Anima in Exile: Aron Wiesenfeld

Aron Wiesenfeld (born 1972) is a well-known artist and illustrator that has international recognition. His work has been featured in Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose magazines but he is also represented by the Arcadia Gallery in New York; that is what brought Wiesenfeld to my attention. He has been accepted by both the Classical Realists and the lowbrow artists that seem to be in ideological opposition to each other. I wondered how Wiesenfeld could prosper—able to find his anima in such an environment. Before I majored in Psychology, I studied art for two years, so my impressions come from experience.

I knew of Wiesenfeld’s work for some time but only recently began to appreciate his strength—lying in the fact that much of his work comes completely from his imagination; he is much closer to the old masters because his work is inventive. During the Renaissance, invention was highly valued—the ability to draw and paint an entire scene from imagination. For example, Caravaggio began the trend of working directly form nature; for this, Pietro Bellori scorned him for “neither invention nor decorum nor design nor knowledge of the science of painting” and that “once the model was removed from his eyes, his hand and his mind remained empty.” While I wouldn’t agree with this critique of Caravaggio, the new schools that claim to have revived traditional art only condition artists to be impassive technicians lacking inventiveness. Their standard for art appears to be paintings that are so realistic that they could be mistaken as a photograph. I suspect they would reject Botticelli’s Birth of Venus as amateurish. Because it is a greater challenge to paint a realistic scene in which many parts are invented, most artists are afraid to attempt it. In this context, the whimsical poetry of Wiesenfeld is refreshing.

It’s interesting that Wiesenfeld illustrated comics for a time and developed his skills from that experience; so perhaps it is better for an artist to study in an illustration department. The artist’s background in comics likely brought him in contact with Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose, which are known for showing pop surrealism. His work is actually closer to the magical realism of the 1950s, which is anchored in common reality, but has overtones of wonder and the supernatural. I guess the magazine editors thought Wiesenfeld’s work was weird enough, even though it wasn’t pop surrealism. Instead of drawing from the unconscious as the surrealists did, pop surrealism reflects a state of over-consciousness of media images. Sentiments for subjects are treated with an ironic detachment, as if art is a defense against being a “dupe of advertising” (Ron English). Our culture has reached a state of over-consciousness that is suspicious of the instincts; many artists have be conditioned to avoid pretty girls as a subject or if they do, the girls are painted with some kind of prop in a detached manner.

Aron Wiesenfeld - Runaway (c2009)

Aron Wiesenfeld – Runaway (2006)

What struck me, was how Wiesenfeld’s use of symbolism differs from that of his peers. In Runaway, a young girl is holding onto a cat and a goose making her way through a flood; the other artists who appear in Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose would most likely have rendered the cat and goose as stuffed toys, but the runaway is holding onto animals that have significance to her. That is what makes his work so profound; I think this painting is a reflection of the age—the girl has run away. Her portrayal is like the postmodernists in that they lost their foundations (their home), but she still has something meaningful to hold onto.

Aron Wiesenfeld - The Tree (2012)

Aron Wiesenfeld – The Tree (2012)

Aron Wiesenfeld - The Tree (2012) (detail)

Aron Wiesenfeld – The Tree (2012) (detail)

In The Tree, a young girl has climbed a tree surrounded by a flood; as she feeds a few birds from her hand, a distant ship appears over the horizon. The contrast of the desperate situation with the girl at ease evokes the mood of the great 19th century painting Hope by Puvis de Chavannes; without a doubt, the girls are anima figures.

The anima is an archetype that was described by the psychologist Carl Jung. Jung believed the anima was the expression of a man’s feminine inner personality and that it was a source of creative ability. At the beginning of World War I, Jung recorded his series of dreams of a wise old man and his companion, a little girl. Dr.C.George Boeree acknowledged that “the little girl became anima, the feminine soul, who served as his main medium of communication with the deeper aspects of his unconscious.” Amanda Erlanson recognized the influence of the subconscious in Wiesenfeld’s paintings.

“Unlocking the subconscious reservoirs of the spirit should be the highest goal of art, but few painters in the art world have the courage to attempt it.”

Our culture has really lost contact will the anima; although every female that appears in art isn’t necessarily an anima figure, we usually assume that a male only sees a female as an object and denies that a girl in a painting could be a reflection of an aspect of his own being. Some men seem to exist only to punch in and out for work; a young girl could symbolize the joy or freedom absent from everyday life. The denial of the anima is manifested in contemporary art with the trend in plastic dolls.

Aron Wiesenfeld - Scout  (2010)

Aron Wiesenfeld – Scout (2010)

I suppose some will consider my interpretation to be superfluous, but I think that view is mostly due to the state of over-consciousness that Jung discussed. Because Wiesenfeld’s enigmatic girls are from his imagination, I think it is reasonable to say that they represent anima projections; in other words, Scout isn’t just Jenny that lives across the street. That’s why I made the point about invention; the new Classical Realists have been trained to just copy Jenny in the studio staring at the wall. The artist should really be encouraged to paint from intuition. Another artist just posted on Pigtails, Scott Affleck, is one of the few other artists in the same terrain as Wiesenfeld—stepping even further into the unconscious by painting nudes.

Aron Wiesenfeld - Bloom (2014)

Aron Wiesenfeld – Bloom (2014)

My impressions came from an interest in pursuing a career in art; I found the environment of the Classical Realists to be stifling. I changed my major to Psychology. The lowbrows allow more freedom but, as their name implies, content is not taken very seriously. Ron suggested that I should avoid traditional art criticism; I believe serious artists are forced to live in a vacuum where commentary about how their work contributes is almost nonexistent. Weisenfeld’s enchanting Bloom is the kind of painting that would, for example, be criticized by the Classical Realists for lacking a select focus. They would be oblivious to the fact that all the details of the plants enhance the expression of the work. In the paintings Runaway and The Tree there is a threat in the form of water. In Jungian psychology, water often represents the depths of the unconscious. Due to the fact that a state of over-consciousness forfeits the resource of the unconscious, it remains untamed; there has to be a balance between the conscious and unconscious. Our culture lacks equilibrium—expressive art that reflects a worldview between neoconservatism and postmodern cynicism is not represented. From my research on Wiesenfeld, I realized that he didn’t have as many ties to Classical Realism as I at first thought. I came to the conclusion that a passionate traditional artist would likely need to exhibit with lowbrow art. Unfortunately, if Waterhouse were alive today, he would have to exhibit his Hylas and the Nymphs next to work like Ron English’s Precode Minnie.

Aron Wiesenfeld - The Crown (2011)

Aron Wiesenfeld – The Crown (2011)

This is Susan’s first submission to Pigtails in Paint, so thank you for your efforts. Wiesenfeld is a working artist and operates out of San Diego producing a lot of young girl/anima imagery in charcoal and paint and his Official Site and Facebook page are well worth a visit. -Ron

The Little Girl in Mark Ryden

The first thing someone might be interested to know about Mark Ryden is that in the 90s when he was still working as a commercial artist, years before he was to became “the grandfather of pop-surrealism”, he was acquainted with Michael Jackson and did the album cover for Dangerous. Mark is unfortunately mum about the time they spent together.

Mark Ryden - album cover Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" (1991)

Mark Ryden – album cover Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” (1991)

Ten years later, Mark was on a new career path. Having shifted from commercial to fine art, he rose to Art World superstar—selling his paintings for six figures and having his exploits followed by celebrities like Nicholas Cage, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp.

“His work had become increasingly popular through mass exposure, particularly in the Low Brow Art publications HI-FRUCTOSE and Juxtapoz.” (Joseph R. Givens, LOWBROW ART)

Mark Ryden - Incarnation (2010); Magazine Cover "Juxtapoz" December '11

Mark Ryden – Incarnation (2010); Magazine Cover “Juxtapoz” December ’11

Lowbrow Art emerged in the 70s and its unofficial spokesman is Robert Williams, who coined the phrase. But by the late 90s the movement was splitting in two. In one camp were the loud, sarcastic, anti-establishment originators while in the other were a new breed of artist who painted with exacting technique, referenced the Old Masters and began to appear in major galleries, being accepted by the canon. The term “Pop Surrealism” was first used by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum for their 1998 show. Mark, and others like him, who had been educated by the very artists the early Lowbrow artists rejected, brought figurative art back to the fine art scene for nearly the first time since Abstract Expressionism had wiped it out almost a century ago.

Mark Ryden - Instagram; Queen Bee (2013)

Mark Ryden – Instagram; Queen Bee (2013)

Mark Ryden names as his own classical artistic inspirations: David, Ingres, Bougereau, and Bronzino (BL!SSS Magazine). Girl art fans will realize that Bougereau painted Before the Bath, The Little Thief, The Nut Gatherers and so on, while Bronzino immortalized Bia de’ Medici. Contemporary artists who inspired Mark include Marion Peck, James Rosenquist, Loretta Lux, Ana Bagayan, Julie Heffernan, John Currin, Darren Waterston, Neo Rauch, and maybe not surprisingly, Balthus (Brian Sherwin, Fanny Giniès, HI-FRUCTOSE, The World Observer).

Marion Peck is none other than Mark’s ex-wife. They were powerfully inspired by one another.

Marion Peck - Peaceful Slumber (2007)

Marion Peck – Peaceful Slumber (2007)

The same clean, cutesy sentimentality often pervades both their paintings.

Mark Ryden - Awakening the Moon (2010)

Mark Ryden – Awakening the Moon (2010)

Mark attributes his deep realizations about philosophy to Marion: “he had been asleep; his spirituality was ‘isolated, and…progressed slowly’ before they met” (Amanda Erlanson, Juxtapoz, 2011).

Mark Ryden - The Apology (2007)

Mark Ryden – The Apology (2007)

Not a few of Mark’s little girls on wood panels are reminiscent of another artist who graced the covers of HI-FRUCTOSE and Juxtapoz: Audrey Kawasaki.

Mark Ryden - Oak Tree Nymph (2006)

Mark Ryden – Oak Tree Nymph (2006)

Or from this series painted on wood slabs:

Mark Ryden - Girl Color Study (2006)

Mark Ryden – Girl Color Study (2006)

Mark is trying to evoke wonder. His paintings are laden with metaphysical allusions and all sorts of things which are puzzling and ponderous: Cyrillic and Chinese script, numerology, religious iconography, meat and little girls and on and on. Of meat, Mark explains, “it’s dualistic: it’s just a packaged product, and at the same time it is a symbol of the other side, meat is our living avatar in the world.”

Mark Ryden - The Meat Train (2000)

Mark Ryden – The Meat Train (2000)

But Mark’s signature inspiration, which gives his work it’s idiomatic style, is swap-meet junk: kitsch, sentimental, nostalgic, melodramatic camp such as figurines of Jesus and Abraham Lincoln, big eyed bobble-headed dolls, old toys, and taxidermied animals. Mark’s flea-market finds define his painting—a regular cast of which appear in nearly every one of his works.

Mark Ryden - The Piano Player (2010)

Mark Ryden – The Piano Player (2010)

Mark has also been influenced and inspired by his daughter Rosie.

Eric Minh Swenson - Marion, Mark, and daughter Rosie (2014)

Eric Minh Swenson – Marion, Mark, and Daughter Rosie (2014)

He included Rosie in many of his paintings, one of which later appeared on the cover of HI-FRUCTOSE.

HI-FRUCTOSE Vol.3 - Mark Ryden - Rosie's Tea Party (2006)

HI-FRUCTOSE Vol.3 – Mark Ryden – Rosie’s Tea Party (2005)

“I photographed my daughter Rosie for the Tea Party painting several years ago. It was the first time she ever modeled for me. She took to it with unbelievable skill even at the age of three. Now she is almost eight and she still loves to pose for me. I usually have a sketch that she imitates. She instinctively understands the expression and gesture needed for a pose. I use her as a model even when the figure is not going to be a likeness of her. The little girl in Rosie’s Tea Party is an actual portrait of her. It is fun to have her face in the painting but it is more difficult and very different creatively than the faces I invent. Rosie enjoys being in my art. She and Jasper (my son) seem to understand my art better than many adults. They respond to it instinctively and they don’t over-intellectualize it. Unlike adults they don’t get stuck, they just experience it. Children in general respond well to my art. I feel I have been successful when a child is captivated by one of my paintings” (Annie Owens, HI-FRUCTOSE, 2006).

Mark Ryden - Instagram; Meat Dancer (2011)

Mark Ryden – Instagram; Meat Dancer (2011)

Mark sees a special relationship between children and art and has often mused on the topic:

“One of my favorite quotes is by Picasso: ‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’ I think this is very true. When making art, children can be so much more imaginative than adults. I think a quality that defines many successful artists is that they never lose a sense of wonder of the amazing world around us. I think it comes rather automatically when one is young” (Nate Pollard, Verbiside Magazine, 2013).

“It is only in childhood that contemporary society truly allows for imagination. Children can see a world ensouled, where bunnies weep and bees have secrets, where ‘inanimate’ objects are alive. Many people think that childhood’s world of imagination is silly, unworthy of serious consideration, something to be outgrown” (Artist Statement – “Wondertoonel”, 2004).

“Children have no inhibitions when making their art. I’ve never seen my 4 year old son have a creative block; and his art is much more interesting than most adult’s art. Children are miraculous” (Artist Statement – “The Meat Show”, 1998).

Mark Ryden - Instagram; The Creatix (2005)

Mark Ryden – Instagram; The Creatix (2005)

Children appear often in Mark Ryden’s artwork, but it is especially female children–little girls–who haunt his canvases and sketch pads.

Mark Ryden - Saint Barbie (1994)

Mark Ryden – Saint Barbie (1994)

Mark talks plainly and directly about the value he puts on the feminine and of the danger of ignoring it:

“As you look back into what has gone on in western civilization, you can see that patriarchy has been the cause of much strife and suffering in our world. It is the masculine dynamic that has caused our society to place money and corporate profit above human beings. It has allowed the earth to be viewed only as a commodity to be exploited. The feminine perspective sees things differently. She sees the earth and all its inhabitants as entities to be revered and cared for. She sees individual human beings as more important than the relentless advance of capitalism and competition. It is my hope, perhaps indirectly expressed in my work, that the divine feminine is reawakening”(Gachman, Interview Magazine).

One critic, Elliott David, has suggested likewise of the little girl in Mark Ryden, “Hidden in these girls’ oversized eyes is the imperialism and the blood of heritage aristocracy, a sort of false innocence that might imply evil but is really coy subversiveness lurking within.”

Mark Ryden - sketch for Pine Tree Nymph (2006)

Mark Ryden – Sketch for ‘Pine Tree Nymph’ (2006)

Mark is himself mostly elusive about the meaning of the little girl in his work:

“There are many symbolic meanings in my art that I myself am not necessarily conscious of.  The most powerful meanings in art come from another source outside an artist’s own literal consciousness. To me, tapping into this world is the key to making the most interesting art. Some people find my refusal to explain everything in my work deeply dissatisfying. They can’t stand mystery.”  (Joseph R. Givens, LOWBROW ART).

Or,

“I like for viewers of my paintings to feel presence of meaning and story but I like for them to come up with their own interpretations. I think if I explain too much of a painting away the painting loses a sense of mystery and curiosity” (Kitty Mead, Art Beat Street).

Mark Ryden - Sophia's Bubbles (2008)

Mark Ryden – Sophia’s Bubbles (2008)

While Amanda Erlanson observed that, “Languid girls who exude both a doll-like innocence and a knowing sensuality appear in nearly every painting.” None-the-less, when asked by Maxwell Williams: “[a]nother leitmotif of your paintings are young girls. Why do you feel your world is populated by these waifish little girls, and how did this evolve?” Mark replied, “A lot of people can’t get past the sexual part of a girl. For me, there’s truly nothing sexual at all” (Juxtapoz; Hollywood Reporter).
Mark Ryden - from "Pinxit" (2011); The Long Yak (2008)

Mark Ryden – From ‘Pinxit’ (2011); The Long Yak (2008)

Mark is so coy about the meaning of the little girl in his work because she is mysterious to him too.  He says, “I’ve had to think about that myself and work backwards.  My wife actually said something really funny, and I think she’s right, in that they’re sort of self-portraits. They’re anima figures; they’re soul figures… They’re sort of everybody. They’re you when you’re looking at the painting.”

Marion Peck expands on the little girl as self-portrait idea: “each of the girls Mark paints is in one sense a self-portrait. In his paintings, the anima manifests as Sophia—the muse, the fount of creativity, and the goddess of wisdom” (Amanda Erlanson, Juxtapoz, 2011).

Mark Ryden - Allegory of the Four Elements (2006)

Mark Ryden – Allegory of the Four Elements (2006)

But not everyone loves the little girls in Mark Ryden. Robert Williams satirized them in a drawing in which the cartoon girl’s head is so big she can’t hold it up; Joseph R. Givens explains, “Mocking Ryden’s sentimental themes, Williams drew a banner above the melancholy figure with the words ‘caring, nurturing, fawning.’ As a slight to Ryden’s childlike persona, Williams signed his drawing ‘Bobbie Wms.'”

Robert Williams - Pop Surrealism (2011)

Robert Williams – Pop Surrealism (2011)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine what is actually anti-establishment as opposed to conformist about Robert Williams’ pornographic ultra-violence. Sexualization of women, callousness and blood are almost the most monotonous things someone could paint, perfectly in step with the patriarchy.  Elliott David’s perception that the girl in Mark Ryden “is really coy subversiveness [of] imperialism” is a keen one.  Mark’s work and his portrayal of the little girl is personally vulnerable, sensitive, and touching—precious qualities to be sure.

Mark Ryden - Yak Dream (2008)

Mark Ryden – Yak Dream (2008)

Pip Starr did a post on Mark Ryden a couple years back as well so visit here to see more. It includes a closeup of the girl in the Dangerous poster and a couple of interesting comments. -Ron

Mark Ryden’s personal site

Dark Album Covers

I’ve posted a few already, but there’s no shortage of darker album art featuring young girls (especially for metal bands), so I decided to round the last few up into a single post.

The cover of Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was originally featured on Pigtails on March 3, 2011 as a stand-alone post [deleted since — Editor]; here it is again . . .

It is by photographer Nicholas Prior.

nicholas-prior-age-of-man

Nicholas Prior – Untitled #44 (2003)

Nicholas Prior (Official Site)

Brand New (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Brand New

Dark New Day - Twelve Year Silence (cover)

Dark New Day – Twelve Year Silence (cover)

Wikipedia: Dark New Day

The artwork for the self-titled Evelyn Evelyn album was done by the multi-talented Cynthia von Buhler; it reminds me a bit of the work of indie comics genius Charles Burns. I also love the whole backstory that was created for the fictional conjoined twins that supposedly make up the band (who are actually Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley).

Cynthia von Buhler - Evelyn Evelyn - Evelyn Evelyn (cover)

Cynthia von Buhler – Evelyn Evelyn – Evelyn Evelyn (cover)

Cynthia von Buhler (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Cynthia von Buhler

Wikipedia: Evelyn Evelyn

Stuck Between Stations: Evelyn Evelyn (An interesting and amusing review of the band and how it performs.)

Fates Warning - Parallels (cover)

Fates Warning – Parallels (cover)

Fates Warning (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Fates Warning

Highlord - Instant Madness (cover)

Highlord – Instant Madness (cover)

Wikipedia: Highlord

I love this next one! Probably my favorite of the whole batch. Creepy and haunting for sure. I also dig how all of his album titles sound like titles from some bizarre YA sci-fi series.

Liquid Stranger - The Arcane Terrain (cover)

Liquid Stranger – The Arcane Terrain (cover)

The Liquid Stranger (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Liquid Stranger

Muse is one of my favorite heavier bands, and this album is fantastic. This is not the original album cover but rather the alternate gatefold. The images are similar, except that on the cover the shadows are going in a different direction and a man is standing in the spot where the little girl stands.

Muse - Absolution (alternate LP gatefold)

Muse – Absolution (alternate LP gatefold)

The back of the Absolution tour DVD also depicts a young girl standing amongst the shadows of the airplane men.

Muse - Absolution (back cover, tour DVD)

Muse – Absolution (back cover, tour DVD)

Muse (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Muse (band)

I like anything with a post-apocalyptic feel to it, and this next one definitely fits the bill.  There are actually a few bands/musicians called Oxygen, but this is a French act I know very little about. You can order the album here and that’s about all I can tell you at this point.

Oxygen - Le Dernier Clair de Lune (cover)

Oxygen – Le Dernier Clair de Lune (cover)

Queens of the Stone Age . . . another awesome hard rock band. Quite unlike anything else that’s out there right now.

Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze (cover)

Queens of the Stone Age – Lullabies to Paralyze (cover)

Queens of the Stone Age (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Queens of the Stone Age

This is a Christian band and I’ve never heard them. This cover struck me as dark but hopeful, which is about right for a Christian album, and it also reminded me of the work of the AES+F art collective.

Run Kid Run - This is Who We Are (cover)

Run Kid Run – This is Who We Are (cover)

Wikipedia: Run Kid Run

Here’s an interesting cover in that it was originally a book cover (from the urban fantasy series The Borribles, in which runaway children living underground eventually turn into immortal rat-like humanoids.) I love the fact that most of the rat kids in this image are boys but the group is led by a girl. With a knife.

Savatage - Sirens (cover)

Savatage – Sirens (cover)

Savatage (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Savatage

Yet another cool post-apocalypse-themed cover:

We Are the Fallen - Tear the World Down (cover)

We Are the Fallen – Tear the World Down (cover)

We Are the Fallen (Official Facebook page)

Wikipedia: We Are the Fallen

Mark Ryden: The Album Covers

I’ve already pointed out that Mark Ryden was one of my favorite contemporary artists, and I’m not alone. I have seen his work everywhere, including on many album covers. One of Ryden’s favorite subjects is the young girl, which he often paints or illustrates in the so-called baby doll style. In the introduction to this site I mentioned how a lot of artists—particularly those in the lowbrow movement—place nude and/or erotic children (girls especially) in a surreal, comedic or horrific context, or sometimes all three together, and Ryden is no exception. Dariusz SkitekAndrew PolushkinTrevor BrownDino VallsCaitlin KarolczakYummyKitty and Beth Moore-Love are all artists I’ve posted here who have followed this trend, but Ryden is, hands down, the king of it. Hell, he’s practically an artistic movement unto himself.

So, without further adieu . . .

I bet a lot of you didn’t know that Ryden did this memorable cover for Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album, huh?

michael-jackson-dangerous

Mark Ryden – Michael Jackson – Dangerous (cover)

Mark Ryden - Michael Jackson - Dangerous (cover) (detail)

Mark Ryden – Michael Jackson – Dangerous (cover) (detail)

Michael Jackson – The King of Pop (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Michael Jackson

Mark Ryden - Red Hot Chili Peppers - One Hot Minute (cover)

Mark Ryden – Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute (cover)

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Wikipedia: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Mark Ryden - Jack Off Jill - Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers (cover)

Mark Ryden – Jack Off Jill – Clear Hearts, Grey Flowers (cover)

Jack Off Jill (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Jack Off Jill

Several of Ryden’s works show up on Scarling albums and posters:

Scarling - Band Aid Covers the Bullet Hole [cover]

Mark Ryden – Scarling – Band Aid Covers the Bullet Hole (cover)

Scarling - So Long, Scarecrow [cover]

Mark Ryden – Scarling – So Long, Scarecrow (cover)

Scarling - Sweet Heart Dealer [cover]

Mark Ryden – Scarling – Sweet Heart Dealer (cover)

Mark Ryden - Scarling - Curiosa Festival postcard

Mark Ryden – Scarling – Curiosa Festival postcard

Scarling

Wikipedia: Scarling

Mark Ryden - Various Artists - Alright, This Time Just the Girls Vol. 1 (cover)

Mark Ryden – Various Artists – Alright, This Time Just the Girls Vol. 1 (cover)

Mark Ryden - Various Artists - Their Sympathetic Majesties Request (cover)

Mark Ryden – Various Artists – Their Sympathetic Majesties Request (cover)

Mark Ryden (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Mark Ryden

Comments:

From xavier raby on May 30, 2012
I am a big fan of Mark Ryden
My favorite is “goodbye bear”, so sad but so emotional
Currently I create a painting inspired by one of his paintings
it is not yet online
you can see my works here: http://xavierraby.com
facebook page link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/xavier-raby/188993831167757

From pipstarr72 on May 30, 2012
Nice work! Quite pleasantly creepy. The tree creatures sort of remind me of Nirvana’s Incesticide album cover, but I think my favorite is the Phacochoerus Zebra. Thanks for sharing!

Eye on Alice: Alice-Themed Album Covers

There is literally enough Alice in Wonderland and Alice-related items to fill an entire blog or website in itself, and I’ve even happened upon a few.  So it should come as no surprise to anyone that there are several album covers that feature either direct or indirect nods to Lewis Carroll’s heroine and the fantastic world she found herself in.  Here are the ones I could find online, and no doubt there are many that I’ve missed.  Frequently these are rather dark, though not always.

Annihilator is, as you might expect, a heavy metal band, and they have had more than one reference to Alice both on their album covers and in their lyrics; and these definitely fall on the dark end of the spectrum.  And the young lady on the cover of the first one looks a bit like Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire, doesn’t she?

annihilator-alice-in-hell-cover

Annihilator – Alice in Hell (cover)

This one manages to reference both Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan:

Annihilator – Never, Neverland (cover)

Annihilator – Never, Neverland (cover)

Wikipedia: Annihilator

Buck-Tick is a weird Japanese band (I know, I know, that’s almost redundant) and apparently their song “Alice in Wonder Underground” was released as a single.  It has a music video which also plays with Alice symbolism, and some images which technically aren’t cover art (at least, I don’t think so) but are associated with the single somehow.  If I could read Japanese I’d be able to find out for sure.

Buck-Tick – Alice in Wonder Underground (1)

Buck-Tick – Alice in Wonder Underground (1)

Buck-Tick – Alice in Wonder Underground (2)

Buck-Tick – Alice in Wonder Underground (2)

Buck-Tick (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Buck-Tick

The following album by the jazz band David Hazeltine Trio is called Alice in Wonderland, though the cover references the story only vaguely and obliquely.  The nude female on the cover, seen from the back, is probably an adult, but the size and style of her hair makes it difficult to judge her age, so the cover is going up here.  I rather like the image anyway.

Edit: I have since discovered that this is a Jan Saudek photo.

Jan Saudek - David Hazeltine Trio – Alice in Wonderland (cover) (1)

Jan Saudek – David Hazeltine Trio – Alice in Wonderland (cover) (1)

David Hazeltine Trio – Alice in Wonderland (cover) (2)

Jan Saudek – David Hazeltine Trio – Alice in Wonderland (cover) (2)

John Entwistle started out as the bassist for The Who, but he also released several solo albums, including arguably his best one, Whistle Rhymes.  Among the musicians who contributed to the album was the then-relatively unknown Peter Frampton.  The album’s cover art without a doubt draws on Alice in Wonderland: a little girl in Victorian dress is seen wandering through woods inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, most of which show up in the Alice books (mice, hedgehogs, and a turtle.)

John Entwistle – Whistle Rhymes (cover)

John Entwistle – Whistle Rhymes (cover)

The John Entwistle Foundation

Wikipedia: John Entwistle

Nolwenn Leroy – Le Cheshire Cat & Moi (cover)

Nolwenn Leroy – Le Cheshire Cat & Moi (cover)

Nolwenn Leroy – Bretonne (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Nolwenn Leroy

Here’s another one with a dark theme. Paice, Ashton & Lord consisted of two former members of Deep Purple—Ian Paice and Jon Lord—Tony Ashton, Paul Martinez and Bernie Marsden. Malice in Wonderland was their only studio album.  This image is in fact from a Graham Ovenden-illustrated version of Alice.

Graham Ovenden – Paice Ashton Lord – Malice in Wonderland (cover)

Graham Ovenden – Paice Ashton Lord – Malice in Wonderland (cover)

The image for the above cover is from one of Graham Ovenden’s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1969/70).  The image was published in his monograph published by Academy Editions in 1987. -Ron

Wikipedia: Graham Ovenden

Wikipedia: Paice, Ashton & Lord

I know very little about Randy Greif or this album, other than that it was considered quite tedious and pretentious by the author of the single review of it I read; take that for whatever it’s worth. The cover has little to do with the original source material, but it does have an image of a young girl on it.

Randy Greif – Alice in Wonderland (cover)

Randy Greif – Alice in Wonderland (cover)

Wikipedia: Randy Greif

Finally we get to a band I really love—Screaming Trees! Not only is this a great grunge band, this creepy album cover was created by one of my favorite artists, Mark Ryden (we’ll see more of him here very soon, I promise.) Awesome.

Mark Ryden – Screaming Trees – Uncle Anesthesia (cover)

Mark Ryden – Screaming Trees – Uncle Anesthesia (cover)

Mark Ryden (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Mark Ryden

Screaming Trees (Official Site)

Wikipedia: Screaming Trees

Goth band The Birthday Massacre has drawn heavily on the Alice in Wonderland mythos both lyrically and aesthetically. The following covers reference Alice to varying degrees.

The Birthday Massacre – Looking Glass (cover)

The Birthday Massacre – Looking Glass (cover)

The Birthday Massacre – Violet (cover)

The Birthday Massacre – Violet (cover)

The Birthday Massacre – Walking with Strangers (cover)

The Birthday Massacre – Walking with Strangers (cover)

The Birthday Massacre (Official Site)

Wikipedia: The Birthday Massacre

Finally, we have the cover for an actual audio recording of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, produced by Voices in the Wind Audio Theatre.

Voices in the Wind Audio Theatre Presents ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (cover)

Voices in the Wind Audio Theatre Presents ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (cover)

Voices in the Wind Audio Theatre

Edit: the following was included at the suggestion of a commenter and is thus a late edition to the article. – Pip

Nazareth - Malice in Wonderland (cover)

Nazareth – Malice in Wonderland (cover)

Kathie Olivas, Pt. 2

kathy-olivas-resuscitate

Kathie Olivas – Resuscitate

Kathie Olivas - Reunion

Kathie Olivas – Reunion

Kathie Olivas - Temptation

Kathie Olivas – Temptation

Kathie Olivas - The Courtship

Kathie Olivas – The Courtship

Kathie Olivas - The Desecrationists

Kathie Olivas – The Desecrationists

Kathie Olivas - The Guardian

Kathie Olivas – The Guardian

Kathie Olivas - The Inheritance

Kathie Olivas – The Inheritance

Kathie Olivas - The Last Seduction

Kathie Olivas – The Last Seduction

Kathie Olivas - The Last Temptation for His Beloved

Kathie Olivas – The Last Temptation for His Beloved

Kathie Olivas - The Quiet Ones

Kathie Olivas – The Quiet Ones

Kathie Olivas - The Sideshow

Kathie Olivas – The Sideshow

Kathie Olivas - The Unsettling Premonition of All That Was Uncertain

Kathie Olivas – The Unsettling Premonition of All That Was Uncertain

Kathie Olivas - Twins

Kathie Olivas – Twins

Kathie Olivas & Brandt Peters - The Proposition

Kathie Olivas & Brandt Peters – The Proposition

Kathie Olivas, Pt. 1

Misery Children: The Art of Kathie Olivas (Official Site)

Trevor Brown’s Schooldaze

Trevor Brown.  What can I say about him?  Well, I’ll start with: he is pretty much the epitome of the nude/erotic child meets darkness/corruption trend in underground art.  He also (I believe) coined the phrase ‘baby art’ or ‘baby doll art’, the modern day equivalent of the big-eyed waif trend of the 70s.  In fact, his website is named after it.  Brown’s stuff is by turns disturbing, amusing, erotic and colorful, but love it or hate it, it is always interesting.  And, I must say, it is largely because of Brown that I began to get really interested in the contemporary love/hate relationship with the erotic child in art, because I think it underscores something incredibly important about the society and culture we live in and where it’s heading.  But that’s a topic for another day.

trevor-brown-black-angel

Trevor Brown – Black Angel

Trevor Brown - Bloodsucker - Forbidden Fruit (1996)

Trevor Brown – Bloodsucker – Forbidden Fruit (1996)

Trevor Brown - Bondage Bear - Rubber Doll (2005)

Trevor Brown – Bondage Bear – Rubber Doll (2005)

Trevor Brown - Chicken Pox

Trevor Brown – Chicken Pox

Trevor Brown - Height Adjustable Collar

Trevor Brown – Height Adjustable Collar

Trevor Brown - Infinity - Li'l Miss Sticky Kiss (2002)

Trevor Brown – Infinity – Li’l Miss Sticky Kiss (2002)

Trevor Brown - Nazis Are Sexy - Li'l Miss Sticky Kiss (2002)

Trevor Brown – Nazis Are Sexy – Li’l Miss Sticky Kiss (2002)

Trevor Brown - Nursie

Trevor Brown – Nursie

Trevor Brown - Penis Pixie

Trevor Brown – Penis Pixie

Trevor Brown - Pink Transfusion

Trevor Brown – Pink Transfusion

Trevor Brown - Piss Fairy

Trevor Brown – Piss Fairy

trevor-brown-playground-sex

Trevor Brown – Playground Sex

Trevor Brown - Toys

Trevor Brown – Toys

Trevor Brown - Xmas - My Alphabet (1998)

Trevor Brown – Xmas – My Alphabet (1998)

Trevor Brown – (Title Unknown) (1)

Trevor Brown - (Title Unknown) (2)

Trevor Brown – (Title Unknown) (2)

Trevor Brown – Baby Art (Official Site)

Comments:

From Rev. Benjamin M. Root IV on October 29, 2011
YUP!
I own a pink terrycloth cover version of Little Miss Sticky Kiss, and a signed, black rubber cover version of Rubber Doll.

Though, really, it’s not my favorite little girl art. For me…bouguereau.

From pipstarr72 on October 29, 2011
Speaking of Bouguereau, I have some interesting Bouguereau-related stuff coming up next month.
And no, it’s not anything by Bouguereau . . . exactly. Ha ha, now I’ll get you to guessing . . .

From Ron on May 19, 2012
Brown also composed some Alice-based images. One I find compelling is Alice lifting a sweating Humpty-Dumpty off the ground.

From pipstarr72 on May 19, 2012
Yes, I know. I have what began as a monthly feature called Eye on Alice, where I feature Alice images by theme. In the future I will make some posts on the darker side of Alice, for which I’ve been saving the Trevor Brown Alice material.

Kathie Olivas, Pt. 1

If evil bunnies, zipper mouths and girls with tentacles are your thing then Kathie Olivas’s work is tailor-made for you.

kathy-olivas-baptism

Kathie Olivas – Baptism

Kathie Olivas - Creep

Kathie Olivas – Creep

Kathie Olivas - Excommunicate

Kathie Olivas – Excommunicate

Kathie Olivas - Fallen - Nocturne

Kathie Olivas – Fallen – Nocturne

Kathie Olivas - Fruition

Kathie Olivas – Fruition

Kathie Olivas - Girl with Cat

Kathie Olivas – Girl with Cat

Kathie Olivas - Girl with Cheshire Cat

Kathie Olivas – Girl with Cheshire Cat

Kathie Olivas - Glory

Kathie Olivas – Glory

Kathie Olivas - Indoctrination

Kathie Olivas – Indoctrination

Kathie Olivas - Lick

Kathie Olivas – Lick

Kathie Olivas - Midnight

Kathie Olivas – Midnight

Kathie Olivas - Mutated Incarceration - Will-Power

Kathie Olivas – Mutated Incarceration – Will-Power

Kathie Olivas - Olivia (White Bear)

Kathie Olivas – Olivia (White Bear)

Kathie Olivas - Regenerate

Kathie Olivas – Regenerate

Misery Children: The Art of Kathie Olivas

David Aronson and the Alchemical Wedding

I’ve featured some of his work before, in my post on the Tarot. His name is David Aronson and he’s the artist behind Alchemical Wedding. Not all of Aronson’s work is dark, but some of it certainly is.  First, a few of his Alice-themed pieces from his take on Alice Through the Looking Glass:

david-aronson-looking-gla

David Aronson – Looking Glass

David Aronson - Banquet

David Aronson – Banquet

David Aronson - Red King

David Aronson – Red King

Now some of the illustrations done for Tom Bradley‘s book We’ll See Who Seduces Whom:

David Aronson - We'll See Who Seduces Whom (1)

David Aronson – We’ll See Who Seduces Whom (1)

David Aronson -We'll See Who Seduces Whom (2)

David Aronson -We’ll See Who Seduces Whom (2)

David Aronson -We'll See Who Seduces Whom (3)

David Aronson -We’ll See Who Seduces Whom (3)

David Aronson -We'll See Who Seduces Whom (4)

David Aronson -We’ll See Who Seduces Whom (4)

David Aronson -We'll See Who Seduces Whom (5)

David Aronson -We’ll See Who Seduces Whom (5)

David Aronson - Summertime

David Aronson – Summertime

David Aronson - The Bath

David Aronson – The Bath

David Aronson - The Mountain Where the World Began

David Aronson – The Mountain Where the World Began

David Aronson - (Title Unknown)

David Aronson – (Title Unknown)

The Alchemical Wedding (Official Site)

Comments:

From Rev. Benjamin M. Root IV on October 27, 2011
I’m not against edgy, or even creepy. But I just dont “get” this style…
There’s disturbing that you just can’t not look at.
And then there’s disturbing that makes me just say “why bother?”

From pipstarr72 on October 27, 2011
Ah, but aren’t you making the mistake of projecting your impressions and feelings onto others? There are pieces that are disturbing enough to me that I can’t really stand to look at them for long (though they’re rare), but other people seem to have no problem with them. And, after all, many people are disturbed by simple child nudity in art, and yet I find it to be incredibly beautiful in most contexts. We are all different.

One question that arises with regard to disturbing art is desensitization. Is it good for us to get used to such things as violent imagery? I suggest that many people arguing against imagery that desensitizes us are begging the question. The assumption that desensitization is necessarily a bad thing is intrinsic to such moralist arguments. Personally I think a degree of desensitization is not only okay, it is good for us. Who wants to freak out at a little violent or sexual imagery? To me that is far more unhealthy and neurotic than being desensitized to nearly everything.

As for Aronson’s style, well it is rooted in the lowbrow art movement, which combines pop art, children’s illustration, fine art . . . it pretty much appropriates everything. The point, I think, is to eschew limitations, both cultural and social. As with a lot of lowbrow art, Aronson often mixes humor and horror for a rather peculiar effect that is its own kind of transgression. The fact that we don’t always know how to feel about these pieces is, I think, precisely the point.

From Rev. Benjamin M. Root IV on October 27, 2011
Just as a caveat…I want to defend my position by just reminding that it’s only a position. I enjoy art to the point that I even enjoy not liking art. It’s part of what makes art. ‘Tis better for art to offend than to have no effect at all.