Robert Montgomery

Friday, 11 February 2011


The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive


The trees are arranged in vague semi circles halfway through the day you look up and there they are again those aluminum verticals and their rhythm against the weak sky how will you get through til lunch with the television telling you the same thing every twenty minutes things that stay real you say are all you really want now and you think you would protect those things if you could find them and carry them cupped in your hands gently like a shivering bird


The flood will lift the ghosts from the Hollywood lawn cemetery and they will disappear like ether in the now dead air. All the names will be erased from the billboards and the theatres and the piers and the magazines and the monuments. You live by myths of immortality, and your myths are not safe.


The slow disappearance of meaning and truth


The spectacle of advertising creates images of false beauty so suave and so impossible to attain that you will hurt inside and never even know where the hurt comes from, and in all pictures now the famous people have already begun to look lost and lonely


Whenever you see the sun reflected in the window of a building it is an angel


Memories of Mediterranean flowers in the streets of New York helicopters up there every morning above the water towers there is not silence only when the light is golden enough to make the buildings read as landscape/ every morning now some of the things you love will always be behind you

Thank you to everyone who entered the Sofia Barao giveaway, and thanks again to Sofia for providing the beautiful necklace. The lucky winner is ... Rina! Congrats Rina! I'll be in touch with you soon.

I recently discovered the work of artist Robert Montgomery. He describes himself as working within "a poetic and melancholic post-situationist tradition" and his billboard-style art often "hijacks" advertising space to highlight the absurdity and complexity of modern life. I've repeated his words below each image because I feel like they almost have to be repeated over and over again, like ads, in order for them to complete their meaning.

What I'm particularly drawn to about his art is the way that it highlights how fleeting our existence is and yet, how we continually seek to create a sense of permanency, transcendence and immortality. I also think his words are a form of modern poetry, taken beyond the context of the pages of a book. His artwork is often encountered by people going about their daily lives, unawares. It is not set within the confines of an art gallery or exhibition, it is literally, "lived" art.

This is a concept I would love to see extended into other forms because I think art is viewed as inaccessible by so many people I talk to, when one of its primary functions is actually to engage with everyday life and make us appreciate the experience of living in a more self-aware manner. This probably sounds optimistic and a bit idealistic but hey, I think we all need a good dose of that every once in a while. I find it ironic that an artist who describes his work as melancholic can inspire such enthusiasm and optimism in me.

P.S. you may or may not have noticed that I'm now one of the writers for Desktop Magazine Online. Please feel free to pass along any arts or design-related info to me, I'd be happy to hear from you. Have a great weekend everyone.

All images © Robert Montgomery.


Tana said...

Oh, I love that 'lived' art. Agree that this melancholy inspires :)

If Jane said...

oh great post! thank you for sharing.
more and more i am getting into and understanding (what i call) text-based art...
i think what makes his work successful is that it can evoke the dichotomy of the paradigm...(in general terms). and simply put: the words are touching...

I write about said...

This is wonderful, is like finding poetry on a street corner, perhaps on your way home, just like that, by chance, that would certainly change my day...I especially love the first picture, the words are so beautiful

Holly said...

I've seen one of these before and I didn't know where or what it came from. Thank you for assembling this post.

Ella said...

i'm so glad you've posted this, as i've seen this previously, and always wondered who created these! this is marvelous!

p.s: your tagged! :)

Rina said...

Dear Hila I sent you an email already, but I want to say thanks again, I´m happy!! yeeeeyyy!

size too small said...

wow this is amazing. thanks so much for sharing his work- it's so interesting.

Emily Vanessa said...

I'd never heard of him before but all of these words and the interesting way they're presented strike a chord with me. I so agree with these melancholy messages. I think people often feel intimidated by art, like they're not smart enough to understand the meaning behind it or simply don't know where to start. My brother and his wife went along to the Dulwich gallery with me and didn't enjoy it at all for those reasons. I guess I've never been afraid of taking on the classics or looking at art because to me what counts most is the way something clicks with you and your emotional reaction to it. Then I try to read up a bit and analyse why I like the piece. Actually, I never use an audioguide because I find it distracts me and is pushing me to respond to things in a certain way. I'm then so overwhelmed by all this information that I no longer know how I feel about them. Hope this doesn't sound too crazy!

aldrin said...

Really good post. It reminds me of reading Poe and Joyce because their characters are always in a state of flux, which make them eternal... while ads are always trying to nail us down, turning us in a dying trend.

The Plath Diaries said...

Hey there, this is my first visit to your blog and I really enjoyed it. I'll be back!:)

P R I M O E Z A said...

if i stumbled on to one of these it would make my day.

Felix Curds said...

these are really awesome and if I were to encounter words as beautiful in places so surprising and normally plastered with 'processed-meats begging for homes in your stomach', then I'd be one happy camper.

btw, thanks so much for your last comment:)

bluebird said...

These are fantastic-- and the words put up in lights are doubly ethereal! I love the idea of a billboard, that's usually meant to be looked at for a second (and to pluck at your consumerist heartstrings) asking you to stop, read, and turn over an idea in your mind. It reminds me a little of finding an unexpected and profound piece of grafitti on a bathroom stall, or hearing a kid say something surprisingly true. Thanks for sharing- you write about art brilliantly! :)

CloudyKim said...

Wow! These are really cool - I love the first phrase especially. It's refreshing to see words taking the place of art like that. Very cool.

Marinka said...

love those! they are great!

lizzie said...

congrats on the desktop mag gig...his work is stunning and piercing and i REALLY wish there was something like it near's billboard city by me.

hila said...

Tana: me too.

If jane: you’ve put it perfectly (and more succinctly than I have). And I totally agree.

I write about: I wish I could find this on my way home!

Holly: my pleasure.

Ella: oh thanks Ella!

Rina: I’m so happy for you!! You totally deserve it :)

Size too small: glad you like it.

Emily Vanessa: no it doesn’t sound crazy at all! I think art is what you make of it, and so, it shouldn’t intimidate people.

Aldrin: yes, you’re right, it does have the same tone as Joyce – what a fantastic observation.

The plath diaries: thanks! And I love your name :)

Primoeza: mine too, if only!
Felix curds: aww, and I meant every word :)

Bluebird: thanks so much for saying so.

Cloudykim: yes, totally cool.

Marinka: me too!

Lizzie: me too, only boring ads near me. And thanks, I’m happy about the gig :)

Paper Ice Cream said...

the large black ones are most certainly in Shoreditch right across the street from Shoreditch Station.

Enia Is (Almost) Here said...

these are beautiful hila, but then i would expect no less from one with your eyes to the world....

hope you are doing well!

hila said...

paper ice cream: wow, you actually got to see one in person? lucky you.

enia: I hope you're doing well too!

bronwyn said...

I have never heard of him but these speak to me. Particularly "the slow disappearance of meaning and truth". On my more melancholic days, i think this exactly (although not quite so poetically).

hila said...

I which I could scribble my random thoughts as eloquently as he does.