Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

19 JANUARY, 2011

The Gashlycrumb Tinies: A Very Gorey Alphabet Book

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It’s no secret I have a massive soft spot for alphabet books. In 1963, prolific mid-century illustrator and author Edward Gorey published an alphabet book so grimly antithetical to the very premise of the genre — making children feel comfortable and inspiring them to learn — that it took the macabre humor genre to a new level. “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” The Gashlycrumb Tinies begins. “B is for Basil assaulted by bears. C is for Clara who wasted away. D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh…”

Part Tim Burton long before there was Burton, part Edgar Allan Poe long after Poe, the book exudes Gorey’s signature adult picture book mastery, not merely adorned by the gorgeously dark crosshatched illustrations but narratively driven by them.

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

The Gashlycrumb Tinies comes in a string of more than 40 gems Gorey published in his lifetime, including favorites like The Epiplectic Bicycle and The Doubtful Guest. His work, which spans over six decades, is collected in four excellent volumes entitled AmphigoreyI, II, III, IV — a play on the word amphigory, meaning a nonsense verse or composition.

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14 JANUARY, 2011

Voyeurism Spotlight: Where and How Creators Create

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Happiness, messiness and what unstaged photos have to do with setting the stage for genius.

Yesterday, we took a rare peek inside the sketchbooks of 26 of the world’s hottest street artists. Today, we’re turning that same voyeuristic eye to the broader world of creative professionals — designers, illustrators, writers and other exceptional creators — whose workspaces and toolboxes are like miniature museums of their unique brand of creative curiosity.

FROM YOUR DESKS

Since the dawn of creative time, an artist’s studio has been a reflection of his or her creative process — a private, sacred and deeply personal temple of meaning and ideation. From Your Desks explores the contemporary incarnation of the artist’s studio — the creator’s desk — through candid, unstaged portraits of workspaces.

A Desk is where we work. Symbolic. Psychical. Present. A second home. A Desk is a platform. A hearth. Roots are planted. It’s where upon hours on hours pass.”

The project encompasses a wide range of creators and workspaces, from artists like Maureen Cavanaugh and John Baldessari, to writers and bloggers like P.D. Smith and Steven Heller, to business mavericks like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and even the multiple-person teams behind some of our favorite creative projects, from A Journey Round My Skull, creativity curator extraordinaire, to the lovely Poketo.

FYD is the brainchild of writer, photographer and blogger Kate Donnelly.

ON MY DESK

On My Desk is the slightly more promiscuous predecessor of From Your Desks. Since 2006, the site has served as a place for designers, artists, illustrators and other creative types to share their work and workspaces. It’s closer to a crowdsourcing project than a curatorial one, since just about anyone can apply for a blogger account to post to the site, but it’s fascinating and delightful nonetheless.

On My Desk is the brainchild of UK illustrator Linzie Hunter, whom you might remember from our Spam As Art omnibus.

WHAT’S IN YOUR TOOLBOX

design*sponge, one of our favorite design blogs, has lesser-known yet wonderful section entitled What’s Inside Your Toolbox, probing into the creative processes of prominent designers, illustrators and artists by way of the tools they can’t live without. From legendary tastemaker and Anthropologie buyer Ketih Johnson to Brain Pickings favorite Maira Kalman, the rubric covers a vibrant spectrum of creators.

The column always features the same fill-in-the-blank question — “When I am in my studio, I feel______” — which inevitably reveals one simple yet recurring truth: There’s an enormous and profound correlation between happiness and creativity.

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13 JANUARY, 2011

Street Sketchbook: The Creative Process of Top Graffiti Artists

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It’s no secret we have a soft spot for street art books. So we’re all over Street Sketchbook: Journeys — a rare peek inside the sketchbooks of 26 of the world’s hottest new artists.

From Brazil’s iconic favelas to Tokyo’s backalleys, it reveals both globe-trotting adventures and rich internal landscapes in 227 large-format pages and lush double-spreads of pure creative genius.

Street Sketchbook: Journeys is the sequel to Tristan Manco’s 2007 gem, Street Sketchbook: Inside the Journals of International Street and Graffiti Artists.

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12 JANUARY, 2011

Proteus: Ernst Haeckel at the Intersection of Art & Science

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More than a year ago, we featured Art Forms in Nature — a fascinating 1904 book by German biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel, full of beautifully illustrated artistic interpretations of the biological forms Haeckel studied. His work had a profound influence on art movements, scientific thought and entire ideologies, from Art Nouveau and Surrealism to Thomas Edison to Freud and Lenin. Proteus is a remarkable documentary about Haeckel’s work and others he influenced, a breathtaking intersection of science and art 20 years in the making.

Every age has its own image of the world, and every image reflects the vision of its time and of its maker.”

Ernst Haeckel: Intersection of art and science

Among other marvels, the film features stunning images of the mineral exoskeletons of ancient one-celled marine organisms known as radiolarian — Haeckel single-handedly named, classified and illustrated nearly 4,000 of the 5,000 existing species, finding in their dazzling variety the key to the creative power of nature.

The radiolarian are like an alphabet of possibilities, as if the ancient sea were dreaming in its depths all the future permutations of organic and invented forms, from backbones to bridges and from the Earth to the stars.”

Proteus is at once a feat of science and an astonishing pinnacle of art, revealing with rigor and whimsy the magnificent meeting point of human curiosity and nature’s magic.

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