Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Edinburgh's City Art Centre

The City Art Centre in Edinburgh opened in 1980 and houses the city's collection of Scottish art; it also provides exhibition space for special temporary exhibits. The exhibit I made a trip to see is Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design, a collaboration between Fleming Collection and Ian Fleming Publications.
The exhibit highlights examples of the James Bond cover art and film posters from the original hardcover Casino Royale book, to the film posters for the latest Casino Royale film. There were examples of covers in different languages and from various re-issues throughout the decades, as well as illustrations from the James Bond comic strip of the 1960s, art for the new Young James Bond book series, and a selection of the commemorative James Bond stamps. There were also illistratrions from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fleming's children's book that he wrote for his son.
The exhibit was very interesting; since the general subject of all the art is the same, you can really see the evolution of pop art throughout generations and across cultures. It was also a fascinating look at how different people can interpret the same book. Some of the books have people, whole others have an object at the center such as bullet holes, a deck of cards, or a smoking gun. Some are much more sexual than others, illustrating either the changing values of that culture or maybe just the way in which that particular publisher wanted to market the book. Although Fleming was apparently very involved in the creation of the hardback covers, commissioning Richard Clipping to design nine of the original covers. However, he didn't have much say over the paperback covers, and there is a definite difference between those hardback covers and the paperback covers which have a more "pulp" feel to them. I also got a bit of a laugh seeing how James Bond himself was interpreted throughout the years, especially before the films gave him a recognizable face.

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