Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Betsy Dorman: the Kara Walker of animal silhouettes, perhaps...

Reyer Stolk, 1945 (seen first by me here, and then in various places, such as here.)

Love the above Dutch picture book madly (but aren't prepared to search through vintage dealers for a copy)? Try Betsy Dorman's fascinating, beautiful take on animal silhouettes, found in Besty, her Etsy shop. She manages to be both unsentimental and yet sympathetic, even affectionate, towards her subjects. Check out her porcupine. Not exactly a pretty guy. I revel in the courage of it.

And, "S" is for Sloth.
Few animal silhouettes are observant and witty enough for anyone to dare class them as portraits (e.g., these, which are pretty stock), but hers do actually make it as portraits. Each profile, each face, has its own look, its own particular, watchful, attentive gaze beyond the frame.

I also find it deeply impressive that BD's sloth, and several of her other silhouettes, manage, successfully, to toe that ambitious, elusive line between abstraction and absolute specificity.Poster, $60, Besty.

Good, no? Let's be honest; we're talking so damn fine.

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