Art Nerd City Guides: New York · Los Angeles

Michael Alm, Maker of Things

Now on view at the Washington Ensemble Theatre is one of Michael Alm‘s stunning paper sculptures titled “Re-Creation of Friedrich Specht’s Caracals Hunting 1894″.

Caracals Hunting email

I recently stopped into the theatre lobby for a chat with Alm where his naturalistic wild cat sculpture resides for the month of June.  Alm has long been interested in the great explorers of history and taxidermy, and has created a practice that involves studied research at natural history museums and hours reading antique books absorbing detailed engravings and early research into the wild animals of the exotics.

For this particular sculpture, Alm created a larger than life linx in a month and a half based on an engraving from one such antique book dating to 1894.  Using the engraved rendering of the caracal as direct inspiration, the sculpture is a 3 dimensional representation of the very image that captivated Alm.  The fascinating result is a very real looking big cat in the midst of the hunt, mid leap as it pins down a beautifully plumaged fowl.


Engravings were created to document the creatures of the exotic, and especially at this time in the late Victorian era, engravings were made to inspire compassion for animals following decades of rampant hunting, they were an attempt at cataloging the vast array of species still present but creating awareness for the need to preserve the world’s dwindling wildlife.

il_fullxfull.215708516Brehm's Tierleben

But engravings weren’t perfect, and this little peculiarity finds its subtle way into Alm’s work.  The sculpture is in a sense an amplification of some liberties taken by the engraver, angles that no real life creature could be in were painstakingly created with a studied knowledge of the anatomy, and foreshortening was intelligently turned into a sculpture that looks as if it could be real, but just somehow is not quite anatomically possible.

The result is a stunning perfectly weighted work created from cardboard, paper, and wood, with glass eyes for added realism.  Weighing in at under 10 pounds, this is a piece that feels as real as the taxidermy in a natural history museum, and could be something from the world’s finest purveyor of piñatas.  I’m eagerly looking forward to more larger-than-life creations from Michael Alm as he works his way through volumes of exotic big game.  Also on display at the theatre are the original engraving, and a 1-to-1 drawing that led to the sculpture.


For more on Michael Alm’s work, visit his website at:


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  1. […] forget that ferocious polar bear standing guard at Vermillion amongst the whale carcass or the large cat (Caracal) that had trapped a pheasant in the lobby of the Washington Ensemble […]

  2. […] featured a ferocious polar bear amongst a whale carcass and over at the theater lobby of WET a Caracal had trapped a pheasant in a scalled up 3 dimensional  interpretation of an antique […]

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