Years ago I was lucky enough to fall down the rabbit hole of “lowbrow,” pop-surrealist art after discovering a Kathie Olivas’ Dunny. Like all rabbit hole adventures I quickly found myself discovering tons of amazing visual artists and movements, shows, and a community as awesome as the bookish one. Combining my two loves (okay, obsessions), I’ve rounded-up the art inspired by books because when you love things you have to make the Care Bears proud and share.
In 2011 Greg “CRAOLA” Simkins curated the group show Inle at Gallery1988. His paintings already contained hidden images from the book which led him to finally create an actual themed show with a large group of artists. You can see some of the work from the show and hear Greg explain his connection with the book in the video above.
In 2014 artist Mab Graves had an Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass show at Monster Gallery. This was not Alice’s first appearance in her work: “For some reason, I just can’t stop being inspired by Alice. Every time I pull out my old copy of Carroll’s masterpiece, those old bizarre black and white illustrations get right into my brain and I have to sit down yet again, to pay homage to Alice immortal…” Read Mab’s Alice adoration post for even more Alice inspired art.
From Mark Ryden’s 1998 The Meat Show artist statement:
At night my head is so full of ideas I can’t sleep. I mix it all together and create my own doctrine of life and the universe. To me, certain things seem to fit together. There are certain parallels and clues all over the place. There may be a little part of Alice in Wonderland that fits in. Charles Darwin, and Colonel Sanders provide pieces. To me the world is full of awe and wonder. This is what I put in my paintings.
Shannon Bonatakis has painted many great characters in pop-culture including The Neverending Story (from the Beyond Eden Art Fair at Gallery1988 LA) and Harry Potter (from the Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition at Gallery Nucleus). Did I mention she’s also painted Little Violet Beauregarde (from “Crazy 4 Cult 3-D” at Gallery1988 LA), Rainbow Brite (from “We’ll Be Right Back After These Messages” at Rivet Gallery), Edward Scissorhands (from “Crazy 4 Cult 2” at Gallery1988 LA), and Wild Thing (from “Beyond the Page” group show at Gallery1988 SF).
Luke Chueh, known to walk the line between cute and morbid, used his iconic bear along with another iconic bear in his Hunny Bears painting.
From George W. Bush to Boba Fett, Scott Scheidly‘s The Pinks series “explores the cultural and social implications of color and how the predefined notions that accompany these perceptions can alter one’s identity and subsequent world view. By incorporating either hyper-masculinized or historically infamous figures, Scheidly further drives the point home, making a mockery of his subjects through biting socio/sexual satire.”
Bringing the full creep factor Victor Castillo painted The Shining twins and it seems giclee prints are still available. (You know, for those who’ve always wanted them as house guests, staring at them every day from the wall.)
Kathie Olivas used her Misery Children to bring the twins to life in Forever and ever and ever. And also has prints available.
Speaking of Stephen King, Chet Zar used Pennywise as inspiration for an oil study. (How many people just shuddered?)
Amanda Visell’s Wood Idols brilliantly bring pop-culture and book characters to life like Alice in Wonderland, Spaceballs, Willy Wonka, Wonder Woman and even Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Ray Caesar (who says he was born a dog) spent 17 years prior to becoming an artist working in the photo department of the Hospital for Sick Children. While he’d always used art as an outlet it wasn’t until after his mother and sister’s passing that he finally showed it to the public. (His Sleeping by Day painting is one of my favorites.)
Through her Misery Children, Kathie Olivas “explores society’s insatiable desire to assign ‘cuteness’ and our discomfort with the unknown.” (In my holy-grail-of-pieces-I-wish-I-owned is her Lizzie Series: Bat-Girl.)
Brian M. Viveros’ “work elevates the iconography of the femme-fatale as a powerful emblem of strength and retaliation: insubordinate beauties undaunted by the unruliness of a messy fight.”
In September 2015 Supacute curated Small Adventures a “serious and silly tribute” to the authors at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland. Two pieces still available (when I wrote this– art sells fast) are Tiffany Liu’s Who Are the Wild Things and Valency Genis’ A is for Alligator.
Is there a book or character you’d love to see used as an art show theme? Do you have a favorite piece inspired by a book?