Noma Bar’s Minimalist Vector Portraits of Cultural Icons
What Shakespeare’s unanswered questions have to do with Einstein’s unkempt hair and Britpop.
By Maria Popova
Israeli illustrator Noma Bar, he of Negative Space fame, is a longtime Brain Pickings favorite. Turns out, our friends at Mark Batty (previously) have had a soft spot for him for a while as well. In 2007, they released a fantastic volume of Bar’s most iconic negative space portraits of cultural icons. Guess Who?: The Many Faces of Noma Bar features over 50 minimalist vector illustrations that encapsulate, with brilliant subtlety and visual eloquence, the essence of famous politicians, philosophers and pop culture legends — a masterpiece of capturing character and sentiment with uncanny precision.
The book is divided into four parts — Cultural Icons, Hollywood Heads, Political Figures, Britpop Stars, and The Musicians — with an introduction by Steven Heller. (Previously: IIIIII.) Though the captions for each image leave much to be desired in tone and style, they do give an appropriate context of allusions and symbolism, making Bar’s creative feats all the more palpable.
[‘The Search for Shakespeare’] revolved around new biographical discoveries and all the questions these raised. I received this commission about 5 hours before a flight to Italy. All of a sudden the question mark idea linked the theme of the program to one of the most significant philosophical questions of all time: To be or not to be? I chose ‘to be’ and sent the final portrait off about two hours after receiving the assignment.” ~ Noma Bar
Delightful and timeless, Guess Who? captures some of modernity’s most famous and infamous characters through the eyes of one of the most original artists of our time.
Published July 28, 2011