History

Section



Design History

Book Conservator Nobuo Okano Repairs Tattered Books to Make Them Look Brand New

April 21, 2015

Johnny Waldman

For the past 33 years Japanese craftsman Okano Nobuo has been repairing tattered books and reconstituting them to look brand new. When a customer brought in an old Japanese-English dictionary that looked like it had been through a few wars, Okano approached it like an art conservationist repairing a painting. Using very basic tools like a wooden press, chisel, water and glue, Okano reconstituted the book to make it look like it was just purchased.

The tedious job required Okano to take each page—all 1000 of them—and flatten out all the creases with tweezers and an iron. But not everything is repaired. Okano makes some things disappear, like the initials of an old girlfriend. And much like the way a sculptor removes pieces to improve on it, Okano applies a subtractive process to bring the book back to life.

Once the job was done the book was returned to the customer, who presented it to his daughter as she was on her way to college. “It’s not their shape or form but what’s inside them that attracts us to books,” says Okano. For a man who makes it his job to repair the shape and form of books it’s an incredibly humbling statement and is a testament to the value we still hold in physical books. (via Reddit)

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History Photography

Intimate Portraits of 50 Artists and Their Cats Compiled by Alison Nastasi

April 8, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

Henri Matisse/© Robert Capa /© International Center of Photography / Magnum Photos

Henri Matisse/ © Robert Capa / © International Center of Photography / Magnum Photos

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cat/ James van der Zee /1982

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cat/ James van der Zee / 1982

John Cage/ Courtesy of the John Cage Trust

John Cage/ Courtesy of the John Cage Trust

Herbert Tobias / Photograph by Peter Fuerst; @ 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Herbert Tobias / Photograph by Peter Fuerst; @ 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Georgia O'Keeffe / Photograph by John Candelario / Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

Georgia O’Keeffe / Photograph by John Candelario / Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

Pablo Picasso / Photograph by Carlos Nadal, 1960; © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Pablo Picasso / Photograph by Carlos Nadal, 1960; © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol 1 / © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol 1 / © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Maya Lin / © Michael Katakis / The British Library

Maya Lin / © Michael Katakis / The British Library

Artists and Their Cats from Chronicle Books, edited by Alison Nastasi

Artists and Their Cats from Chronicle Books, edited by Alison Nastasi

Although many have been considered an artist’s muse, none have served as repeatedly as the common feline. Often basking directly beside our world’s famous artists, cats have consistently served as creative companion and confidant. New from Chronicle Books is Artists and Their Cats, a collection of intimate portraits featuring many of the past century’s most recognizable artists and their feline counterparts.

Editor Alison Nastasi writes in the book’s introduction, “Many artists buck notions of a stereotypical temperament, but researchers have long speculated that creative individuals share common attributes—which mirror those of cats.” More than 50 pairs are highlighted throughout the book—cats perched on laps, desks, and even atop heads. Included in the cat compendium is everyone from Basquiat to Matisse with images of Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe in-between. Salvador Dali himself graces the cover with cane and noted Colombian ocelot Babou. Artists and Their Cats is now available on Bookshop.

 

 



Craft History

Embroidered Paintings and Historical Photos by Mana Morimoto

April 2, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Fiber artist Mana Morimoto spares no medium with her vibrantly stitched embroidery that spans sculptures, installations, weavings, and 2D materials like concert tickets and advertisements. Among my favorite of her works are these embroidered monochromatic photographs and paintings. An etching of Isaac Newton is overlaid with rainbows of light and Morimoto even goes meta by embroidering on images depicting other fiber artists, going so far as mimicking the progress of a weaving on an old photograph. You can explore more of her work in Tumblr, Cargo Collective, and some of her works are available as prints on Society6.

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Animation History

The Ballad of Holland Island House: An Animated Short Created by Painting with Clay on Glass

March 30, 2015

Christopher Jobson

Built in the late 1880s, Holland Island House was the last surviving structure on an rapidly eroding island in the Chesapeake Bay. The island’s inhabitants were forced from the island in the 1920s, but this one Victorian structure stood for decades as the land around it disappeared. After numerous attempts to save it, the house finally collapsed into the ocean in October of 2010.

In her stop-motion short The Ballad of Holland Island House, animator Lynn Tomlinson shares the story of the house through an innovative clay-on-glass animation technique. Every single frame was painted by hand with clay and photographed, a medium that lends itself perfectly to depicting ocean currents, memory, and the passage of time. Music by Anna & Elizabeth.

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Art History Photography

Photographers Create Meticulously Faithful Dioramas of Iconic Photos

March 17, 2015

Johnny Waldman

Making of “The Wright Brothers” (by John Thomas Daniels, 1903)

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“The Wright Brothers” (by John Thomas Daniels, 1903)

It all started with a joke—a rather ironic challenge, if you will, to recreate the world’s most expensive photograph: Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II. Because for commercial photographers Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger, that meant tolling away in their spare time when money wasn’t coming in to recreate a photograph that had just sold for $4.3 million. This was the beginning of Ikonen, an ambitious project to meticulously recreate iconic historical scenes in miniature. The ongoing project includes immediately recognizable shots—the Wright Brothers taking flight, the Lock Ness Monster poking its head out, “Tank Man” halting tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests—because the images have been seared into our collective memory.

“Every field has its icons, guiding stars, which reflect the spirit of time in form, media and content,” says the photographers. And when something is photographed, it has a way of transcending time rather than becoming isolated. Historical symbolism is fluid and our perception of it can change the same way history can. This, perhaps, is why Cortis and Sonderegger pull away from their miniature scene at the very end, revealing what each photograph actually is: paper, cotton balls, plastic and plenty of their own spare time. Photos shared with permission from the artists. (via Wired)

Making of “Nessie” (by Marmaduke Wetherell, 1934)

Making of “Five Soldiers Silhouette at the Battle of Broodseinde” (by Ernest Brooks, 1917)

Making of “Tiananmen” (by Stuart Franklin, 1989)

Making of “AS11-40-5878” (by Edwin Aldrin, 1969)

“AS11-40-5878” (by Edwin Aldrin, 1969)

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Making of “Lakehurst” (by Sam Shere, 1937)

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Making of “The last photo of the Titanic afloat” (by Francis Browne, 1912)

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“The last photo of the Titanic afloat” (by Francis Browne, 1912)

Making of “La cour du dumaine du Gras” (by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, 1826)

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“La cour du dumaine du Gras” (by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, 1826)

 

 



Art History

CT Scan of 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reveals Mummified Monk Hidden Inside

February 21, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Photo by M. Elsevier Stokmans; Boeddhamummie (Drents Museum)

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(MMC / Jan van Esch)

What looks like a traditional statue of Buddha dating back to the 11th or 12th century was recently revealed to be quite a bit more. A CT scan and endoscopy carried out by the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, showed the ancient reliquary fully encases the mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School. While it was known beforehand the remains of a person were inside, another startling discovery was made during the scan: where the organs had been removed prior to mummification, researches discovered rolls of paper scraps covered in Chinese writing.

The Liuquan mummy has since been transported to Hungary where it will be on view at the Hungarian Natural History Museum through May of 2015. (via Robs Webstek, Neatorama, Creators Project)

Update: Among some practicing Buddhists it’s been said that similar mummies “aren’t dead” but are instead in an advanced state of meditation. (thnx, Alan!)