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Ten Tiny Treasures: Artists and Their Miniatures

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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Louvre Abu Dhabi
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The Louvre Abu Dhabi Just Opened the World's First Radio-Guided Highway Art Gallery
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One way to plan an epic art road trip is to drive from museum to museum, but in the United Arab Emirates, you can take in masterpieces without leaving your car. As Artforum reports, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has lined a stretch of highway with billboards displaying works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Piet Mondrian.

The 10 works on display along the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi are recreations of pieces at or on loan to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which developed the project in partnership with three radio stations. Dubbed the Highway Gallery, it was "created to reinforce art's role in elevating everyday life into something beautiful and memorable," the museum website reads.

Like in a traditional gallery, the 30-foot-by-23-foot displays along the road are accompanied by a guided audio tour. Drivers can learn the title, artist, technique, and other details about each piece by tuning into a participating local radio station (Radio 1 FM, Classic FM, or Emarat FM). There they will hear descriptions of Leonardo da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière, Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, 1887, and Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black, as well as the Islamic sculpture Mari-Cha Lion and the sarcophagus of Egyptian princess Henuttawy.

The Highway Gallery will run through mid-March. After that, art lovers can drive their cars to the Louvre Abu Dhabi to see the items in person.

[h/t Artforum]

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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