CLOSE
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

15 Handwritten Letters From Famous Artists

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Visual artists are known for their art, not their handwriting, but their penmanship can offer serious insight into the person behind the words. Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art by Mary Savig is proof of that. The book is a collection of handwritten letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. It features dispatches from over 50 well-known American artists, from Alexander Calder to Georgia O’Keeffe, along with transcriptions, additional images and artwork, commentary and analysis on what we might be able to glean from their writing style.

You can see a few of the letters below (all images courtesy of Pen to Paper, and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art), and purchase the anthology from Princeton Architectural Press here or Amazon here.

1. MARY CASSATT TO JOHN WESLEY BEATTY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1905

2. GEORGE CATLIN TO D. S. GREGORY, JULY 19 — AUGUST 21, 1834

3. JOSEPH CORNELL, DRAFTS OF LETTER TO TEENY DUCHAMP, OCTOBER 8 AND 9, 1968

4. WILLEM DE KOONING TO MICHAEL LOEW, MARCH 28, 1966

5. DAN FLAVIN TO ELLEN H. JOHNSON, JANUARY 22, 1979

6. MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE TO FREDERIC EDWIN CHURCH, APRIL 27, MAY 6, JUNE 16, 1868

7. WINSLOW HOMER TO THOMAS B. CLARKE, JANUARY 4, 1901

8. RAY JOHNSON TO EVA LEE, SEPTEMBER 15, 1969

9. CORITA KENT TO BEN SHAHN, CIRCA 1960

10. LEE KRASNER TO JACKSON POLLOCK, JULY 21, 1956

11. CLAES OLDENBURG TO ELLEN H. JOHNSON, AUGUST 17, 1974

12. EERO SAARINEN TO ALINE SAARINEN, 1953

13. LENORE TAWNEY TO MARYETTE CHARLTON, FEBRUARY 15, 1969

14. JAMES MCNEILL WHISTLER TO FREDERICK H. ALLEN, JUNE 6, 1893

15. GRANT WOOD TO ZENOBIA NESS, OCTOBER 28, 1930

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Dan Bell
arrow
Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Art
The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself
iStock
iStock

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios