Under the (Artistic) Influence

A shadow box by Joseph Cornell.

A shadow box by Joseph Cornell.

Shaun Tan is clearly our biggest influence in creating The Amazing and Marvelous Cabinets of Kismet. However, now that we have been working on this story and these characters for a year and a half, we are recognizing other artistic influences that have lingered in our minds and imaginations. Here are a few of them:

Joseph Cornell: Mainly an influence on me and Nikki; Genna doesn’t particularly like Cornell. For me though, his boxes evoke cabinets, the building blocks for Kismet’s world. His combinations of paper scraps, photographs and found objects are by turns whimsical, lonely, mysterious and chaotic, all moods that I hope to evoke at one point or another in Cabinets of Kismet. 

One of the dresses that inspired Genna.

One of the dresses that inspired Genna.

Alexander McQueen: When we first started discussing this story and the aesthetic we were hoping to create, everyone brought in art books and catalogues to page through, in hopes of discovering images that would inspire the look or sensibility of a puppet. I had the exhibit catalogue for Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty lying around and Genna was inspired by several of the outfits pictured. His use of materials such as animal bones and skulls as well as layers of translucent fabric is echoed in a couple of Genna’s puppets use similar treatments. She says she was drawn to McQueen’s work because “…I like the gothic and the macabre. I find darkness to be fascinating.” Look for puppets with those qualities when you come to see Cabinets of Kismet!

Figures by Kandinsky.

Figures by Kandinsky.

Wassily Kandinsky: By the time we started re-thinking Paper World this winter, the look had moved further away from reality and into the realm of the abstract. I started looking at the shapes in paper cutouts by Matisse, but soon focused on the work of Kandinsky. While his work is much more colorful than, well, anything really in Paper World, his lines and shapes have an energy and rhythm to them that I hope to emulate in the shadow puppets that appear and disappear in our show. Keep an eye out for similar creatures when you come see Cabinets of Kismet in April!

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