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James Collins

James Collins (Born in Northampton, UK in 1939) was a conceptual artist, photographer, painter and writer-critic. Moving to the USA at the age of 31 he frequently travelled back and forth between the countries until finally settling in his land of birth until his death in 2021.

 

His earliest work was as an art theorist and he found a home in the US wing of the conceptual art group Art & Language that was based around Joseph Kosuth and the Fox publication. He wrote a number of articles for the group and also a number of stand alone important artist’s books such as Revision and Prescription in 1971 but was criticised by some in the British wing, of the oft intolerant group, because of his commercial articles in art magazines. He exhibited in the important Narrative Art exhibition in Galerie Templon, Paris in 1979 and before that in Lucy Lippard’s 3,549,000 conceptual initiative in Buenos Aires.

 

In the mid 70s Collins created a number of very important conceptual art works usually referred to as Introduction Pieces – he accosted strangers in the street and asked them to take part in small, easy actions (such as showing him some treasured item in their possession or introducing two strangers to each other). Usually these works were accompanied by photographs by Collins or even a commercial produced strip of portraits if they could be persuaded to follow the artist to one of the photobooths usually found in London’s train stations and post offices. He also collected signed certificates by the participants indicating their agreement to be taking part in a work of art: sometimes those certificates were in themselves the artwork. These clearly conceptual works overlapped the artist’s increasing interest in photography.

 

He began to be better known as a photographer in the mid-1970s when a series of colour and b/w images of himself typically gazing at women – usually with a considered physical or abstracted gap between them – were exhibited giving the impression of alienation or even distrust between the figures. These works were often considered as part of an emerging movement concerned with inferred narrative in art called “Story Art” along with other artists such as Bill Beckley, Mac Adams and Peter Hutchinson. His later photographic career was even more concerned with erotica – with his hiring models to pose for him often with a mild sexual frisson.

 

His method of creation usually took the form of short Super 8 films from which he selected still images for display. In some installations (such as at Documenta 6) he showed still images alongside the films as installations.

 

Collin’s career continued with him creating many paintings in pastel or oils again of women (usually using photography or film as source material) but his seeming obsession with the female form and its sexuality became tired and even objectionable with the rise in feminist criticism of the “male gaze”. By 1988 as exhibitions began to be less frequent he regarded his career as being in the doldrums and while he continued to paint (mostly in pastels), he became something of a recluse with depression and other mental health issues. He continued to take photographs throughout his late career but the imagery was often his own painted works.

 

While the criticism of his pronounced “male gaze” is a fair one, Collins artistic practice is both historically and aesthetically important – some have suggested his post-modernist objectification of gender roles predates the work of Richard Prince and Jeff Koons and much of his mid-career and late photographic output may be seen as studies in gender psychology. His death in 2021 was sadly a lonely one.

WATCHING LESLIE. 1975. SIGNED ON BACK.

20 x 25.5cm, silver gelatine b/w photographic print of the title work in situ on the wall of a gallery.. One the back are details of the image and a label explaining that the image was taken from a Super 8 film loop. The work was originally shown (in a colour form) at the John Gibson Gallery om September 1975 along with the film. Signed on back by Collins in pencil.

£75.00

THE SPACE BETWEEN. 1975.

20 x 25.5cm, silver gelatine b/w photographic print of the title work in situ on the wall of a gallery. The work was originally shown (in a colour form) at the John Gibson Gallery om September 1975 along with the film. Signed on back by Collins in pencil.

£75.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1975.

New York John Gibson Gallery, 1975 10.5 x 15cm. Announcement card with recto a full page colour reproduction from a film by Collins. Recto: gallery info. Fine if mailed copy.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. SIGNED BY ARTIST. c. 1976.

Menomonie: Gallery 209, n.d. (c. 1976) 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a photographic self portrait of the artist in shadow and is signed in blue ink on the reverse. A mailed and franked copy with some slight creases to corners due to posting. VG.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

Koln: Galerie Oppenheim, 1976 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a b/w photographic portrait of Collins staring at a black woman who is at the front of the frame. Verso gallery details. VG+.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

Toronto: A Space, 1976 9 x 21cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a colour photographic portrait of Collins staring at a woman with behind a seascape. Verso gallery details. VG+.

£40.00

MAC ADAMS & JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

N.p. (NYC): WBAI Radio 99.5FM, 1976 10.5 x 15cm, 1pp announcement card for a radio discussion between the two "Story" artists on the topic of "Mysteries & Romances - a discussion on post conceptual art." VG+. Scarce.

£65.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

Berlin: Galerie Folker Skulima, 1976 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a colour photographic portrait of Collins staring at a black woman who is at the front of the frame. Verso gallery details. VG+.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

Napoli: Pasquale Trisorio, 1976 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a b./w photographic portrait of a white woman with as ever Collins staring at her in the background (out of focus). Verso gallery details. VG+.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

Torino: Studio 46, 1976 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a b./w photographic portrait of a black woman with as ever Collins staring at her in the background (out of focus). Verso gallery details. VG+.

£40.00

THE SPACE BETWEEN SERIES. 1976.

Downsview: York University, 1976 9.5 x 17.2cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a b/w photographic image of one of his large works where the artist and the subject of his gaze (always a woman) are separated by a lengthy area of space, verso back gallery details. Two small staple holes on the right of the card, else VG.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1976.

Innsbruck: Galerie Krinsinger, 1977 30 x 21cm, 18pp (printed recto only). Card covers. Exhibition catalogue and artist's book which displays 9 b/w face portraits of the artist's girlfriends and his own face on the front cover. VG+.

£35.00

PHOTOGRAPH OF JAMES COLLINS. 1977.

Firenze: Carlo Cantini, n.d. (c. 1977) 24.5 x 18cm, silver gelatine b/w photograph of James Collins in his exhibition - presumably taken to promote the show. The artist is looking at one of his large scale photographs. Photographer's rubber ink stamp on reverse. VG+.

£50.00

PHOTOGRAPH OF JAMES COLLINS. 1977.

Firenze: Carlo Cantini, n.d. (c. 1977) 17.5 x 24cm, silver gelatine b/w photograph of James Collins in his exhibition - presumably taken to promote the show. The artist is looking pensive in front of one of his large scale photographs. Photographer's rubber ink stamp on reverse. VG+.

£50.00

PHOTOGRAPH OF JAMES COLLINS. 1977.

Firenze: Carlo Cantini, n.d. (c. 1977) 17.5 x 24cm, silver gelatine b/w photograph of James Collins in his exhibition - presumably taken to promote the show. The artist is looking pensive in front of one of his large scale photographs. Photographer's rubber ink stamp on reverse. VG+.

£50.00

PHOTOGRAPH OF JAMES COLLINS. 1977.

Firenze: Carlo Cantini, n.d. (c. 1977) 17.5 x 24cm, silver gelatine b/w photograph of James Collins in his exhibition - presumably taken to promote the show. The silhouette of the artist is seen in front of one of his large scale photographs. Photographer's rubber ink stamp on reverse. VG+.

£50.00

PHOTOGRAPH OF JAMES COLLINS. 1977.

Firenze: Carlo Cantini, n.d. (c. 1977) 17.5 x 24cm, silver gelatine b/w photograph of James Collins in his exhibition - presumably taken to promote the show. The artist is looking pensive in front of one of his large scale photographs. Photographer's rubber ink stamp on reverse. VG+.

£50.00

INSTALLATION VIEW OF JAMES COLLINS EXHIBITION. 1977.

Firenze: Carlo Cantini, n.d. (c. 1977) 17.5 x 24cm, silver gelatine b/w photograph of a James Collins exhibition - presumably taken to promote the show. Photographer's rubber ink stamp on reverse. VG+.

£20.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1977. SIGNED BY COLLINS.

Akron: Davis Art Gallery, 1977 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a photograph by James Collins of a pretty Asian woman (they are always attractive in Collins' work) and on back gallery details of this exhibition by this former member of Art & Language and early conceptual artist. This card is addressed to Jan Van Der Marck and is signed "Hi from Akron JC" in blue ink on the reverse. A mailed and franked copy else VG.

£40.00

JAMES COLLINS. 1977. SIGNED BY COLLINS.

Santa Barbara: College of Creative Studies, 1977 10.5 x 15cm, 2pp. Announcement card with on the front a photograph of James Collins and a woman and on back gallery details of this exhibition by this former member of Art & Language and early conceptual artist. This card is addressed to Jan Van Der Marck and is signed "I hope the seminar went OK. best for the new year. JC” in black ink on the reverse. A mailed and franked copy else VG.

£40.00

PROFESSIONAL VIDEOTAPE RECORDING OF JAMES COLLINS BEING INTERVIEWED AT ART METROPOLE. 1977.

A professional standard Sony Videocassette KCA 30 in original box with typed label. Content of a first generation video recording of James Collins being interviewed by Peggy Gale at Art Metropole on 1st February 1977. The videocassette is intact and appears to be in very good condition although there are some marks to the label on the cassette itself) but we have been unable to play the tape and confirm the contents as yet. The interview is noted as being "Copyright James Collins 1977" on the front. We assume this is as labelled. An important find as there is no copy of this interview which took place after Collins' involvement with Art & Language and his move to a mostly photographic practice to be found online. Collins opened a show in Toronto'd A Space the next day after this interview. PAL format.

£295.00