Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

15 DECEMBER, 2011

Maira Kalman + Daniel Handler Illustrate a Breakup Through Significant Objects

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What sugar and a pinhole camera have to do with the ephemeral ephemera of impossible love.

Few things can steer me towards fiction these days, but a collaboration between Daniel Handler (better-known to the world as Lemony Snicket) and the great Maira Kalman is positively among them. Such is the case of Why We Broke Up, which tells the poignant, bittersweet story of a teenage romance gone awry through objects of special significance, which make cameos in a letter Min is writing to break up with her boyfriend, Ed. These emotional ephemera, each imbued with a specific memory of their ephemeral but monumental love, are captured in Kalman’s signature childlike artwork, and bespeak a kind of truth at once more fluid and more infallible than fact.

And if you’ve ever found yourself in love, in impossible love, you’ll relate to the heroine’s objectified lament.

I stand entwined in fire on the inextinguishable bonfire of inconceivable love.”

The book’s companion Tumblr lets you voyeuristically read other people’s break-up stories and share your own. Stories are divided into amusingly titled categories, ranging from the petty (“I can’t believe how disgusting you were”) to the outraged (“I just can’t believe it”) to the vulnerable (“I’d take you back in a minute”).

The story, of course, exudes Handler’s unmistakable wit and intelligent humor, underpinned by a kind of self-consciously self-conscious humanity.

Why We Broke Up comes a little over a year after Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman’s first collaboration, the lovely children’s book 13 Words.

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13 DECEMBER, 2011

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Visual Micro-Tales of Our Shared Humanity

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Reclaiming the poetics of short-form in the age of the empty soundbite.

“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories,” as Muriel Rukeyser is often paraphrased. To give this timeless truth modern wings, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, better-known as RegularJOE in the hitRECord universe he created, asked thousands of contributors to submit tiny stories through words and images. The result is The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 — a whimsical collaboration between artists and writers from around the world, featuring 67 of these micro-tales hand-curated by Gordon-Levitt himself from over 8,500 submissions. It’s part Three Line Novels, part Six-Word Memoir, part something entirely its own and entirely lovely, full of poetics and humanity in a culture of vacant soundbites, exuding a kind of richness and latitude that defies its short form.

Sometimes witty, sometimes poignant, and always profoundly human, the gems in The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 are a reminder that we’re all just a few words and images apart from one another, and all we need to do is reach out into the universe of our shared humanity.

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13 DECEMBER, 2011

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

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From fiberglass to James Franco, or what Ice Cube has to do with designing the American imagination.

It’s been a grand year for Charles and Ray Eames, from the rediscovery of Charles Eames’ fantastic 1982 Q&A on design to architect-turned-rapper Ice Cube singing the duo’s praises. The Eames, of course, very much warrant cultural paeans — they not only gave a shape and style to the American twentieth century, but they also defined a new cultural role for designers as architects of imagination who invite people to look at the world differently. Today marks the highly anticipated DVD release of Eames: The Architect and the Painter — a fascinating documentary about the legendary husband-and-wife design duo, exploring their personal lives, their creative process, and their enduring influence on the American aesthetic, design sensibility, and outlook on life.

Oh, and it’s narrated by James Franco.

Beautifully filmed and brimming with insight, Eames: The Architect and the Painter is easily the most exciting design documentary since Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica / Objectified / Urbanized trilogy.

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