An art book is book art
Pierrot has powder on his dress, the queen’s left eye is tilted slightly, and Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller’s nails are long and manicured – the smallest of imperfections and details create the portraits when artist Thomas Kluge works his brush. Therefore, it was important for him to find a design agency and a printing works that could bring that level of detail to paper.
He is known as Danish art’s enfant terrible. He doesn’t care for modernism, but prefers to paint photo-realistic portraits of people with a marten hair brush. His painting style meant that he was rejected by The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts three times. Yet, he has gained recognition in both Danish and international art circles.
When Thomas Kluge contacted Kailow, he wanted to create an art book that could tell his whole story through his paintings. For Thomas Kluge, the book project “To be or not to be” was no small task. It was a personal project – just like his paintings.
The book includes portraits of royals and famous Danish figures such as Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller, Pierrot and the former director of Danske Bank. Besides portraits of well-known, prominent people, the book “To be or not to be” contains Lego men, Smurfs, a backlit goose, a cocker spaniel and a man with jam on his face.
Blood, sweat and CMYK colours
Thomas Kluge often spends several years creating the perfect portrait. The grandiose portrait of the Danish royal family, which he is probably most famous for in Denmark, took almost four years to paint. Therefore, the art book was an extensive and significant design and print project for the artist, as well as for us. Throughout the process, we have had a very close collaboration with the artist, so that together we ensured that the art book managed to communicate the right things to the reader. Visually, we helped the artist create harmony and rigorous simplicity in the book. We have had conversations about how the book should be structured dramatically, both in terms of painting selection, order and cropping.
In terms of the technical printing process, the book “To be or not to be” poses some challenges which require a lot of knowledge and skill to address. Thomas Kluge’s paintings are known for “the mysterious darkness”. His paintings contain a wealth of black shades. And those colours cannot close themselves around the paintings. Moreover, it was of course important that the great wealth of detail in his paintings was brought to life in the book. Nothing was left to chance, and the CMYK colours had to match the original colours.
Therefore, this was a demanding printed matter, both in terms of technique and time.
Art that casts shadows into the present
The art book “To be or not to be” served as part of Thomas Kluge’s exhibition at Kronborg Castle. In addition, the art book has received good reviews. Danish national paper Weekendavisen wrote about the book that “Thomas Kluge’s paintings oozes this ability of the past to cast long shadows into, and to some extent paralyse, the present.”
Read more about Thomas Kluge at http://thomaskluge.com/