Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts
Alphabet soup: solved.

Alphabet soup uncluttered

This must be the feeling that keeps the niche porn industry afloat. What fun–and what a relief!–to see your private psychopathology transformed into beauty. We love Swiss artist Ursus Wehrli's new book The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy.

Anyone on the rigid order-lust spectrum (with mild interest in The Container Store on one end, and clinically diagnosed OCD on the other) will get sucked right into Wehrli's work. He alphabetizes his alphabet soup (above); dismantles a Christmas tree into a pile of needles, bundle of sticks, coil of tinsel, and precise rows of ornaments; and arranges laundry on a clothesline in Roy G. Biv order. Parking lots filled with cars, beaches filled with people, and other messy situations are divided into components and arranged according to Wehrli's intoxicatingly soothing rules. There's no text. Each situation includes a before shot and an after, the ordinary jumble of life made manageable within each double-page spread.

Wehrli tidies up Paul Klee's mess

Fruit reorganization

These images are funny, surprising (even the stars and planets in the night sky get organized into tidy rows), and deeply peaceful.


Wehrli tidies up Paul Klee's mess. I'm sure there's a reason why the yellow isn't between the orange and the green.

Wehrli tidies up what Paul Klee left a mess.

A better branch.

After our first reading of The Art of Clean Up, my ever-so-slightly OCD son was inspired to take apart a Lego model and arrange the pieces by size, then by color, then by color and size. Gorgeous. I was moved to gather up every disembodied Minifigure head I could find on a small tray. My not-at-all OCD son thought the book was fun; however, immediately after reading it he went down the street to play basketball, so–not to worry–The Art of Clean Up does not appear to turn an unaffected person into an obsessive-compulsive.

Ursus Wehrli's very funny TED talk on tidying up modern art is here.

The details:
The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy
by Ursus Wehrli
March 2013 by Chronicle Books $15


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