Winston Smith
November 23, 2005 9:14 PM   Subscribe

So, who is Winston Smith? I lifted this from one of my old university assignments.
Born in America (1952), Winston Smith is a contemporary surrealist montage artist who adopted his name from the protagonist in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Through his works, among other things, he builds upon the rich traditions of Dadaism and early Surrealism with artworks that predominantly relate to topical issues of the past and present, exploring subjects like politics, capitalism, consumerism, religion, individualism, and convenience to name just a few.

In support of a strong visual identity, which clearly is his unquestionable style, Smith sources much of his material from magazines and other documents published before or during World War II, which results in the bulk of his works featuring the unique, visually stimulating photo-realistic illustrations commonly found within these dated publications. As a sign of his character and purpose, too, Smith's corruption of once innocuous imagery represents his tongue-in-cheek attitude, a clever sense of humour, and a provocative protest against misguided social opinions.
Still not sure about him? Well, you might recognise some of his more commercial works, which include Green Day's (SA) album cover for Insomniac and the Dead Kennedy's (SA) world-famous logo and album cover for In God We Trust, Inc. (based on Smith's Idol sculpture). There's oodles more on his website though, including great (although dated) articles about Smith, a seemingly organised gallery of previous works, and of course other information about the man himself.

Note: All images are SFW although it should be said that they're not for everyone. Thus, approach with an open mind.
posted by sjvilla79 at 9:16 PM on November 23, 2005

posted by scarabic at 9:25 PM on November 23, 2005

Great post! I was first exposed to Smith's art via the Dead Kennedys and Alternative Tentacles. As a teenager, his work blew my mind. As an adult, it still does (although I appreciate the nuance and craft of it more). His website is well done and I gotta give props to anyone whose name is an Orwell reference.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 9:54 PM on November 23, 2005

Very, very cool.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:15 PM on November 23, 2005

posted by VanRoosta at 11:15 PM on November 23, 2005

oh, that is who he is. i've seen some of his work in random places, but was at the time not paying attention. thanks!
posted by piranha at 2:36 AM on November 24, 2005

He did a lot of work for The Church Of The Subgenius.
posted by sourwookie at 7:34 AM on November 24, 2005

Ah, sweet days of vinyl!

I remember my first Dead Kennedys album (Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death), which featured a wonderful Winston Smith artwork for every single song, on the album insert; something that would seem a little pointless for the CD-format.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:05 PM on November 24, 2005

True story:
Six or seven years ago, some friends and I were at a bar in San Francisco. We noticed Winston Smith, sitting quietly by himself, looking relatively "normal" save his DK t-shirt. My one friend Greg introduced himself to him and said, "hey man, when I was a kid, I spray-painted the Dead Kennedys logo on my high school wall!"

Mr. Smith shot back, "you owe me a nickel!"
posted by redshifter at 11:27 AM on November 25, 2005

redshifter, this is very true. I mean Smith is very approachable. I can recall contacting him about some reviews I had written. Next thing I knew I got this rushed email from him saying that he was abroad doing an exhibition somewhere but would get back to me soon. Anyway, true to his word he eventually gave me a reply a few weeks later. It wasn't just a crappy reply either. He was actually interested in what I'd done and appreciated the effort I'd put in to reviewing his artworks. What was even cooler was that he was asking me to hook him up with an exhibition gig in Melbourne. I must admit I felt a bit overwhelmed by the idea though. I mean who wouldn't?
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:13 PM on December 1, 2005

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