As Clement Greenburg so astutely put it, "All profoundly original art looks ugly at first." Like Picasso's The Young Ladies of Avignon, great works of art have often initially been considered profanely hideous, and only later claimed to be seminally beautiful. But the new art book entitled Pretty Ugly takes this idea to another level. It highlights the last several years of contemporary design, when artists and designers began to rebel against all general appeal, and instead ventured into new artistic styles that were truly unattractive.
Pretty Ugly focuses on the fields of graphic design, fashion, furniture, photography and sculpture. Battling with the ever-pressing need to create unique works and pioneer new styles, artists in these realms have embarked on "aesthetic rampages," consciously choosing startling figures, colors and perspectives to blaze a new trail. The book affirms that aesthetic upheavals have been occurring for hundreds of years - let's give Marcel Duchamp his due respect - but it claims that only in the last few years have the applied creative disciplines truly turned their back on functional design. The book showcases a number of examples of "ugly" art, accompanied by insightful interviews with artists who candidly speak of this drive for a unique visual identity that has taken precedence over mastery of craft. Filled with dada-esque collage, absurdist costumes and unreadable typography, Pretty Ugly pays homage to the abandonment of timeless beauty and the swift change in direction of visual communication.
The book was published by Gestalten and edited by TwoPoints.net, a design company based out of Barcelona and run by Hort designer Martin Lorenz and his wife Lupi Asensio. It had its European debut in May of this year and will be available to the US in June.