Review: Fumetti by John Stezaker


Book Reviews, Photobooks


I suppose strictly speaking John Stezaker’s Fumetti is not a photobook. It does contains photos, though. But the artist didn’t take them. It’s a book of collages. But purists might find reason to scoff at that, too, given that many of these collages were made from only two images, and there are some made from, well, one. But before we throw our arms up in despair, trying to find just the right box for the book, we might as well realize how little is to be gained from categorizing - especially since so much is to be gained from looking at the book. (more)

You might have seen some of Stezaker’s work. In a nutshell, they stand out as being deceptively simple. Once you start looking at what you got, things get rather complicated. Take the images from the Fumetti series. These are collages using two signed photographs of movie stars. Unlike in the case of earlier such collages, which involved straight cuts, the artist here used more elaborate shapes, in fact shapes that resemble the outlines of the human body itself. The results are even more unsettling than those that used the earlier, straight cuts. They are also often funny. There is a sense of humour in this work.

Another very interesting body of work is called The Castle Series. Superficially, these are the simplest possible collages: Two images are cut diagonally, and two of the halves are joined together. Yet again, the resulting collages are mind-blowing. The artist combined just the right images, to have the collages utterly confuse and astound the viewer. It’s a disorienting humble of shapes, something quite unexpected from just two images being put together.

Fumetti provides a good overview of Stezaker’s work. There are other books with many more samples of the various bodies of work. This book is a good introduction, and with its essays and the interview with the artist it has background information, too.

It is great to see that collage art is still so alive and well.

Fumetti, collages by John Stezaker, essays/text by Barry Schwabsky, David Lillington, William Horner, Janneke de Vries, John Stezaker, 112 pages, Walther König, 2009