Loving the playful geometric portraits of Indonesian artist Yuschav Arly. Brace yourself for a whole lot of teal. There’s something very appealing about constraining one’s work to a very particular palette – an approach common among a lot of my favourite artists and illustrators.Read More
I've just noticed that Douglas Coupland has a new website. It might be new. It certainly looks new, and I don't remember it being there before, so … let's assume it's new. I'm a big fan of Coupland's writing – my faded pink edition of Generation X is never too far away – but I've only recently explored his art. It treads that big murky line between art and design; a blend of Mark Farrow, Peter Saville, Bill Drummond and Anthony Burrill. In summary: rather tasty.
If you aren't already familiar with Simon Stalenhag's Scandi-scifi art, I suggest you get over to his site at once. He paints an ominous blend of the nightmarish and the calm, landscapes depicting the aftermath (or normalisation) of some horrifying techno-biological events. Often narratively linked, Stalenhag's work looks like concept art for the greatest film never made. It's surely only a matter of time before Hollywood comes calling – just imagine him paired up with Alex Garland, David Fincher or Denis Villeneuve.
Ed Ruscha with six of his books on his head. Photograph by Jerry McMillan, 1970. I would love a copy of every one of those, but mostly I want that shirt because hot damn.
Jack Coggins' space-age illustrations – particularly these from Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles and Spaceships (1951) and By Spaceship to the Moon (1952) – depict the future from a very particular period, when the idea of manned space exploration was transitioning from pure fantasy to exciting possibility. And they're beautiful. Rather than fretting about pathetic little borders down here on Earth, maybe we should be embracing more of this kind of species-wide optimism and sense of adventure. Check out jackcoggins.info for more of Coggins' work.
"When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too."
—Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art
I keep seeing Alexay Kondakov pictures all over the web at the moment (although ironically, not in the real world), so I thought I'd pick out a few of my favourites. To those not familair with his work: he basically places characters from classical paintings into contemporary urban settings, imbuing the figures with a new seediness and violence. As well as some deft Photoshoppery, the real beauty of these is in the well-observed pairing of painting, location and lighting. I particularly like the comic shop one – those looks of indifferent superiority are absolutely spot on.
In the latest episode of fabulous design podcast North v South, there's a big discussion about how designers use colour. There's some mention of the origin of pigments, pre-Pantone, and one particularly gruesome bit of trivia is mentioned. Mummy Brown, a rich brown pigment popular amongst the Pre-Raphaelites, was made by literally grinding up Egyptian mummies. It's impossible to tell which specific paintings it appears in, but it's believed that Martin Drolling's L’interieur d’une cuisine is a particularly good example of it in use. Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:
Mummy brown was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, both human and feline. As it had good transparency, it could be used for glazes, shadows, flesh tones and shading. However, in addition to its tendency to crack, it was extremely variable in its composition and quality, and since it contained ammonia and particles of fat, was likely to affect other colours with which it was used. It fell from popularity during the 19th century when its composition became more generally known to artists. The Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones was reported to have ceremonially buried his tube of Mummy Brown in his garden when he discovered its true origins. By 1915, one London colourman claimed that he could satisfy the demands of his customers for twenty years from one Egyptian mummy.
Mummy Brown eventually ceased being produced in the mid-20th century when the supply of available mummies was exhausted … what a strange sentence to type. Anyway, for more on the history of pigments and cat-grinding, check out The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair.
To promote this year’s Frieze New York art fair, photographer Nicholas Calcott has shot artefacts from the studios of various legendary New York artists – including Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring and Jackson Pollock. Selected and arranged together details, the items form portraits of each artist; battered tools, notes and ephemera offer the briefest of glimpses behind the curtain. I'm particularly drawn to Josef Albers’ Pantone guide – I bet that seems some thumbing in its time.
Swedish artist Michael Johansson creates wonderful sculptural installations by – please stop me if I'm going too fast for you here – arranging stuff into shapes. Okay, there's probably more to it than that. There's something exceedingly satisfying about the way he seamlessly piles a bunch of unrelated things into a doorway just so, suggesting unlikely relationships between object and architecture. May the world forever be his Tetris.
Ben Pieratt's new project – Dead Bookstore – is such an exceedingly simple and elegant idea, it seems odd that it hasn't been done before. Basically, he breaks signature-bound books down into individual sheets and looks for interesting unintentional compositions that can be framed as art. Images that would've been pages apart in the book now lay side-by-side, contrasting and interrupting each other. The results are quite beautiful – I may start plundering charity shops for potential cadavers to disassemble.
Something really rather wonderful has arrived in the post: the Marber Grid, recreated by everyone’s favourite design blogger (and bloody nice chap) Richard “Ace Jet 170” Weston, using nothing but cotton thread and map pins. Look at it there, being all rational and beautiful and pinny. It has immediately found it’s way into a permanent spot on my otherwise sparse desk.
Update: Richard is now selling these to order on his site. Go get.