Oscar Humphries' Art Book

Pop Goes The World: above, a montage of Oscar Humphries' own photographs and favourite things, clockwise from top left, a portfolio of recent work by Bill Henson appears in The Art Book; Humphries' Issue One; London flower markets; Humphries in 1983; his father, the Australian satirist, artist and author Barry Humphries; art collides with fashion on the newstands; a favourite Renaissance work; under the lens; Humphries at 11 by artist Don Bachardy. Artful touch: below, the editor in London.

a culture clash of historical treasures and modern pop has long inspired this london-based editor and art critic. now, oscar humphries is launching a collectible new book to celebrate 

Words Natasha Inchley

"I wanted to produce a paper product, in a digital age, that was as beautiful as the art it wrote about," says Oscar Humphries, the Australian-born London-based editor, of his ambitious new title The Art Book. Indeed, anyone who wishes to be reminded of how captivating the printed page can be, should pick up a copy for its deliciously indulgent layouts on everything from Goya and Indian jewellery to photographer Bill Henson’s latest body of work.

  1. The story of art has long been Humphries’ passion: his parents, the Australian satirist Barry Humphries and surrealist painter Diane Millstead, influenced him greatly. "My dad is a collector and mum is an artist so I grew up appreciating art and beautiful design," he explains during a stopover to launch the edition in Sydney. The idea to publish his own title came about after Humphries spent several years editing the English journal, Apollo. "It's a prestigious magazine but it had turned into this very drab and boring faded thing, which no one really read anymore. Its focus was historic art, whereas today we have been completely seduced by the new – contemporary art permeates everything, you only have to look at the recent coverage of Art Basel in Miami to get a sense of how pervasive it is." Humphries understood the job of an editor was very different to that of an academic and so he embarked upon his own publishing venture: to celebrate the beauty of art in a contemporary way. 
  3. The Art Book, which is to be printed quarterly and combines six different types of paper-stock, is a glorious visual treat. Humphries says, "I want the magazine to be a seductively glossy advocate for the greatest art ever made and to bring this work to the attention of a new generation of art lovers." He cites the example of a 17th century sculpture of a woman, magnified to surreal scale under the lens. "It's so arresting, dramatic and sexy to see it in such detail, and yet this piece was made 400 years ago. My hope in shooting art this way, is that it will win over a new audience." Issue one includes collector and artist interviews, exhibition and art fair previews and gorgeous portfolios from varied periods and geographic locales. "I like the juxtaposition of the classic and the contemporary, and the idea of adapting and exploring new areas of your visual interest," Humphries says. "It's my aim to take things that exist in their own small world and give them fresh exposure."

The Art Book launches in Sydney on Thursday 11th December, from 7pm at P. Johnson Tailors. 7 Walker Lane, Paddington. For enquiries and subscriptions, email: info@theartbookmagazine.com or look up www.theartbookmagazine.com.