I have been noticing a lot of crystals, skulls and mirrors in art and design in the last few years. It appears to be a “thing.” I readily embrace this “thing” and have even busted out a skull or three in my recent work. There’s a very The Dark Crystal / The Never Ending Story aesthetic to a lot of this work which can probably be explained by the fact that many of the artists embracing it are of the generation that likely grew up with those movies and other like films, books, programs (media in general) ingrained into our consciousness.
While some incidents of crystalskullmirror I’m seeing are mediocre (one can apparently make abominably cliché work with mirrors, for example) I find myself gravitating toward a lot of this work. If this post makes it seem like I am lumping artists using these motifs into the same aesthetic category, then please take a look at some of my favorite folks in this realm and judge for yourself.
I am a huge fan of the work of Will Yackulic. He shows with two galleries I really like: Jeff Bailey in New York and Gregory Lind in San Francisco. He uses ink and gouache (two media I like to work with) and, somehow, a typewriter to make these stunning two-dimensional otherworlds.
Then there’s the work of David Altmejd, whose work Mark and I first came across in the 2007 Venice Biennale, where he put together a fantastic, nay, phenomenal exhibition for the Canadian pavilion. He uses mirrors A LOT, but SO much better than anyone else out there using mirrors to do similar things. They are just one aspect of the insane worlds he creates, which also include: taxidermied birds,* giants, genitals, both flora and fauna, fur, body parts, and YOU because there are so many mirrors in his work, that you inevitably become part of the work. I could barely photograph it without getting myself in a shot. Like this:
Note please that I am not a professional photographer and that there are way sweeter images of his work online. See? But I thought it would be neat to post some photos I took while experiencing the exhibition.
We like him so much, in fact, that we just ordered two monographs on him. One is the catalog for this exhibition, and the other is this lovely book:
For example of this crystal mirror phenomenon in contemporary media, someone caught indie pop lady Mirah fiddling with these mirror pyramids and put the photo in the liner notes of her latest album.
Skulls. Lots of skulls. When in Europe, whenever I saw a skull in contemporary art, I photographed it. Here are the results of my self-assigned scavenger hunt:
And now, my own contribution:
I am so enamored of people’s fascination with skulls (just go on The Selby and see how many skulls you can count in people’s homes alone), that I was making portraits of skulls in Budapest, remember? I’ll get back to those soon I think.
That reminds me, I need to get amakin’, as I am yet again a contributing artist to my friend Krista Peel‘s Calendar Project. This time the theme is Art Museum, for which I have to create a mini model of a museum. It can be ANYTHING I want it to be, can be made of any material, and, (blessedly) does not have to be in the least functional. So, which will it be: Crystals, Skulls, or Mirrors? I suppose we’ll see…
* Taxidermy is another “thing” in art right now altogether. Perhaps I’ll tackle that stuffed, lifeless beast in a future post.