Do Broken Windows Create Economic Activity?

I’m working on a series of images at the moment exploring the visual metaphor of the broken window. In 1850 the French economist Frédéric Bastiat examined the metaphor of the broken window in an economic context in the ‘glazier’s fallacy’ section of his famous essay That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen. In 1982 in an article by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling the broken window was seen as being symbol of the beginnings of decline in urban environments. It is interesting how the broken window as a symbol went from being part of an economic theory to being part of a sociological one. How it went from being a symbol within a theoretical treatise to being given a symbolic power in the real world.

The project has two layers. The first is the establishment of a formularised aesthetic for the depiction of a broken window as an image, with its associated backstory of being influenced by the political theories mentioned above. The second is the creation of altered photos of art galleries with what appears to be my broken windows paintings on display within it. I want to create the initial impression that the paintings are really viewable in these spaces. If they were really on show then it would suggest that the paintings were legitimate and had been accepted as ‘real art’ and having probably some commercial value where as, at least in a pre-digital sense, they do not exist at all. The broken window could suggest a forced entry into that space – just as I have undermined an art gallery’s ability to control what paintings are seen to be shown in its legitimising interior. Just as Bastiat questioned in his essay, does a broken window create true economic activity?

In the last image shown here I have inserted one of my paintings into a still from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ with the intention of illustrating the following fake narrative:

“…I thought my broken windows paintings were new and original in their motif and expression, but as it turns out there is a near identical picture featured in one of the sets in Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’…”

The reason for doing this is to play with one of the central anxieties of the modern artist: originality. Almost the only requirement for the modern artist is to create a truly novel expression. It matters much less if that expression is interesting or aesthetic in formal terms – this is the conceit of the relationship between modernism and the cult of the individual in the history of post-decorative art. Of course as an artist wishing to conform to this definition of a valuable creative act, one is always ‘on the lookout’ for the hidden confirmation that one’s supposedly unique acts are simply a regurgitation of someone else’s. There is no more depressing reflection from a critic than : “This reminds me greatly of ****** *******’s work”.







Lightning – A Model For Our Time

Lightning is my model. I have praised her before here, but again she has surprised me. Largely because she is nearly 4 metres tall and extremely athletic. She creeps around on her high-heeled feet like a cross between a narwal and a domestic cat. We spent a feverish day and night in the studio this weekend and I made these pieces with her. Her body heat is sufficient to heat an aircraft hangar.

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The Free Library

Welcome to the FREE eBook Library. Download books for free!

As part of the ‘Free Library & The Manic Defence’ show at the Antonio De Luca Gallery Berlin on 31st January 2014 I want to give everyone the opportunity to read and enjoy these specially redesigned editions of 15 of my books from the last 10 years plus my TV script ‘Self Servicing’ as well.

I’m also proud to announce the launch of my new book also here in eBook format : The Manic Defence.

Please (CTRL – control) click on a title to download (pdf format)

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 17.50.23Bad-GirlfriendBlack-HumoursBlack-MastersDrinking-Baileys-from-a-SkullBlack-CircusFHIFFGolden-TreasuryScreen shot 2014-01-06 at 22.05.35Ha-Ha-ComicI-Hate-DolphinsLife-on-a-Modern-PlanetSelf-ServicingZine-Age-RiotScreen shot 2014-01-06 at 21.51.27Embryo-Boy

All titles are free to download and are in the PDF format. Many of these titles are out of print and unavailable in their original form. All titles are © all rights reserved Jody Barton, but of course they are free to download and share.

No commercial use or distribution is allowed without written permission from the copyright holder.

Manic Defence & The Free Library – Berlin Show & FILMS


A show of new paintings and drawings.

On the night of the opening I’ll also be giving away 100 free signed limited edition screenprints to celebrate the opening of the Free Library. The Free Library has all the books I’ve ever made as an artist including such gems as ‘Love Me Hold Me’, ‘F.H.I.F.F.’, ‘Golden Treasury’, ‘Zine Age Riot’, ‘Life on a Modern Planet’, ‘Drinking Baileys from a Skull’ & ‘Embryo Boy’, and a new title ‘The Manic Defence’ all redesigned as e-books. All free to download.

Antonio De Luca Studio
Immanuelkirchstrasse 28  D-10405 Berlin
open until 21st February
Mon-Fri 11.00 – 19.00 / Saturday: 14.00 – 18.00

All works €100 – buy here:


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Stussy Japan California Psychedelica

It’s another Japan moment for me. Stuff I drew, on a shirt, in a shop, in the country of Japan. Crazy psychedelic oddness. Keyrings with glitter. Who knew? Including images from the Special Launch at the Stussy Pop-up shop in Harajaku. There will now follow an announcement in Japanese for which I take no responsibility for accuracy or anything else. Glitter, keyrings.

UKアーティスト Jody Barton (ジョディー・バートン) とStussy Women のコラボレーションアイテムが発売。9月21日(土)オープンのStussy Women Pop Up Shop in Harajuku ではJody Bartonとのコラボレーションアイテムが一足早くお買い求め頂けます。この機会に是非店頭までお越し下さい。

Stussy Japan blog
















Schoolyard Blues

Hey hey… So I was doing a nice drawing job for a Swiss magazine. The illustration was about school and it’s a real epic drawing with many many elements. I can’t show you that because it isn’t published yet, but here’s some roughs of other ideas for the same job.