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Making It Up As We Go Along: The Art

As Dazed's 20th anniversary exhibition at Somerset House continues, we look closer at some of the magazine's most iconic art coverage over the years

Matters of controversy have never been an issue at Dazed, choosing rather to dare to divide than conform to the masses. This is nowhere as obvious than in our art coverage over the years. As seen in our 20-year anniversary book, 'Making It Up As We Go Along' and in a reflective look back at ten years of direction from former art editor Mark Sanders in our ‘Cut Out and Keep’ chapter, the magazine sought to feature non-conformist artists in new and innovative ways. Art was seen as a medium to engage, manipulate and provoke readers, not just to serve as a visual means to replicate art history books, but to act as curatorial spaces for a new generation of artists including Jake & Dinos Chapman, Barbara Kruger and Damien Hirst.

The chapter reflects back at a time when artists were rejecting traditional notions of what was the expected thing in expressions of art, favouring instead to produce explosive and sometimes pugnacious work that was making waves in the contemporary art world. Artists were pushing the boundaries, embracing notoriety and shunning prescribed methods of display – which is how Dazed became the perfect platform for these individuals, as Mark remembers, “By the 1990s, young artists were opening up their own studio spaces, they were bypassing the galleries, they were creating work that attracted the attention of the police… Dazed was really about helping that to evolve and handing over the pages as a sort of curational space, making the magazine a catylst for different ideas.”

These collaborative efforts between artist and magazine are no more apparent than in the projects especially produced for Dazed & Confused by Jake & Dinos Chapman. The Chapman Brothers Industries was one of the magazine’s situationist-inspired art projects and it exemplifies the way in which Dazed was becoming a unique platform for experimentation. The project involved the two now legendary artists re-sitting their GCSE exams at a night school. Jake says of the project, “In everything we did with Dazed, they would say, ‘Do you want to do something?’ and we’d say, ‘Yeah, we want to do this…’ Then they’d say: ‘Okay.’ There was a kind of mutual consensus and irresponsibility that was symbiotic and fun. We went to a cramming college in Notting Hill and had to produce a year’s body of work in about two months, and then sit an eight-hour exam.”

The original results from the Chapman brothers can be seen at Somerset House at our recently opened Making It Up As We Go Along exhibition, a scattering of pencil drawings, pastel work and biro sketches. Alongside them, huge Barbara Kruger editorial art works hang, pressing visitors with suitably ironic proclamations from black and white faces; ‘I’m creative. I’m the next big thing. That’s why I’m in this magazine, right? I’m a really cute artist.’

Art editorial today in the magazine has never slowed pace, with our recent ‘Dazed Decade Drawn Out’ competition, where we invited illustrators to reproduce covers from the last ten years and also with our involvement with the Converse emerging artists award. Dazed continues to support the art world with exciting coverage and innovative art editorial, creating a welcoming space for artists, as Mark Sanders recognises of the early magazine editorial, “When we did work with them it was about bringing them into the family and giving them complete open access. We wanted the magazine to be proactive culturally – as opposed to being a passive observer of culture.”

'Make It Up As We Go Along' is at the Somerset House until January 29, 2012. More info on the exhibition HERE and find out about the Dazed book HERE