Classical Portraits of Extreme Plastic Surgery

Plastic Therapy #2

Allanah, 2008Phillip Toledano

(Warning: This post contains nudity.)

Phillip Toledano’s photos in his series “A New Kind of Beauty” have many traits of a traditional portrait, but his subjects are far from average. Toledano documents people who have gone through radical reconstructive plastic surgery.

“In 50 or 100 years time, I think humanity won’t look like it does today because of technology. … We will be able to redefine what it means to look human and I think these people are the vanguard of that type of evolution,” Toledano said about the project.

The evolution of the series was somewhat serendipitous and evolved through both social media and traditional word of mouth. During an assignment to photograph a man who’d had multiple plastic surgery procedures, Toledano befriended the man’s press assistant. Through that friendship on Facebook, he noticed Allanah, a transgendered woman who had also gone through multiple surgeries. He photographed her, and she in turn let him know about other people for the project. It grew into a larger network of friends of friends.


Steve, 2008Phillip Toledano
Nikki, 2009 (left); Fred, 2008

Nikki, 2009 (left); Fred, 2008Phillip Toledano

Inspired by the German artist Hans Holbein the Younger, whose 16th-century portraits are considered to be some of the most realistic of that era, Toledano’s images are in many ways a nod to Holbein.

“I wanted to make beautiful and distinguished portraits of these people. … I wanted to represent a particular part of beauty from our time,” Toledano said.

Toledano said reaction to the project has been mixed—and not unexpected.

Monique, 2008

Monique, 2008Phillip Toledano
Justin and Zander

Justin, 2009Phillip Toledano
Angel 2009 (l) Yvette 2008

Angel, 2009 (left); Yvette, 2008Phillip Toledano

 “Usually there are two kinds of feedback: the expected ‘Holy shit! These people look crazy,” which definitely isn’t the point of the work. … it’s too easy in art to take a group or subgroup of people and point and laugh. I’ve never been interested in that. And then there are hopefully some people who understand the point I’m making about the direction we’re headed, which is what I’m trying to do. … I’m not naïve; I know people will look at the work and be taken aback, but I hope they can work through that and see the point I’m trying to make.”

“A New Kind of Beauty” is the second work in a trilogy Toledano has created about mortality. The first installment and subsequent book Days With My Father was about taking care of his elderly dad. For the final installment, Toledano is focusing on his own mortality. Using DNA testing, fortune tellers, and prosthetics, Toledano is creating images about who he is and what kind of person he could possibly become.

“It will be very interesting to see in a few years time how I compare physically to these projected images,” he said.

The book A New Kind of Beauty is available for purchase.


SoniaPhillip Toledano
Dina, 2009

Dina, 2009Phillip Toledano

Giant Bird Sculpture Made of 5,000 Nails Flies Into Flatiron

FLATIRION — A colossal bird sculpture made from thousands of nails has made a landing in front of the Flatiron Building.
The 12-foot-high, 12-foot-wide artwork is made up of more than 5,000 real and fabricated nails and weighs a whopping 5 tons, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership announced.
“It’s interesting because this is the first thing like this that we’ve really had,” said Jennifer Brown, executive director of the partnership, in a statement. “This is the first of something this size.”
Artist Will Ryman sought to change the meaning of the nail by dramatically altering its size and using it in excessive quantities, the statement said.
The sculpture, which holds a red rose from its beak, was loosely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” the statement added.
The installation, dubbed “The Bird,” was previously shown in Ryman’s inaugural exhibition at Paul Kasmin Gallery, located at 515 W. 27th St.
As a part of the city Department of Transportation’s Urban Arts Program, the agency partnered with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership to commission Ryman and bring the exhibit to the public space at Flatiron Plaza.
“It’s obviously a very iconic location, so it’s interesting to see it in that spot,” Brown stated. “Lots of people have been taking pictures of it and with it. It’s drawing a lot of attention.”
“The Bird” will be on display through April 21.

Christo opens gigantic ‘air’ sculpture in Ruhr

The largest inflatable object in the world has been unveiled in the city of Oberhasen in Germany’s Ruhr Valley. The sculpture,conceived by Bulgarian artist Christo, is being housed in a gigantic exhibition space.

The gasometer was built in the late twenties to store gas generated as a byproduct of the processing of iron ore. The installation, which takes up almost all of its interior, has airlocks which allow visitors to go inside. The entire structure is self-supporting and kept aloft by two air fans.

The sculpture, known as “big air package,” is 90 metres high and has a diameter of 50 metres. It’s made from a semi-transparent polyester fabric as well as 4,500 meters of rope and weighs 5.3 tonnes.

Workers spent 2,800 hours preparing the 12.5 kilometre-long seams. The 600 sheets of fabric were fastened together by ropes and Velcro, to allow as little air as possible to escape.

Skylights illuminate the interior, mirroring the effect of stained glass windows inside a church and the trapped air muffles sound.

The website of Der Spiegel magazine described the experience of climbing the steps inside the sculpture as “floating upwards as if inside a surreal raincloud.”

The project has been in the works since 2010. Christo, who has spent much of his life collaborating with his wife, fellow artist Jeanne Claude, has included her in his work since her death.

He speaks of her as if she were still alive: “We are 77 now and I don’t know how much time we have left, so we’re trying to speed things up now by working on numerous projects simultaneously.” The couple made their first sculpture involving air in 1966.

The “big air package” will be on display until December 30, 2013.

Duke of Gloucester unveils Malvern Buzzards sculpture

Buzzard sculpture

The sculpture has been put up in Rose Bank Gardens in Malvern


A £17,000 sculpture of two bird has been officially unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester.

The metal Malvern Buzzards sculpture has been put up in Rose Bank Gardens, Malvern, Worcestershire.

Both the town and district councils gave £7,500, with the remaining £2,000 being donated by individuals or firms.

The sculpture was designed and made by Walenty Pytel, from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Asked why the birds were chosen, town clerk Richard Chapman, from the town council, said: “I think [there] was the suggestion the buzzards are often seen soaring over the Malvern Hills and it would be an appropriate sculpture to represent this.

“The gardens were under-used and the idea was there would be something in the gardens to attract people there.

“You see the statue and the gardens are like a gateway to the Malvern Hills.”

Mr Chapman said there was a plan to renovate the gardens over seven to 10-years, which started in April last year.


Designed by Mathieu Lehanneur, the Parisian space makes the sound and lighting equipment an integral part of the interior design.

Industrial designer Mathieu Lehanneur and architect Ana Moussinet came up with the idea for the interior space of ‘Electric.’ This 1,000 square meter venue, which rises high above Paris, offers panoramic views of France’s capital city through its floor-to-ceiling windows.

Whereas most venues try to hide unsightly wires and cables by building things like boxes around them to keep them from public view, this space makes the sound and lighting equipment an integral part of the interior design. A large black ‘tree’ with a braided trunk reaches upwards to create a canopy of all the equipment. Lights and speakers are suspended like leaves from their branch-like cables.

‘Electric’ is a new cultural destination for residents and visitors in Paris. Designboom notes that it features a lounge and bar, and the soundproofed modules means it can function as a club or live music venue.

‘Bad Dog’ Sculpture Raises Eyebrows

Taller than the museum it stands beside, the aptly named Bad Dog sculpture in Newport Beach, California is raising quite a few eyebrows in amusement.

The sight of a 24-foot tall fiberglass dog is certainly eye-catching. However, it’s more a matter of what the massive dog is shown doing that is causing a stir and captivating museum visitors.

The anatomically correct canine was constructed with one leg lifted high against the side of the museum. Equipped with the ability to spray yellow paint, Bad Dog effectively “urinates” against the building’s side wall.

The Orange County Register writes that Bad Dog resides on the grounds of the Orange County Museum of Art and is part of the “Richard Jackson: Ain’t Painting a Pain” exhibition.

Museum officials say that while the Bad Dog sculpture has garnered a few negative remarks about its anatomical accuracy, most of the responses have been positive.

For artist Richard Jackson, it’s the reaction he was hoping to invoke:

“My intention is never to shock or offend anyone or any particular group. People’s reaction to Bad Dog or any art for that matter tends to vary. Sometimes, it depends on whether you’re going home from church or from a strip club.”

Blouin News writes that a plaque alongside the Bad Dog sculpture describes the installation as follows:

“Like much of Richard Jackson’s art, Bad Dog is populist, accessible, and humorous. The dog is a near-universal symbol… which Jackson unleashes on the propriety of art museums and the often-elitist attitudes of the art world … the guileless dog unwittingly points to the sometimes rigid institutional constraints that can frustrate artists and audiences alike.”

City reawakens to art

Loaned sculptures set up along Poydras Street, throughout New Orleans




Seven new sculptures are on display along Poydras Street from O’Keefe Street to the Mississippi River, the first phase of an outdoor exhibition that will feature 25 sculptures from 25 distinguished artists from across the South.

The installation is part of Sculpture for New Orleans, a program started in 2008 to support public art in New Orleans, using large-scale outdoor exhibitions to increase the visibility of art in the city.

The sculptures join another 45 installations throughout the city.

Tucked among the tress and shrubs of the recently landscaped Poydras Street neutral ground, some of the sculptures blend in, such as the bronze “Standing Vase With Five Flowers,” by James Surls, and the steel “Nethership” by Ed Wilson.

Others bring bright colors to the corridor, like the red Polyurethane human figure in “Reawakening” by Wesley Wofford and the tall yellow painted steel “Zach’s Tower” by John Henry in front of Harrah’s Casino.

On Convention Center Boulevard, Louisiana artist Russell Whiting’s “Man Defeats Chair” does just that — featuring a carved steel man holding his arms in victory while standing atop a chair.

“These sculptures are a great addition to our cultural landscape,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release. “New Orleans is a world-class city with world-class art on every level. We are proud to partner with Sculpture for New Orleans on this project.”