Visionaire: A Look at the FUNdamentals of Collaboration and Design

Whether it’s musicians recording a song together, a star-studded cast coming together for a production or visual artists joining forces on a work, collaborative works have long sparked special interest from art lovers. Collaborative works often encourage experimentation and play, bringing out a new level of creativity in the artists involved.

Swann’s June 10, 2015 auction of Art, Press, and Illustrated Books includes multiple works that fall into the collaborative category, including an incredibly well-kept group of issues of Visionaire, many of them still in their original plastic wrapping. 

Issues from lot 365, Visionaire, Creative Director Stephen Gan, 1992-2011. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000. 

Begun in 1991 by Parson’s classmates Stephen Gan, James Kaliardos and former model Cecilia Dean, Visionaire started small, with just 1,000 unstapled copies in the original run, but immediately grabbed the attention of major talents in the fashion, photography and art worlds. Each issue centered around a theme and sought to draw together a wide variety of visual and tactile references to create an inspirational and innovative sensory experience. 

Issues from lot 365, Visionaire, Creative Director Stephen Gan, 1992-2011. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000. 

By the fall of 1992 Visionaire No.7 Black was released, the first issue in this collection. Black showcased how effectively the publication was expanding and embracing various media, references and collaborators. The issue drew playful connections between the season’s all black Comme des Garcons collection and the dark humor of Edward Gorey’s sketches (Gorey is, coincidentally, also featured in this auction). Each of the only 1,500 copies of the issue included a hand-made photo collage by photographer Kristina Colovic, photos by Bruce Weber and Bill Cunningham and illustrations by François Berthoud, and was bound in a custom artists portfolio tied with ribbon. 

Issues from lot 365, Visionaire, Creative Director Stephen Gan, 1992-2011. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000. 

The mischievous fun continued with each new issue, and just as the publication encouraged innovation and collaboration between artists from different fields, it also encouraged viewers to interact with it differently. Some issues were quite literal in their invocation of playfulness, like issues 44 and 45 which consisted of limited edition Kidrobot toys designed by fashion giants. Later issue 50 would release a series of elaborate silk-screened nesting dolls designed by modern artists like Alex Katz and R. Crumb. All three coveted toy issues are included in the collection up for auction at Swann. 

Issue from lot 365, Visionaire, Creative Director Stephen Gan, 1992-2011. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000. 

The auction also includes numerous other works that highlight creative collaboration such as Regards sur Paris featuring Picasso, Chagall, van Dongen and others, an edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses featuring illustrations by Henri Matisse and many more.