The premise of the Pop Life exhibition was to explore the link between art and commerce as initiated by Warhol and his many commercial tie-ins and spin-offs and later by Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami and their various enterprises.
It made me finally realise that in today’s popular culture there are few successful creative artists who don’t consider the benefits of the commercial hook-up. Whether it’s a musician or actor sidestepping into modelling (Lily Allen for Chanel, Eva Mendes for Calvin Klein Jeans), an actor/model/singer dabbling in fashion design (Emma Watson for People Tree, Kate Moss for Topshop, Victoria Beckham) or an impoverished fashion designer embracing other more lucrative opportunities (PPQ for Sky+, Giles Deacon for Cadbury’s), the days of the creative who was famous for one thing and stuck to it are long gone. These days, it’s a given that anything is possible.
It’s hard for me to accept because I would prefer people stick to what they’re good at but as a creative myself, I know how hard it is to resist the lure of the commercial. However much creative integrity one may have, ultimately everyone has their price.
I just made it to the Pop Life exhibition at the Tate Modern before it ends on Sunday. Some brilliant work in there but truthfully I was mostly excited by the Warhol and Haring rooms. The YBA stuff just isn’t visually exciting to me and I don’t really care about their ‘message’. Plus I guess I grew up with the excitement of Warhol and Haring so they mean more to me emotionally.
There was a reconstruction of Haring’s famous Pop Shop with – genius! – a real life shop within it, as in, a person behind a counter selling Haring merchandise and bringing the concept to life. Keen to participate in the art imitating life imitating art scenario, I made a point of buying my Keith Haring watches from the Pop-Shop-as-Art-Installation instead of the bog standard Tate bookshop downstairs. How very post-post modern of me.
I also adored the Warhol TV clips (Haring and Scharf… together!) although was sad not to see the Curiosity Killed the Cat video that Warhol directed – now that was a work of art. *Sigh*… if Andy Warhol was alive today you just know he would have the best blog of them all.
Another day of running around and hitting the shows to ‘hoover up’ stories for The Daily. Betty Jackson was first where I snapped some cute little almost-flat shoes with fabric pompoms and tried not to stare at Peter Blake and Tracey Emin (two of my favourite artists). Mulberry at Claridges was a very classy affair but tempered with candy-coloured balloons to make it less formal and more fun. Clothes-wise is was very commercial. I’d say it’s all about those fringy boots… Topshop Unique was also uber-commercial and very derivative. I saw shades of early Luella crossed with Bananarma and Courtney Love. There were so many ideas there though – XXXXL oversize mens shirts with the sleeves sliced off and fluoro spray paint as a print. And still the mega high heels continue. At Jasmine de Milo, I liked the simplicity of a long, eau de nil long-sleeved gown and the leather cocktail dresses with pockets. Why can’t all dresses have pockets? Tomorrow, the Americans arrive (by which I mostly mean, Anna W), although one American is here already. I made friends with Britt from Fashionista, who was also filing copy for The Daily. Britt loves London, having interned for Stella McCartney back in the day. I also caught up with a record number of bloggers including Frassy, Bish Shops, Magazine Machine, That’s Not My Age, Torfrocks. Wee Birdy, Aindrea, Susie Bubble, Rebekah Roy and Discotheque Confusion. Did I forget anyone? Crikey, no wonder I’m so zonked out and my eyes are closing as I type.
It’s so nice to see some genuinely creative how-to fashion books being published. I’ve already blogged about Like I Give A Frock by Michi (above and below) which isn’t really a how-to book but is very pretty and an entertaining read.
Natalie Bloom (of the Bloom beauty product empire) has published Beauty in Bloom, a gently-illustrated ode to all thing beautiful and beauty-related to appeal to those (like me) who can’t get enough of foundation splodges and lipstick scribbles. Somehow the latest offering from Gisele Scanlon escaped my attention when it came out so I need to do some catching up. Scanlon’s Goddess Guide was an instant bestseller and the follow-up, The Goddess Experience, offers more illustration and collagy fun alongside her in-the-know tips and discoveries.
More sartorial sketches are to be admired in the form of My Wonderful World of Fashion, a colouring book with a difference from illustrator Nina Chakrabarti. As well as sketches of Vivienne Westwood shoes to be coloured in by all ages of fashionistas, there are also how-to-make-a-sari tutorials and did-you-know fashion history lessons. *Sigh*…who needs Colleen et al when you can have all this?