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Famed Author Kurt Vonnegut’s Drawings

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Kurt Vonnegut's Drawings

The late and great author Kurt Vonnegut was a visual artist, too. If you’re a fan of his writing, then you probably already knew that drawings by him appear in 1973’s Breakfast of Champions and that he illustrated the cover for Man Without a Country in 2005. But in the mid-1990’s, Vonnegut shipped his daughter Nanette a plethora of drawings. She kept them in her studio’s flatfiles (she’s a visual artist, too) until now, when the artwork was made into a book and is part of a touring exhibition titled Kurt Vonnegut Drawings. The book is published by Monacelli Press and features 145 selections of his work.

Playful line drawings are composed using pen and marker. The abstract and surreal works, in which things transform and morph to become something other than themselves, include fragments of the written word. One drawing includes a steep set of stair and muses, “There is a ceiling on human thoughts.” Other wordless works often include a minimalist portrait or figure. They are free-flowing images that feel like a stream of consciousness.

The published book includes essays written by his daughter and scholar (and Vonnegut friend) Peter Reed. He writes,  “great value of this collection is that Vonnegut’s artwork gives us another perspective on his restless imagination and his creative genius. … There are constraints in writing that even the iconoclastic Vonnegut felt, but in his art he seems wholly uninhibited.” (Via Hyperallergic)

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Joel-Peter Witkin’s Grotesque Yet Beautiful Photographs Capture Private Erotic Longings

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The legendary photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, previously featured here and now on view at LA’s Jack Ruthberg Gallery, weaves strange erotic narratives through his staged images, some of which take weeks to complete. His body of work reads like a love poem to the grotesque, transforming what society deems taboo into miraculously beautiful scenes.

Witkin’s images avoid judging the body, opting instead to reveal mankind’s universal but most private erotic yearnings and fears. In his reinterpretation of Canova’s famously sensual yet demurely reclining Venus, for example, naked male genitalia slip from cover as if by accident, the organ poignantly vulnerable, delicate, and human, seemingly caught between erection and flaccidity.

Sexual hunger again becomes the subject of another image that seems to deconstruct Romantic paintings like Theodore Gericault’s The Raft of The Medusa, famed for its haunting depiction of dead, drowning flesh. Here, a suspenseful, tragic rescue effort is transformed into a sort of desperate orgie on the verge of climax; a pair of heaving breasts is grabbed like melons.

The erotic, though filled with the dangers of physical and spiritual nakedness, is often elevated to the divine. A shirtless woman, her breasts bared, inserts her finger into a book much like the Virgin Mary in Renaissance paintings of the Annunciation. In these photographs, nuns pose alongside nudes, and horns (symbolic of lust) are merged with crowns of thorns (symbolic of Christ)

The gorgeous set of images challenge societal ideas of social acceptability, implying that the most exquisite beauty is often found in our most frightfully private moments of lust and longing. Within all of us, lies erotic impulses that can manifest in magical and dangerous ways. Be sure to check out Witkin’s work at Jack Ruthberg Gallery, where he will exhibit alongside his long-estranged brother, the legendary painter Jerome Witkin. (via Lenscratch and Etherton Gallery)
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Oliver Grunewald’s Unbelievable Photos Of Volcanoes At Night

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For award-winning photographer Oliver Grunewald, the medium of capturing images offers the ability to document, share, and investigate the natural forces which shape our world. Grunewald, along with his partner, journalist Bernadette Gilbertas, travel the globe, focusing on natural wonder, which for the French photographer offers, “…a pretext for immersing himself in the world as it was in the early days of its creation, and his patient quest for the magical, ephemeral light that best underscores the wild primitive side of nature pays off.”

As part of a massive body of work focused on volcanic activity around the world, Serfdom of Sulphur Night, offers some of the more intense photographs taken at the Kawah Ijen Volcano in Indonesia. Grunewald explains the genesis of the series, “For over 40 years, miners have been extracting sulfur from the crater of Kawah Ijen in Indonesia. To double their meager income, the hardiest of these men work nights, by the electric blue light of the sulfuric acid exhaled by the volcano before climbing up to the top of the volcano with their heavy charge.” (via myampgoesto11)

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Spine-Chilling Paintings By Casey Baugh Prove That The Matrix Is Real

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The painter Casey Baugh’s vibrant images are so astoundingly realistic that they could easily be mistaken for photographs if not for the eery, impressionistic brushstrokes that are only visible at close range. In rich and moody blues and blacks, the artist imagines a social and psychological landscape dominated by technology, a world where humans and machines coexist in a heightened state of tension and theatricality.

With conventionally beautiful women serving as his subjects, Baugh seduces the viewer; the photorealistic flesh glistens in soft, dreamy blues. Technology becomes a fetish object of sorts as wires coil about the curves of the female body, entangling and binding her while her sensually lit face surrenders to a strange sort of ecstasy, her body reclining suggestively.

Despite the powerful allure of technology, Baugh’s work also serves as a warning against our surrender to it. The remote, mechanical aspects of our modern lives— electronics, social media—entrap the human self with their metallic sheen and magnetic glow. A woman is seemingly choked by a collar made of industrial piping; the piece, titled Ammonoid, suggests that the foreign object has in fact integrated itself into her anatomy. Similarly, a girl is bound in glistening cellophane and confined to a cell, hooked up to televisions without chance of escape. Sadly, Baugh’s women, drawn to the irresistible blue screens, have become as much machine as human being.

The form of the work mirrors its thematic content; at first, the images look like photographs, captures of real events, but upon second glance, it becomes clear that the scene is an expertly-painted illusion. How much of our experience with technology is real? At what point do we sacrifice a truthful mortal existence for the entrancing (and ultimately fleeting) world of technology? (via HiFructose)
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Women From Iconic Paintings Replaced With Webcam Girls

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Camgirlsproject was created by former fashion student Vanessa Omoregie who began the ongoing series about a year ago. The project seeks to investigate the female image within the context of the internet by presenting images of classic paintings that feature webcam selfies in the place of the painted nude female form. All images are user-submitted and present the viewer with a reappropriation or reclamation of female nudity as something to be celebrated and not shamed for.

The term – camgirl – originally applied to anyone who recorded themselves via webcam doing anything, not just sexual acts, but has been more currently associated most strongly with sexual behavior. Omoregie says, “The name has connotations of its own.The project hopefully makes people rethink what they know about the term and how they view girls who choose to be in front of a camera -sexual or not.”

Something you may notice about the submissions is that these modern-day nudes overwhelmingly represent lean, white, hairless bodies, almost a complete reflection of the bodies in the classic paintings. As a black woman, Omoregie is disappointed that more women of color and varying body types have not submitted to the project, although she has herself participated and tries to encourage more women to submit. Her hope was that women who are not typically represented by the media would feel more comfortable presenting their bodies in this sort of space, but so far, submissions of more variance have been few and far between.

While not currently taking submissions, Omoregie will be inviting followers to contribute to future projects of hers through this project’s site. She has also suggested that people follow her personal blog in order to keep up with forthcoming projects. (via telegraph and animal)

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MRI Scans Of Fruits And Veggies Are Astounding And Mildly Frightening

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MRI technologist Andy Ellison spends his days scanning human brains, searching for abnormalities. He began scanning fruit on a whim, using an orange in a test of the machine’s settings; the results were so stunningly beautiful and transfixing that he began bringing produce to work, scanning our favorite fruits and veggies on his time off, and posting animated sequences of cross-section images onto his blog, Inside Insides.

The high-resolution black and white sequences apply the imaging tool to the arts, highlighting the geometrical perfection of organic objects. The slow motion animations are imbued with a sense of life and vitality; like pumping ventricles, the matrices of a pineapple seem to gape open and shut. A tomato resembles a microscopic cell, seemingly splitting and reproducing with astonishing speed, and a head of garlic seems to emerge, its cloves flawlessly woven together, from nothingness.

Ellison’s slow motion animation allows mesmerized viewers to be seduced by the rhythmic revelations, and the everyday is elevated to cosmic levels; an scanned eggplant seems to explode into a complex network of stars. These food products, these mundane miracles, get a moment to shine in the imaging machine’s dense whites and pure, weightless blacks. The uniqueness of each fruit takes center stage (can you find the bruised onion?), and together, they paint a rich portrait of the natural world. These elegant plant structures, viewed in this way, don’t seem so different from our very own organs. So the next time you stroll down the produce aisle, take a moment to consider the miraculous visions that lurk beneath the surface. (via Salon and Offbeat)
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Gross Yet Beautiful Artworks Made Of Mould And Bacteria

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Yes, you read that right; the artist Antoine Bridier-Nahmias paints with mould, marrying art and science in an unexpectedly delightful way. His strange media include various sets of bacteria and fungi, ranging in color, texture, and density, and a petri dish serves as his canvas. Once a piece is grown to his aesthetic satisfaction, the artist photographs it from above, capturing the nuances of the material in stunning resolution.

Bridier-Nahmias’s images, perhaps revolting if seen inside your fridge, are visually enthralling when viewed in the sterile confines of the dish. Like strange and serendipitous science experiments, the moldy surfaces create ordered geometric patterns found time and again in nature; unlike paint, the bacteria reproduces itself in accordance with complex biological laws, forming perfect circles and straight lines that emanate from their centers.

A gorgeous visual balance is achieved through the artist’s careful and deliberate use of color and form; within the gestalt of the dish, puffy clouds of mould, large as sand dollars, are balanced out perceptually with bright reds; seemingly disparate species of bacteria work together to create a harmonious work.

In these pieces, the chaos of life and bacterial growth exists in continual tension with the neatly ordered aesthetic of the work, inviting views to examine moldy patterns not with disgust but with transfixed delight. When given free reign to multiply within the petri dish, these species create astoundingly formal compositions, flawless patterns that no master artist has come even close to replicating. Take a look. (via Design Boom and It’s Nice That)
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You Won’t Believe That Ron Isaacs’ Delicate-Looking Garments Are Made Entirely Out Of Wood

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Artist Ron Issacs crafts delicate-looking garments using a not-so-delicate looking material – wood. Starting with Finnish birch plywood, he builds elaborate relief constructions and ends by painting them in a trompe l’oeil fashion. Issacs excels at capturing the subtle details that make these sculptures believable. The shirts, dresses, and flowers look as though they are gently swaying in the wind. He writes about the subjects of his work, writing:

My three primary recurring subjects are vintage clothing (for the way it continues the life of the past into the present, for its rich structures and colors and shapes, and for its anthropomorphic presence as a stand-in for the figure); plant materials in the form of sticks, leaves, and flowers (for too many reasons to list); and found objects. They combine in appropriate or surprising juxtapositions, sometimes purely as a visual “poem” of sorts and (if I’m lucky) sometimes as an image with real psychological resonance. Objects occasionally reappear in other contexts and take on new meanings, like a repertory company of actors playing different roles in different plays.

Issacs goes on to say that he sees his art as a hybrid of painting and sculpture; the three-dimensional construction employs one half of the work while the colorful adornments are the other. In addition, he invites the viewer to come up with their own interpretations of his creations. You can attach a narrative to it and your own “reading,” but to him, these are largely about the act of making and the fascination with making things resemble something that they’re not.

(Via Colossal)

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