John Stezaker was born in Worcester but lives and works in London. Over the past three decades Stezaker has been a highly influential artist. He has worked with conceptual art but specialises predominantly in collaging. He uses found imagery and appropriates them into a new piece of art. He intervenes with the scene by using a variety of techniques such as excisions, maskings, cuts and rotations. Through this process Stezaker creates alternate meanings and interpretations from the original photograph. Creating unusual photographs that are compelling to look at.
Stezaker has previously stated that he doesn’t find images, they find him. This process of finding and discovery is essential to the creation of Stezaker’s images. He said, “I love that moment of discovery, when something appears out of the ground of its disappearance: the anonymous space of circulation, where images remain unseen and overlooked.” (Stezaker, J. 2014) But its not just images that he uses. He uses other ‘readymade’ materials such as film stills or postcards and then conjoins them. Sometimes simply by placing on top, or sometimes he will cut up his image to create a more complex collage. His images are well thought out and he has gone though many artistic considerations during the process of creation of his images. “John Stezaker’s work re-examines the various relationships to the photographic image: as documentation of truth, purveyor of memory, and symbol of modern culture.” (Saatchi Gallery, 2015)
In his series entitled ‘Masks’ Stezaker predominantly uses film stills or studio portrait images upon which to base his work. He would then block out some of the image by layering a postcard image of chasms, tunnel entrances, waterfalls and caves on top of the face. In doing so he creates a juxtaposition and challenges the interpretation of the portrait. When Stezaker places an tunnel opening on top of the face (as seen above) I believe that this portrays a powerful photographic impact as it an illusion at first, but the more you look at it, the more you can begin to make meaning. And the journey that you brain goes on when looking at the portrait almost symbolises what you are viewing.
In the portrait above entitled ‘Kiss’ Stezaker has used a film still for the initial portrait. A really strong aspect of this photograph is that he has chosen a postcard image to layer on top that lines up perfectly with the the shape of the couples face underneath, giving the effect that this is actually their faces. This creates an intriguing final image with multiple messages that could be derived from this image. Such as the fact that the portrait is covering up the action of a kiss within the original portrait. Additionally, creating a photographically strong image.
I think by combining the ideas that Stezaker has used in his images with the ideas in my previous art work, this could be very interesting and would be something I would like to experiment with to see if I can achieve some interesting results.
- Ades, D. and Bracewell, M. (2010) John Stezaker. London: Ridinghouse
- Jones, P. (2008) ‘JOHN STEZAKER: MARRIAGE BY ESSAY BY CECILIA JÄRDEMAR AND JOHN STEZAKER: MASKS BY ESSAY BY CAOIMHÍN MAC GIOLLA LÉITH’, The Art Book, Volume 15(Issue 3), p. Pages 26–26.
- Newman, M. (2010) ‘The Image Beside the Image and the Image Within the Image: Prolegomena to an Approach to the Collages of John Stezaker’, Parallax, Volume 16(Issue 2), p. Pages 79–86.
- Saatchi Gallery (2015) John Stezaker – Artist’s Profile – The Saatchi Gallery. Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/john_stezaker.htm (Accessed: 10 March 2015)
© Kirstie Wilkinson