Archive for the ‘Postmodernism’ Category

Did Barney Bubbles forge the Psychedelic Furs/John Piper connection?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

//Top: Abstract 1, John Piper, 1935; above: Front cover, Danger, The Psychedelic Furs, CBS, 1982//

One of the hallmarks of Barney Bubbles’ body of work is the elevation of the methods of art historicism.

While perusing a copy of the early 80s exhibition catalogue Circle: Constructive Art In Britain 1934-40 last week I came across John Piper’s Abstract 1, one of a series of investigations into abstraction by the artist in this period.

//Front cover, Circle: Constructive Art In Britain 1934-40, edited by Jeremy Lewison, Kettle’s Yard Gallery, 1982//

//Reproduction of Abstract 1 in Circle (Left) with sections of John Cecil Stephenson’s Painting, 1937, and Freidrich Vordemberge-Gildewart’s Composition no 94, 1935 (right)//

Abstract 1 in particular chimes with the Bubbles’ painting incorporated into the design for the front cover of The Psychedelic Furs’ single Danger.

//Abstract 1, oil and commercial paint on canvas, 917cm x 1065cm, Tate Britain//

//Composition, oil on canvas, 55.4 x 68 cm, 1937, Ashmolean//

//Abstract 1935, gouache and collage, 1935, Pallant House Gallery//

The Furs’ single was released in 1982, the year Circle was mounted at Cambridge gallery Kettle’s Yard to reflect on the outpourings of pre-WWII modernism from Piper, as well as such artists as Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson.

As Bubbles’ work in his final years grew increasingly reductive, his preoccupations became aligned with those of early 20th century artists, in particular regarding the simplification of natural forms to geometric essentials.

This was combined with his fascination for constructing faces from unusual elements – as explored a few years back here – in the Danger design.

I don’t know whether Bubbles visited Circle or was even aware of the show, but it’s pleasurable to contemplate the ways in which this master designer invigorated his work – en route achieving maximum engagement with his audience – by drawing on the relatively recent history of art and design.

Buy copies of Circle: Constructive Art In Britain 1934-40 here.

Three London exhibitions feature Barney Bubbles designs

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Barney Bubbles sleeve variants for Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads, as featured in the exhibition Ideal Home at Chelsea Space, London.

Designs by Barney Bubbles feature in three exhibitions which have opened in London this week.

Above are 24 of the Crown wallpaper variations of Bubbles sleeve design for the 1979 album Do It Yourself By Ian Dury & The Blockheads, as featured in the Donald Smith-curated group show Ideal Home at Chelsea Space.

Below is sneaky iPhone shot of Bubbles’ extraordinary design for Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, which was released the same year as Do It Yourself and appears in the V&A’s big autumn show Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990.

Barney Bubbles' sleeve design for Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, as featured in the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A.

Barney Bubbles' Elvis Costello/Live Stiffs tour poster as featured in the exhibition Mindful Of Art at London's Old Vic Tunnels.

And above is a shot of Bubbles’ Elvis Costello poster for the 1977 Live Stiffs tour, which looms large in the subterreanean Old Vic Tunnels, venue for Stuart Semple’s exhibition Mindful Of Art, which is in aid of mental health charity Mind. The poster was sold last night at a gala auction hosted by Stephen Fry and Melvyn Bragg.

Also on display is a video installation by Kate Moross incorporating many Bubbles designs. Beamed from three TV screens this powerful light-show is cut to Hawkwind’s live 1972 track Orgone Accumulator.

Ideal Home is at Chelsea Space, Chelsea College Of Art & Design, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU until October 22. Details here.

Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990 is at the V&A, CRomwell Road, London SW7 2RL until January 15, 2012. Details here.

Mindful Of Art  is the Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach, London SE1 8SW until next Monday, September 26. Details here.

Moods for postmoderns: Barney Bubbles at the V&A

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Top: Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Radar 1979); Music For Pleasure by The Damned (Stiff 1977)

Front covers, 12in card. Top: Armed Forces, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Radar, 1979. Above: Music For Pleasure, The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.

Coming soon to the V&A is the first full-scale exhibition to tackle Postmodernism, and it not only positions Barney Bubbles as “the key innovator” in music graphics in the 1970s but also aligns his practices with those of Robert Rauschenberg in fine art and Frank Gehry in architecture.

According to curator Glenn Adamson, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 will also show how Bubbles’ work anticipated that of the digital design pioneers of the late 80s and early 90s such as David Carson.

“Bubbles was creating by hand work which looks to our eyes as though it were assembled on a computer,” says Adamson. “He foreshadows the visual eclecticism we find so natural in the internet age”

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