In his long-running portrait series Second Skins, artist Miguel Vallinas (previously) uses photographic portraits of wildlife as a starting point to construct fictional wardrobes that he imagines each animal might wear if it were dressed as a human. Vallinas has an uncanny ability to select the perfect colors and textures for each outfit he photographs, bestowing the animals with a clear sense of character and an unusual authenticity.
On the surface, Second Skins is a humorous series of portraits guaranteed for a smile, but dig a bit deeper and Vallinas suggests the images reveal a more about human nature than the animal kingdom. Specifically, how we perceive people based on appearance and how we create narratives in our mind based wholly on what we see. Vallinas says he is also examining elements of self-perception, specifically “what we believe we are, what others think we are, what we really are, and what we would like to be.”
For his latest body of work titled Roots, Vallinas again explores identity through similarly dressed boquets of flowers or plants matched with remarkably fitting attire. You can see much more on his website.
Chinese artist DU Kun has long harbored a reverence for music and rockstars. A musician himself, the Beijing-based painter is awed by the creation of music, aspects of fame, and the intangible aura of being a revered rockstar, something he tries to capture is these temple-like portraits of famous Chinese recording artists titled “Revels of the Rock Gods”.
Each oil painting depicts the face of a musician as if it were a temple built in devotion to a god and borrows elements from Buddhist and Confucian architecture. Eyes are depicted as windows, tree branches or waterfalls as flowing hair, and the surface of skin as ornate wood facades gilded with gold.
Kun is currently exhibiting the “Revels of the Rock Gods” series as part of his first solo show in Japan at Mizuma Art Gallery in Tokyo through February 13, 2016. You can explore close-up details plus an archive of Kun’s work on his website. (via Hi-Fructose)
At a small American Legion carnival near Bellows Falls, Vermont. Photo by Jack Delano, 1941.
The New York Public Library just released high-resolution scans of 180,000 public domain images including photographs, etchings, watercolors, sheet music, maps, stereoscopic views, and other images dating back as far as the 11th century. From their press release:
Did you know that more than 180,000 of the items in our Digital Collections are in the public domain? That means everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials in almost limitless ways. The Library now makes it possible to download such items in the highest resolution available directly from the Digital Collections website. No permission required. No restrictions on use.
Not only is the NYPL encouraging people to use these public domain images in their personal endeavors without restriction, they’ve also announced the NYPL Labs Remix Residency for “artists, information designers, software developers, data scientists, and journalists.” Selected individuals will have the opportunity to work on-site at the NYPL as part of a paid residency to create work from this near endless resource of imagery. If that sounds interesting to you—which I know it does—you can apply online here.
They’ve also built a fantastic visual search tool that allows you to sort images by genre, date, and even color. Go make something amazing people! (via Kottke)
Artist Lisa Smirnova hand-embroiders colorful works that appear like delicate colored pencil drawings, appropriate since she couples the craft with a dedicated drawing practice. Her works on cloth depict both the anonymous and famous, stitching renditions of Frida Kahlo and Charles Bukowski along with images of tattooed men, rabbits, and a lush floral arrangement punctuated with a human heart. Using thread, cotton, and wool her works can take months to complete, the piece below taking exactly three.
French photographer and director Romain Laurent (previously here and here) started making portrait-based GIFs as a way to produce work outside his commercial jobs, a spontaneous project that would encourage him to produce consistently for himself rather than clients. Each GIF is simple in its concept—a snap of the finger, a twist of the hand—yet is elegant in its composition of muted colors and subjects often centered squarely in the frame. Although GIFs often incorporate the whole subject, Laurent’s work highlights one or two specific movements, isolating gestures rather than animating the whole image.
Laurent studied product design at the National School of Applied Arts in Paris before realizing photography was his medium of choice. Laurent nows works in New York City and has collaborated with clients such as Reebok, Hermes, Lacoste, Nissan, Google, and GQ. You can see more of his inventive portraits on his Tumblr, and access his GIFs directly on his Giphy page here.
English artist Ed Fairburn (previously) uses vintage road maps and star charts as canvases for drawn portraits. Cross-hatched patterns and shaded regions inside roads, borders, and rivers assimilate into the contours of faces, as if the images had always been secretly hidden in the map’s topography. “In his hands, both built infrastructure and natural phenomena echo the organic human form,” shares Mike Wright Gallery. “National highway systems become capillaries, and the tangle of Paris’ alleyways become the wrinkles that give the face history and individuality.”
For her latest series Shake Cats, Portland photographer Carli Davidson trained her high speed camera on a parade of flittering felines, capturing each cat mid-shake in an explosion of fur, skin, and spit. You may recognize Davidson’s work from her previous portraits of shaking dogs and puppies. This new series proves to be equally humorous—if not more so—and is accompanied by an equally fun video, seen below. She even managed to get a cameo of famed internet cat Lil Bub.
The most frequent question Davidson gets about the series is how she coaxed the cats into shaking. The assumption is that she simply dumps water on them, but the answer is much more humane. After acclimating to the studio, some cats shake when simply pet by a human hand dipped in water. In other instances the cats were photographed during a standard ear cleaning using Epi-Otic ear cleaner applied by an animal care professional.
Most of the 61 cats appearing in Shake Cats are rescues, and Carli also had the opportunity to shoot regular high-quality portraits for each animal to encourage online adoption (which in most cases happened almost immediately). A portion of Davidson’s advance from the book will support three Portland shelters who provided its subjects.