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Art

A Serpentine Rattlesnake Wraps Around a Metaphorical Wood and Book Sculpture by Maskull Lasserre

January 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Maskull Lasserre

In a towering, totem-style sculpture titled “The Garden,” Canadian artist Maskull Lasserre (previously) compresses a collection of 18th-century botanical texts between two parallel planks of Douglas Fir. Metal vices bore through the wooden beams, securing the first four volumes of William Withering’s An Arrangement of British Plants, although both the natural and manufactured components are eroded with Lasserre’s intricately carved snake that winds around the perimeter and appears to bind the individual components together. “The Garden” is one of the artist’s most recent works that metaphorically and physically considers the concept of tension, and you can see more in his portfolio.

 

 

 



Art

Playfully Absurd, Idiosyncratic Characters Grace the Salvaged Book Sculptures by Mike Stilkey

January 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mike Stilkey, shared with permission

Dapper penguins, nonchalant musicians, and self-destructive politicians are a few of the distinct figures adorning Mike Stilkey’s sculptures. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) rummages through heaps of discarded books, plucking out complementary titles that become the basis for his towering works. Using ink, colored pencil, paint, and lacquer, he renders minimal portraits of figures with exaggerated limbs or instruments and gestures that show a flair for the absurd.

Vacillating from the playful and whimsical to the cheeky and ironic, Stilkey’s idiosyncratic, sometimes anthropomorphized characters translate an essential interpretation of the volumes’ messages or subject matter through a contemporary lens. He explains:

Sometimes it’s a wry, tongue-in-cheek, satirical kind of thing, and sometimes it’s an extension or interpretation of it. It depends on the book and my mood. There’s been a lot of fodder over the past couple of years with all of the political conversations and things you hear or read on the news or social media. But I’ve always been able to do this with books. It’s one of the reasons I started using books as a canvas or vehicle for painting—the richness of layering literary and visual narratives over each other to convey something more complex.

As well as the repurposed sculptures shown here, Stilkey also creates installations with thousands of books and large characters, although these on-site projects have been put on hold since the onset of the pandemic. Prints and postcards are available in the artist’s shop, and you can follow his works on Instagram.

 

 

 



Illustration Science

In 'Wild Design,' Vintage Illustrations Expose the Patterns and Shapes Behind All Life on Earth

January 5, 2022

Grace Ebert

Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Gotha: Bibliographisches Institut. All images from Wild Design: Nature’s Architects by Kimberly Ridley, published by Princeton Architectural Press, shared with permission of the publisher

Focusing on the patterns and shapes that structure the planet, a new book published by Princeton Architectural Press explores the science behind a trove of organically occurring forms. Wild Design: Nature’s Architects by author Kimberly Ridley pairs dozens of vintage illustrations—spot the work of famed German biologist Ernst Haeckel (previously) among them—with essays detailing the function of the striking phenomena, from the smallest organisms to the monumental foundations that extend across vast swaths of land. These structures are simultaneously beautiful and crucial to life on Earth and include the sprawling mycelium networks connecting life above and below ground, the papery, hexagonal cells comprising honeycomb, and a spider’s funnel-like web tailored to trap its prey. Dive further into the world of Wild Design by picking up a copy from Bookshop.

 

(Johann Andreas Naumann, Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands, 1820. Leipzig: G. Fleischer

Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Gotha: Bibliographisches Institut

Berthold Seemann, Journal of Botany, 1863. London: R. Hardwicke

Henry C. McCook, American Spiders and Their Spinning Work, 1889. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia

 

Henri de Saussure, Études sur la famille des vespides, 1852. Paris: V. Masson

Oliver B. Bunce and William C. Cullen, Picturesque America, 1872. New York: D. Appleton

 

 



Art Craft Photography

Colossal's Favorite Books of 2021

December 8, 2021

Colossal

Before we (eagerly) say goodbye to 2021, we’re taking a look back at the year, starting with the books we covered on Colossal. Throughout the past 12 months, we published dozens of articles centered on new artist monographs and tomes surveying broader topics that range from art and design to science and history. We’ve gathered our top 10 below, although you can browse nearly every title we mentioned on the site on Bookshop.

 

Nature’s Palette: A Color Reference System from the Natural World

Nature’s Palette: A Color Reference System from the Natural World pairs 110 color swatches from the 19th-century catalog Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours with more than 800 illustrations of the animals, plants, and minerals detailed in the descriptions. The comprehensive visual compendium ranges from large renderings of red coral to full-page charts spanning fine-grained marble to smoky quartz.

Available from Bookshop

 

Hilma AF Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII

Throughout her lifetime, the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint created more than 1,600 pieces, an impressive output collected in Hilma AF Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII. The seven-volume series is organized both chronologically and by theme and shares a breadth of her colorful, spiritually-minded body of work.

Volumes I—IV are available on Bookshop and the remaining three are available for pre-order

 

African Artists: From 1882 to Now

One of the most expansive volumes of its kind, African Artists: From 1882 to Now compiles a broad sampling of works from more than 300 modern and contemporary artists born or living on the continent. Within its 350-plus pages, the massive text spans a range of mediums and aesthetics, from Mary Sibande’s sprawling postcolonial installations and Wangechi Mutu’s fantastical watercolor collages to the cotton-embroidered photographs by Joana Choumali.

Available from Phaidon

 

Bird: Exploring the Winged World

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. The stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs.

Available from Phaidon

 

Paperists: Infinite Possibilities in Paper Art

Spanning 256 pages, Paperists: Infinite Possibilities in Paper Art explores the unexpected ways the medium is used today, sharing a range of collages, quilled portraits, and intricately cut landscapes from 24 artists and studios around the globe.

Available from Bookshop

 

Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji

An XXL edition from Taschen is an homage to renowned Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and his iconic woodblock print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Compiling the artist’s original 36 artworks and the ten pieces he created following the success of the initial collection, the tome celebrates the lauded artist and his fascination with Japan’s highest mountain.

Available from Taschen

 

Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry

Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry introduces the life and work of the anonymous street artist to some of the youngest readers. The 48-page book is cleverly written as a plainspoken autobiography and references Dismaland, his “Better Out Than In” residency in New York, and signature rats.

Available from Phaidon

 

Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings

An enormous book explores the life and work of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). Spanning 624 pages and weighing nearly 12 pounds, Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings compiles all 152 of her works paired with diary pages, letters, drawings, an illustrated biography, and hundreds of photos that glimpse moments from Kahlo’s life with her husband and muralist Diego Rivera and of the Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City

Available from Taschen

 

Amazônia

Photographer Sebastião Salgado spent six years immersed in the Brazilian Amazon as he documented the world’s largest tropical rainforest in black-and-white. From wide, aerial shots framing the vegetation populating the landscape to sincere portraits of Indigenous peoples living throughout the region, Salgado’s images are a revealing and intimate study of the area and are compiled in Amazônia.

Available from Taschen

 

Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea

From the coral-cloaked Kimbe Bay of Papua New Guinea to the icebergs of Antarctica’s Danco Island, the bisected photographs in David Doubilet’s book Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea unveil the diverse ecosystems on either side of the water’s surface. The 128-page volume features 70 images from Doubilet’s 50-year career spent traveling the globe and pioneering the field of underwater photography.

Available from Phaidon

 

 



Photography

A New Book Captures Roger A. Deakins's Signature Cinematic Style Through Ironic Black-and-White Photos

December 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images are © Roger A. Deakins

Alongside his work with a host of renowned directors like the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes, and Denis Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger A. Deakins spent the last five decades quietly amassing a collection of photographs that capture his distinct sense of irony and wit. Now compiled in a monograph titled Byways, the black-and-white images traverse rural North Devon, the English coasts, and distant locales from 1971 onward, documenting Deakins’ surprising and idiosyncratic encounters with life across the world. Signed editions of the new book, which features a spate of previously unpublished images, are available now from Bookshop. (via Juxtapoz)

 

 

 



Art History Illustration Photography

A New Book Flies Through the Vast World of Birds from Art and Design to History and Ornithology

November 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Ernst Haeckel, Trochilidae – Kolibris, from Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Chromolithograph, 36 × 26 cm / 14 × 10 ¼ in. Picture credit: Kunstformen der Natur

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. Published by Phaidon, the stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers—including Lorna Simpson (previously), Nick Cave (previously), Ernst Haeckel (previously), and Florentijn Hofman (previously)—who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs. Each spread connects two distinct works from different periods, pairing anatomical renderings with James Audubon’s illustrations and striking contemporary portraits with vintage advertisements.

In addition to hundreds of images, the forthcoming tome features an introduction by Katrina van Grouw and information about urban birding experiences and taxonomies. Copies are available from Bookshop on November 10.

 

Allen & Ginter, Birds of the Tropics, 1889. Chromolithograph, 7.3 × 8.3 cm / 2 7/8 × 3 ¼ in, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Picture credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Jefferson R.Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick

Elizabeth Butterworth, Lear’s Macaw, 2005. Gouache, ink, and pencil on paper, 25 × 34 cm / 9 ¼ × 13 3/8 in, Private collection. Picture credit: © Elizabeth Butterworth

Florentijn Hofman, Rubber Duck, 2013. PVC, H. 16.5 m / 21 ft, temporary installation, Hong Kong. Picture credit: All Rights Reserved, courtesy Studio Florentijn Hofman

Matt Stuart, Trafalgar Square, 2004. Photograph, dimensions variable. Picture credit: © Matt Stuart

John James Audubon (engraved by Robert Havell), American Flamingo, from The Birds of America, double elephant folio edition, 1838. Hand-coloured etching and aquatint, 97 × 65 cm / 38 ¼ × 25 5/8 in. Picture credit: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: Gift of Mrs. Walter B. James

Oiva Toikka, Birds by Toikka, 1972–present. Mouth-blown glass, dimensions variable, Iittala collection. Picture credit: All rights reserved by Fiskars Finland Oy Ab/Photographer Timo Junttila, Designer Oiva Toikka

Andy Holden and Peter Holden, Natural Selection, 2018. Mixed media, Temporary installation at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, UK. Picture credit: Andy Holden/Photograph by Alison Bettles