Art Craft Photography

Colossal's Favorite Books of 2021

December 8, 2021

Colossal

Before we (eagerly) say goodbye to 2021, we’re taking a look back at the year, starting with the books we covered on Colossal. Throughout the past 12 months, we published dozens of articles centered on new artist monographs and tomes surveying broader topics that range from art and design to science and history. We’ve gathered our top 10 below, although you can browse nearly every title we mentioned on the site on Bookshop.

 

Nature’s Palette: A Color Reference System from the Natural World

Nature’s Palette: A Color Reference System from the Natural World pairs 110 color swatches from the 19th-century catalog Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours with more than 800 illustrations of the animals, plants, and minerals detailed in the descriptions. The comprehensive visual compendium ranges from large renderings of red coral to full-page charts spanning fine-grained marble to smoky quartz.

Available from Bookshop

 

Hilma AF Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII

Throughout her lifetime, the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint created more than 1,600 pieces, an impressive output collected in Hilma AF Klint: The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII. The seven-volume series is organized both chronologically and by theme and shares a breadth of her colorful, spiritually-minded body of work.

Volumes I—IV are available on Bookshop and the remaining three are available for pre-order

 

African Artists: From 1882 to Now

One of the most expansive volumes of its kind, African Artists: From 1882 to Now compiles a broad sampling of works from more than 300 modern and contemporary artists born or living on the continent. Within its 350-plus pages, the massive text spans a range of mediums and aesthetics, from Mary Sibande’s sprawling postcolonial installations and Wangechi Mutu’s fantastical watercolor collages to the cotton-embroidered photographs by Joana Choumali.

Available from Phaidon

 

Bird: Exploring the Winged World

Bird: Exploring the Winged World is an extensive celebration of feathered creatures across thousands of years of art, science, and popular culture. The stunning, 352-page volume compiles works from hundreds of artists, illustrators, photographers, and designers who choose ostriches, flamingos, and other avians as their central motifs.

Available from Phaidon

 

Paperists: Infinite Possibilities in Paper Art

Spanning 256 pages, Paperists: Infinite Possibilities in Paper Art explores the unexpected ways the medium is used today, sharing a range of collages, quilled portraits, and intricately cut landscapes from 24 artists and studios around the globe.

Available from Bookshop

 

Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji

An XXL edition from Taschen is an homage to renowned Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and his iconic woodblock print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Compiling the artist’s original 36 artworks and the ten pieces he created following the success of the initial collection, the tome celebrates the lauded artist and his fascination with Japan’s highest mountain.

Available from Taschen

 

Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry

Banksy Graffitied Walls and Wasn’t Sorry introduces the life and work of the anonymous street artist to some of the youngest readers. The 48-page book is cleverly written as a plainspoken autobiography and references Dismaland, his “Better Out Than In” residency in New York, and signature rats.

Available from Phaidon

 

Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings

An enormous book explores the life and work of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954). Spanning 624 pages and weighing nearly 12 pounds, Frida Kahlo. The Complete Paintings compiles all 152 of her works paired with diary pages, letters, drawings, an illustrated biography, and hundreds of photos that glimpse moments from Kahlo’s life with her husband and muralist Diego Rivera and of the Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City

Available from Taschen

 

Amazônia

Photographer Sebastião Salgado spent six years immersed in the Brazilian Amazon as he documented the world’s largest tropical rainforest in black-and-white. From wide, aerial shots framing the vegetation populating the landscape to sincere portraits of Indigenous peoples living throughout the region, Salgado’s images are a revealing and intimate study of the area and are compiled in Amazônia.

Available from Taschen

 

Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea

From the coral-cloaked Kimbe Bay of Papua New Guinea to the icebergs of Antarctica’s Danco Island, the bisected photographs in David Doubilet’s book Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea unveil the diverse ecosystems on either side of the water’s surface. The 128-page volume features 70 images from Doubilet’s 50-year career spent traveling the globe and pioneering the field of underwater photography.

Available from Phaidon

 

 



Art Documentary Photography

Paper & Glue: A New Documentary Follows JR Through Some of His Most Iconic Projects

December 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

A new feature-length documentary goes behind the scenes with French artist JR to capture some of his most significant projects to date, including his poignant photographic work of a child peering over the U.S./Mexico border wall and pair of installations at a maximum-security prison in Tehachapi, California. Paper & Glue follows the renowned artist through the evolution of his practice from early graffiti days to his current undertakings—his anamorphic work at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi earlier this year and his illusory transformation of the Louvre courtyard in 2019 are both evidence of his growth—that are increasingly massive in scope and impact and often shine a light on humanitarian issues.

“The film is the culmination of years of my work and includes an archive of photography and videos
that span back to my adolescence. At the time of many of these recordings, I had no intention or awareness they could be used in this way,” JR says. “
I hope this film further uplifts the essentiality of art and the potential it holds to reshape even our most ingrained beliefs.

Paper & Glue is currently in theaters around the U.S. and premieres on December 10 on MSNBC.

 

 

 



Craft Food

Extraordinarily Realistic Flowers, Mushrooms, and Fruit Recreate Intricate Details in Paper

December 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Ann Wood, shared with permission

Make sure you’re plenty caffeinated before snacking on one of Ann Wood’s blackberries. The Minneapolis-based artist, who is half of the creative team behind Woodlucker (previously), crafts a vast array of florals, fruits, and insects so realistic that it takes a second glance to realize they’re made from paper. Delicate oyster mushrooms with wide caps and thinly folded gills grow from a hunk of wood, fuchsias with softly curved petals hang from a branch, and bundles of radishes with long, spindly roots appear like their plump, juicy counterparts.

Exquisitely sculpted and detailed with paint, wax, and colored pencils, Wood’s realistic creations are based on plants she grows in her garden and other forms she encounters. “I do this because I can see the intricate detail and have live fresh models longer. My paper botanicals take four days to a week to create each specimen,” she says, noting that she spends a significant amount of time observing the variations of a single bloom or sprout. “All plants are individuals, each with its own uniqueness. Many times it’s the flaws and the blemishes that make a specimen most interesting.”

Wood is currently working on shiitake mushrooms sprouting from a log, which you can keep an eye out for on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)

 

 

 

 



Photography Science

A Rare Encounter with the Elusive Giant Phantom Jellyfish Captures Its 33-Foot Billowing Limbs

December 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

Back in August, we shared news of a previously undiscovered jellyfish so vibrant that its brilliant red body was a stark contrast to its deepwater environment. Now thanks to researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, we can add another similarly spectacular sighting to this year’s collection of rare deepsea finds. A remote-operated vehicle spotted the elusive giant phantom jellyfish in the midnight zone, an area of the ocean about 3,200 feet below the surface, in one of just nine of the team’s encounters with the species since it was discovered in 1899.

Footage and photos from the expedition unveil the crimson animal’s bulbous body and its four billowing, blanket-like arms (these function as mouths) that have the capability to stretch 33 feet out into the water and uncannily resemble a hat and scarf flying in the wind. Because sightings are so uncommon, researchers suspect that the huge jellyfish eats plankton and small fishes, although they haven’t been able to study it enough to know for sure. (via Peta Pixel)

 

 

 

 



Art

Parallel Fields of Color Align in Daniel Mullen's Precise Mathematical Paintings

December 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Future Monuments 10.” All images © Daniel Mullen, shared with permission

What are the visual impacts of converging planes of color? This question is central to Scottish artist Daniel Mullen’s most recent series of paintings, which displays stacks of thin, rectangular sheets in exacting, abstract structures. “I am looking more at Rothko’s body of work and studying the vibrations of color and the almost alchemic effect that his work has on the sense,” the Rotterdam-based artist tells Colossal.

Comprised of meticulous angles and lines on linen, the acrylic paintings are studies of precision, geometry, and perception, allowing each element to collide in a mathematically aligned composition. Mullen’s process involves measuring and taping the individual planes before laying the slight, translucent marks. “In this way, the work is built up slowly over time, incorporating irregularities, brush strokes, and bleeding paint into a work that breathes, floats, and expands through the energy of color,” he says, explaining further:

The forms might seem to reference glass panels or other architectural configurations but that is only the scaffolding for the viewer to locate themselves within. Beyond that initial shape is an attempt to move towards a perception of ekstasis; or the vibrant energy of the universe, imaginary and unmapped. One that questions the symbols of power and place in today’s fast-paced, heavily digitized environments.

The pieces shown here follow Mullen’s collaborative synesthesia series that translates non-visual senses to the canvas—he and artist Lucy Cordes Engelman will be working more on this concept during a residency in upstate New York early next year. You can follow updates to that body of work and explore more of his recent paintings on Instagram.

 

“Future Monuments 16”

“Synesthesia 85”

“Future Monuments 21”

“Synesthesia 64”

“Future Monuments 37”

“Future Monuments 43”

 

 



Photography

A Massive Composite of 150,000 Images Reveals the Swirling, Feather-Like Details of the Sun

December 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Andrew McCarthy, shared with permission

From dark spots and wispy flares to coronal loops that burst upward in brilliant arches, a giant new composite by Andrew McCarthy (previously) exposes the intricate, swirling patterns that cloak the sun’s surface. “Fire and Fusion” is a 300-megapixel image captured at 2 p.m. on November 29 and the Arizona-based photographer’s most detailed shot of the celestial matter yet. “Our star is a chaotic ball of plasma. Planet-sized streams of plasma snake up from the surface, dwarfed by looming prominences and filaments,” he says. “Blinding bursts of energy stem from areas of heightened magnetic activity, pushing and pulling on the solar surface and creating fascinating patterns in the atmosphere.”

Prints and full-resolution files of the extraordinarily detailed shot are available on McCarthy’s site and Patreon, and you can explore more of his astrophotography on Instagram.