Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Sunday Head****

Today, a celebration of the king of the pavement head****, Julian Beever.

Since the 1990s, Julian has shifted the image of pavement drawing from being just chalk graffiti done by starving students into an amazing new artform. His photo realistic skills and ability to render distorted perspective (oblique anamorphosis, to give it its technical name) have propelled him into being one of the best-loved artists of the 21st century. His popularity has been helped no end by the power of the internet, as people emailed photos of his work to their friends, unable to believe what they were looking at or how the effect was achieved.

As it's just chalk, his work has a fleeting nature to it. He often has to erect a canopy whilst working to protect it from the rain, and once revealed it's at the mercy of the elements and pedestrians' feet (who'd want to walk over it, though?) The work can only be preserved and appreciated at its best through photography, as the perspective is designed to be viewed from just one angle and Julian can often be seen checking his progress through his viewfinder (having erected his camera on a tripod before starting work) to make sure he's getting exactly the effect he needs. Watching the artist at work, though, is like a performance in itself, and there are plenty of "How Do They Do That" videos on YouTube, including this one:

As you will have noticed if you watched that video, Julian's work lends itself brilliantly to viral marketing, and a lot of his work these days is promoting well known brands. You tend not to notice the advert in there and just want all your friends to see how amazing the art is.

So here's to Julian Beever, ****ing with your head in more ways than one.

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