More Postmodernism

This is the published version of the Stewart Home print that I designed for Book Works. It was great fun designing a work that was so blatantly plagiaristic. While I was researching Barbara Kruger’s work I discovered that there is quite a debate about the exact version of Futura Bold Oblique that she used. Most of the early works were created photographically and there is inevitably some distortion to the letterforms – this is very apparent at first hand: the square edges of the strokes become softened and rounded. This makes it quite difficult to judge which version of the font Kruger favoured. To add to the confusion, Kruger designed a couple of magazine covers (Esquire, May 1992 and W, November 2010) where it appears that she digitally slanted the letterforms rather than using the true oblique font.

Stephen Coles at writes “Need a proper Futura italic for your own work – or for copying Kruger’s? Go Scangraphic (as is) or Neufville (with tighter letterspacing). Bitstream’s redrawn Futura is an interesting alternative. It’s not quite as Futura as the others but it performs better when clarity and readability are key.”

Below are four different versions of Futura Bold Oblique. From top: Bitstream Futura; Futura ND (Neufville); URW Futura; and Scangraphic Futura.

As Coles suggests, Bitstream’s version is the most radically different, but shares some similarities with the Scangraphic version: the ‘f’ is less top heavy and the ‘e’, in particular, is very different to the other versions shown here. To my eyes, Neufville is close to the URW version, which is one of several versions on my computer so, after overlaying the URW version over the top of some reproductions of Kruger’s work, I decided to go with that version.

Of course words set in white Futura Bold Oblique on a red background against a monochrome photograph do not a Barbara Kruger make. Kruger’s work from the eighties and nineties is distinctive and employs a self-referential range of sophisticated stylistic mannerisms that informs the viewer that they are looking at a work by Barbara Kruger; her works have been plagiarised and parodied many times but Kruger’s aesthetic, her ‘hand’ if you like, is so pervasive that it is very difficult to create a convincing copy. Anyone with access to a computer can create a version of Kruger’s work but, as demonstrated by Kruger’s own engagement with computer type manipulation on the covers of Esquire and W, this is not as easy as it seems. Getting the typeface right is only one part of the jigsaw.

Stewart Home
More sex, more violence, more copyright violation!

To mark the end of the selective archive of Stewart Home, that has toured from White Columns in New York to SPACE, London, Book Works and SPACE have published a new limited edition screenprint.

Co-published by Book Works and SPACE, in an edition of 50 signed and numbered by the artist, plus artist's proofs. Two colour silkscreen, printed on Somerset 410gsm, 420 x 440mm. Printed by K2 Screen Ltd., designed by James Brook.

Price £80.00 (+VAT)




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