French artist, Estelle Chrétien is a master of whimsicalness when it comes to creating avant-garde forms of art. Her anthropomorphic interventions in different rural settings' landscapes artistically explore anthropomorphism in a playful way creating imaginative scenes on lawns, fields, and even forested ravines within her home region of Nancy in France.
Anthropomorphism in art means attributing human characteristics to non-human entities, or the other way round and usually takes the form of a blending of human qualities and characteristics with plants, animals, birds, and insects among other entities.
Brief History of Anthropomorphic Art
As previously indicated, anthropomorphic art refers to the representation of animals or objects with human characteristics or qualities, such as emotions, intelligence, or speech.
The practice of anthropomorphism can be traced back to ancient times, with examples found in cave paintings and ancient Egyptian art.
The popular Aesop's Fables, which is a collection of stories about animals with human characteristics, and credited to Aesop, a slave and storyteller, who lived in ancient Greece between 620- 564 BC also depicts a form of anthropomorphism.
In the medieval period, anthropomorphic animals were a common theme in Christian art, where they were often used to represent virtues and vices.
In the Renaissance, the concept of humanism led to a renewed interest in the natural world, and artists began to explore the human-like qualities of animals in their work.
Popular Forms of Contemporary Anthropomorphic Art
During the 19th century, anthropomorphic animals became popular in literature, particularly in children's stories such as Beatrix Potter's 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit.'
This trend continued into the 20th century, with the rise of animated films and cartoons featuring anthropomorphic animals, such as Walt Disney's 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Donald Duck.'
In recent years, anthropomorphic art has gained popularity in the furry fandom, where enthusiasts create and share artwork featuring anthropomorphic animals with a wide range of personalities and traits.
Today, anthropomorphic art continues to evolve and thrive in various forms and Estelle’s art is just one of those through which anthropomorphism exists.
Estelle Chrétien's Playful Approach to Anthropomorphic Art
Through the artistic approach that she calls gauillant, Estelle has managed to create odd-looking yet quite satisfying-to-watch art pieces in rural settings. These rural settings seem to be her favorite spots.
Her showcase, which is viewable in an open-air sort of exhibition, humorously depicts how we would interact with inanimate elements and objects such as trees, the ground, or even stones that constitute these rural settings.
Gauillant, is described as being quite like the feel of playing in muddy puddles. It involves ‘chance encounters’ with the inanimate objects that are the subjects of her artistic pieces, and adding what would generally be considered a human element to them.
Estelle’s cheeky mixed art interventions dot settings in, not just her Nancy home region, but also across other parts of Europe.
These Are Some of Estelle's Artworks
For Estelle, naturally occurring subjects are the ‘canvases’ upon which she creates her artworks.
Ficelle Agricole Bleue, for instance, depicts a huge blue reel of stitching thread fashioned from a bale of hay with a crocheted material wound around it, while Lisière is a depiction of an open house, made using the frilled edges of a carpet on a grassy field. The frills loosely dangle as the wind blows against the piece of art.
Dessous, which means ‘below’ in French, is a depiction of a tree with a double -trunk wearing oversized underpants. One such art piece, which quite looks like a pair of human legs protruding from the ground, is found on the Chauvelin Trail in the Hautes Vosges d'Alsace.
Opération Terrestre (Land Operation) is yet another of Estelle’s pieces that depict an impressive home on whose front yard a giant laceration is on the well-manicured lawn, with a thread seemingly ‘stitching’ the open gash together.
In yet another artwork called Les pieds au sec, two tree trunks appear to don giant boots creating an impression of someone taking a stroll in a forested riverine setting.
Propriété on the other hand depicts a giant key tag fashioned into a door that sits on an open grassy field away from any human activities.
Artworks That Both Delight and Surprise Audiences
With the settings in which Estelle’s artworks are found, they perhaps would seem oddly out of place. For instance, strolling along a forested trail and stumbling upon two tree trunks wearing giant boots.
In such instances, art pieces like Dessous, Propriété, or Les pieds au sec would expectedly be a surprise or a marvel to behold, especially for those not familiar with the surroundings. But for art enthusiasts, they would certainly be a delight to encounter.
How about you look out for any of Estelle’s artistic works? Who knows, you may just be lucky to bump into one in a park or open field right in your neighborhood!
All photos by Estelle Chrétien