Madame Ovary

Madame Ovary , 2008
Collage, 3.5 x 5.5″
Richard Russell

Following up neatly on my post about Nicole Natri’s anatomical collage, artist Richard Russell mixes beeswax and book art to create provocative, creepily symbolic images like Madame Ovary (above). Russell describes himself as a serious ephemeraholic:

I can become teary-eyed over certain botanical illustrations, wallpaper designs, bird prints, astronomy maps, travel documents, the pattern of handwriting in a letter. I prefer the patina of use and age–smudges, the stain of cellophane tape, a child’s doodles in a book, margin notes, mold. The crackle of oxidized paper with its palette of yellows, browns, and golds; the mottling of mildew or the soft bleaching of sunlight; clumsy, off-register printing are all special joys to me. (source)

Many of his works are irreverent reinterpretations of mythic or Biblical figures, like The Forensic Exam of St. Sebastian and the Laocoon. He creates some teasing sexual ambiguity by marrying bluntly matter-of-fact anatomical diagrams to well-known artistic nudes and illustrations of repressed Victorians. To me, the overall effect is of a children’s health science textbook from some profoundly disturbed alternate-reality 1950s America:

The Forensic Exam of St. Sebastian, 2006
collage with beeswax on panel, 8 x 10 inches
Richard Russell

Laocoon, 2006
collage with beeswax on board, 8 x 10″
Richard Russell

Night-blooming Cereus with Butterfly, 2007
inkjet collage on found paper, 8 x 10 inches
Richard Russell

This last piece is not only an amazingly elegant use of negative space, but quite hilarious (if you know your history):


Catherine the Great
, 2006
collage with beeswax on birch panel, 6 x 12 inches
Richard Russell

I like this guy’s sense of humor!

Previously espied by the always wonderful Morbid Anatomy and Street Anatomy


  1. #1 dr.hypercube
    April 14, 2008

    “A horse is a horse,
    of course, of course,
    and no one should have intercourse
    with a horse,
    unless, of course, the intercourse,
    is with the Tsarina of Russia”

    That Mr. Ed – he sure got around….

  2. #2 Trip the Space Parasite
    April 16, 2008

    At the risk of being a wet blanket, that’s not exactly history. It is, however, very funny.

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