I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Matthew Collings’s many different projects. I first came across him when I picked up his book This is Modern Art. It was summer and I really enjoyed the book, as it was a fast, fun, and informative read. The book was published as a companion piece to the Channel Four program of the same name. His style as a television host is a bit self conscious, and he tends to fidget and play with one of his little fingers, but at the same time he can be very entertaining, and informative. His interviews with Patrick Heron and Jules Olitski were the highlights for me. They are two great artists who have sadly been out of fashion and largely forgotten, so it was great to see someone admitting to being interested in their work.
Blimey! From Bohemia to Britpop: The London artworld from Francis Bacon to Damien Hirst, is a mix of art history, art journalism, personal diary, and gossip column. In a mix of anecdote and critique, he presents an account of the lives, habits, and works of artists such as Damien Hirst, R.B. Kitaj, and David Hockney. He looks at trends in British art from Shock Art to Pop, and the School of London. He discusses the philosophies of each art movement as well as the works of their various adherents. The book is full of many great illustrations of work both familiar and unfamiliar.
Art Crazy Nation is the follow-up book to Blimey, and it finds Collings in a grumpier mood, and his support of the YBAs faded. It still has all the stuff I enjoy when reading Collings, and it seems to offer a bit more biographical information about Collings than his previous books. It’s a fast, fun, gossipy read, and takes us through the British artworld, and introduces the reader to many interesting, if at times self-satisfied, characters.