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    Bookshelf: Fred Butler

Art

Bookshelf: Fred Butler

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

To be accessorised by Fred Butler is to fall head first into a vat of colourful carnage. She makes no apologies for this, your life will be better on emerging and people will stop and point at your fascinator and will most likely break into song. This is all natural, even for men (wearing or pointing). We invited the prop-maker/stylist/accessory designer to share her bookshelf with us and her choices begin to shine a little more light on the rainbow effect of her design practice…

A Bit Of Rough Julie Verhoeven

Julie is one of my favourite artists of all time for 3 reasons – her work is identifiably unique in its purity, her style cultivates and celebrates colour, she embraces humour and executes it with a nuance, which translates with a sophisticated sheen. “A bit of rough” has imagery of all her mixed media disciplines as a really neat monograph of adventures in illustration, sculpture, fashion design and film. The introduction by Francesca Gavin is a succinct and brilliant explanation of the mind behind the inexplicably prolific talent. My copy is particularly precious because I received it in the post, painted in neon coral acrylic and signed as a present – which was a very exciting surprise!
www.amazon.co.uk/a-bit-of-rough
www.julieverhoeven.com

Jungle Fever Jean Paul Goude

I discovered Jean Paul Goude’s humorous genius vision via his art direction for Grace Jones records and this book catalogues his early career showing everything that led up to this time. It’s almost like a sketchbook with scans of exquisite early naive illustration and crude cut-n-paste collage which all led to his eventual highly polished and epic photographs. My favourite section of the monograph is the subcultural photographs of 1970’s New York where he captured the vibrant and radical styles of Latin teenagers. I found this book in the public library when I lived in Harlem, and now I’ve managed to find a copy for myself! It’s my most considered and treasured investment!
www.amazon.co.uk/jungle-fever
www.jeanpaulgoude.com

Skinhead Nick Knight

Nick Knight is an artist very important to me not only for his inspirational pioneering photography but also his altruistic approach to nurturing new creatives with his platform SHOWstudio. To see his very first publication from 1980 (the year I was born) is a fascinating insight into where he started off with his journey in producing iconic visuals. This ode to a subculture is his own subjective vision of skinheads rather than a factual historical documentation, which makes it of more significance and importance in my mind. He has an innate gift of connecting with his subjects to reveal and expose a personality, which you see perfectly in these engaging portraits of an otherwise wary, marginalised genre.
www.amazon.co.uk/skinhead
www.showstudio.com

Leigh Bowery Violette Editions

I got this book at a critical time in my life when I was 18 and I knew instinctively what made me happy but wasn’t sure if it actually existed elsewhere in the world. Thankfully the legacy of Leigh Bowery answered my hopes that there were other freaks out there, and in this instance dedicated their life to bravely creating and communicating an exceptional vision. This is the ultimate collection of photography that documented his complete works, collated from his friends and collaborators personal collections. If I ever have a day of self-doubt or disillusionment this is a steadfast and reliable antidote to ignite the flame of following my dreams.
www.amazon.co.uk/leigh-bowery
www.violetteeditions.com/leigh-bowery

A Chequered Past Peter Schlesinger

This is Peter Schlesinger’s visual diary of the 60’s and 70’s, which depicts his days spent with partner David Hockney and close friends Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Manolo Blahnik and Paloma Picasso etc. It just so happens that he was at the epicentre of a group of soulmates who were each of outstanding creative influence. This period of proximity to intimate passages in time results in beautifully relaxed, atmospheric and honest snapshots. The vivid hues of his film literally seize the sparkling settings of the azure swimming pool waters that we know so well from Hockney’s paintings. It’s so lucky that Peter was there to conscientiously record each critical moment from Cecil Beaton at Reddish House to Robert Mapplethorpe in Paris, to Andy Warhol in Monte Carlo. The scenes and scenarios are enchanting and his particular eye for proportion in positioning the people and places makes this a captivating classic.
www.amazon.co.uk/a-chequered-past
www.thamesandhudson.com/a-checquered-past

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Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

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    As this week’s public art-themed Nicer Tuesdays reminded us, it’s all too easy to take the masterpieces in full view around the city for granted. And while there’s a plethora of work to see all year round in many cities across the UK, from next week the City of London is placing work by the likes of Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Adam Chodzko around the Square Mile to add a little culture to the landscape of our wolves of Threadneedle Street. This is the fifth year of the programme, Sculpture in the City, and will see a total of 14 works go on show. They will remain in situ until May next year.

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    Ai Weiwei has printed five years worth of his many, many tweets onto rice paper to form a new piece called An Archive . The artist has long used Twitter as a platform from which to protest Chinese government oppression, leading to a ban from Chinese Twitter. In an interview with The Creator’s Project, Ai tells how the piece, which is formed of thousands of pieces of printed rice paper, showcases a time when he could use the social network for “discussions and memories of the past, as well as predictions for the future. Twitter was an exercise for the mind and one where you are fully exposed to the public."

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    I never thought I’d use the word irreverent to describe the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Since 1769 the RA has taken a fairly unwavering and conservative approach to the world’s largest open submission exhibition, hanging up to 1,000 works by both amateur artists and great names. Long the lacklustre foxhole of stuffy Academicians and part-time painters, this year marks the greatest effort the RA has made yet to reinvigorate the English summer stalwart.
     
    It’s no surprise that the man behind the brightest, boldest edition yet is Michael Craig-Martin, this year’s curator and the artist best known for his Pop Art palette and his tutorship of YBA trailblazers Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Among his modernisms for the show is the decision to repaint the three central galleries in colours lifted straight from his work: hot pink, turquoise and baby blue. Far from playing to mere spectacle, Craig-Martin’s trademark penchant for polychrome is a bold statement that does away with both the white cube mis-en-scène of contemporary art and the fusty grandeur of the Academy. Regular attendees might also notice he has made the print galleries more central.

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    For this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Scottish artist Jim Lambie has transformed the storied art institution’s grand staircase with one of his kaleidoscopic floor installations and shaken up the English cultural calendar highlight. Using hundreds of strips of adhesive vinyl tape, Lambie’s eye-catching floor work follows the architecture of the Academy and is part of his ongoing series Zobop. The 2005 Turner Prize nominee’s slightly riotous, technicolour stairs breathe new life into the neo-classical space, and the optical effect packs huge impact, fittingly leading the way to the boldest, brightest edition of the Summer Exhibition in its nearly 250-year run.

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    The carnivalesque colours and vibrant busyness caught our eye in Nina Chanel’s work; her attitude and subject matter kept us looking. Nina is based in New Jersey, and uses bright brushstrokes and text to explore issues of race, politics, sex and the strange world of celebrity. How? Through a strange troupe of aliens, strange symbols and rainbow colours. Surrealism plays with pop art and high-brow plays with low-brow in her huge e-number fuelled pieces, which carry a depth belying their initially saccharine appearances.

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    David Shrigley has designed a rather strange mascot for Scottish Premiership football team Partick Thistle. Shrigley – a fan of the team – was appointed to create the little yellow jagged character, named Kingsley, as part of the team’s new sponsorship deal with US investment firm Kingsford Capital. The artist also created the brand mark that will appear on Thistle kits and around its home stadium.

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    Life drawing classes are more often than not the conservative preserve of academic art, but Luis Vassallo’s nudes tell a different story. Luis’ series A Life Drawing Class, made as part of a collaboration with Hot and Cool magazine, is a refreshing take on a somewhat strait-laced tradition. Over the course of several weeks the Madrid-based artist transformed the models in front of him into adventurous images that juxtapose the classical with the surreal, mixing and matching a number of drawing styles – often in the same sketch – from hard-edged geometry and soft, rolling forms that alternate between clean pencil lines and those in thick jagged charcoal. Finding inspiration in the Italian avant garde and the 60s revival of figurative art, Luis is clear that his work is less about looking back and more about finding a way to pick up where these 20th Century movements left off. The results are unlike any nudes we’ve seen before.

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    As one of the most instantly recognisable modern artists and a GCSE art staple, it’s tempting to think there’s little we haven’t seen of Jackson Pollock’s work. A new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, however, proves us wrong. The exhibition, entitled Blind Spots, is the first in more than 30 years to show his late black pouring works. Some we’ll know, many we won’t, but all prove – if proof were needed – what an important, inspirational figure Pollock was. He managed to bring tricky concepts of Abstract Expressionism into the minds of a far wider audience than the art world inner circle, and his works are surely some of the most oft-seen, yet never tiresome artworks of the last century.

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    Matthew Craven’s dizzying mix of ink patterns, cut-outs and ancient culture is as powerful as it is studied. We’ve written about the New York artist’s vivid collages before, and in his most recent series demiURGE, Matthew pairs both tribal and Greek sculpture with his hand-drawn designs and recurring motifs. His images play with materials as much as they play with time, and with their lost relics and archeological curiosities it’s as if Matthew has picked through old history textbooks and back issues of National Geographic for the mystic effect that makes his work so instantly recognisable. Pairing busts, masks, vases and classical bric-a-brac with optical patterns, Matthew’s collages always prove greater than the sum of their parts.

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    Richard Prince’s New Portraits have proven to be nothing short of sensational. The artist’s controversial series has seen him take other people’s Instagram posts, print them on six-foot canvases and sell them for up to $90,000. The only changes made to these images of everyone from Pamela Anderson to total unknowns are the bewildering or lewd remarks Prince adds to the comments thread. As of last Friday, ten of these new works are on show at Gagosian London. “The iPhone became my studio,” Prince says somewhere in the seven-page stream of consciousness that makes up the press release.

    For the last 40 years the New York artist has inspired everything from acclaim to outrage for the unapologetic appropriation that has defined much of his work. As the man who reprinted copies of JD Salinger’s classic teenage anthem Catcher in the Rye with his own name in place of the author’s, Prince has found himself on the wrong side of copyright lawsuits multiple times. Resulting opinions of him tend to violently swing between genius and good-for-nothing. In the case of the New Portraits series, Peter Schjeldahl writing for the New Yorker’s response to the screenshot-cum-paintings was “something like a wish to be dead,” whilst sex writer Karley Sciortino has said she felt honoured to be included in the series.

    In an unexpected but fitting turn, people seemed to feel slightly vindicated when some of Prince’s unauthorised Instagram reproductions were recently reproduced and resold by some of their original subjects, namely the LA-based group of alternative pin-up girls and burlesque dancers operating under the moniker SuicideGirls. “Payback!” headlines screamed, but this ceaseless loop of feedback and mirroring perfectly plays to Prince’s raison d’être. Even this is not the artist’s own, and in his ideas about enshrining banality and popular culture he is most definitely walking in Warhol’s slightly worn-out silver shoes.

    Mining the internet for source material is not new either, but as abhorrent as they may be, Prince’s portraits eloquently teach a powerful lesson in the trappings of social networking. They test public and private limits and have started an important and much-needed conversation about copyright and art in the digital age. They have also been sharp reminders that our self-exposure and digital exhibitionism doesn’t exist in the vacuums of our various feeds, but very much enters into public territory.

    The most absurd part in all of this postmodernist pageantry however, happened during my exchange with Gagosian’s PR when I asked for press images and was told, “I’m afraid that we don’t have permission to use any images of any individual works.” Irony is a beautiful, twisted thing.

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    There’s been a lot of conversation in the studio recently about art exhibitions that beg to be photographed, and they don’t come much more Instagrammable than the Jeff Koons retrospective. Having started out at New York’s Whitney Museum and then progressing to Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the show has just begun the final leg of its journey at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, where we attended the opening last week; to take a selfie with the balloon dog, among other things.

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    Leafing through the Serious Art Critics’ reactions to Carsten Höller’s huge fairground of a show at the Hayward, I felt optimistic, smug even. “Old fuddy-duddies,” I thought. Yes, that’s it – they’ve forgotten how to have fun! Love-in, hippy me mulled over my kindly utopian ideas about how art should be democratic, how wonderful it is to have the wee kiddie-winks enjoying art just as us cerebral grown-ups can. Sadly, I’m now about to agree with the bunch. They’re not really just world-weary and po-faced, they’re right: the show’s really not all that after all.

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    Bridget Riley’s work is utterly fascinating to me. Her enormous geometric canvases, ranging from illusory patterns to orderly explosions of colour have developed over the course of her career to create an extensive oeuvre exploring every dark corner of shape and form. Behind the expansive canvases lies a deeply methodical approach which, although invisible to the viewer, is the concrete foundation to her work, and in this new UK retrospective at the De La Warr Pavilion the accompanying studies will be displayed alongside the finished canvases. Spanning 50 years worth of her curve paintings and including more than 30 paintings and studies, it looks set to be a show to remember.