Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘photography’

01 MARCH, 2010

Beyond Burton: Art Inspired by Alice In Wonderland


Floating children, the rabbit hole of the social web, and what Dali has to do with manga.

We’re all about the cross-pollination of disciplines and creative domains. So we love seeing one kind of art inspire another inspire another. Take Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, on the lips — and eyeballs — of the world with this week’s much- anticipated release. The film was, of course, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 children’s classic of the same name (which also sprouted two other excellent films, one in 1933, starring a trippy Cary Grant, and one in 1966 for the BBC), and has in turn inspired a variety of artwork in its own right. Today, we focus on three such examples of art inspired by Alice.


Japanese-born, New-York-based artist Naoto Hattori has a very distinct, Salvador-Dali-meets-manga aesthetic. This illustration inspired by Alice In Wonderland is one of the most stunning pieces of digital artwork we’ve seen in months.

Hattori’s work is part of the Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition at Gallery Nucleus, which opened this weekend and features interpretations of the iconic story by artists who worked on Burton’s feature film and beyond.

via Wicked Halo


From Moscow-born, Bahamas-based artist-turned-underwater-photographer Elena Kalis comes Alice In Waterland, a surreal and whimsical underwater series that blends the alternate-reality feel of Carroll’s world with a wink at the wicked innocence of Burton’s representations.

We love Kalis’ incredible play of light and color, amplified by the water’s reflective properties in a way that combines softness with intensity to a stunning effect.


You may recall Greek illustrator Christina Tsevis, whom we interviewed a few months ago. Much to our delight, Christina recently got in touch with us to let us know that Glamour Greece discovered her via our interview and asked her to create a series of Alice In Wonderland illustrations for the magazine, some of which were reprinted as t-shirts.

Brimming with Christina’s signature style of 2D/3D haunting innocence, the work is a beautiful journey into texture, color and pure whimsy.

Here’s to the power of the social web, the ultimate ride down the rabbit hole.

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16 FEBRUARY, 2010

6 Six Places to Find Affordable Art


Sticker-shockless art, or what good taste and good deeds have in common.

The traditional art world may have spent centuries trying to convince us there’s a direct correlation between price and taste, but the web is here to ruffle some feathers and liberalize art ownership. Here are six fantastic sites that offer affordable art from up-and-coming talent, plus some social good along the way.


You know how Wikipedia harnessed the power of the Internet to democratize knowledge? That’s what 20×200 has been doing for art since 2007, with a simple yet powerful formula.

(limited editions × low prices) + the internet = art for everyone

Twice a week, 20×200 introduces two original pieces of artwork — a photograph and a work on paper — available in three sizes, as cheap as $20. Wonderfully user-friendly and meticulously curated, 20×200 is an absolute treat.

We recently snagged this gem by Clifton Burt, inspired by a John Maeda haiku.


You may recall last month’s special feature on The Working Proof, so we won’t elaborate too much here.

Suffice it to say this online gallery and print shop is a brilliant marriage of good taste and good conscience.


We’ve featured Tiny Showcase some years ago, and it’s still noteworthy as ever. Similarly to The Working Proof, this smart enterprise offers affortdable artowrk from up-and-coming talent — with most prints priced as low as $20 — and even donates a portion of profits to a charity of each artist’s choice. A recent artwork, for instance, raised $28,155 for Haiti relief.

Each week, Tiny Showcase picks turns a new piece of tiny artwork into a limited-run print production, printed on archival Hahnemühle German Printmaking Paper with specially treated and sprayed ink, giving it an archival lifespan of over 60 years.


Another wink at the Brain Pickings archive, we*heart*prints, compiles and sells sticker-shockless prints from contemporary artists.

The site’s semi-democratic model harnesses the best of the crowdsourcing and curation worlds, allowing artists to submit their prints for consideration, but using keen editorial curation to choose the best ones to feature.


A relative newcomer on the affordable art scene, Eye Buy Art offers limited-edition fine art photographs by emerging talent from Canada, the UK and the US, priced as low as $25. (The prints, not the photographers — though how great would it be to buy yourself a photographer for a twenty?)

A jury of professional fine art photographers curate the up-and-comers, releasing one new photograph each week.


We’re longtime fans of society6, the ingenious new platform for empowering artists by connecting them with supporters and matching them with grants. (Check out our exlusive interview with founder Justin Wills.)

Over the past few months, we’ve discovered some incredible talent there, particularly catering to our soft spot for illustration.

Much of the artwork is available for sale, with prints generally priced between $20 and $50 — a jaw-droppingly low range given the uber-talented group of artists in question.

UPDATE: We’ve proudly partnered with Society6 to launch Art Pickings — a curated art portal featuring work by Society6 artists, cherry-picked by Brain Pickings. Check it out.

Know of a great site for affordable art? Do share it in the comments and we may include it in the sequel to this piece.

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05 FEBRUARY, 2010

Project Documerica: A Portrait of the 1970s Environmental Movement


Tie-dye jeans, soda can houses, and what Thai Buddhists have to do with American cowboys.

In 1971, as the environmental movement was reaching critical mass, the Environmental Protection Agency hired a slew of freelance photographers to capture the environmental problems, EPA activities and everyday life of the ’70s. For seven years, the 81 photographers traveled around the country, producing what became known as Project Documerica — a fascinating and deeply insightful cultural portrait of one of the most important decades in modern history.

Thirty years later, The U.S. National Archives have digitized more than 15,000 of these photographs and made them publicly available in the Archival Research Catalog, as well as on the National Archives’ impressively excellent Flickr library.

From the booming industrialism to the ripening of hyper-consumerism to nature’s ever-more-timid cameos in daily life, the series captures the beginning of our industry-driven environmental demise — with the earnest lucidity of an era that can’t even begin to imagine what’s to come.

Subsets of the series tackle specific themes and issues — like this striking visual record of the car culture boom, which is a bit like looking at the can-tell-it-will-be-hideous-but-can’t-tell-just-how embryo of Godzilla.

Still, some of the photographs offer a welcome respite from the avalanche of consumerism — like this clever experimental wall construction, using empty soda cans to build housing in New Mexico, which reminds us of the Buddhist bottle temple in Thailand.

You can also browse the archive by state for a broad-reaching look across vastly different locations.

Despite the clumsy site navigation and appalling interface, Project Documerica is a rich and impressive record of the patterns, processes and cultural forces that shaped our current era — dig in.

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