Lumpy, spotted, and exposed in succulent slices, the apples highlighted in a new book by William Mullan aren’t those you’d typically find in a grocery store. Instead, the Brooklyn-based photographer focuses on rare specimens like Pink Pearls, the aptly named Knobbed Russets, and speckled Black Oxfords that he sources from farmer’s markets or rural roadsides. These sometimes hard-to-find varieties are the subject matter of his portraits that spotlight the stunning, strange diversity of the species.
The humble fruit has a long history of religious and cultural significance and of course, is also a commodity, a characterization Mullan hopes to complicate by celebrating their unique beauty. “Due to their heterozygous nature, every apple tree that grows successfully from seed will be a brand new apple tree, with traits coming from the seed parent and the pollinator parent” (aka pollen from a nearby blossom). Combined with the fact that the species has 42,000 to 44,000 genes, which is nearly twice as many as people, thousands of different varieties have been produced, creating “a splendid array of aesthetic and flavor characteristics: from apples with red and pink flesh, to apples shaped like stars, candles, and toads, to apples that taste like licorice and strawberry shortcake,” Mullan shares.
Published by Hatje Cantz with design by Andrea Trabucco-Campos, the updated edition of Odd Apples contains 90 images and was designed to feel like “a walk through a magical orchard,” one that captures the breadth of the species. A few of Mullan’s favorites include the dry, sour-cherry flavor of the endangered Niedzwetzkyana or the otherworldly, neon flesh of the oblong Kandil Sinap. While some of his subjects were cultivated relatively recently, others, like the lemony, vitamin C-packed Calville Blanc D’Hiver, date back to the 1600s. “Some of the best apples are really like, right off the roads and highways, along farm fence lines and inside city parks,” he adds.
The Odd Apples project originally began in 2017, with a smaller 32-page book published in 2018, and Mullan continues to shoot all of the images in his apartment or the studio at Raaka Chocolate, where he works as the brand director. Focusing largely on the color and texture, the enchanting portraits are imbued with meaning beyond the fruit’s physical qualities, and each is paired with a written profile. “Their character would spark something in my head, usually a mood or something from pop culture,” he tells Colossal. “Every portrait is an attempt to really capture the mood, expression, and character of that apple but also my interpretation of that and therefore all the experiences I’ve had in my life, too.”
A special, limited edition of Odd Apples, which includes a Hidden Rose print, is for sale on the book’s site, and it’s also available for pre-order on Bookshop. You can follow Mullan’s fruit and flower-based photos on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
Share this story
Within the vast collections of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a trove of dried specimens that once were juicy seeds and fruits primed for reproduction. Now gnarled, fractured, and blanketed in tiny, dehydrated bristles, the individual pods have been preserved as part of the carpological archive at the Scottish institution, a resource photographer Levon Biss (previously) spent hours sifting through in preparation for a stunning new series of macro images.
Spanning from the rampant clusters of the Ko Phuang to endangered rarities like the Coco de Mer, the photographs reveal the inner details otherwise enclosed within the specimens’ shells. Texture and subtle color differences are the basis for most of the shots, which frame a cracked or sliced pod in a manner that centers on their unique components.
The botanic garden’s collection is global in scope and boasts about 100 individual pieces per species, meaning Biss sorted through hundreds of thousands to choose the final 117 that have culminated in his new book The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits. Initially culled based on aesthetics, the resulting selection encompasses all processes of seed dispersal, along with information about morphology, location, and history. “I tried to make sure all methods were included in the overall edit so that the work becomes an educational tool, not just pretty pictures,” Biss tells Colossal, further explaining the research process:
Each specimen is contained within a small box, and sometimes, you would find a handwritten note on a scrap of paper where the botanist provided a visual description of the surroundings where the specimen was found. Some of these specimens are over 100 years old, and reading these very personal notes made me wonder what the botanist had to go through to find that specimen. What were their traveling conditions like? What did they have to endure to bring the specimen back to Edinburgh? Reading these notes gave me a connection with the botanist and was certainly one of my personal highlights of the project.
On view in the same space as the original specimens, Biss’s photos are up at the Royal Botanic Gardens through October 31. The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits, which is published by Abrams, is available now on Bookshop, and you can find prints from the series on the photographer’s site. Keep up with his biological snapshots, which include a striking collection of iridescent beetles, on Instagram.
Share this story
Colombian artist Diana Beltrán Herrera (previously) adds to her growing collection of intricate paper sculptures with new plant and animal life. From her studio in Bristol, the artist and designer recreates lifelike reproductions of turacos, monarchs, and various species with nearly perfect precision. Innumerable fringed strips become feathers, faint scores mimic delicate creases in petals, and layers of bright paper form brilliantly colored plumes, creating a colorful and diverse ecosystem of wildlife from around the world.
Share this story
Toronto-based animator Kevin Parry peels back the layers of kiwi, mangoes, and other tropical fruits to unveil their colorful, fleshy insides from skin to core. Paired with a satisfying track of succulent, cracking sounds, the timelapse cycles through even, cross-section cuts that presents the juicy fare in a rhythmic progression. “Hidden Patterns Inside Tropical Fruit” also includes a making-of segment that shows how Parry painstakingly slices each layer with a standard sharp kitchen knife.
Share this story
Colorful, lustrous patterns made of precious and semi-precious stones coat a new series of oversized fruit sculptures by Kathleen Ryan. A bright rind peeks through layers of mold on a halved lemon, white and green Penicillium spoils a basket of cherries, and multicolored fungi crawls out of a grinning Jack-o-lantern. Continuing her practice of portraying the grotesque through traditionally beautiful materials, the New York-based artist (previously) ironically questions notions of value, desire, and “how objects bring meaning and carry a history.”
Share this story
Say goodbye to the days of buying succulents only to watch them wilt and shrivel. Just flip open a pop-up book by photographer Daniel Gordon, and find a collection of forever-perky shrubs and greenery sprouting from the pages.
Published by Aperture, Houseplants features quirky still lifes of potted vegetation and fruit that Gordon developed using photographs found online, a process that’s central to his overall practice. The obviously constructed forms, which were created by self-described paper engineer Simon Arizpe, juxtapose the realistic nature of the plants with saturated colors and unusual depth, resulting in scenes that are distinctly informed by the internet and the melding of digital and analog techniques. “The seamlessness of the ether is boring to me, but the materialization of that ether, I think, can be very interesting,” Gordon says in a statement.
To add the sculptural greens to your collection, pick up a copy of Houseplants from Aperture or Bookshop, and explore more of the Brooklyn-based photographer’s vibrant, collaged projects on his site and Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.