Ralph Steadman’s Surrealist Illustrations of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1995)

As a novelist, George Orwell did not traffic in subtleties, but then neither did the authors of Medieval morality plays. The allegorical Animal Farm performs a similar, if secular, function, giving us unambiguous villainy and clear didactic intent. Orwell noted in his essay “Why I Write” that he meant the book to “fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.“ Originally published with the subtitle A Fairy Story, the novel caricatures Stalinism and the Russian Revolution, and Orwell left no mystery as to his intent when he commented in the preface to a 1947 Ukrainian edition that he meant the book to “end on a loud note of discord” meant to signify what he saw as the instability of the Tehran Conference.

Leaden statements like these aside, Orwell swore he “did not wish to comment on the work,” writing, “if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure.” The book does indeed speak, in two especially particular ways: its vividly grotesque characterizations of the humans and animals on the farm and its indelible collection of propagandistic slogans.

These are the features best captured by gonzo illustrator Ralph Steadman, famous for his collaborations with Hunter S. Thompson and Pink Floyd. Published in 1995—with the Fairy Story subtitle restored—the Steadman-illustrated 50th anniversary edition realizes another previous variation on the book’s title: Animal Farm: A Contemporary Satire.

These images draw out the exaggerated absurdities of the novel as only an artist with Steadman’s twisted, surrealist sense of visual humor could. They are profoundly effective, though there’s no telling what Orwell would have thought of them. Steadman’s caricatures universalize the book’s drama, providing the kind of stock characters we find in folklore, “fairy stories,” and religious allegory. But Orwell wrote that he wished us not to mistake his express political intent: “It was of the utmost importance to me that people in Western Europe should see the Soviet regime for what it really was…. I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the Socialist movement.”

Steadman, to his great credit, felt no need to literalize Orwell's stated intentions in his illustrations, but rather took the book's bizarre world on its own terms. You can read more quotes from Orwell’s earnest, intended preface for the book, restored in the Steadman edition, at Brain Pickings, where you’ll also find a good number of the illustrations as well. Copies of the out-of-print book can be purchased on Amazon and Abe's books.

Steadman not only applied his skill as a caricaturist to Orwell’s fictional farm denizens, we should note, but also to the author himself. He made several sketches of Orwell, such as that below of the writer with a cage of rats around his neck. You can see several more of Steadman’s drawings of Orwell at The Guardian.

via Brain Pickings

Related Content:

Breaking Bad Illustrated by Gonzo Artist Ralph Steadman

Pink Floyd Adapts George Orwell’s Animal Farm into Their 1977 Concept Album, Animals (a Critique of Late Capitalism, Not Stalin)

Gun Nut William S. Burroughs & Gonzo Illustrator Ralph Steadman Make Polaroid Portraits Together

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Artist Draws a Series Portraits on LSD: Inside the 1950s Experiments to Turn LSD into a “Creativity Pill”

LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by chemist Albert Hoffman in a Swiss laboratory but only attained infamy almost two decades later, when it became part of a series of government experiments. At the same time, a UC Irvine psychiatrist, Oscar Janiger (“Oz” to his friends), conducted his own studies under very different circumstances. “Unlike most researchers, Janiger wanted to create a ‘natural’ setting,” writes Brandy Doyle for MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). He reasoned that “there was nothing especially neutral about a laboratory or hospital room,” so he “rented a house outside of LA, in which his subjects could have a relatively non-directed experience in a supportive environment.”

Janiger wanted his subjects to make creative discoveries in a state of heightened consciousness. The study sought, he wrote, to “illuminate the phenomenological nature of the LSD experience,” to see whether the drug could effectively be turned into a creativity pill. He found, over a period lasting from 1954 to 1962 (when the experiments were terminated), that among his approximately 900 subjects, those who were in therapy “had a high rate of positive response,” but those not in therapy “found the experience much less pleasant.” Janiger’s findings have contributed to the research that organizations like MAPS have done on psychoactive drugs in therapeutic settings. The experiments also produced a body of artwork made by study participants on acid.

Janiger invited over 100 professional artists into the study and had them produce over 250 paintings and drawings. The series of eight drawings you see here most likely came from one of those artists (though “the records of the identity of the principle researcher have been lost,” writes LiveScience). In the psych-rock-scored video at the top see the progression of increasingly abstract drawings the artist made over the course of his 8-hour trip. He reported on his perceptions and sensations throughout the experience, noting, at what seems to be the drug’s peak moment at 2.5 and 3 hours in, “I feel that my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s active—my hand, my elbow, my tongue…. I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling… your face… interwoven… who is….”

Trippy, but there’s much more to the experiment than its immediate effects on artists’ brains and sketches. As Janiger’s colleague Marlene Dobkin de Rios writes in her definitive book on his work, “all of the artists who participated in Janiger’s project said that LSD not only radically changed their style but also gave them new depths to understand the use of color, form, light, or the way these things are viewed in a frame of reference. Their art, they claimed, changed its essential character as a consequence of their experiences.” Psychologist Stanley Krippner made similar discoveries, and “defined the term psychedelic artist” to describe those who, as in Janiger’s studies “gained a far greater insight into the nature of art and the aesthetic idea,” Dobkin de Rios writes.

Artistic productions—paintings, poems, sketches, and writings that stemmed from the experience—often show a radical departure from the artist’s customary mode of expression… the artists’ general opinion was that their work became more expressionistic and demonstrated a vastly greater degree of freedom and originality.

The work of the unknown artist here takes on an almost mystical quality after a while. The project began “serendipitously” when one of Janiger’s volunteers in 1954 insisted on being able to draw during the dosing. “After his LSD experience,” writes Dobkin de Rios, “the artist was very emphatic that it would be most revealing to allow other artists to go through this process of perceptual change.” Janiger was convinced, as were many of his more famous test subjects.

Janiger reportedly introduced LSD to Cary Grant, Anais Nin, Jack Nicholson, and Aldous Huxley during guided therapy sessions. Still, he is not nearly as well-known as other LSD pioneers like Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary, in part because, writes the psychoactive research site Erowid, “his data remained largely unpublished during his lifetime," and he was not himself an artist or media personality (though he was a cousin of Allen Ginsberg).

Janiger not only changed the consciousness of unnamed and famous artists with LSD, but also experimented with DMT with Alan Watts and fellow psychiatrist Humphry Osmond (who coined the word “psychedelic”), and conducted research on peyote with Dobkin de Rios. To a great degree, we have him to thank (or blame) for the explosion of psychedelic art and philosophy that flowed out of the early sixties and indelibly changed the culture. At LiveScience, you can see a slideshow of these drawings with commentary from Yale physician Andrew Sewell on what might be happening in the tripping artist's brain.

Related Content:

Rare Footage Shows US and British Soldiers Getting Dosed with LSD in Government-Sponsored Tests (1958 + 1964)

Hofmann’s Potion: 2002 Documentary Revisits History of LSD

Ken Kesey Talks About the Meaning of the Acid Tests

Aldous Huxley’s Most Beautiful, LSD-Assisted Death: A Letter from His Widow

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

An Online Guide to 350 International Art Styles & Movements: An Invaluable Resource for Students & Enthusiasts of Art History

If you majored in art history, you no doubt have lasting memories, and possibly painful ones, of long nights spent in the library memorizing the names and signal characteristics of various art movements. What a shame, you might well think when looking back, that a subject as fascinating and important as the transformation of human creativity over time could become such a chore. Now that you're free to learn about art history in whatever manner and order you like, why not start in Monoskop's expansive online guide to art styles and movements?

As "a wiki for collaborative studies of the arts, media and humanities," Monoskop has long offered a wide selection of downloadable books, videos, sound recordings, and other materials invaluable for anyone with an interest in the arts, especially the modern arts.

Its movement-and-style guide "brings together some 350 art styles and movements from the 1860s until today. Besides the canonical isms of modern art, it expands the list with movements usually treated as secondary to the visual art canon, such as LettrismSituationismSound artExpanded cinemaNeoism, or Software art, and does not leave out non-Western art either."

Each movement or style's entry provides, among other information, the major artists, events, and texts (including, of course, "manifestos" and proclamations) associated with it, the media its works used, and links to all the relevant items both within and outside of Monoskop's collections. It also includes related historical images, such as Futurist photographer Anton Giulio Bragaglia's 1911 Salutando, De Stijl painter Piet Mondrian's 1920 Composition with Yellow, Red, Black, Blue, and Gray, George Seurat's Pointillism-defining 1884 A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, or stills from computer art pioneers Lillian Schwartz and Ken Knowlton's 1970 animation Pixillation.

You may arrive in Monoskop's guide to art styles and movements intending only to learn about one style or movement, but none of them developed in isolation. The organization makes it easy enough to see the connections that a dip in to research Arts and Crafts could well finish up, who knows how later, in Precisionism, Neo-Dada, or the aforementioned Expanded Cinema (an intriguing term; if you don't know the art to which it refers, you can follow that link and find out). Or maybe you are currently a student majoring in art history, and you need something a bit more interesting than your textbook to solidify in your mind the nature of and connections between all these artistic ventures, influential or minor, long-lived or flash-in-the-pan — in which case, bookmark Monoskop's guide right away.

Related Content:

The History of Modern Art Visualized in a Massive 130-Foot Timeline

Take a Trip Through the History of Modern Art with the Oscar-Winning Animation Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase

Bauhaus, Modernism & Other Design Movements Explained by New Animated Video Series

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Puts 400,000 High-Res Images Online & Makes Them Free to Use

Download 35,000 Works of Art from the National Gallery, Including Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

What Happens When the Books in William S. Burroughs’ Personal Library Get Artistically Arranged — with His Own “Cut-Up” Method

If your Facebook news feed looks anything like mine, you wake up each morning to a stream of not just food snapshots and selfies but pictures of books, whether stacked up, dumped into a pile, or arranged neatly on shelves. Why do we post digital photos of our printed matter? Almost certainly for the same reason we do anything on social media: to send a message about ourselves. We want to tell our friends who we are, or who we think we are, but not in so many words, or rather not in so few; a few of the books we've read (or intend to read), carefully selected and arranged, does the job. But what if, instead of assembling a self-portrait through books, someone else entered your personal library and did it for you?

Artist Nina Katchadourian (she of, among many other endeavors, the airplane-bathroom 17th-century Flemish portraiture) recently took on that task in the Lawrence, Kansas home of famously hard-living and furiously creative beat writer William S. Burroughs. She did it as part of her long-running Sorted Books project, in which, in her words, "I sort through a collection of books, pull particular titles, and eventually group the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence.

The final results are shown either as photographs of the book clusters or as the actual stacks themselves, often shown on the shelves of the library they came from. Taken as a whole, the clusters are a cross-section of that library's holdings that reflect that particular library's focus, idiosyncrasies, and inconsistencies."

Kansas Cut-Up, the Burroughs chapter of Sorted Books, features such arrangements as How Did Sex Begin? Uninvited GuestsHuman ErrorMemoirs of a Bastard Angel A Night of Serious DrinkingA Little Original Sin, and American Diplomacy / Physical Interrogation TechniquesIn the Secret StateThom Robinson of the European Beat Studies Network describes Burroughs' book collection as "a selection of largely European works whose contents include paranoia, theories of language, pseudoscience, mordant humour and drugs: in retrospect, it’s easy to imagine the owner of such an idiosyncratic library producing the melange of Naked Lunch. Perhaps for this reason, it seems hard to resist reordering the books which Burroughs owned in 1944 in order to emphasise the most recognisable elements of the later Burroughs persona."

Sometimes Katchadourian seems to do just that and sometimes she doesn't, but her method of book-sorting, which she explains in the episode of John and Sarah Green's series The Art Assignment at the top of the post, bears more than a little resemblance to Burroughs' own "cut-up" method of literary composition. "Take a page," as Burroughs himself explained it. "Now cut down the middle and cross the middle. You have four sections: 1 2 3 4 ... one two three four. Now rearrange the sections placing section four with section one and section two with section three. And you have a new page. Sometimes it says much the same thing. Sometimes something quite different." And just as a rearranged book can speak in a new and strange voice, so can a rearranged library.

via Austin Kleon's newsletter (which you should subscribe to here)

Related Content:

The Art Assignment: Learn About Art & the Creative Process in a New Web Series by John & Sarah Green

How to Jumpstart Your Creative Process with William S. Burroughs’ Cut-Up Technique

The 321 Books in David Foster Wallace’s Personal Library: From Blood Meridian to Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder

115 Books on Lena Dunham & Miranda July’s Bookshelves at Home (Plus a Bonus Short Play)

Discover the 1126 Books in John Cage’s Personal Library: Foucault, Joyce, Wittgenstein, Virginia Woolf, Buckminster Fuller & More

The 430 Books in Marilyn Monroe’s Library: How Many Have You Read?

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Cindy Sherman’s Instagram Account Goes Public, Revealing 600 New Photos & Many Strange Self-Portraits

A post shared by cindy sherman (@_cindysherman_) on

The career of Jenny Holzer, the artist who became famous in the 1970s and 80s through her public installations of phrases like "ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE" and "PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT," has made her into an ideal Tweeter. By the same token, the career of Cindy Sherman, the artist who became famous in the 1970s and 80s through her inventive not-exactly-self-portraits — pictures of herself elaborately remade as a variety of other people, including other famous people, in a variety of time periods — has made her into an ideal Instagrammer.

But though Sherman had been using Instagram for quite some time, most of the public had no idea she had any presence there at all until just this week. "The account, which mysteriously switched from private to public in recent months, is a mix of personal photos alongside Sherman’s ever-famous manipulated images of herself," reports Artnet's Caroline Elbaor.

"What we see here is somewhat of a departure from the artist’s traditional model: the frame is tighter and closer to her face, in what is clear use of a phone’s front-facing camera. Plus, the subject matter is decidedly intimate in comparison to her usual work — the latest posts document a stay in the hospital. She may even be having fun with filters."

A post shared by cindy sherman (@_cindysherman_) on

She apparently started having fun with them a few months ago, from one May post whose photo she describes as “Selfie! No filter, hahaha” — but in which she does seem to have made use of certain effects to give the image a few of the suite of uncanny qualities in which she specializes. Though not a member of the generations the world most closely associates with avid selfie-taking, Sherman brings a uniquely rich experience with the form, or forms like it. Her "method of turning the lens onto herself is uncannily appropriate to our times," writes Elbaor," in which the stage-managed selfie has become so ubiquitous that it’s now fodder for exhibitions and often cited as an art form in itself."

Sherman's Instagram self-portraiture, in contrast to the often (but not always) glamorous productions that hung on the walls of her shows before, has entered fascinating new realms of strangeness and even grotesquerie. Using the image-modification tools so many of us might previously assumed were used only by teenage girls desperate to erase their imagined flaws, Sherman twists and bends her own features into what look like living cartoon characters. "A bit scary," one commenter wrote of Sherman's recent hospital-bed selfie (taken while recovering from a fall from a horse), "but I can't look away." Many of the artist's thousands and thousands of new and captivated Instagram followers are surely reacting the same way. Check out Sherman's Instagram feed here.

A post shared by cindy sherman (@_cindysherman_) on

Related Content:

Say What You Really Mean with Downloadable Cindy Sherman Emoticons

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Launches Free Course on Looking at Photographs as Art

See The First “Selfie” In History Taken by Robert Cornelius, a Philadelphia Chemist, in 1839

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

3D Scans of 7,500 Famous Sculptures, Statues & Artworks: Download & 3D Print Rodin’s Thinker, Michelangelo’s David & More

Last week we featured the British Museum's archive of downloadable 3D models of over 200 richly historical objects in their collection, perhaps most notably the Rosetta Stone. But back in 2015, before that mighty cultural institution put online in 3D the most important linguistic artifact of them all, a project called Scan the World created a model of it during an unofficial community "scanathon," and it remains freely available to all who would, for example, like to 3D print a Rosetta Stone of their very own.

Or perhaps you'd prefer to run off your own copy of a world-famous sculpture like ancient Egyptian court sculptor Thutmose's bust of Nefertiti or Auguste Rodin's The Thinker, both of whose 3D models you can find on Scan the World's archive at My Mini Factory.

There the organization, "comprised of a vast community of 3D scanning and 3D printing enthusiasts," has amassed a collection of 7,834 3D models and counting, all toward their mission " to archive the world’s sculptures, statues, artworks and any other objects of cultural significance using 3D scanning technologies to produce content suitable for 3D printing."

Scan the World hasn't limited its mandate to just artifacts and artworks kept in museums: among its models you'll also find large scale pieces of public sculpture like the Statue of Liberty and even beloved buildings like Big Ben. This conjures up the tantalizing vision of each of us one day becoming empowered to 3D-print our very own London, complete with not just a British Museum but all the objects, each of which tells part of humanity's story, inside it.

As much of a technological marvel as it may represent, printing out a Venus de Milo or a David or a Leaning Tower of Pisa or a Moai head at home can't, of course, compare to making the trip to see the genuine article, especially with the kind of 3D printers now available to consumers. But as recent technological history has shown us, the most amazing developments tend to come out of the decentralized efforts of countless enthusiasts — just the kind of community powering Scan the World. The great achievements of the future have to start somewhere, and they might as well start by paying tribute to the greatest achievements of the past.

Related Content:

The British Museum Creates 3D Models of the Rosetta Stone & 200+ Other Historic Artifacts: Download or View in Virtual Reality

The British Museum Is Now Open To Everyone: Take a Virtual Tour and See 4,737 Artifacts, Including the Rosetta Stone

Artists Put Online 3D, High Resolution Scans of 3,000-Year-Old Nefertiti Bust (and Controversy Ensues)

The Complete History of the World (and Human Creativity) in 100 Objects

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Métal hurlant: The Hugely Influential French Comic Magazine That Put Moebius on the Map & Changed Sci-Fi Forever

Would you believe that one particular publication inspired a range of visionary creators including Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Luc Besson, William Gibson, and Hayao Miyazaki? Moreover, would you believe that it was French, from the 1970s, and a comic book? Not that that term "comic book" does justice to Métal hurlant, which during its initial run from 1974 to 1987 not only redefined the possibilities of the medium and greatly widened the imaginative possibilities of science fiction storytelling, but brought to prominence a number of wholly unconventional and highly influential artists, chief among them Jean Giraud, best known as Moebius.

Métal hurlant, according to Tom Lennon in his history of the magazine, launched "as the flagship title of Les Humanoïdes Associés, a French publishing venture set up by Euro comic veterans Moebius, Druillet and Jean-Pierre Dionnet, together with their finance director Bernard Farkas. Influenced by both the American underground comix scene of the 1960s and the political and cultural upheavals of that decade, their goal was bold and grandiose: they were going to kick ass, take names, and make people take comics seriously."

This demanded "artistic innovation at every level," from high-quality, large-format paper stock to risk-taking storytelling "shot through with a rich vein of humour and delivered with a narrative sophistication previously unseen in the medium."

Giraud took to the possibilities of the new publication with a special avidness. Under the pen name "Gir," writes Lennon, he "was best known as the co-creator of the popular Western series, Blueberry. By the mid-1970s, Giraud was feeling increasingly constrained by the conventions of the western genre, so decided to revive a long-dormant pseudonym to embark on more experimental work. As ‘Moebius’, Giraud not only worked in a different genre to ‘Gir’ – a deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic form of science fiction and fantasy – but his art looked like it was drawn by a completely different person," and "unlike anything that had been seen in comics — or, for that matter, in any other medium."

Métal hurlant saw the debuts of two of Moebius’ best-known characters: the pith-helmeted and mustachioed protector of miniature universes Major Grubert and the silent, pterodactyl-riding explorer Arzach, who bears a certain resemblance to the protagonist of Miyazaki's 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Read through the back issues of the magazine — or its 40-years-running American version, Heavy Metal — and you'll also glimpse, in the work of Moebius and others, elements that would later find their way into the worlds of NeuromancerMad MaxAlienBlade RunnerStar Wars, and much more besides.

“A while ago, SF was filled with monstrous rocket ships and planets,” said Moebius in 1980. "It was a naive and materialistic vision, which confused external space with internal space, which saw the future as an extrapolation of the present. It was a victim of an illusion of a technological sort, of a progression without stopping towards a consummation of energy." He and Métal hurlant did more than their part to transform and enrich that vision, but plenty of old perceptions still remain for their countless artistic descendants to warp beyond recognition.

via Tom Lennon/Dazed Digital

Related Content:

Mœbius & Jodorowsky’s Sci-Fi Masterpiece, The Incal, Brought to Life in a Tantalizing Animation

Moebius’ Storyboards & Concept Art for Jodorowsky’s Dune

The Inscrutable Imagination of the Late Comic Artist Mœbius

Watch Moebius and Miyazaki, Two of the Most Imaginative Artists, in Conversation (2004)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

More in this category... »