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Spellbinding Death Masks And Sugar Skulls

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For Epitaph, British photographer Rankin teams up with Beaty Editor Andrew Gallimore to create spellbinding death masks inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead and Roman Catholic All Souls Day. Like the sugar skulls, or calavera, used to celebrate the holiday, these elegant masks put a vital and lively spin on death. Decked out in intricate beading and filigree, their models look luxurious and festive.

Calavera, normally colored in vibrant greens, reds, yellows, and blues are often eaten after the holiday; adorned in glittering stars and blooming daisies, these living skulls look like sweet confections. The female faces, painted in black, become a youthful template for imaginative explorations of an afterlife that awaits us after old age. As if from another world, their gray-green eyes stand starkly against coal-toned flesh. Rankin and Gallimore infuse the editorial with a hefty dose of high-fashion edge, introducing elements like metal spikes and and chains. These harder elements blend seamlessly with the iconography of the Day of the Dead; in one mask, a red clown nose made of punk-rock studs puts a contemporary spin on the timeless tradition.

Rankin is not new to the theme of death. In the wake of his parents’ deaths, he was compelled to break cultural taboo surrounding the dead, to face head-on his fears of dying. For last year’s photo series ALIVE: In the Face of Death, published by Hunger Magazine, he photographed those effected most by death, giving voice to grieving family members and to resilient individuals living with terminal diseases. Here, his enthusiastic lens provides solace from the fear of the unknown, inviting us to celebrate those we’ve lost as we mourn them. (via Trend Land)
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Anya Gallaccio Creates A Room Made Of Chocolate

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For her new installation “Stroke” at Jupiter Artland, Scottish artist Anya Gallaccio constructs a room made of dark chocolate, inviting visitors to lick the walls if they so dare. The richly aromatic work is designed in part to be a rare feminine space in an art world defined mostly by men. The artist, who has worked with red roses in the past, sees her unusual medium as one normally associated with the female; here, she brings the domestic out of the shadows and boldly into the public realm. The room itself is evocative of female sensual pleasure; painted in thick, gentle layers of sweetness, it is dark and cavernous, a space to be entered into.

Housing only a small bench, the piece maintains ambiguity, relying upon its inhabitants to draw meaning from the slights, smells, and tastes. The work is as much about fantasy and anticipation as it is the actual experience of sitting in a chocolate room, which the artist explains is not what one might expect. As time wears on, she expects that the sweet odor will turn sour; the chocolate, painted onto the walls with brushes, will oxidize. Bugs have already moved into the space.

Galloccio’s title “Stroke” alludes to the dual nature of the work; she explains that a “stroke” can describe a tragic and sudden heart attack as much as it can a soft caress. Ultimately, the impact of the work is in the hands of viewers, who may either choose to abandon social etiquette to indulge in a feast of licking or might simply sit in uncomfortable silence. Either way, it will be a sight to behold. (via Design Boom)
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Tonya Corkey Creates Portraits Out Of Lint

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Canadian artist Tonya Corkey creates portraits made out of lint on canvas. Through her choice of material and subject, the artist looks to investigate an unavoidable aspect of human nature- precisely, the the need to collect memories and reconstruct the past. The series, “See You In the Future,” looks to further analyze this desire to recollect objects and moments of the past through a medium that encompasses the essence of loss and decay over time.

My work hybridizes the discarded material of lint with the second hand image – the iconic school photograph – to conceptualize my interests. Materiality conceptually layers the work. As a byproduct of society, lint consists of fibers, hair, dead skin and other debris, and thus directly referencing people and their daily activity. Lint and cast off photographs are both discarded materials – materials that reflect the idea of a decaying memory. Our desire for memory in absence is triggered by sensations of smell and touch, a trait of my work.

(via The Jealous Curator)

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Cerise Doucède’s Fantastical Photos Visualize People Lost In Daydreams

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The fantastical works of Cerise Doucède illustrates the daydreams that we all have. In their series entitled Égarements, the French photographer shows people living their everyday lives, but who are frozen in a moment of contemplation. Around them is disarray, or, their fantasy. A child looks up and sees paper cranes above him while a woman peeling apples is similarly surrounded by the same fruit.

Doucède’s series is alluring in the fantastical sense, as we look at these compositions of where things are out of the ordinary. The photographs are formally striking; it’s visually satisfying to see these things levitate and appear to float in midair, as we’re not used to this sight.

Égarements points to the moments of banality in our lives where we turn to daydreams. Our reality might not be very exciting, so these fantasies come as a form of escapism from the monotony of the everyday. A more optimistic way of looking at this series might be that these people are so engaged in what they are doing that they go beyond what is in front of them to entertain grand possibilities. Maybe we’ll go with that. (Via This Isn’t Happiness)

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Terrifying Little Girls’ Shoes Made With Human Dentures

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Artistic duo Fantich & Young, featured previously for their “power suit” made of human hair, are at it again with a new pair of shoes for little girls: an adorable pair of Mary Janes with a sole of human teeth. Upon first inspection, the tiny shoes are certainly the height of innocence, with their shiny surface and chunky red strap. With the addition of the teeth, top and bottom rows muddled together monstrously, this beacon of cuteness becomes dark and deadly. The festive footwear, which we might easily imagine paired with white ruffled ankle socks, are embellished with actual dentures, signifying old age and decay. The yellowed incisors, crushed brutally underfoot, provide quite an arresting contrast to the quaint little shoes.

In another recent addition to their ongoing project Apex Predator, Dominic Young and Mariana Fantich construct an egg from human dentures. Here, the themes of birth and death, innocence and corruption, emerge more readily. The egg, art historically a symbol of both the fragility and comfort of the the womb, abandons its delicate shell for hard, armored enamel. Arranged in careful rows, the teeth threaten predators who seek to steel the egg from the safety of its nest. This symbol of youth and birth adopts new meaning when made from teeth designed for the old. When hatched, the baby bird is fed his food pre-chewed, regurgitated into his mouth by his mother; this egg comes fully equipped with gnawing teeth. What type of creature might emerge from this monstrous orb? Take a look. (via Design Boom)
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Harry Whittier Frees Was Photographing Cute Animals In Weird Costumes Long Before We Were

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Before the insanely popular Lil Bub or the hilarious Doge memes of today was the photography of Harry Whittier Frees, a man who was capturing dogs and cats in odd-yet-amusing situations long before you and I were around. He fashioned a career from these adorable pictures and used them in postcards, calendars, and children’s books. The positive reception (and the fact that it made him wealthy) further proves that our obsession with cuteness is timeless. Some things really do remain the same.

These strange images show cats and dogs in dresses and bonnets, performing household chores like hanging clothes to dry or watering the plants. While it’s hard to deny the cute factor, you can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable by the unnatural positions these actors are posed in. It’s reminiscent to the work of Walter Potter, whom we recently shared here. Although there is a certain similarity to the stiff adorableness, you can feel better knowing that Frees’ animals stayed alive for their photo shoots.

Photographing these tiny creatures was no simple feat and Frees would only photograph three months out of the year. He writes about his experiences in his book Animal Land on the Air:

Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many ”human“ parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. An interesting fact is that a kitten’s attention is best held through the sense of sight, while that of a puppy is most influenced by sound, and equally readily distracted by it. The native reasoning powers of young animals moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer. (Via Co.Design)

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Kira Ayn Varszegi Uses Her Breasts As Paintbrushes

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The painter Kira Ayn Varszegi substitutes her own 38DD breasts for traditional brushes, covering them in paint and pressing them to her canvas. For Varszegi, fun is an essential element in art making; she hopes to inspire amusement and smiles. Though her work has of course been criticized and cast aside as “frivolous,” the artist has made a name for herself, boasting at least one painting purchased in each American state.

Before we give in the the impulse to judge, let us take a minute to appreciate the product of Varszegi’s efforts. Her paintings quite resemble the work of abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollack or Mark Rothko; she, like them, hopes to inspire more primal and visceral emotions with her marbled surface of color, texture, and form.

But unlike most (but not all) of the 1950s trailblazers, Varszegi is a woman, and that fact is essential to her art making process. Where many modern art movements have been dominated by an idealized machismo, the boob artist embraces what some might call the feminine or the sentimental. Here, the breasts, symbols both of female sexuality and fertility, are the means of creation, as opposed to the paintbrush, an instrument whose form is vaguely evocative of the phallus.

The artist’s compositions mirror the “feminine” tenor of her process, their soft, glittery tones forming elusive and symbolic butterfly and floral shapes. Paint drippings and splotches swirl together in an evocative, orgiastic blur. Take a look, and let us know what you think of the project. It is groundbreaking or silly? (via Oddity Central)
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Valentin Ruhry’s Quietly Stunning Installation, ‘Réclamer’

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Austrian artist Valentin Ruhry often plays with ideas of Minimalism and analog technologies, using light installations as a systematic approach which reveals a metaphor of interconnectedness, even when we do not see them present. In his 2013 exhibition Réclamer at Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, (then travelling to Österreich), Ruhry references advertising and promotional communication, using light boxes which generally house these messages. The exhibition’s title, Réclamer, comes from Latin and French, meaning to claim, to appeal, to call back. Ruhry, who was born in Graz, Austria and now lives and works in Vienna, used the empty light to represent a loss of function, “both through their components and in and of themselves.”

This type of installation investigates many of the themes present in Ruhry’s other works. When speaking with Jon Rathenberg’s Artist Interview Tumblr, Ruhry explains his fascination and his process, “I´m not a scientist nor have I ever been educated in mechanical engineering or whatever but I have always had a strong interest in technology. For me, a jet plane or a refrigerator is as fascinating and sometimes as miraculous as the power socket on your wall. Since I don’t understand much about the technical aspects of most of the equipment that surrounds me I study there aesthetic qualities. I try to highlight them by placing aesthetics or form before function.” (via likeafieldmouse and artistinterview)

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