One of my favorite street art books is Untitled, so upon receiving the sequel, Unitled II: The Beautiful Renaissance, in the mail last weekend, I couldn’t wait to read it and see if the sequel could live up my expectations.
In short, it does. For £19.95, you can get a well printed hardcover art book just shy of 200 pages long that could easily retail for more than that in high street shops.
Most of my favorite artists are included in Untitled II: My all time favorite Gaia image is on the cover, there are some cool shots of Banksy’s work, Swoon, Mark Jenkins, PosterBoy, Roa, WK Interact, Judith Supine, Blu and many many more.
Untitled II feels like the compiler (Gary Shove) really just sat around one day and said, “here’s some stuff that I’m really digging at the moment” and turned it into a book. And I mean that in a good way. The whole thing feels very holistic and it doesn’t seem like he’s tried to cram in certain artists just to say “yeah this book includes a photo of X’s work.” There are a few sections which are generally organized, like the section on New Orleans or the one on Norway, but really it’s just pictures that look nice together. And the quality of the photos is top notch. I just pulled a half dozen street art books out off my shelf to compare, and it is clear that the guys behind Untitled II have spared no expense in printing or finding the best photos.
But the truth is that pictures are only half the story with Untitled II. The text alone is reason to buy this book.
Too many people in art take themselves too seriously. Not so in Untitled II. The end of the book carries this disclaimer: “None of the words and spaces contained herein have any relevance to any of the photographs. They are only included to keep the pictures company and make us look cleverer than we actually are.”
You know how Banksy includes little bits of text in Wall and Piece? Think that sort of thing but taking up way more space. The text either proves that the writers are geniuses, or, much more likely, very good at BSing like geniuses. And those sort of texts are always fun to read when you know there is a bit of a humerous conceit to the whole thing.
Untitled II also includes a DVD called Storytelling. It has a few short films on it like Spending Time with PosterBoy plus Living Decay, a film about street art in Norway.
This isn’t the book you want if you’re looking for a serious book about street art, or if you’re just getting introduced to the genre, but for people who already know the street art scene well, this Untitled II deserves a spot on your bookshelf.