John GRENVILLE STEZAKER | Marriage (Issue #51)


Born in the United Kingdom in 1949, John Grenville Stezaker studied at Slade School of Art and received a High Diploma. Stezaker is known to be the one among the first wave of British conceptual artists to react against what was then the predominance of Pop Art. In the mid-sixties, he was also known as a member of the group named New Image, challenging Pop Art, which had been dominating the world of art at that time. In the 1970’s, he was one of the most important leaders of the Photo-art movement. Besides, toward the end of the 1970’s and beginning of the 1980’s, his works of collage and the appropriation of pre-existing images were also influential in opening up a new hemisphere to the American New Image Art.

His works of art generally consist of pre-existing postcards and photo collage with a surreal narrative. With a supernatural intuition, Stezaker adds a new life to forgotten movie posters and photos taken from old magazines. Like Lyn Skordal, who is known as the most successful collage artist who presents old photographs, colored objects and magazine pages by bringing them together, Stezaker, too, reused postcards and photographs and presented them as ready-made objects. In his works of art, subjects such as images (symbols) of modern culture, documentation of the truth, and the construction of memories stand out as photographic visuals where the relations are being re-examined.

In his series named Marriage, which is known as his most famous and essential works of art, Stezaker focuses on the concept of portraiture, both as art historical genre and public identity. In this series, by appropriating pictures of classic movie stars in public places and by spicing and overlapping famous faces, the artist creates hybrid icons, which give his art work a sense of endless mystery. Since the images in this series contain both men and women, Stezaker combines clichés that are used to represent those triggering new questions about both concepts.

By combining pre-modern products with post-modern techniques such as juxtaposing, excising, overlaying and conjoining distinct images, the artist turns to photography, one of the most fundamental products of modernism. In addition, in using Hollywood’s stylistic images of the golden age, Stezaker engages with surrealism on a conceptual and temporal dimension.