Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
Interested in buying or selling
The Connor Brothers were once a maverick duo in the art world, shrouded in mystery and conspiracy. Since their true identities were revealed in 2014, however, Mike Snelle and James Golding have used their pulp fiction inspired oeuvre to explore their relationship between self and society.
The Connor Brothers erupted into the art world limelight back in 2013, cloaked by a Hollywood-worthy backstory. The duo were originally known as Franklyn and Brendan Connor, twins who were supposedly raised by a cult in America. When the brothers eventually escaped at the age of 16, they allegedly fled to Brooklyn, and turned to art to learn about the world they had been sheltered from.
However, in 2014 the truth was finally unveiled. The Connor Brothers were not really brothers at all, and revealed themselves as Mike Snelle and James Golding. Former art dealers from East London, the pair invented the elaborate charade to protect themselves from the prying eyes of the public.
When the duo revealed their true identities in 2014, Snelle and Golding confessed that they were not really brothers. Rather, the pair have since confessed that they met when Golding was addicted to heroin and Snelle was suffering from mental health problems. Given their troubled pasts, we can see that the fiction surrounding their identities was a way to avoid public scrutiny.
Inspired by American pulp fiction 'dime novels', cheap and mediocre dramas, The Connor Brothers set out to create book-cover inspired works. Characterised by moody lighting, often with a pin-up Hollywood starlet as their focal image, these original works launched the duo to fame in the early 2010s.
Since coming clean about their true identities, The Connor Brothers began using their artwork to comment on the socio-political issues of our time. In recent months, the duo have used their Penguin Paperback appropriations - not dissimilar to Harland Miller's - to comment on the Russia/Ukraine war.
Across their entire body of work, The Connor Brothers have foregrounded their wry sense of humour. From witty typographical work to tongue-in-cheek appropriations of historic paintings, the pair always imbue their work with satire.
Snelle and Golding have, since 2014, increasingly used their work to campaign for awareness and change in society. Over the years, they have performed many public stints to comment on big contemporary issues.
After a sale of modern art at Bonhams, titled 'A Contemporary Edge', the so-called Connor Brothers felt the need to 'come clean' about their true identities. The pair turned to The Telegraph in 2014, who unveiled the true story behind their mythic rise to fame.
From Banksy to Pussy Riot, The Connor Brothers have worked with some of the most iconic figures in Urban, Street and Contemporary art. Given their own desire for anonymity, it is perhaps no surprise that the elusive Banksy should be drawn to this mysterious duo.
After completing several hours of art therapy during COVID-19 national lockdowns, The Connor Brothers developed a new style quite divorced from their earlier oeuvre. The pair swapped their photo-realistic portraits for fluid line drawings and paintings, simplifying forms and messages to fundamental ideas.
By appropriating famed references from mass media, The Connor Brothers reveal the clear influence of Pop Art. Much like Andy Warhol's Pop innovations, the duo sought to satirise the cheap iconography of pulp fiction and elevate it to 'fine art' status.