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Journal History

YES!, BUT IS IT ART?

Fri Sep 26, 2014, 2:01 PM
  Athena 1 by Peter-The-Knotter

1: INTRODUCTION



I really expected DeviantART to have had this covered!  - Maybe I just haven't seen it / missed it if someone has, DA is a biggish site..., (please send me the url if this is the case? thanx!) , but it merits a techgnotic / depthRADIUS  level, general post to all members on DA....For those who are unaware of Athena's seminal role in popularising "Art" of all calibres, I have decided to get off my poor pre-op ass and write a journal to celebrate/remember Athena's contribution to student's walls in every academic institution, bedsit and flop house in many an urban sprawl..., (particularly art colleges like St Martin's, Camberwell, "The Slade", The Royal College, Plymouth, Falmouth and the many other institutions that have nurtured the budding artist's soul in the UK when starting out on one of the most difficult professions to succeed in, as well as the walls of many an art-lover, like myself, who could not afford "the real McCoy" but could, at last, decorate their walls with something other than wall-paper and 3 flying ducks! (see: "Duck Soup" below...)

Duck Soup by Peter-The-Knotter

A: AFFORDABLE ART


Athena supplied  affordable art in the high street for both students and those denied an education, who could now place their muse's / hero's inspirational work on their walls, be it a classic like Rembrandt or a current cultural icon like "Kojak", (Telly Savalas), whose relative merits and politics could be argued over coffee, or perhaps "Spag Bol" popularised by cooking author Elisabeth David who brought Italian cuisine to English tables.  The pro's and cons of a Braque, Tintoretto, Monet, the Beatles Album covers...
Athena 4 by Peter-The-Knotter

or a particularly pulchritudinous tennis players posterior majoris... ahem...  This latter gave rise to quite a furour in the art world and the press at the time, about wether certain designs were art or..something else... another example of this was L'Enfant. 
Athena 6 by Peter-The-Knotter


Athena 5 by Peter-The-Knotter

 Athena also didn't shirk from selling prints of popular TV icons like Starsky and Hutch, Farrah Fawcett and many others.  Popular music idols were also available and one of these notably "came back" in a certain "Love Actually" to whit: The Bay City Rollers... trust me! at the time London was confused with Scotland there was so much tartan about... not to mention "Punk Rockers" who sported safety-pinned mini skirts with a strong tartan design..usually red.
  Athena 3 by Peter-The-Knotter


The shops were often manned or womanned by students of art, be they actual "Students" or by those, like myself, who were a species not unlike Thomas Hardy's "Jude The Obscure" who hovered on the fringes of academia, without the werewithal to gain entrance, but who, nonetheless, were respositaries of much knowledge and analysis, and perfectly suited to work in an "Art" shop - or, Like Jude, occasionally settle disputes for the inexperienced. 

The team (below) at the Exeter shop are no exception to this, and were a cornucopia of helpfulness and information... so much so that, having met the owner, Simon, last week and had a lovely chat on the whole subject, one of his team arranged for me to have the requisite frames set aside for my "Earthwalk", (see below) , and they were used to generate the very last receipt ever issued to a customer... which, as an inveterate romantic I shall treasure!  (Do Not! look for it on Ebay: "It ain't gonna happen!"

  Athena 2 by Peter-The-Knotter


B: BEAUTIFUL EARTHWALK



Poetically, the duration of the Athena shops (at their height there were about 60 in the UK.), lasted almost exactly 50 years: Athena's first shop was opened by Ole Christensen in Hampstead in July 1964, (my old stamping ground at the time...) and by an incredibly serendipitous co-incidence, I find myself living in the town that housed the very last shop to remain open until today, the 19th September, 2014. Call me a romantic if you will, but again, coincidentally, I have been re-decorating my flat to provide a harmonius workshop for my work, especially as I will be leaving hospital, (alive, I sincerely hope!...lol.... too soon?...),  soon after an operation to re-open my trachea to be able to breathe more effectively, and thus work at my more normal rate! yaay!;  I thus decided it was about time to re-think my environment: My apartment's corridor therefore, I decided, is going to be called "The Eartwalk"- a sort of voyage around the planet without leaving my flat with: (btw: The walls are to be deep, dark green, the ceiling: midnight blue with constellations, the floor a sort of highly evolved bio-degradeable astro turf...),  about 26 or so framed prints of various parts of our lovely planet, that I've travelled to - or would like to! (waterfalls, birds, fauna, flora, panoramas and aerial views etc),; the point being that because I needed lots of frames, I went to my local Athena and discovered it was closing down and, (very luckily for me), was having a sale!  So, this poor student of art, (auto-didact), was able to easily afford all the frames required!

C: CLOSING DAY



I had so much on today, (19th September),  2 articles to write for the DA Art History Project with deadlines 3 days hence!; New boiler being fitted by two guys with manly grunts and muttered imprecations about the fit of a hex screw for the widget that did something unpronounceable but essential to my plumbing!; a fashion and photography thing for a new African Clothes and Furniture shop; more painting of walls etc for my re-decorations in my apartment; my first shower for two weeks instead of a "sink-wash" substitute plus being able to do the washing up without boiling 3-4 kettles of water!; (takes breath!), in short, I could ill afford the time to visit a poster shop that was closing down like so many other high street businesses in this financial climate...


but! I made it a priority because of the staff and the historic passage of something that in the past was as taken-for-granted as "Boots" or "M&S" in most sizeable UK High Streets. As the number of customers dwindled, and closing-time approached, Jaquie, the Team Leader / Manageress, started to sniffle as her eyes welled up... I so understood her sentiments... I said to her, to which Dave uttered some words of support..., I shall do the emotions later, right now, I jut want to share this historic moment with you guys, and wish you all well! for the future.  We cracked a few jokes, took some pics and then parted company... most had jobs to go to, so that was cool, but, nonetheless, everyone's heart was heavy.., all wanting, like most of us have experienced at least once: not wanting this particularly amazing party to ever end...                 ...sniff!
  Tit4 by Peter-The-Knotter


  The Other Opiate, (or at least "eye-candy") of The Masses

Why "Athena"?... because: Athena is the Greek goddess of reason, intelligent activity (wisdom), arts and literature.
Athena 7 by Peter-The-Knotter

The story of Athena is somewhat of an odyssey for me as I have: discovered many artists via their posters, have decorated various caravanserai's where I have lived a while with their works from Corot to Monet, Rembrandt to Dali and Escher to Van Gogh...etc  In my current appartment I have several old Athena prints, notably Mucha, a graphic designer of the first water, whose "4 Seasons", like Waterhouse's "Lady of Shalott" has almost always been somewhere on a wall where I've lived.  Now I find myself having lived near, and bought from, the first shop, and  living near, and having been the last customer of the very last shop bearing the name... but enough of my wistfullness, on with the brief history of this seminal entity of the art world:
 The First Shop... and buyouts...

As previously mentioned, Athena's first shop was opened in Hampstead, (very close to my birthday), in July 1964, and was soon, after a remarkably fast expansion and success, bought out and further expanded to approx 60 outlets.  Although the management's idea was to concentrate on "fine art prints", as we all now know, several prints caused controversy in the art world as they were of, in some people's minds, of a "vulgar turn of mind"...notable amongst these were the famous "Tennis Player" (see also Note 1, below), A Hobbit, Tutankhamun, Robert Doisneau's "The Kiss" and the "Man and Child" (L'Enfant: see note 2 below), often seen as an icon for the idea of the "New Man" of the 8o's + 90's, ...amongst others, see illustrations below.
 Sold Again!

An annual event were it's calendars which were often controversial like the tennis player and the girl in the red and white socks as well as current popular pop and TV icons like Telly Savalas (as the imacculately dressed, lolipop sucking police detective "Kojak" ) and Starsky and Hutch (not forgetting "huggy bear"). The athena chain of stores was sold again in 1977.

 As the Century Ends...


Athena was principally a 2oth Century phenomenon; so, with the advent of the "Net", the capacity for previous poster buyers to print out their own pictures and frame them, the fortunes of Athena waned.  Other reasons were that entrepreneurs quickly took advantage of the internet, online banking, and of course, online payment methods, like "PayPal" to sell to people in the comfort of their own homes and have their purchases mailed to them. This trend, like online groceries, gave consumers more time to pursue other interests.  Another factor that appeared was that social networking, ( see:  fav.me/d4si0si ), the consummate 21st century weapon of mass distraction replacing the 2oth century's weapon of mass distraction: Television, (fav.me/d56yk1d),  began to take up more and more of people's time including "meeting up" via avatars on 3D games sites, chat rooms, video calls etc.. often diverting people from actual face-to-face conversations and encounters...

 And the Century Begins...

The new century heralds a radical change in how students of art view illustrations, works of "Art" and other visual media as the media themselves undergo metamorphosis after metamorphosis with the advent of ever more sophisticated and realistic laser holograms, 3d printed sculptures, 3d movies, pop-up happenings and installations as well as non-paper-based storage of images that can be summoned at the whim of the viewer with ever larger and more compact storage devices...  Will the exchange of art and debate on art now only tale place in cyberspace?... most Universities and schools etc distribute notes, assignments, lectures etc via e-mail or bulletin boards etc and virtual classrooms are commonplace,

 And the Future Beckons...

Is this not only the demise of Athena, but that of posters and perhaps wall art?...  I think not!...  In the same way that it is a whole different matter to read a bound book made of paper to using a digital text reader, The viewing of a piece of art in real-life is so far removed from the digital experience as to be as alike as real elephant and a wrought iron  butterfly...  However, with the continually decreasing price of digital devices, will this luxury of seeing the "Real Thing" become the province of only the super rich?....

3: ATHENA: USEFUL LINKS

WIKI:
www.athenaposters.com/history-…
THE INDEPENDENT
www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/… 
THE DAILY MAIL
www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/art… 
VIVARTI-ATHENA ONLINE:
www.vivarti.co.uk/ 
VIVARTI SHOP (Plymouth):
www.visitplymouth.co.uk/shoppi… 

4: LINKS RELATED TO ARTISTS AND/OR
ILLUSTRATIONS CITED IN THIS ARTICLE



CEZANNE: COMPLETE WORKS AND BRIEF BUT GOOD BIO: www.paul-cezanne.org/
CEZANNE AT PARIS WEBMUSEUM: LINKS TO BIO / WORK / ANALYSIS OF DISCRETE WORKS ETC: www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/…
CEZANNE'S STUDIO: www.atelier-cezanne.com/anglai… 

BACON WEBSITE: www.ubu.com/film/bacon.html
BRINGING HOME THE BACON: A TATE MUSEUM DOCUMENTARY BY DAMIEN HURST (5 MINS): www.tate.org.uk/context-commen… 

BRAQUE: LINKS: www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/…
BRAQUE AT MOMA: www.moma.org/collection/artist… 

BURNE-JONES:  (SEE ALSO: PRE-RAPHAELITES: RESOURCE SITE, BELOW)
LINKS: www.dmoz.org/Arts/Art_History/…
Sir Edward Burne-Jones in Cumbria: www.visitcumbria.com/edward-bu…
DURER: BBC DOCUMENTARY: youtu.be/0i3d63k-ZLg 

EMIN WEBSITE: www.emininternational.com/ 

M C ESCHER  WEBSITE: www.mcescher.com/
ESCHER: PDF ARTICLE ON THE MATH OF ESCHER:  www.ams.org/notices/200304/fea…
Escher for Real: SOME FUN AND INTRIGUING REALISATIONS OF ESCHER'S WORK: www.cs.technion.ac.il/~gershon… 

DAVID HOCKNEY WEBSITE: www.hockneypictures.com/ 

MONET WEBSITE: www.monetpainting.net/
MONET AT GIVERNEY: giverny.org/monet/welcome.htm
MONET TALKS: (TEXT) www.intermonet.com/biograph/au… 

MUCHA WIKI: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphonse…
ALFONS MUCHA: CONCISE ILLUSTRATED BIO: www.artexpertswebsite.com/page…
MUCHA MUSEUM IN PRAGUE: www.muchafoundation.org/ 

PICASSO: MUSEUMS:
PARIS: www.museepicassoparis.fr/
BARCELONA: www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/
MALAGA: museopicassomalaga.org/
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART: www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Col… 

PRE-RAPHAELITES: RESOURCE SITE: www.preraphaelites.org/ 

REMBRANDT: BBC BRIEF BIO AND SLIDESHOW OF WORKS:
www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintin…
REMBRANDT DOCUMENTARY: www.canal-educatif.fr/en/video… 

RENOIR: BIO: LIFE / TECHNIQUES / EXHIBITIONS ETC. www.artble.com/artists/pierre-…
RENOIR: GALLERY OF WORK: www.pubhist.com/person/281/pie… 

RODIN: MUSEUMS:
PARIS: www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/le-musee…
ATELIER AT MEUDON: www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/le-musee…
RODIN AT THE V&A: www.vam.ac.uk/page/a/auguste-r… 

TURNER: THE TURNER SOCIETY: www.turnersociety.org.uk/index…
TURNER: The TATE (London, UK) has a dedicated section but the website is under maintainence currently....
TURNER at the BBC: www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintin… 

WATERHOUSE: COMPLETE WORKS: www.johnwilliamwaterhouse.net/
WATERHOUSE: BIO: www.jwwaterhouse.net/biography… 

VAN GOGH MUSEUM: www.vangoghmuseum.nl/
VAN GOGH GALLERY: www.vggallery.com/

ALTERNATE ID: THE SUM OF MY PARTS (under construction....)
























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:iconmortsbeads:
Mortsbeads Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Bro are you ok?  xxxx
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:iconrockstocks:
RockStocks Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the watch! Amazing knot-work :D
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:iconmydriad:
Mydriad Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for faving Saladin :) (Yes I'm very late XD )
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oboudiart Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:) (Smile) +fav CELTIC art 2225 by oboudiart Clap 
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Trippy4U Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2014
Thanks kindly, Peter:iconwineplz:
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:iconchaosfay:
ChaosFay Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
how are you feeling?  I'm getting settled into my new home. :D
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:iconsumirechan92:
Sumirechan92 Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
thank you for faving!
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:iconsesquicentennial:
Sesquicentennial Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014
Hi Peter,

How are you today? I'm doing really well.

I'm in the middle of a research project to summarize the effects of dehydration in the elderly. Since it can cause delirium it's serious because it might look like Alzheimers or that the Alzheimers is more advanced than it really is.  It's also can be associated with expensive hospital stays & death.

I'm taking more Library Science classes this fall either one or two....
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:iconmixie92:
mixie92 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
thanks for the fave :-) :-)
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:iconmortsbeads:
Mortsbeads Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
omg I missed your birthday too bro, how the heck did that happen.

So sorry, belated birthday wishes, and kisses xxxxxxxxxxxxx
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