Monday, March 24, 2008

this is london...

1959 this is london by m. sasek (fog)

1959 this is london by m. sasek (city without fog)

1959 this is london by m. sasek (the tube)

after posting the richard scarry book last week, i figured i should dig out two other books from childhood that were influences.

when i was a kid, my dad moved to london for a year and the first thing he sent me was this book... m. sasek's 'this is london'. sasek's style is a bit like saul steinberg, but his color sense is more intense and the graphic qualities also bring to mind paul rand's kid's books. sasek's work also shares an aesthetic with early 60's eastern european animation. between 1959 and 1966, sasek wrote and illustrated a series of these books including this is paris, hong kong, munich, venice, ireland, greece, new york, san francisco, and many others.

this is london was first published in 1959. my childhood copy is dated 1966, which means it arrived when i was two or three years old.

as a kid, this book was my first link to a faraway place that was real, rather than imaginary. although i can't really recall anything specific in the book that i obsessed over, i remember pouring over it, and trying to copy images from it often.

the interesting thing about looking at it now is that the three images above reflect the stages of my painting process, and utilize a number of visual languages i use in my own work. the top image is an entire page awash in brown brush strokes that sasek call's london fog. this wash is essentially how i begin every one of my paintings. the second image is the next page and is the same image of london without the fog. a larger whole made up of tiny units, would reflect the second stage of a painting (and continual third fourth, fifteenth stage, etc.), although the colors and sizes of the tiny shapes would probably be reflective of some kind of self imposed rule or system of translation. the last image, is much later in the book. i feel a strong connection to the oddly curved image with a central core; the way it is put together, the use of color, and the graphic qualities. my process is closer to image two, but the trajectory is to use the language of image two to generate something seemingly disconnected from it, like image three. (while looking for a painting of my own to illustrate this, i was surprised to find this one that is very much like the composition of the sasak's subway).

of course, none of this is specific in terms of influence and memory, as i haven't opened this book in probably 20 years. nonetheless, it is interesting how one can still feel connected to certain things. while i'm certain that the connections discussed above come from looking at the book now, and trying to find connections (some thick and some thin) to my own work looking backwards; i can't deny the thoughts that it probably had some effect on my aesthetic when my aesthetic was just being formed...

sometime this week i'll post images from the last book, that probably influenced my work more than any of the others...

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Blogger Joey said...

Wow, those are some pretty great illustrations. I'm going to have to try and get a copy of that book. It looks great!

10:40 AM  

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