Studio Claus Due sure do know how to design a book. The Copenhagen-based design studio have an impressive roster of catalogues, monograms and artist books under its belt. To name a few, its designed for the likes of Snøhetta, Tal R, Edmund de Waal, the Hayward Gallery, Bang & Olufsen and Peter Funch. A couple of years ago, we delved into a different side to the studio, albeit a highly important one, personal projects. Exploring the value of such works, we learned then that Studio Claus Due is made of substance as well as style.
Today however we are here to discuss a Studio Claus Due project for another well known artist. Titled eponymously Alex De Corte: True Life, the book documents the American conceptual artist’s relationship with another star: Eminem. The book details their relationship across four exhibitions, documenting how Eminem appears in Da Corte’s work throughout his 30s. The rapper consistently reappears in the work, evolving alongside America as the years go by. In turn, the book tracks the evolution of American identity alongside these appearances. Featuring essays on the subject by the likes of Hilton Als, Charlie Fox, William Pym and Martine Syms, True Life is a unique insight into De Corte’s fascinating artist practice as well as a comment on American society.
Founding designer Claus Due tells us of the book, “Da Corte and Eminem have never met; it’s unclear if Eminem has seen or is aware of the book. Over the past year various people close to Eminem have discussed making the connection, but for now, Da Corte is happy to not know what his subject thinks.” The new book can be seen as a way of “reaching out” of sorts, touching on the personal and intense at times, though Claus explains: “Unlike Eminem’s ‘Stan’ character, Da Corte is not desperate to meet the musician.”
The relationship between Da Corte and Eminem has been one of long speculation, starting with the fact that they look uncannily similar. For years the Lose Yourself artist was embodied by Da Corte, a constant reference he’s revisited over the past decade. “It is a diary of a long one-sided relationship, like Stan’s, in fact,” says Claus. Eminem isn’t the only character Da Corte has played but remains an abiding preoccupation. Whether he’s exhibition in a small punk space or a large academic institution, Eminem might just appear.
Despite the visual similarities between the two, in fact, Da Corte and Eminem are pretty different. There is a cultural and generational gap between the two men and though their work addresses mutually prevalent themes – self-care, mania, desire and race, to name but a few – the book highlights a specific kind of 90s American moment that Eminem very much contributed to, which Da Corte arose from. Documenting the artist’s projects chronologically, when it came to the design of the book, Claus had to find a way of successfully communicating a number of video art on print.
“In True Life we have shown almost every single frame from the four films,” Claus reveals interestingly of the choice in layout. Curating the frames in coloured cubes according to the work’s context, the book features more than a hundred pages of small boxes showing still frames. “I have never seen this done before,” Claus says on this design feat. “It’s the sort of thing that is only possible in personal projects like this, outside the strictures of book sales or budgets.” Almost two years in the making, Claus and his team have carefully crafted the book’s design to be exactly how they wanted it. To help this, the publishers, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König) , came on board late in the process, ensuring the designers had creative control over the end product.
Overflowing with content (including a hilarious fake interview with Eminem and Lil Kim) this fantastically speculative book is both entertaining and beautifully designed. Another impressive artist book to add to Studio Claus Due’s portfolio, it’s go go go for the Danish designers as another exciting project is on the horizon. With another highly anticipated compendium coming up in the future, we can look for another Studio Claus Due spectacular coming soon, a book project with Arthur Jafa. “We have ‘met’ twice on Zoom,” Claus finally goes on to say, “and he is amazing to work with – a visual and very fast thinker.”
GalleryStudio Claus Due: Alex Da Corte, True Life (Copyright © Studio Claus Due, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.