Art Barrage | Fine art's nerd fetish

As I said a while back, comics seems to be having an increasing influence on fine art and illustration. One aspect of this is fine art fetishizing the iconography of comics. You may already have seen the work of the photorealist Glennray Tutor, and his still lifes of toys and fireworks often positioned around comic art, like the above shot of some marbles illuminating a romance comic. Tutor is using comic art as a signifier of pure Americana, as American as the vinyl Donald Ducks or bottles of hot sauce he also takes as subject matter.

It's hard not to see his influence upon the painter Matthew Bone. Bone isn't a photorealist, and he utilizes the artifacts of nerd culture in a similar way to a very different end. His work literally fetishizes comics and toys: a semi-nude woman writhing on a bed of old Marvel comics; a pair of erotically charged models salivating over a Gundam toy; a nude in a Darth Vader helmet clutching handfuls of Storm Trooper action figures to her breasts; another mock-fellating a Gamorean guard toy. The bio on his website claims "by utilizing the conventions of pop culture, and it’s willingness to embrace the artifice as the sincere, Matthew is able to create a re-envisioned modern mythology." That's quite a claim for what a less sympathetic critic might just call an inappropriate fixation upon the pop cultural iconography of his youth mixing with a retrogressive view of female sexuality  -- NSFW examples below. Also below: Michael Latimer, the street art swiper Lichtenstein, and Sam Spratt.

Here's some recent work by the South Yorkshire, England-based artist Michael Latimer. His own website showcases a range of styles, but the limited-edition prints he's been producing for Lowercase Industry are pretty much brazen swipes of comic art, reproduced with the tools of street art -- stencils, aerosol paint, etc. Bravely, one of these images is of a Dave Gibbons' Rorschach. Gibbons is a man with strong opinions on the issue of the fine art world reusing/reappropriating/swiping the work of comic artists.

 And I'll finish with the painting "Gilded" by Sam Spratt. The bio on Spratt's website is as free from modesty as Bone's, much more business-like and with nary a hint of tongue-in-cheek, but then, he is an incredibly successful illustrator. The mini-interview about the piece at its vendor, 1xRun, reveals the artist as having a much superior sense of humor to whomever knocked out the text for his site, but you could probably have told that from his work, too. Much of his portraiture is of some of the finest comedic talent the world has to offer.

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