A while ago I went to Wetterling Gallery,one of Stockholm’s premier galleries, to view an exhibition and saw two paintings by twin artists Mike & Doug Starn. These paintings were abstract works painted on record covers which were hung with magnets onto a metal backing plate allowing each record cover to be removed and the record contained within played! Each individual record cover still had its original album inside.
On 11th June the Wetterling Gallery held an opening reception for a repeat show of Mike & Doug Starn’s art with the artists in attendance.
There were six large works and two smaller ones in the show–all painted on record covers.
Untitled: Right in the Bed Next to Mine (on 12 record covers)
Monitor: Feed Your Head (on 70 record covers).
Black & White: And it Feels Like This! (on 12 record covers).
Little Richard (on 30 record covers)
I’m Only Five Foot One (on 70 record covers–the eleventh row at the bottom had to be left off as otherwise the painting would not have fitted on the wall!)
TOP: Ravenna: NInety Miles and Hour, Girl (1 gatefold record cover). Bottom: Untitled: Come on, Come on, Come on, Come on and Take It (1 gatefold record cover).
Untitled: Burt the Rainbow Has a Beard (on 35 record covers).
According to my count there were a total of 201 record covers used for these eight artworks. I wondered if Mike and Doug raided all the secondhand record stores to source the covers. There seemed not to be any logic in the arrangement of the covers, not in the motifs painted on them, with the exception of the “Little Richard” painting. And as the exhibition was called “Iggy and Franz”, I assumed the painting with the androgyn figure, called “I’m Only Five Foot One”, pictured Iggy Pop.
These paintings were not cheap! Prices ranged from $10,000 + VAT for the two single cover works to $195,000 + VAT for the largest ones. Somewhat out of my price range.
Ebay is a remarkable research tool. I regularly do searches of various Ebay markets looking for records by artists I collect–and when I write “artists” I don’t mean the band or similar, I mean the graphic artist who designed the cover.
I am constantly on the lookout for new covers by the artist known as Banksy–the latest one I had found was the Boys in Blue single “Funk tha Police” from 2015. I found a Banksy pastiche by Junichi Masuda on his “Pokémon” test pressing and a limited edition copy of this cover a year or so ago. But nothing with a new Banksy design since 2013 whn a download by TerranceK used Banksy’s “Death of a Phone Booth” on this EP.
Anyway, a CD entitled “Skateboards” with Banksy’s “Insane Clown” cover image turned up a month or so ago. I had not heard of this CD before, despite it having been released in 2000, It was a promotional EP for Clown Skateboards, some of which used the Banksy image.
The CD contains two tracks each by Dynamic Duo (DJs Niall Dailly and Bryan Jones a.k.a. DJ Extra) and Nasty-P. I discovered that Dynamic Duo also released one of the tracks “Style by the Dozen” on a 12″, with the “Insane Clown” image on the label.
I saw the Gilbert and George exhibition at the Tate Modern about 10 years ago. It was so huge that I and my friends hadn’t the stamina to see it all at one go, so we chickened out halfway. In February 2019 Moderna Museet in Stockholm opened another Gilbert and George retrospective entitled “The Great Exhibition“, which ran from 9th February to 12th May 2019. Gilbert and George visited Stockholm in the week preceding the exhibition’s opening to design the show and I had the opportunity to meet the artists to get my copy of their LP “The Thoughts of Gilbert & George” autographed in person.
This album was released by the Museum of Modern Art in New York on 3rd August 2016 in a signed and numbered limited edition of 2000 copies. It was signed on the inner spread of the gatefold cover. My copy, No. 1145 arrived in 2017.
In addition the artists gave me a copy of the exhibition catalogue, which they kindly dedicated.
The cover of the exhibition catalogue.
The dedication on the fly leaf.
I spent a charming ten minutes chatting with Gilbert and George before hurrying away with my goodies. I visited the exhibition itself the following week and was impressed by the limited size of the show and the brilliant arrangement and hanging of the works. Often in art exhibitions ‘less is more’. Definitely true of this show.