Thursday, January 3, 2013

Illustrated Art

Now, this has reached the limit conditions of its own rhetoric, 2005 
Drawing by Simon Manfield Plywood, gloss paint, glass, drawing 

The work above is actually a collaboration between three artists. Tatham and O'Sullivan hired illustrator Simon Manfield and gave him rudimentary sketches to illustrate in greater detail. This is a fairly isolated collaboration between the three, ie. it's not Tatham and O'Sullivan's normal method to hire illustrators.

It's strikes me as odd for a couple of reasons. For one, illustration is often looked down upon by gallery artists. There are probably a variety of reasons for that. Historically, it was looked at as the commercialization of art. Later on I think it was possibly the apparent style of illustration that was problematic. Even later, maybe with the advent of 'conceptual' art, it was the craft element of illustration that turned up noses. Additionally, it might be the journeyman (or work for hire) element of it that was bothersome. Anyway, various reasons come up to distain illustration and those reasons are subsequently forgotten.

The bias has always struck me as increasingly hypocritical. Especially when an artist like Warhol not only had a factory of artists producing his work, but had actually gone to school for illustration. After about 100150 years, perhaps things have finally come full circle?

Now, commissioning an artist to 'produce' your idea is nothing new in the gallery arts. Warhol, Koons, and in a sense, Duchamp (among others) did so. The thing that differentiates this work is that Tatham and O'Sullivan freely admit to working with Manfield  as well as crediting him with the illustration.

What's less than obvious is that Tatham and O'Sullivan also constructed the frame. So they literally framed the work. That could open a wealth of discussion, but there really isn't enough space here.

Below is a recording of an interview of the artists. It's about an hour long and not particularly revealing. They touch upon a few interesting points about working together though. All in all, it's a very candid behind-the-scenes take on their process, and they hardly mention the, "death of the author" at all.

I'll just close out this blog post with a rich quote from a distinctly outspoken illustrator:
In the world most of us have grown up in, popular art has inherited and exploded all the forms of art that came before it. Everything from the primitive art of tribal societies to the fine art of aristocratic ones has been thrown into the cement mixer of modern culture, along with its juxtapositions of celebrity and anonymity, poverty, and sudden wealth and the continuous swooning of the popular media over trends and fads. The truth is, we haven't really figured out yet how artists are going to thrive in modern mass societies. We're all experiments.

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