John Stezaker (b. 1949, UK) is a British artist whose practice is characterised by provocative collages and conceptual use of photography and found images. Having begun his career in the early 1970s, he became one of the most influential artists of his generation, as well as a point of reference for younger artists. His work explores the themes of identity, memory, and perception and reinterprets the modern viewer’s relationship to portraiture, popular culture, and collective memory, encouraging a critical inspection of the icons of popular culture.
The artist mainly works with existing images, such as postcards, books, magazines, old Hollywood film stills, and old photographs. He juxtaposes and assembles them in small-format collages that reflect on modern times, memory and truth. Resonances of Dada and Surrealism can be found in works where landscapes, faces, and objects are intertwined in unexpected but coherent ways.
In his Masks series, the artist overlays images of caves, rocks, waterfalls and other natural phenomena with vintage photographs of both unknown sitters and famous celebrities. Other notorious groups of works are the Marriage series, where the faces of two spouses have been halved and then fused, and the Dark Stars series, where publicity portraits have been turned into cut-out silhouettes.
Stezaker’s oeuvre provokes in the viewer a sense of disorientation and instability, where images known to the spectator have been mutilated and bizarrely mixed in a way that, in the end, is somehow pleasing and powerfully alluring.
Stezaker studied at the UCL Slade School of Art in London. He was awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, amongst other accolades.
Artvisor, London (2023); Luxembourg+Co, London (2020); National Portrait Gallery, London (2019); Saatchi Gallery, London (2018); Fondazione Prada, Milan (2016); Tate Britain, London (2014); Serpentine Gallery, London (1992); Lisson Gallery, London (1984); XL Venice Biennale, Venice (1982); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1977); 9th Paris Biennale (1975); Galleria Lia Rumma, Naples (1974); Royal Academy of Arts, London (1970).
MoMA, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; Tate Modern, London; Rubell Collection, Miami; Sammlung Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt; Sammlung Verbund, Vienna; Seattle Art Museum; Le Plateau, Paris; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem.
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