I used to be a music nerd with a large collection of all sorts of recorded music, though mainly a vinyl freak. I started out in the sixties, got swept away by psychedelia and into music posters which I continued to collect up until 2013, when space shortage meant I had to sell the major part of my collection. I had already started collecting record cover art and had an complete collection of art by Vaughan Oliver (4AD) and Neville Brody (Fetish Records), which unfortunately had to go. I had all Peter Blake's record covers as well as the nucleus of a representative Andy Warhol collection. In addition I had an almost complete collection of covers by Banksy, Klaus Voormann and Damien Hirst so I decided to continue to collect covers by these five artists.
Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm shows a wide variety of art exhibitions. I saw Turner Prize winner Susan Phillipz “Lost in Space” exhibition there a couple of years ago and I went to see the gallery’s latest exhibition by British artist Peter Liversidge. I hadn’t heard of him before seeing the exhibition. Liversidge’s preferred medium is providing “proposals”–he types suggestions for art happenings on A4 paper on his Olivetti portable typewriter. The proposals range from simple orders to suggestions that are complex and possibly impossible to realise. The exhibition at Bonniers konsthall has 45 of Liversidge’s “proposals” as its starting point. These 45 proposals are neatly framed A4 papers with his suggestions for projects arranged on one wall in three rows of fifteen frames. On the floor in front of the frames is a pile of A2 papers each printed with “Let’s take a walk together”. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to take one or more of these posters home. There is a shelf on the wall opposite the framed proposals with various implements standing on it, each covered in postage stamps. Apparently Liversidge often uses the postal service to send articles to his exhibitions. Bonniers konsthall allows the postman/postwoman to arrange the item that is being delivered on the shelf. Thus the postal service acts as sort of exhibition curator.
Peter Liversidge’s posted objects.
Close-up showing the stamps on each object.
One suspects that some objects might possibly get lost in the post–nobody knows which, if any, don’t make to their destination, adding mystery to the exhibition.The idea of sending repeated missives through the post reminded me immediately of Japanese -American artist On Kawara (1932-2014), who throughout his career sent postcards to friends and institutions with stamped messages. One series stated “I got up at—-o’clock”, and another simply stated “I am still alive”.
The gallery shows a film of another of Liversidge’s projects. He asked a class at an east London school to make a protest about any subject they felt strongly about. It had to be the children’s project–not one suggested by teachers of adults. The film I saw was a protest about dogs fouling pavements with placards saying things like “clean up after your dog”. This protest was stages at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2014.
Another of Liversidge’s ongoing projects is collecting artifacts that look like faces and one room of the exhibition is devoted to found objects that resemble faces and masks that Liversidge has produced from such objects.
A day or two after I seen the Liversidge exhibition, I got an email about the best record cover designs of 2018 and was surprised when I saw a cover bearing one of Liversidge’s masks among the nominated covers. The album is “Double Negative” by the American band Low (released in September 2018). Liversidge has also designed the cover for the band’s 2015 album “Ones and Sixes”, and it transpires that he has designed at least two other record sleeves: one for High Plains’ album “Cinderland” (2017) and another “Find the Ways” (2017) by Allred & Broderick.
I always find it interesting when “fine” artists design record covers. There’s a long list of them ranging from Sir Peter Blake to Damien Hirst via Andy Warhol. I’m looking forward to seeing all Peter Liversidge’s record covers.
Yesterday I went to a couple of art exhibitions. First I went to Sven-Harry’s to see the excellent Jenny Nyström exhibition and then went on to Bonnier’s gallery to see what was on there. But it’s not the exhibitions that I want to talk about here. To get to the exhibition rooms at the Bonnier’s gallery one has to go through the shop. They usually have loads of interesting books for sale there and yesterday was no exception. I saw Rock Graphics Originals by Peter Golding & Barry Miles with great poster and record cover art and a book Emigre Fonts 1986-2016 cataloguing Emigre Magazines typefaces. I still have two or three copies of Emigre with David Carson’s often confusing fonts.
Peter Golding & Barry Miles “Rock Graphic Originals”
Ginko Press – “Emigre Fonts 1986-2016”
The third book to catch my eye was Imagine — John Yoko with the famous Imagine album’s cover image on the front. I had not seen the book, published in October 2018, before, so I started rummaging through it to see if Yoko discussed the album’s cover art.
And, on page 419, she goes into explicit detail. She took the Polaroid photos of John and saw a reflection of his face with a cloud in front and photographed that. The album credits list Yoko Ono as designer, too, so I probably should have accepted her word.
However, collectors of Andy Warhol’s record cover art noticed that a couple of Andy Warhol’s Polaroid pictures of John, sold at Christie’s in 2013, looked suspiciously like the photo used on the Imagine album cover and were advertised as “Two unused and previously unseen photographic proofs of artwork for the front cover of John Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine“.
Two Polaroids by Andy Warhol sold at Christie’s in 2013.
Close examination of the “Warhol” Polaroids, show that John’s mouth appears dfferent from the picture on the album cover. So Christie’s comment of “Unused proofs” might suggest that Warhol’s Polaroids are alternatives to Yoko’s. Could Yoko have shown her Polaroids to Andy Warhol, or perhaps she gave him copies–or did Warhol take his own Polaroids and give them to Yoko?
Should we remove Lennon’s “Imagine” album (and the various singles that use the same picture) from the list of Andy Warhol’s record covers and credit the cover design to Yoko Ono as she claims?
I had heard of Robert del Naja in my research into the roots of Banksy‘s art and learnt that del Naja–alias 3D–was a leading figure in Bristolian street art long before Banksy started decorating Bristol’s streets. Banksy has acknowledged 3D as a major influence. I knew also that del Naja was a member of Massive Attack. Del Naja has even been suspected of actually being Banksy. despite Banksy‘s ex-agent Steve Lazarides stating that he had seen Banksy at a Massive Attack gig.
I got hold of Robert del Naja‘s book “3D and the Art of Massive Attack” last autumn and wrote a post about it last October. A couple of months ago I bought a copy of Massive Attack‘s “Heligoland”–the limited edition version from The Vinyl Factory, with its spangly cover.
I then saw a copy of The Vinyl Factory’s limited edition (1000 copies) of Massive Attack‘s “Atlas Air” 12″ offered together with a copy of Very Nearly Almost (VNA) magazine No. 26 which featured an article on 3D for the amazing sum of £300! And the VNA magazine was the regular version, not the limited edition one. I picked up a copy of VNA no. 26 for the princely sum of £15!
and decided that I would try to get the “Atlas Air” and “Splitting the Atom” 12″-ers too. I was lucky enough to find a seller in Germany who could supply both! They arrived a couple of days ago and I’m really pleased I got them. The cover art is magnificent.
The limited edition of “Atlas Air”. My copy is No. 085/1000.
The limited edition of “Splitting the Atom”. My copy is No. 576/1000.
I decided that I would buy the limited edition of “3D and the Art of Massive Attack“, too. Said and done! My copy was number 149/350 and includes a print by 3D (from a run of 1325 copies, an expanded version of the ordinary book called “Protection” and, not least a single sided 12″ entitled “Vermona“–which is only available in this box set.
The cover of the book of 3D‘s art and the print (on hardboard) and the “Vermona” single sided 12″ with 3D‘s etching on the reverse.
I’m waiting for the remastered reissue of “Mezzanine“, Massive Attack‘s magnificent 1998 album. A special 3 LP version with coloured vinyl will be released in late January 2019 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The stag beetle cover photo is by Nick Knight and the remastered vinyl package will come in a heat-sensitive box with more photos by Knight and 3D.
Andy Warhol’s first ever retrospective exhibition opened on 15th January 1968 and ran until 17th February. This year, to mark the 50th anniversary of that groundbreaking show, Moderna Museet in Stockholm has created a new show, called “Warhol 1968” as a sort of rememberance of the earlier exhibition. This exhibition runs from 15th September 2018–17th February 2019. The exhibition will transfer to Moderna Museet’s Malmö site, opening on 30th March and running until 8th September.
The current exhibition in Stockholm includes eight record covers bearing Andy Warhol’s art. The exhibition’s curator John Peter Nilsson has decided to try to include all Warhol’s record covers produced during his lifetime in this new exhibition and has asked me if I would lend my record covers to the exhibition along with some other related pieces of Warhol art.
It will be a wonderful opportunity to show a total of seventy-seven record sleeves, LPs, EP boxes, 12″ and a few 7″ singles, some of which have never been shown in public before.
My friend, Lars Magnell, CEO of Wag the Wall has promised to lend his company’s fantastic Magic Vinyl Display frames in which to hang the covers to show them at their best .
As anyone knows who has been following my blog, I’ve been collecting record covers by Sir Peter Blake for a long time. I’ve also been to numerous gallery shows and museum exhibition of Peter Blake’s art. I also have a number of exhibition catalogues from a various Peter Blake exhibitions. In addition I have several books on record cover art and one by graphic designer Richard Evans–who I guess is a Peter Blake fan too.
Richard Evans (born 30th March 1945 (as he states on his web page the same day as Eric Clapton) is a graphic designer, artist and photographer who has designed record covers for a great many artists including Robert Plant, Van Morrison, World Party, Pete Townsend and has been “official” designer to The Who since the mid 1970s.
Richard Evans published his book “The Art of the Record Cover” in 2010 and it is a chronological guide to record cover design and includes, at the end, a section on how to design one’s own record cover.
One of Richard Evans’s covers for a 1985 compilation album by The Who called “Who’s Missing” features tracks not previously available on LP and the cover–to another fan of Peter Blake’s art–seems inspired by Blake’s 1960-1 painting/collage “Got a Girl” (the title comes from a 1960 single by The Four Preps (Capitol 4362)).
This album was only released in America and I have been looking for a copy to keep beside my Peter Blake covers for several years, and I finally found one in my favourite Stockholm record emporium.
You already know that I am inordinately proud of my collection of records and CDs with cover art by the artist known as Banksy. Many of the vinyl releases with Banksy‘s cover art, particularly the “unofficial” ones, were released as limited editions. Dirty Funker (just one of DJ Paul Glancy‘s aliases) released two remixes as 12-inch singles with cover art by Banksy: “Let’s Get Dirty“, from 2006, appropriated Banksy‘s famous Kate Moss portrait, and “Future“, released in 2008, featured Banksy‘s “Radar Rat” design (in five different limited edition covers, probably each of 1000 copies).
a. Front of first pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
b. Back of first pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
There were two editions of the “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-incher, both limited–the first edition, which showed only Banksy‘s Kate Moss portrait with no artist, title or tracklisting, or even a barcode. The front image showed Kate‘s head against a red background, while on the rear cover she had a pale green background. This edition must have been significantly more limited than the second edition which showed Kate‘s portrait with a Dymo strip over her eyes on the front cover giving the artist and record’s title. On the rear the strip was placed over Kate‘s mouth giving the tracklisting.
a. Front of second pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
b. back of second pressing of Dirty Funker’s “Let’s Get Dirty” 12-inch single.
This week a printer’s proof of the first edition “Let’s Get Dirty” cover was advertised on Ebay. The seller had bought it in 2007 and now was sadly selling it. He thought there might have been about ten copies printed in 2006 (the print is dated 18th January 2006) and makes an interesting addition to both my Banksy and my collection of record and CD covers featuring Kate Moss.
I don’t know if Peter Blake and Brian Wilson are chums, but there’s little doubt that Peter Blake knows about Brian Wilson‘s music. One of Blake‘s earliest works was of the cover of The Beach Boys’ LP “Shut Down, Vol 2” in his 1964 print “The Beach Boys“.
Actually, the image wasn’t taken from the album cover. but from a music paper advertisement for the album. Blake designed the cover for Brian Wilson‘s 2004 album “Gettin’ In Over My Head“.
In 2007 Brian Wilson put together an audio presentation called “That Lucky Old Sun” and toured with it. He released the music as his eighth full length the following year. The cover for the LP and CD was designed by Martin Venezky / Appetite Engineers and the art director was Tom Reccion.
In 2009 Genesis Publications, in England, published a box set of the “That Lucky Old Sun” with a 56 page book pf interviews written by Harvey Kubernik with an introduction by Peter Blake, each book signed by both Brian Wilson and Peter Blake. The set, produced in an edition of 1000, includes twelve seriegraphs by Peter Blake each illustrating a song from the album as well as three facsimile sheets of music and a VIP pass and “one of the first pressings” of the “That Lucky Old Sun” CD .
Now to my quandry–should this set be included in a collection of Peter Blake‘s record cover art? I have included the Genesis Publications’ “Limited Edition 24 Nights” box set with it’s book of Blake drawings from Eric Clapton‘s 1980 and 1981 concerts as the cover of the “24 Nights” album was actually by Peter Blake. However, in the case of the “That Lucky Old Sun” set, the record’s cover art was NOT by Peter Blake. To put you out of your misery, I have found a set at a reduced price. So I’ll add it to my Peter Blake collection.