Last week we received advance copies of a book we’re particularly excited about: Kenny Scharf: In Absence of Myth. The book, written by the art critic and historian G. James Daichendt, is the authorized biography of Kenny Scharf, the grandfather of street art.
Though it details events of the artist’s life (Daichendt had full access to Scharf), the book is also an art book. At 288 pages, with color photographs of the artist and his work throughout, Kenny Scharf is the kind of book that’s rare these days. It’s an intriguing account of one man’s journey from fame to obscurity and back again, but it’s also a visual journey.
Publishing this book, which will come out at the end of this month, is exciting for us here at Cameron + Company because, in the words of our publisher, “it’s a true honor to publish art books like this and play a small but vital part in the preservation of contemporary art history.”
Not to mention, Kenny Scharf’s life story is one that you most likely won’t want to miss. Reading Scharf’s biography is like receiving a backstage pass to the underground East Village art scene of the 1980s, a movement that changed the world.
This book makes accessible the man who made art itself more accessible. Kenny Scharf blazed the trail as a street artist and, because of his spontaneity and ingenuity, established street art as an important art movement. Scharf is also the guy who designed the 1987 Absolut bottle advertisement and the album cover for the B-52s that same year, in case you didn’t know.
Conveying Scharf’s impact on the art world enriches the documentation of art’s history, but this book is also an intimate illumination of an often-overshadowed artist’s life. Whereas Scharf’s contemporaries and friends – Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat – have been mythologized since their deaths, Scharf lives on, continuing to create and transform. In a culture where dying young is often glamorized, he’s proof that tenacity and spirit, reinvention and perseverance, is the true triumph.
Author G. James Daichendt is Dean of the Arts and Humanities and Professor of Art History at Point Loma Nazarene University in Southern California. Dr. Daichendt is the Chief Editor of the academic journal: Visual Inquiry: Learning and Teaching Art and is an art critic for KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station. Daichendt also has two previous books with us: Shepard Fairey Inc., Artist/Professional/Vandal (2013) and Stay Up! Los Angeles Street Art (2012).