We found – 39 articles for portraits

The 10 Best Street Art Books of 2018

Berlin-based specialized bookshop and gallery Urban Spree releases the list of the « 10 Best Street Art Books of 2018« , a compilation of this year’s best titles. Although purely subjective, it reflects several trends playing in the book market:

 

– a renewed focus on the works of the pioneers of the 1960-70s through an academic approach;

– an increase in artist monographs which put more emphasis on their studio works;

– we have entered the era of « post-graffiti »

– but vandal graffiti and underground street art resist well the assimilation;

 

The list of the best publications of 2018 comes in no particular order.

 

1° John Divola: Vandalism

One of the most striking books of the year, « Vandalism » singles out itself by the sobriety of its approach.It consists of a black-and-white photographic series shot over 2 years in the mid-70s by the American photographer John Divola. Divola travelled across L.A. in search of vacant and dilapidated properties in which to shoot his project. Armed with a camera, spray paint, string and cardboard, the artist would produce one of his most significant photographic series, painting abstract constellations of graffiti-like marks, ritualistic configurations of string hooked to pins, torn arrangements of cardboard, and photographing it.

« Vandalism » is not per se a « street art book » but rather a photobook crossing over both genres. The best example of a crossover book would be Bruce Davidson’s « Subway« , a series of portraits shot on the gritty NYC subway in the 70s where graffiti abounds but is only a sub-context, not the main topic (unlike Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant’s vernacular documentary photographic oeuvre whose main purpose is to specifically document graffiti).

 

Published by MACK Books, UK, in April 2018

Embossed paper-bound hardback

120 pages, 23.5 cm x 23.5 cm

Buy it here

 

2° Rafael Schacter: Street to Studio

“These are artists who are thus not slavishly reproducing their exterior practice within an interior realm but who are, rather, taking the essence of graffiti – its visual principles, its spatial structures, its technical methods, its entrenched ethics – and reinterpreting them with the studio domain,”writes Rafael Schacter in his introduction of his book Street to Studio.

We have entered the post-graffiti era. At a time where the graphic codes of street art are permeating most spheres of culture and entertainment, street artists have simultaneously enjoyed the favor of galleries and collectors and therefore have strongly developed their studio practice, when it was not in their ADN since the begining. What comes out is a blended space, where the artist works on both surfaces, the wall and the canvas, oscillating between different scales, the large and the intimate. Is this becoming a new paradigm in the art world?

The book introduces the concept of  ‘Intermural Art’ – art in-between the walls – to reflect that transition and has the merit of putting the emphasis on more conceptual players in the game (Brad Downey, Ian Strange, Boris Tellegen…) rather than usual suspects.

 

Published by Lund Humphries in July 2018

Edited by Rafael Schacter with a foreword by Carlo McCormick

Hardcover, 218 colour illustrations

224 Pages, 27 × 24,9 cm

Buy it here

 

3° David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night

Beginning in the late 1970s, the American artist David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism. Largely self-taught, he came to prominence in New York in the 1980s, a period marked by creative energy, financial precariousness, and profound cultural changes. Intersecting movements—graffiti, new and no wave music, conceptual photography, performance, and neo-expressionist painting—made New York a laboratory for innovation. Wojnarowicz refused a signature style, adopting a wide variety of techniques with an attitude of radical possibility. Distrustful of inherited structures, he varied his repertoire to better infiltrate the prevailing culture.

Wojnarowicz’s work documents and illuminates a desperate period of American history: that of the AIDS crisis and culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But his rightful place is also among the raging and haunting iconoclastic voices, from Walt Whitman to William S. Burroughs, who explore American myths, their perpetuation, their repercussions, and their violence. Wojnarowicz, who was thirty-seven when he died from AIDS-related complications, wrote: “To make the private into something public is an action that has terrific ramifications.”

 

Published by Yale University Press in July 2018

Hardcover, 384 pages

160 color + 100 b/w illustrations

Buy it here

 

4° BLU: Minima Muralia

Italian street artist BLU is one of the few street artists refusing to compromise with the art market, unwilling to translate his brillant art onto canvas, staying true to the origins of the movement – an underground, non-monetized, ephemeral, illegal & outdoor art practice for which the context and the meaning are the most important elements.

While Banksy excels in subverting the codes of the art world, BLU refuses them and strikes back, erasing the murals he painted to fight their monetization (Bologna, Berlin).

« Minima Muralia » presents each mural painted by the artist during the last 15 years, more than 200 walls.

 

 

Published by Zooo Press in March 2018

288 full color pages

17×24 cm, lay flat swiss binding

Buy it here

 

5° One Week With 1UP

Which brings us to the last frontier within the realm of the urban arts: graffiti. « One Week with 1UP » is the second published book by and about the legendary Berlin-based vandal graffiti crew 1UP.  This time, the Kreuzberg crew embarks NYC-based legendary documentary photographer Martha Cooper and Berlin-based photographer Ninja K. in a series of underground actions, through tunnels, rooftops, featuring high pressure fire extinguisher tags, roll-downs, roll-ups, street bombings, whole cars and backjumps in a first-hand account.

1UP is the ultimate modern graffiti crew in the 21st century: large, everywhere, powerful, fearless, defiant, invisible.

 

Self-Published, Berlin, 2018

A project by Martha Cooper, Ninja K. and 1UP

English/German, 144 pages, 31 x 22 cm

Buy it here

 

6° Klone: « Few Moments Ago I Was Here »

Klone is an Ukrianian-born, Tel-Aviv based street artist, a pioneer of graffiti in Israel and a visual artist who was the first to exhibit at Urban Spree and one of the reasons why we did the space in the first place. I stumbled upon his fist published book – « Don’t Sleep »– in 2011 and was so moved by its personal content, poetry, freedom, that I wanted to meet the man and work with him.

8 years later comes « Few Moments Ago I Was Here« ,  looking over those past 8 years of exhibitions, mural projects, installation, and animations.

« Few Moments Ago I Was Here » is an artist book. By this, we mean a book which is mainly thought, designed, created and published by the artist himself. We always try to get as many self-published and artist books in the bookshop because they are precious and unconventional. Of course they are difficult to source, as we can get our hands only on a small stock, they sell out fast and we need to replace them but we can’t get enough of them.

 

Self-Published, Tel Aviv, November 2018 (Hell No Publication)

Limited edition of 500 copies.

Softcover. Full colour offset print on Munken lynx paper.

Buy it here

 

7° Ian Strange: Islands 2015-2017

Continuing on the self-publication mood and echoing John Divola, the Australian artist Ian Strange  publishes « Islands 2015-2017 », a photographic monograph documenting his interventions on American suburban homes, in the wake of Gordon Matta-Clark or David Wojnarowicz.

Through photography, sculpture, research, found artefacts and drawings, « Island » reflects on the home through the metaphor of the desert island, a place of personal sovereignty but simultaneously entrapment. « Island » interplays the monumental with the intimate and intangible. Exploring the icon of the home as a deeply vulnerable object and personal vessel for memory, identity and aspiration.

 

Self-published

Limited edition of 400 hand numbered and signed books with a concertina print

25 x 34 cm

Buy it here

 

8° Jan Kalab: Point of Space

« Point of Space » is the first published monograph of the Czech graffiti and visual artist Jan Kaláb, covering 25 years of his urban and studio creations, through multiple art forms (paintings, 3D graffiti, bombings, sculptures, installations).

Jan Kaláb started as a pure graffiti writer and achieved fame under the monikers « CAKES » and « POINT ». From there, his practice evolved to murals and studio works, sculptures and canvases and this evolution, patiently documented, is fascinating to follow.

The book was edited by the artist himself with texts by the czech art critic Petr Volf.

 

 

Published by Trafacka/Trafo Gallery Prague, in November 2018

320 pages

Hard Cover, 25 cm x 32,5 cm

Texts by Petr Volf and book design by Jan Novák

Buy it here

 

9° Swet: Book of the Year

 

One of the last published books of 2018, « Book of the Year” is a comprehensive monograph encompassing 1 year of walls by the danish graffiti writer SWET.

A graffiti « tour de force », all the walls depicted in the book were painted in 2017 and amount to over 300 wall pieces, almost one per day, all of them documented in the book, including some sketches.

The book is bound with a piece of a canvas specially painted by SWET for this project and each book has a different binding, which also highlights the precise work of the dutch artisan publishing house Chemistry Publishing.

 

 

Published in November 2018 by Chemistry Publishing

First Edition of 500

240 pages printed on Munken Crystal Rough

Cover embossed with green linen, 24 x 28,5 cm

Buy it here

 

10° Russian Urban Art: History and Conflict

Street art books are usually more about photographs and visual documentation than text. Few history books actually exist on the graffiti and street art movements, let alone about a peripheral movement such as street art in Russia.

It is therefore the merit of the Russian artist and curator Igor Ponosov to examine the power of street art in Russia by exploring its historical background, extending from the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, to the non-conformists and the actionists of the 21st century.

 

 

Self-Published, Moscow, June 2018

Edition of 500

Hardcover, 20 x 15 cm, 96 pages, English

Buy it here

 



Anthony Lister’s solo show until 20.10.2018

Anthony Lister‘s solo show at Urban Spree Galerie – « Sneaky Bit In » – which opened last week in Berlin, will be on display for 1 month until 20.10.2018 and will be our flagship exhibition during the Berlin Art Week (26-30.09.2018).

 

 

The exhibition is the outcome of 3 weeks of an intense residency in Berlin, during which the Australian artist produced a painting cycle based around the 1973 cult movie « The Holy Mountain » by Alejandro Jodorowski and incorporating mythological & biblical elements, as well as clear references to Picasso and Damien Hirst. Lister has been obsessively confronting himself to Picasso during the last 6 months and his new production marks a step away from his most famous cycles (superheroes, ballerinas), albeit retaining some aspects of the recent flower cycle (sunflowers in the « Pan As Pimp » painting), and incorporating some lister-esque elements and details, which makes a Lister painting a Lister painting.

3 very large paintings (each 280 x 300 cm) compose the backbone of the exhibition, including a revisitation of Picasso’s « Les demoiselles d’Avignon » (« Pan As Pimp« ). 3 medium-sized portraits of women complete the painting cycle. Besides this new series of paintings, Lister produced a sculpture and a short movie hacking the Jodorowski film by incorporating the artist’s face, voice-over, subverting it, self-editing on his cell phone.

 

In addition to the exhibition, Anthony Lister painted the Urban Spree Artist Wall (15 x 8 m). The mural tells of an alternative narrative to the painting « Tearing at the Bit » whereby the two characters of the ram and the tiger are being cast in a different manner, as well as in the painting style, this time reminiscent of Egon Schiele, painted only with a small roller fixed on top a a 6m extension pole. a paint-fueled fire extinguisher, and touches of spray paint.

The residency itself implies a lot of uncertainties as the artist is brought out of his comfort zone and the creative alterations, urgency, and risk-taking thereof are part of the process. For this residency, Lister created a studio full of references, sketches, citations, while numerous canvases were laid on the floor and painted, expanding the initial corpus set by the 3 major paintings. None of these paintings made it to the exhibition but were an essential part of the creative process and part of the artist’s universe for a part of the journey.

 

The gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00-19:00 or by appointment (galerie@urbanspree.com).

The catalogue of the show is available here.

The video has been filmed and edited by Gabriel Sousa (Devir Producoes, Sao Paulo) while photographs are shot by Gabriel Sousa and Lara Beins.

Great article/recension by BSA here.



Urban Spree participates to Berlin’s first « Urban Art Week »

From 05 to 12 September 2018, Urban Spree will be part of the first URBAN ART WEEK, a new format for the Urban Art movement, which will be launched throughout Berlin. The Opening Night will happen at Urban Spree on the 05/09.

The Urban Art Week presents a comprehensive program and insights into the participating locations and projects under one roof. The format serves both to make Urban Art visible and to mediate, as well as to improve networking between local actors.

The URBAN ART WEEK provides insights into the locations and work of the participants, who present their own program for the URBAN ART WEEK. This gives visitors the opportunity to get to know Urban Art, Street art and Graffiti Writing within one week. The art program includes numerous exhibitions in galleries, project rooms, art spaces and institutions as well as performances, live painting and artistically designed walls.

A supporting program accompanies the URBAN ART WEEK: workshops by experts offer professional training and useful information for the daily work of artists and cultural workers. The two-day film program shows experimental films, portraits and documentaries about the French and German scene. Daily Street Art tours by local experts give visitors an insight into Urban Art in Berlin. Artists offer workshops for all ages to try out different techniques.

In Berlin, Urban Art has become an integral part of the cityscape, and large murals and surprising interventions in urban space can be found regularly. The city and its marketing is also adorned with the colourful paintings of its Urban Art artists, as is the local creative industry. But is there a dialogue between the scene and the city? Where is the line drawn between professional art and exploitation through increasingly fast-moving advertising purposes? Do we still have to ask the question whether Urban Art is art at all? The first URBAN ART WEEK pursues these thought-provoking impulses. In addition to discussions with representatives from city politics and local art institutions, the scene meets at workshops and symposia to discuss the concept of Urban Art and its own self- image. The week should leave something behind for the Berlin scene, it should convey a lasting value to the fast-moving Urban Art and create a basis for future communication.

Urban Art in Berlin has been around for decades and the media attention for it has increased. Berlin’s claim as an Urban Art Mecca is not only demonstrated by the last major exhibition projects with record attendance. The many small and independent art venues, project spaces and freelance artists who have been active in Berlin since the 1980s, have created the breeding ground for the subversive Berlin mix, that now makes the capital so attractive. URBAN ART WEEK is committed to their recognition and networking and ennobles the local scene with a gold medal – because Urban Art has actually earned this here for a long time. The program booklet with a city map, a website and a broad publicity campaign in German and English will accompany the week from 5 to 12 September 2018.

Further information under www.urbanartweek.de



Various & Gould: Identikit Generator

In 2007, the Berlin-based artist duo Various & Gould launched the Identikit series, a reflection on multiple identities, through a choice of faces & words composing endless variations and contradictions.

10 years later, the duo is invited by the Leipzig Book Fair 2018 to introduce an updated version of the series, focused on Europe and its numerous crises and issues.

This project discusses the topic of immigration, identities and clichés. Identities are highly complex and always diverse whereas clichés are the embodiment of simplification.

To visualize this issue, Various & Gould have chosen a technique known from children’s books. Portraits of prominent personages and words are horizontally cut into strips enabling to rearrange them in endless variations. There are numerous different options – some make sense, some do not, but most invoke images confronting the viewer with own stereotypes and clichés.

The duo has developed a digital version, where users can compose their own motives and then publish online. So far, the version uses only german words but an english version should be available soon.

You can access the generator here: http://variousandgould.com/identikit-generator/



Michael Schmidt’s « Waffenruhe » reprinted

30 years after its original and only release in 1987, Michael Schmidt’s legendary and long out-of-print photobook « Waffenruhe«  (« Ceasefire« ) – considered as the best photobook about Berlin at the time of the Wall – is now being republished by Walther Koenig and Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst.

The photographic series was originally exhibited in Berlin in 1987 at the Berlinische Galerie in GropiusBau. In Waffenruhe, Schmidt shows West Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall by combining portraits of youths with images of anonymous sites bordering the Wall and the Wall itself. As is characteristic of his work, it is the arrangement of the individual photographs and the use of high contrasts — the interplay and dialogue between the multi-layered images — that gives the images their distinct meaning, revealing the correlation between historical events and individual biographies.

Schmidt evokes a world of ruptures and absences that eschews a confident, comprehensive point of view. The images work with Schleef’s text to create a brusque, entirely individual perspective on the fragility of human existence.

This artist’s book – often included on lists of the most influential photographic books of all time – is once again being made available. Two versions are available, german or english.

In addition to the book release, the Volksbühne theater in Berlin is projecting Waffenruhe’s photographs and text on its façade. Curated by Thomas Weski, the projection will be on display every night (from darkness to midnight) until 13.03.2008.

About the Photographer: 

Michael Schmidt was born in 1945 in Berlin, where he died in 2014. His works can be found in national and international collections and have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions.

In 1976, Michael Schmidt founded the Werkstatt für Fotografie at VHS Berlin-Kreuzberg, which became a major forum for international discussions on photography in (West) Berlin. In 1987 he exhibited Waffenruhe at Berlinische Galerie. In 1988 the Museum of Modern Art, New York presented the work in the exhibition „New Photography 4″. In 1996 Ein-heit was shown for the first time at MoMA, New York under its English title U-ni-ty. This was the first solo-exhibition of a German photographer at MoMA since decades. In the same year, Ein-heit was presented for the first time in Germany at Sprengel Museum Hanover. In 1995, a first survey exhibition of his work was on view at Museum Folkwang Essen. In 2010 Michael Schmidt presented his comprehensive survey exhibition “Grey as Colour. Photographs since 2009” at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Lebensmittel (Food) was presented in solo exhibitions at Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2012), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2013) and at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2013).

Michael Schmidt participated in the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013, and the Berlin Biennial in 2006 and 2010. In 2014 the artist was awarded with the Prix Pictet for his series « Lebensmittel ».

The Foundation for Photography and Media Art with the Michael Schmidt Archive was founded in 1999, and since the artist’s death is organising and preserving the artist’s archive (www.archivmichaelschmidt.de). Thomas Weski, curator of the Michael Schmidt Foundation, is currently working on a retrospective of the artist’s work at Nationalgalerie Berlin in 2020.

 



Opening of Toums’ solo show « Primitive Acids »

Urban Spree Galerie presents « Primitive Acids » a photographic exhibition by Toums from 20.10 to 12.11.2017. The Opening Reception will be held on Friday, October 20th from 19:00 to 22:00.

« Primitive Acids » is the first German solo show of the French experimental analog photographer Thomas Gosset a.k.a. Toums.

Wandering between his native Bordeaux and Berlin, Toums redefines the medium of analog artistic photography by attacking his negatives with acids, ink, paint and other physical alterations and combining his skillsets with a dark contemporary mythology.

Working in darkroom and strictly excluding all forms of modern technique, his practice lurks in the footsteps of the late 19th century pioneers and early 20th century surrealist avant-gardes.

Portraits are his preferred genre. Toums destructures them until they achieve the transmutated vision that the artist has assigned to them. Like a deus ex machina, the photographer creates the portrait with his camera and subsequently creates the final image through his manipulations ex-post.

Utterly disrespectful of the medium, desacralizing it in order to provide a new meaning, Toums is a rare breed of an iconoclast photographer, with filiation looking towards Joel-Peter Witkin, Pierre Molinier, and Roger Ballen.

His direct and deadly intervention on the film, the materia prima of his work, procures a highly unstable result. Soon to be destroyed by acids, slowly corroding the matter, the films are revealed in the darkroom process and printed on silver gelatin. As the film returns to dust, the portraits become fugitives, trying to escape their own fate, living in a printed dimension and refusing mortality. It is no accident that most Toums compositions are building a new mythology with some elements borrowed from the Greek corpus of myths.

« I destroy my own films with the intention of entering in the very heart of the photosensitive material, which allows me to have a direct control over the frozen reality that I destructure at will. The goal being to understand this matter as painting with the intention of pushing back the normal process of photography to expand my own field of investigation and thus regain an imaginative and narrative freedom. For years I wanted to freeze absurd moments in reality. »

Urban Spree Galerie
Revaler Str. 99
10245 Berlin

20.10-12.11 2017

Tu-Sa : 12:00-18 :30

Galerie enquiries: pascal@urbanspree.com

Press enquiries: diana@urbanspree.com