Sammy Slabbinck’s surreal collages disassemble the world and construct a surreal place of strange happenings. Taking portions of found imagery, the artist builds compositions in which women are out of proportion and larger than life. They are integrated into the landscape and dominate the scene, while others in the frame barely seem to notice these beauties. There are other bizarre events happening in Slabbinck’s artwork, such as men carrying sections of the galaxy, buildings sprouting out sexy legs, and people at a dinner party watch a bomb go off while appearing unaffected. It almost seems like that the only people that seem aware of their surroundings are the giant women. These are the characters that confront us as viewers, looking right back at us.
Drawing inspiration from vintage books and magazines, Sammy Slabbinck’s collages have a classic feel to them with a modern twist. The composition he creates tends to be both humorous and seductive, as different elements that were once normal now become bizarre through distorted scale and strange juxtapositions. Everything should seem out of place, but Slabbinck’s perfect placement and imagery combinations make everything appear perfectly balanced. You can see more of Sammy Slabbinck’s work on his site or at Saatchi Art.
Self Portrait in Black Lingerie with Camera and Mirror, 1955
Bettie Page Reclining on Sofa at Coral Gables, FL, 1954
Self Portrait in Polka Dot Bikini with Rolleicord Camera, 1963
Original personal and behind the scenes photographs of infamous pin-up models Bettie Page and Bunny Yeager are now on view at the art gallery Gavlak, in Los Angeles as part of the exhibit How I Photograph Myself. You may think this is a strange title, but it actually refers to a book that Bunny Yeager herself wrote during her lifetime. Born in 1929, Yeager was not only a wildly successful pin-up model, but also a photographer herself who very often took her own photographs. She came into modeling after meeting actress Bettie Page shortly after studying photography at Lindsay-Hopkins Technical College. Bettie Page asked Bunny Yeager to photograph her, and Yeager eventually began modeling herself. She was not only an accomplished photographer and model, but also a scriptwriter and author, publishing How to Photograph Nudes and How I Photograph Myself, hence the exhibition title. These books went on to influence such well-known photographers as Cindy Sherman and Diane Arbus.
What is so interesting about these photographs, besides the obvious appeal and seductiveness of the pin-up style clothing and curvy women, is that Bunny Yeager was able to become so successful both as the photographer and model; the artist and the muse. Her femininity and beauty was laid out on a silver platter as a model, yet she could be taken seriously in a time when men dominated almost any scene. To portray yourself in such a sexual way and also sought after as a woman in your craft would still be an accomplishment today, let alone in the 1940s and 50s. Bunny Yeager was able to work against the traditional male gaze, and create her own photographic style that is both delicate and alluring. How I Photograph Myself will be on view at Gavlak from July 25th to August 29th.
Pastel-hued and delicate, the body part collages in the series “Anatomy” are part of Hong Kong artist Kayan Kwok’s daily art project “A poster per day for 365 days. ” The scope of her project is impressive—one fully realized piece of art every day for a year. Along with “Anatomy” the categories for the one-a-day posters are “Banana”, “Birdman”, “Blow”, “Dot”, “Hand”, “Letter”, “Loner”, and “Lost.Found”. Each grouping has a specific aesthetic and point of view although all are inspired by vintage graphics and American advertisements from 1920–1960.
In “Anatomy”, Kwok combines tinted anatomical drawings with mostly black and white figural images, incorporating other elements including scissors, flowers, and animals. She says:
“Collage has a surrealism background, but other than that, it also act[s] like Alchemy. Because you are putting stuff together from different places and times, the result is clearly unpredictable and this is what makes collage so fascinat[ing].”
One of the things that make this work captivating is the shifts in scale between body part and inhabitant. The small figures are nestled in, reclining on a heart chamber and a brain cavity. The integration of disparate parts into a cohesive whole makes these pieces deceptively simple. In fact, the blending of content and styles is technically accomplished, somewhat subversive, and really quite lovely.
Visual artist Kalen Hollomon, recently titled the “cut out king of New York”, is blurring the lines between the social conformity and taboo with his mixed media artworks. His collages feature mundane city life moments, high fashion editorials and old advertisements blended with clippings from vintage pornography scenes.
“I am always concerned with what lies beneath the surface – with relativity, perception, sexuality and pop culture. My images are reality manipulation, manipulating other people’s identities. The idea of and ability to alter the value or meaning of an image or object by adding or subtracting elements is really exciting to me – adding or taking away elements from something until it becomes the sexiest it can be at that moment.”
Holomon is christened to be the child of the iPhone generation. Snapped with a smartphone camera, his creative collages started gaining exposure thanks to the social media platforms Instagram and Twitter. However, the same attention has forced the artist to censor some of his works. Hollomon says he “had accounts shut down and posts removed for as little as butt cheeks”.
Beyond the absurdity and wit, Hollomon’s work also represents the new trend of privacy-lacking public photography. His instant iPhone images from New York’s streets and subways rarely deal with any permissions for public use. That unawareness is exactly what turns such works into powerful socio-documentary messages. (via Dazed)
Ossian Brown is an English artist and musician whose book “Haunted Air” gives us a rare glimpse at the vintage celebration of Halloween in America, c. 1875-1955. Anonymous photographs collected from family albums depict the traditional macabre costumes from ages past.
“I find their haunting melancholy completely absorbing; all of these photographs <…> now torn out, disembodied and forgotten <…> they’ve now become fully and utterly the masks and phantoms they dragged up as, all those years ago.”
Compared to today’s flashy, pop-culture inspired Halloween costumes, these get ups of are capable of giving viewer the chills. Black and white photographs feature children and adults dressed with strange DIY masks and robes. Popular motifs contain disguising as devils, witches or animals.
According to Brown, he was fascinated by the wild imagination of these people who at the time were living in great poverty but still managed to create “these incredible and phantasmagorical apparitions”. From whatever inanimate objects, they would construct truly haunting costumes and kept with the essence of tradition which is overlooked nowadays.
To give the book even more mystery, the foreword was written by David Lynch. A short excerpt presented here:
“All the clocks had stopped. A void out of time. And here they are – looking out and holding themselves still – holding still at that point where two worlds join – the familiar – ant the other.”
Filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz began compiling vintage photographs of queer couples when he happened upon a photo album that he realized contained the life a lesbian couple. Intrigued by the visibility with which they claimed with these photographs, despite living in the early to mid 20th century, when homosexuality was less accepted and more hidden that it is now, Lifshitz filmed a documentary – Les Invisibles (2012) – chronicling the lives of LGBT couples born between the two World Wars. Lifshitz just released a companion photo book –The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride – last month. These images capture a lifestyle that was largely invisible to the mainstream culture to which it belonged. Photography was a way for queer communities to be visible to each other and to document the lives they led, however invisible they were to the heteronormative culture of their time.
Of his collection, Lifshitz says, “I don’t know these people — they are anonymous to me. I can’t really even say that each person photographed into the book is gay, except when it’s obvious. What I like is that there are different levels of reading these photos — I would say three levels to be exact. The first one is the pictures of obviously gay single people or couples, the second is the pictures of people which can be seen as ‘undefined’ (we’re not sure) and the third level is the ones that are obviously not gay but playing with a gay attitude (cross-dresser, some ‘garçonnes,’ etc.). I love the ambiguity and diversity of these pictures. These photographs ask questions. I didn’t caption the photos because I don’t know quite anything about each of them (no name, no location mentioned most of the time). I wanted to expose them like the way I found them: without any information, like mysterious pictures.” (via brain pickings)
Canadian photographer, Amy Friend revisits the past and explores themes of memory and impermanence through the alteration and re-imagination of vintage photographs. The artist inserts a charming glow to the silhouettes of her subjects; the additions makes the images come to life, almost as if the aura of the deceased is alive. “By re-using lights”, she says “I return the subject of the photographs back to the light, while simultaneously bringing them forward.”
I employ materials and surroundings that are familiar to me using them as starting points for my investigations. These materials become the substance I use to inform the work I create. In my practice I tend to work within the medium of photography, however, I am not concerned with capturing a “concrete” reality. Instead, I aim to use photography as a medium that offers the possibility of exploring the relationship between what is visible and non-visible.
Cari Vander Yacht animates old photographs she found in thrift stores located near her hometown in Portland, Oregon. For the Amsterdam-based art director’s side project, TGIMGIF (Thank God It’s Monday Graphic Interchange Format), she breathes humor and new life into photographs that have been abandoned. Vander Yacht says she stares at the photos until she finds herself giggling over her animation ideas; she then scans and digitally manipulates the images until they become the animation she envisions. Her only rule is that she has to use the elements already in the photograph. Of her acquisition of these old photos, Vander Yacht tells Fast Company, “At a certain point, one must justify their creepy acquisition of other people’s pasts. Either you make up stories about how you’re related to the people in the pictures or you animate them.” Vander Yacht’s website is currently down for maintenance, but you can view more of her work on Tumblr. (via fast company)