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How will you spend the first day back at work now that the summer holiday season has slipped away for another year?  Just having a job is a reason to feel pretty good for lots of us, when you think of the alternative.  But let’s face it, some jobs are just more photogenic than others.  Above photo found here of someone’s great Granddad looking pretty nifty at a Buick auto factory in 1930.

These guys look like they don’t mind working for a living too much, but maybe they’d rather be on a raft drifting down the Mississippi. They are Doffers (Doffers??) at a cotton mill in Macon Georgia, 1909, photographed by Lewis Hines. More here.

Women have a long tradition of factory work in North America, and people were always taking pictures of them.   These at a Cadbury’s candy bar factory in the 1950′s seem to have things well in hand.  Why no men? Maybe they didn’t trust them around all that chocolate.

This color photo of a young woman working in an airplane plant is from a recently released archive of US government commissioned photos from 1939 to 1944 now in the Library of Congress.  Flicker set here.

Here is another hard working woman.  Never mind the dishes, I’ll wash the locomotive.  See Flickr set above.

Artists work hard and they have a deep respect for hard work.  Some, like American painter and photographer Charles Sheeler found art and mystery and beauty in the hard working factories and plants of industrial America.  Above from a great collection presented at the Detroit Institute of Art.  More here.

In Europe, Bernd and Hilla Becher have been roaming the countryside for years in search of industrial buildings–the places where hard, bone-grinding work happens day after day. Their work is in a class by itself and provokes wonder and amusement, with a fair bit of bewilderment too.  For us, these 3  images above  are portraits, and like the best portraits of people,  we keep looking.  And looking.  You can see more at Artnet here

But let’s hope wherever you go to work this week, you will face  less potential danger than the man above.  Pic from here. 

Work hard, yes, be photogenic if you can, yes.  Don’t let the work own you.  Be free.

We are big fans of small at the republic of less. We just are. So we keep our eye peeled for little joys in every season and every where.

                

Above little guys are were found in a local store specializing in things Scandinavian. From Kosta Boda, maker of eye-catching things in glass since 1742. More here.

Big time artists have been known to work at times on a small scale, particularly in three dimensions. Above is a little dancer sculpted by Edgar Degas, found here.

Aristide Maillol is the man behind those large bronzes lying around in unexpected poses in the gardens adjacent to the Louvre. Not far away is the Musée Maillol, a great little museum with lots to like, including the small figure above we saw there.

This we found closer to home base. It is a lovely small figure by Antoniucci Volti (1915 1989) that lives at Vancouver’s Gallery Jones.

In our view, no artist of the 20th century was bigger than Alexander Calder in either imagination or output or playfulness.  He too could work small, producing amazing portraits in wire and, as a present for his wife Louisa, a swell set of miniature mobiles in a cigar box, seen here .

Making art large or small is not a modern invention.  Humans have been at it for ages.

This pre Columbian terracotta cutie was found in Columbia and is said to date from ca. 600-1200 AD. She’s about 5 inches tall in her bare feet.  See more here.

Strike up the band: these little fellas are from Cyprus and they are even older–600 BC. They are now performing at the MET in NYC. We first featured them in a post called  Small is. 

What’s cuter than a doll?  Well, a doll created by the guys and gal at Winnipeg’s own Royal Art Lodge, gone but never forgotten around here.  Top group done by Michael Dumontier and Drue Langlois (see here) and lower group by Mr Langlois single handed. Small wonders.

Another doll, no less sweet for being made of clay, we found at the 2011 Venice Biennale.  It was part of an exhibit by sculptor Dominik Lang which he called The Sleeping City, a tribute in part to his father Jiri.

Small scale objects have a special quality, and so do those little unexpected moments when the universe tells you things are pretty good.  Such as  when you tell a stranger at an art installation in Venice that you have a blog, and he hands you a complimentary crimson drink, which you get to enjoy while sitting at the edge of a canal.
No big deal, maybe, compared to lots of other things in Venice and in life, but it felt like a little moment that would mean a lot for a long long time.

Sometimes you spend time looking at children’s books because there is a child in your life that you want to please, and sometimes you just want to please yourself.   Above is from an edition of the Wizard of Oz illustrated by Lizbeth Zwerther seen here.

Happily, books are alive and well in stores for kids, and  if  you go looking,  you will find in these little books the work of some of the most gifted and imaginative artists/illustrators/cartoonists from around the world. Above is from a recent book called ICE written and illustrated by Arthur Geisert who is very fond of little pigs, as are we. Read more here.

Above three books are just a sliver of Mr Geisert’s shelf of wonderful work, which has plenty of pig tales, but plenty of pigless wonders  too.  See more here.

Once you start down this path you will find yourself with a lot more than you bargained for.  If you could only have one, how would you choose between a pig tale by Arthur G or a rabbit tale by Komako  Sakai?

Ms Sakai is certainly something special.  Her simple stories and beautiful way with line and colour will fill your eyes and pinch your heart.  She has worked in the textile industry in Japan, they say. More about her books here.

Bears of course have a solid place in children’s stories too.   Thanks to Jon Klassen, there’s a new bear on the block and he wants something.

Nice review of Mr Klassen’s book in the NYT here

Along with creatures of the farm and the woods, book artists have found plenty of inspiration among the critters that become part of the household.

Like the wonderful Max brought to life by the wonderful Maira Kalman.  Go here

People who love picture books love them as much as other people love chocolate or ABBA–i.e. totally.  There are many wonderful websites with tons of these books to show you, including Children’s Illustration, which you’ll find and feast on here.

To send you off, we selected Paul Thurlby an artist from England who, among lots of other things, has made an amazing alphabet, which you’ll find on his site here.  Books and pictures, sentences and pictures, letters and pictures, they all go together like summer and running through the sprinkler.

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Those of us who like to cook up a storm will lavish no end of attention on a meal. So it’s not surprising that the visual chefs of the world, the artists and designers, have turned their talents to the platforms we provide to serve up the goodies.  Picasso took to creating dishy plates fairly late in his career, and as usual he did it entirely his own way.  Above from him found here.

Mr P turned his hand to plate making over and over and generated a pile of amazing work, including this great one with a couple of dozen petit visages that was up for auction, reported by the London Telegraph. 

After he was done making all the plates, Picasso, always willing to help around the house, moved on to jugs like this cutie seen here.  (a previous RofL post had reason to present a fish jug by PP).

The creation and construction of wonderful plates for our food or just feasting our eyes has a long tradition and master practitioners in every era.  The above was made about 1460 somewhere in Spain and is now residing (see here) in the wonderful Musee des arts Decoratifs in Paris.

This swell bird (“Coq”) plate also lives in the Musee des arts Decoratifs (well worth a visit, we think). It is the work of Jacques Besnard in 1930. Find it here  and be sure to look around the site for much more.

You say plates, we say Fornasetti, namely Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988) the incomparable Italian designer who put his signature style–and often this particular woman’s face–on all sorts of household goods, including plates. They are still available and still much loved.  The three above can be had at Barney’s, go here.

Well, you take a current design star like David Chipperfield and ask him to create a line of dishes and cups for Alessi and here’s what you get: a lovely tribute to one of our favourite artists, Giorgio Morandi, seen here.   More on Mr Morandi in this NYT article.  More on Mr Chipperfield in the RofL library here.

The Dutch de stijl movement from the first half of the 20th century continues to inspire designers.  The above set of plates borrows–or steals, say the designers, London retailer Darkroom–the strong colour and shape from the movement, which was also applied to textiles and paper goods.  Found here.

This nifty plate is from a design by Nikolai Suetin done in the so-called Suprematist style in 1905, auctioned recently, and reported here.

When the world was black and white and the smart set chowed down in the living room wearing the same clothes they wore to the office, plates came in lots of shapes and sizes and colours to handle the new trends, like fondue, crab dip, and miniature marshmallow/pineapple cube salad.  Go back here.

Jetting back to our own time, we seem quite comfortable dishing food out on both the exquisite and the goofball, sometimes in the same meal.  This swedish bear plate found here.  What do you think you’d serve on that?  Gumballs and goat cheese croquettes?

And this from our youth is a fine depiction of the  magnificent Hopalong Cassidy  on a plate by  Kimmerle Milnazik discovered at the unforgettable Plate Lady website.  No question what you’d serve up here: fresh carrots and sugar cubes, we reckon.

Just a few more in the cupboard.  Above jaunty thing is by a remarkable American artist Howard Kottler, found here.   More of him to be found at the Smithsonian Institute.

And we complete the meal with another American artist Molly Hatch who, among other things designs plates in groups so you only see the whole picture when they are all together–say on your large dining table or here.

If you care about food, we think you should care about what you put the food on, whether it is a blank white canvas or a handsome cowboy.  If we are what we eat, maybe we are also, a little bit, what we eat OFF.

Who’s that up on the roof?  Well, it seems lots of people like it so much up on the roof that they’ve built themselves a place to live and play and sometimes work. This woman in Paris (from a Jacques Rivette movie) has come up to take a look for herself.

This is one of those pictures that you can never quite forget.  The pool is on the roof of a house designed by Rem Koolhaas called Villa dall’Ava outside Paris.  It’s an iconic image for life on your own terms.  Take the plunge here 

New York is also renowned for people who live life with both style and daring.  Diane von Furstenberg built her studio up on the roof of a 6 storey building in an area of the city once known for meat-packing.  Supply your own quip if you feel the urge. (credit to Work Architecture Company; Image by Elizabeth Felicella Photography).  See more at archdaily

New York being New York the desire to be on top has captured more than one resident.  This is in Tribeca (found here) and it results in a splendid cupcake effect to our eyes.

Whereas this New York roof topper has more of a …what, French country house feel?  Generous water supply very close by.  See here.

But no matter what anyone says, you can actually find cool examples of unique living beyond Manhattan, even when it comes to rooftop living.  The blue beauty (designed by MVRDV) above and below is in Rotterdam, Netherlands and was built for the Didden family.  See more at archdaily again

The two pics above are of a playful rooftop residence (designed by JDS Architecture seen here) in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.  Dad and son are having a nice bonding moment taking in the Danish summer sun–though the boy looks like he is not about to move his head and look down.

There are books about the high life of course, above from NAI publishers and Cloud 9 below from Loft Publishers available here for example.

This remarkable book above takes us far from Paris, New York, and Scandinavia.  Portrait from Above is a chronicle of rooftop living in Hong Kong.  These roofies are not thinking about being cool or unique.  They are just taking up residence in the only place available to them.  More here

There is a neat video here of a guy who designed for himself a very compact home on a rooftop in Barcelona.

The above film series was hosted on a rooftop in good old Austin Texas.  It was last year, but if you want to celebrate this idea of getting on top of things, you might look for a rooftop near you and see if you can organize a wingding or two.

This was in London atop Selfridges department store above Oxford Street, photo from here 

Or maybe you could get a band to play some lively music like this one did on another London rooftop some time ago.

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