Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

24 OCTOBER, 2011

Eli, No! An Illustrated Antidote to Perfectionism

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What chasing squirrels has to do with reclaiming childhood from the grip of perfectionist parenting.

Children’s books are often among the finest feats of storytelling — beautifully designed, illustrated and art-directed, they use simple narratives and metaphors to convey complex ideas and lifelong lessons. That’s certainly the case with Eli, No! — a heart-stoppingly delightful new children’s book by Katie Kirk, one half of husband-and-wife illustration and design duo Eight Hour Day, telling the story of their lovable yet mischievous dog named Eli. Throughout Eli’s many adventures and misadventures, his quirks and imperfections, we find ourselves contemplating the gift of unconditional love which, of course, is what the story is really about.

With its minimalist, bold, mid-century-inspired graphics and its heart-warming message, Eli, No! is both an absolute treat for wee ones, a needed one in the age of overambitious parenting, and a charming reminder for the rest of us about cultivating unconditional acceptance of our loved ones’ idiosyncrasies and imperfections, a need one in the age of chronic perfectionism.

via Public School

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24 OCTOBER, 2011

All Nothing: Poetic 1978 Animated Allegory about Mankind’s Greed

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Frédéric Back’s beautiful short film about harmony and the tragic entitlement of our species.

French-born artist and activist-filmmaker Frédéric Back got his professional start in Canada in the 1950s, where he was asked to draw still images promoting moving pictures at Radio-Canada’s graphics department. In 1967, his giant stained glass mural entitled L’histoire de la musique à Montréal (“history of music in Montreal”) became the first work of art to be commissioned for the Montreal metro system. But most striking of all are his animated short films. In 1978, his Tout Rien (“All Nothing”), a delicate and pensive 11-minute animated allegory set to the music of Igor Stravinsky about how our human greed is stealing the happiness of our species, earned him an Oscar nomination. It tackles, with remarkable elegance and sensitivity, our tragic tendency towards anthropocentricity in a world we share with countless other creatures.

Possessions, like happiness, are always eluding our grasp. Instead of constantly wanting to have, wouldn’t it be better simply to be-to watch and let the natural environment exist in peace? A world whose true joys and riches, continually renewed and replenished, we have yet to fully appreciate?” Frédéric Back

The following year, while working on another film and applying a coat of fixative to a drawing, the fumes got into Back’s right eye. The film eventually won him his first Oscar, but his eye never recovered. Back, nonetheless, continued to produce breathtakingly beautiful work underpinned by a thoughtful environmental message through the early 1990s.

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21 OCTOBER, 2011

Stunning Subjectivity: Obsessive Typographic Maps by Paula Scher

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An irreverent, artful antidote to GPS appification, or what the NYC subway has to do with tsunamis.

Iconic designer Paula Scher is one of my big creative heroes, her thoughts on combinatorial creativity a perfect articulation of my own beliefs about how we create. Since the early 1990s, Scher has been creating remarkable, obsessive, giant hand-painted typographic maps of the world as she sees it, covering everything from specific countries and continents to cultural phenomena. This month, Princeton Architectural Press is releasing Paula Scher: MAPS — a lavish, formidable large-format volume collecting 39 of her swirling, colorful cartographic points of view, a beeline addition to my favorite books on maps.

I began painting maps to invent my own complicated narrative about the way I see and feel about the world. I wanted to list what I know about the world from memory, from impressions, from media, and from general information overload. These are paintings of distortions.” ~ Paula Scher

(Cue in cartograms.)

A foreword by Simon Winchester contextualizes Scher’s maps as cultural objects, and an introduction by Scher herself offers a peek inside the mind and personal history that sprouted her cartographic creativity.

A Paula Scher map is both detached from reality and yet at the same time becomes an entirely new reality, one that manages to be useless and essential all at once. What follows here is cartography as living art — fun and whimsical, obsessively made, and knowingly offered, lovingly, to be read… Maps such as these are never ever to be replaced by the cold blinking eyes of the GPS. Use them, enjoy them, glory in their madness.” ~ Simon Manchester

Cherry on top: The cover jacket folds out into her legendary colorful map of the world.

The World, 1998

NYC Transit, 2007 (left); Manhattan at Night, 2007 (right)

China, 2006

Africa, 2003

Shock and Awe, 2005

International Air Routes, 2008

The Dark World, 2007

Tsunami, 2006

Sample Scher’s extraordinary mind and creative process with her now-legendary talk from Serious Play 2008:

Artful and opinionated, Paula Scher: MAPS is a beautiful antidote to the sterile objectivity of location-aware apps and devices, reminiscent of Ward Shelley’s analog data visualization and the poetic subjectivity of You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, but presaging both and shining with Scher’s own distinct, quirky, visionary voice.

Images courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press // Thanks, Russell

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