Q&A with Dazed & Confused's Francesca Gavin on The Book Hearts

The Book of Hearts_HighResFront

Be it emblazoned on a cashmere sweater or sliced in two for a t-shirt print, the heart has become something of a signature design for Chinti and Parker. Visual Art Editor Francesca Gavin unpicks its complex meaning and history in her latest tome, The Book of Hearts. Desperate to know more, we caught up with Gavin to find out how the thumping vital organ became one of design’s most recognised images.

The heart as a symbol is instantly recognisable, was this why you picked it as a topic to research?
Completely. It’s a symbol that is almost invisible in modern life. Totally taken for granted. Yet no one questions how it developed and what relationship it has to emotion, biology, history, religion. There was so much to get my teeth into.

Did you learn anything unexpected while compiling the book?
Tons! It was hard to edit it to just information connected to the heart. My favourite pieces of information were interestingly often off topic. For example, the word 'fascinatingly' actually comes from the Roman for erect penis, fascinus. That the Catholic Sacred Heart Cult was based on a Saint who would eat and lick wounds and vomit to heal devotees. I discovered the existence of 16th century Dutch Emblemata books, which have an incredible history and often depict the heart as this anthropomorphic comic strip character.

And, do you have a favourite image from the book?
I love the breadth. Though favourites include the Edvard Munch, David Sandlin, Friends with You, Andrew Woodhead and Keith Haring.

Do you think the sharing of images over social media and the web has influenced artists?
I've always been a print girl – I’m obsessed with books and magazines and have been making scrapbooks for years. I think the imagery we find through social media never has quite the same effect on you as something discovered in real life. However, I definitely think the culture of never ending imagery is influencing artists in huge ways, either they are making work with layers and layers of imagery or trying to make something ultra permanent.

Would you say that nostalgia is a hinderance for creating new art?
I think the history of art is always been about reinterpreting and readdressing the past. Art is a conversation. Nothing comes out of a vacuum.

How did you choose the book's epitaph?
The Duchamp image was a perfect end image that deserved its own page and I'm simply a big fan of Emily Dickinson!

The Book of Hearts_Spread_6 The Book of Hearts_Spread_7 The Book of Hearts_Spread_5 The Book of Hearts_Spread_4 The Book of Hearts_Spread_3 The Book of Hearts_Spread_2 The Book of Hearts_Spread_1Shop Hearts HERE