At this year's PULSE LA event, one of the most incredibly awe-inspiring pieces was by Angelo Musco. The New York-based contemporary artist, who is represented in the US by Carrie Secrist Gallery, is known for creating massive photographs of surreal mosaics made from thousands of swarming human bodies.
These aggregated bodies take on everything from an ant colony and beehive to a school of fish. His work touches upon such grand themes as birth, procreation and gestation. “A swarm of fish captures a profusion of life, the safety of a symbolic nest, and a connection of one being to another. It's the strength derived from this collective force,” he tells us. “The nests, as well, relate to the safe geography of birth and early life.”
Angelo has a fascinating personal story that has, no doubt, fueled and inspired his work. Here's a portion of it from Wikipedia:
“The youngest of five children, Angelo weighed in at 6.5 kilos (approximately 14.3 lbs.) when he was born after spending 11 months in the womb. A home birth to a child of this size was complicated; Angelo became stuck and turned blue, and the midwife panicked. Her determined extraction caused serious damage to both mother and baby. The newborn was rushed to the hospital, being in a critical state, and was stripped of his baby clothes. Musco's aunt, uncle, and father returned to the household with the soiled clothes, upon seeing which, Angelo's mother fell into a state of shock, thinking the child had died. The extreme stress spoilt her breast milk. Both mother and son survived, but young Musco was paralyzed on his right side for the first years of his life.”
When we asked the artist about the connection of his life experiences to his art, he told us this. “More specifically it was the difficulty and trauma of my actual birth that colored my early life. Both my mother and I almost died in childbirth and I was left unable to use my right arm for the first years of my life. But I soaked up so much of the rich history and beauty of Naples and, because of the physical limitations, I was not inclined to do athletic play like others my age and I found expression in art and the images and visions I had in my head. My body was a constant reminder of my entry into the world and that awareness worked its way into the work.”
See below for a selection of his incredible pieces which includes some must-see close-ups.
How exactly does Musco go about creating these enormous works of art? “At the most basic level, I usually start with an original idea that gives me the direction I will take in a photo shoot with a multitude of models,” he says. “I may need certain shapes or I may be looking for some emotional state for their bodies to express. Then, I may create a template of the image and then, using the bodies and groups of bodies, start building the architecture. The layers and layers of bodies are blended together.
“One of the final phases is choosing the coloring and lighting. In the studio we have nicknamed this the ‘beautification process.' The last work, Ovum, took over two million bodies to create and about a year in the studio to put together the full composition.”