Art

A New Book Chronicles Over Two Centuries of Japanese Woodblock Prints

December 15, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Featuring 200 prints by 89 artists, Taschen’s new book Japanese Woodblock Prints (1680- 1983) is a journey through two centuries of the art form. Ranging from depictions of everyday life to kabuki and erotica, the XXL edition is a 622-page art history lesson and a high resolution visual compendium rolled into one.

For this tome, Taschen spent three years reproducing woodblock prints from museums and private collections from around the world. Written by Andreas Marks, head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the book is divided chronologically into seven chapters beginning with the 17th century early masters and concluding with the Shin-hanga movement. Large, vibrant images of demons, villages, confidants, and landscapes fill the book’s pages, complemented by essays and captions that reveal more about the artists and techniques. There are 17 fold-outs, as well as a full appendix listing the artists, the titles of the woodblock prints, and editorial notes.

To add this comprehensive edition to your art book library, head over to Taschen.

 

 



Art

Illustrations by David Alvarez Reflect the Intersection of Fantasy and Reality

December 14, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © David Alvarez, shared with permission

When working in black and white instead of a muted color palette, Mexico-based artist David Alvarez (previously) manages to still create illustrations rich in texture and contrast. Layers of graphite and charcoal on white and cream colored paper form complex shadows. Highlights emerge from the negative space and become the light on stone walls, on faces, and on glowing wings and shiny armor.

The depictions of creatures from myth and fantasy are personal projects from Alvarez’s notebook that have been reworked at random over time. “There is an attempt to represent how humanity moves, how it thinks, how humans are in collective,” he tells Colossal. “A jumble of undivided people who move by reflex and without autonomy.” The new drawings of little girls, stone pillars, and soldiers are illustrations for an as yet unpublished book that the artist says is about “social pressures and the search for freedom.”

You can see more of Alvarez’s contemplative work on Instagram and purchase prints of his illustrations via his Etsy shop.

 

 



Art History

Researchers Unearth World’s Oldest Figurative Artwork in Indonesian Cave

December 13, 2019

Grace Ebert

A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said. (via Artnet)

 

 



Illustration

Artist Yuko Shimizu Utilizes Repetition and Primary Colors in Her Idiosyncratic Illustrations

December 13, 2019

Grace Ebert

All images © Yuko Shimizu, shared with permission

Award-winning artist Yuko Shimizu describes her detailed illustrations in a note to Colossal as “a bit off, weird, and dreamy.” Her work, which is often centered on but not limited to Japanese culture, frequently employs primary colors and repetitive elements. In one illustration, the artist portrays a marcher wearing a red uniform and blowing into a multiple-belled instrument with blue birds and yellow flowers in the mix; another features a female figure ascending from dark, swirling waters with a mask seemingly ready to be fitted to her face.

Shimizu says her “Blow Up” series was designed originally for a show at the Society of Illustrators where the images first were exhibited stretching from floor to ceiling. One work depicts dozens of legs donning red and white striped socks that are bound together by a thick rope. It’s what Shimizu terms her illustration about “wind blowing up to form a human-storm.” In another piece, a body stands knees pointed inward with just the mouth visible in a blur of red swirls. The series is inspired by multiple definitions of the phrase “blow up.”

The artist has a background in marketing and advertising, and many of the works she produces today are commissioned for an impressive list of clients, including Apple, Microsoft, and Nike. Based in New York City, Shimizu also teaches at the School of Visual Arts. Keep up with all of her unusual imagery on Instagram.

 

 



Craft

Aerial Embroidery Showcases the Hidden Patterns of Cultivated Farmland

December 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Humble fields become abstracted artworks in thread paintings by Victoria Rose Richards. The artist uses a combination of tight, straight lines and lush French knots to emulate the rural patterning of closely-cropped fields divided by hedges and woods. Richards, who is 21 years old and based in South West Devon, U.K., draws inspiration from the natural beauty that surrounds her. “My art is influenced by my love of the environment and conservation, which I developed during my biology degree I completed this year,” Richards tells Colossal.

A lifelong artist who also manages chronic pain and Asperger’s syndrome, Richards landed on embroidery during college as a way to lift her spirits and engage her mind between classes and studying. “I pulled some nice blues and greens out of my grandmother’s old embroidery tin and had my first go at an embroidery landscape in October 2018,” Richards explains.

The artist is constantly learning new techniques to broaden her range of textures and patterns, finding community and inspiration through the global network of embroiderers who are connected through social media. You can follow along with Victoria Rose Richards’s thread paintings on Instagram.

 

 

 

 



Photography Science

Tiny Ice Crystals Simulate a Halo Around the Sun in Photograph by Michael Schneider

December 12, 2019

Grace Ebert

Photo by Michael Schneider, shared with permission

On a November trip to the Arosa mountains in the Swiss Alps, Michael Schneider snapped a photo using his iPhone 11. The Zurich-based photographer and writer says the image he captured as the fog dissipated shows small ice crystals in the clouds, which break up the sunlight. The crystals’ insides reflect the sun, which is then broken again as it leaves the inside chamber, resulting in the halo of light.

Gizmodo’s Mika McKinnon elucidated the phenomenon when a similar shot was taken a few years ago.

Ice halos happen when tiny crystals of ice are suspended in the sky. The crystals can be high up in cirrus clouds, or closer to the ground as diamond dust or ice fog. Like raindrops scatter light into rainbows, the crystals of ice can reflect and refract light, acting as mirrors or prisms depending on the shape of the crystal and the incident angle of the light.

You can find an analysis by Mark McCaughrean of the atmospheric optics at work in the image below. Keep up with Schneider’s travel writing and the frozen landscapes he frequents on his Instagram. (via Kottke)

Photo annotation by Mark McCaughrean

 

 



Design

50,000-Square-Foot Garden Populates New Workspace, Making It the Densest Urban Forest in Los Angeles

December 12, 2019

Grace Ebert

Designed by Spanish architects SelgasCano, a Los Angeles workspace has popped up in a formerly empty parking lot in Hollywood. The recently opened SecondHome Hollywood boasts a 50,000-square-foot garden of 6,500 trees and plants and 700 tons of soil and vegetation. It is Los Angeles’s densest urban forest and is also home to 112 native species.

The Hollywood location, which is the first in the United States, contains sixty yellow-roofed office pods. It also encompasses the Anne Banning Community House, a ’60s building designed by prominent architect Paul Williams who is known for defining much of Los Angeles’s architectural aesthetic throughout the 20th century. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 

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