When the photographer Aline Smithson found an old, discarded doll from the 1970s, she was touched by his seeming unlovability; his bald head and uncannily wizened features made him unsuitable for most children. Like a lost boy, pitied for his strangeness, the doll found a home behind the artist’s camera. In rich and moody gray tones, Smithson constructs a visual narrative of poignant self-discovery, titled The Lonesome Doll.
The doll’s distinctively his floppy, childlike body works in tension with the firm face of an older man; in choosing to shoot him in black and white, Smithson heightens this drama, creating a dreamy, nostalgic atmosphere. The doll, no longer a boy and not yet a man, exists in a anxious state of perpetual adolescence; where he sits bolt upright in his bed as if woken by a child’s nightmare and dressed in a footed onesie, he also cautiously explores his sexuality, his oversized fingers grazing the shining nude body of another doll. Similarly, he submits to the caresses of a disheveled barbie.
Smithson’s doll is touchingly outcast by his own awkward existence; more mature than his companion toys, he must act out his fantasies with smaller, less ornate dolls, pressing their lips together, his wide-set eyes spit between each figure. He’s too small for the dollhouse, weighty for the clothesline. This strange adolescent is woefully confused, just verging on the point self-awareness. When stuck in a washing machine, he pleads for release, his stunned face reflected in the floor below. Take a look.
Smithson has created from these images a beautiful book that tells a poignant story of hope and love. She is currently looking for a publisher.
One of the most iconic artists of our time Mike Kelley passed away today at the age of 58. With over four decades of activity within the international art world spanning dozens dozens of museum shows, several art noise bands, and multiple Whitney Biennial inclusions, Kelley will be sorely missed by the art community. Watch an interview with Kelley about his work after the jump.
Jesse Kanda has earned his stripes as a digital artist, creating album artwork for the edgy pop artist FKA Twigs and working closely with producer Arca (who has produced for Kanye). His figures move in an oddly distorted way, sexual but also mildly disturbing. They’re coloured either in deep bruise-like hues, or glowing and shining whites and blacks. Although they are perturbing in their deformity and colouring, the figures are ethereal and set in tantalizing positions.
One image, made for Arca’s cover for Thievery, shows a woman with large hands running up her thighs chased by a deep black shadow. The lighting illuminates the rest of her body in blinding white so she appears like some kind of porcelain. For the same song, Kanda also created a music video of a woman with green, purple, and white skin slowly and sensually twerking. It’s kind of mesmerizing to watch.
Kanda interviewed for Fader magazine, and spoke about his process:
When you work with a computer, every frame has to be created and calculated, so it’s prone to mechanical results. I try my best to set up my working environment so that accidents can happen. A good [method] is working really quickly. Like making large brush strokes to start with and then adding/subtracting details later.
This is another advantage I have working with computer graphics: the control I have over lights. I have complete freedom over how many lights I have in a scene, where to put them, even whether to automate them. Sometimes they can have a life of their own, like the light itself is a character. (Via Fader)
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In Cave to the Grave, Wendell Gladstone debuts a new series of paintings that depict the life of a man from his youth through his death. Referencing the allegory of Plato’s cave, the story begins with a boy immersed in darkness and continues to trace the boys’ life after he emerges from behind the curtain. Gladstone uses a collage sensibility by mining ideas and images to create his own fabricated myths. His paint handling is also diverse, a wide range of techniques are employed from very thick geometric hard edge areas, to subtle mists of airbrush, to organic veils of transparent stained color.
New York City native photographer Steve Schapiro documents what it means to be a hippie in 2015. Originally known for his photographs of and participation in the original Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco in the 1960s, Schapiro’s new aim is to explore where today’s hippie energy lays. From 2012 to 2014, Steve Schapiro, teaming with his son Theophilus Donoghue, traveled throughout the country following various “free-spirit movement” festivals such as Burning man in Nevada, Shasta festival and Rainbow Gathering in California, and others of the likes. Here what they found is that the “neo-hippie” generation “has more to do with meditation, yoga, fellowship, good vibes, and a search for the divine than it does with the mind-altering substances of its 60s predecessor.” Through images of mass nude meditation, men covered in mud in what looks like states of pure euphoria, group circles of shirtless people forming hand hearts with their neighbors, Schapiro sheds light into a community deeply rooted in finding their happiness through channels of love and nature.
“In Bliss, Schapiro captures the multitudes who come to commune with nature, other like-minded souls, and all that is divine and inspirational in the multi-hued spectrum of human spirituality. He focuses on a subculture of the current hippie counterculture known as “Bliss Ninnies” — individuals who embrace meditation and dancing as a way to reach ecstatic states of joy. The book provides an overview of a new contemporary hippie life within America introduced to Schapiro by his son who began his own journey into Bliss at age 23.”
These incredible coin sculptures were created by artist Robert Wechsler, who was commissioned by The New Yorker to create this work for their October 14th “Money” themed issued. Wechsler’s coin designs are crafted with money from varying countries of origin into geometric, fractal-like shapes. These shapes were created using a jeweler’s saw to cut out notches in the metal and then linked together with other coins. Wechsler has used coins for some of his past work, and most of his sculptures are created with objects from life’s seeming mundanity, like fingerprints, schooldesks, snails, a toaster, and an iron.
Wechsler writes, “Comfortably accustomed to everyday objects and spaces, we are blind to their unseen beauty and elegance. Who looks at a shopping cart or a toaster for the object itself? This state of static expectations is fertile ground for surprise. It is a conscious re-examination of my subjects that re-instates the novel back into the familiar. This is the moment of surprise, the moment we discover what is unseen in what is always seen. In reverence for what initially appears modest we get a small glimpse of the boundless elegance of our world.”(via exhibition-ism)
I first encountered the work of Nashville-based painter and visual artist Danielle Duer at a local restaurant-slash-coffeeshop. The order line separating me from my hipster-approved gourmet grilled cheese — well, it was long, but I didn’t mind. All the while that we inched forward, salivating obscenely, my eyes were glued to the walls of the establishment, for it was there that a number of Duer’s creations hung. I may or may not have jostled a few fellow salivaters aside so as to get a clearer view of each piece, hanging there against haphazardly stuccoed walls beneath little strips of birch bark that simply read “Danielle Duer.” First thought: I want one.
Duer’s paintings and drawings couple dainty details with fanciful landscapes, all rendered in vivid color. Ships sail in from far off places and bears cavort on unicycles in imaginative scenes that would look right at home on book covers. As the artist once said, she learned as a child to create places, whether through writing, painting, or drawing, that were smothered with the most “delicious, bizarre scenery.” As her creations show, she is also well aware of the importance of “oddities and peculiarities” in making something beautiful.
Take a closer look at Danielle Duer’s beautiful somethings after the jump.