Jim Shaw: The Paperback Covers

Since the 1970s, American artist Jim Shaw (born 1952) has used his multimedia artistic practice as a means of exploring and exploiting pop-culture iconography. This publication focuses on one of the key series in Shaw’s corpus, in which he draws inspiration from the Anglo-American graphic design and illustrative tradition of cheap paperback books. Inspired by the artist’s intense dreaming life, the ‘Paperback Covers’ series (1996–2013) recreates the lurid imagery associated with pulp novels, with vertical canvases that depict fantastical and irreverent imagery: in one, a werewolf in suspenders is struck by an oncoming 18-wheeler; in another, a line of chorus girls dance in front of a vampire and a woman in red as the couple is in engulfed by flames. Though these “books” bear no text, Shaw’s paintings evoke exciting narratives within a single image. All the inventoried ‘Paperback Covers’ are collected in this softcover volume along with a text by Charlie Fox.

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