Sims Reed Rare Books×

Financial Times: Billboard Wednesday September 17, 1986

Atkinson, Conrad

London. Projects UK / Artangel. 1987
Conrad Atkinson's art melds the methods of conceptual art with the goals of political activism. In contrast to the esoteric, formalistic, and linguistic concerns of much late 1960s conceptual art, the defining principle of Atkinson's work since the early 1970s has been to function as a crucial reflector of immediate political and economic realities and as a catalyst for social change. Community participation rather than isolation, instrumentalism rather than detachment became Atkinson's goals. His reconnection of avant-garde artistic practice with a socio-political agenda was echoed in the work of a number of his contemporaries, most notably Adrian Piper, Hans Haacke, Joseph Beuys, and Ilya Kabakov.

This 'billboard' is one of about 40 copies that were made; they were commissioned by Projects UK (co-produced by Artangel) and exhibited in the London Underground network as well as on billboards in the city. The project received a lot of media coverage at the time, including a televised reading of this 'Financial Times' newspaper by Atkinson and by the English minister of the treasury on the steps of The Bank of England.Atkinson also did a matching Wall Street Journal to be hung beside it. Subsequently a number of Wall Street Journals and Financial Times were pasted up on Manhattan billboards. In 2011, a set was installed in the offices of Chancellor George Osborne at 11 Downing Street.

'I think the newspaper project was a very interesting one. The first one was in 1985 and it began as a silk-screen print. Myself, Joseph Beuys, Ida Applebroog, and Komar and Melamid were commissioned by Sean Elwood. I rewrote The Wall Street Journal as if artists were very important people and as if politicians were ethical creatures motivated by things like truth and morality. Then the Whitechapel Gallery asked me to do some pictures for a show, so I painted some pictures of The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal and interspersed artists with politicians and political issues. The London group, Artangel, saw them and invited me to do some large subway posters. I suggested we enlarge The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal and put them in Bank Street and Bond Street tube stations - the financial and cultural districts.' (Rebecca Dimling Cochran’s “From the Political to the Popular, An Interview with Conrad Atkinson” published in “Sculpture Magazine”, September 1998, Vol. 17, No. 7).
Four sheets. (each 1510 x 1020 mm). Lithograph with additional acrylic paint highlights, in four sections. Numerous repairs to edge tears; pinholes in corners of sheets.

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