TWO-FACED FAME Celebrity in Print: 1962 - 2013
Kent Print Collection 5th Exhibition 2013
Acknowledgements: This exhibition would not have been possible without the kind generosity and support of artists, art dealers, galleries, lenders and curators. We are very grateful to: Artizan Editions, Hove; Meri Atkin at Livestock Market, St. Pancras Editions, London; Manifold Editions, London; Advanced Graphics, London; White Cube, London; Jonathan Yeo; Stella Vine; GSG; Sam Ogilvie; Gavin Turk; The Laing Foundation; Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh; Gallerie Simpson, London; Goldmark Gallery, Rutland; Paul Stolper, London; Julian Page, London; Brandler Galleries, Essex; Sims Reed, London; Professor Stephen Bann; John and Joseph Hayes; Hawkswells, Canterbury; BSP; Infinite Imagery; CKN Print of Northampton and Steve Allen. At the University of Kent, our sincere thanks are due to: John Buckingham; Creative Campus; Dr. Jonathan Friday; Rebecca Goodall; Professor Martin Hammer; Michael Healey; Mike KeelingSmith; Dr. Louise Naylor; Dr. Michael Newall; No-Wave; Dr. Grant Pooke; Katie Scoggins; Paul Sharp; Dennis Smith; The Estates Department; Dr. Sian Stevenson and Dr. Ben Thomas.
Photographic Credits The authors and publisher have made all reasonable efforts to contact copyright holders for permission, and apologise for any omissions or errors in the form of credits given.
TWO-FACED FAME Celebrity in Print: 1962 - 2013
Kent Print Collection 5th Exhibition 2013 Studio 3 Gallery, Jarman Building, Canterbury: 28 May â€“ 14 June 2013 Edited by Michael Healey Written by: Sila Aslan; Adam Ball; Molly Barrs; Anastazia Bromovsky; Lydia Burrell; Luke Carver; Isabelle Chambury; Frances Chiverton; Lynne Dickens; Steven Douglas; Luke Doyle; Bethany Gibbs; Joseph Hayes; Felicity Heath; Lauren Holmes; Laura Jones; Sebastian Jordahn; Anna LidsterWoolf; Isolde Proud; Andrew Tan Wei Aun; Rose Thompson and Christina Tsakiriou.
An essay by Dr. Ben Thomas
Blek Le Rat
John Dove and Molly White
Richard Hamilton, My Marilyn, 1965, screenprint on paper, 51.8 x 63.2 cm. ÂŠ R. Hamilton. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2013
Most Wanted, Even…
ndy Warhol: Some company recently was interested in buying my ‘aura’. They didn’t want my product. They kept saying, ‘We want your aura’. I never figured out what they wanted. But they were willing to pay a lot for it.1 What is a celebrity? A ‘human pseudo-event’ overshadowing genuine heroes? ‘The spectacular representation of a living human being’ in a society defined by spectacle where social relations are mediated by images? A readily available ‘dream that money can buy’ in the photographic brothel? Or, is a celebrity a ‘mythical concept’ where myth is understood to be a system of communication, where the material of the message has already been worked on to enhance its suitability for communication, and where the mythical concept’s fundamental property is to be appropriated?2 All of these theories about celebrity emerged from the ferment of ideas and criticism stimulated by new media in the late 1950s and 1960s. It seemed that a world was emerging where electric circuitry ensured a constant flow of information and where, as Marshall McLuhan argued, ‘our electrically-configured world has forced us to move from the habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition’.3 Celebrities, recognisable to a wide audience for their fame, wealth, beauty or notoriety, give form and focus, therefore, to the ever shifting flood of data provided by mass media. Whether their effect is to connect or alienate, their function is semiotic. Artists in the 1960s were also intensely aware of, and receptive to, changes brought about by new media; in fact, according to McLuhan, they were the only people to consciously adjust to the challenge of new technological extensions of human faculties, anticipating their impact, and imaginatively building ‘models or Noah’s arks for facing the change that is at hand’.4 Turning away from the prevailing tendency for abstraction in the post-war period, artists began working – as Robert Rauschenberg put it – in the gap between life and art. The composer John Cage described the four panels of Rauschenberg’s White Painting (1951, New York, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation) as ‘airports for the lights, shadows and particles’, and pointed to the artist’s receptivity to his
1 A. Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, first published 1975, London: Penguin, 2007, p. 77. 2 D. J. Boorstin, The Image or What Happened to the American Dream, first published 1962, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963, p. 75; G. Debord, Society of the Spectacle, first published 1967, Detroit: Black & Red, 1983, 60 [unpaginated]; M. McLuhan, Understanding Media, first published 1964, London and New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 205; R. Barthes, ‘Myth Today’ in Mythologies, first published 1957, London: Paladin, 1989, p. 117-19, and p. 129. 3 M. McLuhan, Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel, The Medium is the Massage, first published 1967, London: Penguin, 2008, p. 63. 4 McLuhan, Understanding Media, (note 2), p. 71.
surroundings symbolised by the incorporation of three functioning radios into one of his ‘combines’.5 The combine, collage, the adapted readymade, were all approaches to art that produced associative, open compositions that let contemporary life back into the art work. As Cage put it, faced with an empty canvas ‘the subject looms up’, and an integral part of the environmental information channelled by the artist is celebrity: ‘Is Gloria V. a subject or an idea? Then, tell us: How many times was she married and what do you do when she divorces you?’6 In particular, commercial printmaking techniques like screenprinting, photo-etching and colour lithography allowed photographic imagery to be assimilated to the fine art print, and consequently printmaking became more central to the practice of artists: as Lawrence Alloway said of Rauschenberg: ‘[his] prints belong in the main course of his development and are in no sense peripheral’.7 Prints, in turn, became more experimental and less bound by the rules established for ‘original prints’ by the Print Council of America in 1961 – in fact, Joe Tilson, whose own taste in celebrities was for political icons like Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh, set out to consciously break the rules of printmaking by tearing, burning, crumpling, attaching objects, and painting and drawing on his prints. The critic Leo Steinberg, in describing the major shift that he perceived had occurred in contemporary art, even drew on a term from printmaking: the flatbed picture plane. The flatbed picture plane ‘makes its symbolic allusion to hard surfaces such as tabletops, studio floors, charts, bulletin boards – any receptor surface on which objects are scattered, on which data is entered, on which information may be received, printed, impressed – whether coherently or in confusion. The pictures of the last fifteen to twenty years insist on a radically new orientation, in which the painted surface is no longer the analogue of a visual experience of nature but of operational processes’.8 Steinberg’s principal example of an artist working with the flatbed picture plane was Rauschenberg, for whom the precursor in this regard had been Marcel Duchamp. Perhaps the most ubiquitous celebrity to feature in the art of the 1960s was Marilyn Monroe, combining as she did pin-up allure with the tragedy and mystery of her death. Alloway divided the phenomenon of ‘Marilyn as Subject Matter’ into two phases:
5 Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, first published in 1968, London and New York: Marion Boyars, 2009, pp. 98-108. 6 Ibid, p. 99. 7 L. Alloway, ‘Rauschenberg’s Graphics’ in Topics In American Art since 1945, New York and London: Norton, 1975, p. 125. 8 L. Steinberg, Other Criteria, first published 1972, London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 84.
before and after her untimely death in 1962.9 In the first phase it was Marilyn Monroe as screen idol - ‘her physical and carnal image, intimate and conventionalized’ – that fascinated artists, whether she emerged unbidden as in Willem de Kooning’s 1954 painting as part of his Women series, or artfully deployed as part of an installation in the Independent Group’s This is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956. She can be found, along with Elvis Presley and James Dean, in the late 1950s collages of Ray Johnson, and in the works of the pioneers of British Pop – abstracted from a Paris Match cover by Richard Smith, incorporated into mosaics of desire by Peter Blake, or set against her French rival Brigitte Bardot in a sort of pinball game For Men Only – Starring MM and BB in 1961 by Peter Phillips. It was in the year of her death that Andy Warhol produced Gold Marilyn, the Marilyn Diptych and Marilyn’s Lips – all part of his fascination with what Hal Foster has called ‘the distressed image’.10 Marilyn also appeared in 1962 torn and frayed in the recovered posters of Mimmo Rotella, with her features to be reassembled by the viewer in Allan D’Arcangelo’s pop portrait, glossy as a commodity in James Rosenquist’s spray-painted art, and then more touchingly and respectfully in 1963 in Pauline Boty’s The Only Blonde in The World and Colour Her Gone.11 Alloway argued that the one exception to the ‘dropped level of post-1962 MM pictures’ was Richard Hamilton’s My Marilyn (1965). Hamilton had shown a previous interest in Marilyn Monroe, as he was part of the design team that included the iconic still photograph of her from Billy Wilder’s 1955 film The Seven Year Itch in the display for This is Tomorrow (where she appears quite unaware of a looming giant Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet behind her, and a similarly outsized nearby bottle of Newcastle Brown). Admiring the way that Marilyn had stood by her husband Arthur Miller, during the author’s ordeal before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956, Hamilton had even carried a life-size cut-out of Marilyn Monroe on the 1958 CND march to Aldermaston as an anti-Establishment symbol.12 The photographs that Hamilton used in My Marilyn were taken at Santa Monica beach on 13 July 1962 by George Barris - a friend of the film star who was working on a book project with her - and showed Marilyn in a bikini spontaneously playing with a large piece of seaweed. Barris’s photo session appears to capture
9 L. Alloway, ‘Marilyn as Subject Matter’, first published 1967, in Topics in American Art since 1945, New York and London: Norton, 1975, pp. 140-44. 10 H. Foster, The First Pop Age, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 109-171. 11 For these examples and more, see: M. Livingstone, Pop: A Continuing History, London: Thames and Hudson, 2000. 12 A. Wilson, Richard Hamilton: Swingeing London 67, London: Afterall Books, 2011, p. 11.
an intimate glimpse of the person behind the screen persona, with Marilyn seemingly un-posed and in high spirits shortly before her death on 5 August 1962. Marilyn’s own editing marks on the contact sheets from this session, and also from a slightly earlier photo session for Vogue with Bert Stern in late June 1962, took on the status of clues following what the coroner described as her ‘probable suicide’.13 This is, presumably, partly what motivated the posthumous publication in various magazines of the contact sheets with Marilyn’s emphatic lipstick crosses, and underlinings and ticks gouged into the surface with nail files, rejecting or approving particular shots. Hamilton saw the Barris contact sheets in the November 1962 of Town magazine, and Stern’s photographs in the autumn volume of Eros of the same year, and he commented on how Marilyn’s indications were ‘brutally and beautifully in conflict with the image’, and how the ‘aggressive obliteration of her own image has a self-destructive implication that made her death all the more poignant’. Alongside the violence with which the actress controlled her own self-image, Hamilton also detected a ‘fortuitous narcissism for the negating cross is also the childish symbol for a kiss. My Marilyn starts with her signs and elaborates the graphic possibilities these suggest’.14 Therefore, in a way consistent with Roland Barthes’s analysis of contemporary myth, the photographic material that Hamilton appropriated had already been extensively ‘worked on’: firstly by Marilyn herself, and secondly by the editors and designers of the stylish magazines Town and Eros. However, the ‘brutal and beautiful’ contrast between the photographic image of the star and her own editorial indications suggested space for a ‘mythologist’ like Hamilton to do further work. The contact sheets confront the viewer with two orders of indexicality: that of the photographic image, created by light reflected from its subject, and that of the expressive, almost scar-like marks left as surface traces by the violent gestures enacted by Marilyn on her photographs. Richard Morphet has argued that My Marilyn was the project in which Hamilton’s interest in exploring the limits of photography as a means of communication was first manifested, but this interest developed in tension with the ambiguous implications of Marilyn’s own ‘action painting’.15
13 For an account of the circumstances of Marilyn Monroe’s probably accidental death, see: D. Spoto, Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, London: Chatto & Windus, 1993, pp. 641658. 14 R. Hamilton, Collected Words, 1953-1982, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1982, p. 65. Cited also in R. Morphet, Richard Hamilton, exhibition catalogue, London: Tate, 1970, p. 57. This text originally published in Richard Hamilton, Paintings 1964-66, exhibition catalogue, New York: Galerie Alexandre Iolas, 1967. 15 Morphet, (note 14), p. 57.
Taking his cue from Barris’s four black and white 35mm contact prints, Hamilton first produced a ‘paste-up’ establishing the composition of his work (1964, Cologne, Museum Ludwig), which divides roughly into six sections in a grid pattern with the original contact sheet of four photographs occupying the middle position on the lower tier of the grid. The contact sheet appears again in the upper left corner, enlarged and cropped at the left and top of the sheet (so that Marilyn’s comment 'Good' with a tick is removed). The remaining four spaces on the ‘grid’ are then filled with enlarged versions of the four photographs, rearranged in such a way that the enlarged version of the chosen shot occupies the bottom right corner and is encircled by a curving sweep of disapproving crosses (or perhaps a halo of kisses?). By contrast the image approved by Marilyn recurs three times in a diagonal pattern from upper left to lower right, emphasised by the emphatic L-shaped framing mark with which Marilyn singled it out, together with an arrow that now has a directional as well as indicative function. The compositional process adopted by Hamilton here (quite different from his usual concern with perspective) could be said, paraphrasing McLuhan, to involve the recognition of patterns in the changing flow of information, and also to follow the associative logic of the flatbed picture plane. The ‘paste-up’ then initiated a process of systematic analysis that resulted in 1965 in a ‘painting’ consisting of oil and collage over photographs on panel (Stadt Aachen, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst) and a screenprint, printed in an edition of 75 by Chris Prater of Kelpra Studios. Hamilton produced his own trial proofs of prints using an experimental process, based on borrowed screens from Newcastle University’s textile department, before involving Prater’s expertise in stencil-cutting for the final screenprint. Throughout, the process of translation from one medium to another remains the focus of the artistic work, so that it would be misleading to say that the print was ‘after’ the unique and hand-made painting. Rather, because screenprint can incorporate photographic sources, it could be said to mediate between the collaged ‘paste-up’ and the ‘painting’, while also playing with photographic reversal, accidental textural effects, and a colour palette whose pinks, blues, and greys, together with dashes of purple and orange, seems like a knowing tribute both to De Kooning and to Stern’s photographs of Marilyn posing with a transparent orange and white scarf. Where the screenprint could be said to interrogate the photographic language of the original contact sheet – through repetition, cropping, enlargement and negative reversal – the painting develops the brutal beauty of Marilyn’s handmade marks in a series of sustained interventions that, as Morphet commented, elaborate ‘the principle of
interference with given information’ to the point where even the repeated use of images becomes unreadable.16 The approved image in the bottom right corner, for example, is totally effaced, becoming merely a blank space outlined by Marilyn’s contour and bikini lines. Hamilton’s systematic analysis of the process by which Marilyn arrived at her own approved self-image, involved switching between positive and negative photographic images, between index and icon, and – in McLuhan’s terms – between the ‘hot’ medium of photography and the ‘cold’ one of paint. The focus is therefore on the nature of communications media, and the process of translation between them, in constituting Marilyn as multiple and conventional.17 The emphasis in Hamilton’s exploration of the celebrity aura of the tragic and charismatic Marilyn is on process, and in this he differs from Warhol who preferred to work with a posed publicity shot for the film Niagara taken in 1953. For Warhol, Marilyn is a singular icon, one that can be differently inked and repeated to fade in works that blur the line between painting and screenprint, but essentially unchangeable – Warhol liked ‘exact’ repetition that rendered the image ultimately meaningless. Whether Hamilton’s Marilyn turns out to be ‘the master artist of her own powerful iconicity’, as Hal Foster has argued, or the author of her own annihilation is left more ambiguous.18 It seems fitting that Hamilton would turn later in 1965 to the project of a full-scale copy of Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even as Marilyn like The Bride remains, in spite of prolonged media analysis, an unobtainable object of desire. The fascination of her iconic aura, and the means by which her myth was established, goes a long way to explaining the enduring interest in celebrity figures shown in the work of the artists displayed in this exhibition. Ben Thomas Curator of Studio 3 Gallery
16 Morphet, p. 86. 17 McLuhan, Understanding Media, (note 2), p. 211: ‘Instead of depicting a world that matched the world we already knew, the artist turned to presenting the creative process for public participation. He has given to us now the means for becoming involved in the making-process.’ 18 H. Foster, ‘Notes on the First Pop Age’, in Hal Foster with Alex Bacon (eds), Richard Hamilton: October Files, Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2010, p. 60.
eginning with Andy Warhol as a reference point, TwoFaced Fame pushes some of his British contemporaries, such as Sir Peter Blake, Gerald Laing and Joe Tilson, whose contributions to the Pop Art movement have arguably been overlooked, into the limelight. Subsequently, our focus is on contemporary British art. By displaying work from the 1960s to the present day, Two-Faced Fame is quite unique, since there are very few similar exhibitions that have adopted this approach; many have looked at Pop Art, but not at how the theme of celebrity culture has been addressed by modern day artists. This was important, and something we wanted to explore further. Is this because there is a lack of contemporary artists who are interested in addressing celebrity culture in their work? For example, artists such as Gary Hume, Marc Quinn and Jason Brooks depict celebrities only occasionally; Hume has painted a handful of celebrities in his 20 years as an artist. Maybe today’s artists feel they have nothing new to add to the subject? Quinn’s sculpture of the supermodel Kate Moss addresses the ‘collision between Moss’s real life and image’.1 Of course, Warhol made this critique of fame in the early 1960s, with his Marilyn series, wherein he showed how the true identity of Marilyn Monroe had been consumed by the artifice of fame. Most of the prints in Two-Faced Fame arguably borrow from Warhol – some clearly, and some less so. For example, many artists are concerned with the notion of ‘anti-celebrity’. A two-fold notion, this can refer either to artists drawn to untypical celebrities (i.e. not singers or actors);2 or to artists who are offering a critical comment on celebrity culture. Other artists meanwhile have depicted dead celebrities; Warhol was the first to explore, and exploit, the human condition’s fascination with celebrities and tragedy (it is noteworthy that he himself was only drawn to Monroe once she had died). Celebrities become immortalised, almost overnight, if they die a premature, preferably horrible, death. This explains the infinite appeal of Monroe, while other tragic stars like James Dean (Russell Young), Che Guevara (Tilson), Princess Diana (Blek le Rat), Michael Jackson (Hume) and Warhol himself (Blake) can be seen in TwoFaced Fame. Gavin Turk’s Fright Wig (Red) is also relevant, and has been purposefully chosen as the cover image for this catalogue. For herein, Turk shows how fame is ‘two-faced’, in that while stars become iconic (we recognise immediately that it is Warhol, through his wig, whose face has been replaced) through mass-reproduction
and repetition, this simultaneously reduces them to clichéd commodities.3 They cease to be seen as human beings, but as cold, petrified products. All these approaches, especially the latter, can be said to allude to the vicious, destructive cycle of celebrity culture. The funereal undertones of the sub-title, ‘Celebrities in Print: from 1962 - 2013’, is intended as a sort of poignant eulogy to both celebrity culture in art, and to celebrity culture itself. Ultimately, it may be argued that Two-Faced Fame is the first, and will perhaps be the only, exhibition to look at fame in art, from Pop Art to now.
1 C. Higgins, ‘Meet Kate Moss – contorted’, The Guardian, 12 April 2006. 2 We are referring here to Warhol’s Thirteen Most Wanted Men, of 1964. A screenprint from this series is included in Two-Faced Fame.
3 In other portraits, Turk has added his face on to that of Elvis Presley, Che Guevara and Joseph Beuys respectively. The viewer knows instantly, from the quiff/the scruffy hair and cap / and the felt hat, the identities of the original subjects.
ndy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, to Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants in Pittsburgh, and studied painting and design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After a short but very successful career as a commercial artist in New York during the 1950s, Warhol made the move towards fine art and painting. By 1962, he had become a household name, thanks to his series of Campbell’s Soup Cans, innovative for both the depiction of everyday items, and how they were made – Warhol pioneered the screenprinting technique. Such work offered a stark contrast to the prevailing art movement at the time, Abstract Expressionism. Indeed, Arthur Danto believes that Warhol’s success was in part due to how he painted what his audience already knew about; unlike with the Abstract Expressionists, there was no ‘hidden secret’, but a natural bond between the artist and the viewer. He was particularly interested in celebrity and death; he began making portraits of Monroe just months after her suicide in 1962. It is around this time that Warhol also started his series of ‘death and disaster’ paintings, based on newspaper images of car accidents, poisonings and suicides. This step has been attributed to art critic Henry Geldzahler, who drew Warhol’s attention to a press headline of an aircraft crash. About these particular works, Warhol has said: ‘I guess it was the big plane crash picture, the front page of a newspaper: 129 die. I was also painting the Marilyns. I realized that everything I was doing must have been death … every time you turned on the radio they said something like ‘Four million are going to die’, that started it.’1 It is in this respect that his art can be said to engage directly with the viewer, and to perhaps exploit, the human condition; after all, it could be said that many of us have a morbid, but natural fascination with death and disaster/tragedy. That Warhol died from complications following routine surgery in 1987, is noteworthy, since he became as much a victim of fame as his previous subjects. Indeed, Warhol was always philosophical about his fame; ‘If I weren’t famous, I wouldn’t have been shot for being Andy Warhol.’2 Warhol’s series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe ‘remain some of the most celebrated pictures in Pop Art.’3 He used a publicity still from the 1953 film Niagara – when Monroe was at her peak both in terms of her beauty and in her career – and cropped it, so as to focus on her face, and repeatedly produced this image, often
1 L. Alloway, American Pop Art, New York: Collier Books, 1974, p.109. 2 A. Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975, p.78. Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanis, in 1968, and although he survived, this incident had a profound effect on Warhol, both mentally and physically. 3 P. Moorhouse, Pop Art Portraits, London: National Portrait Gallery Publications, exhibition catalogue, 2008, p. 48.
using garish colours. In Gold Marilyn Monroe, there is a sense of otherworldliness created by his use of gold leaf that is suggestive of a Byzantine icon. In the screenprint exhibited in Two-Faced Fame, Warhol has used chrome yellow (for the hair), bright blue (for the eye shadow) and blood red (for the lipstick), to show how the personal identity of Monroe had been devoured by the artifice of fame, and so the colours serve as a sort of ‘mask’ worn by Monroe. Many of Warhol’s contemporaries have also used Monroe in their works to critique the artificial and destructive nature of fame.4 Furthermore, in producing so many variations of this work, Warhol also comments on the commodification of celebrities. It should be noted that the print exhibited here is after Warhol, and unsigned. It is included primarily as a referencepoint for the viewer, so they can appreciate how contemporary artists have drawn, and continue to draw, inspiration from this portrait. For example, Banksy has transposed the face of Kate Moss over Warhol’s original, commenting perhaps on how easily interchangeable celebrities can be. Or maybe Banksy is hailing Moss as a modern day equivalent of Monroe, and so exploring the same themes as Warhol? Just as Warhol could not identify with the ‘real’ Monroe, so today there is a similar dispute between the ‘real’ Moss and her public persona. No exhibition on Pop Art and the subject of celebrity culture would be complete without this most original and celebrated Pop artist. However, unlike many curators and writers who tend to focus exclusively on American artists like Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist, in our exhibition we are celebrating British art. In particular, we want to draw attention to the contributions made by the British Pop artists of the 60s, like Sir Peter Blake, Joe Tilson and Gerald Laing.
4 I am thinking here of Allan D’Arcangelo’s painting of Monroe (1962); Richard Hamilton’s My Marilyn (1965); Claes Oldenburg’s Ghost Wardrobe for MM (1967); and The Metamorphosis of Norma Jean Baker (1967) by Robert Indiana.
We are also exhibiting an original screenprint from Warhol’s series entitled Thirteen Most Wanted Men, of 1964. In looking at wanted criminals, Warhol was one of the first artists to explore the notion of ‘anti-celebrity’ (untypical celebrities, i.e. not musicians or actors.) In this exhibition, one will see portraits of political figures and poets (Tilson); circus freaks (Blake); an array of dictators and murderers (Pure Evil); and a female pilot who fought in the Second World War (Stella Vine). Warhol’s interest in celebrity culture inspired him to found Interview, in 1969, which was devoted to interviewing the leading stars from film, fashion and popular culture. An issue of this magazine is included in Two-Faced Fame. Vol. VII, No. 12, from December 1977, features the singer Mick Jagger on the cover dressed as Father Christmas, with the model Iman and Paul von Ravenstein. It is signed by Warhol in black ink, lower left. The image was taken by Ara Gallant, and re-worked in a Warhol-like manner, by the artist Richard Bernstein.5 Lynne Dickens
5 Indeed, his work was often mistaken for Warhol’s. Born in the Bronx, 1932, Bernstein was a long-time member of the Warhol circle, and re-worked over a hundred portraits for Interview, from 1972 – 87.
Left: Andy Warhol, Interview, 1977, signed lithograph, 38 x 20 cm. Kindly on loan from Goldmark Gallery, Rutland.
Right: After Andy Warhol, Marilyn, screenprint, 91.5 x 91.5 cm. Kindly on loan from Goldmark Gallery, Rutland.
orn in London in 1928, Joe Tilson is a painter, printmaker and sculptor. After serving in the RAF between 1946-9, he studied at St. Martin’s School of Art and then at the Royal College of Art. Awarded the Rome Prize in 1955, his work is now held in important collections across the world. In 1991, Tilson was elected a Royal Academician, for his work as a printmaker. Considered one of the founding figures of British Pop Art, Tilson was engrossed in the ideas of hedonism and optimism
which were prominent during the 1960s. But by 1967 he had changed direction, because of the Vietnam War; his new subject matter was now highly political, focusing on figures such as Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and Malcolm X. In contrast to his contemporaries like Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, Tilson had managed to create a considerably different approach to the conventional understanding of ‘fame’, by representing those who were not singers or actors. Tilson has said that his ‘aim was to make things that corresponded to my feelings and thoughts – not to pre-established categories.’1 Indeed, towards the mid-1960s Tilson rebelled strongly against accepted printmaking conventions by making use of found material, and this might explain why he dedicated several prints to the political revolutionary and guerrilla leader Che Guevara. In the screenprint entitled Letter from Che Guevara (1969) Tilson appropriated found newspaper images of Guevara, and has used paperclips and string to attach letters and notes to the print. Similarly, Ho Chi Minh (1970) is another antiauthoritarian political figure depicted by Tilson with the aid of found materials. The golden light, in which Minh is seemingly portrayed by Tilson, could allude to the fact that the adopted name ‘Ho Chi Minh’ means ‘Bringer of Light’. The wooden fish and birds that are attached to the print could also be symbolic: the birds may be an allegory of Minh’s aim of reuniting Vietnam under Communist rule, since they often symbolise lightness and closeness to God. Tilson has included the original photograph of Minh which he has appropriated, at the bottom of this print. Tilson also makes use of appropriation and collage in New Coloured Fire from the Vast Strange Country (1968), which depicts the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Although not a political figure, Apollinaire was no less radical; as an art critic he championed extreme avant-garde art movements, and as a poet, incorporated words, letters and phrases into complex visual collages, known as Calligrammes. It was this innovative form of poetry which fascinated Tilson, and indeed, there are two Calligrammes in this print. Sila Aslan
1 C. Gleadell, ‘Joe Tilson; the forgotten king of British Pop Art‘, The Telegraph, 21 April, 2009.
Left: Joe Tilson, New Coloured Fire from the Vast Strange Country, 1968, screenprint with collage, 101.6 x 68.6 cm, edition of 70. Kent Print Collection (purchase made possible by the Barbara Morris Prize). © Joe Tilson. All rights reserved, DACS 2013. Left centre: Joe Tilson, Ho Chi Minh, 1970, screenprint with collage, 103.2 x 70.2 cm, edition of 70. Kindly on loan from Sims Reed, London. © Joe Tilson. All rights reserved, DACS 2013. Above: Joe Tilson, Letter from Che Guevara, 1969, screenprint with collage, 102.9 x 70.4 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Julian Page, London. © Joe Tilson. All rights reserved, DACS 2013.
Sir Peter Blake
orn in Dartford, Kent in 1932, Sir Peter Blake is one of Britain’s most important artists, who, in his own words ‘invented Pop Art, if one is being arrogant.’1 Though Andy Warhol is often seen as the pioneer of Pop, the work Blake created during his time at the Royal College of Art between 1953-6 is considered to be a sincere, unpretentious look at contemporary culture, more concerned with defining his own experience than a preoccupation with art theory. Blake was more interested in expressing engagement with Americanisation and Pop culture in the transatlantic atmosphere of the 1960s, as opposed to American Pop artists, who tended to remove themselves from popular culture and critique it from afar. In his acclaimed Self-Portrait with Badges (1961), Blake depicts himself as a fan, and it is precisely this element of affection for popular culture that has set his work apart from the ironic and critical works of his contemporaries. One of his first depictions of celebrity culture came in the form of door collages (fake doors covered with pictures of celebrities), which were akin to a teenager’s personal shrine to their favourite stars. Indeed, Blake’s fascination with stardom, as can be seen in Marilyn Monroe (Silver) (2012), is also rooted in his childhood from his trips to the cinema. The way in which the artist portrays the actress, flawless and shimmering with diamond dust, conveys the sense of awe that would have been felt seeing the star through the admiring eyes of a child. It is in this sense that Blake’s work can be seen as nostalgic and escapist. This nostalgia and awe can be seen again in M is for Marilyn (1991), wherein Blake presents images of Marilyn that span from childhood to her years as an actress. With regard to Elvis Presley, Blake has said that he is ‘a fan of the legend rather than the person.’2 By presenting Elvis as a shining, diamond dust silhouette, in Love Me Tender (2004), Blake shows how ‘in popular art the image of the person - hero or heroine, real or fictional - carries a potency beyond that of the simple portrait.’3 A similar theme is explored in Diamond Dust Warhol II (2010). Like Monroe, Kate Moss is a recurring celebrity in this exhibition, and is depicted by Blake in Kate (2010). This print is arguably reminiscent of his aforementioned ‘door collages’, and also recalls Marilyn Monroe, White No.1 (1990), wherein the same composition and wood-effect background are used, and so perhaps Blake is presenting Kate Moss as the 21st century
1 Lynn Barber, ‘Blake’s Progress’, The Observer, 17 June 2007. 2 M. Vaizey, Peter Blake, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986, p. 24. 3 M. Vaizey, 1986, Op. Cit.
equivalent of Marilyn Monroe. Moss also appears in Vintage Blake (2012), which is a reworking of his famous ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album cover he designed for the Beatles, in 1967. It includes all the current-day celebrities who he admires, including those from music, film and art. As Michael Compton has noted, ‘Blake is an artist whose work seems to spring in the most direct way from his interests and affections.’4 This sense of nostalgia and boyish fandom, and the celebration of celebrity culture, will make for a dramatic, even refreshing, contrast from most of the other prints in this exhibition. Finally, we have also included Blake’s portfolio of woodengravings entitled Side Show (1974–78), depicting various circus freaks. As with his portraits of celebrities, these circus freaks are portrayed in a dignified, uncritical manner. Indeed, they appear to be ‘natural artefacts’ – wood-engravings were used by the popular press during the Victorian period. In depicting untypical, anti-celebrities, Side Show can be compared to other works in TwoFaced Fame, such as Joe Tilson’s portraits of poets and political activists, and to Warhol’s prints of criminals. It also allows interesting thought on how some of today’s celebrities are portrayed as ‘freaks’, performing for the ‘circus’ that is today’s mass media. Adam Ball, Lauren Holmes and Christina Tsakiriou
4 M. Compton, Peter Blake, London: Tate Publishing, exhibition catalogue, 1983, p.14.
Right: Peter Blake, Marilyn Monroe (Silver), 2012, inkjet and silkscreen with diamond dust, 170 x 134.5 cm, edition of 5. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Not featured: Peter Blake, M is for Marilyn, 1991, screenprint, 77 x 103 cm, edition of 95. Kindly on loan from Brandler Galleries, Essex.
Far left: Peter Blake, Kate, 2010, silkscreen with photo collage and diamond dust, 75 x 58 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Left: Peter Blake, Vintage Blake, 2012, screenprint, 75 x 77 cm, edition of 250. Kindly on loan from Joseph Hayes. Above left: Peter Blake, Love Me Tender, 2004, screenprint with diamond dust, 75 x 57.8 cm, edition of 75. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Above: Peter Blake, Diamond Dust Warhol II, 2010, inkjet with diamond dust, 52 x 50.5 cm, edition of 75. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London.
Peter Blake, R.A. Students, undated, signed screenprint, 81 x 53.4 cm, edition of 200. Kindly on loan from Goldmark Gallery.
orn in Tenterden, Kent in 1962, Gary Hume studied at Goldsmiths alongside Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Graduating in 1988, his work was included that year in Freeze, the groundbreaking exhibition of students’ work curated by Hirst. His paintings were purchased by the art collector Charles Saatchi, and included in Brilliant!, which showcased the work of the Young British Artists (YBAs). The following year Hume was nominated for the Turner Prize, and represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2001. Hume has always said that he is a painter of emotions rather than of ideas. This seems particularly evident in his early, acclaimed series of Door Paintings, which were based on hospital doors. Hume has described these as ‘perfect paintings – a relief from the picture world I’ve created for myself.’1 They were made using household gloss paint on aluminium, and this reflective surface allowed there to be multiple viewpoints and various layers giving the works more depth, a concept which fascinated Hume. His work continues to demonstrate an attention to drawing and in particular to the importance of line. His paintings are often based on images of nature, found in magazines, which he adapts and abstracts, and paints in flat, bold colours. As such, his works are aesthetically pleasing, and so quite different from the controversial work of many of his contemporaries. Hume does not often paint portraits, and has only produced a handful depicting famous faces. He started by painting ‘flawed idols’,2 like Patsy Kensit and DJ Tony Blackburn. His portrait of the late singer Michael Jackson, which is exhibited here (a limited edition screeprint after the painting, of 2001), is arguably his most interesting, and emotive portrait. One can see immediately Hume’s distinctive economy of line and colour, as mentioned above. One is also struck by the unusual composition of this piece. The vast expanse of white serves perhaps to enforce the loneliness of Jackson’s reclusive lifestyle. The colour white also gives a cold, clinical, even sterile ambience to the piece, and links with the ashen face of Jackson. Hume could thus be referring to the plastic surgery Jackson became obsessed with, and which was one of the reasons why the media found him such a fascinating, even curious individual. Certainly, the composition is not dissimilar to those of the hospital doors Hume painted in his early years. The work, then, is arguably about the time Jackson spent in and out of hospital, what with his surgeries and his drug addiction, and the ill health which resulted from both. Dominic Murphy adds that
1 G. Hume, as quoted in the press release of his solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, in 2008. 2 G. Hume, as quoted in D. Murphy, ‘Little Promises’, The Guardian, 7 September 2002.
‘the unflattering doodle for a nose’3 emphasises Jackson’s fixation with plastic surgery. However, Hume has said that 'I tried to be as sympathetic as I could. I wasn’t in any sense trying to ridicule him.'4 He adds that he found Michael Jackson ‘a totally peculiar man’,5 and this portrait certainly conveys him as such. In addition, it assumes greater poignancy, since Jackson’s death in 2009. Molly Barrs
3 D. Murphy, Ibid. 4 G. Hume, Ibid. 5 G. Hume, Ibid.
Gary Hume, Michael, 2002, screenprint, 152.5 x 76 cm, edition of 80. Kindly on loan from White Cube, London.
orn in 1967 in Guildford, Surrey, Gavin Turk studied at the Chelsea School of Art from 1986-9 and then at the Royal College of Art from 1989-91. It was during his final year at the latter that Turk first gained a level of notoriety, for a work he presented at his MA degree show, which was simply a blue English Heritage plaque that read: ‘Borough of Kensington, Gavin Turk, Sculptor, Worked Here, 1989-1991.’ This daring gesture caught the attention of Charles Saatchi, who subsequently thrust Turk into the spotlight as part of the Young British Artists (YBAs). Turk often makes use of appropriation, to challenge notions of authorship, authenticity and identity. His engagement with the
modernist, avant-garde debate of the ‘myth’ of the artist and the questioning of authorship dates back to the ‘ready-mades’ of the Dadaist, Marcel Duchamp. Turk has made a number of works consisting purely of his own signature, to make a playful comment on the value the artist’s name places on an artwork, an example of which can be seen here, in Your Authorised Reflection (2009). Turk has also presented bin bags, cardboard boxes and sleeping bags that appear as straightforward ‘ready-mades’, but which are in fact made of painted bronze. This is an obvious nod to Duchamp’s Why Not Sneeze Rose Selavy? (1921), wherein the ‘sugar cubes’ are actually individually sculpted marble cubes. Also included in Two-Faced Fame are prints such as Triple Pop (2009), a variant after Turk’s waxwork sculpture Pop (1993), ‘which shows the artist as Sid Vicious in the pose of Andy Warhol’s Elvis Presley, which imagined the be-quiffed star as a gunslinging cowboy – the original king of Pop as celebrated by the original ‘king’ of Pop Art.’1 Triple Pop makes two very distinctive statements; first and foremost, about the nature of celebrity and the inherent self-destructive outcomes of the star system, which has the young and damaged as martyrs. Both Sid Vicious and Elvis Presley met untimely, tragic ends, having been glorified and then spat out by the same system. Turk is suggesting that self-destruction is a necessary requirement for stardom, and in particular, immortality – this is certainly a sub-theme of this exhibition. Secondly, Triple Pop offers a devious comment on the commodification of culture, which is also explored in Red Che, Fright Wig (Red), and Jackie Blue Elvis with Diamonds. In these works, Turk transposes his own face over that of Che Guevara, Andy Warhol and Elvis respectively. In so doing, these works comment on how instantly recognizable these celebrities are (we know whose face has been concealed immediately), and how icons become ingrained in our memory. But while this repetition makes them instantly recognisable, it can also undermine their aura. Indeed, they can become mere clichés, and so Turk is offering ‘a wry take on the commodification of culture, in which rebels and heroes, artists, art works and icons are reduced to products.’2 Luke Doyle and Andrew Tan Wei Aun
1 As quoted from the summary accompanying an image of Triple Pop, on Gavin Turk’s website, www.gavinturk.com. 2 Ibid – www.gavinturk.com.
Left: Gavin Turk, Jackie Blue Elvis with Diamonds, 2004, silkscreen with diamond dust, 100 x 70 cm, edition of 40. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Above left: Gavin Turk, Fright Wig (Red), 2011, silkscreen, 34 x 31 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Above centre: Gavin Turk, Fright Wig (Green), 2011, silkscreen, 34 x 31 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Above right: Gavin Turk, Fright Wig (Purple), 2011, silkscreen, 34 x 31 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Left centre: Gavin Turk, Your Authorised Reflection, 2009, silkscreen on glass, 60 x 45 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London.
Left: Gavin Turk, Triple Pop, 2009, screenprint, 107 x 83 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Julian Page, London.
Above: Gavin Turk, Red Che, 2009, screenprint on glass, 100 x 70 cm, edition of 10. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London.
ussell Young was born in 1959 in Northern England, and studied photography at Exeter Art College. After a commission to produce an album cover for the singer George Michael, Young went on to become a prolific celebrity photographer, whose sitters included Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Young recently turned his attention to producing fine art silkscreenprints, for which he has won much acclaim. His first solo show, held in Los Angeles, 2003, consisted of a series of works entitled ‘Pig Portraits’. According to the artist, these
were about 'glamour in the dark side of crime, fame, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll'.1 Indeed, he has said ‘the idea to create ‘anti-celebrity’ portraits was probably a reaction to my former career. However, they turned out to be even more beautiful and iconic.’2 In 2007, he started using diamond dust, because he liked the contrast between the glamour of the diamond dust and the disturbing image he had chosen to use, with Elvis Presley with a Pistol being a particularly apt example. He stated: ‘We are seduced and want to love it but the subject matter makes us repel it, like oil and water.’3 In relation to the Elvis Presley print, seeing such a celebrity with a gun is shocking, yet the diamond dust gives the print an air of attraction, a sort of sinister beauty. These works may be seen as commenting on the nature of fame, and that the lifestyles are not always as glamorous as they seem. Andy Warhol made a similar comment on how the true identity of Marilyn Monroe had been destroyed by fame, with his screenprints of 1962. In the print exhibited here, Young has depicted the American film star James Dean. The use of the colour red is perhaps significant, referring to the brutal nature of his death in a car crash, when aged just 24. Indeed, the American Pop artist Ray Johnson referred to Dean’s death via the use of the colour red, in his 1957 portrait. This interest in celebrities who die young is arguably a part of the human condition, whereby we have a morbid but natural interest in death and tragedy, especially when it concerns the rich and famous. Young has made portraits of other tragic stars like Monroe, Elvis, Kurt Cobain and Sid Vicious. Other artists in this exhibition also depict tragic stars, such as Warhol (Monroe), Joe Tilson (Che Guevara) and Blek Le Rat (Princess Diana). Anastazia Bromovsky and Felicity Heath
1 As quoted from a short biography of Young, from Hang-Up Contemporary, an art dealership in London. It can be seen here: <http:www.hangupcontemporary.com/ russellyoung/>. 2 Ibid. 3 R. Young, from an online video interview of 2012, conducted by Creative Mapping, which can be seen on www.youtube.com; <http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=LiPrzztvK4A>.
Russell Young, James Dean (Red), 2007, screenprint, 37.5 x 29 cm, edition of 50. Kindly on loan from Sims Reed, London.
onathan Yeo was born in London in 1970. Self-taught, he is regarded as one of Britain’s most renowned portraitists, having painted the likes of Tony Blair, Dennis Hopper and Nicole Kidman, to name but a few. Although perhaps best known for his portrait paintings, Yeo’s oeuvre also contains a number of photocollages, made using cuttings from pornographic magazines, the most infamous of which is arguably Bush (2007). This piece was produced in reaction to a cancelled commission for a portrait painting of then President of America, George W. Bush. Yeo has made similar portraits of celebrities in this manner, such as Paris Hilton and Tiger Woods, all of which were first exhibited in his solo show Blue Period, of 2008. At first, Bush may appear as an amusing and playful reaction to the cancelled commission. Indeed, according to Kriston Capps, it is a ‘juvenile protest and caricature.’1 However, the piece arguably provides a nuanced critique of what Yeo describes as the ‘creeping pornographication of the mass media.’2 Previous artists have also focused on the sexualisation of consumer and media
1 K. Capps, ‘Portrait of the President as a Skin Mag’, The American Prospect, September 2007. 2 J. Yeo, as quoted in P. Barkham, ‘Jonathan Yeo gets under the skin’, The Guardian, 5 December 2011.
culture; ‘sex is everywhere’,3 the British Pop artist Richard Hamilton once observed. In an interview with News Week, Yeo stated that rather than being personal attacks, his pornographic collages are intended to comment on the mass media manipulated image of the subject. On commenting on the celebrities he had chosen to depict, Yeo has said they were ‘people who’ve traded on their sexuality or their questionable morality’, adding, ‘I don’t know the truth about these people – I’m just basing it purely on their media image.’4 As is common within the work of Pop artists such as Hamilton and Warhol, Yeo partially employs what Hal Foster refers to as an ‘irony of affirmation’5 by appropriating and recontextualizing a familiar mass media image into a work of art. By doing this, Yeo essentially holds up the ‘metaphorical mirror’ to society so that we can contemplate these images outside of their usual setting, in the art gallery space – a place which invites critical reflection and contemplation. Further parallels can be drawn between Yeo and Hamilton, in the way he seeks to ‘ironize the fetishistic logic’6 of the mass media image. Foster explains how Hamilton’s work ‘demonstrates a conflation of the sexual fetish with the commodity fetish, since the two bodies exchange properties, even parts.’7 In the same way, Yeo’s images arguably demonstrate an amalgamation of the sexual and mass media fetish to provide a powerful comment on our scopophillic treatment of the media and celebrity images. Luke Carver
3 R. Hamilton, as quoted in L. Alloway, ‘Artists as Consumers’, Image, No. 3, 1961, p. 14 4 This interview, which aired in 2010, can be viewed via Yeo’s website: <http://www. jonathanyeo.com/Links.asp>. 5 H. Foster, The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011, p. 25. 6 H. Foster, 2011, p. 25. 7 H. Foster, 2011, Op. Cit.
Jonathan Yeo, Bush, 2007, screenprint, 69.5 x 86.5 cm, edition of 150. Kindly on loan from Jonathan Yeo.
orn in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1936, Gerald Laing originally trained at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, becoming a young officer in his father’s regiment in 1955. However, soon afterwards, he decided to resign and enrol at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Laing was primarily interested in the relationship between photography and painting, and it was in this respect, that he pre-empted the work of Pop artists
Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. His approach was to paint the photographs he found in newspapers, with a careful attention to recreating the spacing and varying sizes of the black dots, of which the image consisted. His first portrait was of Brigitte Bardot, and this remains one of his most famous works. At a time of political and social unrest, painting celebrity culture offered hope and escapism; ‘By painting the new icons that surrounded us - icons which seemed to promise a perfect world – I felt as if I saw past the present and into the future.’1 It was this that set the early British Pop artists apart from their American contemporaries, who were far more critical and ironic. Indeed, Laing visited America during his third year at St Martin’s, and met Warhol and Lichtenstein, before they achieved fame and fortune, and then worked as a studio assistant for Robert Indiana. When returning to England, he left most of the paintings he had made, many based on images of the American space race at the time, in Indiana’s loft. They were later spotted by art dealer Richard Feignam, who offered to represent Laing at his gallery in New York, alongside other British Pop artists like Allen Jones and Peter Philips. As a result, Laing soon became a sought-after artist, exhibiting at the San Paolo Biennale in 1966 and selling work to the Whitney Museum of American Art. By 1969 he had grown tired of New York, and decided to move to Scotland, during which time he concentrated on making sculptural work. It was only in 2003, when seeing the images showing the torture of prisoners at the hands of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, that Laing returned to appropriating newspaper images for his art. In contrast to the ‘Utopian paintings’ he made in the 60s, depicting celebrities like Bardot and Jean Harlow (a print of which we have in Two-Faced Fame),2 these were very made ‘to shame the perpetrators of the war crimes at Abu Ghraib and those of the war itself.’3 Indeed, his recent images of celebrity culture are also very different to the uncritical early works. In particular, Laing has taken a keen interest in Amy Winehouse; ‘my work is concerned with the myth and portrays her as she appeared to us, the public, via the media.’4 Laing explores the media’s obsession with the late singer’s dysfunctional, destructive lifestyle, by showing her kissing her hand-cuffed, then-husband before he is led away to
1 2 3 4
G. Laing, as quoted in G. Laing, ‘Brief Biography’, 2006, www.geraldlaing.com The screenprint, made in 2011, is after the original painting of 1964. G. Laing, 2006. G. Laing, Ibid.
Gerald Laing, Jean Harlow, 2012, screenprint, 86 x 121 cm, edition of 200. Kindly on loan from St. Pancras Editions, London.
prison, and in another, her reaching for a bottle of champagne. The titles of these works are important; 'Gethsemane' was the garden in Jerusalem where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before he was arrested, and 'Belshazzarâ€™s Feast' is another biblical story that also foresees a death. In a largely secular society, Laing offers an ironic comment perhaps on our piteous modern-day heroes in the former, and offers a chilling foresight in Belshazzarâ€™s Feast, as it was made before Winehouse died of alcoholism. Similarly, in Kate Moss (2007), Laing shows how Moss has been reduced by the media to nothing more than a sexualised product. Laing died in 2011. Lydia Burrell
Left: Gerald Laing, Belshazzarâ€™s Feast, 2010, screenprint, 85.5 x 122 cm, edition of 90. Kindly on loan from Artizan Editions, Hove. Left centre: Gerald Laing, Gethsemane, 2008, screenprint, 96.5 x 71 cm, edition of 90. Kindly on loan from Artizan Editions, Hove. Above: Gerald Laing, Kate Moss, 2007, screenprint, 65.5 x 98.5 cm, edition of 90. Kindly on loan from Artizan Editions, Hove.
tella Vine was born in Northumberland in 1969. She is a predominantly self-taught artist, who has led an interesting life. At 13 she left home; at 14 she left school; and at 16 she fell pregnant. In between home-educating her son she attended classes at the Hampstead School of Art. She spent the next few years working various jobs, including as a stripper. In 2003, Vine began running her own non-commercial art and performance space in London, and rose to fame in the following year, when her work was bought by Charles Saatchi. After many successful shows across the globe, including a solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, Vine has now decided to stop exhibiting in galleries and instead concentrate on curating her own shows, in a bid to gain a greater sense of freedom.
Vine’s paintings are often of well-known celebrities including Kate Moss, Princess Diana and Amy Winehouse. Vibrant and colourful, her work is painted in a rather clumsy, childlike style, with exaggerated focus on the shapes and features of the subject’s face. This style of painting has naturally proved unpopular with some art critics, and Vine’s subject matter has also roused debate. In the New Blood exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, for example, a vast amount of controversy surrounded Vine’s portrait of Rachel Whitear, a student who had died from a drug overdose in 2000. The parents of the deceased girl appealed to Saatchi to remove the image from the exhibition, but were ignored. This work raises interesting thoughts about how individuals can be thrust into the celebrity limelight almost overnight, and without their consent. Similarly, we are exhibiting here a giclee print of Vine’s painting of Maureen Dunlop. Maureen Dunlop was an Argentineanborn British wartime pilot. She rose to fame when a photo, taken of her climbing out of an aircraft, was featured on the front-page of Picture Post in 1942. With this photo, capturing her beautiful smile and with a graceful hand-in-hair pose, Dunlop instantly became a ‘pin-up’ girl. Therefore, this is an example of a woman who rose to fame completely unwittingly, which contrasts with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities in the exhibition. Interestingly, Dunlop did not pursue her newfound celebrity status, and indeed it seems she was indifferent to fame; after the war she returned to Argentina to work as a commercial airline pilot, before retiring to Norfolk to live a quiet life breeding horses. Fame, then, can sometimes be wholly unwanted, and this can be seen not only with Whitear and Dunlop but even with the artist herself, who is quite a shy individual. Indeed, she too was pushed into the limelight almost as quickly as Dunlop, thanks to Saatchi and soon became depressed by the negative publicity, and started taking drugs.1 The print of Maureen Dunlop is thus refreshing within the collection of artworks exhibited in Two-Faced Fame; not only have we included a work by a female artist in an otherwise male-dominated exhibition, but is it an interesting counter to the images of ‘typical’ celebrities that we see. In this work, Vine has given us the ability to challenge our notions of celebrity, and what it means to be famous. Laura Jones
1 The reader can find an interesting discussion on this, in L. Barber, ‘The Interview: Stella Vine’, The Guardian, 8 July 2007.
Stella Vine, Flight Officer Maureen Dunlop, 2008, giclee, 79 x 88 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Stella Vine.
Blek Le Rat
avier Prou, better known as Blek le Rat, was born in Paris in 1952, and studied architecture and etching at the renowned Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. Prou was initially drawn to graffiti art when he saw stylized letters sprayed onto the sides of trains in New York City, in 1971. He became known as Blek Le Rat in the 1980s. Drawing inspiration from the infamous ‘Kilroy was here’ graffiti found in numerous locations where soldiers had travelled during the Second World War, ‘Blek’ used the image of a rat to create the same sense of omnipresence and mystery. The genesis of the rat motif derived from Prou’s belief that the rat is ‘the only free animal in the city ... which spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art.’ 1 Indeed, Blek was interested in highlighting the plight of the marginalised (especially the homeless), and so he is likening
1 J. Reiss, Blek le Rat, Swindle Magazine, Issue 11, 2009.
his artwork to an epidemic, which challenges and disrupts the established conventions of authority. Blek placed a particular emphasis on the use of stencils in his work, in a conscious effort to move away from the aesthetic of the American graffiti artists.2 Indeed, although not a household name, his influence has been vast; ‘before Banksy, there was Blek le Rat. If he doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because instead of tagging his own moniker, the ‘Father of Stencil Graffiti’ introduced a new style of street art to the world.’3 In so doing, Blek was the first street artist to introduce images into a previously letter-based art form. The artist has commented: ‘I can’t imagine representing anything else other than people with my art. It is mostly a social worry that I feel and certainly a commentary of my social environment.’4 Indeed, another notable characteristic of Blek’s work is his propagandist stance, one, which may have been inspired by a childhood memory while on holiday in Italy, when seeing the face of Mussolini pasted on walls.5 Just as the artist operates above the law, so the works he illicitly paints throughout cities around the world often contain a socio-political message, notably as his work in Berlin, where an image of an armed guard has been emblazoned on the site of Checkpoint Charlie, to question the supposed peace between East and West Germany. Diana and Angel expresses a cynicism rife throughout Blek le Rat’s work, and one that is typical of street art. This monochromatic screenprint (after the original stencil) shows the recognisable figure of Lady Diana interacting with a classicist angel. Herein, Blek illustrates the popular public feeling that Diana Princess of Wales was tantamount to an angel. Blek juxtaposes the two figures to present a satirical comment on the elevation of an individual via the media. Just as Diana can never attain these absurd heights of adoration, so Warhol has commented on how fame can consume, and even obliterate personal identity, as he showed with his garish screenprints of Monroe. Joseph Hayes and Isabelle Chambury
2 C. Lewisohn, Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, London: Tate Publishing, 2008, p. 70. 3 S. Gilewicz,‘The Insider: Blek Le Rat’, Nylon Magazine, 2008. 4 B. Le Rat, as quoted in ‘Blek Le Rat interview’, www.ukstreetart.co.uk, 2008, <http://www. ukstreetart.co.uk/blek-le-rat-interview/>. 5 M. Battersby, ‘Blek le Rat: Streetwriting man’, The Independent, 25 April 2012.
Blek Le Rat, Diana and Angel, 2008, screenprint, 96 x 87 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Goldmark Gallery, Rutland.
lan Kitching was born in 1940 in County Durham. He works as a typographer, teacher and letterpress printmaker. Renowned for his designs for advertising and publishing, his work has featured on postage stamps, billboards, and magazine and book covers. He established The Typography Workshop in Clerkenwell in 1989, and taught at the Royal College of Art from 1991 to 2006. He has recently turned his attention to making limited edition fine art prints. These are created with the use of a letterpress. Invented in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg, this process involves composing and locking movable type into the bed of a press, and applying ink and pressing paper against it to form an impression. It remained the most common form of printing text until the 19th century. Derek Birdsall has commented on how Kitching ‘fashions new forms, brilliant and fresh, as if printing were invented yesterday. His work invests intelligent text with clarity, dignity and economy. It is as if letterpress had been invented for him.’1
1 D. Birdsall, as quoted in ‘Typography: Alan Kitching at St Bride Library’, 2007, www. stbride.org
Frida Diego (2008) refers to the Mexican artists and husbandand-wife Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Through the letters, which merge together, overlapping; the linear-style typography; and the vivid, charged colours, this work has a clear sense of movement and intensity, and arguably refers to the couple’s complicated, volatile relationship. Beckett – More Pricks Than Kicks (2006) takes its title and content from Samuel Beckett’s book of prose of the same name, published in 1934. It follows the life of Belacqua Shuah, a character inspired by Dante’s Inferno and ends with his funeral. The underlying blackness to Beckett’s literature seems evident in Kitching’s subdued palette. The darkness of both Beckett’s writing and Kitching’s work is counteracted by the humorous text. Kitching’s selection of Beckett gibberish is scrawled across the paper in a disorderly way. He has included streaks of colour which obscure the text, creating an erratic, intense energy. In this work, Kitching recreates Beckett’s dark humour, personality and mood through the careful selection of colour, words and placement. In Homage to Hendrix (2008) the shadowy shapes forming the guitar are enlivened by the use of poems dictating the tuning of guitar strings, in place of the actual strings. These poems and the use of cool, slick primary red and blue arguably create a slightly adolescent atmosphere, perhaps referencing the stereotype of the teenage obsession with idols. It is interesting that all the celebrities referenced in the above works, are arguably innovative individuals unafraid of experimenting with new styles, and so have cult followings. For example, Kahlo, in continuing to paint despite suffering from both physical and psychological injuries, became something of a cult figure, as did Hendrix, with his wildly experimental musicianship, and raucous rock n’ roll lifestyle. Samuel Beckett’s work was similarly exploratory; he is considered by some as one of the last modernist writers, and by others as one of the first postmodernists. This may be what has drawn Kitching to these artists. Indeed, experimentation has been an important element to his own ethos; in 1964, he co-founded the experimental printing workshop at Watford College of Technology. Ultimately, then, by using letters, rather than images, and promoting this notion of ‘cult’, as opposed to that of ‘celebrity’, Kitching’s prints offer an interesting counter to other works in Two-Faced Fame. Isolde Proud
Left: Alan Kitching, Beckett â€“ More Pricks than Kicks, 2006, letterpress, 63.5 x 91.5 cm, edition of 8. Kindly on loan from Advanced Graphics, London. Left centre: Alan Kitching, Frida Diego, 2008, letterpress, 87 x 61 cm, edition of 14. Kindly on loan from Advanced Graphics, London. Above: Alan Kitching, Homage to Hendrix, 2008, letterpress, 70 x 50 cm, edition of 14. Kindly on loan from Advanced Graphics, London.
harles Uzzell Edwards aka Pure Evil was born in South Wales in 1968. A man of many talents, he has worked as a designer for a clothing company; been involved in the electronic music scene in San Francisco; and has worked as a recording artist for an ambient record label in Frankfurt, Germany. Since 2007 he has run The Pure Evil Gallery in Shoreditch, London. He often participates in workshops and lectures, which address the subject of ‘street art’. He has had solo exhibitions throughout the world, such as at The Scarlett Gallery Stockholm, and the Corey Helford Gallery, California. Pure Evil is fascinated by the darker side of life; his work often examines the psychological as well as the physical division between good and evil. He has discussed his interest in this subject thus; 'think I am obsessed with evil, I think I see it as a force in the world and having grown up as catholic, you know, Catholicism is all about good and evil. [...]Pieces that I’ve done have talked
about dictators and serial killers and I tried to sort of incorporate them into a part of the work. We are supposed to have been able to remember things that have happened in the past so we don’t repeat them in the future. But they get repeated.'1 He is also deeply interested in the complex and capricious nature of the Utopian Dream. This is very evident in the giclee print seen in this exhibition. In the work Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Bastards (2007) Pure Evil has taken the iconic album cover Peter Blake designed in 1967 for the Beatles, and has turned it around to represent the opposite to that which was originally intended. For example, the original design depicted an eclectic array of individuals who the Beatles revered, such as Edgar Alan Poe, Bob Dylan and the Hindu Guru Sri Yukteswar Giri. By such an instantly recognisable image, we are lulled into a pleasant and nostalgic comfort zone. On closer examination, however, we begin to recognise that the famous faces have been replaced by those of dictators, mass murderers, controversial politicians and even the fictional Count Dracula. Pure Evil has stated that this work was a product of his frustration at the time; he has described it as ‘a dream team of the worst dictators, despots and serial killers I could find.’2 It is a great opportunity to be able to view this work alongside Blake’s Vintage Blake (2012), an updated version of his first design, wherein the artist chooses to depict the celebrities that have inspired him. Pure Evil’s work reminds us of the fame, or more precisely, the infamy, which can be attained by individuals through acts of crime and violence. Warhol was the first artist to explore infamy in his artwork, with his series of wanted criminals. In so doing, artists like Warhol and Pure Evil, are arguably showing the irony of modern society’s attitude to fame, and the power which the media has over how we view the familiar faces of the influential, whether good or bad. Isolde Proud
1 Pure Evil, as quoted in ‘Street Art Interview with Pure Evil’, BBC Blast, 27 November, 2008. The interested reader can watch this video interview at http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=VhPzzKmD1x8. 2 Pure Evil, BBC Blast interview, 2008.
Pure Evil, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Bastards, 2007, giclee, 69 x 54.7 cm, edition of 300. Kindly on loan from Brandler Galleries, Essex.
anksy (born 1974) is an English graffiti artist from Bristol, renowned for his sardonic style of street art, which appears in various destinations throughout the UK and around the world. He began as a freehand artist in 1990, and participated in the Bristol underground scene. When hiding from policemen underneath a lorry, Banksy noticed the stencilled serial number, and it was then that he changed his graffiti medium to stencilling. He originally stencilled directly onto walls, surreptitiously and illegally, though his work is now reproduced as paintings and as limited edition prints. His images are usually humorous, but can also contain political messages, such as being against war or capitalism, for example. He continues to keep his identity anonymous despite consistent coverage in the media. Indeed, he has somehow managed to turn the art world upside down, from
once ‘bombing’ walls in Bristol in the 90s, to today commanding millions of pounds in both Britain and America. Banksy’s Kate Moss record sleeve is appropriated from Warhol’s famous screenprint of Marilyn Monroe. Banksy has transposed the iconic face of Kate Moss, over that of Monroe, and issued it as a limited edition screenprint. It has now been used without permission by the band Dirty Funker for the cover of their single, entitled ‘Let’s Get Dirty’. In one sense, this is interesting, as Banksy has himself appropriated existing images/artworks without permission. By transposing the face of Moss over that of Warhol’s Marilyn, and by using the same garish colours, Banksy is perhaps showing how easily interchangeable celebrities can be. Or, one might argue that this is this merely a witty subversion of a wellknown image, with no deeper meaning on, or critique of, fame.1 Indeed, arguably his most famous subversions of popular images is that of John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson, from Pulp Fiction, wherein their guns are replaced by bananas. Some commentators have seen this as simply raising a laugh, and nothing more; “What did it mean? Something to do with the glamourisation of violence, yeah? Never mind. It looked cool.”2 Ultimately, Banksy is an enigmatic artist who divides opinion. His seemingly contradictory attitudes to fame and celebrity culture arguably enforce this mystery about him; some will see him as simply selling-out, by reproducing his stencils as paintings and prints, many of which are bought by celebrities.3 Others might see this as a typically playful, ingenious act. Anna Lidster-Woolf
1 Given that Warhol, in the original Monroe print, was showing how the personal identity of Monroe had been lost to the artificial nature of fame, perhaps Banksy is saying the same thing has happened to Moss; her ‘real’ self has been lost to an unrealistic, illusory persona, created by both the media and celebrity culture. 2 C. Brooker, ‘Supposing…Subversive genius Banksy is actually rubbish’, The Guardian, 22 September 2006. 3 Banksy began by stencilling onto walls, so that his work could not be commodified. And yet now, he has reproduced these stencils as paintings, many of which are owned, as limited edition screenprints, by an array of world-famous singers, sportsmen and actors including Christina Aguilera, David Beckham and Brad Pitt. Although some artists thrive for fame, Banksy has achieved this anonymously and is perhaps more famous than artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, who are just as noted as media personalities, if not more so, than their work.
Banksy, Kate Moss record sleeve, after the original screenprint of 2005, 30.5 x 31 cm. Kindly on loan from Brandler Galleries, Essex.
*Face (real name Dean Stockton) was born in 1978 and grew up in London. From an early age he showed an interest in graffiti, which D*Face accredits to Henry Chalfant, whose photographs of New York subway art were a great influence on his work.1 D*Face’s overall aim is to force his audience to really look at what surrounds them. Using the term ‘aPOPcalyptic’ to define his work, D*Face therefore tries to comment on our corruptive, commercial and consumerist society. Arguably one of D*Face’s most famous pieces is his recent ‘collaboration’ with Queen Elizabeth II, on a series of banknotes. In the 1970s, the political artist Cildo Meireles introduced worthless, altered American banknotes back into circulation in order to make
1 These photographs appeared in his book, Spraycan Art (1987), for example.
an anti-capitalist statement. Perhaps in response to this, D*Face’s banknotes replaced the Queen’s head with a human skull, and were put back into circulation. The implication that the public would not notice, denotes D*Face’s views on how as a society, we mindlessly absorb all information that is fed to us by the media. In the print exhibited here, an appropriation of Warhol’s Marilyn, Monroe has been ‘D*Face’d’. Of course, Warhol had already hinted at the shallow nature of celebrity culture in this work. But D*Face has gone one step further; in depicting Monroe with a halfskull, and with a severed head, he attempts to show, and critique, our hollow society, which is dominated by a bizarre fascination with celebrity culture. To enforce this connection with death and destruction, D*Face has added angel wings for ears, which is a recurring motif in his work.2 Interestingly, despite his apparent dislike of celebrity culture, D*Face created the artwork for Christina Aguilera’s 2010 album, entitled Bionic. Although he seems to be critiquing the nature of fame in many of his works such as in Marilyn Monroe, here he has arguably contradicted himself by undertaking a commission for one of the most famous singers of the 21st century. In this piece Aguilera is represented positively as a 'sexbot',3 a persona with which she experimented on this album. This provokes an interesting debate regarding D*Face’s attitude to fame. For, if he held these values, as expressed in the portrait of Monroe, then surely he would not have accepted this commission? Banksy, another artist featured in this exhibition, supposedly holds many of the same values as D*Face, but now exhibits in museums worldwide and his work is owned by many celebrities including David Beckham and Tom Cruise. Thus, not only can one argue that these two artists have ‘sold out’, but beyond this, they may be said to perfectly encapsulate our bizarre fascination with fame, whereby they are being drawn into this culture themselves, despite trying to highlight, and criticise it in their work. Bethany Gibbs
2 D*Face also adds angel wings to portraits of the Queen, Michael Jackson, and John Lennon. In the latter, half of Lennon’s face is depicted as a skull human skull. 3 J. Pareles, ‘New CDs’, The New York Times, 6 June 2010.
D*Face, Poptart, screenprint, 2007, 74 x 76 cm, edition of 125. Kindly on loan from Goldmark Gallery, Rutland.
orn in Rotherham in 1968, Jason Brooks studied at Cheltenham College of Art and then at Chelsea College of Art. He was selected for the John Moores 20 in 1997, along with Gary Hume and Callum Innes, and in 1999, won the NatWest Art Prize. His reputation has since been cemented by the fact that the National Portrait Gallery, Walker Art Gallery, and the Saatchi Gallery have exhibited, and purchased, examples of his work. Brooks is associated with Hyperrealism, a genre of painting that resembles high-resolution photographs. For Brooks, it is important to create a ‘pornographic gaze, a forensic detail’1 which can be seen throughout his work, notably in his portrait of the tattoo artist Zoe Windle, which was shown at the National Portrait Gallery in 2008. It is the flaws and the marks contained within a person’s make-up that interests Brooks, and in this respect his work is comparable to Gary Hume’s portrait of Michael Jackson, wherein there is arguably an emphasis on the detrimental effects of plastic surgery. In addition, Brooks’ portraits of Windle and Sir
J. Brooks, as quoted in A. Stephens, ‘Photographs? Look carefully – they’re paintings’, London Evening Standard, 23 May 2008.
Paul Nurse reflect a fascination with mortality; Sir Paul Nurse was a cancer research specialist, and Windle endures pain for her artistic endeavours. Brooks himself is conscious of the mortality of the subject and of his own creative process: ‘my work is ephemeral and that related to photography, the funeral aspect of photography, capturing that frozen moment.’2 There is an obvious Memento Mori dimension of photography, which is further perpetuated within Brooks’s work, the capturing of a single moment frozen in time, which he painstakingly reproduces through painting is an ever-present reminder of the eventual inevitability of death. According to Norman Rosenthal, Brooks’s work, ‘represents a reality that seems to be bound into the necessary and often fetishist absurdities of existence. Hyperrealism for its own sake is tedious, even unnecessary, except as a display of technique: when, as here, it is combined with a thoughtful discourse on layers of reality, it becomes a thing of value and even moral resolution.’3 This interest in mortality perhaps accounts for why Brooks has painted the portraits of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso respectively, since both have engaged, and continue to do so, in the perilously high-speed sport of Formula One. The etching we are exhibiting here of Alonso is after the acrylic painting. In the context of this exhibition, Brooks can be seen as continuing the interest in death and celebrities, as initiated by Warhol, and continued by artists of today. Also, it would appear that for Brooks, celebrities should not be given ‘special treatment’; there is no clear or concise distinction, and so depicting a celebrity is precisely the same as depicting anyone else. For Brooks, it is less about what they are or who they are but instead how one is defined by how they look and how their own lives may change that. Steven Douglas
2 J. Brooks, as quoted in A. Stephens, 2008. 3 N. Rosenthal, Jason Brooks, London: Max Wigram Gallery, exhibition catalogue, 2005, p. 3.
Jason Brooks, Fernando, 2008, screenprint, 74 x 96 cm, not numbered (edition size not known). Kindly on loan from Goldmark Gallery, Rutland.
John Dove and Molly White
ohn Dove trained and worked as an artist and illustrator, while Molly White pursued a career as a textile designer. They began collaborating in 1968, on T-shirt designs. With a genuine desire to be innovative, they were the first to incorporate screenprinting, trompe l’oeil and photomontage into their T-shirt designs. 'We
were always searching to come up with something new',1 explains Dove. Their designs were varied, inspired by anything from Marilyn Monroe to tattoos to leopard heads. Their work blended aspects of Pop Art, Dada, Surrealism and rock n’ roll, and went on to make a particular impact in the 70s, when coinciding with the punk revolution. In this decade, their prolific output of rock n’ roll T-shirts and jackets were worn by the likes of Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Lou Reed. The rocker Iggy Pop was photographed wearing a leather jacket with an image of a leopard head on the back, for the cover of his album Raw Power, in 1973. Their designs were featured in The Fabrics of Pop, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and in another, more recent exhibition at Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.2 After more than 40 years, production stopped, and they have since turned their attention to making fine art screenprints. The paper is made from recycled T-shirts, and most of the designs are portraits of the rock or punk musicians from the 70s and 80s. In this exhibition, we have portraits of David Bowie and Debbie Harry respectively. As such, these works are now arguably tinged with nostalgia, evoking memories of glam rock, androgynous girls and boys, and legendary acts in long forgotten nightclubs. These icons are celebrated for the cultural significance they served to the zeitgeist in a time of socio-economic turbulence and nuclear war, issues often touched upon in their music, as well as in Dove and White's T-shirts.3 Of course, such sincerity and celebration of celebrity culture is at odds with much of the work in this exhibition. They are similar only to Sir Peter Blake, who champions celebrities, both past and present. And, like Blake, both Dove and White have taken a keen interest in celebrity culture from an early age. For example, in 1966, Dove made a series of watercolour studies of a topless Brigitte Bardot – who was the first celebrity depicted by Gerald Laing, also at around this time. Exhibited in Milan at the Galleria d’Arte del Naviglio, these were some of the first artworks produced by Dove. Interestingly, these studies later served as inspiration for their T-shirt designs.4 Sebastian Jordahn
1 2 3 4
J. Dove, as quoted on www.wonderworkshop.co.uk. I am referring here to the 2009 group exhibition Revolutionary Fabrics. See Atomic Mickey, for example, or Too Hot to Handle. See their T-shirts which consist of a screenprinted image of breasts. The drawing of Bardot is entitled Bardot Topless Dress, of 1966.
Left: John Dove and Molly White, Bowie (Face No. 1), 2010, screenprint, 76 x 56 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London. Above: John Dove and Molly White, Debbie Harry (Face No. 5), 2012, screenprint, 76 x 56 cm, edition of 100. Kindly on loan from Paul Stolper, London.
hane Wheatcroft, who works under the pseudonym GSG (Greasy Spoon Gallery), was born in 1974 in Colchester, Essex. He has exhibited in various group and solo shows across the country. Predominately a painter, GSG has recently taken a keen interest in making screenprints, the focus of which is often on celebrity culture. He has said: ‘I’ve got a lot of celebrity heroes that I’ve always loved. I think everyone has to a certain extent.’1 In each of the prints exhibited here, GSG offers varying critiques on celebrity culture.
S. Wheatcroft, as quoted in ‘Presentation of Fame in Contemporary Art’, an interview with the artist conducted by R. Thompson and L. Carver, 13 March 2013.
Immaterial Girl (2011) depicts the pop icon Madonna, smiling behind a supermarket checkout. Herein, through the inclusion of the newspaper and price label bearing the names of ‘Lady Gaga’ and ‘Cheryl Cole’, GSG seems to explore the link between celebrities and commodities, and so perhaps making reference to the transient nature of contemporary celebrity culture. GSG has explained how ‘Madonna’s style has been continuously copied… so female pop stars come along and try to emulate her … she is constantly having to make way for the new icons of pop who are trying to be like her.’ 2 Similarly, in switching the face of Monroe with Kate Moss, for example, Banksy’s Kate Moss Record Sleeve, also seems to raise questions about the changing face of fame. Love Hate Relationship (2013) takes inspiration from Jasper Johns’s 1974 screenprint entitled Target (ULAE 147). GSG has appropriated the basic characteristics of Johns’ iconic work in order to merge Raphael’s The Three Graces (of 1501) with three modern female celebrities. This postmodern notion of the collapse between high art and low culture is typical of GSG’s work. Indeed, by merging works of great art with fickle and obtrusive paparazzi celebrity imagery, Love Hate Relationship critiques the importance of the artistic canon compared to the status of the modern celebrity. In addition, in printing the celebrity images of Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton in garish colours, GSG arguably seems to echo Warhol, and so reinforces the idea that these individuals are being consumed by the artifice of celebrity and mass culture, much in the same way as Warhol’s Marilyn. Similarly, Call Face (2009), which depicts Tony Montana from the film Scarface, plays heavily upon sensationalism and mainstream mass media, as the catalysts for celebrity self-destruction. Great Leveller (2013) is a montage of celebrity and civilian mug-shots in which the status of these individuals is literally ‘leveled’ out. Rather than fetishizing or celebrating the celebrity image, GSG plays on the notion of the celebrity as everyman. By having a repetitive series of faces with no particular emphasis on the celebrities within the group, GSG succeeds in stripping the ‘aura’ of the celebrity. This print also provides an interesting critique of the two-faced role the mass media plays in celebrity culture, in that they are celebratory and complicit one moment, and then damming and exploitative the next. Luke Carver and Rose Thompson
2 S. Wheatcroft, 2013.
Left: GSG, Callface, 2009, screenprint, 70 x 50 cm, edition of 50. Kindly on loan from Shane Wheatcroft. Left centre: GSG, Immaterial Girl, 2011, screenprint, 70 x 50 cm, edition of 50. Kindly on loan from Shane Wheatcroft. Above centre: GSG, The Great Leveller, 2013, acrylic and screenprint on 28 canvases, 143 x 102 cm (total dimensions), unique. Kindly on loan from Shane Wheatcroft. Above: GSG, Love Hate Relationship, 2013, acrylic, screenprint, and collage on canvas, Left centre: 70cm x 100cm, unique. Kindly on loan from Shane Wheatcroft.
orn in London in 1964, Marc Quinn is a critically acclaimed artist most recognisably associated with the Young British Artists (YBAs). Quinn was one of the first artists to be represented by Jay Jopling at the White Cube Gallery, in the early 1990s, and in 1997, he participated in Sensation, one of the defining YBA exhibitions, which also included works by Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and Sarah Lucas. One of the most infamous exhibits was Quinn’s Self (1991). Herein, he froze and encased four pints of his own blood within a cast of his face to produce what was the first in a long line of self-portraits using bodily fluids. Indeed, Quinn is principally interested in the depiction of the human form and the reconfiguration of identity, and his ‘insistence on working with his own body is a quest to understand what it physically means to exist in the world.’ 1 Quinn’s recent sculptures are made using more traditional materials, but continue to look at the human body. In Complete Marbles (1999-2001), for example, Quinn has made marble sculptures of physically disabled individuals. These sculptures force the viewer to question the deep-rooted, social sensitivity surrounding disability and the consequences it has on our contemporary ideals of beauty. Similarly, Alison Lapper Pregnant (2005) is of a naked, pregnant woman who has no arms and short legs. Unveiled on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth in 2005, this work was used again in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. The screenprints exhibited here are after Quinn’s painted bronze sculpture of the model Kate Moss. Quinn stated about this piece: ‘In a world without Gods and Goddesses, celebrity has replaced divinity. Do we create images or do images form us? What is interesting to me about Kate Moss is that she is someone whose image has completely separated from her real self and this image has a life of its own. Our problem is: How do we measure ourselves against the impossible infinite virtual world of perfect images? Yoga, the gym, tattooing, are all ways in which we try to anchor ourselves into our bodies or live up to these images in reaction to the virtual disembodied lives we now currently lead. These hollow bronze
1 V. Pomery, Marc Quinn, London: Tate Publications, exhibition catalogue, 2002, p.7.
sculptures, de-materialized by white paint, are like egg-shells or cinema screens to me, sites for the projection of our desire, twisted mirrors to ourselves.’2 A comparable work to Sphinx is Andy Warhol’s Marilyn (1962), as it also critiques the artifice and superficiality of fame. As Quinn stated previously, ‘what is interesting to me about Kate Moss is that she is someone whose image has completely separated from her real self’,3 this is one of the principal reasons why many artists, especially during the 1960s, were drawn to Marilyn Monroe. Warhol and Richard Hamilton, amongst others, commented upon how fame consumed, masked and destroyed the personal identity of Monroe, replacing her with a superficial visual persona. Quinn too promotes this idea in Sphinx, of the celebrity as a media-fuelled representation of an unrealistic idyll, a ‘real person’ wholly detached from their celebrity status. Rose Thompson and Sebastian Jordahn
2 M. Quinn, New York, 2007; this quote was used by the Mary Boone Gallery, New York, as the display caption for the work, when hosting a solo exhibition of the artist in 2007. 3 M. Quinn, as quoted in C. Higgins, ‘Meet Kate Moss – contorted’, The Guardian, 12 April 2006.
Left: Marc Quinn, Sphinx (silver leaf), 2012, screenprint with silver leaf, 70 x 55 cm, edition of 150. Kindly on loan from Manifold Editions, London. Above: Marc Quinn, Sphinx (gold leaf), 2012, screenprint with gold leaf, 70 x 55 cm, edition of 150. Kindly on loan from Manifold Editions, London.
ohn Stezaker was born in 1949 in Worcester and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. A Conceptual artist who has taught at Goldsmiths and at the Royal College of Art, Stezaker was given a retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 2011. Despite not being a photographer – his collages are made from found photographs – Stezaker won the prestigious Deutsche Börse Prize for Photography last year. Influenced by the Surrealist paintings of Giorgio De Chirico, Stezaker began working with the technique of photomontage in the late 1960s. This technique is itself heavily linked to Surrealism, with some of the first artists to adopt this method being John Heartfield and Grete Stern. Focusing on thematically diametric opposites, between male/female, presence/absence, interior/exterior, and artificial/ natural, his art focuses on ‘the deployment of contradiction – the image becoming what it is not – as a means of transformation.’1
1 D. Ades & M. Bracewell, John Stezaker, London: Riding House and Whitechapel Gallery, 2011. p. 12.
Preferring to work with found images from old, obscure film stills and magazines, Stezaker has explained that: ‘When I come across an image I don’t know why it has a particular effect on me, I can only think of the word ‘fascination’ to describe this.’2 For images to come alive again they must go through a process of ‘obsolescence or dysfunction’.3 By merging old images from outdated sources, Stezaker offers new life and meaning. On one hand, some may see his works as being merely playful and witty appropriations, much like that of other artists exhibited here, such as Banksy and Gavin Turk. Within the context of Two-Faced Fame, one might see these photomontages as commenting on the fleeting nature of fame. Whereas Peter Blake treats the photos of well-known celebrities with adoration (see his diamond dust prints), so Stezaker thinks only of destruction, of cutting up these images of unknown, unloved stars, to create something far more stimulating. Others have seen Stezaker’s pieces as treading a fine line between beauty and abjection. With regard to the latter, the three prints we have here are relevant. In Blind (2013), for example, Stezaker has appropriated a black and white film still, and made a simple incision across the centre of the actress’s eyes. This perhaps recalls the infamous eye-cutting scene in silent movie, Un Chien Andalou, written by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali.4 Including Stezaker in this exhibition provides a curious juxtaposition in a number of ways. Stezaker’s work is ‘anti-celebrity’, in that he focuses on now unknown celebrities, and in so doing, critiques the brevity of fame. In an exhibition where one can see portraits of Monroe, Bowie, Moss, Jackson and Winehouse, it is refreshing to find an artist who is drawn to forgotten stars. Like the other artists, Stezaker sources and appropriates images from popular culture, but from a culture that is now archaic, and so ‘his portraits retain their aura of glamour, whilst simultaneously operating as exotic ‘artefacts’ of an obsolete culture.’5 Frances Chiverton
2 L. Buck, ‘So much emerges from what I destroy’, The Art Newspaper, Issue 220, January 2011. 3 A. Warstat, ‘Interview with John Stezaker’, Parallax, Volume 16, Issue 2, May 2010, p.75. 4 In both L (2013) and Untitled (2013), only the edge of one eye can be seen. All three images have been sliced, at different angles, across the sight-line or face creating an era of disquiet. In L he has made a vertical and horizontal incision whilst in Blind he has created a horizontal cut and Untitled has a diagonal incision across the face. It should also be noted that Blind was originally a billboard image commissioned by Ingleby Gallery, as part of Edinburgh’s public art project. Stezaker is the 19th artist to design work for the project. The photographic installation of Blind was on show for three months on the side of the gallery from February-April 2013. To coincide with the project, Stezaker produced a signed and numbered limited edition print of Blind. 5 'John Stezaker – Artist’s Profile’, www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk.
Left: John Stezaker, Blind, 2013, archival inkjet print, 38.2 x 45.8cm, edition of 50. Kent Print Collection. Above: John Stezaker, Untitled, 2013, polymer gravure, 47 x 40.5cm, edition of 125. Kindly on loan from Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Centre: John Stezaker, L, 2013, polymer gravure, 47 x 40.5cm, edition of 125. Kindly on loan from Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh
Selected Bibliography D. Ades & M. Bracewell, John Stezaker, London: Riding House and Whitechapel Gallery, 2011.
M. McLuhan, Q. Fiore and J. Agel, The Medium is the Massage, London : Penguin, 2008.
L. Alloway, American Pop Art, New York: Collier Books, 1974.
D. McCarthy, Movements in Modern Art: Pop Art, London: Tate Publishing, 2000.
L. Alloway, Topics in American Art since 1945, New York and London: Norton, 1975. L. Barber, ‘Blake’s Progress’, The Observer, 17 June 2007. L. Barber, ‘The Interview: Stella Vine’, The Guardian, 8 July 2007. P. Barkham, ‘Jonathan Yeo gets under the skin’, The Guardian, 5 December 2011. R. Barthes, Mythologies, London: Paladin, 1989. D. J. Boorstin, The Image or What Happened to the American Dream, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963. M. Bracewell, ‘Demand The Impossible’, Frieze, Issue 89, March, 2005. C. Brooker, ‘Supposing… Subversive genius Banksy is actually rubbish’, The Guardian, 22 September 2006. L. Buck, ‘So much emerges from what I destroy’, The Art Newspaper, Issue 220, January 2011. J. Cage, Silence, London and New York: Marion Boyars, 2009. K. Capps, ‘Portrait of the President as a Skin Mag’, The American Prospect, September 2007. M. Compton, Peter Blake, London: Tate Publishing, exhibition catalogue, 1983.
R. Morphet, Richard Hamilton, London: Tate, 1970. P. Moorhouse, Pop Art Portraits, London: National Portrait Gallery Publications, exhibition catalogue, 2007. D. Murphy, ‘Little Promises’, The Guardian, 7 September 2002. J. Reiss, Blek le Rat, Swindle Magazine, Issue 11, 2009. N. Rosenthal, Jason Brooks, London: Max Wigram Gallery, exhibition catalogue, 2005. D. Spoto, Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, London: Chatto & Windus, 1993. J. Stallabrass, High Art Lite: The Rise and Fall of Young British Art, London: Verso, 2006. L. Steinberg, Other Criteria, London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. A. Stephens, ‘Photographs? Look carefully – they’re paintings’, London Evening Standard, 23 May 2008. R. Thompson and L. Carver, ‘Presentation of Fame in Contemporary Art’, an interview with GSG, 13 March 2013. M. Vaizey, Peter Blake, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986. J. A. Walker, Art and Celebrity, London: Pluto Press, 2002.
A. Danto, Andy Warhol, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.
A. Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.
G. Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Detroit: Black & Red, 1983.
A. Warstat, ‘Interview with John Stezaker’, Parallax, Volume 16, Issue 2, May 2010.
C. Gleadell, ‘Joe Tilson; the forgotten king of British Pop Art’, The Telegraph, 21 April, 2009. C. Higgins, ‘Meet Kate Moss – contorted’, The Guardian, 12 April 2006. H. Foster with A. Bacon (eds), Richard Hamilton: October Files, Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2010. H. Foster, The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011. R. Hamilton, Collected Words 1953-1982, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1982. C. Lewisohn, Street Art: The Graffiti Revolution, London: Tate Publishing, 2008. M. Livingstone, Pop : A Continuing History, London : Thames and Hudson, 2000. M. McLuhan, Understanding Media, London and New York : Routledge, 2001.
A. Wilson, Richard Hamilton: Swingeing London 67, London: Afterall Books, 2011.
Websites: www.banksy.co.uk www.dface.co.uk www.gavinturk.com www.geraldlaing.com www.jason-brooks.com www.jonathanyeo.com www.marcquinn.com www.pureevilgallery.virb.com www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk www.stellavine.com
A final word on making this exhibition possible...
he adventure all started just four months ago in January when our course on Print Collecting and Curating began. Students were asked to research and devise an exhibition bid, either independently or, as part of a team, and to then present it to the rest of the group, within a timeframe of just five weeks. Each bid had to fit certain criteria: to be realized within a budget of just £3,500; to include some prints from the current Kent Print Collection; as well as enhance the Collection with some subsequent purchases. The winning bid was chosen on 14th February. From that point on, we have all worked collaboratively towards the same aim – to put on a professional exhibition based on sound, art-historical research that is accessible to a wide audience. Each student has worked in one of the following teams: Curating, Marketing and Finance. These self-motivated sub-teams have met on a weekly basis, setting their own agendas/tasks and timescales. The curatorial team of six took approximately three weeks to refine and fine-tune the exhibition’s concept, which is explained in the opening essay and foreword. No one has survived this adventure without coming out of it a better and wiser student. The diversity of opportunities has ranged from: interviewing artists; approaching art dealers, artists and institutions in order to negotiate loans, or lucrative discounts; trying to secure extra funding (Creative Campus have kindly paid for the cost of these catalogues); responding positively to real-life setbacks and changing direction where necessary; being responsible for and arranging the transport of valuable works of art (or in some cases, transporting the works ourselves!); devising an extensive marketing campaign; and controlling and working within the constraints of a tight budget.
Ultimately, I think the biggest and most exciting challenge faced was the experience of being dropped into the deep-end of the pool very early on. As I am sure anyone who’s been in a similar position will confirm, balancing a budget, managing expenditure and securing additional finances is no easy task, especially for a group of students without a business background. However, the steep learning curve coupled with the little room for error was received maturely by the members of the group and served as fuel to successfully attaining our goals. This freedom we were afforded has provided us with a rare opportunity to gather invaluable real-life experiences of sponsorship, networking and crowd sourcing.
Andrew Tan Wei Aun, Finance Team
One of the notable features of Two-Faced Fame is its broad appeal. As a result of this the marketing team endeavoured to reach the widest possible audience throughout our marketing campaign. For us, promoting this exhibition was as much about the art as it was about the space and bringing the Studio 3 Gallery to the attention of a large number of our fellow students and Canterbury residents was something we felt passionately about. To do this we employed many different and creative marketing solutions. Although we came into this project as amateurs we set out with the intention to operate as professionally as possible. I feel as though we were taken seriously and were able to successfully fulfil our marketing objectives whilst learning a vast amount along the way.
Joseph Hayes, Marketing Team
The University of Kent Print Collecting and Curating module has given us the incredible experience of being able to transfer what we’ve learnt as art history students into practice. After years of studying and enjoying other exhibitions we were finally able to curate one ourselves. It’s been a rewarding experience to go from winning the exhibition bid and then applying a whole team to realizing and developing the initial concept, transforming what was initially only an idea into a professional standard exhibition. Slowly but surely and after a lot of perseverance and patience we’ve seen our efforts materialize. This module has given us the unique opportunity to negotiate and work with professional art dealers and artists - a rare opportunity for an undergraduate. We have been given an invaluable insight into how the art market operates as well as a firsthand experience of the practical and logistical concerns of curating an exhibition. Throughout this programme, we’ve worked as a Curatorial team and collaborated closely with the Finance and Marketing teams. Ultimately, we feel we have curated an exciting exhibition, and in so doing have purchased some significant works for the Kent Print Collection.
We have all entered this module completely out of our ‘comfort zones’, for none of us had any experience with our respective tasks (i.e. curating, managing a budget, or publicizing). We have learnt so much from putting on this exhibition, both in terms of the above, and as people. We are all very grateful for such an exciting, wholly unique experience. We hope you enjoy viewing the show, as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. Frances Chiverton, Curating Team
Luke Carver, Curating Team
For further information about Creative Campus, please visit our website: www.kent.ac.uk/creativecampus/ Alternatively, if you would like to join our mailing list or to submit an idea, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief outline of your project. The cost of producing and printing these catalogues has kindly been met through the generous sponsorship from Creative Campus.
'Infiniti Awards', kind sponsors of our advertising banner. For more information, go to: www.infinitiawards.com.
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Studio 3 Gallery | School of Arts | Jarman Building | University of Kent | Canterbury CT2 7UG
Published May 2013, designed by BSP, printed by CKN Print
9 781902 671857
Published on May 20, 2013
The catalogue for the fine art print exhibition organised by History of Art undergraduates at the University of Kent from 24 May to 14 June...