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