Proving that snow globes aren’t just kitschy souvenirs, artist duo Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz create mini worlds covered by glass domes that are dark, gloomy, and slightly sinister. The scenarios they build are usually set in a stark wintery landscape and feature characters carrying out strange, ill-disposed acts on each other.
Working together since 1994, Martin and Muñoz source different figurines or model making elements, cut them up and re-assemble them as victims or criminals at a crime scene. They use plumber’s epoxy to build the base of the scenes, and cover it in a water resistant resin. Then, they fill up the globes with a water and alcohol solution, to create the authenticity of the object.
Taking inspiration from dreams, movies, and literature, the pair is happy to build on a bizarre or surreal narrative. Their scenes are very dark indeed: A man is caught in the act of dropping a boulder onto another man’s face, or we watch a woman suspiciously planting a dead tree in the snow, or two men vindictively dangling children over a deep dark well, all surrounded by the stillness of snow and winter. They see their snow globes as a celebration of that uneasy feeling you get when you are lost in a crowd, or left alone somewhere uncomfortable. Martin reflects on the environment that he grew up in and those feelings he experienced within them:
I always liked a good snowstorm, and so many of my best memories revolve around those occasions. The water is the thing in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Everything that comes out of it, everything that you can do on it, or in it, is special. (Source)
Their globes and a number of other artist’s impressions of winter were also featured previously in a post on B/D. Click here to check out the different ideas of just what that wintery spirit is all about.
Amy Douglas is an English artist who restores old Staffordshire figures into eccentric recreations. Staffordshire figures were found throughout British homes in the 19th century, often bought at county fairs and collected as “toys” for the mantelpiece. When they arrive to Douglas—broken and eroded away by time—she modernizes the pieces by adding touches of present-day quips and scenarios. Each one has been given a title that makes them humorously unique; for example, “I Lost My Head” depicts a beheaded man joyously swinging a wreath decorated with various craniums; “Chicks Rule” features a chicken-headed figure riding a horse with a human face.
The humor of Douglas’ work is often subtle, fostered in the cultural disparity between past and present. Part of the fun is also tricking the viewer into believing they are seeing a bizarre original work. Douglas works with the destroyed objects to seamlessly blend modern relevance with a traditional, domestic art object. “Many of the techniques, materials, and recipes I use have been in the hands of the craftsman for centuries,” she writes on her About page. “In our more increasing, intangible, fleeting, [and] modern existence, I think people do not look properly and do not acknowledge the craftsmanship of work. I like the idea of making people look twice” (Source).
Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he living, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to mix my bread! Someone took the old British nursery rhyme a little too far it seems…In honor of the upcoming holiday, I’ll only be posting creepy art on the blog….In case you’re wondering, no, B/D has not gone into the gruesome business of baking humans- what you see is the artwork of Kittiwat Unarrom, a Thai artist and baker who sculpts macabre edible creations. He got his inspiration from working in his parents bakery- talk about playing with your food! I found a video on YouTube of the artist at work below- it seems to only be Thai but its cool to see the 3D works…
Los Angeles’ own Lord Huron released their debut album yesterday, Lonesome Dreams on IAMSOUND Records. The good people at NPR Music have the whole record streaming so you can listen before you buy it. I caught them this past August when they opened for CULTS at MOCA and loved the new songs. Check out their video for Time to Run and grab a ticket to one of their upcoming live performances, you won’t be disappointed.
Laughter is universal; it transcends culture, trends, and time. The art world, however, is not considered to be droll. Galleries and museums are stoic, intellectual spaces and works of art are discussed in academic terms. Yet in this scholarly world there are artists that buck conventions and use humor to engage us and make us laugh and think. Art is a medium of communication and the artists in this issue have found that humor is the most powerful way to engage their audience and convey their message.
This class clowns issue of Beautiful/Decay is dedicated to those artists who pack their work not only with meaning but with a powerful punch line that keeps us coming back for more. Join us as we delve into the world of Winnie Truong’s surreal and funny portraits, and find the humor in Devin Troy Strother’s discomfort with his own race. Witness how Maurizio Cattelan has become the art world’s premier prankster and gain insight into artistic duo littlewhitehead’s mixture of dark humor and lo-tech fabrication.
View our cover artist Stefan Glerum’s arresting illustrations, and Ben Aqua’s subversive photography. See how William Powhida’s cynical, self-deprecating, and universally criticizing works take the role of the court jester to a new level. As if that weren’t enough to keep you busy, we’ve also invited an international cast of artists, illustrators, and designers to create original works for our Project Pages based on our theme. So get out your X-ray specs as we explore the worlds of Beautiful/Decay’s Class Clowns.
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When you think of a someone who’s a “crazy cat person” you might imagine them to live in shambles overrun by felines. In Andréanne Lupien’s series Crazy Cat Lovers, however, that’s not the case. Her amusing photos feature people in their otherwise tidy homes, yet surrounded by their cats duplicated many, many times.
These images celebrate her love of felines, and the initial inspiration was her own cat. Lupien tells us, “I had fun taking pictures of myself with my cat, putting it around me in the room so that the final picture would result in my cat being multiple times in the photography doing multiple actions. That was it!”
Crazy Cat Lovers makes light of the cat phenomena. With their Internet presence like videos, GIFs, and photos, felines become more and more popular. “This was my opportunity to fully talk about it.” Lupien says. “To create the photos, I would take my photography kit, put it in my bag and leave to explore the world of some crazy cat lovers. It was a great adventure! I would visit unknown people or I would go to a friends house. It was always a new universe to discover. Every picture had its own essence and energy, its own universe. It was like visiting a person’s unique world.” (Via Yahoo News Tumblr)
Thomas Allen, of Michigan, uses pulp fiction novel covers to his advantage. Instead of staring at the busty women on the covers, Allen creates amazingly simple literary dioramas. Using the characters, he fabricates whole new stories in one frame of film.
A seemingly unlikely source of inspiration for contemporary artists, figurative sculpture has a long history. From the classical figure sculpture of Greek antiquity to African Yourba figurines artists have always had an inclination to depict the human form. Meeting the challenges of making such an old tradition new and relevant, these contemporary artists re-imagine the human form.
Contemporary master Jim Dine, often categorized as a pop artist, appropriated from art history. He selects icons, such as the Venus de Milo, to re-contextualize for a modern audience. Nathan Mabry draws from archaeology, Dadaism, surrealism and minimalism. He makes references across the art historical timeline, “crashing,” as he calls it, multiple aesthetics together. Interested in the impact of historical and mythological events on our collective consciousness, Katy Schimert creates sculptures that feel like they might have walked out of history. Fascinated with surface, Schimert uses her mediums to make the forms feel new, evoking a unique kind of introspection. Kevin Francis Gray’s work addresses the complex relationship between abstraction and figuration. He combines Neoclassical sculpture with an urban aesthetic. Fernando Botero is a Colombian artist who creates sculptures depicting people and other figures in large, exaggerated volume. The overstated features are meant to be humorous and generate political criticism.