Jean-Francois Bizot, Barry Miles. London: Thames and Hudson, 2006
Not one to turn down such an invitation, I bought it, pronto. Inside, as the title promised, were 200 trips pulled from Sixties underground press and counter-culture illustrations of protest, provocation and pot. Articles exploring the mind-expanding properties of LSD and marijuana, not to mention an article in the Berkeley Barb called Numb's the Word: Copping the Cocaine Horrors, with a big dark photograph of Freud, referring to his secret cocaine links. It reads, 'On the third day we slept. Or at least part of us slept … It was not blood that moved the body, that kept the body in cosmic harmony, that burned the energy of time and space in explosions of omniscience. It was cocaine and all else seemed beside the point'. Ooh, trippy.
Aside from a collection of curios concerning vintage controversies and ironic dalliance, '200 Trips from the Counterculture' is a history of underground graphic art, the experimental and surrealist illustrations and montage that inspired generations of provocative magazines such as The Face, Dazed and Confused, Little White Lies and Vice, and the ever-growing branches of internet magazines. This book is the genealogy of the phenomenon.
It is like reading a collection of vintage zines from the time of peace and love, only all the pages are smooth and perfectly reproduced, and the pages won't disintegrate in your fingers. There are excerpts from the French zine Actuel, The East Village Other, the Los Angeles Free Press, Interview (edited by Warhol) and the San Francisco Oracle (home of Ginsberg). There is social commentary, dolce vita, youthful rebellion and the dialogues and crowded texts of the writing that played alongside art of the avant-garde.
Aside from Wonderland-esque illustrations and political montages, hallucinatory skies for heads in clouds and grounded analysis to balance, Trips from the Counterculture includes material such as the first discussion about the greenhouse effect (in the Sixties they were worried), the African American Civil Rights Movement in the USA and even articles hand-written in French, if you're swayed in that direction. The graphics are incredible and altogether the book is endlessly entertaining and provocative. These are postcards from trips that inspired a generation of art, music and literature. They were the pages that illustrated Dylan, Woodstock and LSD. 'How to be a Magician in Your Spare Time' reads one page. This book tells you how; and, more importantly, it tells you why – why we have to keep writing these articles, illustrating ideas, expressing the tune of the age in colour and shapes and letters scattered dishevelled on a page.
Tate Britain is celebrating the career of Howard Hodgkin this summer. Regarded as one of the most important artists in Britain, Hodgkin at once pleases and perplexes his audience and critics alike. Notoriously reserved in discussing his work, Hodgkin succeeded in frustrating Alan Yentob in his BBC profile of the artist, by being almost mute.
David Hockney Portraits
What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing: you wouldn't be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought.' David Hockney
Hitting a Wall, Finding a Shape: An interview with Gary Hill
Using a curious Internet nickname that plays with a literary reference used in his work, pioneering American video artist Gary Hill gave this interview to Studio International after the opening of his recent exhibition, Gary Hill: O lugar sem o tempo/Taking time from place, at Oi Futuro gallery in Rio de Janeiro.
Lucian Freud: Drawings
To commemorate the life and career of Lucian Freud, and coinciding with the National Portrait Gallery, London exhibition curated by Sarah Howgate, Blain Southern have produced a museum standard exhibition of drawings in their Mayfair exhibition space and a superb catalogue.
Warhol in History
The exhibition at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh (at the Mound) commemorating the 20th anniversary of Warhol's death has dramatically set to rights the prevalent theory of the 1990s that by the time he died Warhol's best work was long back in time, that he was by then a spent force.