Artist’s Insane Swarm of Animal Cutouts Spring From 1,200 Recycled Books

Written by Kimberly Mok

The increasing popularity of e-readers have prompted observers to sound the death knell for paper books; yet, many of us still find an irreplaceable je ne sais quoi in our trusty tomes. Maybe it’s because we can dog-ear them to death, or find that their smells bring back some half-forgotten memory.

Italy and New York City-based artist Andrea Mastrovito finds life renewed in old books; one of his latest works, “The Island of Dr. Mastrovito II” features a horde of animal cutouts taken from recycled textbooks — butterflies, bears, cats and endless flowers.

All images © Andrea Mastrovito


Done for the Mudac gallery in Lausanne, Switzerland, the work uses thousands of handcut images sourced from over 1,200 books, according to This Is Colossal:

[Mastrovito's] starting points for this site-specific work are the two most common forms of home recreation—books and television. The title of his installation refers to H. G. Wells’ famous novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, in which the archetypal “mad” scientist experiments upon animals in order to give them human traits. In this “Island,” the artist substitutes himself for the doctor, trying to instill a new life into that which was once alive in a different way (books from paper, paper from wood, and wood from trees). Mastrovito imagines that the outside fauna take control of the abandoned house and become its proper inhabitants.



This must have taken forever; but the effect is surreal — a swarming tide straight out of the imagination and into reality — representing how story comes to life and overtakes it. (And psst! Stick with those library cards — they’re greener than e-readers.) More over at This Is Colossal and Andrea Mastrovito.

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger

All images: © Andrea Mastrovito

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Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brown8 months ago

thanks for sharing :)

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompsonabout a year ago

I love books.

Dandelion G.
Dandelion G.1 years ago

I'd say someone had a lot of time on their hands.

There are children in some Countries that never have a book to look at. I'd found some home for them. We need to look beyond our small boundaries of "world".

Vicky P.
Vicky P.1 years ago


Tania B.
Tania B.1 years ago


The other place that accept used books is the literacy center. But like us, they're buried under books! If it's like this here, I'm pretty sure other librairies are suffering the same "fate". :)

I love books, I adore them. I cried during the library destruction scene in the movie Agora. It was unsettling at first to see books get dumped. But we have limited space. As for giving books in other countries... depends of the language, depends of what they need. And, to be honest, what I've read often is not "We don't have any books!", it's more "We only have out of date books!". Even the charities often want newer books. And even them are crowded with unwanted books.

Anyway, just saying that when all options are gone, I don't see anything sad in giving those books for artists.

Tania B.
Tania B.1 years ago

Wow! It must be quite something to see this in real! I wish I could! :D Maybe that's something we could do here, in our library... :) Which brings me to the subject of recycled books.

I work in our town public library. I've also worked in its literacy center. Sometimes, yeah, we have to get rid of books. Each year, we organised a used book sale in the library hall, around the end of the school year. It's a well known fact for everyone and some teachers and others who take care of children had asked us to call them when it's time, so to have the first picks. :) They often leave with one or two boxes full of books! :D

But then the sale ends and we have choices to make. Novels often go back in the boxes because that's what people often want. But old textbooks often go to the recycled bin. If an artist had asked about used books, we would glad give him/her them some!

A lot of you said "Give them to the library!". Well, that's an idea of course. Novels, albums for kids... if they are in good shape and if we don't already have them. As for textbooks and documentaries, if they're recent, okay. But people often get rid what's out of date. So, when people have books to give, I say to them that yes, we can take them, but they won't necessary end up in our shelves. They could end up in our sale and even maybe in the recycled bin. The other place that accept used books is the literacy center. But like us, they're buried under books! If it's like this here, I'm pretty sure other

Jessica K.
Jessica K.1 years ago

Sad to see the destruction of so many texts and books, but if there truly was no other home for them, this was a very creative way to upcycle and honor them. Thanks.

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Amazing and wonderful but it's a shame cut and destroy a book.As many Care2 members alredy said,you can donate an unwanted book to a library or a school.I love books,I can't craft with them.Thanks for sharing

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon1 years ago

Those textbooks might have been discarded in his country, but they would have been welcomed in many other areas of the world where having any textbook, or any school supplies of any kind, is nothing short of a miracle. Think how welcomed these books would have been in a school where all the students share one pencil and the only "text" is what the teacher writes...on a blackboard if extremely fortunate...on with a stick in the dirt.

Considering this "work of art" simply breaks my heart.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants1 years ago

I can't see any anteaters among them, only two pangolins. :-(