Mike Mills’ films and design work have dominated the visual landscape of the past two decades, through record covers and music videos for bands like Air, Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth, movies such as The Architecture of Reassurance (2000) and Paperboys (2001) and his first feature-length film, Thumbsucker (2004), starring Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton. 2011 sees the release of Mills’ new feature film, Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. McGregor plays a character who, as Mills describes, “shares some things with me: we both do graphic design, we both often figure out what we’re thinking by drawing, we both have dogs and we both did record covers for a very real band named The Sads. This book contains all the drawings which I (Mike) drew, and that Oliver (played by Ewan) works with in the film. Oliver has the unfortunate idea of creating an illustrated ‘History of Sadness’ as a record cover for the The Sads, including such episodes as: Neanderthal man realizes he’s outclassed by homo sapiens man, the pilgrims, industrialization, birth of the novel, pets in general and many more.” This volume also features a new series of drawings: an illustrated History of Love which includes such chapters as: the first butt to attract, great lovers in film, flappers, free love’s not so easy, internal vs external problems and many more.

Humans takes the reader through a season of renowned graphic artist and filmmaker Mike Mills’ recollections in drawings, graphics and snapshots, and concludes with a disarmingly open essay that begins “My father passed away in the fall. He had been ill for about nine months but he didn’t act like a sick person. He worked more than ever, dressed stylish, had parties, wrote an essay on religion where Jesus did not die violently on the cross but peacefully of old age in the desert. He also planned his own elaborate funeral and sketched out a few memorials to himself. After he was gone I stopped working. For a long while everything was very quiet. I had been meditating on and off for several years, but I started to sit every day. Slowly, I started working again, but I found that I wasn’t trying to invent images so much as document little moments that happened to me.”

“Some things that may or may not relate to these drawings: A professional suggested I take anti-depressants. I declined. About the same time I started drawing fireworks. I didn’t know what they meant or why I was drawing

Graphics/Films è la prima monografia retrospettiva su una delle menti più significative della cultura creativa contemporanea. Da oltre quindici anni, le opere di Mike Mills nel campo della grafica e del cinema hanno contribuito a cambiare il paesaggio visivo del nostro tempo. Graphics/Films documenta scrupolosamente la carriera di Mills fino a oggi e include una serie di esempi inediti del suo lavoro in ambiti come la grafica, le installazioni, la produzione editoriale e cinematografica. Tra i progetti selezionati figurano le copertine degli album di band come Beastie Boys, Beck, Sonic Youth, Air e molti altri musicisti. Mills ha inoltre collaborato con Marc Jacobs, curando la grafica e il design dei tessuti e ideando il marchio X-Girl Clothing. Ha esposto le sue originali installazioni grafiche in varie parti del mondo, in mostre personali presso la Andrea Rosen Gallery di New York e da Colette a Parigi. Nel 1996 ha fondato The Directors Bureau, una compagnia di produzione multidisciplinare, insieme a Roman Coppola. Da allora, ha diretto una quantità impressionante di video musicali e cortometraggi, tra cui The Architecture of Reassurance (2000) e Paperboys (2001), entrambi inclusi nella selezione ufficiale del Sundance Film Festival. Nel 2004 ha completato la realizzazione del suo primo lungometraggio, Thumbsucker, con protagonisti Keanu Reeves e Tilda Swinton, e al momento sta lavorando al suo secondo film.

In Deformer, artist Ed Templeton explores his upbringing in suburban Orange County, California, through photographs, stories and ephemera from his youth and teen years, giving readers–as he did viewers of the short Mike Mills film of the same name–an intensely close and personal look at his coming of age. He weaves disciplinary letters from his grandfather and religious notes from his mother in with telling images and brutal stories, creating an unresolved narrative that offers more questions than answers. Or perhaps the answers are these photographs, paintings, drawings and sketchbook pages, which plunge readers headlong into not just Templetonís chaotic existence but also his use of art to address its stresses and joys. Deformer is the culmination of a vision 11 years in the making, and collects over 30 years of material. Its photographs illuminate being young and alive in the ìsuburban domestic incubator,î and provide–in the tradition of Nan Goldin or Larry Clark, with a sharp eye for the streets that recalls Garry Winogrand or Eugene Richards–a raw and unflinching glimpse into the artistís own life and the lives around him.

The greatest cultural accomplishments in history have never been the result of the brainstorms of marketing men, corporate focus groups, or any homogenized methods; they have always happened organically. More often than not, these manifestations have been the result of a few like-minded people coming together to create something new and original for no other purpose than a common love of doing it. In the 1990s, a loose-knit group of American artists and creators, many just out of their teens, began their careers in just such a way. Influenced by the popular underground youth subcultures of the day, such as skateboarding, graffiti, street fashion, and independent music, artists like Shepard Fairey, Mark Gonzales, Spike Jonze, Margaret Kilgallen, Mike Mills, Barry McGee, Phil Frost, Chris Johanson, Harmony Korine, and Ed Templeton began to create art that reflected the lifestyles they led. Many had no formal training and almost no conception of the inner workings of the art world. They learned their crafts through practice, trial and error, and good old-fashioned innovation. Not since the Beat Generation have we seen a group of creative individuals with such a unified aesthetic sense and varied cultural facets. The world of art has been greatly affected by their accomplishments as have the worlds of fashion, music, literature, film, and, ironically, athletics. Over the years, the group has matured, and many have become more establishment-oriented; but no matter, their independent spirit has remained steadfast. Beautiful Losers is a retrospective celebration of this spirit, with hundreds of artworks by over two dozen artists, from precursors like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Larry Clark, to more recent adherents Ryan McGinniss, KAWS, and Geoff McFetridge. Work in all conceivable mediums is included, plus reproductions of reams of ephemera. The accompanying essays are contributed by a half-dozen writers who have championed these beautiful losers from the start.

For several years American filmmaker/graphic artist Mike Mills and Japanese photographer Takashi Homma have been documenting a little-known feature of the Southern California landscape—”wildlife corridors” created by environmentalists (often over or under freeways) to allow wild animals such as mountain lions to access the vast geographic area they require to hunt and mate. While such predatory species survive on the fringes of our awareness, literally trapped in islands of natural habitat surrounded by developed urban areas, they are occasionally spotted in suburban neighborhoods and other populated areas, their lives intermingled with ours in more ways than we may realize. As a loosely structured visual essay, Together: Wildlife Corridors in Los Angeles explores the shadowy existence of these endangered animals, advocating more awareness of how human development affects their survival and ways in which we can continue to live together with them. The photographs themselves are in fact a kind of collaboartion between man and beast: taken at sites dictated by the exact GPS coordinates of a small group of lions that have been collared and tracked, the pictures reveal evidence of the animals’ movements through exurban hinterlands and foothills, the outskirts of housing developments, and the ubiquitous motorways and aqueducts of Los Angeles.

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