BOOK CORNER #24: MARFA JOURNAL - Kenzine, the Kenzo official blog

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We may well wonder about the place of drawing and painting as art and art form in our snap-happy digital lives. Artist Elizabeth Peyton embarks on an unusual experiment to explore the question, blurring lines all the more with her choice of subjects from the realms of royalty, sport and pop.

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Her drawings of Jarvis Cocker and Sid Vicious evoke the intimacy of a sitting, a shared space between portrait artist and model. Peyton shows us the person behind personalities we only know from TV, the web or the tabloids, rendering Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles equally human under her paintbrush. This collection of some 200 selected works by Peyton is an unusual hybrid of photographic composition and painting technique.

 

"Elizabeth Peyton", 2005, 264 p. Published by Rizzoli.
Kenzo, 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

Mass advertising’s relentless push to consume can be galling at times, but museums today lap up these valuable snapshots of the language and style of another era. Ad/Art is a collection of advertising artwork by photographer Cheyco Leidmann that takes us back to the 1980s, a relatively short jump in time that underscores how style outstrips everything else in terms of its rapid pace of change.

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The high-color fantasy imagery of 1980s advertisements is a phenomenon all of its own. The stylized reality of this movie-inspired dreamscape is populated by otherworldly models, often with props, such as cigarettes, which today seem outrageous. A time when budgets weren’t a problem and airbrushing was still largely unheard of. Also a thing of the past is the star status that once came with a career in advertising, since the name Cheyco Leidmann means little today.

"Ad/Art", Cheyco Leidmann, 1983, 132 p. Published by Love me tender.
Kenzo, 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

Artist John Baldessari regards images with suspicion. He appropriates them because he can’t help seeing a pseudo-reality or constructing his own. This is the kind of series dreamed up one evening over a beer and a bag of chips. Potato chips come in all sorts of rounded, undulating and irregular shapes that offer obvious comparisons to human features. 

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Baldessari spots hidden faces, closed eyes and prominent cheekbones and presents a gallery of celebrity portraits that can only be picked out by scrutinizing the golden hues and greasy sheen of one potato chip after another. Back to that beer: such a well-judged leap of the imagination from the humble spud elicits admiration as well as wry grins all round. This is art at its most fascinating: poetry emerges from the subtlest twists. Baldessari’s chips –which the cover proclaims as “guaranteed fresh”– are served with a side of humor.

 

 

 

Miracle Chips, John Baldessari, 2009, 96 p. Published by Little Steidl, Gottingen.
Kenzo, 27, place de la Madeleine, Paris.

Now that the 1990s have been relegated to vintage territory, it could be fun to cast our eye a little further back, all the way to the punk era. And this collection edited by Julie Davis is the perfect excuse. Davis compiled gig reviews and interviews with a couple of dozen other punk bands such as The Ramones, Buzzcocks, and The Damned. 

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But never mind the content; the look of this book is what really caught our eye. It is presented as a fanzine, with typewritten copy, stenciled headers, corrections scrawled in by hand, raw black and white photography and an almost conversational tone. This is an unposed, unstyled snapshot of a generous and accessible musical genre for which performance matters as much as being in tune. So what changed? In the late 1970s, style was defined primarily by music (punk, ska, and later new wave), ideas, energy, and of course clothes and attitude. Style today tends to be disconnected from content and the 1970s are considered prehistoric.

 

 

"Punk", Julie Davis, 1977, 96 p. Published by Davison publishing, London.
Kenzo, 27, place de la Madeleine, Paris.

Do we really need another book about Marilyn? This one stands apart for its modest format (23 x 23 cm) and the vulnerability of a blurred and grainy cover image. The 45 images in this book are taken from a home movie shot on Super8 in 1955 by a 14-year-old fan, Peter Mangone, who waited for Marilyn outside her hotel. 

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The young man behaves like anything but paparazzi as he accompanies the icon on a regular afternoon about town. Capturing the actress as she lights up whenever the camera is rolling, Mangone allows her spontaneity to shine through in every shot. These grainy snapshots of everyday life are made precious by the presence of a real live star of the silver screen. Marilyn is fascinating in all her unguarded charm – a contrast to her scripted and at times over-acted Hollywood roles. In the era of smartphones, we make impromptu videos like this all the time, only we’ve forgotten how to be spontaneous in front of the camera…

 


 

"Marilyn Monroe NYC, 1955", Peter Mangone, 2012, 54 p. Published by Danziger gallery, New York.
Kenzo, 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

It’s tempting to live from moment to the next, comforted by the thought of a present that stretches on forever. Lest we begin to lose track of time, the ticking of the Vintage metronome is there to remind us of the new “old” – which is apparently now the 1990s, according to new magazine The Profile and its “strong 90’s aesthetic”. The Profile looks more like a book than a magazine with its cloth-bound cover, large format and a business card tucked into page 2. 

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Each issue profiles figureheads from within the fashion and art industry, with portfolios and interviews of those working in the creative or entertainment sector. Founder Becky Baik is a stylist with a long history at Elle Korea, which makes for a large number of Asian contributors, lending an air of sophistication. The Profile’s feel of a magazine from another era is exactly what makes it work.

 

 

The Profile, n°1, 2013, 164 p.
Kenzo, 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

Fashion has been trawling trends of yore for three decades now. The 1950s to 1980s have proven rich sources of vintage inspiration. But what came before? 


 

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This timely compilation examines fashion from the 1900s to 1940s. Reeling through the decades, the book covers looks and postures while keeping the focus on products. This was an era in which bespoke tailoring was the order of the day: sales were in fabrics and other raw materials. The nascent role of publicity is reflected in increasingly sophisticated catalogs and advertisements, with the book serving as a crash course in applied graphic design. A surprising absence of photographs cedes place instead to illustrations and an idealized construct of the male and female model.

 

 

"Mono 82"5 - Vintage Fashion 00’s-40’s, 2011, 304 pp. Published by World Photo Press
Kenzo, 60 rue de Rennes, Paris.

In the early 1980s, before the wave of Macintosh computers (as they were known at the time) came crashing into our lives, the press broke from its shackles and embraced change. In London, Viz (The Visual Arts & Fashion magazine) was a child of this new dawn. 

 

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The magazine in vinyl format was produced entirely in black and white except for the cover, with a fanzine-inspired layout that crackled with energy. Viz covered fashion, art, advertising, music… any field with a visual dimension. Its lengthy, seemingly improvised passages, comic book illustrations, and period advertisements are well worth a look – especially for fashion, which has only recently learned to appreciate the magazine’s achievements. The back pages even include a celebrity section, or more accurately a B2B (business-to-business) section, which makes Viz a precursor of the style magazine as we know it today.

 

 

Viz, n° 9, 1980, 52 pp.
Kenzo, 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

Andreas Züst gazes up at the heavens with a methodical zeal and poetic sensibility that are light years away from idle daydreaming. Züst is a Swiss collector, artist and scientist who documented the sky from the 1970s to the 2000s in some 1,200 slides, noting the location (mainly Switzerland) and angle of every shot. A Kodak Carousel slideshow of 81 of these slides was exhibited in art galleries accompanied by a commentary that was anything but scientific. Images include a full moon over a snow-covered landscape, light spectra, the ephemeral glow of daybreak, clouds, circles of light, stars, lightning, urban skyglow and rainbows – a whole host of optical and meteorological phenomena. For a volume dedicated to something so familiar, this book arrests the reader’s gaze with an eye-opening variety of situations. You’ll never look at the sky the same way again.

 

 

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"Himmel", Andreas Züst, 2011, 352 pp. Published by Patrick Frey.
Kenzo, 60 rue de Rennes, Paris.


 

For an artist, space can take different shapes : the white cube of a gallery, a landscape or the pages of a journall. Some artists invested those 300 printed pages, conceived like a journey through an unkown land : collages, snapshots, interviews…

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You have to look at it twice before you can find your marks and they are closer from art than press. Marfa is a good title that could sum up the project : a place with 2000 inhabitants, that everybody knows in the art world as so many proposals were taken there ponctually. A lot of 1st person, sincerity and travels in this first issue. Some names : Jeffrey Deitch, Tim Barber, Lindsay Lohan and maybe some references to Toilet Paper magazine by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari of which Marfa seems to be a distant cousin.

 

 

Marfa Journal, n° 1, 2013, 300 p.
Kenzo, 27, place de la Madeleine, Paris.