Walls Are Talking

Wallpaper, Art and Culture
Gill Saunders, Dominique Heyse-Moore, Trevor Keeble and Christine Woods, 2010

Publisher: KWS and The Whitworth Art Gallery

ISBN: 978-0-903-26165-4

Our relationship with wallpaper has often been uneasy. It has always been ambiguous. By the late 20th Century wallpaper had become a bit of a joke in artistic circles, a cliche with connotations of kitsche - hardly the most obvious medium for a contemporary avant-garde artist. However, during the past two decades, artists exploring themes of home, memory and identity have created installations with backdrops of specially designed wallpaper. Some have used wallpaper as pictorial polemic by illustrating warfare or racism, others have made visually obvious the conflicts in contemporary Western culture, in particular those associated with gender and sexuality.

Featuring mofe than 30 international artists, including Sonia Boyce, Catherine Berola, Thomas Demand, Robert Gober, Damien Hirst, Abigail Lane, Francesco Simeti and Niki de Saint Phalle, Walls Are Talking looks at the deelopment of their interest in wallpapers, showing how they have used historical wallpaper motifs, styles and methods and how existing patterns have been adapted and subveted to telling effect. By including historic paper, together with examples produced for the late 20th century popular market, this book sets their ideas in a historical and cultural context and examines the current interface between wallpapers and the artists' works and aas products designed and/or made commercially. In doing so Walls Are Talking invites us to examine the tensions created by the opposition of aesthetic experience and domestic consumption and the ways in which the familiar repeating patterns of domestic 'backgrounds' represent and reinforce cultural steriotypes and patterns of social and personal behaviour.
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