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British artist and theorist, born in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia (now Maramba, Zambia). After serving in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, he studied at Chelsea School of Art, 1946–50. Latham was best known for work in which he used books as raw material. In 1958 he began making ‘skoob’ (‘books’ spelt backwards) reliefs, and in the 1960s he was involved in *Happenings that he called Skoob Tower Ceremonies, in which sculptures made of piles of books were ritually burned—‘to put the proposition into mind that perhaps the cultural base has been burned out’. His most famous gesture came in 1966, when—as a part-time lecturer at *St Martin's School of Art—he borrowed a copy of Clement *Greenberg's Art and Culture from the library and with the sculptor Barry *Flanagan, alongside invited guests, chewed up pages and immersed them in acid to produce a ‘culture’.

Text source: A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press)


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