The fashion system is apparently broken. But what is “the system”? Did it ever really exist?

There is an assumed language in fashion right now.

It talks of the collapse in the fashion system. It uses words like “broken” and “crisis”.

Too many collections a year. The impact of social media on the catwalk. The rise of “see now, buy now” collections, in which product is made available straight after the show is done.

It is a period of change and upheaval.

But when was fashion ever not in a period of change and upheaval?

The contemporary fashion industry likes to believe it has always existed. It loves words such as  “legendary”, “iconic”, “heritage”, “forever”, even though few of the brands have been around more than fifty years, some just under a hundred.

It is as if fashion has always been this way, and always will be.

Which is clearly not the case.

When people talk of “the system”, they usually mean the twice-yearly shows which take place in New York, London, Milan and Paris.

How long has this “system” actually existed?

Lets try and work it out.

A couple of years ago, Caroline Evans published The Mechanical Smile, an excellent book on the first fashion shows.

IMG_9091

Evans states it was Lucille of London who “created the fashion show, or ‘mannequin parade’, a cross between an elite party and a theatrical event”.

Her shows were to clients, society figures, and journalists.

Similar to shows today.

But from the beginning, models were also public facing.

Parisian couture houses would send models to the races to parade their gowns.

Three models in gowns by Margaine Lacroix at the Longchamp races in 1908.

IMG_9093

Evans states that in the United States, fashion shows “rapidly became part of the American cultures of consumption  and entertainment”.

American shows were “open to the public who came in their thousands, often paying for entry tickets”.

Just like the Yeezy show by Kanye West at Madison Square Garden in New York on 11 Feb, 2016.

Indeed, Evans writes that in September 1903, a two week event titled ‘The Fashion Show’ was held at Madison Square Garden, with live models parading in groups of three or four accompanied by a string orchestra.

In 1908, the Wanamaker store began staging shows open to the general public.

IMG_9094

From the very beginning, there has been a tension between public and private.

The book is so so good.

But lets skip on, because I don’t want this to become a Wikipedia post on the history of the fashion show.

For the first half of the twentieth century, it was the Paris couture shows that formed the basis for what could be called “the fashion system”.

In 1951, the first Italian fashion shows took place in Florence, not Milan.

The first shows attracted hundreds of American buyers and journalists, hungry for the optimism and glamour of an Italian look.

Soon, Italian couturiers began to show in Rome.

Disparate, shifting sands, with cities coming in and out of favour.

That is the real heritage of “the fashion system”.

Our present day idea of the shows, and the focusing of fashion on Paris, Milan, New York and London occurred at some point during the 1970s.

As prêt-à-porter and ready-to-wear became industry mainstays.

And the seasonal shows, with six months from catwalk to store, gave buyers the chance to place orders, and magazines the time to create shoots that feature the collections.

Robin Givhan’s book The Battle of Versailles, about a November 1973 Paris show that brought American designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Stephen Burrows to show alongside Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro, shows the comparative strangeness of fashion shows within what is for some living memory.

And yet “the fashion system” is talked about as something long consolidated.

Why?

TV.

Before the invention of fashion TV, the shows were malleable.

Fashion TV – Elsa Klensch on CNN from 1980, The Clothes Show on the BBC from 1986, Tim Blanks on Fashion File from 1989, Cindy Crawford on MTV’s House of Style from 1989 – made permanent the idea of the fashion show.

To those growing up in the 80s, many of whom are now journalists (and I put my hand up here), it was through TV that an idea of what-a-show-should-be-like was formed.

And it is against those ideas that many of today’s shows, and today’s systems, are judged.

Here’s Elsa Klensch on Thierry Mugler’s 1988 show.

Here’s Tim Blanks reporting on Gianni Versace’s spring 91 show.

An episode of House of Style from 1992.

TV coincided with the rise of the designer brands which now dominate: Armani, Versace, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Comme des Garçons, Vivienne Westwood.

When TV started showing fashion in the early 80s, the notion of ready-to-wear was still incredibly new.

And yet TV gave it substance, as if fashion had always been this way.

TV coincided with, and helped to coalesce, the idea of “the fashion system”.

The circuit of shows that provided content, as well as reason for employment, for fashion journalists.

Because we have an idea ingrained from childhood of what the shows should be like from TV, that is how we think they should forever be.

And yet it’s clear that the purpose, timing, scheduling and access to fashion shows has always been fluid.

What’s happening right now isn’t a breakdown of some centuries old tradition.

It’s the latest shift in and industry that profits from change.

And lets note that this all written with the blinkers of the catwalk.

The fashion industry loves to ignore or denigrate the more important shifts in fashion of the late 20th century – sneakers, sportswear etc – which has always been public-facing and about direct consumer engagement.

Maybe because of racism within the fashion industry, or snobbishness. Maybe because it’s just that being public-facing made sense for the sneaker and sportswear brands.

But it also raises the question: has this thirty-five year old “fashion system” always been broken, because for decades it shut out such a fundamentally important sector of the industry?

Much of this talk about the breakdown of the fashion system is actually about fear.

Fear from journalists because they are fearful of their future.

Print is already in terminal decline.

Now the industry they we write about seems to no longer need our presence.

What’s the point of a fashion review in the world of “see now, buy now”?

(I’m saying “we”, but actually I find these changes thrilling – I’ve long realised the purpose of fashion criticism is something wider and more engaging than just the rote reporting of what is presented on the catwalk).

Fashion continues. Fashion has always been about more than just “the system”. We have to find a way to adapt with it, to understand it, and to report on it.

Without fear.

And without letting nostaglia for the past mar an excitement about the future, whatever it may be.

I had a great seat at the Saint Laurent show in LA last night. Here’s three million pics or something

I’m in Los Angeles for the Saint Laurent show, held last night at the Palladium.

I’ve written about it for this Saturday’s FT, and the piece is already online.

I had a great spot at the show, right where the models turned on a diagonal after their walk towards the cameras.

The catwalk was a large rectangle filling the dance floor of the Palladium, across which they zigged and zagged.

I took about three million pics of this show that was ostensibly men’s, but which majored on women’s.

Here’s how it went.

The mens was sharp, severe and openly referential of Hedi Slimane’s original work at Yves Saint Laurent.

Because remember, he was in charge of menswear there in the late 90s, before it was bought by Gucci Group.

This was the look: neat jacket, strong shoulder, high skinny pant.

 

Women’s was a major statement.

This year sewed the 50th anniversary of Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the first ready-to-wear line by a couturier which revolutionised fashion.

Slimane paid homage, and in doing so brought a fresh look to women’s at Saint Laurent.

Previously it had been short, hard, aggressive. Much skin was on show.

Here, flesh was covered.

I can’t remember any bare skin save for faces, hands, wrists from the entire show.

First women’s look: culottes.

Oh and by the way, that’s Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at the end of the row, and the mop head two along is Gaga.

 

Dresses went below the knee, covering the top of knee high boots.

 

I liked this dude.

I liked this dude too.

With his mismatching hair and beard.

 

This very lovely model was stuck at JFK with me on the flight out to LA last week.

 

For me the focus of the menswear was the coats.

So many that were so strong.

Like this one.

 

Some shimmer majorness in a collection of shimmer majorness.

Womenswear is so magpie.

It loves shiny shiny.

It’s things like this you notice when you don’t go to that many women’s shows.

 

Another great coat.

 

And another.

This one might be my favourite.

 

Another view.

It looks so good to wear.

Another view of another shimmer dress that I posted on Instagram last night (@thecharlieporter).

Do you see what I mean about flesh being covered?

 

Another amazing coat, this one a tweed trench.

View two.

  

The news on pants.

Frock coat.

I posted a load of pics on Instagram of the people there.

You don’t need to see them again do you?

Oh OK.

Sylvester Stallone talking to Pinault.

The back of Gaga.

 

Bieber.

 Can you just make this out?

Stallone pushing to the front to get backstage afterwards.

 

Zac Efron.

 

And the biggest superhuman there.

Joan Jett.

JOAN JETT!!!

 

That’s been three million pics, right?

Electronic Superhighway, a new show on art and the internet at Whitechapel, is properly major

The Whitechapel Gallery in London is previewing it’s new show Electronic Superhighway, a survey of art and the internet.

It’s properly, properly major.

And does that necessary thing of presenting this work not as a possibility, but a reality.

A thread of work that goes back decades, even if it still feels unusual, subversive, radical and new.

The incredible Jacolby Satterwhite – Reifying Desire 6.

 

A whole wall of Celia Hempton’s Chatroulette series.

She goes on Chatroulette, and says to the young gentlemen who pop up that she’d like to paint their picture.

The results.

 
Another.

 
Sturtevant’s PacMan.

 
The amazing Jayson Musson and his Art Thoughtz.

 
Camille Henrot. Grosse Fatigue.

Go on. 

Spread that colour chart.


Spread it.

That’s right.

 

Gay Bombs by Zach Blas.

 
Cory Arcangel.

Snowbunny / Lakes.

 

An amazing amazing 40 minute long early Ryan Trecartin from 2004, that shows him in the process of tightening, cutting, hyper-speeding and releasing narrative.

 
The exhibition starts in 2016 and goes backwards.
Upstairs, Internet Dream by Nam June Paik from 1994.

 

So many screens, so much to watch.

A Lawrence Wiener video work.

 
Nam June Paik’s extraordinary TV show Good Morning Mr Orwell.

A live broadcast in 1984 between New York, West Germany, South Korea and Paris.

 
It featured Merce Cunningham dancing with his own image.

 
The Thompson Twins.

Lol.

 
The show ends with early examples of technology in art.

Peter Sedgley’s circles displayed under changing colours.

 
The same work.

 
A few moments later.

 
GO SEE THIS SHOW.

Give yourself a good two hours.

At least.

Take a flask.

It’s so major.

It’s on 29 Jan – 15 May.

Bye!

3 million years ago, I wrote on the impact of colour in your field of vision. A new case in point: Prada SS16

Approximately three million years ago, I wrote about the importance of colour in your field of vision.

It was to do with a new shirt I’d got by Shaun Samson, and how jolly it was for me to see orange as I went about my day to day (fascinatingly, that included making porridge and watering my pots).

As with all earth-shattering thoughts, it’s not really something I’ve considered for a while.

Then yesterday I got my new season Prada zip-up jacket.

OBSESSED.

Here’s how it looked on the catwalk twelve million years ago or whenever the SS16 shows were.

++++UPSIDE DOWN PHOTO ALERT++++

****AS WITH ALL CATWALK PHOTOGRAPHY, I TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN****

^^^^SO YOU CAN LOOK THROUGH THE ALREADY RECOGNISABLE IMAGE TO SEE THE CLOTHES^^^^

_MON0297 (2)

(Photo nicked from voguerunway.com obvs)

It was one of those moments at the shows when I switched from critic to consumer.

Prada let me pre-order it.

This is me trying it on with the shorts from another look.

(I’ve got the matching trousers too though)

IMG_3282

It arrived yesterday.

Within an hour, I was wearing it.

And what immediately struck was the impact on my field of vision.

As in, the lower half of my vision was dominated by a big band of lovely turquoise blue.

So often, our clothing is considered on how we look to others.

The message we send out, often without knowing.

Our smartness or dishevelled state.

Flirtation or smothered emotion.

Calm or agitated.

All well and good.

But rarely is it considered the effect of clothing on our own field of vision.

A more personal, private, individual experience of clothing.

What we see, even if we’re not focused on it.

Maybe this is why Breton stripes are so popular.

Because they provide such a strong frame to our field of vision.

Order and clarity added to the base of what we perceive.

I love blue.

I’ve considered moving to LA just to have permanent blue sky.

It was after seeing the John Baldessari show at the Tate a few years ago.

I kept going back to it, and couldn’t work out why.

Then it twigged.

It was the amount of blue in his work.

Because he took images in his home town.

Los Angeles.

An image from that show’s catalogue, shot in gloomy London light.

(The work is called Structure by Color Series: Imperfect Drawing Based on the Shape of a Cone (with Cylinders and Rods) from 1975)

IMG_5230

But I’ve stayed here in London.

I’m wearing the Prada jacket now.

Having this stripe of turquoise blue in my lower field of vision is an absolute boon.

An attempt to recreate what I can see in my field of vision in this gloomy London light by laying my iPhone flat on my head.

IMG_5227 (1)

So there you go.

Colour in field of vision.

Something I’ll probably forget about for another three million years.

“They look at the cut of your suit before they listen to what you say”: a debrief on clothing in London Spy pt2

In episodes 2 and 3 of London Spy, clothing continues to be a key signifier of character: of status, of position inside, or outside, the establishment.

(I’ve already written about episode one here)

This post is beyond full of spoilers, so if you’ve not watched them yet, episode two is here, three is here.

Episode two, and from the off, clothing denotes whether someone is inside the establishment, or outside.

Danny, with the combination code lock taped to his chest, in a black leather hoodie, black hat.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.18.50

The man Danny thinks is following him: dark topcoat, scarf.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.19.51

When Danny gives him the slip, he steals a coat to add another layer of disguise.

Disguise of insubordination: a parka.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.22.06

Add on a baseball cap, head to an abandoned factory, take out a torch, and you’re as far from establishment as you can get.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.26.52

Trying to make a good impression for journalists.

But still in his jeans, with that belt.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.28.41

And the shirt itself is below par.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.29.14

Smart-ish.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.30.56

But he can’t wait to get the tie off and the shirt untucked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.31.53

It might seem like I’m pointing out the obvious, but I’ve never really considered before just how much clothing is used in narrative. How much it defines character.

His old alleged friend Scottie, about to reveal that he was once a spy.

In establishment dress.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.32.55

Danny, waiting to meet the parents of Alex/Alistair – attempted respectability.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.35.31

The alleged father of Alex/Alistair.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.36.41

The real father of Alex/Alistair.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.27.55

Danny prepares for dinner with Alex/Alistair’s parents at their castle, and considers a crisp white shirt.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.24.04

But goes instead for T-shirt.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.24.30

As he sits down at the midpoint of a long dining table, candles all over the surface, the mother and father at either end, the mother – played by Charlotte Rampling – says:

“Did you realise your provocation was infantile before or after you came through that door?”

She means his T-shirt.

The father says nothing.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.40.47

Danny sits down in his T-shirt with the cook, looks relaxed, seems himself, all to confirm that he is a downstairs rather than an upstairs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.42.00

And then back in London he meets another creepy guy in a coat, suit, shirt and tie.

The uniform of creepiness.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.43.12

EPISODE THREE.

Arrest.

Clothing?

Hoodie and T-shirt.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.50.17

Once he’s released from questioning, he goes to meet the lowest of the low.

The entrance to their flat is at Perseverance Works off the Hackney Road.

You can tell by that Allen Jones sculpture.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.52.59

The lowest of the low is Mark Gatiss.

OK, a character called Rich played by Mark Gatiss.

His crystal meth pipe is perhaps the main indicator that he is the lowest of the low.

But he also wears jewellery.

A gold Rolex.

Two rings on one hand, another on the other.

Men’s jewellery = lowest of the low.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.55.34

In the entrance to his apartment are gold discs, which must have brought him great wealth.

His apartment is approx 3km long, stretching from the Hackney Road down to the Thames, what with his bathroom views of the Shard.

Note the extravagance of his robe.

The lowest of the low.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.56.57

When Danny goes to the clinic for an HIV test, his clothing could be that of Alex/Alistair.

A really nice grey slightly chunky crewneck sweater.

Presumably to send the message that all is OK, that there’ll be nothing wrong.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 09.58.10

And then when Scottie takes him on the hunt for information, again Danny is dressed up to ape establishment.

“Some of the people we need to speak to care very much about appearances,” says Scottie, as he takes out a suit for Danny.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.32.53

“They look at the cut of your suit before they listen to what you say. It’s not about wealth. It’s about a set of signals. They require a lifetime of study which is precisely the point.”

And so it is. Clothing counts for everything in London Spy.

Or at least, they want to make us think it counts.

For it could be that clothing – what we assume about someone’s character from what they wear – could be leading us down a garden path.

I hope it is.

More anon.

Clothing is playing such a key role in the assumption of character in London Spy: a debrief (pt1)

Three episodes into the BBC2 series London Spy, and clothing continues to play such a key role in character.

Or the assumption of character.

Because it’s such a male-dominated narrative, it’s a handy debrief on our present day assumptions about what clothing says about men, their personality and their background.

I should say that this will contain more spoilers than Danny’s spoiled dirty sheets that are currently being tested by the police for DNA, so if you haven’t watched any of it yet, click here for episode one on iPlayer.

First view of Danny is in the tunnel under Vauxhall station, at night, his clothes scuzzy.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.02.11

The camera shows us his dirty sneakers.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.00.48

He heads into a club, and thus his character is set before a word is spoken.

When words are spoken, they’re said into a flip phone.

Very Adele.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.04.38

First sight of Alex/Alistair is like an advert for an althleisure brand.

Neat greys, Nike sneakers.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.06.21

Notice the V-notch in his sweatshirt.

A symbol of wholesome athleticism.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.08.01

Obviously the best garment worn in the entire series ever is Danny’s disgusting work shirt he has to wear at the warehouse.

Desperate for his work shirt.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.09.21

Some more key signifiers of Danny’s character:

His grubby rucksack…

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.10.15

His grubby flatmates.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.11.06

When Danny goes running to try and bump into Alex/Alistair again, his grubby old T-shirt has a presumably telling message.

In his hands is the water pouch Alex/Alistair gave him.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.12.23

Another old T-shirt, stripes of presumed innocence obviously subverted.

Smoking by the window.

Just so we get the message about when the old woman gets booted out of her flat for the spooky smoking invisible surveillance whoever-it-is.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.13.08

When Danny heads out early in the AM to try and meet Alex/Alistair one more time, it’s in an outfit of attempted respectability.

Peacoat, sweater, belted jeans.

Belt jazzy compared to Alex/Alistair’s grey.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.14.36

They go back to Edward’s flat.

Where clothing is used once again to define with precision.

While Alex/Alistair takes a shower, Danny opens the wardrobe.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.15.58

Ordered and dry cleaned grey suits.

He opens a draw.

Laundered and wrapped shirts.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.16.15

And then quite possibly the most terrifying sight in the whole series so far.

The organised sock and tie drawer.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.16.39

AAAAARRGHHH!

They head out for brunch.

What Alex/Alistair wears.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.18.49

Danny.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.19.12

Clothing is the key signifier that they are allegedly poles apart.

(I say allegedly because this is clearly a work involving twist and what has not yet been revealed – I’m accepting nothing at face value).

Our first encounter with Scottie, Danny’s old alleged friend.

A gay man with some role in the establishment who harks back to the post-war days of homosexual involvement in espionage.

Establishment overcoat, establishment shirt, establishment tie, establishment briefcase, establishment umbrella.

Again, clothing tells us everything before a word is spoken.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.20.33

A gorgeous seaside walk, where Alex/Alistair reveals more but not much about his life, and where they fall for each other.

Alex/Alistair in technical clothing, Danny not.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.24.00.

Alex/Alistair in dark clean jeans and walking boots, Danny not.

You get the picture.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.27.27

Alex/Alistair and Danny’s last moment together.

Alex/Alistair, in crisp white shirt and trousers, turns the radio up to tell Danny that he needs to replace the computer battery.

As in, when I’m locked up dead in a trunk LOOK FOR THE COMPUTER BATTERY.

OK gratuitous arse shot.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.35.02

Danny never sees Alex/Alistair alive again.

When Danny seeks refuge with Scottie in his zhooshy house, Scottie is the picture of elder statesman innocence.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.36.46

One episode, two wardrobes.

Just like the crisp suits, this one that Danny opens in the loft above Alex/Alistair’s apartment sends out its own very clear message.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.38.54

Just like before, he opens two drawers.

One.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.39.50

Two.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.40.11

When we see him being interviewed by the police for the first time, he clothing – old plaid shirt, T-shirt – is that of a man out of his depth.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.42.05

Scottie drops him off, and asks Danny if he took anything from Alex/Alistair’s apartment.

Again, dressed as the establishment.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.42.47

Jesus we’ve only done episode one.

I’m not at all obsessed with London Spy.

Not at all.

More, imminently.

There are two ways to view the new Eames show at the Barbican: nerd-out, or as idealised model for living 

The Barbican is previewing its new exhibition today, The World of Charles and Ray Eames.

There’s two ways of viewing it: as a total design nerd-out, or an idealised model for living.

Let’s start with the nerd-out.

An experimental three-legged chair from 1945.

 
Another experiment with three legs from 1945, this time the other way round.

 
Pre-production DCM (Dining Chair Metal) from 1946.

 
LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) from 1946.

 
Experimental Lounge Chair from 1944.

Cross-hatch textile by Ray Eames, designed 1945.

This experimental prototype for a fibreglass chair shell was manufactured by John Wills, a Californian fibreglass fabricator. He produced two, and tested them by setting them on a metal bin. Charles Eames could only afford to buy one of the prototypes, so Wills kept the other, and used it as is.

 

Prototype for a rocking chair, 1948.

Fibreglass chair shells, 1959-68.

 
Lounge Armchair with a drawing by Saul Steinberg.

 
Another chair, another drawing.

 
PAC – Pivot Armchair Cast base, 1969.

Low Table Rod base, 1950.

And so I could continue.

Concurrent is their attitude to life and living.

One feeds the other.

A letter proposing marriage from Charles to Ray.

 
Close up of a 1:20 scale model of Case Study House No.8 – their home.

 
A page of a letter from Ray to Charles.

 
Envelopes.

 
Their way of working prompted similar in others: a page of a letter to the Eames from  Deborah Sussman, who worked at Herman Miller.

 
In that room about Herman Miller, American furniture designers, there are photographs of their showroom.

The Eames Office designed them, and organised the display.

Often borrowing work from galleries.

Here’s an image of the showroom with a Giacometti.

 
It is a sculpture of a man – we know this because only men were allowed to walk in Giacometti’s work.

 
It was extraordinary for me to see.

Giacometti has been on my mind all week, since the opening of the new show at the National Portrait Gallery.

In a show where his attitude to women is implied, but not explicitly discussed.

He subjected women – his wife Annette, his model Caroline, many prostitutes – to psychological attack.

His was not a life of equality.

However extraordinary the work, he was not modern. At a time of change.

Giacometti was a contemporary of Charles and Ray Eames.

This show confirms that then, there was already another world.

Go go go.

It opens tomorrow, runs until 14 February.

A sneak peek at Frieze jolliness: Mark Leckey, Wolfgang Tillmans, Eddie Peake, Camille Henrot etcetc

Frieze London is previewing today.

Here’s a look at what’s what and stuff.

Mark Leckey on Galerie Buchholz.

 
Also on Galerie Buchholz, that amazing Wolfgang Tillmans crotch moment.

 
On the amazing Mary Mary from Glasgow, the amazing Emily Mae Smith.

 
Also on Mary Mary, the amazing Jesse Wine.

 
(I’m going to stop saying things are amazing. If I’m posting it, take it as a given I think it’s amazing)

OMG THE AMAZING CORIN SWORN ON THE AMAZING KOPPE ASTNER!!!

 
The amazing Eddie Peake on Lorcan O’Neill.

 

Up close.

A Tamagotchi.

 
OMG the amazing Vittorio Brodmann on Freedman Fitzpatrick.

 
Another.

 
Ed Fornieles jolliness on Carlos/Ishikawa.

 
More body bits.

Oh no!
The Sunday Painter has two tonnes of water by Samara Scott.

 

Close-up on some submerged bread.

Major.

Aaron Angell on Rob Tufnell!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!

 
Another.

 
So so good.

Some Camille Henrot majorness on Galerie Kamel Mennour.

 
I mean major.

 
MAJOR!!!

 
Part of Jeremy Deller’s work on Modern Institute.

 

And for true jolliness, John Baldesarri on I-can’t-remember-where.

 
JOLLY!

The new Frank Auerbach show at Tate Britain is about work, and the worth of work as a way of living

At Tate Britain this morning, there was a preview of the new Frank Auerbach show.

It takes a while to understand how to look at it.

The guise is that of a retrospective, with paintings and sketches from each decade from 1950s-2000s.

But Auerbach is a curiosity of an artist.

He is known for his painting style, rather than actual paintings.

His friend Lucien Freud created imagery meant to be individually remembered – the audacity, for example, of painting Leigh Bowery naked.

The guise of the retrospective makes you expect to see a string of bangers.

But Auerbach is not that kind of artist.

He paints every single day, seven days a week.

And five evenings of the week too.

His subjects are often the same: certain friends, the view from studio.

This is a show about work and the work itself.

Rather than the celebrity of an artist, or the fame of an image.

Here’s an early self-portrait, from 1958.

IMG_3162

Extraordinary.

But first time I went round and took pictures in my usual way, it didn’t feel right.

Like I wasn’t showing anything.

It was only when I went round a second time, and got to E.O.W’s Reclining Head II that I started concentrating not on image, but on work.

Here’s that painting.

auerbach1

From the side.

IMG_3163

When really the way you want to look at it is like this.

IMG_3202

And this.

IMG_3200

And this.

IMG_3198

And this.

IMG_3197

Auerbach has to be seen in close-up as much as in totality.

You need to look at the actual work.

The actual brush strokes, the actual collisions and build-ups of paint.

It’s something the Tate seem to have realised – the front of the catalogue is a close-up.

Across the room is Studio with Figure on Bed II from 1966.

IMG_3267

But you don’t want to look at it like that.

You want to look at it like this.

IMG_3266

And so it continues.

This is Looking Towards Mornington Crescent Station, from 72-74.

IMG_3175

And this is it close up.

IMG_3260

It’s when you get close up that the work becomes so energising, and inspiring.

Inspiring as in, I need to do more work.

Because work as an activity is good.

Another.

This is Primrose Hill, Summer, from 1968.

IMG_3179

Close up.

IMG_3262

Head of J.Y.M. II, from 1984-5.

IMG_3257

Amazing to see the black, the white, and everything else involved up close.

IMG_3256

Head of Julia – Profile, 89-90.

IMG_3254

Close up.

IMG_3253

Reclining Head of Julia, 1996.

IMG_3249

Ohmygod that top left corner.

IMG_3248

It’s like individual segments act like works in themselves.

William Feaver Seated, 2011.

IMG_3245

That patch in the middle.

IMG_3244

Top left.

IMG_3242

I mean beyond.

Head of William Feaver, 2003.

IMG_3240

The eyes.

IMG_3239

That splodge of what I guess is the hair.

IMG_3238

To The Studios, 1993-4.

IMG_3235

Seen like this, you don’t get all that’s happening bottom left, do you?

Here’s bottom left.

IMG_3232

J.Y.M. Seated in the Studio VI, from 1988.

IMG_3230

That bit bottom left-ish.

IMG_3226

The vivacity of his recent work is incredible.

This is Hampstead Road, High Summer, 2010.

It’s like some kid doing graffiti.

Which I mean as the biggest compliment.

IMG_3214

Up close.

IMG_3223

Another.

IMG_3220

And another.

IMG_3225

Like I said, a total inspiration.

Work, work, work.

Always.

Now.

The show opens at Tate Britain on 9 October, runs till 13 March 2016, click here etcetcetc.

Go go go.

And look close close close.