Wes Anderson and the miniature art world | Art


“It’s like a kind of meditation,” says Spanish artist Mar Cerdà of its labor-intensive dioramas. “I get lost in the cutouts and details, then I forget to eat or what time it is.”

Cerdà doesn’t remember exactly how long it took to create his miniature recreation (about 20cm high and 30cm wide) of a train carriage from Wes Anderson’s film The Darjeeling Limited: “Two, maybe three weeks ?” Everything in it – the patterned wallpaper, the towels hanging from a hook, the bespoke Louis Vuitton suitcases – is handmade using only paper and watercolor paint. Look closely and there are even miniature replicas of Indian miniature paintings.

A scene from the Royal Tenenbaums. Photo: Mar Cerda

The Anderson connection was inevitable. He’s exactly the kind of design-conscious filmmaker who inspires such a devotion to craftsmanship (and an equal measure of anti-hipster derision, of course). Barcelona-based Cerdà also studied art direction for film before becoming an artist and illustrator. she considers her dioramas like movie scenes. “It was hard for me to think in two dimensions,” she says. “I had these space ideas in my mind.” Besides film scenes (she just finished a Zoolander tribute and is working on a Labyrinth-based piece), her works have included tiny replicas of architectural spaces.

The growth – for lack of a better word – of the miniature has been a surprising development in 21st century art. It may have started with the Chapman brothers’ epic Hell diorama from 2000 – a kind of Nazi recreation of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. A decade later, an exhibition titled From another world: optical illusions and small realities toured the world, bringing together 37 international artists working in miniature. Many of them, like Cerdà, take a deliberately cinematic route. Lori Nix creates beautifully accurate mini scenes of post-apocalyptic urban ruins it could have come from a disaster movie; Alan Wolfson reproduces pieces of existing streets at insect scale.

A scene from the Grand Budapest Hotel.
A scene from the Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo: Mar Cerda

We also had Instagram heroes such as Slinkachu – which plants “little people” in street scenes – and Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka, which has created an ingenious new micro-diorama every day for the past five years using broccoli for trees, bottle caps for picnic tables and chocolate éclairs as climbing walls. So there is Birmingham artist Willard Wigan, whose sculptures are only visible under a microscope. It is a movement as inexplicable as it is unexpected.

Could all of this be a reaction to the increasingly digital and virtual nature of the world, the product of limited resources and playful concerns (Cerdà had a childhood love for Polly Pocket)? Whatever the reason, it’s a refreshingly modest response to “great” established artists such as Richard Serre, Anish Kapoor and Claes Oldenberg, which seemed to gravitate towards a scale commensurate with their reputation. Tiny art can bring us closer, so we really pay attention.

  • This article was corrected on March 29, 2016. We originally stated that the photo of Royal Tenenbaums was a scene from The Darjeeling Limited.


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