Poignantly Raw Photographs Show An Uncensored Motherhood

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The photographer Elinor Carucci’s recent series Mother reads like a visual diary of the pains and pleasures of motherhood, a raw and uncensored confessional of love and a complex relationship to the female body. Within the aesthetic framework of more traditional portrayals of the mother, she highlights the visceral and bodily with romantic reverence.

Carucci relies in part upon the image of the art historical Virgin Mary, mirroring Renaissance paintings in which the virgin clasps the child in her lap, his soft baby limps coiled around her abdomen. Similarly, a strange and beautiful self-portrait features the artist in a hospital bed, a mysterious and seemingly divine light shone directly over her womb. With symmetry evocative of Renaissance art, her newborn twins nurse at her breasts, each head resting on a pillow of deep blue characteristic of the virgin.

Mother transforms our understanding of the divine, expanding it to apply to real, mortal women, our bodies and our fears. Unlike Mary, our protagonist is not a virgin; instead, her sexuality is the source of her creative energy; her milky breasts are shown alongside the vulva, her stretch marks and scars creating s subtle cross in the center of her torso. Her daughter, appropriately named Eden, sneaks a look down her mother’s underwear, marveling at the beauty and power of the genital area with moving innocence, her face bathed in light.

With the beauty of life and love comes the poignant fact of growing up and innocence lost. As the girl’s hair is cut, her green eyes are stricken with fear, the bothersome remains of lost hair littering her face. Similarly, a child bears a wound, which swells painfully from her lip like a ripe pomegranate seed; during bath time, she wriggles from her mother’s arms, shot in relative darkness, desperate to return to a state of play. Take a look. Mother is currently on display at New York’s Edwynn Houk Gallery. (via Beautiful Is Now and Feature Shoot)

Disturbingly Erotic Paintings Capture Growing Up And Innocence Lost

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For her frightening and beautiful portraits, the artist and designer Tamara Muller uses her own face, pasting it atop various haunting figures. Within the context of these crudely drawn bodies, her features, seen over and over again, take on an uncanny, trance-like quality, allowing them to collectively span her entire lifetime from girlhood to the present. Within this expressionistic realm, the barriers between childhood’s innocence and the guilt of adulthood are disturbingly blurred to create a narrative where play and fear work in tandem.

Muller’s faces leap dizzyingly through the ages: baby, child, adult, blurring the lines between male and female in the process. A seemingly incomplete rendering of the bodily form appears to the post-Renaissance eye as primitive or childlike, creating a cognitive and visceral tension with the heavily weighted heads, which are given a disproportionate depth and dimensionality. For this reason, the fleshy, flushed faces seem dangerously precarious, as if they were too psychologically burdened to rest comfortably on a naive and doll-like body.

In a realm where child self and grown self live side-by-side, an uncomfortable eroticism emerges, carrying with it the guilt of innocence lost. In one image, a woman bears her naked breasts, her head taxed with the weight of a baby face robbed of her body. In another disturbing piece, a young girl sits on a rabbit, normally a symbol of fertility and sex, baring her disturbingly youthful genitalia. A woman holds a younger version of herself, and the latter’s body wilts, rag doll like. In these powerful images, it’s unclear who is haunting whom; is the grown self plagued by her childhood, or is it the other way around? Take a look. (via HiFructose)

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Soulful Portraits Of Deceased Animals Laid Down To “Sleep”

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After the death of a dear friend, the photographer Emir Ozsahin was struck by the poignancy of life and grief, choosing to confront by creating heartbreaking images of deceased animals. In his series Pastel Deaths, he captures lifeless creatures in gentle tones, hoping to undo the fact of their tragic deaths with the naiveté of a child incapable of processing mortality: with the utmost innocence, he poses a dog beneath a blanket and offers the grey-nosed canine a book to read.

The series conveys this youthful optimism and poignant refusal to accept death with the use of tiny fixtures that could easily reside within a child’s dollhouse: a bed on which a bird might lay his beak, a straw nest for a guinea pig, a tiny, sudsy bathtub for another, darkly featured bird. The artist’s relentless striving to erase the fact of and his own personal knowledge of death is utterly heart wrenching; we follow him as he personifies each creature with a soft pair of miniature pajamas, a stuffed toy, or a pair of fallen glasses.

The juxtaposition of the dead with the artist’s infant-like insistence upon life results in a painfully intimate conversation with death and with each once-living being. Ozsahin’s subjects are so unflinchingly peaceful in their eternal slumber that the viewer must approach them only with utter care; the eye holds each for a moment like a tender newborn baby, then sets him down to rest. As viewers, we waver between acknowledging the facts and whispering to ourselves quietly, “No, look, he’s just sleeping.” While using once living creatures as subjects normally raises ethical flags for me, Ozsahin’s images read like Victorian post-mortem shots of humans, serving to tenderly and lovingly memorialize each creature. (via Feature Shoot)

Alain LaBoile’s Poignant Images Catalog Childhood Abandon

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When Sally Mann published a series of photographs of her children titled Immediate Family in 1992, she spotlighted childhood with a rich tonal backdrop of a Virginia riverside summer house, and she was met with accusations of child pornography. About twenty years later, caught in a starkly different contemporary artistic current, the photographer Alain LaBoile presents La Famillie, a series that for its distinctive silver gelatin aesthetic and subject matter seems to pick up where Mann left off.

 

LaBoile’s work, unlike Mann’s, lacks the suggestion of immediacy, binding viewers within the nostalgic frame of childhood play, entirely carefree and unabashed. Mann’s work is urgent: she reveals a haloed shot of her daughter, blonde hair dancing in pool of water like some inexperienced Ophelia, and she tragically subverts its innocence with image of the last nude swimming photo her son let her take. Childhood for Mann is something to be beautifully lost, but for LaBoile, it’s more of a constant realm, easily returned to with a flash and made blindingly undeniable by jarring accents of white.

 

The innovative power of this contemporary work relies upon oh-so-subtle symbols of purity and incorruptibility of youth; a boy digs himself from mud filled and grave-like abyss, resurrected in glowing white to a young girl who prances about the Edenic verdure. Similarly, another daughter remains preserved in a class case, safely nuzzled between fine china and a white cat. Bums innocently moon the camera like those of cherubs. A boy printed in a blinding sort of white appears to hang from a tree; yet upon closer inspection, he’s just climbing, playing the part of a-not-yet-fallen Adam for an onlooking sister. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)

David Michael Chandler’s Childhood Gif Worlds

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On his blog, “The Daily Doodles”, self-taught artist David Michael Chandler features an illustration or gif every day accompanied by a story or poem. Most of his work is representative of childhood fears and nostalgia, and includes science fiction and fantastical elements. I love his bright color palettes and dreamy narratives. His worlds are full of childhood imagination and possibility.

Chandler says, “Everything I create on my site is written and drawn by me alone, and I love how I can control every aspect of my art and have it succeed or fail with only me to blame. I try to keep it all as original as possible, and as a rule I don’t reference anything from pop culture, such as TV or movies.”

Chandler currently lives in Los Angeles. (via art chipel)

Toy Art: Artists Incorporate The Objects Of Our Youth

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I have to confess I am easily drawn to works of art that resemble or depict toys and other childhood objects.  At face value these works are easy, as all of us have some form of relationship or pre-existing association with the referenced nostalgic icons.  In other words, the works naturally engage us and draw us in.  However, these works, specifically those featured here, use the familiar imagery to interject layers of conceptual content, moving far beyond catchy into heavier implications, through expert usage of scale, quantity and context.

Context is key in these pieces.  Maurizio Cattelan is a conceptual master of context, as demonstrated in his piece Daddy Daddy, which features a large drowned figure of Pinocchio floating face down in a pool inside the Guggenheim.  The result is ironic, tragic and flawless.    As well, the practice of significantly altering scale such as Jeff Koons‘ balloon animal sculptures, Urs Fischer‘s Untitled (Lamp/Bear) and Yoram Wolberger‘s life-size sculptures of toy and trophy figurines, allows the objects to become monolithic, dwarf us and alter our sense of reality.

Joe Sorren’s Soft Oil Paintings Capture the Mystery of Childhood

NYC via Arizona artist Joe Sorren creates oil paintings of idyllic children and their soft, forgiving companions. He  shares a similar palette with Dave Cooper, and both artists have also been represented, at one time or another, by the same gallery (Jonathan Levine in Chelsea, NYC). But that’s pretty much where the comparisons end. Where Cooper depicts hedonistic wood-nymphs frolicking in the woods, Sorren places children sitting on a blanket reading a book. The artist’s beautiful paintings show us that there is as much intrigue and mystery in the lighter (and perhaps also sad) elements in in life as there are in the dark, animalistic realm of self-serving greed. Sorren will hold a small solo show in Levine’s project room in December.

New Work from Pierre Botardo

It’s hard to stand out as a collage artist these days. But Brooklyn-based Pierre Botardo is so good at what he does that his wonderfully composed , vibrant works have no trouble ‘standing out’. This new batch of collaged goodness from Botardo gives you the idea that the artist has somehow gazed into the collective childhood memories of all Americans, and combined his experiences into a collection found on paper that is so empathic, that it makes us want to go home and do it all again.