Carl Warner's Foodscapes from the previous post has been rightly lauded over the past years, but his was not the first artworks to feature food in such a breathtaking manner. Photographer Klaus Enrique Gerdes takes his cue from the artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo in creating his fanciful portraits using fruits, twigs and flowers.
Gerdes is a commercial photographer, but just like Warner, he became famous for his colorful and detailed portraits of objects that are so meticulously arranged that you can't help but see faces staring back at you. Because of this, he is now more popularly known as the photographer inspired by Arcimboldo, although he came up with the concept on his own and later on stumbled upon the artist's work while researching for his portrait project.
Anyone who has dabbled in some art history will immediately find similarities between these photographs and the iconic artworks of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th Century painter who up to now is viewed as both a genius and oddity in the art world. Arcimboldo was a court painter for a couple of European Royalties, but it was his panache for painting portraits entirely made up of fruits, vegetables, plants and other inanimate objects that still captures the imagination of art enthusiasts the world over.
The first of Arcimboldo's portraits that Gerdes recreated (up at the very top of this post) is Vertumnus, the Roman god of fruit trees and plants. This particular portrait was actually based on the likeness of the Emperor Rudolf II, and as such is meant to be a double portrait of sorts. The next portraits are the seasons personified, with Winter and Spring above, and Summer below.
The next portrait below is that of The Gardener or The Greengrocer, one of Arcimboldo's cleverer works; not only does it contain the hidden face of a plump and bearded man, it also represents a bowl of vegetables if you turn it upside down. The last portrait of the lady in flowers is most probably a re-imagining of Arcimboldo's Ninfa Flora. If you haven't yet seen any of Arcimboldo's works, you should definitely see a few before going over Gerdes' fantastic recreations.
Even if you simply reduce these pictures as photography inspired by Arcimboldo, you cannot doubt the skill that went into carefully selecting the right produce that would form the face of each portrait, painstakingly arranging each individual leaf and petal according to how it would look in unison with the face, and correctly setting the lighting and camera equipment in order to capture these faces at their most flattering angle.
Gerdes has obviously refined his skill as viewers are treated to both an image of flowers and fruits and an actual portrait. As he puts it, "...simple organic objects come together to create something more meaningful than the sum of its parts."
Klaus Enrique Gerdes has managed to create five portraits in Arcimboldo's style, although there is a chance that he will create more wonderful portraits. His website has more of his photography, along with his Facebook page which is updated regularly. Finally, don't forget to read up on Giuseppe Arcimboldo himself and find out more weirdly beautiful portraits from centuries past.