Lined with gilt edges and secured with a gold clasp, a bracelet by the Amsterdam-based duo of Lyske Gais and Lia Duinker packs a vast art historical collection within the span of a wrist. The pair created a wearable catalog back in 2015 that binds 1,400 pages into a thick book. Its contents contain black-and-white hand illustrations from 303 of Rembrandt’s etchings and drawings, subject matter inspired by its availability in Rijksmuseum’s digital archive. “We liked that it would be something you could wear, have your own collection with you,” they tell Colossal.
Titled “Rembrandt’s Hands and a Lion’s Paw,” the book bracelet uses brocheersteek, a method of traditional cross-stitching, and each page is titled and numbered. An additional index helps navigate the hundreds of illustrations held within the leather covers.
Cooper Hewitt acquired the original work, which also won the Rijksmuseum’s 2015 Rijksstudio Award, and Gais and Duinker followed the design with a necklace in a similar style that features Rembrandt’s dogs. There are a few of the original 10 limited-edition bracelets available on the pair’s site. (via Women’s Art)
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Ghanaian-born Nigeria-based artist El Anatsui is known for sprawling metal sculptures that drape, twist, and fold across expansive surfaces in colorful, undulating patterns. A forthcoming book, El Anatsui: The Reinvention of Sculpture, traces his work and career that has pushed the boundaries of sculpture, starting with the terracotta pieces made in the late 1970s. In the following decade, he transitioned to using wood and began to experiment with scale, layers, color, and pattern. These pieces led to the development of his larger metal works, which are made by manually cutting, twisting, or flattening pieces of aluminum such as bottle caps and then stitching the material together with copper wire, creating enormous, textile-like sculptures.
Published by Damiani, the new 360-page volume is the product of more than three decades of research and collaboration with the artist by scholars Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu, who place Anatsui’s work in the historical context of post-independence Ghana and mid-20th century African modernism in art and writing. Hundreds of color images examine the sculptures in detail, giving the reader an in-depth insight into the artist’s process, how transformation is central to his pieces, and how his approach evolved over time.
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A trained psychotherapist, Johan Deckmann (previously) has stacks of books to remedy our most painful emotional struggles and existential dread. His collection includes the massive “Your chances of changing the world,” the much slimmer “Your chances of changing yourself,” and the dismally timely “How to take a deep breath and go on even though everything feels so wrong.”
Often painted on soft, cloth covers evocative of vintage self-help manifestos, Deckmann’s ironic titles are steeped in our culture of incessant improvement and tend to be brutally honest about human limitation. His straightforward messages are not unlike those found in a therapist’s office and harness the power of simple language to confront contemporary dilemmas. “The idea of writing on books comes partly from my work as a psychotherapist, a music composer, and lyricist. I like the idea of distilling words to compress information, feelings, or fantasies into an essence, a truth,” said the Copenhagen-based artist.
Deckmann is participating in a group exhibition up through May 15 at Sala Amós Salvador in La Rioja, Spain, and will be at the Venice Biennale next month with the Gervasuti Foundation. He also has a solo show later this year at San Francisco’s Modernism, and you can find an expansive collection of his poignant messages on Instagram.
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Artist Cecilia Levy (previously) carves individual words and phrases from vintage books that she then refashions into Mary Janes, fringed boots, and classic tea sets. As thin as a single sheet of paper, her fragile, pasted sculptures weave blocks of texts into new patterns and contexts that add intrigue and depth to their everyday forms. The sourced material “carries several narratives at the same time, both in the content itself and by the passing of time, for instance where light and age have turned the edges of the paper brittle and brown. My works are also about this. They reflect my inner stories and memories,” she tells Colossal.
Levy models many of her pieces after items found around her home or by casting objects in a silicone mold, though it’s not only the shape that guides the work but often the prose itself. Words like “poësie,” for example, nestle into the center of a teacup piece by the same name, while other sculptures like “Lena” or “Rosa” could be likened to narrative mazes that require navigating an array of words and phrases strung together in non-linear manners.
Based in Sigtuna, Sweden, Levy has two pieces available in her shop and several shows slated for this spring: her works will be on view at Homo Faber in Venice and two venues in Malmö, the Form/Design Center and at Southern Sweden Design Days. She’s currently working on a series involving paper maché clay that she’ll exhibit next year at Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm. You can see more of Levy’s process and works on Instagram.
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Memorialized in his namesake flower the Fuschia, Leonhart Fuchs was a German physician and groundbreaking botanical researcher. He published an immense catalog of his studies in 1543 titled The New Herbal, which paired colorful woodcut illustrations of approximately 500 plants with detailed writings about their physical features, medical uses, and origins. Fuch’s own hand-colored copy remains in pristine condition to this day and is the basis for a forthcoming edition published by Taschen. Weighing more than 10 pounds, the nearly 900-page volume is an ode to Fuch’s research and the field of Renaissance botany, detailing plants like the leafy garden balsam and root-covered mandrake. The New Herbal is available for pre-order from Taschen and Bookshop.
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Hailing from fifteen countries, the individuals participating in Eyes as Big as Plates have backgrounds as varied as their surroundings: there are zoologists, academics, and librarians; fishermen, wild boar hunters, and Sami reindeer herders; and opera singers, kantele players, and artists. They’re tethered by the ongoing project, which dresses each figure in sculptural wearables made of organic materials that allow them to blend in with the surrounding landscape.
Launched in 2011 by Norwegian-Finnish artist duo Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen (previously), Eyes as Big as Plates hinges on the idea that it’s essential to explore how humans exist within nature. The portraits center on lone figures partially camouflaged with their backdrops or outfitted with imaginative garments constructed with objects found nearby. Boubou (shown below), for example, is a Senegalese fisherman who wears a mesh shawl of sea creatures, while North Tolsta-based photographer Andrea (above) is almost entirely masked by spindly branches and peat near her home. Every portrait comes after a conversation with the subject and a collaborative effort to find the proper location and attire.
The duo has now compiled dozens of photos in a forthcoming book that marks the 10th anniversary of the project. A follow-up to their sold-out first volume, Eyes as Big as Plates 2 is comprised of 52 new portraits, conversations with those featured, and field notes from their travels. “While transcribing the interviews for each of the collaborators here, we got to experience what many of them often say is the most exciting part: ‘ … just being there, looking at a familiar landscape like you’ve never looked at it before. Letting the surroundings wash over you,'” they write.
Eyes as Big as Plates 2 is currently available for pre-order on the project’s site. Some of the series is on view through June at the landmarked entry at 200 5th Avenue in New York and will be up this May at London’s Barbican and at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto in September.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.