Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

25 JANUARY, 2011

Animating Reality: A Collection of Short Animated Documentaries

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Stop-motion animation and documentary are our two favorite film genres. Naturally, we’re all over Animating Reality: A Collection of Short Documentaries, a highly unusual and highly rewarding marriage of the two, showcasing 13 remarkable animated documentaries from around the world. With entries from Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, France, Finland, Canada, Belgium and the United States, the compilation covers an impressive range of themes, animation techniques and storytelling styles.

Animating Reality ties nicely into our recent streak of animation-based “documentaries” — from last week’s superb animation of Möbius strip animation of Flatland to yesterday’s uncovered 1968 Saul Bass gem exploring the origin of creativity.

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24 JANUARY, 2011

Why Man Creates: A Saul Bass Gem from 1968

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I love iconic graphic designer Saul Bass and have a soft spot for luminaries’ musings on the nature of creativity.

Naturally, I’m head over heels with Why Man Creates — a remarkable short documentary from 1968, animated by Bass and alluringly subtitled “a series of explorations, episodes & comments on creativity.”

Playful yet profound, the film is a series of sequences that at first appear unconnected but eventually converge into a compelling exploration of (wo)man’s most fundamental impetus to create, featuring such delightful tongue-in-cheek vehicles as this exchange between Michelangelo and da Vinci:

Whaddaya doin?” ‘I’m painting the ceiling! Whadda you doin?” “I’m painting the floor!”

For more on Bass’s design legacy, and its place in the context of other seminal design work, see the magnificent monograph Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design.

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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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