James McQueen - Anthology

James McQueen returns with a new take on his literary-themed collection, which is sure to sell fast, so read on to secure your piece.


James McQueen’s latest collection, Anthology, takes a look beyond the world of books to the one of the people who read them, in a duo of limited editions showing their spines. As we all know, there’s no better way to find out about someone’s personality than by looking at their bookshelves; “To know a man’s library is, in some measure, to know a man’s mind,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks.

The famously private, provocative artist, celebrated for his literary-influenced works, was inspired to make Anthology by his wife’s pile of books next to the bed. “There’s something intriguing about an individual’s choice of literature, differing titles waiting to be read, half read or discarded back on the pile for another day,” McQueen explains. “Reading material is subjective, much like art and anyone can in theory get involved. It’s an easy pastime, get a book, read it, and just like that you. become a reader. But behind that simple process is a question of motivation.

“Books carry a whole world within them. Books, like people, have personalities. Reading a good book is like making a new friend - understanding their journey and experiencing a different view of the world.”

McQueen’s work is hugely popular with collectors, and often sells out shortly after release, so make sure to secure your piece fast.

Doing things by the book

McQueen’s love of vintage books which have been much-read and showing signs of wear has translated into his mixed media pieces influenced by classic paperbacks. “Everyone who owns it has put their little stamp on it, like a tea mark, pencil scribbles, or folded page corners,” he says. “I want to reimagine the dust jacket of a classic book, retro aesthetics with a provocative modern twist."

“I want to celebrate books as treasured objects and the deep affection we have with them. I want the viewer to create their own stories and make their own unique connections to each title. The colours I use can have very subversive powers, and there is a certain significance and emotion that each shade can bring to the interpretations of my work that throws emphasis on the title.”

McQueen, who famously operates under a pseudonym, proudly admits his artistic influences, and endorses Picasso’s famous idea that “great artists steal”.

Featured art: 'Anthology I' and 'Anthology II' by James McQueen. Signed limited edition silkscreens, available singly or as a pair.

In the studio with James McQueen

James McQueen is a British artist who works between London and New York, and his technique involves layering the canvas with an abundant application of paint in many colours and shades. Once dry, he sands the work down so that a multitude of layers are visible in the finished piece. Finally, the surface is covered with lacquer to add extra richness and vibrancy.

Consequently, these paintings are as much about paint and colour as they are about the vintage book covers. The visible layering of paint creates a sense of depth and dynamism which, combined with the complex interaction between colours, shares affinities with the Abstract Expressionists, particularly Mark Rothko. McQueen’s artistic methods include the use of spray paint which gives the pieces a contemporary, graffiti-influenced feel and urban edge.

Featured Artist

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