Animal sculptures by Australian artist Natalie Ryan are inspired by taxidermy. While conventional taxidermy practices dictate that she preserve the skin/fur of the animal she is preparing, Ryan instead uses synthetic materials to cover casts of squirrels, bears, and monkeys. Her current portfolio cloaks these animals entirely in blue velvet.
While Ryan’s web presence is limited, her gallery representation, Dianne Tanzer Gallery in Melbourne writes about Ryan’s latest exhibition, Evanescere, stating:
Continuing to explore notions of the cadaver as a secondary form, a shadow of it’s living self, these works depict the internals of animals stripped of their dermis and identifying features. Evanescere looks at the body in a suspended state of disappearing. In conjunction with this, these works also explore the idea of the animal cadaver on display and museology as a resting place. These works combine bodies and elements of the landscape that reference the paradigm of Natural History Museum displays. They seek to question the role the body plays in the Museum and the loss of the individual as it becomes a subject to represent an entire species.
Ryan’s decision to color her work bright blue introduces a contemporary aesthetic to taxidermy. It references the trends of home decor over the past few years, in which loud, unnatural colors are applied to natural objects. When thinking about traditional taxidermy and how it uses real feathers and fur, the artist makes a statement about craft and preservation. The prevailing attitude of culture champions innovation and exploration of the new. Ryan is stripping this practice of its ritual, simply using foam casts and not real animals. She’s chosen a color and material that’s more en vogue. We are drawn to this work because it’s a twist on an old practice. She makes taxidermy fresh rather than just feeling old.
Designer Armin Blasbichler‘s work is often jarring. His series ORSON, I’m Home strikes a special chord, though. The series is composed of three “dining sculptures” created primarily from the bodies of various farm animals. While we may be more accustomed to farm animals adorning plates on the furniture, seeing them as taxidermy furniture makes for a surreal juxtaposition. The furniture confronts its users with the consumption it usually facilitates. Interestingly, for the series Blasbichler features a quote from professor and writer Don Slater: “In talking of modern society as a consumer culture, people are not referring simply to a particular pattern of needs and objects […] but to a culture of consumption.”
C. Owen Lavoie’s (better know as C. Owen) series of photographs entitled Trophies captures the emergence of exotic creatures out of darkness. Because they are shrouded in so much darkness, these portraits at first seem to be taken in close proximity to live animals, but Lavoie is able to get so close to these beasts because they are taxidermied. This creates a haunting and mysterious effect that reflects on ideas about preservation, death, and hunting. The lens captures the preserved expressions of the creatures’ vulnerability, creating a sort of double preservation of the dead animal that stares right back at us. Lavoie says that she considers the series ”a way of bringing the animals back to life for the public eye. It’s sort of like a third generation; first the animal was born, then hunted and handed over to a taxidermist so it can be displayed and finally in the end, modified by my lens.”
Much of the work of Brandon Vickerd carries an uneasy quality about it. They often feel as if a situation is suddenly shifting from normal to worst-case-scenario. Vickerd’s work reveals the death and disaster hidden beneath the mundane we take for granted. For these pieces, The Passenger and The Passenger II, Vickerd creates life like sculpture from previously living material. Taxidermied animals appear to make up the body of a person that is otherwise waiting. The sculptures were installed in public areas wearing normal clothing.
The artwork of Cassandra Smith exists in the space between juxtapositions. Taxidermied animals are often a bit creepy. However, Smith’s stuffed forest friends are also playfully decorated – fish covered in rhinestones, and fur in bright paint. The natural plays with the synthetic, old with the new, and utilitarian with the decorative. She says of her work:
“My work is about manipulations and transformation. It is about exploring the ways that I can enhance and change found objects to give them something they did not have in their former life.” [via]
Taxidermy is a subject that frequently makes people squeamish and uncomfortable, and there is something definitely something surreal about preserving an animal that has died. Idiots are a Dutch art collective who combine their skills in sculpture and design create taxidermy works of art that are both playful and disturbing. The animals are lifelike and dynamic, but often with their bodies torn apart, stuffed into glass containers, or trapped in unnatural positions. Their sculptures often exhibit the animals inner workings, and replace organs with metals, minerals, or jewels. The beauty contained inside the animals makes their lifelessness even more tragic, and indicates that the artists recognize the morbidity in their own work.
…My attention has been drawn to the cheap distractions we choose to place in our immediate vicinity, with which to screen us from the overwhelming facts: that we are nothing; that our only certainty as individuals is a life, of unspecified duration, and then a death.
Seeing some crazy output from London-based artist Claire Morgon. Using a lot of unusual materials, she’s put together some really huge (both in scale and technique) installations. Dandelion seeds? Taxidermy? Yes please.
But to get the full Morgan effect, you have to click to her website. She’s got some awesome works on paper too. And if you’re anywhere near Cologne, Germany, head over to Galerie Karsten Greve, where the artist is currently showing a new batch of work. (via)
“My recent work references a variety of artistic techniques and influences from traditional oil painting and modern digital photography to the iconography of ancient Egypt , the American pin-up and nineteenth-century taxidermy. In this group of work, I seek to chronicle the relationship between the genesis of female icon objectification and its historical development. These works describe the psychological juxtaposition between the inherent urge to exploit one’s own short-lived youth and the pressures of adhering to social expectation. I explore the push and pull of these two concepts, asking how they have affected the female psyche and as well as how society has actively created its own vision of the idealized female.
My source material includes a range of visual elements, attempting to portray diverse visualized vernaculars, both past and present, into single compositions. My centralizing of the female figure illustrates the tensions and conflicts between the power of their beauty and strength of their character, as well as their inevitable vulnerability. Historically, artists have exploited the tradition of realistic oil portraiture not only to create a likeness, but also to embody the essential character of the subject. My paintings reconcile traditional portraiture with the more modern idea of an active subject, depicted not solely based upon her social status, but immortalized for her beauty and appeal. Similarly, the inclusion of taxidermied trophy animal heads alludes to the vulnerability of a creature that is prized for its beauty, complicating the notion of power attributed to the anthropomorphized deities of the ancient Egyptians. Finally, the figures are foregrounded against fragmented views of digital interruption and pixilation, serving to remind one of how computerized communication has profoundly affected how we reimagine the female form.”