket, and spoon, Lithuanian-based artist Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė embroiders them with detailed cross stitch designs. She often adorns these items using conventional floral motifs, and combines the decorative art with the practical everyday object (view some of her previous work). Most of the time, however, this renders its usefulness obsolete.
Severija’s work is cognizant of the history surrounding craft in her country. In an essay about her embroidery, Dr. Jurgita Ludavičienė writes:
Employing irony, Severija conceptually neutralizes the harmfulness of kitsch’s sweetness and sentimentality. Irony emerges in the process of drawing inspiration from the postwar Lithuanian village, with which artists have lost connection today, or from the destitute Soviet domestic environment, which women were trying to embellish with handicrafts, no matter what kind of absurd forms it would take. The intimacy of indoors freed from all tensions is the essence of coziness, that is crystallized in Severija’s works as cross stitch embroidery on various household utensils not intended for it.
The artist’s portfolio goes beyond floral arrangements. It has a sense of humor, as she embroiders trompe l’oeil cigarettes in an ashtray, the reflection of a mouth on a spoon, and fruit in a bowl. In addition to its meticulousness and amusement, it also blurs the lines of gendered objects, as she stitches “girly” flowers in to “manly” car parts. (Via Colossal)
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to photograph for Playboy, ponder no further. Dutch photographer and art director Patrick Van Dam has the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the infamous magazine in his book, Playboy Behind The Scenes. Published in 2011, it’s full of images that capture the awkward and unsexy moments that comes with the making of every sexy centerfold.
Seeing these images takes some of the allure and fantasy out of Playboy photos. Pulling back the smoke and mirrors, it reminds us they have their share of unflattering moments, too. It takes the proper lighting, strategic positioning, and even water pouring to make things appear just so. Nothing is as glamorous as it seems.
Van Dam directed nude photo shoots for Dutch Playboy for seven years, so he has no doubt seen it all. He even had Hugh Hefner write the foreword for his book:
In these compelling images, Patrick has captured the soul of the Playboy shoot and offered a true celebration of, and homage to, the people who make these beautiful things happen. Vividly here is the intimacy, the fun, and the dedication it takes to create the very best in contemporary erotica. And along the way, true to his calling, he gives the reader a peek behind the curtain of the Playboy lifestyle. (Via Featureshoot)
Illustrator and film lover Andrew DeGraff crafted a series of maps to help us navigate some of our favorite films. In long, epic journeys like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and even goofy comedies Wet Hot American Summer, it’s easy to forget where we’ve travelled over the course of the story. DeGraff highlights some key events, like Luke Skywalker’s trek in The Empire Strikes Back. If you are big fan of any of the movies that he’s illustrated, then the painstaking details will delight you.
Using gouache, the illustrator carefully draws spaceships, architecture, and foreign lands. While they are clearly maps without being the conventional road map, DeGraff’s limited color palette offers the most important information in vibrant colors, while the secondary (but still interesting) details remain less conspicuous. (Via Flavorwire)
Let’s face it. Going to the movies can be an expensive and sometimes obnoxious endeavor. As the popularity in streaming services like Netflix and Hulu grow, it’s so much easier and cheaper to just stay at home. But, when you look at these photographs of grandiose theaters by Franck Bohbot, it makes you wish you paid the $15 to be there. In his series simply titled Cinema, he captures the old elegance and spectacular detailing of these places, all of them empty so you can see all of their idiosyncrasies.
Not surprisingly, all of the photographs are theaters in California, in Hollywood and beyond. Some of the decor of these places is totally over the top, like the Orinda Theater, where faux Egyptian hieroglyphics line the walls and guests sit in red velvet seats. Or the Brava Theater in San Francisco, which has an absinthe green ceiling. The Crest in Los Angeles lines its walls with a city landscape and its ceiling dotted with stars, making its patrons believe they are viewing a film outside.
Bohbot’s photography frames these places so they really shine. He controls the lighting and exposure, making these venues appear glitzy and impressive, probably more so than they actually are. But isn’t that movies are trying to do, and by extension the theaters, too? They want you to escape your everyday life for a few hours and believe that you are somewhere else. (Via Flavorwire)