Paul Gorman is…

Derek Boshier: Rethink/Re-entry published October 5 UK + November 10 US

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//Cover artwork by Boshier, incorporating references to his 1973 installation Change and a portrait by his friend, Nigel Waymouth//

In January 2012, on a cold night in a print studio in, of all places, Wandsworth, south London, the eminent artist Derek Boshier asked me if I was interested in putting together a monograph of his life’s work with his friend and champion, the writer and curator Guy Brett.

I jumped at the chance, and here I am, three-and-a-half years later, fondly leafing through the first copy sent fresh from the publisher Thames & Hudson.

caption id=”attachment_15726″ align=”alignnone” width=”580″]IMG_7992 //Book flap editor’s bio. Photo: Ivan Jones//[/caption]

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//Frontispiece: Shot In the Arm Cowboy, 2007//

We were already chummy by the time Derek made his request. Our first encounter was in 2008, when I interviewed him for my Barney Bubbles book Reasons To Be Cheerful (Derek commissioned Bubbles to provide the catalogue and poster design for the controversial 1979 Hayward Gallery group exhibition Lives: An exhibition of artists whose work is based on other people’s lives).

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//Hockney’s preface and with Boshier in the Royal College painting rooms, 1961//

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//Left: Special K, 1961. Right: The Most Handsome Hero Of the Cosmos And Mr Shepherd, 1962//

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//Left: Set Square, 1964. Right: Plaza: 1965//

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//Left: Output, 1966. Right: 16 Situations, 1971//

As my admiration for Boshier’s vast and diverse body of work grew, so did an increasing sense of bewilderment that his contribution to contemporary art and popular culture was so sorely undervalued.

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//Spreads, CLASH 2nd Songbook, 1979//

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//Drawings for Lodger, 1979//

Now I understand the reasons why: Derek is a pure artist with an international outlook, permanently interested in the next work, so impossible to “brand”. He is, in short, one of those spiky figures in the cultural landscape to which I am drawn (see also Boy George, Barney Bubbles, Caroline Coon, Goldie, Simon Haynes, Nick Logan, George Melly, Malcolm McLaren, David Parkinson, Tommy Roberts… the list is long).

An early example of this restlessness occurred in 1962. As soon as Derek was pigeonholed by  “Royal College Pop”, he undertook a Commonwealth Scholarship to study in India, producing work in opposition to commentary on consumer culture and instead inspired by the sub-continent’s mythology and iconography.

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//Top: Queen, 1974. Left: State Of Mind, 1976. Right: Garage, 1976//

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//Change (Nos 98-110), 1972//

In the mid-60s Derek gave up painting for a dozen years, preferring to experiment with many different disciplines, and when he returned to the medium, rather than stay in London or establish his practice in one of the global art centres such as New York, Paris or Berlin, Derek headed for faraway and deeply unfashionable Texas for another dozen years.

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//Left: Frightened Cowboy, 1981. Middle: Naked Cowboy, 1980. Right: Shy Cowboy, 1980//

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//Left: The Idealists, 1983. Right: Man Falling Wearing A Mexican Mask, 1983//

This and his subsequent installation in Los Angeles, mixed with a satiric consistency, have ensured an outsider/insider status which doesn’t make for assimilation, particularly in comfortable British art circles.

Good fortune smiled upon Guy and I in the months after I accepted Derek’s offer; my new agent, the towering Maggie Hanbury, swiftly placed the monograph with its natural home, Thames & Hudson. The now departed publishing director Jamie Camplin took one look at my proposal – which included the stellar cast of contributors – and said: “This is a book we have to do.”

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//Left: Transsexual Los Angeles No 1, 2000. Right: Transsexual Los Angeles No 2, 2000//

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//Left: The Painter And The Boxer, 2003. Right: Hollywood Brat, 1996//

David Hockney came up trumps with his heartfelt preface, and Maggie and Guy were crucial in raising enough funds to ensure the book does justice to Derek’s art.

With a sympathetic designer (Karin Fremer) and editor (Blanche Craig) we have, I believe, produced a work which will place Derek in the pantheon.

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//Left: Top and middle – frames from Best Foot Forward, 2014. Above and right: Frames from Did You See…That?, 2014//

Hand on heart, if I hadn’t been involved in the project, I would recommend Rethink/Re-entry to you.

Order/buy your copies here and tell us what you think.

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3 Responses to “Derek Boshier: Rethink/Re-entry published October 5 UK + November 10 US”


  1. Chris Gregory
    on Sep 3rd, 2015
    @ 12:22 pm

    Many congratulations – looks like you’ve created the fabulous monograph that this great artist merits! Will definitely be picking up a copy.

    Are there any plans for book-signings/interviews/discussions/signed editions based around its launch at all please?


  2. Paul Gorman
    on Sep 3rd, 2015
    @ 12:24 pm

    Thank you Chris; there are some events including a walk round the show with Derek in the second week of October. Will flag them up. Best P


  3. Ian Harris
    on Sep 3rd, 2015
    @ 4:42 pm

    Fabulous Paul, well done! Speak soon. Best wishes, Ian.

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