From Instagram to Pinterest, pretty living rooms to quirky cafes, the vintage aesthetic is a popular and far-reaching one. But “vintage” can be a difficult term to define. Technically meaning a “time when something of quality was produced”, this doesn’t quite capture the serious style that the vintage vibe proudly owns, or the sense of nostalgia it inspires, bringing a previous period back to life through its iconic aesthetics. There are many periods which have proved popular; vintage clothing shops boast beautiful dresses oozing in twenties glamour, or biker jackets straight from the fifties. Likewise, furniture shops often supply stunning lamps or loungers abundant in seventies chic, and many modern designers take their cue from these vintage styles and aesthetics.
Interior designers follow suit as well, with Instagrammers such as @anotherballroom, @jesselauzon and @jannuschlebt promoting vintage styling and goods, paying homage to the beauty of a vintage interior. With this in mind, we had a look at some of the artists featured in our online shop who dabble with the style, to provide you with some simple ways to add a touch of vintage glam to your home.
And there’s a lot on offer. From the bold, pop-art inspired prints of Richard Levine or The Connor Brothers, to artists such as Keymi who reference the 1950s whilst combining with manga cartoons, there’s a lot of interest and demand for artworks that speak of different ages, and the values that these periods evoke. Looking back further, Charlotte Cory’s whimsical portraits reference the 19th century and the Victorian age, or, how about Robert E Wells’ expressive paintings that summon the impressionist cityscapes of the early 1900s? Opting for works such as these, rather than selecting pieces which feel more contemporary, can either add a sense of quirkiness or nostalgia to your space, depending on what you pick. If your place is already filled with books and memorabilia, it may be fun to go for a Victorian-style portrait to complement your interior. A pop art inspired print or brightly coloured collage can look fantastic in a minimal room, becoming a real focal-point.
Before diving in to see what’s on offer yourself, we caught up with a few Affordable Art Fair artists that are drawn to period’s past to find out what inspires them — whether it’s music, architecture, sixties pin-ups or Hollywood starlets…
One fabulous artist who works with the vintage aesthetic, in her case via the medium of collage, is Francesca Lupo, who shows with Liberty Gallery. Taking inspiration from her studies in architecture, Francesca creates beautiful imaginary rooms inspired by one of her other passions: classical movies. Her rooms are occupied by stunning Hollywood starlets and fashion icons, which in the words of Francesca, ‘play’ their role within the fictional scenes. On her love for all things vintage, Francesca explains:
In my opinion, the 50s and 60s aesthetic is marked by a special combination of design and architecture, which allowed new experiments and combinations with colors, geometry, lines and shapes, producing perfect harmonies of surfaces, volumes and objects. The result is a timeless balance, something warm and pure at the same time.
Collage is vital for Francesca in portraying this balance — something that is reinforced by Liberty Gallery’s owner Patsy who works with a number of artists who specialise in collage. The medium allows Francesca to include fragments from times gone by, bringing them back to life:
They give the impression that I am writing tales and stories within the artwork, by joining fragments of materials that had had another life before: in this way stamps become paintings on the wall, handwritten letters become magazines over the table, scraps of newspapers become wallpapers or carpets… And the past of every single object comes inside the collage to enrich the scene, to participate with its new life in the artwork.
So, in my collages, there is a little piece of those “treasures” collected everywhere, from the “marché aux Puces” in Paris, from a street market in Manhattan, from an old box of magazines preserved or forgotten for years in an attic.
Like Francesca, French artist Pierre’s wonderfully bright works are collages inspired by the 1960s - but Pierre’s work is specifically inspired by France, and in particular, its vintage posters. Part of his interest in this period stems from the ways that art was seen all over the city through advertising, accessible to everyone. As Pierre explains:
It represents freedom, new aesthetic codes. We can discover through advertising posters a whole new world, with happy images of a France where consumerism is allowed for the invention of a new ‘art de vivre’. Advertising becomes a popular art, accessible to all.
Pierre adores Paris and more particularly, the Parisian underground, where posters are displayed everywhere. Heavily influenced by the French graphic designer Bernard Villemot, his works celebrate what he sees as the golden age of Parisian culture. The colours are what really draws Pierre to this period, and he describes himself as an ‘urban archeologist’: ‘I tear apart, soak, dry, get rid of bits and once the multiple layers of paper have separated themselves from one another, I started creating assemblies’.
Alain’s graphic portraits of celebrities and renowned world figures — think the Queen, Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor and even Henry the eighth — are captivating and often wonderfully weird, their smooth, idealised faces and forms making them seem otherworldly yet contemporary. Painting these historic or iconic figures within modern scenes, Alain mingles time periods, producing highly intriguing works that occupy multiple worlds. Showing with GX Gallery, Alain discusses his inspiration:
I created lots of paintings with models who were friends or people that I painted because I liked their looks but I realised that it was more powerful to paint faces that everybody can relate to. Also, I found out that to use famous characters was interesting because I could easily paint them in inappropriate or anachronistic situations which gives another dimension to the narrative.
As well as pop art, music is key to his inspiration and interest in depicting icons from the past:
As a teenager, I was very much into music, especially Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground who were produced by Andy Warhol. When I was in art school I studied Warhol and ‘The Factory’ and I was fascinated by his work, his life and by the American Pop Art. Therefore, my work is very much influenced by Pop Art as well as album covers.
Francesca Lupo, British Afternoon, collage on paper, 2017, £650, Liberty Gallery.
Images from top to bottom:
Francesca Lupo, Audrey In NY, collage on paper, 2017, £360, Liberty Gallery.
Francesca Lupo, Reading On The Rooftop, collage on paper, 2017, £360, Liberty Gallery.
Pierre-Francois Grimaldi, Janvier Toute La Nuit, mixed media on canvas, 2016, £5,400, French Art Studio.
Pierre-Francois Grimaldi, Lassie, mixed media on canvas, 2015, £5,400, French Art Studio.
Alain Magallon, Mr Famous, oil on canvas, 2017, £3,500, GX Gallery.
Alain Magallon, Emerald City Road, oil on canvas, 2017, £3,500, GX Gallery.