I just stumbled across a new (to me) artist I’m really in love with. I was walking around the city last weekend, and Jessica and I walked past the Pop International Galleries in Soho. Immediately I was attracted to the work of Peter Mars, his work looked very Andy Warhol-like; silk-screened canvases with playful image layering. My favorite part of his work is the image appropriation, and his mix of type + image. I love all the layering and colors in his pieces. Some of these pictures really don’t give the work justice, the colors and texture are much more vivid in person.
Pop International Galleries describes the artist here, “Peter Mars has been the leader of Chicago’s Avant Pop Movement for the past fifteen years. Combining avant-garde innovation with a deep Pop Art sensibility, Mars fuses and confuses the traditional distinctions between high culture and low art. The artist’s sensibilities fall somewhere between Dada and Pop, “In that area where nonsense and popular culture so frequently meet.
Using the joy and nostalgia that can be found in everyday objects, Mars explores American culture, the passage of time, and the icons that each period adopts as its own. Billboard advertisements with years of old ads peeling through, outmoded wallpaper designs overprinted with modern icons, recognizable typography overlaps young female faces, antique Coca Cola logos juxtaposed with a fresh-faced Elvis –each elicits a multiplicity of American eras and cultural identities.”
Now one my questions, is how does he get around copyright issues, most of his work is made of copyrighted images, logos, and art. He appropriates the work, to create new meaning, but you can still pick out where the work came from. In design, we’re always talking about copyright. Peter Mars is selling these works, probably for a lot of money, and I’m sure he’s not giving Coca-Cola a check. One of his pieces has the Louis Vuitton pattern as a layer in it … I just have no idea how he can do that, sell his work, and somehow not owe LV money.
As I try to come up with thesis topics, I’m really inspired by this work. I love mixing type and image, and this would be an interesting avenue to explore. I already collect images all the time, especially those of type. I love the idea of making “art” out of graphic design. I think part of the reason Pop Art is so appealing to graphic designers is because we can so easily relate it to our own work. I can see bits and pieces of what I do, designing posters or logos, in this type of work. Peter Mars takes these design elements, juxtaposes them in a new way, creating a fresh composition with abstracted meaning.
Since I am now an MFA student at Pratt, I recently learned that my thesis will be presented in exhibition form, much in the way the fine art MFA students present their final projects. We’re going to be working all next year on projects that will ultimately create a body of work, all centered around one thesis topic. So whatever I chose to do, better have some depth and legs to it, as I’ll be stuck making work about it for an entire year. Perhaps I’ll return to screen printing once again? We shall see!