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The French printmaker François Houtin (1950- )

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The French printmaker François Houtin (1950- ) is an artist whose work has been devoted almost exclusively to the depiction of imaginary gardens. Houtin was born and grew up in Craon, near Mayenne, in the rural Haut-Anjou region. He moved to Paris in 1971, from which time he worked as a gardener and floral designer, while training to become a landscape architect. Finding his horticultural visions at odds with real-world constraints, he sought alternative means of bringing them to life, and began studying etching and engraving at evening-classes under the direction of Jean Delpech, who also trained such notable printmakers as Phillipe Mohlitz and Erik Desmazières.
Houtin’s first album of etchings, Vie Folle, Folle Vie, Débile was published in 1976. His early prints have an overt surrealism about them which gradually faded as his style evolved and matured. Other publications followed, notably the series of forty etchings Jardins, which appeared in 1978. The year after that, Houtin quit his day-job and became a full-time artist. Since then, there have been many exhibitions of his work in Europe and North America, and several more publications, including: Topiaire (1980); Cinq Jardins, Cinq Sens (1982); Fantaises Romaines (1985); Les Quatre Eléments ou La Fête à Versailles (1988); Les Cabanes de Jardinier (1999) and Nymphées (2002).
Also in 2002, a complete Catalogue Raisonné of Houtin’s work was published: a joint effort by Richard Reed Armstrong Fine Art (Chicago) and the Galerie Michèle Broutta (Paris). I obtained a copy of this catalogue a few days ago, which has been my source for the images here. I’m grateful to Peacay, of Bibliodyssey renown, for introducing me to the work of this artist, nicely described by his friend and collaborator Gilbert Lascault as ‘the printmaker-gardener, the draughtsman-nurseryman, the demanding dreamer, the landscape artist, and the arboriculturalist-etcher.’ These images are all copyright © François Houtin, and have been reproduced without permission, only for as long as no-one objects to their presence on this site.

Posted by misteraitch at February 25, 2007
Thu, August 28, 2008 - 6:27 PM — permalink - 2 comments - add a comment

Mira Calligraphiæ Monumenta

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One of the most fascinating, to my eyes, of the artworks discussed in the book is an illustrated manuscript entitled Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, a collaboration of sorts between the Croatian calligrapher Georg Bocksay and the Flemish miniaturist and illustrator Joris Hoefnagel. Bocksay, a virtuoso penman, had been commissioned to compile what amounted to a very elaborate calligraphy sampler by his patron, Emperor Ferdinand I. Thirty years later, Ferdinand's grandson (Rudolf II), asked Hoefnagel to illuminate the manuscript, a task he executed to outstandingly beautiful effect:

Posted by misteraitch at September 27, 2003 11:55 AM |
Thu, August 28, 2008 - 6:25 PM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

by De Gheyn

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De Gheyn
The painter and graphic artist Jacques (or Jacob) de Gheyn was born in Antwerp in 1565. His father, also called Jacques, was a glass-painter, printmaker, and miniaturist. Jacques Jr. ‘lived in Haarlem between 1585 and 1590, where he trained as a printmaker with Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), the standard-bearer of Dutch Mannerism’ and ‘in Amsterdam from 1590 to 1595, where he consolidated his own career as a printmaker and publisher and trained various disciples,’ foremost of whom was Zacharias Dolendo, who made the print shown in the detail below, Saturn as Melancholy, after a design of de Gheyn’s, ca. 1595/6. Dolendo is said by a contemporary biographer as having ‘drank and danced himself to death;’ de Gheyn, too, is supposed to have led a rather dissolute life while in Amsterdam.
In 1595, Jacques married, and moved to the university city of Leiden, where he developed contacts with such notable figures as the jurist Hugo Grotius, the botanist Carolus Clusius, and the poet and emblematist Daniel Heinsius. During his time in Leiden, de Gheyn gradually turned from printmaking to painting, developing a particular interest in (and aptitude for) painting flowers and animals naer het leven, ‘from the life.’ In 1600 he finished his first still-life painting in oils, and, over the subsequent few years, he produced a remarkable ‘series of nearly two dozen exquisite watercolours of naturalia, now bound in an album housed in the Lugt Collection at the Institut Néerlandais in Paris.’ The following pair of details show two of these watercolours.

The Lugt Album, as it is now known, was purchased in 1604 by ‘Europe’s most renowned collector of natural and artificial wonders,’ the emperor Rudolf II. In these paintings, de Gheyn employed the techniques of miniature painting he had learned from his father. As painstakingly-observed but seemingly ‘unfinished’ compositions, they would seem to form an elaborate ‘model book,’ were it not for their having been set down on costly vellum, and decorated with gold leaf—suggesting that de Gheyn had hoped all along they might catch the eye of a wealthy collector. In style and execution they resemble the miniatures of Hans Bol and Joris Hoefnagel. By the time of the album’s completion and sale, de Gheyn and his family had moved to The Hague, where he was to spend the rest of his life.

My source for these images, by the way, is a book entitled Art, Science and Witchcraft in Early Modern Holland, by Claudia Swan. This volume takes as its starting-point the contrast between de Gheyn’s painstaking renderings of naturalia done naer het leven, and the same artist’s drawings and prints of ‘foreboding landscapes, gypsies and witches,’ done nyt den gheest, ‘from the mind or spirit.’ The detail above, of a 1604 drawing entitled Witches in a Cellar, is an example of the latter category. These twin threads in de Gheyn’s work are never seen together, with one particular exception: a fascinating page on which a lifelike study of a hermit crab is juxtaposed with a sketchier group of grotesque figures—the following pair of details show two portions of this one page

While it could simply be that de Gheyn sketched the crab with the bizarre group just to save paper, Swan suggests a possible (although tenuous) link between them, inasmuch as crabs were often portrayed as symbols of inconstancy and contrariness, and specifically linked by some contemporary writers with witchcraft. One is quoted as explaining that witches ‘turn their backs toward the Demons when they go to worship them, and approach them sideways like a crab.’ More generally, Swan speculates that de Gheyn’s portrayals of witches are partly founded in the belief, then gaining currency in the United Provinces, that these women were the pitiable victims of delusion, rather than malignant agents of the devil.

Beyond his successes as an engraver and a flower-painter (at which he was reckoned by many of his peers as the superior of Jan Bruegel the Elder), de Gheyn also painted historical scenes, and allegorical still lifes. He died in The Hague in 1629. His son—a third Jacques—had become a successful artist in his own right. Even near to his death, de Gheyn was still looking at ways of mirroring nature in paint, and was considering a project to depict, with the aid of a microscope, ‘those smallest objects and insects with a very fine brush,’ intended for compilation in a book to be entitled ‘The New World.’
Posted by misteraitch at May 7, 2006 12:30 PM
Thu, August 28, 2008 - 6:20 PM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

The Artist: Douglas Shafer
This site also features his amazing work

From the esoteric realms of philosophical thought comes the visualizations of Shafer. Referencing ancient manuscripts, he paints iconographic botanical and figurative images. Often his works will be in book formats.


The John Wilson Rare Book Room, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Hofer collection of Printing and Graphic Arts, Houghton LIbrary, Harvard University
The National Gallery, Rare Book Collection, Washington D.C.

Wed, August 27, 2008 - 8:22 AM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

The artist 'Chalermchai Kositpipat'

Vehicle of heaven - - - wish I could see any of his original work - there seems to be an amazing source of detail....
link to pictures
Fri, July 18, 2008 - 4:12 AM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

Chalermchai’s Wat Raung Khun

Chiang Rai is famous for a fantasy-like temple Wat Ruang Khun designed by charismatic artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.
If the sculpture and architecture fascinate and frighten, the mural inside the temple are plain unbelievable. The back wall has Chalermchai's depiction of the temptations and desires of this world. Conjoining everything is the demon Mara, who in Buddhist mythology personifies temptation and consistently tries to obstruct the Buddha's quest for enlightenment. The ubiquitous demon manifests itself in many forms: hideous faces, horns, tentacles....
Fri, July 18, 2008 - 3:50 AM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

DAMANHUR - The Temples of Humankind

On a mountaintop outside of Turin, Italy, in 1978, spiritual leader Oberto Airaudi (a.k.a. Falco) had a vision of sacred temples built inside of the mountain -- and the digging commenced. The Temples of Humankind were a secret from even the closest neighbors for the next twenty years as artists, artisans and builders excavated and created the equivalent of a five-story subterranean building. The community that has grown around this underground network of halls and corridors has its own system of government, its own currency with minted coins, its own school and stores. The people named their community, Damanhur, a word channeled by spiritual leader, Airaudi, from ancient Atlantean, meaning "City of Light".

Today, temples filled with superbly painted murals, soaring sculptural columns, meticulous mosaic floors, and giant stained glass domes, are the context for this intentional community that celebrates universal world spirituality drawn from all sacred traditions. Secret Doors, the Blue Temple, the Hall of Water, the Hall of the Earth, the Hall of Metals, the Hall of Spheres, the Hall of Mirrors, and a Labyrinth are revealed in this guided photographic tour.Merging ancient mystic customs and principles with contemporary consciousness and philosophy, this tiny utopia has manifested an eco-conscious, self-sustaining society. Damanhur’s temples are its most exquisite gift to the world.
Thu, August 2, 2007 - 12:08 PM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment

Damanhurian Temples - Five story underground maze of sacred halls inside a mountain

In Damanhur Art is the preferred instrument for growth and transformation. The citizens of the Federation have created the Temples of Humankind, an extraordinary building in which the arts inspire the flowering of intuition, new thought and new ways of living, so much so, that life itself becomes a work of art. Damanhurians transform all their territories into places of inspiration, where Spirit and Form are not seperate and spiritual conquests manifest in the practical results of everyone’s work. The sacred, in Damanhur, is a concrete reality that is born out of sharing; the offer of individual creativity and the strength derived from common ideals.
Gary Alexander, professor of England’s ‘Open University’ in his book ‘eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communication’, Lighthouse books 2002, writes:
‘The major part of the walls are decorated inside and out with paintings and there are mural paintings representing gigantic plants and animals. Statues, altars, works of art are spread throughout the territories. Damanhur has constructed a magnificent underground temple, with painted walls, mosaic floors and Tiffany glass ceilings. Leaflets on notice boards and their newspaper report news of games, theater and musical events and courses of every kind. One gets the pleasant sensation that for Damanhurians, creativity and the arts have taken the place of the race to consume.’
Every year, thousands of people visit Damanhur to experiment with its social model, study its philosophy and meditate in the Temples of Humankind, the great underground construction carved by hand out of the rock by Damanhur’s citizens. Many have defined it as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Hall of Water, of the Earth, of the Spheres, of Mirrors, of Metals, the Blue Temple, the Labyrinth, the Temples of Humankind are an underground work of art, created entirely by hand and dedicated to the divine nature of Humanity. They are a great three-dimensional book that tells the story of Humankind through all forms of art. A pathway to the Divine inside and outside of the self. In the Temples every detail has a significance, following precise codes of form and proportion. Every Hall has its own specific resonance and sound.
The Temples of Humankind symbolically represent the inner rooms of every human being. Walking through its halls and corridors corresponds to a profound inner journey. The Temples weave their way inside the mountain for more than 8,500 cubic meters on five different levels, linked by hundreds of meters of corridors. The Temples are sited at the meeting point of Eurasian and African continental plates whose movement has brought to the surface an ancient mineral, over 300 million years old. This mineral known as Milonite carries the physical energy of the Earth. The Temples were constructed inside a seam of this particular mineral which precisely follows the flow of the ‘Synchronic Lines’ of the Earth. The Synchronic Lines are great rivers of energy that surround our planet and link it to the Universe, transporting ideas, thought and dreams. The Temples of Humankind rise up on a shinning knot; the point at which four of these Lines meet.
The Temples are a great laboratory where Science, Technology and Spirituality are united n the search for new paths for Humanity.
As in the Renaisance, the construction of the Temples of Humankind has inspired the creation of of art and craft workshops for which Damanhur has become known all over the world - In line with the growth of the Temples – which represent the highest expression of collective artisitic expression – Damanhurian society has refined itself and created the basis for its own culture and tradition.
Thu, August 2, 2007 - 11:53 AM — permalink - 1 comments - add a comment
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