Medals of Dishonour
Philip Attwood, Felicity Powell, British Museum
British Museum Press, 2009 - Antiques & Collectibles - 136 pages
The first 23 medals in Medals of Dishonour create a fascinating commentary on events and issues of the 16th-20th centuries, and include Dutch medals satirizing kings; German and British medals on financial scandal and political corruption; a French medal showing a future emperor as an insect; German medals of the First World War period lambasting war; and two 1939 American medals protesting against racism and capitalism.
The second part of the book focuses on medals recently commissioned by the British Art Medal Trust from 16 celebrated contemporary artists. Their brief was to tackle the global issues of our time. Jake and Dinos Chapman graphically expose the banality of war, while the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003 is addressed in differing but equally powerful ways by Steve Bell, Richard Hamilton, Yun-Fei Ji and Cornelia Parker. Geo-politics, oppression and the abuse of power are the subjects of medals by Mona Hatoum, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, William Kentridge and Langlands and Bell. Ellen Gallagher confronts the horrors of racial exploitation, Michael Landy turns anti-social behaviour on its head, and Grayson Perry mocks western consumerism. In the final medal, Felicity Powell pours scorn on the responses of public figures to environmental issues.
With over 170 illustrations, including details and accompanying drawings as well as the actual medals themselves, Medals of Dishonour provides an intriguing exploration into a darker tradition of medal-making.
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