“The Upset – Young Contemporary Art” – Book Review

https://i0.wp.com/hilobrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/theupset_cover.jpgThe Upset – Young Contemporary Art
Editors: R. Klanten, H. Hellige, S. Ehmann
Language: English
Format: 24 x 30 cm
Features: 288 pages, full colour,
ISBN: 978-3-89955-221-8


“The Upset” takes the reader on a trip to a parallel-universe of the art world. Published by Gestalten Verlag, this book is dedicated to a set of unique artists which have constructed their artistic existence separate from the established system of galleries, art fairs and museum shows. In some cases their careers have been intentionally chosen, but often they were imposed upon them due to the lack of understanding and rejection by the commercial galleries. These artists have much in common: they found no entry into the elitist world of white cubes. Through their own perseverance, they have risen above the discourse of art critics, curators, gallerists and collectors. Many of the artists introduced are commercially successful outside of the art establishment and have many fans.

The editors of “The Upset” guide the reader into the topic by categorizing the artists in groups (e.g. Lowbrow, Urban art, Illustration) – depending upon the visual subculture these artists have been influenced by in their work. After a description of the essential characteristics within their respective categories, each artist is introduced with a brief summary of his career and several color images of his/her works. Some artists are presented more extensively via interviews. The roster of artists, most of whom are unknown to the art world, are intermingled with other artists whose “artistic contribution” is discussed and criticized at length, but have nonetheless reached worldwide fame and commercial success, e.g. Takashi Murakami or John Currin.

In this book the reader might also be surprised to find such artists as Matthias Weischer or David Schnell. They are represented by a prestigious gallery, had relatively few difficulties gaining a foothold in the art world and came to remarkable recognition quite quickly. One explanation for including these artists in this book might be the delivery of a retrospection into their time at the academy: their current success with figurative paintings could hardly be envisioned, as at that time, painting was often declared as dead.

The book gives an informative overview about the pursuits that take place behind the curtains of an artist’s studio, activities that didn’t originate on established paths. Those who would like to obtain detailed information about the artists will not find it in “The Upset.” Most artist’s portraits are kept short and tend to focus on outlining only the most important features. A valuable help for further research is the index of websites of the respective artists.