I scanned these images from a book found in Keith Fawkes Books in Hampstead, London. It’s the messiest and most chaotic bookshop I’ve ever been into, but those are the kind of places where strange treasures like “Visions of the Future” can be found. The subtitle reads: “An exciting and novel selction of science fiction art of today”. The book was a British publication, featuring at the time young British artists. Judging from a quick round on google, most of them seem to be active still. So there is plenty of inspiration out there! Here are five of my favourite artworks from the book, which stood out among all the weird and funky sci-fi kitsch.
Allthough Wes Wilson is seen as the father of the psychedelic rock poster, the poster art of Victor Moscoso stands for me as the archetypal expression of the hippie era. With vibrating colours and psychedelic imagery, his posters take you straight back to that special vibe of the late 1960s San Fransisco. Victor Moscoso was born in Spain in 1937, but moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York three years later, where he spent most of his youth and childhood. He went on to study art at Yale under the supervision of Josef Albers, whose color theory later became an important inspiration for him. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was a motivating factor for Moscoso to move on to California and San Fransisco in 1959. But it wasn’t until 1967 with the Summer of Love that Victor Moscoso rose to international fame, with his posters for the Avalon Ballroom (whose concerts featured artists such as Janis Joplin and the Doors). There is an excellent interview with him at The Comics Journal, for those who would like to read more about his fascinating life and refreshing take on art. Victor Moscoso is still active as an artist.
I discoverd Stelios Faitakis two years ago, at the Venezia Art Biennale, where he had painted a big mural on the wall of the Danish pavilion. His art captures the mood not only of the crisis in his native Greece, but also the global crisis of capitalism. Faitakis’ pictures look like something painted by a medieval monk beamed into our modern age, trying to document the society around him. The result is a striking visual language, which elevates the battles of our time to something much deeper than just angry young men throwing rocks at riot police.
These animal illustrations are from a 1960’s edition of Danish Lademann’s Encyclopedia. The illustrator has done an impressive job of squeezing all the animals into their respective habitats or families, resulting in these fantastic and somewhat surrealistic illustrations. They are however perfectly in tune with the encyclopedia of the past century, before the creation of Wikipedia and the internet – Get as much information as possible compressed into your limited volumes of books. As a summer temp at an antiquarian book shop in the Norwegian Book Town, I have unfortunately seen a lot of these old encyclopedias end up in the paper recycling. I’ve saved a few, but realizing there is a limit to how many old encyclopedias I need in my book shelf I have also dissected many of them, resulting in a great collection of old illustrations.
Canned sardines, caught in the fjords of Western Norway, were once a staple food in both Europe and the USA. To appeal to buyers in foreign markets, the Norwegian canning factories came up with an abundance of colorful designs, more or less related to the contents of the tin. In the first half of the 20th century, when the canning industry reached it’s peak, there were dozens of canning factories in the southwestern city of Stavanger. In fact the canning industry was one of the main reasons for the city’s growth in this period. Today, Stavanger’s canning museum is the only memory left of the once booming sardine industry, and crude oil has long since replaced it as the main source of income. Most of the images are borrowed from www.norwegiancollector.com.
Since Norway is a a small country with only four million people, you would not expect the regional differences to be too big. The geography though is such, that for almost a thousand years, from the end of the viking era and until modern times, the different regions did not interact much among each others – so that each part of the country developed distinct cultural and linguistic traits. Oddvar Torsheim is an artist whose burlesque style is distincly Western Norwegian. His art is a homage to the fjord landscape and the people who live there, but also a satirical look at Norway; the religious fanaticism of the west, the oil industry and the greed which has corrupted our innocence over the past decades. And then there is women, beer drinking men and I guess a bit of autobiographical references too, in Torsheim’s humorous, freudian universe.