Stephen Sprouse: Xerox/Rock/Art: An Archive of Drawings and Ephemera 1970s–1980s

Image of Stephen Sprouse: Xerox/Rock/Art: An Archive of Drawings and Ephemera 1970s -1980s
Release Date: 
May 26, 2015
Reviewed by: 

Part of being a city dweller is to know the definitions of sidewalk scavenger or dumpster diver. We read in the news of masterpieces unearthed in attics and museum worthy paintings found tossed to the curb for garbage pickup. Stephen Sprouse: Xerox/Rock/Art is living proof that these things can and do happen.

Carol McCranie and Javier Magri were the lucky “finders/keepers” when they retrieved and rescued this incredible archive that was once the property of Stephen Sprouse. In fact, this amazing cache of illustrations was inhabiting a dumpster outside a loft from where Mr. Sprouse had been previously evicted. The landlord wasn’t smart enough to know this might have paid for decades of rent let alone what was owed to him.

Without question, Sprouse was one of the most pivotal designers of the 80s and then once again when he collaborated with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton in 2001. This book offers a rare glimpse into the mind and spirit of this designer who may have enjoyed huge recognition but not huge business success. The breadth of his work during this period spanned from the most classically and commercially successful of designers to the most avant-garde, his own.

What is most commendable about this “snapshot” of Sprouse’s work is that there is very little text involved, which allows the reader to focus on the designer’s work rather than any expository explanation of it. While the foreword of the book by Debbie Harry might be endearing, this type of monograph would have benefitted greatly with an introduction and foreword by those who were more professionally related to or educated about his work rather than a personal friend. On the plus side, the quality of reproduction is certainly superior and that includes the paper on which it is printed.

If the reader is in search of a more inclusive telling of this designer’s abbreviated life and body of work, then my suggestion would be The Stephen Sprouse Book by Mauricio and Roger Padilha. If the reader is in search of only knowing and seeing this particular time frame of Sprouse’s career then this is the book for you, but keep in mind this is all about his illustrations and not photographs of him or his life.