Arthur Tress’ Haunting And Mythological Childhood Dream Interpretations

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Published in 1973, Arthur Tress‘ photo book, The Dream Collector, features visions of childhood dreams and nightmares. Tress began shooting these dream scenarios in the 1960s, first speaking with children about their dreams and nightmares, then staging an interpretation of the children’s visions via photography. During the 60s, staged photography was a rather new development within the photography medium; most photographers were taking shots on the streets. Over the next 20 years, Tress developed his trademark black and white, mythological, surreal photography. The Dream Collector collection represents Tress’ particular style while expressing “how the child’s creative imagination is constantly transforming his existence into magical symbols for unexpressed states of feeling or being.”

“The children would be asked means of acting out their visions or to suggest ways of making them into visual actualities,” Tress explains. “Often the location itself, such as an automobile graveyard or abandoned merry-go-round, would provide the possibility of dreamlike themes and spontaneous improvisation to the photographer and his subjects. In recreating these fantasies there is often a combination of actual dream, mythical archetypes, fairytale, horror movie, comic hook, and imaginative play. These inventions often reflect the child’s inner life, his hopes and fears…”

The Getty Museum recently acquired 66 of Tress’ photographs from two collections, including images from The Dream Collector. (via juxtapoz and gothamist)

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Delightful GIFs Of Adorable Monsters Capture Childhood’s Fears

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 With his collection of delightful three-dimensional GIFs, the illustrator Dain Fagerholm creates whimsical universes that are both wondrous and terrifying. Filled with monsters reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s “wild things,” the precious animations exist in a space caught between childhood nightmares and dreams. The artist draws each by hand, and the illusion of three-dimensionally of the work is expressed by a fast-paced alternating between a few images drawn from similar but differing perspectives.

Fagerholm’s lovely work is infused with a playful sense of anxiety; his characters, both human and otherwise, curl on the ground of tightly enclosed spaces like affrighted children. Wide-eyed and appearing to move manically back and forth, they hold their knees close to their chest. In these strange, surreal narratives, we are invited to feel the claustrophobia of a time out, recalling the lonesomeness and isolation of being bound to our rooms. One girl seems to be trapped within a TV screen, seemingly sucked into a blue, static-filled haze by her own imagination, peering curiously and excitedly outward.

These sweet, solitary creatures play and daydream in a dark state of nighttime unease. A seven-headed dragon evokes images of the beast from the biblical text Revelations, recalling (in an unexpectedly adorable way) frightful notions of eternity and punishment. As if pulled from films like The Shining or Poltergeist, Fagerholm’s characters transcend the real world, reaching instead for a chaotic, nervous aesthetic. With eyes dazed like hypnotic spirals, these little monsters seem to wait impatiently for sunrise and open air, for someone to keep them company. (via Demilked)

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Andy Prokh’s Playful Series Captures Love And Friendship Between A Girl And Her Cats

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Russian-based photographer Andy Prokh captures images of his 6-year-old daughter, Katherine, and her pet cat, LiLu, as they grow up together. With the recent addition of a new feline to the Katherine and LiLu friendship, Prokh has now been photographing the friends as a trio. The threesome play chess, do homework, have tea, and play games with each other. Each photograph tells a story, each story resonating with childhood’s creative imagination. Prokh’s use of black and white enhances the whimsy and nostalgia evoked by his images. Prokh says he takes photographs of the friends because he loves them and believes “a photographer must love what he shoots.” Equally as impressive as his playful, fine art aesthetic is Prokh’s ability to stage and pose his pets, as cats are creatures not generally known for their obedience of human commands. You can check out Prokh’s full gallery of this series on his website. (via my modern met)

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An-Sophie Kesteleyn’s Photographs Of Young Children And Their Guns

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Since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and other tragic massacres, gun ownership and Second Amendment rights have been a site of intense controversy; on both sides of the debate, fear is a driving force, with one side arguing that guns provide protection and the other asserting that firearms cause more deaths and injuries.

How do guns factor into the lives of younger generations, born during this period of political strife? The photographer An-Sophie Kesteleyn adds to the dialogue with My First Rifle, a series of portraits of children bearing Crikett rifles, a firearm designed for children with a smaller scale and a variety of color choices. Beside each image, Kesteleyn places a torn, school-lined notebook page, onto which her subjects write their deepest fears.

Many of the .22 caliber rifles look like colorful toys; shot atop their small beds and beside Disney princess merchandise, the children appear as though caught by adults in a game of make-believe. They position their guns across their bodies in a protective manner, shielding themselves and their cozy bedrooms from the lens. The rooms, neatly ordered, maintain a certain innocence that is at times irreconcilable with the notion of a weapon intended to wound or kill.

Furthering this thread of childlike naiveté are the children’s drawings depicting their fears; these scrawling notes, touchingly misspelled, often assign terror to fictitious or extinct creatures: zombies, werewolves, dinosaurs. In this way, the artist incorporates the weapons into an elaborate realm of youthful nightmares. Depending on the viewer, this choice could either implicate NRA activists as infantile conspiracy theorists, or it could paint the world as a dangerous place wherein weaponry is necessary. What do you think? (via Feature Shoot)
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11-Year-Old Prodigy Draws Astounding Natural Scenes

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In his first eleven years of life, the Serbian artist Dušan Krtolica has already exhibited his drawings at two nation-wide solo shows. He began his drawing career at two-years-old, displaying an astounding visual ability; since then, the prodigy has focussed his efforts on depicting wildlife and natural worlds, both existing and extinct. As with the notebooks of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, Krtolica’s pages are filled to their edges with rich anatomical and zoological studies. Though passionate about drawing, the fifth-grader hopes someday to pursue his passion for animals by becoming a zoologist.

Krtolica’s drawings magically marry a childlike sense of wonder with a more seasoned visual precision; though startlingly detailed and studiously seen, his work maintains a frenetic and unabashed curiosity. His ocean floors and vast jungles are seemingly blessed with creatures of different periods, as if more mature and evolved animals could intermingle with primordial beasts. The bodies of animals overlap in the midst of a wonderful chaos, and an armed knight is envisioned with the same degree of specificity as a tiny beetle.

Though powerfully scientific and unfalteringly observant, Krtolica’s images contain within their borders an ineffable quality of life and vitality, as seen through the rubbing of hybrid wings, the weaving of a spider web. The artist possesses both the awe-filled eye of a child and the technical ability to render his imaginings on paper, and that is a truly magical combination indeed. Take a look. (via Demilked)
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John Wilhelm Creates Hilarious Photo-Manipulations For His 3 Small Daughters

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In the surreal photographic worlds of father of three John Wilhelm, the imaginative play of childhood is a force to be reckoned with; motivated by childhood memories of video games and television, the university IT director spends his free time dreaming up fantasies for his three daughters, 6-month-old Yuna, 2-year-old Mila, and 5-year-old Lou.

Wilhelm’s impressive body of work, composed of images heavily-manipulated in Adobe Photoshop, is simultaneously touching, thrilling, and humorous. Most children have fantasized about the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, seduced by the adventure of it all and by the terror of the Big Bad Wolf, but this father’s retelling of the classic fairy story is a little bit different; here, the girl is just as wild and free as the wolf, for instead of being fooled into believing that the beast is a peaceable gentleman, she howls with him, tossing her head ecstatically.

The bravery of the small children is highlighted again in a poignant image in which Mila offers a tiny bunch of yellow flowers to a wizened, toweringly large buffalo, whose magnificent, uncouth hair stands in stark contrast with the girl’s miniature peacoat and knitted pom-pom hat. In these fantastical images, the smallest of humans can be the most powerful; the littlest of all, Yuna, is often shown as wreaking havoc on her befuddled parents, who wear space masks to feed her or change her diapers. Indeed, this mischievous bunch is subject to no one’s will but their own, and in this visual play land, they are granted everything they could ever wish for. (via Demilked and Bored Panda)
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Erika Sanada’s Grotesque Yet Poignant Creatures Give Face To A Child’s Fears

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Erika Sanada’s imaginary creatures toe the line between the grotesque and the adorable; inspired by her childhood trauma and memories of bullying, the artist delves into her deepest anxieties, plucking out tiny hairless ceramic beasts, each of whom appears strangely misshapen by a nervous sort of womb. As a girl, Sanada imagined transforming her tormenters into hideous monsters, presented here as birds and rats with twin heads or dogs that display infinite rows of glinting teeth.

As if stolen from a perverse Eden, Sanada’s endearing beasts are as innocent as they are frightful. “Newborns” introduces a trinity of puppy-rat hybrids, who, despite their sharp claws and thick, bald tails, elicit our sympathies; their soft, tender eyes have yet to open, and the tiniest of baby tongues pokes out of a toothless mouth. Similarly, a hairless beast crawls across a platform, leaving a trail of sticky epoxy that resembles amniotic fluid. He has two tails, each fleshy and naked, and yet he is so poignantly small and delicate that we yearn to comfort and protect him as he makes a perilous journey into the adult world.

As if possessed, Sanada’s cast of characters, whom she charmingly refers to as “Odd Things,” reveal black marble-white eyes, absent of pupils or irises, the effect of which is wonderfully unsettling. As we confront these magical manifestations of our most secret fears, they stare back invisibly, tracking us not with sight but with an intractable knowledge of our own vulnerabilities. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
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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)
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