March 20, 2007

Yes, Bears Were Harmed In The Making Of These Photographs


Brooklyn artist [redundant, I know] Kent Rogowski flayed some helpless teddy bears, turned them inside out, and then restuffed them, sending his creations back out into the world as hideous, mutilated mutants. But not before photographing them and binding the photos into a lovely, collectible book. They're also available in two large-format editions.


A bookful of bears this distorted hasn't been seen in over twenty years, not since Bill Sienkiewicz's ink-blotchy-eyed Demon Bear roared across the pages of The New Mutants in 1984.

So if a clause somewhere forces you to have a teddy bear nursery, here's your out.

Bears will drop, as they say, in early May. Reserve a regular copy at Amazon, or pick up the limited edition, which includes a signed 8x10 beartrait at Bears: the book's site. No word on what happened to the actual bears. [ via coolhunting]

update: Noted bear expert Stephen Colbert just said, "Remember, America, it doesn't matter how bears look on the outside. What matters is the inside."


Wow, these are really great. With great photos like that and comments by the likes of Alec Soth, Tim Davis and Deborah Bright this project has definitely got some legs. It's interesting to see how younger artists are using the web as a marketing tool these days and building off the hype created by sites like Alec's blog (as well as the hype for hip-kid stuff). I'm finding that it's not that uncommon for me to buy art, especially book art and photographic art, after only ever seeing it online.

[I don't know what "legs" means. The project was from 2003. Ironic revisitations of childhood are the broth Williamsburg's hipster artists are stewing in. Soth's comments are criticality-free fluff, based on the artworld headlines a couple of months ago. And while I'm always willing to give an artist a tremendous amount of leeway and deference and room to work and pursue her ideas, Soth strikes me too often as a lottery winner giving advice on how to get rich. -ed.]

LOL at your description of Soth. And the Colbert quote is great.

All cynicism aside, blogging has created a new kind of networking -- and, in some cases sales -- for young artists that could conceivably change the way artwork is made and marketed (look at etsy). Your posting has already exposed Rogowski's work to a possible market beyond the traditional art-buying demographic, which is great for the artist's pocketbook as well as for those parents seeking non-Dora imagery to share with their kids.

In full disclosure I bought the book, in part b/c our nickname for our daughter is "the bear" and it is hard to find bear-themed stuff that is simultaneously cute yet not sappy. And while Rogowski's work is not wholly original and is not unlike the work of another RISD grad (Jill Greenberg and her infamous "End Times" portraits of crying kids), I do think it's far more inventive and creative than most things you could share with your kid.

But hey, I'm just trying to justify my purchase of a book of eviscerated stuffed animals. ;-)

[Ahh, now it becomes clear. carry on, then. However they fall on the art-decoration-fine art spectrum, and whatever direction he takes with his work, the bears are cool, no doubt. -ed.]

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