Michael Mapes

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Art

Metaphorical Portraits by Michael Mapes Deconstruct Art History as Collaged Specimens

August 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches. All images © Michael Mapes, shared with permission

Photographs, scraps of fabric, human hair, dried flowers, and gelatin capsules are a few of the materials that artist Michael Mapes (previously) arranges into fragmented portraits and still lifes. Referencing traditions and prominent works in art history, Mapes interprets figures and fruits through deconstructed compositions. Set in specimen boxes evocative of those used in entomological studies, the collages utilize the metaphor of scientific study as a way to dismantle and reconstruct the contexts and meanings of the original works.

Mapes begins each piece with research around the subject matter and materials, and many of the artist’s most recent works center on muses, like fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge who was the lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt. “I’ve been making studies, smaller scale works that allow me to consider compositional approaches for larger pieces,” he says about the series. “It connects the past to the present in a very personal way. A muse vibe is inspired by mining art history to find subjects that resonate with me and my work process.”

Mapes, who is based in Hudson Valley, has a few works currently available, which you can find on his site and Instagram.

 

Detail of “Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Dutch Agatha” (2019), photographs, fabric samples, painted photographs, botanical specimens, spices, tea, tobacco, coffee, cast resin, clay, thread, hair, insect pins, capsules, specimen bags, and magnifying boxes, 20 x 20 x 3.5 inches

“HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

Detail of “HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

“Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

 

 



Art

Dutch Paintings Recreated Using Thousands of Photographic and Scientific Specimens

January 9, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Dutch specimen MT1639, 2013. 28″w x 34″ h x 3.5″ d. Photographic prints, insect pins, pinning foam, gelatin capsules, glass vials, painted canvas, cast resin, pill organizer, plastic specimen bags, cotton thread, costume jewelry, sequins.

With hundreds of tiny photographic fragments, gelatin capsules, magnifiers, plastic bags, and insect pins, New York artist Michael Mapes (previously) creates collages that are equal parts portraiture and scientific specimen. For his latest works, Mapes used photographs of paintings by Dutch masters Rembrandt, Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy, and others as inspiration for large-scale specimen boxes. The deconstructed photos along with myriad other materials have effectively been transformed into a collage of a painting of a person. Of the work Mapes shares:

The samples are part of my most recent series of work examining Dutch Master Portraiture. In this work, I deconstruct the original subject, in both a figurative and literal sense by dissecting photos of a painting and considering ways in which the parts might serve to inspire new parts within the reconstruction to suggest unique and complex meanings. I’ve done these works with the use of a visual metaphor suggesting a pseudoscientific method specifically working with materials and processes signifying entomological, biological and forensic science.

Three of these works will be on view as part of an exhibition titled ‘Face to Face’ at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Montana starting March 20, 214. (via Juxtapoz, Designboom)

 

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Dutch specimen MT1639, detail.

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Dutch specimen MT1639, detail.

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Dutch female specimen: J, 2013. 28″w x 34″ h x 3.5″ d. Photographic prints, insect pins, pinning foam, gelatin capsules, glass vials, test tubes, paint samples, cast resin, magnifying boxes, plastic specimen bags, cotton thread.

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Dutch female specimen: J, detail.

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Case no. 1627, female-Dutch, 2013. 29″w x 13″ h x 3″ d. Photographic prints, insect pins, pinning foam, gelatin capsules, glass vials, optometrist lens, paint samples, modeling clay, dried botanical matter, fabric, magnifying box, plastic specimen bags, cotton thread.

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Case no. 1627, detail.

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Case no. 1627, detail.

 

 



Art Photography

Photographic Specimens by Michael Mapes

May 2, 2012

Christopher Jobson

New York artist Michael Mapes creates elaborate specimen boxes by dissecting photographs and then compartmentalizing individual fragments within plastic bags, glass vials, magnifiers, in gelatin capsules and on insect pins. The boxes exist in an uncanny area between photography and sculpture, functioning both as portraits and as fascinating scientific canvases that make you question the the logic behind the organization of each piece. See more of his work over at Parlor Gallery, and if you liked this also check out the work of David Adey.