Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jim Dine v. Trevor Jackson

Jim Dine is an American pop artist who is sometimes considered to be a part of the Neo-Dada movement. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and first earned respect in the art world with his Happenings, which he pioneered with artists Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow, in conjunction with musician John Cage. The "Happenings" were chaotic performance art that was a stark contrast with the more somber mood of the expressionists popular in the New York art world at the time. It's basically the same modus operandi that the Dadaists had in Europe but twenty-five years after those initial noise concerts. Since then his drawings and sculptures have been exhibited in just about every fine art museum across the States.

Now the reason why I bring him up is to highlight what influence he has had on contemporary sleeve art and most particularly on Trevor Jackson's art direction for his Playgroup 'DJ Kicks' album.

Jim's work Name Painting (1935-1963) #1, 1968-1969, which I saw in the modern art wing of the National Gallery of Art here in Washington, DC yesterday is most certainly the basis for the artwork for the !K7 release. Jim's work is almost a journal in that it chronicles everyone that he came into significant contact with during the period beginning in the top left hand corner and working its way down to the bottom right. The interesting bit is that you can work out when he starts to come into contact with the art world, and especially art dealers, as these famous art pushers names become more and more predominant indicating a tremendous shift in his life.

What Trevor has done is use the same idea but write the artist and track names in much the same way and using the same medium, charcoal on canvas, to form what is easily one of the most striking record covers in recent years.

Trevor is probably best known in the music world for the sadly defunct Output Recodigs, which was the initial home to bands such as Blackstrobe, Four Tet, Fridge, George Demure, DK7, The Rapture, Soulwax, LCD Soundsystem and many more, and he recently released a retrospective compilation for the label called 'I Hate Music', which should be in all half decent record stores now. He is also part of Playgroup who had a relative degree of success with their album 'Number One' released back in 2001. Personally I love his Chromeo remix, which is 115 bpm sax-driven smack house of the finest order. Seek it out. He is also the original Underdog under which he released some of the finest hip hop influenced dance music of the mid-90s.

What I particularly appreciate about Trevor is his work in art direction. His work is immensely original and appeals to both the font nerds and the image conscious designers. His work is bold, brave and invariably always stands out amongst the dirge of shit design that litters art work in this day and age. A few years ago at the zenith of his popularity he took over the art direction for the cover that he appeared on for Jockey Slut magazine and what he produced was a strikingly simple but effective cover that beautified the newsstands for a month. His work utilizes some of the most forward thinking photography, loads of open shutter work, and combines it perfectly with font choice to form some of the most pleasing aesthetics that I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. I'm gushing now, so I'll digress but you can gather that I love and respect the man's work immensely. Do yourself a favour and check his portfolio on his website, startling stuff. I'd love to see him and Chuck Anderson work together.

Jim Dine - Name Painting (1935-1963) #1, 1968-1969 (I'd have used a better image but the guy at the gallery was taking his job very seriously and threatened me with expulsion from the place if I so much as dared to take a picture. The only option was to go to the press office and ask for permission, which they weren't going to give me for a lowly blog so this is as good as it gets unfortunately.)

Below is the artwork for the DJ Kicks album.


Inside of the gatefold


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