All posts by rockdoc999

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.

What’s in a Name? My Latest Art Attempts.

I spent three intensive days last week on a silkscreening course. I’ve been on several over the years but this time I had some ideas — a couple of friends are getting married later this month and I thought I could produce a portrait of them as a wedding present. In addition I had some unfinished paintings that I thought I could finish.

It turned out that I could do both in the fifteen hours that the course lasted.

First the wedding present. I had downloaded the couple’s portrait from one of their Facebook posts and edited the background out to leave just the couple seated together holding hands. I made two screens, one with the photo as originally taken with M seated on the left and a second with the picture reversed. I had previously prepared backgrounds on 300 g watercolour paper and simply screened the image onto the prepared backgrounds.

While I had the screen ready I decided to make a separate portrait for myself:
I screened a silver background and then screened the portrait on top.

Silver wedding

Then I had six portraits of Andy Warhol that I had painted some time ago and wanted to finish. Two were only in the early stages of production and had to be finished.

Then the series was complete:

And, I added diamond dust to make them sparkle!

We were four participants on the course and we had a discussion as to whether or not we should sign our work. The general consensus was “if one accepts ownership of the work, then it should be signed”.

Okay, then. But I don’t really think my name rings really ‘artistic’. I mean, not like Picasso or Cezanne or something catchy — even if my wife jokingly calls me the family Picasso! So I just put “Richard F ’20” on each picture.

Chris Makos Portraits of Loredana Bertè on Album Covers.

When I started collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover more seriously sometime in the early 2000s there weren’t that many covers known to have been designed or illustrated by him. Everyone knew about the Velvet Underground & Nico and the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers but there weren’t many of the early covers that were recognised. Some of his jazz covers were signed but I could still search Ebay for less recognised covers including copies of early records like Cool Gabriels and buy the relatively cheap and resell doubles to fund further purchases. I had a fair collection by 2008 when I was offered the opportunity to put on a show of what I at the time considered to be a COMPLETE collection of Warhol covers. I was helped considerably by Warhol expert Guy Minnebach who had recently discovered important covers. We managed to collect about 65 covers. Then in September 2008 the Warhol Live! exhibition opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and included Paul Maréchal’s collection of Warhol’s record covers and his catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s record covers was published (Andy Warhol: Record Covers 19489-1987. Catalogue Raisonné. Prestel, 2008.)

Included in Maréchal’s book was a cover of Loredana Bertè’s 1981 album Made in Italy. The cover photograph was by Warhol’s good friend Christopher Makos. On the rear cover the photograph was credited “Album Concept and Photography Christopher Makos Andy Warhol Studio“. Loredana Bertè spent at least a year in New York in the early 80s learning English and has said she became friends with Andy Warhol and cooked him spaghetti. However, it seems doesn’t seem that Andy Warhol actually had any input into the design of the cover of the Made in Italy album, though he might well have come up with the title. I have always had difficulty in calling the Made in Italy album cover a “Warhol cover”, but who am I to argue with Paul Maréchal?

Interestingly (at least for me) is the fact that Chris Makos provided the portraits for Bertè’s 1983 album Jazz. There are two cover portraits of Loredana — the version of Jazz released in Italy has a photo that looks as though it could have come from the same photo session as the portrait on the Made in Italy album. The version of the same album released in Holland has a different portrait, this one in colour. Both are credited to Chris Makos, New York.

Chris Makos met Warhol probably in 1976 and is credited with showing him the 35 mm camera and its possibilities. He accompanied Warhol on several trips to Europe and took many photographs of him, including the famous series of Warhol in drag.

Should the Jazz album covers also be credited as “Warhol” covers like the Made in Italy album cover? I don’t think so. But then I don’t really think the Made in Italy cover should be included either.

Vinylizing Two Andy Warhol Covers.

It’s probably a mortal sin, but I’ve allowed two of my Andy Warhol covers to be subjected to remakes by artist Romain Beltrame.

I have duplicates of a few Warhol covers and selected Aretha Franklin’s 1986 album Aretha together with Miguel Bosé’s 1983 Milano – Madrid album for Romain to ‘play’ with.

I left thecovers with him only a week ago and today he mailed me that he was ready. The results are amazing.

Beltrames Aretha
Romain Beltrame’s additional artwork on the Aretha LP cover.
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Romain Beltrame’s additional artwork on the Milano – Madrid LP cover.

I fully realise that collectors of Warhol’s record cover art might be horrified by these re-imagined covers, but I like them and welcome them as new additions to my cover art collection. After all, they are unique.

Two Banksy Covers I Didn’t Know About.

Today was a bit of a special day! I discovered two CDs with Banksy artwork that I had never seen. I was casually surfing the Internet when I came across a picture of a CD cover that I didn’t recognise but that had classic Banksy artwork. The CD in question is an 11-track compilation released by Seven Magazine and called Seven Magazine Presents the Soundtrack to Sizzler Parties, and contains tracks by Blak Twang (Twixstar) and the Röyksopp remix of The Mecons Please Stay. This CD was released in 2002, so I don’t really understand how it has eluded me for so long!

The second CD, Orange City by a Canadian band called One Bad Son, was released in 2007. The front cover didn’t look promising — probably explaining why I had missed this release.

It isn’t until you open the jewel case and see the CD that the Banksy connection appears.

Here the Bomb Hugger girl image appears both on the CD and on the inside of the rear of the jewel case. I suspect that this is an unofficial use of this particular Banksy image that appeared officially on the Peace Not War compilation CD that accompanied the February 2004 number of the Big Issue magazine.

 

As I write this, my collection of Banksy records and CDs is moving from the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa to the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara until September 2020 and then from September to December to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto. Perhaps I should add these rare CDs to the exhibit.

VINYLIZE! — Art on Record Covers — Art on Art.

You should know by now that I collect record cover art. I have twice in my life designed record covers. The first was when I bought a copy of the Rolling Stones’ bootleg Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be sometime in around 1970. The original cover was white with the title stamped on in black, and I thought it would benefit from a bit of colour.

Live'r_Than_You'll_Ever_Be_original
The rather uninspiring, unembellished cover for “Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be”

As I was in poster-painting mode, I decide to “improve” the design:

Liver than LP
My “improved” version of the cover.

The second cover, the one I designed myself, was for a student review called Tower Power at Guy’s Hospital in 1969:

Tower Power LP
The cover for the “Tower Power” LP.

Otherwise, the art on record covers has been sort of “holy”, to be appreciated and enjoyed, and not to be tampered with. However, I have begun to realise that not everyone shares this view.

Vinyl records have been recycled in various ways — made into wall clocks, melted into decorative bowls or other items or lazer cut into designs. But I thought the covers had escaped recycling until i saw the work of artists Mike and Doug Starn (see my post from 21 June 2019) who use record sleeves as the background for their, sometimes abstract, large-scale paintings.

Then I passed a little shop called Triphopshop that had three redesigned record covers (two Grace Jones and a David Bowie covers) in the window that I thought quite exciting. Then I read of a Dutch project that asked artists to rework record cover designs called Vinylize!, a cooperation between Bert Dijkstra (of Shop Around) and Dick van Dijk (owner of Concerto record store). They put on an exhibition of the reworked record covers together. I found out about this from an Album Cover Hall of Fame blog post and and learned that they had published a catologue of the exhibition. Of course, it’s now out of print, but I was lucky to find a copy on Amazon. It arrived yesterday!

Front and rear covers were shown in its 106 pages, with the rear covers altered to include a short biography of the artist who reimagined the cover with a list of that artist’s ten favourite albums. The artists include Bart Aalbers, Eric Huysen, Jillem, Typex (I just last week bought Typex’s book Andy – A Factual Fairytale. The Life and Times of Andy Warhol), Loudmouth, etc. Naturally, mainly Dutch artists, but all with a history of designing record covers. Olla Boku had reimagined Andy Warhol’s cover portrait of Billy Squier:

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Eric Huysen had reimagined Barbra Streisand’s Guilty cover:

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Jillem had a humourous turn on the Pink Floyd’s The Wall:

Having looked through the Vinylize! catalogue, I went back to Triphopshop and talked to owner and artist Romain Beltrame. He is into street art and sells clothes that he has embellished with his own paintings: many jeans jackets that he has redesigned. He also sells posters by other artists — much in the style of Blek le Rat or Banksy. But it’s his reworking of record covers that interest me.

The Triphopshop on Rörstrandsgatan, Stockholm.

 

Romain Beltrame holding his reworked Diamond Dogs cover.

Here are just some of the covers he has re-designed.

 

I am trying to work out how I feel about artists reworking cherished covers. Some of the covers pictured in Vinylize! are clever, others strike me as rather destructive. It could be a new field for collectors or amateur artists! But perhaps I’ll be tempted to buy some secondhand covers and try to remodel them myself, who knows? I have asked Romain to reinvent a couple of Andy Warhol covers — Aretha and Miguel Bosé’s Milano–Madrid. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

Tom Waits in Concert, 1999.

There are artists who don’t tour very often and some of my favourites seem only to tour once in blue moon. Such artists are Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell — and Tom Waits.

I remember his concerts at Stockholm’s Cirkus on July 13th and 14th, 1999, very well. We were living in Luleå then and had to travel down to Stockholm to our little Stockholm flat for the concerts. And I’ve lately been clearing out my storage room and came across a whole lot of memorabilia, including the tickets for Tom Waits’s concerts promoting his Mule Variations album. Well, in addition to the tickets, I found that I had gone to the trouble of making set lists of both nights’ concerts.

These concerts were really very expensive — costing SEK 600 per person (about GBP 50 or USD 80), so for two people for two nights it meant an outlay of SEK 2400! Unheard of in 1999. But Cirkus is a great concert venue, with great acoustics and we had seats quite high up and to the right of the stage. On the first night, Tom sauntered into the theatre entering though a door just above us and walked down the stairs past our seats and on down to take his place on the stage. The first nights’ concert went on for over three hours. For the second night it seemed that he had had instructions not to go on for so long, so the show only lasted a bit over two and a half hours. The first night was magical and the second felt a bit like a disappointment after the previous evening. Perhaps we should have been satisfied with one night.

Tom Waits Set list
Te set lists for both concerts and our tickets.

It looks from te set list as though the second night should have been longer — but I can guarantee that it wasn’t.

Per Bjurman, reviewing the concerts said Waits was great but thst the ticket price was extortionate!
Tom Waits review

Anyway, the first night was magical! I would pay the same to see Tom Waits again — should he ever decide to come over.

My Poster Production.

When I was in medical school from 1962 to 1968, I was involved in the Students’ Union and somehow got into a group responsible for organising student dances. These were the heady days of Swinging London, Carnaby Street and all things psychedelic and together with Andrew Batch, I started producing posters for dances, balls and many just for fun. Heavily influenced by American west coast art I painted many posters for dances we called “Inflam” as well as for lectures to be held in the hospital. There were several notice boards around the Guy’s Hospital campus and therefore four posters were required for each event. Many copies disappeared but I managed to save at least one copy of many of the posters, which have followed me around for the last fifty-plus years. For the past seven years they have been languishing in my flat’s cellar storage.

In the past week I have been trying to go through all the detritus that I have collected over the years. Old diaries, out of date credit and membership cards, books and a few records that no longer deserve a place in my collection. However, the most space-consuming articles were my posters and prints, collected over many decades. I started to look through the large folder containing most of the posters I had painted between 1966 and 1968. I was astonished (and a bit proud) of my typography, produced at a time when fonts were not easily found, but had to be copied manually. I have thus far found over forty posters and many friends have been impressed by my handiwork. A couple of fellow students have had memories awakened by seeing them again after such a long time.

Inflam posters:
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Party & Dance posters:

Lectures and gatherings:

Plays:

Art Posters:

There are a few more that I might add later. But I was surprised to see that the majority of my artworks had survived more than fifty years of being ignored. There was one unfinished poster that I found and I decided to finish it — four hours of painstaking draftsmanship and it was done:

This poster is called Johanna’s Not Here. Reading the text may give a hint as to why it’s got that title.

I’ve put some of these posters on Facebook and several FB friends have suggest I arrange an exhibition of them. But I’ve no idea how to go about it. So they’ll have to stay exhibited here. Perhaps I’ll get around to painting some more in the near future.

Miguel Bosé — More on His Warhol Covers.

I am lucky to count Guy Minnebach as a  friend as he is the source of much of my knowledge about Andy Warhol’s record cover art. I first got to know Guy sometime around 2005 when we shared information about Warhol covers and Guy tipped me off about covers I didn’t have. Then when I was about to curate the Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol exhibition at Piteå Museum in 2008, Guy lent me several extremely rare covers to include in the show and then arrived to co-curate and help hang the show. We have remained in contact ever since and Guy was a founder member of the Warhol Cover Collectors Club.

His knowledge of Andy Warhol’s art is impressive and he has identified a number of record covers and designs previously not known to be by Andy Warhol. He also writes about Warhol covers on his Andy Earhole blog, which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in Warhol’s record cover art.

In a blog post in November 2016, Guy described the June 1983 edition of the Spanish music magazine El Gran Musical, which published an interview with Miguel Bosé about his new album Made in Spain that described how the cover art came about. It has taken me almost four years to find my own copy of the magazine.

El Gran Musical-cover
The June 1983 edition of El Gran Musical.

In 1983 Latino star Miguel Bosé’s manager contacted Andy Warhol in the hope that he would design the cover for Bosé’s as yet untitled album planned for that year. He contacted Warhol expecting the cold shoulder but was surprised that Warhol immediately agreed to providing a portrait for the cover and Bosé first spent two days in New York (presumably for the photo session with Warhol) and later a further two weeks while Warhol made the video for Bosé’s Fuego single.

As can be seen in the article, Warhol photographed a bare-chested Bosé in front of a white screen. Warhol then produced a unique series of five portraits from the Polaroids taken at that session. It seems highly likely (as Guy Minnebach suggests) that Warhol also came up with the title Made in Spain for the album, having been involved in Loredana Berté’s Made in Italy album in 1981. Made in Spain must have seemed a logical title after Made in Italy. Guy also speculated that Warhol had also done the typography for the album but Bosé has said that he did it himself although it does seem quite Warholian.
A double-sided poster of Warhol’s artwork for the album was included in the El Gran Musical magazine.

El Gran Musical-poster1
One side of the poster.

The reverse showed The Police.

El Gran Musical-poster2
The reverse of the poster.

Bosé’s record label CBS released a limited promotional folder for the Made in Spain album. This contained the full 12 inch LP as well as 7 inch and 12 inch copies of the Fuego single and a presentation folder that included a fold out poster of the cover artwork.
Made_in_Spain poster-800

Bosé was obviously so pleased with Andy Warhol’s design that he used it on his 1983 Italian album Milano – Madrid and on the covers of the Fuego and Non Siamo Soli singles as well as on the Made in Spain album.

I have both the Made in Spain (both the standard LP and the CBS promo folder) and Milano – Madrid albums along with the standard seven inch Fuego and Non Siamo Soli singles completing my collection of Miguel Bosé’s records with Warhol’s cover art.

Kraftwerk and Me.

The recent death of Kraftwerk’s co-founder Florian Schneider reminded me of the band’s concerts I have been lucky enough to see.

My introduction to German electronic music was via Tangerine Dream’s album Phaedra that I bought in 1974. I also owned several other of their albums and a single Can LP. I was aware of Kraftwerk at the time but didn’t have any of their albums until 1998 when I first saw them live.

I was one of the Medical Crew at the year’s Roskilde Festival and Kraftwerk were appearing there in (I think) the Green Tent. I only have dim memories of seeing the band members playing standing on a sort of balcony in the tent and no memory at all of what songs they played. I just remember being excited to see this mythical band live.

I bought the albums Man Machine, Radio-Activity and Trans-Europe Express thereafter and, sometime later, probably around 2010, bough a fantastic Mensch Maskine knitted sweater.

kraftwerk sweater
My Kraftwerk sweater.

I have been an on-and-off member of the Tate Museums and in 2013 saw that Kraftwerk were going to play live in the Machine Hall at the Tate Modern. They were going to play  eight concerts one after the other on separate nights from 6th February through to the 15th (having a night off on the Sunday.) By the time I found I would be in London on some of those dates tickets were, of course, sold out. So I succumbed to temptation and searched Ebay for tickets and bought a pair for Thursday 7th February at an extortionate rate. So donning my Kraftwerk sweater I went to the show.

Kraftwerk Tate Modern
Before the show at the Tate Modern.

We received our 3-D glasses and a souvenir booklet as our armbands were checked.

The concert was due to start at 21.00 h and went on for over two hours. Everyone sat on the concrete floor of the Turbine Hall as the swirling sounds enveloped us and the 3-D projections leaped out of the screen. This was Radio-Activity evening but they played a selection of songs including The Robots, Computer-World, Trans-Europa Express, Autobahn, Die Mench-Maschine and others. A wonderful experience! The Wallpaper folder contained a short introduction by Ralf Hütter and two-page spreads of pictures from Kraftwerk’s slides.

I was also a member of Stockholm’s Moderna Museet and was really happy when the museum announced that there would be an exhibition Dansmaskiner – från Léger till Kraftwerk that opened on 22nd January 2014, which Ralf Hütter had been involved in planning. In addition Kraftwerk would play two concerts at Cirkus on 21st and 22nd January. I was lucky to get tickets for the 21st January.

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My Kraftwerk ticket.

As far as I remember, the set was substantially identical to that at the previous year’s show at the Tate Modern. But we didn’t get to keep our 3-D glasses this time.

Now I can simply play the music and reimagine the 3-D films that accompany them.

 

More on Andy Warhol and the History of His Silkscreens and the New Warhol Biography by Blake Gopnik.

In February 2018 I wrote a potted history of Andy Warhol’s silkscreens (you can read it here). Much new information had emerged since thanks to Blake Gopnik’s new biography Warhol — A Life as Art.

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Blake Gopnik’s 2020 biography Warhol — A Life as Art.

The story as I understood it back when I wrote that post was that Warhol had been searching for a way to mechanise his art, enabling him to produce many similar images with a minimum of effort. He had developed his characteristic dot-and-blot technique that allowed him to produce a third degree copy of an original drawing or photograph. Fist he would trace the image to be reproduced and then he would tape another paper so that it folded over the traced image and then he would ink the tracing an inch or so at a time and blot the the ink with the paper he had taped to transfer the image in reverse onto the second sheet. This was a time consuming method and produced only a single copy. He later tried making stamps to print recurring images, but was limited to relatively small images. He produced his S & H Green Stamps print by this tedious method. According to several authors, Warhol got the idea of silkscreening from the teenaged Sarah Dalton, who, together with her brother David, Warhol had taken under his wing in around 1961.

However, Gopnik has researched the subject in greater detail. Warhol certainly had experience of silkscreening during his years  (1945-1949) at Carnegie Tech and often visited the avant guard Outlines Gallery in Pittsburgh where gallery owner Betty Rockwell put on a show of silkscreened works that Warhol would have seen. Thus there is no doubt that Warhol was aware of the silkscreen technique and had probably had some experience of using it in his studies.

So, why didn’t he take up the technique until 1962? Could the young Sarah have jogged his memory? Gopnik makes no mention of her in this capacity, though she turns up later in his book as the editor of Warhol’s first film Sleep.

I had previously dated Warhol’s first silkscreen prints to the Autumn of 1962. But Gopnik, who spent much time in the archives of The Warhol Museum, ahs found that Warhol’s first silkscreen was for a record cover in April 1962. That cover was the Take Ten album by Paul Desmond, recently “discovered” by Guy Minnebach.

Pauk Desmond-Take Ten-fr
The cover of Paul Desmond’s 1963 album “Take Ten”.

Not only was this therefore Warhol’s first commercial silkscreen, it was his first silkscreened portrait. According to Gopnik, Warhol made the front cover of Time magazine in May 1962 photographed standing in front of his silkscreened Two Hundred One-dollar Bills, but I haven’t been able to find this cover. This suggests that Warhol was already using the silkscreen medium to produce art as early as this. Gopnik also suggests that Warhol was experimenting with portraits of Marilyn Monroe during the summer of 1962 — before her death in August of that year and that he, as a shrewd businessman, realised he could capitalise on her demise with his silkscreened portraits. Warhol probably also made his Elvis canvases during the late summer or early autumn of 1962 shown a year later in Warhol’s second show at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.