Norman Rockwell’s Reference Photos For His Iconic Paintings Revealed

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Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) was a celebrated 20th-century American painter and illustrator, whose works became the imagery depicting everyday life in the States. It appears, Rockwell’s photo-realistic artworks were often accompanied by staged photographs which artist then used as a reference to paint his nostalgic scenes.

Storytelling is a natural part of all of Rockwell’s paintings. Often disguised, the true story would reveal itself through the smallest details which the artist always considered beforehand. Take his illustration called “Marriage Counseling” (below): the intention is clear but there are many unfolding details like the man’s black eye or even the books stacked in the shelves reading Van Eyck and Giovanni Bellini. Due to these impeccable narratives, even the reference photographs become works of art.

“There were details, accidents of light, which I’d missed when I’d been able to make only quick sketches of a setting. A photograph catches all that.”

At first, Norman Rockwell was hiring professional models but after awhile he switched to having his friends and neighbors posing for the photographs. For example, the tattooed sailor (below) was also Rockwell’s neighbor, Clarence Decker. During his career, artist produced over 4,000 original works and snapped more than 20,000 reference shots. The collection was revealed by the Norman Rockwell Museum and its curator, Ron Schick. It was also turned into a traveling exhibition and book titled “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera”. (via NPR)

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Ethereal Portraits By Merve Morkoç Showcase Horrific Beauty

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Beauty is a treasured thing in our culture, and Turkish artist Merve Morkoç, aka Lakor mis, turns this ideal on its head. At first glance their paintings are of seemingly young, glowing-skinned models, but a longer gaze reveals that these subjects all have something seriously wrong with them. Coupled with their well-coiffed hair are fantastical disfigurations that you’d see in a horror film. Warped eyelids, caved in faces, and rashes exist on these young women.

Any sort of pleasant response you initially had is probably gone, and the works are like a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The strange details are intriguing, and it speaks to Morkoç’s expert handling of the medium that they are easily able to fool us into thinking something that’s repulsive is actually beautiful. (Via Hi Fructose)

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Sexually Charged Paintings By Till Rabus Collide Between Hyperrealism And Symbolism

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Swiss artist Till Rabus combines hyperrealism aesthetics with a touch of surreal scenarios to create his sexually charged, marginal paintings. Rabus’s inconvenient art consists mostly of suggestive anthropomorphic still lives and tangled up limbs, all engaging in provoking sexual situations. His immaculate attention to real-life detail makes it hard to distinguish a painting from a photograph.

Regardless of the intended eroticism, Rabus’s paintings are far from vulgar. His works rarely depict straightforward sexual objects, rather use symbols to create the desired connotation. Viewer is left with phallic confectionery, oysters and other inanimate objects that stimulate the imagination. Even the orgiastic compositions don’t reveal the full story but depend on observer’s ability to give personal meaning.

The clash between hyper-realistic style and symbolic, surreal content is what makes Rabus’s works so eye-catching. An also unexpected symmetry and palette of complementary colors induces a sense of order in an otherwise chaotic Rabus’s world of fantasy. (via Asylum Art)

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Matt Reilly Skateboards Over Canvases To Create Vibrant Abstract Paintings

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Matt Reilly of Japanther performs live skateboard painting at Mana Contemporary on May 6th, 2014 from Plasticity NY on Vimeo.

Brooklyn-based artist Matt Reilly of Japanther skateboards on a canvas-covered mini ramp in order to create loosely colored paintings. With just a handful of simple tools: a skateboard, some paint-dipped sponges and a plain canvas, Reilly was able to create his abstract-looking artworks by skating back-and-forth over the sheet.

The setting for the “Wall Ride” was installed at the Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. A white canvas was tacked to the surface of a half-pipe. Using saturated sponges attached to the wheels, Reilly colored the white sheet in vibrant shades of blue, red and brown. After finishing one artwork, the canvas would be replaced and the process would start all over again.

Distinct in texture and color, Reilly’s works have been titled to resemble Jackson Pollock’s and Aaron Young’s abstract art. Apart from the end result, artist’s live performance is titled to be a big part of the whole experience. Watching the mesmerizing process of an artwork unfolding puts the viewer into a creative catharsis. Reilly’s “skate-paintings” can be purchased on Artsy platform. (via designboom)

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David Irvine Enhances Crappy Thrift Store Paintings With His Own Funny Additions

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If you’ve ever visited a thrift store, you’ve no doubt seen the wonderfully-awful paintings that people have given away. Completed paint-by-number sets, idyllic landscapes, and amateurish attempts at impressionism are common sights. Artist David Irvine takes thrift store paintings and enhances them with additions of his own. He brings in characters from popular culture to these compositions, such as Darth Vader, the Marshmallow Man, and Bambi. Irvine maintains the original style of the paintings when creating the mashup, making the figures look as though they’ve been there all along.

Some of the paintings are subversive and a feature villains about to tear through the town or city that they’re in. Other times, the characters are helpful, like the Storm Trooper that’s helping with yardwork. Twisted or not, these works are funny, and the kind of artwork from the thrift store that you’d actually want to display in your home. (Via Demilked)

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The Surreal Ceramics Of Sergei Isupov

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In Sergei Isupov’s hands figurative ceramics are both instantly recognizable and strangely surreal. Heads are tattooed, the art integrated into the facial features. The backs of the heads often add a separate contrasting element. Lift the head to find a third, hidden design on the base. The images create a narrative, but what does it mean?

“My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences. My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed. These details are all derived from actual observations but are gathered or collected over my lifetime. Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage.” Source

Contrast is inherent to the nature of ceramics. The sculpting that goes into creating the work is meticulous and controlled but once the piece is lowered into the kiln the firing is random and unrestrained. In Isupov’s work the form and content are also contradictory. The figures and heads are realistic, even somewhat minimal, yet the paintings on them are surreal, highly detailed, often adding a skewed dimensionality. There are demons and distortions, surplus limbs and conjoined bodies. Isupov’s works create a world that is visually stunning and conceptually disturbing.

“I am a student of the universe and a participant in the harmonic chaos of contrasts and opposites: dark — light; male — female; good — evil. Working instinctually and using my observations, I create a new, intimate universe that reveals the relationships, connections and contradictions as I perceive them. … When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.”

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Discarded Old Books Turned Into Artworks Featuring Miniature Copper Paintings

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American artist Joseph Decamillis breaths second life to old discarded books by inserting miniature illuminated into their covers. Postage stamp-sized artworks are done on copper plates and placed in carved niches. Decamillis’ works turn two-dimensional book covers into exquisite spatial collages.

“As a painter of miniatures on copper, Joe found old books the perfect match to narrate and contain his exquisite illuminated images. <…> Carving niches into old books emphasized the storytelling nature of the work.”

Combining the inscribed meanings of a book with his whimsical paintings, Decamillis constructs new discourses between book cover’s inherent text, oil-painted imagery, carefully selected text additions and the viewer. To create his trademark miniatures, Decamillis uses brushes with no more than three hairs each. After finishing the piece, the book is sealed to never be opened again.

All books featured in the “Miniature Paintings In Altered Books” series are real, mostly found in libraries, bought at thrift store bargains or given by family and friends. In this project, Decamillis was able to unite his passion for books with self-taught skills of oil painting and collage. Artist claims to often research the books before altering to find potential monetary or historical value. (via Messy Nessy Chic)

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Sexual Transgression Through The Eyes Of Neckface And Four Other Artists

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Often treading between reverence and ridicule, the mystifying allure of art that reiterates sexual transgression remains suspended within a deviating purgatory of the sacred and the obscene. Buoyantly drifting within the underbelly of normative culture, the erotic and transgressive create a synergetic relationship in a strike against societal conventions. Through a crude presentation of social perversions, the atmosphere created through sexually transgressive art permits an insight that challenges not only sexual precepts, but invites a critique of human behavior irrevocably influenced by social structures. In an explosive resurgence of suppressed sexual impulses, the following artists create frantic, tense and exquisitely obscene renderings of deviations and sexualized social distortions.

Featured artists include Tina Lugo, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Ventiko, Mia Makila and Neckface.

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