Metaphorical Portraits by Michael Mapes Deconstruct Art History as Collaged Specimens

Art

#art history #collage #Michael Mapes #portraits #still life

August 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches. All images © Michael Mapes, shared with permission

Photographs, scraps of fabric, human hair, dried flowers, and gelatin capsules are a few of the materials that artist Michael Mapes (previously) arranges into fragmented portraits and still lifes. Referencing traditions and prominent works in art history, Mapes interprets figures and fruits through deconstructed compositions. Set in specimen boxes evocative of those used in entomological studies, the collages utilize the metaphor of scientific study as a way to dismantle and reconstruct the contexts and meanings of the original works.

Mapes begins each piece with research around the subject matter and materials, and many of the artist’s most recent works center on muses, like fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge who was the lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt. “I’ve been making studies, smaller scale works that allow me to consider compositional approaches for larger pieces,” he says about the series. “It connects the past to the present in a very personal way. A muse vibe is inspired by mining art history to find subjects that resonate with me and my work process.”

Mapes, who is based in Hudson Valley, has a few works currently available, which you can find on his site and Instagram.

Detail of “Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Dutch Agatha” (2019), photographs, fabric samples, painted photographs, botanical specimens, spices, tea, tobacco, coffee, cast resin, clay, thread, hair, insect pins, capsules, specimen bags, and magnifying boxes, 20 x 20 x 3.5 inches

“HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

Detail of “HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

“Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

#art history #collage #Michael Mapes #portraits #still life

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