Tag Archives: seashells

RIP Roger ‘outsider art’ Cardinal (1940 – 2019)

Roger Cardinal was a English art scholar famous for originating the term “outsider art” in his book Outsider Art (1972). Outsider art coincides with the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1970s.

In that book, new to me was the work of Pascal-Désir Maisonneuve (1863 – 1934) who made work with seashells such as Mask of Queen Victoria (above), reminiscent of rocaille .

In that tradition is also Festoon, Masks and Rosettes Made of Shells (1656) by Jan van Kessel senior and Arcimboldesque Head and Beethoven Portrayed by Arcimboldo by Jan Švankmajer.

Jan van Kessel and the Flemish fantastique and grotesque



I hail from Flanders so I’m biased when I say I love Flemish art, and equally biased when I say I love the Flemish fantastique and grotesque.

It’s not every day I find something new and yesterday my eye caught the wonderful Shells, Butterflies, Flowers and Insects on White Background [image] by Jan van Kessel, senior (Antwerp, 1626 – idem, 1679).

Van Kessel senior, born in Antwerp, hometown of Rubens, where I have lived since 1987.

Furthering my research today, I find Festoon, Masks and Rosettes Made of Shells (1656) by that same Jan van Kessel. It is a “decorative and anthropomorphic composition with shells[1].

Not a classic composition as a matter of fact, more a composite of small composites actually, in the vein of those of Arcimboldo, king of composites.

The detail is reminiscent of one of the grotesque masks [image] by Joris Hoefnagel produced a hundred years earlier.

Van Kessel’s work is a species of early intermedia, located in the no man’s land between natural history illustration and fine art.