Arts

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Tatsuya Tanaka: Life in miniature

Tatsuya Tanaka creates miniature scenes with everyday objects and tiny figurines he has collected over the years. In 2011, he began posting an artwork a day on what he calls the "Miniature Calendar". That means that by 2021, he had created 3,650 miniature scenes.

It all started when his wife gave him a set of miniature plastic cows designed for train sets. Tanaka says, "When I was young, I didn't have enough toys, so I played around with everyday things." He believes that we all have the feeling that "broccoli and parsley might sometimes look like a forest, or the tree leaves floating on the surface of the water might sometimes look like little boats." So he set the cows up with mahjong tiles and numbered blocks and took photos of them.

Stop-motion animations with wool

Andrea Love uses wool to "paint" pictures, make felt figures, and create animated films. She works as a freelancer in Washington state, from her basement studio. Clients often come to her for commercials and short documentary films. One of her projects was a 4½-minute documentary for the Northwest Straits Initiative. The organization is dedicated to preserving the waters and beaches of the northwest corner of the U.S. For the film, Love created water, waves, boats, birds, a seal and fully dressed human figures—all out of wool fibers and felt.

Men artists: Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894) was part of the French Impressionist art movement, the first school of art to break away from classical painting. Impressionism focuses on the light and colors of a particular moment in time. Because artists wanted to capture a brief moment and didn't have cameras yet, they needed to paint quickly. So they used quick, flat strokes without precise detail.

They also used colors in new ways. The best example is that shadows aren't just the object's color with gray or brown mixed in. Instead, the painters added strokes of the complementary color of the object (e.g., strokes of red in the shadow of something green). This makes the shadows come alive. 

Create a strong team with music

An important study showed that members of a team who listened to rhythmic music together before carrying out a task worked more cooperatively and efficiently than groups who listened to music without a clear beat. People who listened to white noise did the worst. Why is that?

Brain studies have shown that music releases endorphins and dopamine. These neurochemicals cause us to feel pleasure and closeness to others. So when we listen to music together, we naturally feel closer to each other. Playing music together has an even stronger effect. And dancing together to rhythmic music creates the strongest bond of all. 

Men artists: Naoki Onogawa

Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds hundreds of tiny cranes (no bigger than a centimeter each) by hand, then attaches them to branching wire forms. The results look like bonsai trees—bonsai trees with birds for leaves. 

Onogawa started making the sculptures after visiting the site of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. At first he felt terrified by our powerlessness over nature. But then he saw 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a ruined school building. He was "empowered by the power of life ... that shined so brightly in the aftermath" of the disaster. It inspired him to create his own art with origami cranes.

Men artists: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) was part of the Neo-Expressionist movement of the 1980s, led by Andy Warhol. Basquiat's primitive style grew out of his time as a graffiti artist in New York City. People first knew him as part of the anonymous duo SAMO© (pronounced "same-o"), with Al Diaz. They were among the first to use words to communicate thoughts, rather than just tags with names and numbers.

For 3 years, from the age of 17–20, Basquiat sold his art on t-shirts and postcards on the street for a couple of bucks each. Finally, he made it into a group show at an art gallery. People and critics loved his work, and in no time people were paying $50,000 or more for one of his pieces.

The child of a Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother, Jean-Michel Basquiat brought the Black and Latino experience into the fine art world. His art was angry and harsh, yet also poetic. He was able to express a reality that had long been excluded from elite society.

Women artists: Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Limpicka (1898–1980) was a key artist in the Art Deco period of the 1920s and '30s. Born in Poland, she also spent a lot of time in France and the U.S. Her real fame came when high-fashion magazines began to use her art for their covers. Soon she was painting portraits of the aristocracy, and even royalty. Although her name is not well-known today outside of Art Deco fans, de Lempicka was one of the most important and popular artists of the Art Deco movement.

Art Deco grew out of Cubism and the Arts and Crafts movement, adding elements of "exotic" Asian, Egyptian and Mayan art. It used simple forms and planes of color to create new designs representing luxury and wealth. The pieces also represented faith in social and technological progress.