I’m sure you recognize the reference here. In case you were in doubt, the Belgian artist Jan Fabre is reinterpreting the most iconic work of the renaissance, Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Michelangelo’s famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.
Fabre’s interpretation gets personal, a little macabre, and a bit controversial…
In his rendition, Fabre places himself as Jesus with a butterfly perched on the side of his mouth. The heavy, dead-looking body wears a crisp, classy but torn suite. A closer look reveals a scarab at the edge of his cuff that is slowly drifting off towards the artist’s lifeless hand, which is tenuously holding on to a human brain.
The Virgin Mary’s face is replaced by a skull, which many would say is a reference to the Vanitas, the universal symbol of death.
The work was shown in Venice in 2011. This was in close relation to, but not a part of the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale. Given the place and the country (a very religious one) in which it was shown, you can image the controversy it created. The artist commented on the matter:
“is not to convey a blasphemous or even merely or provocative message. This work represents a “performance sculpture” that illustrates a mother’s real feelings when she yearns to take the place of her dead son.”
Katarzyna Majak‘s “Women of Power” photography series captures the faces and dress of earth-worshipping Polish women who are powerful among their particular spiritual sectors. The vast majority of Poland’s people (90%) are practicing Catholics. When Christianity was introduced to Poland a few centuries ago, it erased most traces of paganism, witchcraft, and shamanic traditions. The women Majak photographs – ranging in age from their 30′s to their 80′s – represent the very small minority of Polish women who practice alternative spirituality. For many of these women, this series depicts their first public display of power. They “practice a wide range of spiritual paths and spiritual systems. A few are traditional healers (so called ‘whisperers’ who mix religion with primeval superstitions to heal and remove spells using prayers) whose traditions survived on the Belarusian border. Some are women who had grandmothers who could ‘see’ or were herbal healers and who are working to revive what would otherwise be dead traditions.”
Although most of America (currently enduring one of the worst winter cold snaps in nearly two decades) would like to ignore this fact in for favor of bundled layers and heated blankets, sometimes even the dire cold, snow and ice can provide the tools and inspiration for those who brave it’s elements. Famed land and installation artist Andy Goldsworthy (previously here and here) has often utilized ice, frost, snow and frozen earth to create his trademark land interventions. And rather than avoiding the elements, Goldsworthy is only able to create these delicate and precise sculptures by embracing the cold.
In Goldsworthy’s 2004 documentary, Rivers & Tides, several scenes document the difficulty in attempting to harness the cold’s elements. One scene shows the artist, braving the winter elements for hours at a time in finger-less gloves (so as to be able to properly feel and hold the materials) fusing together icicle chunks together with warm water, holding them in place while they freeze together into naturally-made though unnatural shapes. The smallest temperature changes, light, and even chance cause the ice sculpture to collapse, repeatedly, which is all part of Goldsworthy’s process. Says the artist, “Movement, change, light, growth and decay are the lifeblood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work. I need the shock of touch, the resistance of place, materials and weather, the earth as my source. Nature is in a state of change and that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather. Each work grows, stays, decays. Process and decay are implicit. Transience in my work reflects what I find in nature.”
Goldsworthy’s process is only captured through the use of photographs, and the often detailed notes (below) which the artist uses to document the difficulties and triumphs of each individual piece.
You might have never wondered what cartoon character Marge Simpson looked like naked. Or maybe you did. Either way, artist aleXsandro Palombo provides us a glimpse into what this might look like in a series that pits Marge and Homer as an erotic, glamorous couple. Nudity, leather, and gender bending transforms the couple as you’ve never seen them before.
Modeled after the photographs of Helmut Newton, known for his provocative fashion photography, we see Marge and Homer in high-fashion ensembles. Homer dons a debonair suit, while Marge’s dresses are an extreme take on the cut-out trend that’s popular now. And while both don’t shy from nudity, perhaps the most surprising works in the series are of Homer’s outfits where he wears a sunhat and heels. He doesn’t look entirely comfortable, but when considering Homer’s character (the beer guzzling, Bart-strangling, donut-loving Power Plant worker), it’s not entirely surprising.
A lot of you, I’m sure, have grown up with the The Simpsons, and this series is a funny take on the all-American family. It is all set against the cloud background made famous in the opening credits, and acts as some sort of alternate universe. It transforms Marge and Homer from a green dress and white collared shirt, respectively, and shows that everyone has a kinky side. (Via Huffington Post)
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Italian-based twin brother design team (who go by the nom de guerre) Van Orton Design created a hit recently with their latest project of stained-glass style movie posters. Digitally composing the images using iconic characters and scenes from each film, Van Orton replaced saints and religious iconography with pop-culture standards like the Terminator, The Joker and Jack Burton, juxtaposing them with the time-honored (and increasingly disappearing) art of stained glass sectioning.
Van Orton’s selection of now-classic films from the science-fiction, action and cult fantasy genres adds an interesting element to the genesis of these designs, in that they seem to replicate stained glass coloring books more than the classical stained glass reminiscent of Europe’s grand cathedrals. This design choice adds to the light-hearted and nostalgic mood of the series, and appropriately separates it from ‘high art’ (though the Batman Poster for example certainly has visual similarities to the work of famous British artists Gilbert & George).The combination of thin and thicker black lines (replicating the lead used to secure colored glass) holds a wide prismatic array of colors, which also brings a unique, crisp quality which can only be achieved through delicate digital design.
You can purchase your own posters (pre-colored or not) by Van Orton Design here.
Hikaru Cho‘s method of painting could best be described as a physical and unconventional type of doodling. Cho primarily uses acrylic paints on bodies or food to create believably 3D surrealistic effects, and even transfers this skill to stop-motion film and other video work. Her work alters our perspective of seemingly stable universal concepts, creating new forms that demand our engagement using only the special effects rendered through paint.
Kevin Cooley creates Controlled Burns, a series of striking images that showcase swirling and imposing clouds of black, white, and gray smoke. Inspired by the communicative purpose of smoke signals during Papal conclave, the series focuses on ideas and actions dealing with communication, specifically human interactions with nature.
Cooley creates and manufactures the images himself, the smoke is real, and so is the fire creating it, but the artist here is rendering an image, controlling it and taking charge of something that can potentially be uncontrollable. The project is indicative of something we are well aware of, particularly our impotence yet possibility to control natural, powerful elements in our world. The paradox makes us contemplate on something we know, but do not really think about often.
Fire is a powerful natural force that we harness for greater good, and it is the only Classical element that we can create on demand. Yet, when out of control, it has the potential for grave destruction. Controlled Burns is a visual representation of this inherit duality, symbolic of our desire to conquer and control, reminding us that sometimes we must fight fire with fire.
Beginning January 11th, 2014, the Kopeikin Gallery will present Cooley’s work in UNEXPLORED TERRITORY, an interdisciplinary exhibition that explores “the limits of human exploration and our desire to conquer and control nature.” Themes range from colonial exploration of the American West, harnessing fire in the form of combustion to launch rockets into space, to anthropomorphic actions of everyday objects such as box fans, and helium balloons.