Saturday, 7 April 2012

Rachel Whiteread - Ringmark (2010)

Rachel Whiteread (born 20 April 1963) is an English artist, best known for her sculptures, which typically take the form of casts. She won the  Turner Prize in 1993—the first woman to win the prize. Whiteread is one of the Young British Artists, and exhibited at the Royal Academy's Sensation exhibition in 1997. She is probably best known for Ghost, a large plaster cast of the inside of a room in a Victorian house, and for her resin sculpture for the empty plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. Many of Whiteread's works are casts of ordinary domestic objects and, in numerous cases, the space the objects do not inhabit (often termed the "negative space") — instead producing a solid cast of where the space within a container would be; particular parts of rooms, the area underneath furniture, for example. She says the casts carry "the residue of years and years of use". Whiteread mainly focuses on the line and the form for her pieces.

Drawing is a critical part of Whiteread's practice, with the artist describing it as being like "a diary" of her work. Ringmark, a specially commissioned edition to coincide with Whiteread's drawing retrospective at Tate Britain, is laser-cut from very fine plywood and is based on an ink drawing of a circular-patterned floor. It was released by Counter Editions in an edition of 400, and consists of 0.8mm laser-cut stained-black plywood mounted on Heritage Conservation board, 61 x 53 cm, signed, numbered and dated on the mount by the artist.  The original price was £450 and it is currently retailing at £750.  Number 59/400 in a cream wood frame.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

D*Face - The Cosmic Engineers

"D*Face" aka. Dean Stockton is a London based street artist, and the designer of the tattoo on my left shoulder. He grew up in London and had a childhood interest in graffiti, which he credits to Henry Chalfant's coverage of New York subway graffiti in Spraycan Art and Subway Art. Later Thrasher magazine's coverage of skateboard deck graphics led to his interest in stickers and the DIY mentality associated with skate and punk fanzines. He attended an illustration and design course and worked as a freelance illustrator/designer whilst honing his street work. He held his first major London solo exhibition, Death & Glory, at the Stolenspace gallery, which sold out in October 2006. D*Face was the owner and curator for the Outside Institute, a contemporary art gallery in London that focused on street art. In 2005 the Outside Institute moved and re branded to become the Stolenspace Gallery. In 2010, he collaborated with Christina Aguilera, on her album cover of Bionic. He has also continues to practice occasional street art, but is also making a transition to the world of fine art.

Much of his work takes well known images from pop art or other sources and defaces them. The Cosmic Engineers is a small original -  one of the first of a series based on cut up paperback books, reassembled and defaced by hand. This one featured in a show at Stolen Space Gallery in 2010.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Sam Taylor-Wood - Escape Artist (Green and Red)

Sam Taylor-Wood (born March 4, 1967) is an English film maker, photographer and conceptual artist, with close ties to some of the main figures in the Brit-Art movement. Her directorial feature film debut was the 2009 Nowhere Boy, a film based on the childhood experiences of The Beatles songwriter and singer John Lennon. There are several strands to Taylor-Wood’s work, one of which has explored notions of weight and gravity in elegiac, poised photographs and films such as Ascension (2003) and a series of self-portraits (Self Portrait Suspended I - VIII) that depict the artist floating in mid air without the aid of any visible support. Escape Artist (Green and Red) is a new print in this series produced for Counter Editions, a light jet digital c-type print on Fuji Crystal archive paper, 56.2x82 cm, signed and numbered by the artist on the reverse in an edition of 175. The introductory price of £550 is very good value for an image of this size. Retailing £850 as of April 2012.

“This photograph shows the artist suspended mid-air from brightly coloured helium balloons. "I have to hide my face in the pictures. It is a combination of hiding the grimacing pain - because I think that destroys the photograph - but it is also because I don't think you need to see my face." She said the pain was necessary as the photographs were a response to her fight against cancer. "I made them shortly after I was no longer referring to myself as an ill person," she said. "There is a definite sense of physical freedom from the constraints of illness”. Indeed, there is an air of the escape artist, of the magician, to these works. The artist does seem to be performing a miraculous act of levitation. The balloons surely aren’t enough to stop her slumped descent to the hard ground below. And so what is holding her up? Perhaps nothing less than an act of faith.“

Friday, 31 December 2010

Mike and Doug Starn - alleverythingthatisyou

20x200 is a great resource for cheap limited edition prints.  Typically one or two limited editions per week are released in a range of sizes, and there is a substantial back catalogue available.  The project has been running for several years, and the edition size and pricing model has evolved over that period.  At the start, each print had an edition of 200 small prints at $20 and an edition of 20 larger prints at $200 (hence the site name).

Nowadays, the edition sizes and prices vary; many editions still start at 20$, but some well-established artists may start with a base edition of 500 prints at $50,  going right up to 2 at $5000.  It’s well worth getting on the mailing list, as popular editions can sell out very quickly (especially at the bottom price point).

In the run up to Christmas, two snowflake prints by Mike and Doug Starn were released, part of their alleverythingthatisyou series.  The Starn twins are high profile and very successful artists, and the entry level prints were very quickly snapped (within a couple of hours).  The prints are unsigned, but each is accompanied by a numbered certificate signed by the two artists.  Certainly the cheapest way to own original art by the Starns at present, and characteristic of their work.  I will get mine framed in a single frame for display each Christmas.  

“For the Starns, the six-sided nature of snow crystals appears less important than the ways in which the flakes hover between one state and another. As they are being photographed they are in a process of alteration from solid to liquid, from organized form in space to aqueous blob on a surface, and thus suggest a transitiveness that photography, as a medium devoted to stilling the moment, would seem to contradict. Similarly, as was true of the pictures of leaf veins and tree branches, light seems not so much to shine on the snowflakes as it shines through them. Instead of appearing as specimens, in the manner of 19th century scientific observation, the snowflakes are objects of transformation.

Few of the Starns’ snowflakes are models of perfection, and in this they remind one of finding starfish and seashells scoured by the tides and left to dry on sandy beaches. Many have parts missing, or they have all their detailed armatures on one side but not the other. Here again, the Starns’ images exceed the aesthetic register of the catalog. Unlike industrial structures, or man-made devices, imperfection is an essential part of their beauty and poignancy…

Here is material evidence of the Starns' interest in the phenomenological character of the natural world, cast into being against the certitude of our own impermanence. The photographs speak of the fragile delicacy of our ever-warming world while being themselves a visual bulwark against despair, and they draw us, like moths to light, to the pleasures of sight that but for the camera would exceed the human eye."

Excerpt from Andy Grundberg’s introduction in alleverythingthatisyou (catalogue published by the Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden 2007)

Thursday, 30 December 2010

An introduction

I like art and I like books, so this blog is intended as a companion to my well-established book collecting blog, Books to Furnish a Room.  Its title was derived from one of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time Novels, my favourite series of books and where I started off as a collector.  I have always been interested in Art (visually and historically), but I began to collect only a few years ago, mainly for display and pleasure but with one eye at least on investment value.  Like many collectors, I started with limited edition prints and then gradually moved into original works and other genres.  Now, I have more than I can display at any one time, but I roatate my collection and occasionally pieces leave so that others can come in.

This will be an occasional blog, intended to provide a record of my collection and other works I am interested in.  It is mainly for my own benefit, but might be of interest to others from time to time.  Art, like literature,can bring a smile or provoke serious thought.  The technical skill of the artist mirrors that of the writer: either can portray in a realistic way or provide an impression that goes beyond the superficial created image through skillful use of the medium of choice.  I suspect my first love will always be the written word, but art will always be important in my life.