Most of the work in this exhibition catalog is not beautiful by traditional standards. Nor can its makers, artists whose work is now displayed in museums and top galleries around the world, really be considered losers. Yet the loosely affiliated group of skateboarding and punk music aficionados represented in this book seems to have a considerable amount of cachet invested in their outsider status, their ability to see the beauty in being a "loser." Many of the painters, photographers and cartoonists in this book appear to be taking a cue from the most famous insider/outsider of them all, Andy Warhol: witness Harmony Korines photo-collage of a disaffected Macauley Culkin, Terry Richardsons photo of a young man sitting on a toilet or a scarf design by Mike Mills titled "Fight Against the Rising Tide of Conformity." The artists consume popular culture and then spit it back out in a highly personalized form to express their alienation from the usual boogeymen (suburbia, capitalism, middle-class middlebrow culture). Bucking the traditional art school route, these self-taught artists prefer a more laid-back, "D.I.Y." ("do it yourself") attitude. This approach involves doodling, spreading graffiti and taking snapshots of their friends naked. The books accompanying essays narrate the development of these street culture artists with an absurdly exacting level of detail, the kind usually reserved for the lives of geniuses whove been dead for at least 10, maybe even 20 years. And while the book is excellently produced and the works in it are a lot of fun, its hard not to wonder if these artists enjoy posing as outsiders a little too much, especially given their newfound success. 200 color & 200 b/w illus.
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Harmony Korine was born in Bolinas, California in 1974. At 19, he wrote the screenplay for Kids, directed by Larry Clark, and later wrote and directed Gummo, which won awards at the Venice and Rotterdam film festivals, and Julian Donkey-Boy, which won an award for best art direction at the Gijon International Film Festival in Spain. He is the author of the novel A Crack Up at the Race Riots.
The self-taught San Francisco-based artist Chris Johanson was born in 1968. His work has appeared at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in the 2002 Whitney Biennial in New York, and he has had solo shows at SITE Santa Fe, the UCLA Hammer Museum, the Jack Hanley Gallery in San Francisco and Deitch Projects in New York. His work has been covered in the New York and Los Angeles Times, Vice, Black Book, Tokion, Paper, Interview and the New Yorker.
Born in San Francisco in 1966, Barry McGee took the tag name "Twist" when he started drawing in the streets in the mid-80s. Some of the more conventional locations where his work has been exhibited include the 2001 Venice Biennale; the Drawing Center, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Growing up, Mike Mills was sure he was going to be a pro skater. Then he got into Cooper Union, found an internship at the groundbreaking design firm, M&Co., and began the design work that would lead to the famous X-Girl logo; skateboard graphics for Supreme, Stereo and Subliminal; scarves and fabrics for Marc Jacobs; fashion related graphics for Esprit and The Gap; Sonic Youth album covers; and a slew of music video directing credits including the Beastie Boys, Beck and Air. Several independent shorts later, he has set up shop with Roman and Sophia Coppola at The Directoris Bureau. In 2005 his first feature, an adaptation of Walter Kirnsis novel Thumbsucker,was released.
"Ed Templeton was born in Orange County, California, in 1972. His parents divorced when he was eight. At age 13 he was introduced to skateboarding, which he credits with changing the course of his life forever. With a month left of high school, he dropped out to start skateboarding professionally in 1990. Soon after, his first trip to Europe significantly changed his worldview, clarifying a love/hate relationship with his hometown that continues to be a source for his work. Templeton started Toy Machine Bloodsucking Skateboard Company in 1993. His first solo exhibition took place in 1994 at Aaron Rose's Alleged Gallery in New York. In 1995 he took up photography in earnest. His first book of photographs, Teenage Smokers, 1999, from Alleged Press, won the $50,000 first prize in the 2000 ""Search for Art"" in Milan. In 2002 his second book of photographs, The Golden Age of Neglect, was published by Drago in conjunction with an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. More recently, his work was featured in the bestselling Beautiful Losers, published by Iconoclast. Templeton currently lives and works in Huntington Beach, California, and continues to exhibit, run Toy Machine and skate professionally."
Aaron Rose is an international curator and independent writer. His books include the best-seller, Beautiful Losers and Out & About by Ari Marcopoulos.