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Ten Tiny Treasures: Artists and Their Miniatures

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Art of all kinds gives us pleasure, but when it is scaled down to miniscule sizes, it impresses us with the increased difficulty factor. Besides that, tiny artworks are more accessible and downright cute!

1. Microchip Paintings

Kansas artist Yuri Zupancic doesn't limit his work to miniatures, but his paintings on microchips make a statement of merging artistic efforts with modern technology. The painting pictured is one inch square!

2. Urban Sculptures

New York artist Alan Wolfson creates miniature scenes of complete buildings or even city blocks that evoke the feeling of their real-life inspirations, most of them without copying any actual place. The miniature pictured, Follies Burlesk, is from 1987 and was inspired by an old photograph of Times Square in the 1950s.

3. Parallel Worlds

Ji Lee is a New York artist by way of South Korea and Brazil. He created miniature rooms of furniture and installed them on ceilings for his project Parallel World. Lee's scenes include an art gallery, a tiny living room, a little office space, and one that includes R2D2 and a hippo!

4. Frida Kahlo Dollhouse

Cuban-American artist Elsa Mora created this lovely miniature dollhouse featuring artist Frida Kahlo. You can see pictures of the details, as well as a similar work called Frida Kahlo’s Studio and other dollhouse projects in her dollhouse gallery.

5. Working Weapons

French engineer and craftsman Michel Lefaivre makes working weapons in miniscule sizes. When Lefaivre retired in 2000, he combined his fascination with miniatures with his experience in the arms industry. This miniature 1916 Navy Luger is 2/5 scale and will shoot 2.7mm Kolibri cartridges, the smallest ammo available.

6. Tiny Worlds in Bottles

Tokyo artist Akinobu Izumi makes very small miniatures inside small bottles and glass domes that you can purchase at his Etsy shop. This bottle has a tiny soccer game inside, with players only 3 millimeters tall! Most of the bottled figures (dinosaurs, sea creatures, and scenes) are made of paper.

7. Riot in a Jam Jar

Jimmy Cauty is best known as a musician, formerly of KLF. He is also a multimedia artist. Last month Cauty's miniature project Riot in a Jam Jar was exhibited at L-13 Gallery in London. The works feature intricate scenes of riots, such as the Greenpeace demonstration pictured, under glass.

8. The World's Smallest Postal Service

Artist Lea Redmond creates and sells many kinds of miniatures through her workshop Leafcutter Designs. One project is the World's Smallest Post Service. This is a service that sends your letters and tiny packages to a recipient of your choice.

9. World's Smallest Aquarium

Russian miniature artist Anatoly Konenko is known for his tiny books, but he made the news this year for his extremely small working aquarium. It only holds two teaspoons of water, but Konenko has Danios fish in it. He even has a tiny air pump for the aquarium.

10. Murder Scenes

Forensic scientist Frances Glessner Lee made a series of miniature dioramas of real murder scenes in the 1930s and '40s for detectives to use in investigating those murders. The 3D models gave them a new angle, so to speak, that photographs could not. Lee's profession was police work, but her hobbies involved dolls and dollhouses. See more photographs of her work at Visible Proofs.

See also: Dungeons and Dollhouses and 8 Marvelous Miniatures

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0
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Get Your GIFs Ready for This International Public Domain GIF-Making Competition
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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0

Excellent GIF-making skills can serve you beyond material for your clever tweets. Each year, a group of four digital libraries from across the world hosts GIF IT UP, a competition to find the best animated image sourced from public domain images from their archives.

The competition is sponsored by Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), New Zealand’s DigitalNZ, and the National Library of Australia’s Trove, all of which host millions of public domain works. The requirements are that the source material must be in the public domain, have a 'no known copyright restrictions' statement, or have a Creative Commons license that allows its reuse. The material must also come from one of the sponsored sources. Oh, and judging by the past winners, it helps if it’s a little whimsical.

The image above won the grand prize in 2015. And this was a runner-up in 2016:

via GIPHY

This year’s prizes haven’t been announced yet (although Europeana says there will be a new one for first-time GIF makers), but last year’s grand prize winner got their own Giphoscope, and runners-up got $20 gift cards. (Turns out, there’s not a lot of money in public domain art.)

Not an expert GIFer yet? You can always revisit the audio version of DPLA’s advanced GIF-making tutorial from last year.

The fourth-annual GIF IT UP contest opens to submissions October 1.

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