Punk collage master Winston Smith, best known for his iconic logo and album art for the Dead Kennedys, has issued a new series of limited prints. The collages are carved from antique steel plate engravings from the 19th century. Above, "Trance Ported" (12" x 18"). Only 100 of each of the five prints are available, signed and numbered for $99 each. Winston Smith's Vintage Collage Series
Winston will also join BB pal V. Vale, Penelope Rosemont, and Ron Sakolsky to discuss "Anarchism, Surrealism, Sex and the Revolution of Everyday Life" on Saturday, March 31, at 10:30am at San Francisco's 12th Annual Anarchist Book Fair.
UPDATE: Winston Smith responds to comments implying that he apes Max Ernst:
If you read the full rap on my website about the new (old) pieces then you would see this:
"Expanding on his work with engraving based collages which he produced 25 years ago in the mid-1980s, Winston has only recently assemble these new works in the spirit of the Surrealist Masters such as Hannah Hoch and Max Ernst who began assembling old photos and engravings back in the 1910s and 1920s" —And 1930s, I might add.
So, not only have I already created such engraving-based collage pieces over A QUARTER OF A CENTURY AGO, having (like everybody) long been exposed to the works of Ernst and other artists, but as David points out, this collection represents only a fraction of my several thousand traditional collage compositions created from more contemporary sources (print adverts of the 1930s, '40s & '50s). I have been committing these "Artcrimes" for over 35 years. Actually more like 50 years if you count the collages I made as a kid from my own drawings, cut up and pasted dow"Kinko's" on the corner to go to back in 1958.
Ernst was born in 1891 and used work created twenty years before HE was born. I also utilize images from 20 years before I was born (in 1952— I'm pushing 60 now) and also images from my childhood in the 1950s. (How can I resist? Those people are sitting ducks). So I am doing my best to carry on the tradition of what artist like Hanna Hoch and Max Ernst began, and as David points out, I fully acknowledge and celebrate that fact. I'm glad you noticed the similarity. I'm flattered.
Actually— they didn't even start it: They ripped off other artists who did the same thing, only long before they thought of it. (What Johnny-come-lately losers). The writer Hans Christian Anderson created a splendid collage in the 1850s —nearly 40 years BEFORE Max Ernst was even born. I've had a reproduction of it on my studio wall for years. Perhaps Ernst lacked imagination and figured it would just be easier to rip off Hans Christian Anderson. After all, if I hold up one of Ernst's piece next old Hans' piece they look quite identical.
There is a reason for that: all copper plate and steel plate engravings have the same tonal quality therefore when blending two or more images from diverse source material the effect is one of unanimity for the over-all combined image. That's Art 101. Basic stuff. Just ask the late artist Jess, if you can find a Ouija Board. HIs works utilized steel plate engravings too but he made his in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Long after Max Ernst.
Another point regarding my compositions: Anyone can go find a Dover Book with countless engraving images which are available for artists to cut from and re-create collages from. My pieces are entirely different: Most of my works are cut from the original 120 year-old to 150 year-old (plus) original manuscripts. I do not use Photoshop or any other computer assisted mechanism. I couldn't if I wanted to. Aside from typing out e-mail now and then, I am basically computer illiterate, (to my lasting regret). I would like to learn how to do that some day but, like they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Hell, I never even learned the OLD tricks.
So my point is that these compositions are from sources unavailable to the general public (unless Dover has scanned some of them from the same encyclopedias or children's books I've had in my family collection for many years) therefore each finished piece represents an original composition, entirely created in the Here & Now, the current year of Our Lord 2012, even though they came off the printing press back in 1877 and have enjoyed nearly a century and a half of piece and quiet till I came along to dissect them. (Poor bastards). But they were indeed crumbling to dust and the painstaking care I go to to resurrect them does give them new life. They now have an entirely new career, never having been seen by anyone in our generation, or the last, for that matter. And my new works present them in a form that never WAS in the world before. (So I hope they're pleased. Reincarnated Art. Maybe there IS life after death).
Believe me, if they were images from Dover Books or those other fine collections of 19th century engravings available in books stores and art stores for people who do Decoupage and "scrapbooking" it would sure be far easier for me to produce the same images than what I currently go through to create them. Imagine this: as you turn a page of a book if edges flake and tear as if you'd deliberately crushed a dried leaf (a 150 year-old dried leaf). So the very act of drawing a razor blade across this paper is like drawing a butter knife across a sheet of wet toilet paper. The results are catastrophic. Now, if the image survives that phase of the operation then the next danger lies in applying the acid-free adhesive (Collage is from the old word for Glue—Colla, in Italian). The mere act of application can cause the delicate old paper to disintegrate before my eyes, a tragedy equal to watching a mummy decompose the moment you've discovered it (and after hours of tedious research and digging to unearth it).
So, all in all, these "new" artworks (the 145 year-old artworks) are as fragile as re-cycled flies' wings. Merely touching the edge of the paper in any way causes them to flake and crumble like stale potato chips. The Dead Sea Scrolls are more sturdy. That's why we have created a set of limited edition prints for this series. The originals are available to collectors but they will need to keep them in hermetically sealed frames or just closed up in some butterfly case due to their extreme fragility. These new Gicleé Prints are on acid-free paper (unlike the original engravings, unfortunately) and printed with archival inks so we're hoping that this will allow others the opportunity to view and appreciate these works that have not seen the light of day for a period spanning three centuries, the 19th century, the 20th century and finally the 21st century. We feel they've waited long enough.
Thanks for writing and noticing that I am indeed following in Max Ernst's tradition. Just as anyone today who paints an oil painting is ripping off the techniques that Rembrandt and (centuries before him, Jan Van Eyck and centuries before him, the cave paintings of Lascaux, etc. etc.) We artist carry on the long tradition of being rip-off artists. Artcrime is in our blood. I feel bad for the hens that laid the eggs that Michelangelo used to make his tempura to paint the Sistine Chapel. What a rip-off. Those poor chickens never got a dime. Hell, they didn't even get a mention on the credits. (Of course, the irony is that, for all that magnificent work, Michelangelo Buonarroti never got paid for his work either. Typical for most of us artists…)
I must excuse myself for now since I am on my way back to my studio to commit more premeditated Artcrime. I just can't help myself. (Someone stop me before I slice again!) In my case I can't claim "temporary insanity". I'm afraid, at this point, it's probably quite permanent.