Mr Bump and Little Miss Sunshine covers by Steff Plaetz
Never Judge…? at London’s StolenSpace Gallery turns the old book cover cliché on its head in an exhibition of jackets reinterpreted by contemporary artists and illustrators…
Staged in association with Penguin (and on until this Sunday December 16), the exhibition champions the iconic power of the book cover in an age increasingly seduced by iPads and Kindles.
A range of artists were asked to draw, paint or sculpt a new cover for a novel that has inspired them, the only stipulation being that their artwork be created in the traditional format and size of a Penguin book (198mm x 129mm).
Indeed, many of the covers on show seem to deliberately avoid digital innovation in favour of more traditional techniques.
War Of The Worlds cover by Eelus
Artist Eelus, for example, employs intricate black paper cuts of spaceships and antennae, against a toxic green background for his cover of War of Worlds. And Russ Mills’s monochromatic abstract covers, for a series of Ian Livingstone’s choose-your-own-adventure books, use a frenzy of painted white geometric shapes against a black wooden background.
Forest of Doom and Deathtrap Dungeon covers by Russ Mills
A particular favourite was Steff Plaetz’s reworking of the ubiquitous Mr Men covers (shown, top): taking Little Miss Sunshine and Mr Bump as her subjects, Plaetz cleverly reproduces the iconic cartoon figures in their signature colours but in more primitive brush strokes.
A Confederacy Of Dunces cover by Gary Taxali
The Offenders cover by D*Face
The collages that D*Face produced for the show involve chopping and splicing together parts of reclaimed books, so that the resulting mutant covers verge on the farcical. For The Offenders cover, we see Mao Zedong puffing away on a cigar with ruby red lipstick on.
Bing Banged My Lola and Crime and Punishment covers by Gerald Laing
Other featured artists take a more realistic approach: Gerald Laing’s covers for Bing Banged My Lola and Crime and Punishment use an illustration of a couple that look suspiciously like Amy Winehouse and Blake Fielder-Civil; and Viktor Vautheir uses a grainy black and white photo of a woman, cigarette in hand, kissing a skull, to refigure the eponymous hero of Hamlet.
Hamlet cover by Viktor Vauthier
Whatever your literary inclinations are – be it towards The Bard or HG Wells – this exhibition is a visual delight for bibliophiles and design enthusiasts alike. Showcasing the work of over 50 contemporary artists Never Judge…? proves that the art of book cover design is far from on the way out.
Never Judge…? is on at Stolenspace Gallery, The Old Truman Brewery, London EC1 6QL. For further information see stolenspace.com or call +44 (0)20 7247 2684. Entry is free and the show runs until this Sunday, December 19.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea cover by Under Pressure Art
Great Gatsby cover by Anders Nilson