Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

09 NOVEMBER, 2011

Carl Warner’s Whimsical Food Landscapes

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What the London skyline has to do with asparagus, rhubarb, and Pink Floyd.

British photographic artist Carl Warner, whom you might recall as one of our favorite architects of edible landscapes, is a master of food and form, crafting astounding fantasy food landscapes that are part Ansel Adams, part Anthony Bourdaine, part your childhood daydreams dreamt from the counter of your grandmother’s kitchen. These miniature vignettes are painstakingly hand-crafted with only minimal Photoshop involvement and exude a kind of vibrant whimsy that stands in stark contrast with the mundane, dully ordinary ingredients Warner uses. Food Landscapes collects Warner’s most magnificent work, alongside detailed production notes and ingredient lists for each scene.

Making landscapes out of food seems like a rather unusual thing to do for a living, and people often ask, ‘What made you start doing this?’ It seems that the burning heart of this question is really the curiosity about what it is that motivates any human being to do something out of the ordinary, and my short answer to this is usually a simple, because I had the idea and I chose to do something about it.” ~ Carl Warner

Salmon Sea

Smoked salmon sea, dark soda bread rocks, sugar and pinto beans sand and pebbles, foreground rocks from new potatoes and parsley; pea pod and bean sprout boat, side of salmon sky

Coconut Haystacks

Parsley trees with horseradish trunks, red cabbage sky, toasted almonds as distant haystacks, and loaves of bread for hills

Chinese Junk

The roster of ingredients includes dried lotus leaves for snails, noodles for the wood floor, physalis lanterns, and the obscure wild green yamakurage for the rope.

And since we’re on the subject of influences today, Warner traces the kernel of his inspiration to the work of Tessa Traeger, a food photographer who in the early 1990s published A Visual Feast, a collection of painterly, two-dimensional pictures composed using food. Warner wondered whether he could take this a step further and create three-dimensional vignettes with food. Then, one day, as he was strolling through the fruit and vegetable market, he noticed the curving trunks and parasol canopies of portobello mushrooms were reminiscent of trees in the African savannah. He quickly grabbed the mushrooms and some grains, and headed back to his studio to create a tabletop scene that would photograph like a larger landscape. The rest was creative history.

Of his start with photography, Warner recounts:

For me, drawing and music were a means of escape into other worlds and alternate realities, and this provided the means to stimulate and exercise the muscles of my imagination. This went on for years, until I discovered photography. I found that I could photograph the real world but make it surreal by the techniques and the processes I was able to use in the camera and in the darkroom. I soon realized that this was a lot quicker than drawing, and I was able to develop ideas and concepts with more ease… At the same time, album cover art was in its heyday, and graphic designers such as Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis were creating amazing surreal images for bands like Pink Floyd. I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Celery Rain Forest

Canope made of okra with dried chili oarsman, tiny mushroom hat and a cardamom pod; path: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and lentils

Cart & Balloons

Balloons made of red onion, apple, garlic bulb and other fruits; balloon baskets: nuts; hills and fields: bread, cucumber, string beans, green beans, corn, asparagus

Broccoli Forest

Broccoli trees, chopped parsley ground, fresh herb plants, small foreground rocks from Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes, cumin, turmeric and fennel seed pathway, crusty bread rocks, sugar waterfall, cauliflower clouds

London Skyline

Riverbank walls: panini; lamppost: mackerel, asparagus, onion, vanilla pods; London Eye: green beans; courgette, leek, lemon, rhubarb supports; The Dome: green melon.

A pinnacle of finding magic in the mundane, Food Landscapes is an absolute treat and a living manifesto for the power of truly running with the seemingly crazy creative ideas that take hold of your imagination.

Images courtesy of Carl Warner / Abrams Books

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08 NOVEMBER, 2011

Menagerie: Sharon Montrose’s Evocative Portraits of Animals

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Earth’s creatures like you’ve never seen them before.

I’ve been a longtime admirer of photographer Sharon Montrose’s stunning animal portraits, so I’m thrilled for the release of Menagerie — a stunning collection of her most evocative images that will make you see at even the most familiar animals with new, awe-filled eyes.

From lambs to baby porcupines to giraffes, these tender, minimalist portraits exude a certain nakedness that makes the creatures in them appear at once more vulnerable and more relatable.

These beauties are also available as prints.

Menagerie is part Andrew Zuckerman’s Creature, part Tamara Staples’ The Fairest Fowl, part something all its own, and entirely delightful.

via Swiss Miss; images courtesy of Sharon Montrose

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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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