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Design Sleuth: Penguin Classics as Wall Art


Design Sleuth: Penguin Classics as Wall Art

May 21, 2010

At a recent dinner at the newly opened SoHo House in LA, we admired a painting by UK artist Harland Miller, part of a series he calls "The Bad Weather Pictures" based on the iconic Penguin Classics bookcovers designed by Edward Young in the 1930s. "The images are humorous, sardonic, and nostalgic at the same time, while the painting style hints at the dog-eared, scuffed covers of the Penguin Classics themselves," according to the Whitecube, Miller’s London gallery. In the US, Miller is represented by the Marion Boesky Gallery.

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Here are some ideas for creating a similar look.

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Above: New York painter Duncan Hannah has a series of oil-on-canvas works depicting well-worn Penguin book covers; see the range at SF gallery Modernism; also visit Duncan Hannah to see more of his work.

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Above: Toronto-based printmaker and illustrator Alanna Cavanagh has created a series of silkscreen prints on archival Stonehenge paper depicting intentionally distressed Penguin Classics bookcovers (Cavanagh creates tea and coffee stains by hand). Reading for Profit, which measures 25 by 36 inches, is available for $795 directly from Cavanagh; several other Penguin titles are also available. N.B. Hollace Cluny in Toronto also carries a selection of Cavanagh’s work. 

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Above: Art Meets Matter in the UK sells ready-to-hang stretched canvas books of more than a dozen Penguin Classics bookcovers; the Big Sleep Penguin Canvas in small (27.5 by 177 inches) is £99.99; the large size (55.1 by 35.4 inches) is £299.99.

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Above: Philadelphia-based Buy Enlarge offers classic book cover imagery printed on canvas, in sizes starting at 12 by 18 inches up to 44 by 66 inches. Contact Sarah Pierce at Buy Enlarge directly for more information; prices range from $50 to $600. Above photo via Design Sponge.

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Above: Los Angeles–based Bella Bella offers professionally printed Custom Vintage Penguin Cover Giclee Prints ("giclee" is a term that means fine art inkjet-based digital printing). Printed on archival quality 100 percent cotton rag, the pieces start at $25 for the 8-by-10-inch size and go up to 20 by 30 inches. The most popular size is 16 by 20 for $80, which fits perfectly in Ikea Ribba frames. Prints can be customized with text, color, and bird imagery.

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