Gerald Anthony Scarfe (b.1936) English caricaturist, illustrator for The New Yorker and editorial cartoonist for The Sunday Times. A former friend of the caricaturist Ralph Steadman, Scarfe was an early contributor to the scurrilous magazine Private Eye during the 1960s and 1970s, and also created illustrations for The Daily Sketch, The Evening Standard and Punch magazine. Later he produced caricatures for the credits of the famous satirical TV shows Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, as well as a series of drawings expressing the heroic and heinous characteristics of famous Britons, including: Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, The Beatles and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Searle had one of the longest, most productive and wide ranging career of any 20th century caricaturist, working in book and magazine illustration, travel reportage, war reporting, political caricature, theatre, film and medal design.
His methods range from simple exaggeration of facial features, costumes and fashion fads; clever juxtapositions and contrasts of body types; absurd, nonsense comedy; physical, burlesque comedy; dark humour; bawdy humour; and more complicated word-play, with the interplay of word and image or ironic literary allusions.
Born and based in Cambridge
Fiztwilliam Museum 13 October 2015 to 31 January 2016.
In 1957 Standard Oil commissioned Searle to design the short which saw him visit America for the first time. The film was produced through Transfilm with the actual animation created by Dave Hilberman (a founding member of UPA) at Playhouse Pictures with Bill Melendez supervising animation and Art Babbitt animating at Quartet Films in Los Angeles. Searle spent several months in the US where his time was split between the ad agency (McCann-Erickson) in New York and the production outfits in LA.
“In that 16 minutes nearly 25,000 drawings were shown. The cost was four months work, often night and day, by something like 150 people and an expenditure of 450, 000 dollars.”
Wine & Spirit Trade Review, 7 March 1958
My Drawings expressed my despair, hate and disillusionment, I drew drunkards; puking men; men with clenched fists cursing at the moon. … I drew a man, face filled with fright, washing blood from his hands … I drew lonely little men fleeing madly through empty streets. I drew a cross-section of tenement house: through one window could be seen a man attacking his wife; through another, two people making love; from a third hung a suicide with body covered by swarming flies. I drew soldiers without noses; war cripples with crustacean-like steel arms; two medical soldiers putting a violent infantryman into a strait-jacket made of a horse blanket … I drew a skeleton dressed as a recruit being examined for military duty. I also wrote poetry. — George Grosz
George Grosz (July 26, 1893 – July 6, 1959) was a German artist known especially for his caricatural drawings and paintings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during the Weimar Republic.
George Grosz was born Georg Ehrenfried Groß (German: [ɡʀoːs]) in Berlin, Germany, the son of a pub owner. His parents were devoutly Lutheran. Grosz grew up in the Pomeranian town of Stolp (Słupsk). In 1916 he changed the spelling of his name to George Grosz as a protest against German nationalism and out of a romantic enthusiasm for America which he retained for the rest of his life. In January 1917 he was drafted for service, but in May he was discharged as permanently unfit.
In the last months of 1918, Grosz joined the Spartacist League, which was renamed the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in December 1918. He was arrested during the Spartakus uprising in January 1919, but escaped using fake identification documents. In 1921 Grosz was accused of insulting the army, which resulted in a 300 German Mark fine and the destruction of the collection Gott mit uns (“God with us”), a satire on German society.
In 1922 Grosz traveled to Russia with the writer Martin Andersen Nexø. Upon their arrival in Murmansk they were briefly arrested as spies; after their credentials were approved they were allowed to meet with Grigory Zinoviev, Anatoly Lunacharsky, and Vladimir Lenin. Grosz’s six-month stay in the Soviet Union left him unimpressed by what he had seen. He ended his membership in the KPD in 1923, although his political positions were little changed.
In 1928 he was prosecuted for blasphemy after publishing anticlerical drawings, such as one depicting prisoners under assault from a minister who vomits grenades and weapons onto them, and another showing Christ coerced into military service. According to historian David Nash, Grosz “publicly stated that he was neither Christian nor pacifist, but was actively motivated by an inner need to create these pictures”, and was finally acquitted after two appeals. By contrast, in 1942 Time magazine identified Grosz as a pacifist.
Bitterly anti-Nazi, Grosz left Germany shortly before Hitler came to power. In June 1932, he accepted an invitation to teach the summer semester at the Art Students League of New York. In October 1932, Grosz returned to Germany, but on January 12, 1933 he and his family emigrated to America. Grosz became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938, and made his home in Bayside, New York.
In America, Grosz determined to make a clean break with his past, and changed his style and subject matter.In the 1930s he taught at the Art Students League, where one of his students was Romare Bearden, who was influenced by his style of collage. He continued to exhibit regularly, and in 1946 he published his autobiography, A Little Yes and a Big No. In the 1950s he opened a private art school at his home and also worked as Artist in Residence at the Des Moines Art Center. Grosz was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician in 1950. In 1954 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Though he had US citizenship, he resolved to return to Berlin, where he died on July 6, 1959 from the effects of falling down a flight of stairs after a night of drinking.
George Grosz, Daum marries her pedantic automaton George in May 1920, John Heartfield is very glad of it, Berlinische Galerie
Made in Germany (German: Den macht uns keiner nach), by George Grosz, drawn in pen 1919, photo-lithograph published 1920 in the portfolio God with us (German: Gott mit Uns). Sheet 48.3 x 39.1 cm. In the collection of the MoMA
Although Grosz made his first oil paintings in 1912 while still a student, his earliest oils that can be identified today date from 1916. By 1914, Grosz worked in a style influenced by Expressionism and Futurism, as well as by popular illustration, graffiti, and children’s drawings. Sharply outlined forms are often treated as if transparent. The City (1916–17) was the first of his many paintings of the modern urban scene. Other examples include the apocalyptic Explosion (1917), Metropolis (1917), and The Funeral, a 1918 painting depicting a mad funeral procession.
In his drawings, usually in pen and ink which he sometimes developed further with watercolor, Grosz did much to create the image most have of Berlin and the Weimar Republic in the 1920s. Corpulent businessmen, wounded soldiers, prostitutes, sex crimes and orgies were his great subjects (for example, see Fit for Active Service). His draftsmanship was excellent although the works for which he is best known adopt a deliberately crude form of caricature. His oeuvre includes a few absurdist works, such as Remember Uncle August the Unhappy Inventor which has buttons sewn on it, and also includes a number of erotic artworks.
After his emigration to the USA in 1933, Grosz “sharply rejected [his] previous work, and caricature in general.” In place of his earlier corrosive vision of the city, he now painted conventional nudes and many landscape watercolors. More acerbic works, such as Cain, or Hitler in Hell (1944), were the exception. In his autobiography, he wrote: “A great deal that had become frozen within me in Germany melted here in America and I rediscovered my old yearning for painting. I carefully and deliberately destroyed a part of my past.” Although a softening of his style had been apparent since the late 1920s, Grosz’s work assumed a more sentimental tone in America, a change generally seen as a decline. His late work never achieved the critical success of his Berlin years.
From 1947 to 1959, George Grosz lived in Huntington, New York, where he taught painting at the Huntington Township Art League. It is said by locals that he used what was to become his most famous painting, Eclipse of the Sun, to pay for a car repair bill, in his relative penury. The painting was later acquired by house painter Tom Constantine to settle a debt of $104.00. The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington purchased the painting in 1968 for $15,000.00, raising the money by public subscription. As Eclipse of the Sun portrays the warmongering of arms manufacturers, this painting became a destination of protesters of the Viet Nam War in Heckscher Park (where the museum is sited) in the late 1960s and early 70s.
In 2006, the Heckscher proposed selling Eclipse of the Sun at its then-current appraisal of approximately $19,000,000.00 to pay for repairs and renovations to the building. There was such public outcry that the museum decided not to sell, and announced plans to create a dedicated space for display of the painting in the renovated museum.
The Grosz estate filed a lawsuit in 1995 against the Manhattan art dealer Serge Sabarsky, arguing that Sabarsky had deprived the estate of appropriate compensation for the sale of hundreds of Grosz works he had acquired. In the suit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the Grosz estate claims that Sabarsky secretly acquired 440 Grosz works for himself, primarily drawings and watercolors produced in Germany in the 1910s and 20s. The lawsuit was settled in summer in 2006.
In 2003 the Grosz family initiated a legal battle against the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, asking that three paintings be returned. According to documents, the paintings were sold to the Nazis after Grosz fled the country in 1933. The museum never settled the claim, arguing that a three-year statute of limitations in bringing such a claim had expired. It is well documented that the Nazis stole thousands of paintings during World War II and many heirs of German painters continue to fight powerful museums to reclaim such works.
Hambling, M. 2009. You Are the Sea, Great Britain, Lux Books.
Hambling, M. 2010. The Aldeburgh Scallop, Suffolk, Full Circle Editions.
Hambling, M. 2010. The Sea, Salford Quays, Lowry Press.
Maggi Hambling is a British painter, sculptor and printmaker. Born in Suffolk, she has a particular link with Aldeburgh through her Waves paintings and prints – evocative of the ways the North Sea has ravaged the coast. Her recent work has had a much more political stance, for example in War and Requiem, and also in Edge the exhibition that was showing in Aldeburgh Peter Peers Gallery at the beginning of my visit for Project 4.2 ‘Aldeburgh Diary’.
The North Sea, often like a raging beast, is eating away and changing the shoreline forever. As I get older, I identify with the shifting shingle, as time, like the sea, enforces an inevitable erosion. But this raging beast is as demanding as a lover and I am still seduced and challenged. (2010 The Sea p18)
“As the waves of the North Sea voraciously consume our coast, these new paintings respond to the energy of their action as they break. This sea, the widest of mouths, roaring or laughing, is always seductive. Life and death mysteriously co-exist in the timeless rhythm of the waves.” Maggi Hambling, 2010 Wave website Fitzwilliam Museum
I am the shifting shingle, you approach with stealth, then the dark rooms of your curves, I am tossed, lost, displaced, with greedy lovers’ tongues and lips, you suck in and in again. we rise together, we rise together, then float safe on liquid breasts until the dance begins again and you thrust deep and my resistance is low, dissolve, dissolve. no defence against your relentless advance. I am but a ghost of the shore, disappeared in you. (2009 You Are the Sea text)
This exhibition is more political than much of her earlier work on the sea, dealing with the refugee crisis, battle for Aleppo and global warming.
It is called Edge because I feel we are ‘on the edge’. There is a fragility to our existence – both ours and the planet and these works attempt to address that and strike up a dialogue with whoever is looking at them.
The Edge paintings are large, with characteristic dramatic swirls of texture, that then on further looking show fine detail – people, remains of buildings and boats caught up in the chaos. The global warming paintings have a lot of gold, echoing renaissance paintings – but gold is now a reference to greed.
Hambling also designed the controversial Scallop sculpture on the beach at Aldeburgh that references the life and work of Benjamin Britten whose opera Peter Grimes was based on Aldeburgh. Part of the controversy comes from continuing homophobia of protesters.
The words read:
I hear those voices that will not be drowned
This first video below begins with very atmospheric photography of the Scallop and sea and sky in Aldeburgh to Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes opera – then unfortunately it descends into farce.
This second video has film of Maggi Hambling sketching to the Storm section from Peter Grimes opera.
While many illustrators have continued to use the simple materials of pen and wash, line and watercolour, established during the eighteenth century as a way to draw caricatures, others have explored the possibility of collage and photomontage as a way of directly using the image of their subjects. Using collage can be quicker and more direct, especially if caricature is not your thing, but accessing source material can be harder and if you’re publishing your work you can run into all sorts of copyright issues.
Collage (from the French: coller, “to glue”; French pronunciation: [kɔ.laʒ]) is a technique of an art production, primarily used in the visual arts, where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.
A collage may sometimes include magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbons, paint, bits of colored or handmade papers, portions of other artwork or texts, photographs and other found objects, glued to a piece of paper or canvas. The origins of collage can be traced back hundreds of years, but this technique made a dramatic reappearance in the early 20th century as an art form of novelty.
Hannah Höch, Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany, 1919, collage of pasted papers, 90×144 cm, Staatliche Museum, Berlin.
Despite the pre-twentieth-century use of collage-like application techniques, some art authorities argue that collage, properly speaking, did not emerge until after 1900, in conjunction with the early stages of modernism.
For example, the Tate Gallery‘s online art glossary states that collage “was first used as an artists’ technique in the twentieth century.”. According to the Guggenheim Museum‘s online art glossary, collage is an artistic concept associated with the beginnings of modernism, and entails much more than the idea of gluing something onto something else. The glued-on patches which Braque and Picasso added to their canvases offered a new perspective on painting when the patches “collided with the surface plane of the painting.” In this perspective, collage was part of a methodical reexamination of the relation between painting and sculpture, and these new works “gave each medium some of the characteristics of the other,” according to the Guggenheim essay. Furthermore, these chopped-up bits of newspaper introduced fragments of externally referenced meaning into the collision: “References to current events, such as the war in the Balkans, and to popular culture enriched the content of their art.” This juxtaposition of signifiers, “at once serious and tongue-in-cheek,” was fundamental to the inspiration behind collage: “Emphasizing concept and process over end product, collage has brought the incongruous into meaningful congress with the ordinary.”
Collage in the modernist sense began with Cubist paintersGeorges Braque and Pablo Picasso. According to some sources, Picasso was the first to use the collage technique in oil paintings. According to the Guggenheim Museum‘s online article about collage, Braque took up the concept of collage itself before Picasso, applying it to charcoal drawings. Picasso adopted collage immediately after (and was perhaps indeed the first to use collage in paintings, as opposed to drawings):
“It was Braque who purchased a roll of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and began cutting out pieces of the paper and attaching them to his charcoal drawings. Picasso immediately began to make his own experiments in the new medium.”
In 1912 for his Still Life with Chair Caning (Nature-morte à la chaise cannée), Picasso pasted a patch of oilcloth with a chair-cane design onto the canvas of the piece.
Surrealist artists have made extensive use of collage. Cubomania is a collage made by cutting an image into squares which are then reassembled automatically or at random. Collages produced using a similar, or perhaps identical, method are called etrécissements by Marcel Mariën from a method first explored by Mariën. Surrealist games such as parallel collage use collective techniques of collage making.
Another technique is that of canvas collage, which is the application, typically with glue, of separately painted canvas patches to the surface of a painting’s main canvas. Well known for use of this technique is British artist John Walker in his paintings of the late 1970s, but canvas collage was already an integral part of the mixed media works of such American artists as Conrad Marca-Relli and Jane Frank by the early 1960s. The intensely self-critical Lee Krasner also frequently destroyed her own paintings by cutting them into pieces, only to create new works of art by reassembling the pieces into collages.
What may be called wood collage is the dominant feature in this 1964 mixed media painting by Jane Frank (1918–1986)
The wood collage is a type that emerged somewhat later than paper collage. Kurt Schwitters began experimenting with wood collages in the 1920s after already having given up painting for paper collages. The principle of wood collage is clearly established at least as early as his ‘Merz Picture with Candle’, dating from the mid to late 1920s.
It is also interesting to note that wood collage in a sense made its debut, indirectly, at the same time as paper collage, since (according to the Guggenheim online), Georges Braque initiated use of paper collage by cutting out pieces of simulated oak-grain wallpaper and attaching them to his own charcoal drawings. Thus, the idea of gluing wood to a picture was implicitly there from the start, since the paper used in the very first paper collages was a commercial product manufactured to look like wood.
It was during a fifteen-year period of intense experimentation beginning in the mid-1940s that Louise Nevelson evolved her sculptural wood collages, assembled from found scraps, including parts of furniture, pieces of wooden crates or barrels, and architectural remnants like stair railings or moldings. Generally rectangular, very large, and painted black, they resemble gigantic paintings. Concerning Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral (1958), the Museum of Modern Art catalogue states, “As a rectangular plane to be viewed from the front, Sky Cathedral has the pictorial quality of a painting…” Yet such pieces also present themselves as massive walls or monoliths, which can sometimes be viewed from either side, or even looked through.
Much wood collage art is considerably smaller in scale, framed and hung as a painting would be. It usually features pieces of wood, wood shavings, or scraps, assembled on a canvas (if there is painting involved), or on a wooden board. Such framed, picture-like, wood-relief collages offer the artist an opportunity to explore the qualities of depth, natural color, and textural variety inherent in the material, while drawing on and taking advantage of the language, conventions, and historical resonances that arise from the tradition of creating pictures to hang on walls. The technique of wood collage is also sometimes combined with painting and other media in a single work of art.
Frequently, what is called “wood collage art” uses only natural wood – such as driftwood, or parts of found and unaltered logs, branches, sticks, or bark. This raises the question of whether such artwork is collage (in the original sense) at all (see Collage and modernism). This is because the early, paper collages were generally made from bits of text or pictures – things originally made by people, and functioning or signifying in some cultural context. The collage brings these still-recognizable “signifiers” (or fragments of signifiers) together, in a kind of semiotic collision. A truncated wooden chair or staircase newel used in a Nevelson work can also be considered a potential element of collage in the same sense: it had some original, culturally determined context. Unaltered, natural wood, such as one might find on a forest floor, arguably has no such context; therefore, the characteristic contextual disruptions associated with the collage idea, as it originated with Braque and Picasso, cannot really take place. (Driftwood is of course sometimes ambiguous: while a piece of driftwood may once have been a piece of worked wood – for example, part of a ship – it may be so weathered by salt and sea that its past functional identity is nearly or completely obscured.)
Decoupage is a type of collage usually defined as a craft. It is the process of placing a picture into an object for decoration. Decoupage can involve adding multiple copies of the same image, cut and layered to add apparent depth. The picture is often coated with varnish or some other sealant for protection.
In the early part of the 20th century, decoupage, like many other art methods, began experimenting with a less realistic and more abstract style. 20th-century artists who produced decoupage works include Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. The most famous decoupage work is Matisse’s Blue Nude II.
There are many varieties on the traditional technique involving purpose made ‘glue’ requiring fewer layers (often 5 or 20, depending on the amount of paper involved). Cutouts are also applied under glass or raised to give a three-dimensional appearance according to the desire of the decouper. Currently decoupage is a popular handicraft.
The craft became known as découpage in France (from the verb découper, ‘to cut out’) as it attained great popularity during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many advanced techniques were developed during this time, and items could take up to a year to complete due to the many coats and sandings applied. Some famous or aristocratic practitioners included Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, and Beau Brummell. In fact the majority of decoupage enthusiasts attribute the beginning of decoupage to 17th century Venice. However it was known before this time in Asia.
The most likely origin of decoupage is thought to be East Siberianfunerary art. Nomadic tribes would use cut out felts to decorate the tombs of their deceased. From Siberia, the practice came to China, and by the 12th century, cut out paper was being used to decorate lanterns, windows, boxes and other objects. In the 17th century, Italy, especially in Venice, was at the forefront of trade with the Far East and it is generally thought that it is through these trade links that the cut out paper decorations made their way into Europe.
Collage made from photographs, or parts of photographs, is called photomontage. Photomontage is the process (and result) of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining a number of other photographs. The composite picture was sometimes photographed so that the final image is converted back into a seamless photographic print. The same method is accomplished today using image-editing software. The technique is referred to by professionals as compositing.
Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? was created in 1956 for the catalogue of the This Is Tomorrow exhibition in London, England in which it was reproduced in black and white. In addition, the piece was used in posters for the exhibit. Richard Hamilton has subsequently created several works in which he reworked the subject and composition of the pop art collage, including a 1992 version featuring a female bodybuilder. Many artists have created derivative works of Hamilton’s collage. P. C. Helm made a year 2000 interpretation.
Other methods for combining pictures are also called photomontage, such as Victorian “combination printing”, the printing from more than one negative on a single piece of printing paper (e.g. O. G. Rejlander, 1857), front-projection and computer montage techniques. Much as a collage is composed of multiple facets, artists also combine montage techniques. Romare Bearden’s (1912–1988) series of black and white “photomontage projections” is an example. His method began with compositions of paper, paint, and photographs put on boards 8½ × 11 inches. Bearden fixed the imagery with an emulsion that he then applied with handroller. Subsequently, he enlarged the collages photographically.
The 19th century tradition of physically joining multiple images into a composite and photographing the results prevailed in press photography and offset lithography until the widespread use of digital image editing. Contemporary photo editors in magazines now create “paste-ups” digitally.
Creating a photomontage has, for the most part, become easier with the advent of computer software such as Adobe Photoshop, Pixel image editor, and GIMP. These programs make the changes digitally, allowing for faster workflow and more precise results. They also mitigate mistakes by allowing the artist to “undo” errors. Yet some artists are pushing the boundaries of digital image editing to create extremely time-intensive compositions that rival the demands of the traditional arts. The current trend is to create pictures that combine painting, theatre, illustration and graphics in a seamless photographic whole.
Digital collage is the technique of using computer tools in collage creation to encourage chance associations of disparate visual elements and the subsequent transformation of the visual results through the use of electronic media. It is commonly used in the creation of digital art.
A 3D collage is the art of putting altogether three-dimensional objects such as rocks, beads, buttons, coins, or even soil to form a new whole or a new object. Examples can include houses, bead circles, etc.
It is the art of putting together or assembling of small pieces of paper, tiles, marble, stones, etc. They are often found in cathedrals, churches, temples as a spiritual significance of interior design.Small pieces, normally roughly quadratic, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern or picture.
Solnit was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother, and in 1966 her family moved to Novato, California, where she grew up. “I was a battered little kid,” she said of her childhood. She skipped high school altogether, enrolling in an alternative junior high in the public school system that took her through tenth grade, when she passed the GED. Thereafter she enrolled in junior college. When she was 17, she went to study in Paris. She returned to California to finish her college education at San Francisco State University. She then received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984 and has been an independent writer since 1988.
Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper’s Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She was also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and is (as of 2018) a regular contributor to LitHub.
Solnit is the author of seventeen books as well as essays in numerous museum catalogs and anthologies. Her 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster began as an essay called “The Uses of Disaster: Notes on Bad Weather and Good Government” published by Harper’s magazine the day that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. It was partially inspired by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which Solnit described as “a remarkable occasion…a moment when everyday life ground to a halt and people looked around and hunkered down”. In a conversation with filmmaker Astra Taylor for BOMB magazine, Solnit summarized the radical theme of A Paradise Built in Hell: “What happens in disasters demonstrates everything an anarchist ever wanted to believe about the triumph of civil society and the failure of institutional authority.”
In 2014, Haymarket Books published Men Explain Things to Me, a collection of short essays written about instances of “mansplaining.” Solnit has been credited with paving the way for the coining of the word “mansplaining,” which has been used to refer to instances in which men explain things (generally toward women) in a condescending and/or patronizing way, but Solnit did not use it in the original essay. Solnit’s book included illustrations from visual and performance artist Ana Teresa Fernández.
In 2019, Solnit rewrote a new version of Cinderella, also for Haymarket Books, called Cinderella Liberator. In this feminist revision, Solnit reclaims Ella from the cinders and gives both the prince (“Prince Nevermind” in her version) and Ella new futures that involve thinking for themselves, acting out free will, starting businesses, and becoming friends, rather than dependent lovers. As Syreeta McFadden argued for NBC News, Cinderella has long been retold, changing with the times and this was a much needed revision. Solnit’s retelling is creative in that she uses the original Arthur Rackham’s original silhouetted drawings of Cinderella, but liberates her through research, words, and story.
New York Times book critic Dwight Garner called Solnit “the kind of rugged, off-road public intellectual America doesn’t produce often enough. … Solnit’s writing, at its worst, can be dithering and self-serious, Joan Didionwithout the concision and laser-guided wit. At her best, however […] she has a rare gift: the ability to turn the act of cognition, of arriving at a coherent point of view, into compelling moral drama.”
Scarfolk is a fictional northern English town created by writer and designer Richard Littler, who is sometimes identified as the town mayor. First published as a blog of fake historical documents, parodying British public information posters of the 1970s, a collected book was published in 2014.
Littler has said “I was always scared as a kid, always frightened of what I was faced with. … You’d walk into WHSmith… and see horror books with people’s faces melting. Kids’ TV included things like Children of the Stones, a very odd series you just wouldn’t get today. I remember a public information film made by some train organisation in which a children’s sports day was held on train tracks and, one by one, they were killed. It was insane. … I’m just taking it to the next logical step.
Scarfolk, which is forever locked in the 1970s, is a satire not only on that decade but also on contemporary events. It touches on themes of totalitarianism, suburban life, occultism and religion, school and childhood, as well as social attitudes such as racism and sexism.
Scarfolk was initially presented as a fake blog which purportedly releases artefacts from the town council’s archive. Artefacts include public information literature, out-of-print books, record and cassette sleeves, advertisements, television programme screenshots, household products, and audio and video, many of which suggest brands and imagery recognisable from the period. Additionally, artefacts are usually accompanied by short fictional vignettes which are also presented as factual and introduce residents of Scarfolk. The public information literature often ends with the strapline: “For more information please reread.”
The aesthetic is utilitarian, inspired by public sector materials in the United Kingdom such as Protect and Survive.
A television series co-written by Will Smith was described as “in the works” in 2018.
Ed Ruscha works in a very open-ended way exploiting tension between images and text that often seem rather arbitrary in their juxtaposition, making the viewer make their own connections and interpretations.
His approach is mainly aesthetic – interested in abstract potential of words against abstract design underlying his photographs and paintings. Some commentators on the You Tube videos below have seen this as rather vacuous. What concerns me is the way a focus on ‘cool’ leads to a sort of ‘apathy of the sublime’.