Friday, 27 June 2014

Plans for Nigel

Nigel Henderson, Parallel of Art and Life
Victoria Walsh
Thames & Hudson, London, 2001 

Nigel Henderson was an interesting character that I'm keen to learn more about. Well known as part of the Independent Group with the Smithsons and Eduardo Paolozzi, he also worked with Richard Hamilton on several important exhibitions at the ICA.

Pictogram, 1949-51
As a solo artist he made use of his formative association with the Paris surrealists and pals like Roland Penrose, employing collage and photography to capture the anarchic energy of urban life and mass-produced visual culture around his East London home through children's street games and the often overlooked inspiration to be found in detritus and graffiti.

Collage, 1949

Chisenhale Road, 1951

Chisenhale Road, 1951

Chisenhale Road, 1951

Chisenhale Road, 1951

Chisenhale Road, 1951

Barber's Shop Window, c.1949-53

Distressed Door, c.1949-53

Alison Smithson on site of Hunstanton School, c.1953

Head of Man, 1956

Atlas, 1954

Floor Collage, 1956

From 'Lovely Linda' series, c.1977
In later years he moved to Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex and taught photography at Norwich School of Art. He remained equivocal about his talents and art in general. Perhaps that's the effect East Anglia has on people.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


John Deakin
Vendome Press, New York, 1998
Portrait of John Deakin by Luke Kelly, 1970
A few weeks ago I visited an exhibition of the work of John Deakin at the Photographers Gallery in London. Deakin is well known as Francis Bacon's Soho drinking associate, verbal punchbag, and creator of photographs that served as sketch material for some of Bacon's strongest paintings. I have admired his work for many years and this was the first occasion I have had to see a selection of work exhibited. Not a big show but enough to stimulate and satisfy.
Prunella Scales, 1954

His work reproduces well, as the images here attest, but seeing the original prints up close one truly perceives the marvelous skill with which they were created, every pore of his subjects' skin exposed for scrutiny.
Kenneth Tynan, 1952

Dylan Thomas, 1950
The portrait and fashion work is only part of the story as he was also an undervalued recorder of street life, following in the tradition of French photography, in particular Brassai, whose images of Paris graffiti - 'The Language of the Wall' - proved an inspiration for Deakin.

Rome, 1950s
Paris, 1950s

Paris, 1950s

Paris, 1950s
His incomplete or neglected photobook 'London Walls' would have been a great addition to his portfolio, but alas no publishers were interested and so the project atrophied with Deakin's terminal alcoholism.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Paul Nash

To celebrate midsummer here are a few of my favourite artworks by Paul Nash suggesting the ancient strangeness found within the British landscape.

Happy solstice folks.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Ben and Bruce

It's time for a few more little gems from the British Pathé Film Archive, featuring artists BenVautier and Bruce Lacey. Ben has the nicest handwriting, which impressed me very much as a teenager seeing his work in Paris and Amsterdam. There's a shared junk shop aesthetic and a sort of transition from Beat to Pop. Ed Kienholz would make a good threesome.

Lacey is mocked a "professor" in inverted commas and "tragical comedian". He was in fact a real professor who taught at a number of art schools, a genuine tragical comedian reflecting the malaise in our society, and a bona fide artist who has followed his own path and refused to kowtow to convention. The world needs more like him.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

No Sleep Tilson

A couple of films about Joe Tilson, the first culled from an episode of the BBC's Monitor arts programme in 1964, showing the artist in London during the full bloom of Pop.


The second film from the BBC's Private Landscapes series of artist profiles shows a more hirsute Joe 12 years older, disillusioned with consumer society, living and working in the Wiltshire countryside.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Larging It

Creating in Collage
Natalie D'Arbeloff and Jack Yates
Studio Vista, London, 1970

I have quite a few old Studio Vista art and design guidebooks. Some are written by industry types for students and professionals, others like this seem written by and intended for the more amateur. The writers were a pair of old skool Hampstead bohemians who taught classes at the Camden Arts Centre when it was more of a down-at-heel community enterprise rather than the glamourous gallery space it is today.

The surrealists quickly grasped the potential for mental leaps and shifting associations in collaged media, and it remains a potent area for creativity in the digital age, though the images in this book were all designed using physical cut and paste technique. It's a relic of the past, as I was reminded looking at this page on Found Objects of another blog I used to write on some years ago.

Saturday, 14 June 2014


Ed McBain 
Penguin Books 
Harmondsworth, Middx, 1969
Cover design by Tony Palladino

Friday, 13 June 2014


Ellsworth Kelly - The Years in France, 1948-1954
Yve-Alain Bois (et al)
Munich, 1992 

Great catalogue published on the occasion of a partial retrospective at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu du Paume, Paris. I was familiar with the first two images but hadn't seen this series of spectrum collages. Pixelation avant la lettre, it seems many artists including the Great Gerhard Richter himself may have been 'inspired' by these works.

Seine, oil on wood, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance, oil on wood, 1951-53

Sanary, oil on wood, 1952

Colours for a Large Wall, Oil on canvas on wood, 1951

Spectrum I, oil on canvas, 1953

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance I, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance II, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance III, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance IV, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance V, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance VI, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance VII, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by Chance VIII, collage, 1951

Spectrum Colours Arranged by... hang on ...