Wisconsin-based artist Kelly Jelinek of Little Stag Studio combines her lifelong fascination with taxidermy and love of old upholstery to create fantastic works of faux taxidermy that look like animals from fairytale lands, from impossibly colorful lions, deer, and dinosaurs to much smaller creatures like chinchillas and armadillos.
“When I was a child, I spent most of my time with my nose in fairytale books. I absolutely marveled how the impossible was made possible in those stories: animals could talk, trees could move, and the most mundane of objects could become something magical and important. I wished that real life was like a fairytale. This longing that I had as a child has stayed with me through the years, and I find that I am constantly trying to make "real life” more magical and extraordinary through the artwork that I create. The faux taxidermy art that I create is a great example of this: something traditional and commonplace is transformed into something new and exciting.”
‘Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius’ at the Science Museum, London
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In 1952, 500 years after the birth of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, a group of engineers in Milan took the mechanical drawings found in Leonardo’s manuscripts and brought them to life. The models ranged from weapons and fortifications, to flying machines and parachutes, though many of these sketches were either fragments of a greater picture or ideas for the improvement of existing structures. A monumental task, these researchers and engineers succeeded in producing a series of complex objects and machines, which is currently the subject of a new exhibition at London’s Science Museum. ‘Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius’ presents the project under thematic categorisations, and asserts that it is the artist’s ‘sophisticated, precise and efficient’ drawings that resulted in his prominence within the numerous fields he encountered.
Presented under headings including ‘The Art of War’, ‘Drawing Inspiration from Living Organisms’ and ‘Unifying Knowledge’, the objects are accompanied in each section by a full description, their original sketch, technical drawings, action videos and, with it being the Science Museum, an obligatory amount of interactive screens and games. There is also further categorisation within the context of Leonardo’s overall vision, from ‘technical dream’ to ‘continuing the tradition’, in order to clarify the misunderstanding that all of the artist’s technical drawings were considered to be original inventions. The museum does a pretty good job of explaining each model, though this certainly isn’t an exhibition that can be quickly browsed through. Many of the objects look ambiguous to a novice. You couldn’t wander around exclaiming the function of things on sight alone: ‘Look, there’s a self-propelled vehicle/helicopter blade/rope-twisting frame!’
But this isn’t an exhibition about visually aesthetic objects; none of this could be described as decorative art! ‘The Mechanics of Genius’ is instead about the complexity of Leonardo’s detailed drawings and the research that he put in to the formation of his final ideas. To complete the overall image of this Renaissance man, the different sections of the exhibition are formed by sheer fabrics decorated with the artist’s sketchbook drawings and famous paintings, including The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and the Mona Lisa. The effect is like falling into Leonardo’s own studio, or perhaps into the deep dark depths of his brilliant mind, where the most recognised artistic figures of his oeuvre stand equally alongside the inventive machines of his manuscripts.
Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert, Venus (Seated Woman), after 1769, marble, 30.48 x 30 x 23.8 cm, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Source
Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a gorgeous marble sculpture of the Roman goddess of love by the Flemish artist Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert to celebrate. A larger work, which also shows a seated Venus holding a quiver of roses, by Tassaert belongs to the Musée Cognacq-Jay collection in Paris.