Tag Archives: art

Doppelganger by Gestalten

5 May

Images of the Human Being

I would like to preface this review by stating that this book contains the most astounding visuals I have ever seen. Have you ever seen a man with a half eaten face of cake? Laid eyes on a regular fellow who happens to assemble the features of his face like Mr Potato Man? Seen a girl with eyelashes the colours and length of the rainbow?

Doppelganger explores images of the human being in an array of different contexts. Sometimes the body is explored as an entity in itself and is pictured merely in its usual form, perhaps jogging or climbing up a wall as depicted by Willi Dorner. At other times completely manmade art works are made to resemble the human body, for example by artists such as Antony Gormley. Frequently an image of a human being will just be doctored to create an other-worldly concept of what is human. Whatever the method, these images are designed to shock and to invoke deep thought in those who receive them.

Upon observing these images, we are compelled to feel attached and react strongly to them because we can relate to clearly to them; these are body parts which we have ourselves and they are presented in a strange or unconceivable way. Any reader, old or young, male or female, would thoroughly enjoy exploring the possibilities of what could potentially be made of the limbs and features that they take for granted should they inject them with a little paint or a block of ice. An absolute must for fans of the bizarre, this book is truly mind-boggling.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Doppelganger is published by Gestalten and will blow your mind for £37.50.

If you liked this, you may also like Hyperactivitypography by Gestalten.

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Lust: A Travelling Art Journal of Graphic Designers by James Victore

22 Mar

What would you do given complete freedom?

In a quest to explore the possibilities of limitless creative freedom, James Victore sent blank workbooks to an array of graphic designers all over the world (with an address headed, “if LUST please return to”). They were instructed to fill it with their dream jobs, passions and things that they lusted after. After sifting through the books of over forty graphic designers, from golden oldies to new found talent, James presented his findings in this kooky little book.

One of his own designs was quite funny, a billboard that said ‘life is what happens when you are busy texting. Kill your i-Phone’. Another design by Claudia Schmauder was so sweet and liberating, an illustration of lots of brightly coloured birds and a tagline that wished that she could free those that were captured. Things like these were quick to evoke a philosophical contemplation and amounted to a contemplative read. Other designers like Catherine Zask disappointed me; her contribution was merely a few smudges and a couple of words on the page. Although the concept of the book was to explore the wildest dreams of other designers, in reading the book I was hoping to gain an insight into the personality and imagination of each person within it and a couple of these contributions did not enable this to happen. An interview with each contributor is featured at the end of the book to enlighten the reader in regard to the pieces they have seen. With this in mind, LUST has a fantastic variety of design styles that would be brilliant to accompany a discussion on how we really define art.

A la Mode Appraisal: 7/10. A brilliant concept, but points are deducted for the price of this book. It is a little more expensive when considering that it is a scrapbook, albeit a very fascinating one.

LUST is published by Rockport Publishers and will act as a coffee table conversation starter for £20.00.

If you liked this, you may also like Hyperactivitypography by Gestalten.

1000 Ideas for Graffiti and Street Art by Christian Campos

8 Feb

“Art or vandalism? If I had a dollar for every time…”

This very question is one posed at the beginning of the book, one that chooses to celebrate the rise in beautiful urban and street art and to abolish the small mindedness of those who see graffiti as nothing more than a nuisance. Featuring ‘murals, tags and more from artists around the world’, this book contains little words and chooses instead to focus on the powerful imagery that it embraces.

Varying in presentation from full page feature images to collages of complimentary street art pieces, 1000 Ideas mixes images of art from all over the world and by different artists. In addition to featuring lots of well known larger cities, smaller places were also featured to enable lots of readers to relate to an area or place – I was delighted to spot my hometown of Birmingham in the mix. A number is featured in the corner of each image and further referenced in detail at the bottom of the page, allowing the reader to identify the artists of their favourite pieces but not interrupting the visuals.

To conclude, a directory detailing relevant websites of each artist is included. In not providing any opinions or text, Christian Campos allows the reader to form their own opinions and focuses on enlightening them about lots of varied street art pieces in order for them to do this.

I unearthed a new favourite street artist named Pariz One along the way. Whenever I was taken by a piece in a collage, it just so happened that it would usually be his! Visit his blog by following the link below and you will find lots of examples of the kind of beautiful art that is featured in 1000 Ideas for Graffiti and Street Art.

http://pariz-one.blogspot.com/

Perfect for those looking to begin their knowledge of street art or indeed pioneers merely wishing to indulge within it, this book would be an inspiring and fascinating conversation starter for any urban coffee table.

A la Mode Appraisal: 8/10

1000 Ideas for Graffiti and Street Art is published by Rockport Publishers and is available for £25.00.

If you liked this you may also like Street Art Contemporary Prints by Riikka Kuittinen.

Street Art Contemporary Prints by Riikka Kuittinen

17 Jan

Perception is one of the most fascinating notions, particularly when related to art. Differences in perception can lead to so many varying interpretations of a piece of art. Riikka draws upon this sentiment at the beginning of Street Art and reminds us to consider that the very phenomenon that we are reading about was once perceived by some as nothing more than graffiti. For this reason, Riikka leaves personal interpretations to a minimum and instead chooses to allow the prints themselves to speak to each individual reader accordingly.

Compiled using street art prints that have been collected by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the book is mainly a visual guide to street art highlights from all over the world. Prints are celebrated as an “affordable and democratic medium” and the ability to spread such art on a large scale is a point of discussion, “it is no coincidence that the escalators of the London Underground are a popular site for street-art stickers”. Artists such as Banksy, Sweet Toof and Evoker provide examples of art forms from screen prints to stickers and therefore take art from places such as the back of a skateboard to a theatre installation. The collection is punctuated with small explanatory sections and divided in accordance with topics of focus. Rather than giving extended detail on artists in particular, areas such as ‘Politics and Propaganda’ are presented with examples of established artists. The words in the book are not perhaps as important as the visuals and it seems that to engage with the art is the main task at hand when reading. Street Art itself is covered with a paper print of ‘Time Waits for No Man’ by Kerry Roper for the reader to enjoy at their own leisure.

My favourite piece was ‘CMYK’ by Blu.

Concluded with a small paragraph about each featured artist and details of websites to look to for more street art inspiration, this book would be a lovely addition either to an art fanatic’s book shelf or those who are looking to begin their street art education.

A la Mode Appraisal: 7/10

Street Art Contemporary Prints is published by V&A Publishing and will amuse and bemuse you for £14.99.

If you liked this you may also like 1000 Ideas for Graffiti and Street Art by Christian Campos.

What On Earth Are You Wearing? A Michipedia of Fashion by Michi Girl

16 Jan

“If you haven’t heard of Michi Girl, don’t worry, she hasn’t heard of you either.”

Welcome to the world of Michi Girl, a fictional weather girl created by Chloe Quigley and Daniel Pollock and “brought to life” by the illustrations of Kat Macleod. In a follow up to her first book, Like I Give A Frock, Michi Girl has released a Michipedia of Fashion that alphabetises common industry terms and gives playful explanations for them.

Before I began reading the book I was completely taken by its beautiful artwork. Both Michi Girl and the pages that she graces have been sketched and painted in many lovely configurations that have been accentuated further with different fabrics, prints and textures.  Once I had absorbed the prettiness of the book I embarked upon indulging in what I thought would be an idiots guide to fashion and, oh, how wrong I was! Michi Girl’s Michipedia is in fact a satirical guide to fashion for its knowing insiders. She combines quirky explanations for simple fashion terms and a few well crafted in jokes to amuse and inform her reader. Some examples:

Chicken Fillets: the breast friends of an A-cup.

Chanel: Old money.

Lycra: No.

Wig: In the words of a two-year-old I know, ‘a hair hat’.

In addition to acting as a fashion informant, Michi Girl also acts as a tongue-in-cheek agony aunt in little question and answer segments that punctuate the Michipedia. When she receives a letter from someone who was upset to have purchased a fake Chanel handbag her response began like this:

“Born in the early 70s to humble factory workers Louis Veeton and Donna Kebab, Cocoa Channel quickly made a name for herself in the fast fashion industry sewing upside-down crocodiles on polo shirts at her uncle’s Lacrock factory.”

Whether you’re a sucker for sweet, artsy creations or someone who knows their Dior from their Dolce and is looking for a giggle, this Michipedia is the perfect way to celebrate fashion whilst poking some fun at it at the same time. I guarantee you’ll end up being transfixed by the Michi Girl website too!

www.michigirl.com

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

What On Earth Are You Wearing? Is published by Apple Press and will brighten up your bookshelf (and your mood) for £12.99.

If you liked this you may also like Bethanie Lunn’s The Modern Girls Guide to Fabulousness.

Paris Between the Wars by Vincent Bouvet and Gérard Durozoi

11 Jan

Filled with stories of artists, musicians, fashion designers and the city life, Paris Between the Wars uses 489 photographs and illustrations to bring to life a period that the French called “les années folles” – the crazy years. Depicting Parisian life between 1919 and 1939, this book paints a clear picture of scenes and movements that flourished in Paris at a time when the world was in a grim position.

“Packed with evocative illustrations, this book is a vibrant kaleidoscope of the incomparable City of Light at its dazzling peak.”

Mesmerising is a section entitled ‘The World of Fashion’. This time period is referred to as ‘the golden age of haute couture’ by Vincent Bouvet and speaks of the incredible significance of the fashion industry during this time – it is stated that Parisian haute couture represented as much as 15% of France’s export trade during the 1930s. Providing snippets of information about the foundations of designers such as Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin, the roles of women in this society are also celebrated in an exciting and feminist twist.

Not only was the fashion itself spoken of in meticulous detail, from colours that designers preferred to types of models that different houses would employ, the influence of fashion on other Parisian elements is explored beautifully.  A memoir relived is the grand tradition of the ball, allowing for photographs of the likes of Picasso and his wife Olga in their finest attires. References such as this are frequent throughout the book; creative worlds such as art, fashion and music are all entwined and feed into one another as different aspects of Paris are explored. This style of writing accurately mirrors Parisian life of this time; the overlapping of these worlds was an enormous source of inspiration for lots of people in war time Paris.

An informative book, what I loved about it the most was its clear and concise photographs. Illustrations throughout the book were explained and contextualised in great detail; this enables the words to jump to life and allows the reader to truly feel as though they are in a Parisian past world. If you are intrigued by old glamour, fashion designers, artists, musicians, the world wars or indeed the city of Paris itself, I guarantee you will adore this book. An absolute must have.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Paris Between the Wars is published by Thames and Hudson and is cheaper than a trip to Paris, costing £28.00.