The start of summer calls for a batch of fresh titles in our design library. This month’s assortment explores hidden-in-plain-sight art forms like Chris Wainwright’s mesmerising Morse code and semaphore works, and a new global collector’s monograph on stamp design. Meanwhile, lauded architect Annabelle Selldorf gets a deserved moment in the spotlight with an exploration of her impressive oeuvre. Elsewhere, the unusual continues with Stephen Bayley’s somewhat morbid collection of iconic car crashes, and brutalism is rediscovered in the cultural context of film, song and literature by Peter Chadwick. Dig in and discover...Writer: Sujata Burman. Photography: Michael Ainscough
This Brutal World
By Peter ChadwickBrutalism’s recent critical resurgence has been driven by online aesthetics. Concrete owes a massive debt to Tumblr in particular, and the relentless parade of bold forms that are re-posted by admirers around the world – who knows how many post-war masterpieces would have been spared demolition had social networks existed a decade or so earlier? Peter Chadwick’s This Brutal World is an attempt to slot the more sublime expressions of 1950s, 60s and 70s-era concrete architecture into a broader cultural context, including film, song and literature. Chadwick is a graphic designer, so has an eye for the stark abstract purity of the best brutalism (and its silent but essential ally, great black and white photography), and 300 projects are included here, many of which are well off the beaten track.
Published by Phaidon, £29.95, available at WallpaperSTORE*Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: brutalist architecture originally took root in Britain, continental Europe and USA, but its seeds were scattered across the globe. Pictured: Monument Ilinden (Makedonium), Krushevo, Macedonia, by Jordan and Iskra Grabuloski, 1974. Courtesy Jan Kempenaers
Curvaceous concrete forms in South Africa and New York. Pictured left: Grand Central Water Tower, Midrand, by GAPP Architects & Urban Designers, 1996. Courtesy GAPP Architects. Right: Trans World Airlines (TWA) Terminal, JFK Airport, by Eero Saarinen and Associates, 1962
’Up to now, brutalism has been discussed stylistically, whereas its essence is ethical,’ explain architects Alison and Peter Smithson. Pictured: Casar de Cáceres Bus Station, Cáceres, Spain, by Justo Garciá Rubio, 2003. Courtesy Justo Garciá Rubio
Graphic Stamps: The Miniature Beauty of Postage Stamps
By Iain Follett and Blair Thompson
The first in a new series of graphic archive monographs about meticulous collections, The Miniature Beauty of Postage Stamps explores the visual language of philately. The collectors in question, Iain Follett and Blair Thompson, have assembled a global survey of stamp design over the decades, with the emphasis on the simplicity and beauty rendered on these tiny canvases, often by anonymous designers and illustrators. Stamps have long been an outlet for the most avant-garde visual expression, taking the limitations of scale and colour, as well as the variety afforded by different value stamps, to shape tiny editions that are perfectly matched.
Published by Unit Editions, £35Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: given their size and format, a high level of aesthetic and technical capability is required to produce graphics for stamps. Pictured left: ’Europa. Invensions. Exploration of Geothermal Energy’, Icelandic stamp from 1983, designed by Pröstur Magnússon. Right: ’Preserving Glaciers and Polar Regions’, Icelandic stamp from 2009, by Örn Smári Gislason
Pictured left: ’Commonwealth day’, Australian stamp from 1983, designed by Garry Emery. Right: ’Landmark Modernist Architecture’, Australian stamp from 2007, designed Gary Domoney
Pictured left: ’7th Anniversary of Polish United Workers Party’, Polish stamp from 1975, designed by Zdzislaw Horodecki. Right: ’7th International Poster Biennale (Warsaw)’, Polish stamp from 1978, designed by Witold Janowski
Selldorf Architects: Portfolio and Projects
Annabelle Selldorf started her eponymous firm in 1988 and has subsequently risen to prominence as one of the best exponents of art-centric architecture. Counting David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth and the Gagosian Gallery among her clients – for buildings, exhibitions and private homes – Selldorf is currently working on San Diego’s new Museum of Contemporary Art. This monograph includes the best work from 15 years of recent practice, chronicling her studio’s refined and elegant yet uncompromising modern approach.
Published by Phaidon, £49.95Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: Selldorf’s work exists at a nexus of vectors – including the Old and New worlds, construction and deconstruction, and art. Pictured: 10 Bond Street, New York City, USA, 2015. Photography: Todd Eberle
Skarstedt Residence in Sagaponack was created in 2014 and is defined by a series of taut mahogany volumes and seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor. Photography: Todd Eberle
Pictured left: the concrete contours of David Zwirner’s 20th Street gallery, New York City, from 2013. Right: opulent marble in the VeneKlasen Carriage House, New York City, USA, 2010. Photography: Todd Eberle
First and Last
By Chris Wainwright
Worth hunting down, First and Last is artist Chris Wainwright’s homage to one of the earliest forms of global communication, Morse code. Wainwright created and photographed a series of installations using Morse and semaphore, tracing the paths, flags and lights in some of the planet’s remotest spots. The catalogue was published to accompany an exhibition at Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art and evokes the atmosphere of far-off places and the social, economic and, above all, environmental challenges they face.
Published by MoCA TaiPeiWriter: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: Wainwright’s work often references environmental issues like climate change and earthquakes, focusing on our relationship with the natural world. Pictured: Sunset, semaphore performance, Xiaoyeliu, Taiwan, 2014
Morse code and semaphore have origins in both Latin and Greek and were invented in America and France, respectively. Pictured: We are all stars 02 (Minna ga sutah), group semaphore performance, near Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, 2015
Wainwright emphasises his geographical interests by using the ocean as the backdrop. Pictured: from the We are all stars series, individual light drawings at Kamaishi and Hourikan, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, 2014
Death Drive: There are no accidents
By Stephen Bayley
Stephen Bayley’s curatorial career has always been struck through with a love of cars. Whether writing on sex, taste, fashion, celebrity or aesthetics, the doyen of British design commentary can usually weave in an automotive anecdote or two. Death Drive combines all these preoccupations with a side order of morbid, as Bayley chronicles some of the most ‘iconic’ car crashes and misadventures, seeking out the indelible connections between cars, death and sex. Twenty tragic tales of those who drove themselves to an early end are presented within, some of which will be darkly familiar (James Dean, Camus and Princess Grace) and others a bit more obscure (Tara Browne, posthumously remembered in the Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’). Bayley’s eye for detail is present and correct – what’s the point of a car crash if the minutiae of make, model and road conditions aren’t chronicled? – as well as plenty of tabloidesque speculation.
Publishing by Circa Press, £29.95Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Michael Ainscough
From the book: Collier’s photographer Sanford H Roth’s famous image of the car crash that killed James Dean. Roth was a close friend of the actor, and was driving behind him on the way to the Salinas road race that Dean was set to compete in later that day
Glam rocker and T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan had always loved cars but never learned to drive. Here, he is at the wheel of a cherry red convertible on the set of Born to Boogie, 1972
Bolan died on 16 September 1977 while being driven home by his girlfriend of the time, Gloria Jones. Her Mini 1275 GT struck a tree, and Bolan was killed instantly
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