Porcelain Dolls So Realistic, You Swear They’re Alive

I have a seven-year old daughter, so, yeah, I see a lot of dolls. From Barbie to Ever After High. However, when I stumbled across the book Enchanted Doll by Marina Bychkova, I was ushered into a new world of doll art. I have to say, that dolls, as a whole, have never interested me. As guy, my desire to own dolls started and ended with action figures (Star Wars and G.I. Joe). However, I do love art of all kinds and the dolls created by Bychkova deserve to be in museums.

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What Bychkova creates is nothing short of amazing. Look at the following close up from the end of her book and note how she paints in the tears. Now tell me, if you just glanced at that, and didn’t know it was a doll, you’d think it was a photo-realistic painting.

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Just creating beautiful “pin-up” quality art is one thing. But Bychkova takes it one step farther. She bases her dolls on fairy tales and legends. Here are a few of my favorites here along with the inspiration Bychkova includes.

Bride of Frankenstein

Bychkova finds her inspiration for this doll from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Camilla d’Errico’s Helmetgirls, and Erte’s conceptual fashion designs that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. Bychkova envisioned the “Bride” as a woman who went through so much high-voltage shenanigans, that her hair bleached white. She says: “Being electrocuted with several thousand volts of electricity destroyed all the pigmentation in her body, bleaching her once vivid complexion.” The Stempunk styled metal helmet helps pump oxygen to her brain and also adds some neural zapping to keep her thinking.

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Little Red Riding Hood

Did I mention that Bychkova also creates all of her own clothing? Just look at the ornamentation in that red cape. Speaking of the cape, we all know the story of the little girl on the way to grandma’s who gets waylaid by a wolf. With Bychkova’s version, she imagines the peasant girl as a “rebellious, yet painfully naive teenage heiress on an ill-advised quest for adventure and independence.” Unfortunately, she is stalked by a the predatory wolf.

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Cathedral

Not all of Bychkova’s dolls are based on fables. With “Cathedral” she shows her love for Renaissance art and gothic architecture. She says: “As a student, I was eager to experience the magnificent works of art and celebrated places from the pages of my art history textbooks. Soon after graduation, I embarked on a six-week grand tour of Italy in a camper van. While there, I was intoxicated by the Italian art, architecture, culture, and religious iconography—it truly was a sensory overload.” This experience inspired her to make art. The Cathedral doll is directly linked to her memories of Italy, especially the jewel-encrusted reliquaries in the Vatican.

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Phantom of the Opera

Although not a doll of Christine, this Chandelier doll was inspired by the falling chandelier from the Phantom of the Opera stage production. This is an experimental piece for Bychkova which focuses on the lighting rather than the clothes. She imagines this chandelier as being worn by a model in a Paris catwalk for a fashion show. She exaggerated the proportions in order to create that “over the top” feel of haute couture. She says that this project “is a comment on the constrictive and at times brutal nature of fashion, showing how willingly women embrace these discomforts for the sake of conforming to accepted standards of beauty.”

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There are many many more gorgeous dolls in the Enchanted Doll book. Please check it out when you get the chance. Your imagination will thank you.

Tim Kane

Your Book is Alive!

Do you ever wonder if books have personalities? Do they act like the stories inside them? Well one artist sees beyond the words (and pulpy pages) to the soul of the book.

Terry Border is an artist who specializes in sculptures using paperclips. His series Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs shows us the book coming alive. Now if you’ve never experienced a paperback, then you should know that back would bend into a curve after many reading (especially if it was a long book) leading to the pages falling out. They weren’t wonderful, but they were cheap. The Kindle ebooks of their day. I’ve personally read most of the books Mr. Border uses in his art series (most with the same paperback covers as depicted).

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Mr. Border first came up with this idea when he spied a rack of paperbacks at his local bookstore (yup, those spiral racks were where I used to see them). He loved the personality of the covers and wanted to transform the books into little book people.

FANTASTICFOUR

This one is particularly dear to me. Having collected Fantastic Four most of my life, I really does capture the whimsy of the comic. Mr. Fantastic is the only superhero from the group you could possibly create with wire.

WARofWORLDS

Mr. Border does more than fantasy and horror, but these are my favs. I read War of the Worlds as a preteen and it still sticks with me. I’m a Wells over Verne sort of fella.

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It’t not all paperback art. This picture is titled “Late to Breakfast” and shows a twisted sense of humor I can firmly get behind.

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Finally, before I add every single image from his site, I wanted to show that it’s not all bent wire that makes up Mr. Border’s whimsey. I love this that is titled “Where Pasta Shells Come From.”

Check out his site to see more. And don’t forget that behind every single object is a creature waiting to burst out.

Tim Kane

Evolution Gone Awry (The Disturbing Art of Patricia Piccinini)

If you’ve never seen Patricia Piccinini’s sculptures, then you have missed out on a whole world of weirdness. Take a look at the photo below from “The Fitzroy Series” (2012). Look at the mix of an actual environment and the sculpted creatures. The boy sleeping in the bed? He’s probably a sculpture too.

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She uses a combination of  silicone, fibreglass and human hair to create her sculptures. Often she pairs her bizarre beings with imagined future beings.

She also offers a series of sculptures that cause the viewer to question whether this is a creature that once lived or possibly a result of laboratory tinkering. Take a look at “Offering” (2009). Is this a dog? Perhaps a werewolf cub? It certainly evokes a warm babyish feeling.

offering 2009

Now take a look at “Newborn” (2010). Perhaps this is the offering grown a little larger?

newborn 2010

This little guy looks comforting yet disturbing at the same time. Are those arms? Fingers? Tentacles? I’m not sure. Does it have a trunk?

In her series “Aloft” (2010) she shows an ominous nest dangling above viewers’s heads.

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From the second story, viewers can see inside the nest. Note that the boy didn’t craw in there. He’s sculpted.

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Yes, disturbing is this artist’s middle name. I don’t know what worries me more, the giant larval creatures or the kid about to tumble to the floor.

Finally, look at one of her most recent projects “Welcome Guest” (2011). Here we have more full grown creature paired with a child.

Welcome Guest

As always in Piccinini’s sculptures, the children look happy and calm when faced with the bizarre or unusual. This piece makes me wonder what the welcome guest evolved from. Those claws are disturbing.

To see more of Piccinini’s sculptures, visit her website.

Tim Kane