This series, entitled Babel Tales, is a recent work of Danish photographer Peter Funch. To create each photograph, he sat at an NYC street corner with a tripod and snapped away, eventually finding common elements amongst all the pictures and compositing those elements into one shot. The result is something familiar yet very artificial – feeling almost as if each photo is staged.
At first glance, these twisted, manipulated, and camouflaged bodies appear to be the work of a photographer who is very skilled in Photoshop. However, the subjects in these photographs are not the product of digital alteration, but were transformed at the hand of a simple paintbrush. Artist Natalie Fletcher uses the body as a canvas, applying her paint and imagination directly upon the skin of her subjects. Formally trained at art school, she broke away from the traditional method of painting after graduation and began her pursuit as a master of body art. The artist uses the lines and color applied by paint as a means to create a variety of different captivating and puzzling optical illusions.
In her series titled Just An Illusion, op art breathes new life on the skin of her subjects, as she covers the bodies in spiraling lines. The bends formed in the patterns seem to warp the bodies so to us they appear twisted, sunk in, and even cut open. In another series of Natalie Fletcher’s, titled Against the Wall, an illusion is still apparent, as each body has been blended into the background thanks to her painterly magic. In some cases, it is difficult for you to decipher where the wall stops and where the paint begins. Fletcher’s talents in body painting has not gone unseen, as she has won GSN’s “Skin Wars” and is in the process of traveling across the country, painting two bodies in each state.
There is a long-standing tradition of artists blurring the boundary between art and design. With institutions such as MOMA featuring an entire department devoted to architecture and design, it is considered an important part of art history and culture.
I recently heard New York Times art critic Roberta Smith lecture and she mentioned that it’s a shame our society doesn’t place more emphasis on visual literacy education. If we did she believes that everything in our world, from buildings to city layouts, to objects, would be more aesthetically pleasing. Here are some instances of artists who emphasized the concept or appearance of an object rather than simply its function, bridging the gap between art and design:
Donald Judd, one of the leaders of Minimalism, has an amazing legacy in design. Another well-known architect who creates highly designed furniture is Frank Gehry. Roy McMakin is a Seattle-based artist who usually incorporates an element of verbal pun. McMakin’s designs feature an overarching investigation of how perception influences meaning. Hannes Van Severen and Michael Beitz both create captivating, surreal furniture. Artists like David Shrigley and Adam McEwen work humor into their design-work. Even artist Yves Klein has a table, created under the direction of his widow, that features his famous blue. Damien Hirst designed a chair replete with his signature butterflies and Yoshitomo Nara designed “doggy radio,” a fully functional radio in the form of a dog.
It’s not uncommon for artists to create functional objects, but those objects do often stand out for their elevated level of design and conceptual consideration. If indeed everyone put as much thought into form as they did function the world would probably be a much better looking, or at least a more visually interesting, place.
An teacher of mine once said not to worry about if something has been done before, but instead of what you think has not been done enough. Jackie Gendel looks to be a die hard fan of Henri Matisse and André Derain, and feels the work they started has not been finished. It’s interesting to see how a style which was so radical a hundred years ago that a critic claimed in contempt that the work had been made by “wild beasts,” yet painted today seems perfectly beautiful and comfortable. The radicalism is gone, yet Gendel carries their spirit of autonomy of lines and colors. If you like what you see, you can see more of it at the Jeff Bailey Gallery until November 10.
Ryan Samuel Carr is a native artist/illustrator of Ventura, California. Ryan’s beautiful line work and dreamy figurative elements remain a constant reoccurring theme throughout his extensive body of work. When I look at Ryan’s work, even if the subject matter is just the roots in a pile of weeds he always seems to capture a rare and very sincere moment only hinting at whatever secrets the particular root, or bed of flowers have to say. Ryan’s unique line work evokes so much feeling and emotional manifestations. Ryan shares a bit of his mark making process in this direct quote from the talented young artist himself:
“I think a lot about the ‘immediacy’ of drawing (with ink and pencils), and the individual mark in a moment of time; what that all says…it’s very mystical and meditative for me.”
Mixing an admiration for John Baldessari with her own childhood memories of cutting/altering magazines with her mother, Flore Kunst creates captivating collages from vintage postcards and magazines, while sprinkling a few contemporary clippings throughout. A graduate of Emile Cohl for design, Kunst’s eye for intriguing detail and clean lines is evident; however, it’s her creative visual juxtapositions that truly capture our attention most, allowing us to meditate on the female form and its signifiers from era to era– how it all clashes and confuses even the most contemporary culture and its psyche.
We’ve put it off for as long as possible but you can now follow me and see all the awesome, random, and random stuff I photograph all day long. I can’t promise a few occasional shots of the adorable B/D mascot Mr.Baxter but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. What you can expect is lots of art, design, street art, studio visits and more. So jump on your phone, ipad, and any other Instagram compatible device and follow your favorite art publication at @beautifuldecayofficial !