Bob Dylan… Rolling Stones… Beatles… Hendrix… Jam… Fela Kuti… Kills… rock art alive and kicking in 2015

Bob Dylan… Rolling Stones… Beatles… Hendrix… Jam… Fela Kuti… Kills… rock art exhibitions and products abounded in 2015. Here are some posts on the best rock art I came across last year.

Fela Kuti poster promotes West Africa exhibition in London

An outstanding Fela Kuti poster is the key image in the promotion of West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song – an exhibition of literature and music, now running at The British Library, until 16 February 2016.

The unmissable Fela Kuti poster is the key image advertising the show around the British Library site on Euston Rd, just west of St Pancras railway station.

The Fela Kuti poster is well-chosen to promote such a show – he”s one of the most important African poprock musicians, variously a composer, singer, bandleader, horn player and keyboardist. He fused rock n roll values – sex, drugs and rebellion – with jazz/rock and West african highlife into a musical style that became known as Afrobeat.

It’s not clear from the British Library website whether you can buy the beautiful Fela Kuti poster, although other merchandise, like this DVD, is on sale.

Finding Fela: Music is the Weapon

Fela Kuti DVD, Finding Fela

Copyright: illustration © British Library 2015; text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2015.

Rolling Stones photos: Michael Cooper at Proud Gallery, London

First published on ROCK ART EDITIONS – WHAT’S NEW IN ROCK ART – on 13 November 2015.

Courting the Stones: Photographs by Michael Cooper is currently showing at Proud Chelsea, in SW London. But you’ll need to hurry, this recommended portfolio of Rolling Stones photos is due to close on Sunday 22 November.

Rolling Stones photos by Michael Cooper

Rolling Stones photo © Michael Cooper/Proud Gallery

Michael Cooper’s best-known Rolling Stones photos grace the front cover of their controversial 1967 album, Their Satanic Majesties Request – nice photography, pity about the music!

In the same year, Cooper also provided the photos for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the rather better received classic Beatles album.

So he was clearly a top rock photographer. The exhibition’s odd title refers to Michael Cooper’s privileged position in the Rolling Stones inner circle (hence “Court”).

As you’ll see from their website, Proud Galleries are major global players in rock photography.

Copyright: text © Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS; photo © Michael Cooper/Proud Gallery, London. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

New Beatles photos in Ringo Starr book, Photograph

Beatles photos are not difficult to come by – the Fab Four number among the most photographed individuals in history.

But Beatles photos shot by a Beatle are pretty rare. Or were… until the recent publication of Photograph by Ringo Starr (£35). The mass market edition of Photograph follows an earlier limited edition – both released by Genesis Publications.

Ringo Starr photos

Rare Beatles photos in Photograph by Ringo Starr

Photograph, by Ringo Starr, was launched at London’s National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery, along with Genesis, is also currently selling 10 different framed prints of Beatles photos taken from the book. All 10 are published in a limited edition of 25 copies, signed by Ringo Starr. The framed prints cost £1965 each, delivered.

The Beatles have long been important creators of rock art: both John Lennon and Paul McCartney have impressive portfolios. It’s a pleasure to welcome Ringo Starr to the rock art party!

Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger portraits in new French collection

New-to-me portraits of Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger are two highlights of a new French collection, 100 Photos de Jean-Marie Périer Pour La Liberté de la Presse. You can’t miss it in the bookshops, thanks to a striking cover portrait of 1960s pop chanteuse Françoise Hardy.

It’s a timely reminder of the importance of France, and especially Paris, as a centre of rock art.

Bob Dylan photo

Bob Dylan portrait © Jean-Marie Périer

Bob Dylan and the 1960s Folk Revival

I wish I was visiting New York soon – I’d certainly visit a compelling new exhibition, Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival.

It’s showing at the Museum of the City of New York until 29 November 2015.

If I don’t make it, I’ll be buying the accompanying book written by curators Stephen Petrus and Ronald D Cohen (Oxford Univ Press, 2015):

Folk City exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York

Book accompanying Folk City exhibition, New York

The Jam exhibition in London extended to 27 September

The Jam exhibition in London 2015

The Jam About The Young Idea extended to 27 September

Iconic Jimi Hendrix portraits in Paris show

Lost in le Marais quartier of Paris last Friday, I stumbled upon a soon-to-be-closed exhibition of iconic portraits of Jimi Hendrix – solo and with the other two members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Jimi Hendrix photo

Jimi Hendrix © Donald Silverstein 1967

Jimi Hendrix – Can You See Me? exhibited about a dozen large-scale, limited edition photographs from a 1967 shoot by Donald Silverstein. It was hosted by La Galerie Stardust, 19 rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, 75003 Paris.

Although the show closed a week ago, collectors are alerted to watch out for follow-up exhibitions. The Paris show followed a 2014 showing of the same material by Snap Galleries, London.

Total Records: The Great Adventure of Album Cover Photography – exhibition in Arles, France

Last Friday’s Guardian newspaper had a full review, by Sean O’Hagan, of an important rock art show running in Arles, France, until 20 September:

“Man Ray’s proposed cover for the Stones is one of the highlights of a sprawling, but always intriguing, exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles called Total Records: The Great Adventure of Album Cover Photography.

“It traces pop’s relationship with photography using album sleeves that span the history of vinyl recordings, and includes work by pioneering photographers who were either commissioned by labels to shape the identity of an artist or else allowed existing images to be used, often at the musician’s request. That was how Anders Petersen’s picture of an embracing couple from his gritty series Cafe Lehmitz ended up on the cover of Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, an almost perfect reflection of the melancholic music therein. (Intriguingly, the man in the photograph bears a resemblance to the young Tom Waits, both physically and in terms of the beatnik-barfly image Waits once projected.)…”

Recommended reading in The Guardian

Guido Harari exhibition of rock art photos – Ravello, Italy

Rock photos by Guido Harari

Sonica exhibition of Guido Harari rock art photos, Ravello Festival

Sonica, an exhibition of portraits by rock art photographer Guido Harari is now showing at the Ravello Festival. It runs until 31 October.

Bob Dylan, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits are among the 30+ rock musicians portrayed by Harari.

A catalogue is available from the Festival and from Guido Harari’s Wall of Sound Gallery.

If I was anywhere near, I’d be going!

The Jam in London exhibition: a major post-punk rock art show

Exhibition of photos and memorabilia of The Jam

Post-punk rock art: The Jam – About the Young Idea, London 2015

The Jam About the Young Idea is a major exhibition of photos and artefacts now showing at Somerset House, London until 31 August 2015.

The Jam About the Young Idea is a rare show devoted to post-punk rock art. Curated with the full cooperation of the band, it includes photos, lyrics, stage outfits, video, instruments and scrapbooks.

Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and John Lennon in Bailey’s Stardust

David Bailey portrait of Mick Jagger, in Bailey's Stardust exhibition

Mick Jagger, Bailey’s Stardust

After a successful run in London last year, Bailey’s Stardust, a recommended collection of important rock art, opens at the Scottish National Galley, Edinburgh on 18 July and runs until 18 October.

Bailey’s Stardust has iconic portraits by celebrated photographer David Bailey, including ROCK ART EDITIONS favourites Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and John Lennon.

Bailey’s Stardust is one of the most significant exhibitions of rock art in recent years. Here’s my review of the London show.

Alison Mosshart (The Kills) shows 100+ works in New York

Another fine collection of rock art, Fire Power, 100+ works by Alison Mosshart (The Kills) is showing at Joseph Gross Gallery in New York until 11 July.

Alison Mosshart work, one of 120 in Fire Power, showing in New York

Rock art by Alison Mosshart of The Kills

(posted 3 July 2015)

The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism: the key rock art show of 2016?

Art of the Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones art – exhibition in 2016

A major new show to be held at the fabulous Saatchi Gallery in London, April-Sept 2016. Tickets go on sale next Friday, 10 July. Almost certainly the major rock art exhibition of 2016.

(posted: 3 July 2015)

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