French photographer Gautier Deblonde spent five years doing the rounds to produce a virtual “Who’s who” of leading British artists, on the slightly dubious premise that well-known figures may, with relatively little prompting, be considered living works of art in their own right. It smacks of a facile, if misbegotten, attempt (aided by writer and art critic Mel Gooding, who disclaims all of the above in his often contradictory essay) to show that the “complicit relationship between the artists behind and in front of the camera produces another work of art.” Leaving aside the self-aggrandising poses of an artistic fraternity seldom noted for being excessively camera- or publicity-shy, Deblonde’s collection of artists at work, rest and play is probably as good a rogue’s gallery as one is likely to find on the subject. Though they have all worked hard to make this volume a must for picture editors, there is something contrived and superficial about the whole project. How could anyone, for instance, miss out Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s enormously expressive hands?
Originally appeared in the Art Newspaper as 'Gautier Deblonde with Mel Gooding, Artists (Tate Gallery Publishing, London, 1999), 136 pp, 73 b/w ills, £19.99 (pb) ISBN 1854372912'