A Show at the Louvre’s Satellite Space Brings Together Artistic Depictions of Mythical Creatures, From Lion-Headed Eagles to Unicorns

When the animal kingdom met the artistic imagination, the result was a whole zoo full of fantastical creatures from dragons to unicorns, phoenixes to sphinxes. These strange mythological beasts haven usually taken on symbolic significance, and reappeared time and again in art made by different cultures across time, as shown by an ambitious new survey of more than 250 objects opening this fall at the Louvre-Lens.

This wide-ranging, whistle-stop tour starts off in the Bronze Age. The oldest surviving fragments of cave art are proof enough that humans have long been driven to depict the wonders of the natural world, but it wasn’t long before we started taking a bit of creative license. One of the show’s earliest exhibits, a Mesopotamian seal cylinder that dates back to 3300–3000 B.C.E., features a lion-headed eagle.

Featured Image: Henry Fuseli, Thor fighting the serpent of Midgard (1790). Photo: © akg-images, Royal Academy of Arts, London.

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Barbed Wire, Chains, and Shears Cleave Through Delicate Pottery in Glen Taylor’s Profound Sculptures

Far from dainty, Glen Taylor’s teapots, cups, and saucers (previously) tap into the contrasts and contradictions of human nature. Soldering industrial implements like barbed wire, shears, and chains to broken pieces of porcelain and pottery, the artist draws on our associations with aging, decorum, and everyday wear and tear.

Influenced by kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics with metallic seams to highlight the object’s history, the sculptures allude to our inner experiences and emotions. 

Featured Image © Glen Taylor

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Stunning Footage of Neurons Forming Inside a Chick Embryo Wins Nikon’s Small World in Motion

For 13 years, Nikon’s Small World in Motion has celebrated the most alluring footage captured through a microscope that spotlights a range of biological processes, from viral infections to blood flow. The 2023 competition garnered nearly 400 entries from photographers and researchers in 41 countries with Dr. Alexandre Dumoulin winning the top prize for his 48-hour timelapse of neurons developing in a chick embryo.

Featured Image: Dr. Alexandre Dumoulin, a 48-hour time-lapse of developing neurons connecting the opposite side of the central nervous system in a chick embryo

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What’s Left to Say About Picasso?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Picasso: A Cubist Commission in Brooklyn is the latest commemorative show in the Celebration Picasso 1973–2023 series across New York’s museums. A Cubist Commission in Brooklyn has received far less fanfare than the Brooklyn Museum’s It’s Pablo-matic, but they share the same dilemma: How do we find something original to say about Picasso in 2023?

A Cubist Commission in Brooklyn focuses on a single project. In 1910, Hamilton Easter Field (a painter in his own right now best known for his patronage) commissioned a series of 11 panels by Picasso to decorate his home library. The commission was never completed. This exhibition brings six paintings likely made for Field together for the first time with sketches and minimal archival material related to the commission. The works on display represent an early and experimental stage of Picasso’s Cubist work, one preoccupied with flattening forms into their component planes, seeking to capture three-dimensional objects from all angles. They share a muted, largely beige and gray color palette, without the distinctive kaleidoscopic aggression of late Cubism. From a distance, the earthy colors blend into a dull, muddy mass. It’s only up close that the textures really stand out.

Pablo Picasso, “Standing Nude” (1910)

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Slouching Ceramic Vessels by Philip Kupferschmidt Ooze with Heavy Drips and Gloopy Glazes

From his studio in Chino, California, Philip Kupferschmidt (previously) fashions cavernous ceramic vessels that drip and ooze with vibrant glazes. After throwing a piece on the wheel, the artist warps, stretches, and crushes the walls of a vase or pot that he later covers with thick droplets or chunky globs. Many of the sculptures appear to slouch under the weight of the liquid, their sides folded and creased into skewed shapes.

Kupferschmidt has been creating drip-covered works for several years and recently began a series of Supergloops, vessels with more pigments and material variances than his typical one- or two-toned works.

Image © Philip Kupferschmidt

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Vibrant Lines of Paper Twist and Surge Through Ilhwa Kim’s Dynamic Landscapes

Meandering rows of flat paper seeds flow through Ilhwa Kim’s landscapes, creating densely lined paths among the abstract expanses. The South Korean artist (previously) rolls tight wads of Hanji paper, which she’s dyed primarily in greens and blues with occasional pinks and yellows, and binds the individual components in a rectangular form. Variances between the slim, tall seeds and the short, wider pieces add texture and depth to the aerial-inspired works that appear to look down at a settlement or pastoral scene from above.

Image © Ilhwa Kim “Low Altitude Flight” (2023), hand-dyed Hanji paper, 192 x 224 x 13 centimeters

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Fungi, Feathers, and Insects Spring from Carol Long’s Art Nouveau Vessels

Midwestern flora and fauna are the foundation for Carol Long’s lavishly adorned sculptures, which elegantly meld Art Nouveau embellishments with natural motifs. The Kansas-based artist (previously) continues her process of pushing and pulling the sides of a thrown vessel to achieve exaggerated proportions. Bublous bases, thin, curvy handles, and wobbly openings are characteristic of her ceramic sculptures, which she garnishes with slip-trail textures evoking fungi gills or bushy bunny tails.

Image © Carol Long

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Enormous Animals and Human Hybrids Interact in Enigmatic Landscapes by Bill Mayer

Bill Mayer is an artist-illustrator based in Decatur, Georgia whose work spans various mediums and styles. He is best known for his intricate and detailed illustrations that have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine, to name a few.

Mayer’s artwork is a masterpiece of imagination and creativity. His illustrations blend traditional and modern techniques that evoke a sense of wonder and amazement in the viewer. His work is characterized by its attention to detail and vivid colors, and he displays a keen sense of humor that is charming and captivating. Bill’s illustrations are often complex and layered, inviting the viewer to look closer and discover the hidden details.

Featured image: “The Black Swan” Image © Bill Mayer

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The Infinite, Never-Released Scream

In her pared-down, figurative paintings, often of a lone female, Asako Tabata presents a stark, unsettling vision of a society in which women have little chance to achieve autonomy. At first glance “A Wolf Is Coming!” (2023) seems to be the artist revisiting Aesop’s fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The painting depicts what looks like a blue-haired adolescent girl standing against a Chinese red ground, with her hands at her side and an oval, representing an open mouth, on her otherwise featureless face.

There is no sign of a wolf in the painting. And yet, the Aesop reading doesn’t strike me as quite right. What are we to make of the ominous black cloud in the painting? Does it imply that dangerous forces are present? Does the open mouth suggest that she is crying for help or is the sound stuck in her mouth, unable to exit? The woman’s pose, her arms close at her sides, indicates that she is frustrated and frozen rather than, as in the fable, crying out in false alarm.

Featured image: Asako Tabata, “Why Should I Even Bother?” (2023), oil on canvas, acrylic on papier-mâché, wood board; painting: 28.6 x 71.7 inches; sculpture: 20.5 x 24.4 x 19.3 inches

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Woman Uses Hidden Cameras To Get Candid Look at Birds in Her Backyard

For years we’ve been following Lisa, aka Ostdrossel, as she documents the incredible feathered friends who frequent her backyard. The German bird lover, who is based in Michigan, uses several backyard cameras that allow her to get a candid look at the birds. Luckily, she’s more than happy to share the results, which show all of the birds and critters that eat and drink in her backyard.

Her most popular setup is her homemade feeder camera fitted with a macro lens inside a weatherproof box. It allows her to see everything from a nuthatch snacking on a nut to young birds molting into their adult feathers. And while her bird images are fascinating, the candid camera also catches some unexpected guests at the feeders.

Male northern cardinal

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