Kay Nielsen

Alright, I’ve found my new favorite artist.


Here is the recipe for the Danish Kay Nielsen’s aesthetic:

1) In a bowl, combine Yoshitaka Amano and Aubrey Beardsley. Stir well, not leaving any clumps.

2) In a separate container, combine 2 pieces of Harry Clarke and vigorously shake. Slowly pour in Eyvind Earle, and mix until consistent throughout. Add a dash of salt.

3) Find your oldest,most authentic looking Art Deco baking pan, and layer the contents of both bowls until an indistinguishable concoction is made. For effect, sprinkle a small amount of Arthur Rackham on top. Cook at 350F for 100 years,  and poke with a toothpick to ensure desired thickness is achieved.

4) Throw the entire thing away, because there is no way you can duplicate the results that Kay Nielsen has achieved.

But seriously, this guy is the real deal, clearly paving the way for Art Deco before it was cool. Though he did have a successful career when he is alive, barely anyone I know has heard of him – which just goes to show you that any amount of success you achieved in life is a poor indicator of how you will be remembered. Though he was classified with the Art Nouveau movement, I feel his work is more easily identified as Deco. Though his work is organically enough, I feel it is a disservice to him to think just because his work is mystical and fantastical means it cannot be classified as Deco. Indeed, even in many of his works the geometric and streamlined look is prevalent despite its soft and airy atmosphere. (And, never mind that his work precedes the major Deco movement by a good 20 years.) He worked for awhile at Disney, working on one of my favorite scenes as a kid (which might explain why I am so nuts over him right now). Though he was fired for some odd reason after only 4 short years working for the mogul, his aesthetic can be clearly seen throughout early adaptations of films. He was supposedly hired to work on The Little Mermaid, but obviously this project was never completed in his lifetime and the 1989 film has absolutely no connection to his work.

In a nutshell, this man was revolutionary. There are literally hundreds of good images available online, but a book of his work is much harder to come by: they run for around $300 USD online and have been pretty much out of print forever.
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