In the early 20th century, Picasso and Braque employed bits of newspapers in their Cubist collages. While used to flatten space and add pattern/texture to the finished image, the newspaper's text often introduced hidden, playful meanings, thus giving the artist's work a double shot of personal expression.
Through June 1, the Salt Lake Art Center offers visitors a taste of the same in "The Daily News," a show by 11 national artists who have appropriated the form and content of newspapers into their work.
"This marriage of text and image," said SLAC director Ric Collier in the exhibition catalog, "can initiate an immediate provocation in the artist ranging from anger to stupefaction. It also provides the artist with insight into the lives of other people, other cultures and other social politics."
The exhibit is the brainchild of SLAC curator Jim Edwards, who, over a period of years, grew increasingly intrigued by newspapers and how artists incorporated them into their art. "It is both the content and its form as graphic design and typography that has attracted a response from the visual artists," said Edwards.
The 11 artists selected by Edwards for the exhibition are Conrad Atkinson, Pat Boas, Derek Boshier, Bruce Campbell, Nancy Chunn, Christopher Finch, Jann Haworth, Paula Scher, Donald Sheridan, Al Souza and Xiaoze Xie.
"There are many more artists that deal with newspaper imagery, but I felt that I had enough," said Edwards, believing he has covered the bases in terms of the different points of view he wanted to suggest in the show.
Visitors to "The Daily News" will appreciate and admire the broad range of styles from hyperrealism to conceptual that Edwards included in the exhibit. "I wanted samples of all those," he said. "I wanted a clean show, and I think it all can be said with these 11 artists."
Most of the work in the show is stimulating, but several pieces stand out either for technique or message.
Souza's "Car Ads" 1995 (cut newspaper) is a dizzying design made by the artist cutting circles into numerous pages of colored car ads and stacking them on top of each other. Every page exposes a bit of the page below it, which exposes a bit of the page below it, and so on. The resulting image is reminiscent of a canvas by the Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni.
In his "New York Times Spitballs: July 12-18" 2000 (newspaper and glue), Souza has balled up each page of the daily, over seven days, with water and glue. After allowing them to dry, he dropped them in very Dadaesque style into a glass-covered frame so each is stacked on top of the other. The varied ink on each page makes for spitballs of variegated values.
Boshier's large acrylic on canvas, "Los Angeles Times: Pop Icon Roy Lichtenstein Dies," 2002, is very much Pop Art; his use of bright, garish colors, flatly applied, and his breaking down of text to mere lines, is a visual treat.
"March 2003, O.T." by Xie, is a large, hyperrealist oil on canvas of newspapers stacked and tied, ready for delivery. It is strikingly beautiful, and the artist's mastery of technique flawless.
Boas' "Alphabet 2001 (NYT)" 2001 (solvent transfer on silk tissue) is an incredibly tedious exercise in transferring random letters from a single copy of the front page of the New York Times. The randomness of the individual letters scattered over the 26 sheets of silk creates a delicate design that is not unlike looking at a collection of player piano music scrolls or a group of old IBM computer punch cards.
One of the more droll pieces in the show, which took a year to complete, is Chunn's "Front Pages (September)" 1996 (ink, pastel on paper). Here the artist chose to edit the front page of The New York Times by adding her own images and words. Viewers will laugh at much of what she decries and maligns.
Sure to be a favorite for many visitors is "Andy Warhol Dead" 1987 (silkscreen on canvas). In this work the artist, Donald Sheridan, took the front page of the New York Post Feb. 23, 1987 and created nine silkscreen images identical to Warhol's style. They are not only wonderful to look at, but also the double entendre Warhol stole many of the images for his art from newspapers is comical.After its Salt Lake run, "The Daily News" will travel to the Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, Wyo., and the Boise Art Museum, Boise.
If you go
What: "The Daily News"
Where: Salt Lake Art Center, 20 S. West Temple
When: Through June 1. Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday and holidays.
How much: Free
Phone: 328-4201Web: www.slartcenter.org