Think Small is a new book by Eva Katz that claims to contain “the tiniest art in the world.” I don’t know if it’s the world’s smallest art but, looking inside, it feels like you can probably get all the pieces inside a small bookcase and open a museum for Lego Minifigs.
Katz–a Los Angeles-based writer who authors a column on street art for Los Angeles Magazine–carefully collected 200 minuscule masterworks from 24 artists around the world. You’ve probably seen some of them on the Internet, like the diminutive watercolors by Lorraine Loots, the Star Wars crayolas by Hoang Tran, or the pencil lead sculptures by Salavat Fidai. But put them together in a book, on 4.5-inch-by-6-inch full color pages, and you can really see all the detail that makes these teensy-weensy paintings and sculptures seem larger than life.
Take Rosa De Jong’s Micro Matter sculptures. The Amsterdam-based designer constructs tiny villages inside glass test tubes. Photographed up close, you can see just how intricate they are, right down to the moss growing on the side of the buildings. The Istanbul artist Hasan Kale, meanwhile, uses pretzel sticks, almonds, bottle caps, and other pantry items as his canvases. From afar, they look like moldy food. Up close, they appear as elaborate landscape paintings, as detailed as any painting in a museum.
What possesses artists to work at such a small scale, especially at a time when contemporary art favors big, bold experiences over intimate work? Their answers typically fall into one of two categories: There are those who want to evoke childhood and remember how they loved to hold tiny things in their tiny hands. Then there are those who say that they started working at a small scale out of necessity–because they didn’t have the time, the space, or the money to work big. Whatever the rationale, their work is an inspiration–and proof that good things really do come in small packages.
Published by Chronicle Books, you can buy this 208-page hardcover afternoon tea delight at Amazon.