Spooky blobs by SF artist Ryan De La Hoz.
Spooky blobs by SF artist Ryan De La Hoz.
In 1951, surrealist artist Salvador Dali teamed up with photographer Philippe Halsman to create In Voluptas Mors or Voluptuous Death. A black and white photograph, this image is simultaneously strange, complex, and alluring. It features a giant “skull,” a living picture that is made up of seven nude female models that took three hours to arrange and photograph. The final product has the artist standing next to the skull, looking like the ring leader of a circus. And, in many ways, he is.
Additional photos have recently surfaced that reveal some behind-the-scenes moments of In Voluptas Mors. Not only do we see the apparatuses needed to hold the models, but we see how the skull was constructed with bodies. From the looks of it, there was a process of getting one section of the skull situated and balanced. This would repeat until the structure was stable enough to be captured on film.
In Voluptas Mors was not the first time that Dali and Halsman collaborated, nor was it the last. They originally met in 1941 and worked together over the course of 30 years. All of their efforts were eventually published in a 1954 compendium titled Dali’s Mustache, an homage to the artist’s facial hair. Check out the upcoming exhibition at The Musée de l’Elysée, which runs from January 29 until May 11, 2014 to see these images in person.
Artist, illustrator, and muralist Saddo creates paintings that are a fusion of birds, humans, armor, and more. In stately-looking portraits, these hybrid creatures look as though they’re ready to enter battle or to try and cheat death. Sometimes, act as the grim reaper themselves. The dark-colored images match the somber subject matter, and many of Saddo’s surreal works are meant to echo that sentiment.
The catalyst for Saddo’s subject mater comes from a move to Lisbon with the artist Aitch. Some imagery is influenced by Spanish and Portuguese explorers and conquistadors from the 15th to 18th century, as well as illustrations of birds, Islamic miniatures depicting battle scenes, and science fiction movies. Other paintings are inspired by the cold. “…the winter caught us by surprise, we didn’t expect it to be so rainy, gloomy, and depressing.” Saddo explains.“It deeply affected our mood and even our physical state, we often felt trapped inside our dark, moist house, inside slow moving, joint aching bodies.” Every once and a while, a coffin would appear in their illustrations and paintings.
The culmination of these disparate influences facilitate morbid, strange, and fascinating works that have intriguing small details hidden within each composition.
Simon Willems uses objects and characters from popular culture to create paintings with complex narratives.
A good deal of contemporary art blends characteristics from disparate practices: sculpture and painting, painting and photography, video and installation. However, the work of Alex Schweder is a rare mix. Much of his work is equal parts architecture and performance art. Schweder investigates the way people interact with living spaces, and the way these spaces interact with their occupants. The result is often a playfully surprising structure. Some structures balance or rock depending on the movement of the inhabitants. Other structures are photosensitive, their inhabitants leaving stronger impressions the longer they linger. Regardless of the ‘performance’, his work encourages approaching ideas of the home and its occupants as almost a living relationship.
Carlos Cruz Diez‘ choice medium in his installation Chromosaturation is simply color. While we’re accustomed to seeing many different colors constantly and simultaneously, Diez uses only three colors presented one at a time as a departure point: red, green, and blue. Diez saturates a room with one of these single primary colors of light. The color floods from room to room, interacting with other colors, creating entirely new hues. The light immerses the gallery space so thoroughly that the color almost takes on a physical aspect. In his statement, Diez says:
“The Chromosaturation can act as a trigger, activating in the viewer the notion of color as a material or physical situation, going into space without the aid of any form or even without any support, regardless of cultural beliefs.”