I hand illustrated three years of JAX calendars during my time at The Jackson Laboratory (that's over forty drawings, including illustrations that weren't used for the final calendars). Over sixteen of these drawings were for the 2018 calendar where I was to mimic the style of and re-interpret works done by established modern and contemporary artists to resonate with the biomedical research community. The entire calendar project itself was a collaboration between my colleagues and I, but I intend to focus on the illustrations and re-interpretations for this post. Here are eight of those illustrations and paintings with descriptions of the artists mimicked from that calendar.
Jackson Pollock, born in 1912 in Cody, Wyoming, is recognized for his contributions to abstract expressionism and his drip style of painting. Unlike the cubists and other modernists who painted abstractions of our world, Pollock painted abstractions of abstractions, lending his style its characteristic raw, chaotic feel. Here we impersonate Pollock’s high-energy technique using chromatin as our source of inspiration.
Little biographical information is known about Banksy, the anonymous London-based graffiti artist, political activist, and creator of the 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. His stenciled street art features anti-war and anti-establishment imagery and slogans, often appearing on building walls throughout London, New York, and other cities. His I Love New York piece depicts a frowning doctor listening to the heart image in the famous “I <3 NY” logo, often interpreted as a denunciation of the gentrification of the city. In our interpretation, the doctor smiles to provide a more upbeat diagnosis of The Jackson Laboratory’s sense of community.
A novelist, playwright, and professional wrestler, Rosalyn Drexler, born in 1926 in New York, is a multi-talented artist celebrated for her numerous contributions to the art world, including her pop art paintings. Here we imitate The Dream, in which a sleeping woman dreams of a monster. In Drexler’s original painting, the female subject is helpless. Instead, we empower our subject: a scientist dreaming of a cure for cancer and destroying one of the most terrifying monsters of all.
Keith Haring was born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1958, moving to New York twenty years later and making a lasting impact on the city. Although he experimented with performance art, collage, and other media, he is best known for his drawings. His style is epitomized by use of the line and two-color prints. He opened a retail store in 1986 (Pop Shop), as an effort to allow more people to experience his art, selling t-shirts, stickers, and buttons bearing his works. Our inspiration for this piece is Haring’s famous 1986 mural Crack Is Wack, which can still be seen along New York’s FDR drive. Haring died of AIDS-related complications in 1990, but not before creating the Keith Haring AIDS Foundation that provides funding to AIDS organizations.
Peter Max, an American pop art icon born in 1938, captures the essence of 1960s and 1970s counter-culture and neo-expressionism, and is best known for his paintings of the Statue of Liberty, several U.S. Presidents, and anti-smoking campaigns. His use of vibrant colors and geometric shapes lends a sense of playfulness and vivacity to his work. Much as Max’s art inspires wonder and cheer in a viewer, so too can discovering a love of science. While creating this year’s calendar, our artists perused old photos of interns working at JAX in the 1960s and 70s. Our interpretation attempts to convey the interns’ expressions of joy in discovery.
Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 in New York, where he lived most of his life. Inspired by comic strips and advertising campaigns, many of Lichtenstein’s most acclaimed pop art pieces are satire. To imitate his style, we chose as our subject The Jackson Laboratory’s Dr. Lenny Schultz, creator the NSG™ mouse strain and many of its variants.
Gerhardt Richter, born in 1932 in Dresden, is a German artist who defies stylistic categorization. He has worked in glass sculpture and photography, as well as photo realism. Here we mimic the style Richter used to create Family, a screen print of his wife’s family. We showcase one of our favorite photographs from The Jackson Laboratory’s archive taken in 1965 of Professor George Snell (original photo by Bernard Cole).
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960, Jean-Michael Basquiat is best known for skillfully interweaving a multitude of styles and artistic traditions. His style is best described as bombastic in scope, chaotic yet refined. Here we emulate Untitled, a mixed media piece produced by layering 28 distinct images to create the effect of notebook pages. Basquiat’s notebook imagery, not unlike the notebooks of many researchers, showcases the varied influences used for inspiration and his artistic process.
I appreciate you spending time here and your attention is invaluable, so again, thank you. Hopefully I will be writing more posts and sharing Creativity through curiosity with you.
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