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07 NOVEMBER, 2011

Leonard Weisgard’s Stunning 1949 Alice in Wonderland Illustrations

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A vibrant mid-century homage to one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.

It’s no secret I have a soft spot for obscure vintage children’s book illustration, especially by famous artists or of famous works. Spotted on the lovely Vintage Kids’ Books My Kids Love, here’s a beautiful 1949 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, illustrated by Leonard Weisgardonly the second version of the Lewis Carroll classic, and the first with color illustrations UPDATE: Reader Mark Burstein, an avid Alice collector, kindly points out there have been multiple editions before Weisgard’s, including some in color.

The vibrant, textured artwork exudes a certain mid-century boldness that makes it as much a timeless celebration of the beloved children’s book as it is a time-capsule of bygone aesthetic from the golden age of illustration and graphic design.

Alice was beginning to get tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversation in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?'”

HT Flavorpill

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07 NOVEMBER, 2011

A Painting of Cancer Cells Inspired by Carl Sagan

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What supernovas have to do with cancer cells.

When she lost her friend Cathy to cancer, artist Michele Banks (whose stunning biological watercolors you might recall) set out to tell her friend’s story in the language she speaks most fluently and eloquently: painting. But she didn’t want it to be another “cancer painting.” Instead, she found unlikely inspiration at the intersection of the deadly disease and Carl Sagan’s iconic, life-affirming idea that we’re all made of “star stuff” — she saw a striking parallel between supernovas and dividing cancer cells. The result is simply breathtaking.

I was reading about astronomer Carl Sagan, who often expressed the idea that humans are made of “star stuff”. That is, that all the basic elements of life on earth derive from “space debris” from the gigantic explosions of massive, ancient stars. This concept is at once so simple and so mind-boggling that it’s a struggle to absorb, much less to express artistically. I started looking around for ideas of how to visually portray the basic elements such as hydrogen, helium and nitrogen. Um. This is difficult, because you can’t see them. If you do a Google image search on Carbon, it comes up with a lot of gray-black cars. But when I thought about how the elements were released, I found supernovas. Not only are supernovas beautiful and awe-inspiring, they bear a strong resemblance to dividing cells, especially explosively dividing cancer cells.” ~ Michele Banks

Curiously, Sagan himself also had myelodysplastic syndrome, or “preleukemia,” and underwent three bone marrow transplants before losing the long and difficult fight in 1996. Banks reflects:

This painting, besides celebrating the cosmic connection that all living creatures share, goes out to Cathy and Carl. From the infinitely tiny cells deep in the marrow of their bones, to the billions of stars in the sky.”

You can find Banks on Twitter and her beautiful prints on Etsy.

In a similar vein, don’t forget composer Alexandra Pajak’s Sounds of HIV, which “plays” the patterns of the AIDS virus nucleotides and amino acids transcribed by HIV in 17 eerie, mesmerizing tracks.

via It’s Okay To Be Smart

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07 NOVEMBER, 2011

Gerhard Richter: Tate Modern Celebrates One of the Greatest Artists Alive

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An ambitious retrospective on one of the most influential and prolific artists alive today.

Born in East Germany in 1932, Gerhard Richter is one of the most colossal and influential artists alive today, celebrated for liberating painting from the legacy of Socialist Realism in Eastern Germany and Abstract Expressionism throughout Western Europe. To celebrate the artist’s 80th birthday, the Tate Modern is hosting Panorama — an ambitious major retrospective of the artist’s work, including his most iconic pieces — “Ema (Nude descending a staircase)” (1966), “Candle” (1982), “Reader” (1994), “Stoke (on Red)” (1980) — and his hotly debated response to 9/11, “September” (2005).

The exhibition’s excellent companion volume Panorama: A Retrospective collects more than a half-century of Richter’s genius, including photo-paintings, abstracts, landscapes and seascapes, portraits, glass and mirror works, sculptures, drawings and photographs. From his early black-and-white paintings to his renowned abstractions to his paintings of family members who had been members, as well as victims, of the Nazi party to his photorealist depictions of candles, skulls and clouds that shaped 20th-century photorealism, the volume features Richter’s most celebrated paintings alongside comparative works, studio photographs, archival images, and Nicholas Serota’s revealing interview with the artist.

Gerhard Richter's 'Demo,' 1997 / Image courtesy of Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter's 'Mustang Squadron,' 1964 / Image courtesy of Gerhard Richter

Serota’s conversation with Richter was also released on video, very much worth the watch:

via Susan Everett

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