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Realistic Paintings Of Naked Breasts Make A Powerful Feminist Statement

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For The Breast Portrait Project, the artist Clarity Haynes draws inspiration for the feminist art traditions of the 1970s, from works that spliced and dissected the female body in ways that disrupted and challenged the male gaze. Cataloging the naked breasts and midsections of women who do not conform to traditional ideals of feminine allure—older women, women who have undergone childbirth, transgender women in the process of transitioning—the the painter hopes to assert the validity and beauty of all human bodies, including those that exist outside of narrowly defined physical standards. For Haynes, the act of seeing and of painting the body inherently necessitates that it be viewed with respect.

The theorist John Berger once posited that female subjects in art, imagined mostly by male painters, betray knowledge of the male gaze; staring out and the viewer (presumed to be male) for approval, their identities are split in two parts, namely the true self and the self that is watched and judged by men. In cutting out the female face, eyes, and mouth, Haynes cleverly subverts this tradition, and her women display their bodies matter-of-factly, without a trace of self-consciousness.

These female bodies, removed from a face that might otherwise reveal vulnerabilities and invite scrutiny, disallow the viewer to judge based on physical appearance. In lieu of typical signs of identity like eyes, expressive brows, or seductive lips, these private sections of the body become testaments to the individual self who chooses to stand out from the conformity of conventional female beauty standards; like a text that covers the nude body, stretch marks and scars become signifies of a vast and nuanced female experience. (via iGNANT)
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Hannes Hummel’s Surreal Busts Remix The Conventional With The Strange

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Graphic, motion, and interactive designer Hannes Hummel has created a series of sculptures that are inspired by music. Titled Luxury Problems, the surreal busts are chopped up, duplicated, and mirrored. They might look like the typical “art historical” bust, but upon further inspection, there’s something seriously wrong. Some have more than one set of eyes, while others feature a skull that permeates the fusion of two faces.  Hummel describes the inspiration and process of this unusual series of works.

Based on Andy Stott’s record »Luxury Problems« I created a set of 3 busts. In the same vein as his sample oriented, dark & chopped song structure, the process and methods used to create every bust are basically the same — with the help of autocad 123d catch I scanned several busts, stone sculptures and bones, recreated them digitally and created rapid prototying ready bust-remixes

The nightmarish sculptures are fascinating in the weird narrative that they create, and has you asking questions about their backstory. Why do they look the way that they do? Hummel has give us the opportunity to fill in the blanks. (Via Martineken)

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Richard Balzer’s 19th Century Optical Toy Gifs

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Forty years ago, Richard “Dick” Balzer saw his very first magic lantern – an early image projector invented in the 1600s. This encounter would prove to be the start of an intense preoccupation with early animation technology. Following this discovery,  Balzer began collecting magic lanterns and other optical toys, eventually amassing thousands of illustrations and machines that can now be found at his Boston-area home. His collection includes literature concerning the early animation machinery, as well as 150-year-old optical toys like henakistiscopes, zoetropes, praxinoscopes, and other “scopes” and “tropes” derived from the Greek words for “viewer.”

According to Balzer’s site, “There was a period, the last seventy five years of the 19th century, when scientific experimentation based on the phenomenon of ‘the persistence of vision’ in which the brain retains the impression of an object for a fraction of a second after its disappearance creating the possibility of apparent motion.” These early animation toys and machines sought to merge images to create uninterrupted motion. “We’re all interested in seeing movement,” says Balzer. “It was a different time, but the same challenge: How do you make things move?” These early animated loop illustration toys and machines mark the beginnings of the animated loop file we frequently encounter on the internet – the gif.

Five years ago, Balzer began digitizing his collection with the help of LA-based animator, Brian Duffy because he wished to share the early animations with a larger audience. So far, Balzer and Duffy have digitized only a fraction of the collection (which they periodically upload on Tumblr) due to the trial-and-error process involved in getting the speed of each animation just right. The creators of the early toys and machines probably never anticipated that their images would become as widely and immediately available as they currently are through the work of dedicated people like Balzer and Duffy.

The Verge notes, “Balzer refrains from theorizing about how his archival work may influence others, or what it might say about digital art and visual vocabulary today, noting that there are several other organizations undertaking similar efforts. His goal, he says, is to simply share his passion with as wide an audience as possible while preserving works of art that may have otherwise been forgotten.”

Balzer says, “I mean, these are just extraordinary feats of animation that took place more than 150 years ago.” “And if you’re just holding on to them, I think you should share them with other people.” (via the verge and wired)

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Jess Riva Cooper’s Screaming Sculptures Overtaken By Insects Reimagine Ghostly Spirits

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The artist Jess Riva Cooper’s Viral Series imagines the human body overtaken by malevolent plant life; like the bodies of the dead, her ceramic women busts are infected with ivy, flowers, and insects. Inspired by the Hebrew figures of the golem and the dybbuk, the viral females occupy a space between life and death; like golem, they are anthropomorphic beings brought to life by human (as opposed to divine) hands, but they are also seemingly suffocated by roots that harken back to the cleavage of the ominous dybbuk, a departed soul that fixes itself to the body of a living person. The word “dybbuk,” in fact, arrises from the Hebrew verb for “sticking from the root.”

Unlike the figures of Yiddish folklore, Cooper’s busts are female, modeled after the seductive sculpted faces of Classical Greece. Closing resembling the great alluring forms like Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus, these figures abandon the feminine piety in favor of an ecstatic sexuality; serpentine vines crawl across their tender cheeks, and their mouths open wide to give birth to lush roses or to allow passage to fertile swarms of scarab beetles. Their eyes appear to roll back in sensual pleasure; their teeth gnaw on thick roots.

Cooper’s series seems to draw on ancient and Judeo-Christian mythology to construct a cohesive and elaborate narrative of female creative power; these women represent death and birth in equal measure. As the bodies of the dead are consumed by insects, they ultimately give rise to blossoming flora. This strange and natural cycle of rebirth serves as a metaphor for the artist’s beloved Detroit, where buildings and homes succumb to financial ruin and are eventually overgrown with feral plant life. Take a look. (via Colossal and HiFructose)
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Mister Fungo’s Psychedelic Gifs

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Tumblr sensation Mister Fungo creates funky, mind-bending gifs that vacillate between psychedelic and zombie inspired imagery. The bright colors, together with their mesmerizing movements, create a lively yet freaky vibe.

You can find more of his works on his website.

( via Supersonic Electric)

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The Bizarre Fan Art of World Dictators

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Kim Jong-un, originally posted by @harleyjohnson92 on Instagram

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Kim Jong-un, originally posted by @jacob_skyler_allen on Instagram

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Vladimir Putin, originally posted by @miss1718 on Instagram

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Muammar Gaddafi, originally posted by @fabiankytir on Instagram

The world of fan art knows no bounds. Television shows like Game of Thrones and Sherlock have countless drawings and paintings dedicated to them (and the celebrities that star in them), but what about world dictators? We’re talking Putin, Gaddafi, Kim Jong-un, and more all with colorful drawings, paintings, and even homages made from donuts.

Some of these images are just ridiculous, like Kim Jong-un riding a dolphin over the beach (in a background that looks as colorful as a Lisa Frank illustration). Others are more serious attempts at portraiture, like the work of Amsterdam-based artist Michele Boccamazzo. He mixes pen, ink, and watercolor in realistic renderings like Bashar al-Assad. “Some of them are just born with a silver spoon in their mouth, some believe in their vision of a better world and some are just status seeker (or social climber) with a smart politic career.” He writes.

With the atrocities suffered at the hands of these men, they hardly seem like candidates for fan art, so perhaps its best to peg some of these images as satire. It makes looking at these works even more bizarre than what’s already pictured.  (via Lost At E Minor and Vocativ)

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Kara Walker’s Gigantic Sugar-Coated Female Sphinx Makes A Powerful Statement

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Kara Walker’s new sculpture “A Subtlety” is pure white, coated in 160,000 pounds of bleached sugar; with this modern take on the ancient sphinx, the legendary artist crafts a towering black face in honor of the slave laborers who worked in sugar cane fields. The powerful work is meant to address racial and sexual exploitation; like the sugar that coats her polystyrene core, this black female figure has been pressured, against nature, into succumbing to whiteness.

The work is now on display at the old Williamsburg, Brooklyn Domino sugar factory shed, where it reaches to the ceiling and extends for a magnificent 75 feet. The mythical creature is a powerful assertion of the black female self; the face quite resembles the artists’ own, and a carefully wrought bandana subtly references the stereotypical (and often offensive) symbol of the mammy, a slave woman who nurtured and brought up white children. Walker has been the subject of debate in the past for her use of contested imagery, and despite the controversy surrounding the “mammy” figure, she is presented here as powerful and divine.

Like the ancient sphinxes of Egypt and Greece, Walker’s monolithic creation is godly, simultaneously fearsome and comforting. The sphinx, known for protecting the tombs of royalty, becomes the guardian of history, interrupting a white-washed historical narrative to make visible the labor of the men and women who were kept enslaved. Her face is serene, assured, and unyielding. The sphinx character, in addition to being a protector, is also dangerous, renowned for devouring those who cannot answer her riddle; Walker’s sphinx is similarly confrontational in her overwhelming size, forcing viewers to confront the complex and painful history of American industry. (via The New York Times)
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Ingrid Berthon Moine Photographs The Testicles Of Ancient Greek Statues

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The photographer Ingrid Berthon Moine is taken with testicles, both figuratively and physiologically; turning to the anatomically accurate statues of Classical Greece for her project Marbles, she focuses her lens on representations of the male sex organ. Isolated from the rest of the statues, the male sex organs take on new meanings, their textured curves wrought in stone with masterly precision.

The careful renderings of the genitalia reveal tender folds of skin; set against the aged and worn marble, the apparent softness is complicated by durability. Testicles, as a cultural symbol, retain these nuances; they are simultaneously representative of sexual vigor and unfaltering power, but they are also framed as a physical weakness, an immensely vulnerable organ. As Berthon Moine explains, the word itself gave rise to aggressive, powerful words like “detest, protest, or contest or […] testify.” But the artist was also inspired by the theory of the neuroscientist John Coates, who posited that the testosterone hormone played a role in the financial recession; these marble testicles hope to express both the powers and dangers that we assign to them.

In a world where artworks depicting naked women outnumber works by women artists in our most renowned art museums, Berthon Moine’s work serves to turn the male gaze in on itself. She explains that until recently, only women were made to feel aware of being watched, judged by their sexual allure. She sees this dynamic shifting to expose both genders to the gaze of others, and this series, uncomfortable to some and amusing to others, is a part of that transition. (via Hyperallergic)
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