Thursday, 19 July 2012

Leaves of Grass

On my recent visit to dOCUMENTA (13) I was interested to see if there were any examples of the territory that I work in - brands, communication, media - finding their way into the world of art. Probably the most famous example of this is Andy Warhol's Campbells soup cans, but that was 50 years ago.

I was expecting, perhaps, works of art incorporating some of the social media - I don't know, maybe Facebook screenshots contrasting with what was happening in the real world, or maybe that's too obvious.

One work did take my breath away: Geoffrey Farmer's Leaves of Grass, a 20m 3-D collage consisting of thousands of pictures cut from Life magazine 1935 -1985 and mounted on wooden stalks. It's a fascinating piece, because all editorial comment and structure is removed, so that images from advertisements sit next to photographs of politicians.

To me, it represents the visual overload that developed from the middle of the 20th century and continues its unstoppable path with faster download times, more channels and mobile internet. In fact, looking at Leaves of Grass is rather like looking at a typical Facebook stream - brands mixed with people, close friends adjacent to celebrities, the trivial vying with the world-shattering.

And, back to the subject of artists and brands, I did notice that a couple of Dali works were on show. But not the Chupa Chups logo that Dali designed.

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