Beautiful Losers

Aaron Rose, Editor, Christian Strike, Editor
Aaron Rose, Editor, Christian Strike, Editor Zzdap Publishing $39.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-891024-74-0
DVD-Video - 978-1-935202-21-9
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-933045-30-6
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Most of the work in this exhibition catalog is not beautiful by traditional standards. Nor can its makers, artists whose work is now displayed in museums and top galleries around the world, really be considered losers. Yet the loosely affiliated group of skateboarding and punk music aficionados represented in this book seems to have a considerable amount of cachet invested in their outsider status, their ability to see the beauty in being a ""loser."" Many of the painters, photographers and cartoonists in this book appear to be taking a cue from the most famous insider/outsider of them all, Andy Warhol: witness Harmony Korine's photo-collage of a disaffected Macauley Culkin, Terry Richardson's photo of a young man sitting on a toilet or a scarf design by Mike Mills titled ""Fight Against the Rising Tide of Conformity."" The artists consume popular culture and then spit it back out in a highly personalized form to express their alienation from the usual boogeymen (suburbia, capitalism, middle-class middlebrow culture). Bucking the traditional art school route, these self-taught artists prefer a more laid-back, ""D.I.Y."" (""do it yourself"") attitude. This approach involves doodling, spreading graffiti and taking snapshots of their friends naked. The book's accompanying essays narrate the development of these street culture artists with an absurdly exacting level of detail, the kind usually reserved for the lives of geniuses who've been dead for at least 10, maybe even 20 years. And while the book is excellently produced and the works in it are a lot of fun, it's hard not to wonder if these artists enjoy posing as outsiders a little too much, especially given their newfound success. 200 color & 200 b/w illus.
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