The Berlin Photographer Transforms Concealed Motorbikes Into Surreal Urban Sculpture
Wrapped motorcycles encountered on the streets of 25 cities including New York, Paris and Milan provide the enigmatic subject matter for Christian Werner’s series, Undercover. “Everyday objects can convey a life of their own,” notes the artist, whose images will be unveiled tomorrow in an exhibition at the Große Bären gallery in the German capital. “I discovered that as soon as I isolated these found objects, they acquired a surreal character.” Werner has been exhibited in museums and galleries across his native Germany in addition to contributing graphic design to such publications as the supplement of the Berliner Zeitung and various art magazines and journals. Turning his lens towards the internationally ubiquitous urban objects, Werner shot 500 blanketed vehicles in total, transforming them into unlikely muses. The resulting works are reminiscent of the comic yet haunting ready-mades of the Dada master Marcel Duchamp, projecting an abstract, strangely human aura. Despite having participated in junior motorcross races as a child in Germany—today his favorite bike is a BMW K 75 RT—his personal experience of the sport was not his primary inspiration. “It was intuition that drew my attention to the hidden bikes, which are all over cities,” he recalls. “They appear as ghosts, covered bodies, massive monuments—always teasing our desire to look underneath the surface, to unveil the concealed mystery.”
The Sky is Far from the Limit for the Feted Designer, Filmed for NOWNESS by Alison Chernick
“If you have a big enough engine, you can go anywhere,” says Australian designer Marc Newson. He’s talking about flying, but his words typify his limitless creative ambition—in the course of his career his projects have included everything from a space jet to a champagne box, a mobile phone to a recording studio (not to mention many, many beautiful chairs and covetable pieces for the home). Newson’s work, driven by a sleek, biomorphic visual signature, has won him batches of accolades since he first exhibited his work in Sydney in 1984, including seven Good Design Awards from The Chicago Atheneaum. In 1997 he founded Marc Newson Ltd in London, embarking on commissions from companies as diverse as B&B Italia and Ford, while in the mid 2000s, after designing a series of plane interiors and first class lounges for Australian airline Qantas, he was named its Creative Director, a post he holds to this day; other clients include Boucheron and Azzedine Alaïa. For his latest show, Transport, at New York’s Gagosian gallery (through October 16), he shows off his vehicle designs: a reflective-metal tri-fin surfboard; a canary yellow and black jetpack; a wasp-like jet plane Newson built when Fondation Cartier offered him the opportunity to create whatever he liked for his 40th birthday. “It works in theory,” Newson says of the Kelvin40, named after a character from Andrei Tarkovski’s classic sci-fi movie Solaris. In today’s film, shot by Alison Chernick exclusively for NOWNESS, Newson ruminates on his work, surrounded by his wildest creations. Proving he can do luxe as well as lightspeed, he also hops into the $1.28 million cruiser boat he designed for august Italian brand Riva in a limited edition of 22 (Larry Gagosian's already got his).
Learn more about Marc Newson's latest products here, and his incredible designs for space travel here.
The Celebrity Tattooist On His Accidental Rise in the Art World
A pile-up of wrong decisions and the influence of talented “fuck-ups” led Scott Campbell to improbable success. The tattoo ace turned art star details his road to fame in today’s film, the first in a series titled Reflections from director Matt Black. Campbell made his name inking Hollywood royalty such as Robert Downey Jr. and Orlando Bloom, and has since carved out a reputation for his fine art, a body of work which includes laser-etched renderings in US currency. It’s a story arc Black seized upon: “I’ve been hanging out with artists all these years in New York and I’ve know them when they were struggling,” he says. “Now they’re being successful at it and I want to record this part.” Having previously shot films with the likes of Paz de la Huerta and Rinko Kikuchi, the Paris native will follow this first installment with shorts featuring urban artists KAWS and José Parlá, and hopes to extend the project to Tokyo and Los Angeles. To find out how Scott Campbell meshed his street sensibility with Louis Vuitton, click here.