Tag Archives: Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones exhibition: 10 reasons why Exhibitionism will be a smash hit

Rolling Stones exhibition

Rolling Stones exhibition – Exhibitionism promo

Exhibitionism, the Rolling Stones exhibition opening in London on 5 April, will attract record numbers of visitors for a rock art show. It’s set to be a smash hit – the most popular exhibition of rock art ever staged.

Here are 10 reasons why the Rolling Stones exhibition will be so successful.

#1 The Rolling Stones – the most popular musicians of all

The Rolling Stones are the most popular musicians on Planet Earth. By a mile. They appeal to people almost everywhere. Aged 8 to 80. Male and female. Early school-leavers to PhD boffins, long-term unemployed to CEOs.

#2 Fanbase – enormous, fanatical following

If you’ve ever attended a Rolling Stones arena concert, you’ll have witnessed just how fanatical are their fans. The Stones have been filling arenas and stadiums around the world with these hardcore fans for decades.

Rolling Stones fans buy just about anything bearing the Stones name (and the lips logo). Even those fans who’ve never stepped inside a museum or gallery before (and there are many) will be tempted by the Rolling Stones exhibition, if only to hoover up any merchandise.

The hardcore fans travel. And they spend big.

#3 Mick Jagger – one of the most famous

Mick Jagger is one of the most famous people in the world today. More famous than virtually anybody in music, the arts, entertainment, sport, business, politics and any other sector you might mention. If you don’t recognise a photo of Mick Jagger, you’re probably living in a place untouched by Western culture.

#4 Mick Jagger – most photographed/painted

And Mick Jagger is probably the most photographed man ever. He’s attracted leading photographers for the last half century: David Bailey… Gered Mankowitz… Annie Leibovitz… Cecil Beaton… Anton Corbijn… Terry O’Neill… to name just a few.

And Jagger has been immortalised in major series of artworks by two leading contemporary artists, Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton.

Rolling Stones exhibition - album cover

Rolling Stones Love You Live: album cover artwork by Andy Warhol © Rolling Stones Records

#5 The Rolling Stones’ superlative marketing

The Rolling Stone exhibition, Exhibitionism, will be supported by a superlative marketing machine – the best you’ll ever encounter. Whenever the Rolling Stones have a new project/product to promote, you’ll find yourself reading about them, thinking about them, whistling their tunes… and buying their product. All because of the Stones’ world-class marketing machine.

They’ve been testing the London market for a Rolling Stones exhibition for some time. Witness the pop-up shop and sponsorship of Carnaby St a few Christmases ago. And Rolling Stones 50, the wonderful small photo exhibition at Somerset House. These events may well have been dummy runs. The Rolling Stones exhibition may well be the roll-out.

And they’ll have been encouraged by the success of David Bailey’s Stardust exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and David Bowie Is at the V&A.

Media – old and new – is a sucker for Rolling Stones stories. Expect to be reading about the Rolling Stones exhibition in the saturation media coverage throughout summer 2016.

#6 Saatchi Gallery – ideal venue for a Rolling Stones exhibition

The Saatchi Gallery is the ideal venue for a Rolling Stones exhibition. It’s accessible, high profile, hip… and enormous. It has made contemporary art fashionable in England – a tough call. People who wouldn’t normally go within a mile of an art gallery will flock to the Saatchi Gallery.

Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery, London: venue for the Rolling Stones exhibition © Saatchi Gallery

#7 London – ideal location for a Rolling Stones exhibition

London is the ideal location for a Rolling Stones exhibition. It’s the birthplace and spiritual home of the Rolling Stones. If you wanted to run a major Bob Dylan show, you’d choose New York; for an Edith Piaf show, you’d obviously choose Paris, and for a Mozart exhibition, Vienna. A major Rolling Stones exhibition has to start in London.

Remember – London is the most visited city in the Western world. Paris, Berlin, New York and LA aren’t even close. Exhibitionism will benefit from a heavy footfall.

And London is the world capital of rock art. Public museums, private galleries and pop-ups exhibiting rock art abound. The National Portrait Gallery… Somerset House… Tate Modern… Snap!… Proud galleries… Castle Fine Art… and an array of temporary exhibitions/spaces mean that there’s always some rock art worth seeing, whenever you’re in London.

#8 The sweet summertime – ideal season for a Rolling Stones exhibition

The Rolling Stones exhibition, Exhibitionism, is very well-timed, filling the whole of London’s sweet summertime of 2016, April to September.

#9 Timing – Rolling Stones exhibition catches the Rock Art wave

Rock art – album covers, posters, photos and paintings – is becoming more popular every year. As well as visiting smaller Rolling Stones shows, I’ve recently seen loads of popular exhibitions featuring David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, The Jam, Punk Rock, Bruce Springsteen, Blondie… the list goes on and on… .

The new Rolling Stones exhibition, Exhibitionism, is timed perfectly to catch this wave.

#10 Organisers expect big crowds

The organisers of the Rolling Stones exhibition have clearly planned for big crowds. You’ll need to book a timed entry slot to get in – even though the Saatchi Gallery is an enormous space, capable of accommodating vast numbers of visitors. And booking for the Rolling Stones exhibition began nine months ago.

If the business brains who have been monetising the Stones’ global appeal for so many years think Exhibitionism will be so very popular, I’m tempted to trust their judgment.

But will the Rolling Stones exhibition be any good? Will it tour?

Exhibitionism, the Rolling Stones exhibition, will be the most important rock art show ever. But will it be any good?

To find out, please bookmark ROCK ART EDITIONS and pop in occasionally: I’ll be visiting Exhibitionism very soon, and reporting what I find.

But if you can’t make the Rolling Stones exhibition in London this summer, don’t despair. If it’s as successful as I expect, it’s likely to tour. Remember, the Rolling Stones are a truly global brand, so expect this gig to go on the road… to NYC, LA, Berlin, Tokyo… ?

Copyright: text, Gerald Smith, ROCK ART EDITIONS 2016; illustrations as in captions. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Rolling Stones photos: new Taschen book is a must-buy

The Rolling Stones by Taschen - Gered Mankowitz cover

Rolling Stones photos – Gered Mankowitz poster for new book. (Photo of Taschen, London by Gerald Smith.)

The Rolling Stones, the new book published by Taschen, is a magnificent collection of Rolling Stones photos. At £100/$150 or less, the mass market version is a must-buy.

A sumptuous large-format coffee table book, The Rolling Stones is a beautiful artefact, setting a new standard for collections of Rolling Stones photos – indeed, for photos of any rock musicians. It is now the definitive Rolling Stones photos collection.

Rolling Stones photos by top photographers

The Rolling Stones collects together an unprecedented number and range of Rolling Stones photos. Over 500 pages long, in a choice of sizes (large and very large formats), its photos document the band over half a century.

You’ll recognise many of the pictures – the book pulls together Rolling Stones photos by many of the top photographers of the rock era: David Bailey, Bent Rej, Gered Mankowitz, Guy Webster, Ethan Russell, Anton Corbijn, Dominique Tarle, Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson, Jean-Marie Périer, Terry Richardson… and 50+ others.

It also has Rolling Stones photos you won’t have seen before, including bonus out-takes from otherwise familiar Rolling Stones photo shoots.

The original images are high quality. Taschen have executed the project with exemplary thoroughness and panache: the reproductions are first-class.

Crucially, the book has the imprimatur of the “art world”: it includes a playful contextual essay by Waldemar Januszczak – easily my favourite art documentary-maker.  Januszczak’s endorsement is more important than that by an ex-US President Stones celeb fan, which I haven’t bothered to read.

Rolling Stones photos for investors

The Rolling Stones is offered in three versions.

Rolling Stones photos book by Taschen

The Rolling Stones – limited edition, cover photo by Gered Mankowitz

The “SUMO-size” (50cm x 50cm) limited edition of 1,600 includes an Art Edition of 450, with 75 copies fronted by covers by each of David Bailey, Bent Rej, Gered Mankowitz, Guy Webster, Ethan Russell and Anton Corbijn. Prices: David Bailey cover – £10,500/$15,000; the other five covers – £7,000/$10,000.

Copies 1-450 include a signed original print.

The other 1150 limited edition copies, numbered 451-1,600, have a striking cover photo from Gered Mankowitz’s early morning Primrose Hill shoot which supplied the cover for Between the Buttons. They are priced at £3,500/$5,000.

All 1,600 are numbered and signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.

Serious investors tempted by the limited edition will be reassured by the Rolling Stones’ market position, their signatures, the quality of the photographs, the renown of the photographers, the edition’s limit of 1,600 copies, the sheer bravado of the product itself, as well as the Taschen brand and its marketing clout.

Before I laid out £3,500-£10,500, though, I’d need to do some homework. I’d need some hard data on the aftermarket and resale value of comparable assets – high-end rock art limited editions, Rolling Stones collectables, as well as Taschen’s other de luxe limited edition books.

Rolling Stones photos for collectors and fans

The Sumo-size limited edition version is enormous – you’d need a very strong coffee table to hold it. It dwarfs the “XL-size” (33cm x 33cm) mass market version of The Rolling Stones, which is “merely” very big.

Rolling Stones photos - Taschen book

The Rolling Stones: Taschen’s XL-size mass market edition, cover photo by Gered Mankowitz

The XL-size has the same content, in a smaller format, and it’s priced at £99.99/$150 from Taschen and selected retailers (Hatchard’s in Piccadilly, London had stock when I visited). Amazon have been discounting what looks like the same version – though there is some confusion – to £65.

For collectors and fans of Rolling Stones photos, the XL version of The Rolling Stones is, quite simply, a must-buy.

Exhibitions of Rolling Stones photos

The Rolling Stones book was launched by a celeb-magnet exhibition, “It’s Just a Shot Away”, launching Taschen’s new Los Angeles gallery at 8070 Beverly Blvd, Hollywood.

Rolling Stones photos by David Bailey

Goats Head Soup shoot by David Bailey: cover for Art Edition 1-75 and limited edition prints

The show presented over a hundred photographs by 15 of the photographers featured in the book, with high-priced limited edition prints for sale.

When I visited Taschen London on 12 March – it’s opposite The Saatchi Gallery near Sloane Square – it (and, presumably, other Taschen stores) had a selection of for-sale prints on display alongside different versions of The Rolling Stones book.

How the Taschen book of Rolling Stones photos compares

The new Taschen masterwork isn’t, of course, the only book of Rolling Stones photos you can buy.  Nor is it the only high-priced, de luxe, limited edition book of Rolling Stones photos.  I’ll be reviewing the best of the groaning shelf of Stones photo books here on ROCK ART EDITIONS soon.

Rolling Stones photos – documenting the Rock Age

Ever since the emergence of the Rolling Stones in the early 1960s, a succession of top photographers – and thousands of lesser peers – have queued up to capture them on film. And the resulting images have been powerful tools in building the Stones as a global brand.

Rolling Stones photos are a central plank of rock art. The Rolling Stones by Taschen, in documenting the premier band of the Rock Age, unwittingly documents the Rock Age itself.

More information: Taschen

Copyright: images © Taschen/Gered Mankowitz 2014 and Taschen/David Bailey 2014.  (Taschen London window display photograph by Gerald Smith.)  Text by Gerald Smith.  Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Rolling Stones posters: top picks from 14 On Fire

Rolling Stones posters are prized by fans: the best posters look as attractive now as they did when they were first printed.

You can pick them up for a song. And, after framing, a good Rolling Stones poster will grace the home of any fan, however grand or humble. If you attended a gig, the poster will always have extra resonance for you.

Rolling Stones tour posters

Rolling Stones poster, American Tour 1981

My favourite Rolling Stones poster has always been the achingly beautiful, Art Deco-inspired artwork for the American Tour 1981. You can see it on the Stones Archive website, where it’s now employed as the album cover of the “official bootleg” mp3 release of the Hampton Coliseum gig, and also on the new 2CD/DVD box of the same show.

Rolling Stones posters promoting the UK Tour 1971 (vintage sports car), and A Bigger Bang 2005-07 (Stones lips logo exploding) also figure amongst my favourites. These, and several more, are design classics.

Not all Rolling Stones posters were created equal, though. The music from the Brussels 1973 gig might be incandescent, but the cover art for the “official bootleg” mp3 release, based on the European tour 1973 poster, is, to my eyes, little more than adolescent smut.

Rolling Stones posters from 14 On Fire

The recently completed 14 On Fire tour continued the tradition of outstanding Rolling Stones posters, with some delightfully distinctive artwork promoting the individual shows.

Rolling Stones poster, Roskilde, 14 On Fire tour

Rolling Stones poster, Roskilde, Denmark, 2014

Every Stones collector will have a favourite poster from 14 On Fire. Those which caught my eye were the posters promoting the shows in Paris, Sydney (Bennelong Point ie site of Sydney Opera House), Pinkpop (Netherlands), Perth (black swan) and Roskilde.

Posters such as these immortalise a unique grand event by visually linking the location with the band’s appearance there. Essential for a promo vehicle, they make an immediate impact. And the design and execution of the artwork ensure that owners will enjoy living with the posters for many years.

Rolling Stones posters, individual 2014 shows and box sets

If you missed buying the 2014 On Fire posters at the gigs, some slightly smaller limited editions – Tour Lithos – are scheduled for publication soon, at £40 each from the official Rolling Stones website. I’d guess they’ll be snapped up quickly.

Rolling Stones memorabilia - tour poster, Perth, Australia, 14 On Fire

Rolling Stones poster, Perth W.A., Oct 2014

Although they’re being sold as “limited editions”, there’s no indication on the site of the size of the edition. Without knowing the edition size, you’d buy them for pleasure, not as “investments”.

Better-heeled collectors of Rolling Stones posters might be more interested in the De Luxe European box set (21 shows) at £630, the De Luxe Asian box set (7 shows) at £220, or the Bundle of both sets at £850. Again, there’s no indication of the size of the limited edition, though the sets are individually numbered.

Posters for the Australia/NZ shows are only available as individual Tour Lithos.

Rock show posters: worth buying?

In general, posters for rock shows can be a worthwhile, if low value, investment, though they are best seen as nice-to-have collectables.  Original posters for shows by big-ticket acts like the Rolling Stones are occasionally sold for four figure sums – but they need to be in mint condition, and to advertise shows held long ago.

You have to be careful with tour posters, though – the market is swamped by cheap reproductions, only some of which are officially sanctioned. And fakes abound; some of them look authentic.

If I were a more committed Rolling Stones rock art buyer, I’d seriously consider buying the 2014 De Luxe Bundle, alongside artworks like Richard Hamilton and Andy Warhol limited edition Mick Jagger portraits and The Rolling Stones, the new Taschen limited edition book.

The new Rolling Stones posters for 14 On Fire demonstrate once again that the Stones are the unrivalled masters at monetising talent.

The new releases continue the win-win tradition of pleasing fans and collectors while enriching the enterprise: the Rolling Stones posters for 14 On Fire will appeal to many budget collectors and not a few well-heeled investors.

Mick Jagger portraits: a guide for beginners

Mick Jagger portraits are everywhere.

Visit any major art gallery with a contemporary collection and Mick Jagger will probably be there to greet you. Spend ten minutes in a high street gallery dealing in art for your walls, and you’re likely to come across the Rolling Stones singer.

Mick Jagger portraits vary, both in quality and price. Here are four examples of paintings and mixed media artwork I’d consider if building an ideal rock art collection. You can see the first two pieces in national galleries in London, the other two in selected high street outlets.

Mick Jagger portraits #1: Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol’s Mick Jagger portraits are the pick of the crop.

Why? Because they are intrinsically attractive. And because they have the art world’s official seal of approval – I shot the photograph below in the prestigious National Portrait Gallery, London.

Mick Jagger portrait by Andy Warhol

Mick Jagger portrait, National Portrait Gallery, London © Andy Warhol

Like all artwork by Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger prints are reassuringly expensive – auctioned by leading houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, they achieve prices of tens of thousands of pounds.

You need to do your homework, though – there are many variant limited edition prints of images from the same Andy Warhol project.

Mick Jagger portraits #2: Richard Hamilton – Swingeing London

Richard Hamilton, the leading English exponent of Pop Art, is the other top artist with Mick Jagger portraits in his portfolio.

Swingeing London, an iconic image based on a press photograph of Mick Jagger in handcuffs, was reproduced in a series of mixed media limited edition prints.

Mick Jagger, poster boy for Richard Hamilton exhibition, Tate Modern, London, 2013

Mick Jagger, from Swingeing London by Richard Hamilton. © Tate Modern, London 2014

I’ve seen variants of Swingeing London in leading London galleries such as Tate Britain, as well as smaller spaces like the Serpentine Gallery, Christie’s Mayfair and Alan Cristea.

My photograph shows the poster for the recent Richard Hamilton blockbuster exhibition at Tate Modern, London.  The inspirational exhibition has since been shown at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.

Mick Jagger portraits by Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton are fundamental building blocks of any representative collection of rock art. I’ll be profiling them in more detail here on ROCK | ART | EDITIONS: you can ensure you don’t miss them by subscribing to receive new posts by email (subscription sign-up at top right of this page).

If Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton prints are beyond your budget, though, you can pick from a wide range of Mick Jagger portraits at more affordable prices. Here are two examples which caught my eye recently.

Mick Jagger portraits #3: Kate Gibb – Electric Mick – Two

Kate Gibb’s Electric Mick – Two is a striking piece. On a leisurely summer outing to Brighton, as I passed Art Republic (13 Bond St, Brighton), it almost sucked me in off the street!

Mick Jagger portrait, Electric Mick 2, by Kate Gibb

Electric Mick -Two © Kate Gibb 2014

The image here is of a signed (by the artist) silkscreen limited edition of 50. It was priced at £1100 in the shop. You can buy it online from Art Republic – directly and via Amazon.

Electric Mick also comes in several other editions, using different colours.  Electric Mick – One is presented in a blue palette, for example.  And in different sizes.

Mick Jagger portraits #4: Louis Sidoli

And Mick Jagger portraits just keep on coming. The most recent example is this giclee on paper limited edition (of 495) by Louis Sidoli (£399), which I saw last week at Castle Galleries, St Christopher Place, London W1.

Mick Jagger portrait by Louis Sidoli, Castle Galleries, London

Mick Jagger © Louis Sidolio

Any collector of Mick Jagger portraits faces an embarrassment of riches. And apart from a host of paintings and mixed media artworks like those featured here, you have to consider photographs.

Mick Jagger has few equals in attracting the camera lens, so there are probably more extant photographs of him than of any other rock musician.

I’ll be profiling the most collectable Mick Jagger photographs here on ROCK | ART | EDITIONS: if you have any suggestions, please email me and I’ll include them.

© ROCK | ART | EDITIONS 2014

Bob Dylan art: good. Ronnie Wood art: not so good. Review of rock musicians who paint

A recent review of rock musicians who paint gives Bob Dylan the thumbs up. Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood isn’t so lucky.

Bob Dylan pastel portraits

Bob Dylan: Face Value, 2013 exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London. © Gerald Smith 2013

According to Jonathan Jones’s article in The Guardian newspaper (posted on 8 September 2014), Bob Dylan art has “a basic toughness and competence to it – some of his intelligence shines through… (his art) enriches his achievement as a myth maker.”

But “There is no point at all to Ronnie Wood’s art…”, according to Jones.

ROCK | ART | EDITIONS favourite Joni Mitchell has “a style as an artist… paintings that are worth a second look. Perhaps a third… is making art that really matters to her.” Paul Simonon (The Clash) also gets Jones’s seal of approval.

Not so Marilyn Manson (the painting reviewed is “…stupid and incompetent”) or Paul Stanley of Kiss (his sample painting is “dreck… rubbish”).

There’s no mention in the Guardian article of Miles Davis or Leonard Cohen, both highly regarded here, or even Don Van Vliet (aka Capt Beefheart), seen by many as the most accomplished rock muso painter.

Art critic Jonathan Jones certainly knows far more about art than me, so I find his views well worth considering – and I recommend you to read his article. Whether you share Jones’s views is, of course, entirely up to you.

How to judge rock art
I don’t believe there are any objective criteria for assessing a painting – or any other creative work, for that matter.

Being a successful musician doesn’t mean you’ll become the next Rembrandt if you pick up a paintbrush. But it probably means that your chances are slightly higher than the Average (less creative) Joe.

And a few top rockers are demonstrably multi-talented. You want to discuss Bob Dylan’s creativity across different media? How long have you got? Bob Dylan art? I love (much of) it.

Everyone judges a painting (or a piece of music) differently. I suspect that our initial response is emotional and that we then impose intellectual criteria as a secondary process, to validate emotional preferences.

When I start to think about a painting (… music… film… novel…) I usually ask:
* does the work evoke an emotional response?
* does it say anything worthwhile? of interest to me?
* is the execution good enough to let the above shine through?

Artists covered on ROCK | ART | EDITIONS
Judged by these criteria, most rock musicians covered in ROCK | ART | EDITIONS succeed as visual artists. So, I’ll continue to favour painters like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simonon. Ronnie Wood – and even Marilyn Manson and Paul Stanley – will also be included.

I suspect you won’t be shy in letting me know if you think this is a misjudgment!

Rock Art exhibitions: what to see in September

Beatles White Album exhibition in Liverpool

We Buy White Albums © R Chang/FACT, Liverpool 2014

There’s a wealth of rock art exhibitions around the world this September. Here are some of the exhibitions ROCK | ART | EDITIONS would be attending if it were possible.

BOB DYLAN by Douglas R. Gilbert: Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan by Douglas R. Gilbert, 30+ photos from 1964. South Haven Center for the Arts, 600 Phoenix St., South Haven MI, USA. To 7 Sept. Free.

AMERICAN COOL: 100 “cool Americans”, including musicians Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis and Jay-Z, film actors like Lauren Bacall, and writers such as Ernest Hemingway. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington DC, USA. To 7 September. Free.

THE BEATLES – multiple White Album covers in Liverpool: Rutherford Chang is at FACT in Liverpool to exhibit and add to his enormous collection of copies of The Beatles’ White Album, designed by leading English Pop artist Richard Hamilton. The We Buy White Albums exhibition is set up like a record shop with multiple copies of the single product; and Chang is buying, not selling! FACT and Liverpool International Music Festival, We Buy White Albums, FACT loading bay, Wood Street, Liverpool until 14 September. FACT, Liverpool

MICK JAGGER by Richard Hamilton: Richard Hamilton’s magnificent retrospective, featuring mixed media tableaux of a handcuffed Mick Jagger, and originally shown at Tate Modern in London, has now opened at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain. To 13 October. Highly recommended.

BOB DYLAN by Richard Avedon: Richard Avedon People – Perth, Western Australia exhibition of 80 photographs by Richard Avedon, including an evocative shot of Bob Dylan on a cold February 1965 day in Central Park. Art Gallery of WA, Perth, Australia. To 17 Nov.

KEITH RICHARDS, LOU REED, AMY WINEHOUSE in Paris: Sonic is a new exhibition of portraits of musicians by Hedi Slimane, photographer and Yves Saint Laurent designer, at Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent, in Paris. It showcases shots of Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Amy Winehouse and Brian Wilson taken in London, New York, and California. 18 Sept-11 Jan 2015. Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent

PETER BLAKE: A new permanent mural, Appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, on display near the Cafe Bar, Royal Albert Hall, London. Free. Gathers 400+ performers who have appeared since the Hall opened. Notable rock musicians include Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.

 

You are strongly advised to check details with a venue’s website before travelling – some shows require advance booking and details can change, often at short notice.

Have you seen any of these shows? What did you think of it? Your comments are very welcome. Have I missed an important show?

Visitors and galleries: please tell us of any show we have missed, for inclusion in next month’s round-up. Please send comments/details of shows to ROCK | ART | EDITIONS via “Leave a reply” at the top of this post.

Compilation © ROCK | ART | EDITIONS Ltd 2014

Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Van Morrison: three tempting limited edition books

A Bob Dylan book costing £450. A Rolling Stones book in a box set priced at $750. And a new book of Van Morrison lyrics retailing at £500.

What on earth is happening?

Well, the ever-innovative world of rock art is maturing, and limited edition books are taking their place alongside limited edition prints and photographs as key targets for collectors.

Here are three tempting new(ish) limited edition books by top rock musicians.

#1 Bob Dylan – Drawn Blank

Bob Dylan Drawn Blank prints catalogue

Bob Dylan Drawn Blank Series Catalogue: Deluxe Edition © Halcyon Gallery

There have been several catalogues of the releases of Bob Dylan’s Drawn Blank prints.

The latest, Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series Catalogue (2013), comes in two versions: a standard version, priced at £45; and Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series Catalogue Deluxe Edition, housed in a boxed package, including two limited edition pencil sketch lithographs, in a limited edition of 999, priced at £450.

Available from publishers Halcyon Gallery

#2 Rolling Stones – The Brussels Affair Box, Collector’s Edition

Rolling Stones Collector's Box Set

The Brussels Affair Box – Collector’s Edition © Stones Archive

A Brussels Affair (1973), long a key Rolling Stones audio bootleg, has been brought in-house for official release by the Rolling Stones Archive.

The magnificent album is available as an MP3 download, retailing for a giveaway $7.

The considerate folk at Rolling Stones Archive have catered for serious Rolling Stones collectors by also releasing a deluxe package, with the music presented on two CDs and as a triple set of 180gm vinyl LPs.

The highlight of the package for me, though, is the striking cased book documenting the 1973 tour, with text by Nick Kent and photographs by Michael Putland, numbered and signed by them… and Mick Jagger.

The box also has a lithograph of the 1973 tour poster (and a custom-made watch!)

The Brussels Affair Box – Collector’s Edition comes in a limited edition of 1,727, priced at $750.

Available from the Stones Archive

#3 Van Morrison – Lit Up Inside

Van Morrison lyrics Faber

Van Morrison limited edition lyrics Lit Up Inside

And on 2 October Faber are to release the selected lyrics of Van Morrison, as a trade hardback, a Limited Edition of 250 (£150) and a Deluxe Edition of 50 (£500).

Lit Up Inside is a double first. It marks the first publication of Van Morrison lyrics. And it’s the first venture into limited edition publishing in the rock market by Faber, the legendary London publisher best known for its long association with TS Eliot.

Available from Faber

These are innovative limited edition books from a trio of top rock acts … very tempting.

Rock Art: what to see in August 2014

There’s a wealth of rock art on show around the world this August. Here are some of the more enticing exhibitions.

JIMMY PAGE by his daughter: Resonators: Guitar heroes, Jimmy Page to Johnny Marr by photographer Scarlet Page (daughter of Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin). Images for sale, proceeds to the Teenage Cancer Trust. ArtHouse Crouch End, London N8. To 6 August. Free.

RONNIE WOOD of the ROLLING STONES: Ronnie Wood: Art and Music, William Benton Museum of Art in Storrs, University of Connecticut, USA. To 10 August. Free.

Mick Jagger cover of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, by Richard Bernstein

Mick Jagger – Interview. © Richard Bernstein

MICK JAGGER by Richard Bernstein: Richard Bernstein Interview Cover Art, portraits of 1970s and 1980s celebs, including Mick Jagger, for the cover of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. Fashion Illustration Gallery at The Mayor Gallery, 22A Cork St., London W1. To 23 Aug.

BOB DYLAN: photographs by Daniel Kramer, Paulucci Space Theatre, Hibbing Community College, Hibbing MN, USA. To 23 August. Free.

TERRY O’NEILL: The Rolling Stones plus other 1960s musicians/celebs on view at Terry O’Neill: The Man Who Shot the Sixties, Izzy Gallery, Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Canada. To 24 August.

GREAT BLACK MUSIC: Michael Jackson, Cesaria Evora, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Myriam Makeba, Oum Kalsoum, among many others. La Cité de la Musique, in NE Paris, France. To 24 August.

PATTI SMITH: Celebrating local resilience after Hurricane Sandy, “Rockaway!“, is a series of installations around Fort Tilden. Includes Patti Smith’s Resilience of the Dreamer, a gold and white bed inside an abandoned locomotive repair building. To 1 September.

BOB DYLAN by Douglas R. Gilbert: Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan by Douglas R. Gilbert, 30+ photos from 1964. South Haven Center for the Arts, 600 Phoenix St., South Haven MI, USA. To 7 Sept. Free.

AMERICAN COOL: 100 “cool Americans”, including musicians Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis and Jay-Z, film actors like Lauren Bacall, and writers such as Ernest Hemingway. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian, Washington DC, USA. To 7 September. Free.

MICK JAGGER by Richard Hamilton: Richard Hamilton’s magnificent retrospective, featuring mixed media tableaux of a handcuffed Mick Jagger, and originally shown at Tate Modern in London, has now opened at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain. To 13 October. Highly recommended.

BOB DYLAN by Richard Avedon: Richard Avedon People – Perth, Western Australia exhibition of 80 photographs by Richard Avedon, including an evocative shot of Bob Dylan on a cold February 1965 day in Central Park. Art Gallery of WA, Perth, Australia. 2 August-17 Nov

PETER BLAKE: A new permanent mural, Appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, on display near the Cafe Bar, Royal Albert Hall, London. Free. Gathers 400+ performers who have appeared since the Hall opened. Notable rock musicians include Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.

Peter Blake will be best known to many readers of ROCK | ART | EDITIONS for his celebrated artwork on the cover of the Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

(You are strongly advised to check details with a venue’s website before travelling – some shows require advance booking and details can change, often at short notice)

Have you seen any of these shows? What did you think of it? Your comments are very welcome. Have I missed an important show?

Visitors and galleries: please tell us of any show we have missed, for inclusion in next month’s round-up. Please send comments/details of shows to ROCK | ART | EDITIONS via “Leave a reply” at the top of this post.

Compilation © ROCK | ART | EDITIONS Ltd 2014

Rolling Stones box sets: triumph and disappointment

Rolling Stones box sets provide handy, collectable versions of most of the albums and nearly all the singles. Some of the box sets are beautifully packaged – models of rock art. Some aren’t.

Rolling Stones aficionados disagree about the music of the different releases, as well as their sonic quality. But this post – the first of a trio – isn’t about music or sound quality. It focuses on the packaging, the commercial rock art.

Rolling Stones releases have been generally housed in outstanding album and singles covers, with designs by top artists, notably Andy Warhol, David Bailey and Gered Mankowitz. Judged as rock art, however, Rolling Stones box sets vary.

The post-1971 singles are housed in one of the best packages, while the box set of contemporaneous albums is the most disappointing in the Rolling Stones catalogue.

Rolling Stones Singles 1971-2006 box set

Singles 1971-2006

Rolling Stones Singles 1971-2006 box set, 2011

Rolling Stones Singles 1971-2006 box set is a triumph. Two well-fitting, secure, colourful boxes, individual card sleeves for all 45 CDs – most are replicas of the originals – a helpful booklet, all make for a desirable artefact. It’s appropriate housing for the memorable music it safeguards. The strong, unified design of the box set reinforces the Rolling Stones brand – creativity, fun, vivacity. The shocking pink was a surprise, but it works. The package is visually interesting: you can spend time enjoying and decoding it. True believers buy the Rolling Stones Singles 1971-2006 box set for the packaging alone. (They already own most of the music several times over.)

Rolling Stones Box Set (albums)

Rolling Stones albums, 1970-2005, box set

The Rolling Stones Box Set, 2010

By comparison, The Rolling Stones Box Set, the package of fourteen post-1970 studio albums recorded for Rolling Stones Records/Virgin Records and released in 2010 by Polydor, is unimpressive – judged purely as packaging, of course; it houses some of the high peaks of Rolling Stones music.

The fourteen albums come in plastic jewel cases, housed in a simple, flimsy cardboard slip case. Nothing else. And even the box has minimal design. Dismal. Perfunctory. Niggardly. If someone mistakenly bought me The Rolling Stones Box Set for Christmas, I’d quietly sell it or give it away.

The other Rolling Stones compilation box sets, of the ABKCO/Decca LPs and singles, are also a mixed bag. The de luxe re-releases of individual LPs – Exile on Main St., ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’, Some Girls, and GRRR! – have the same commercial aim (enrich the musicians) but a different creative purpose. I’ll be reviewing them all in due course.

The bottom line, of course, is that, in addition to housing some of the best rock music ever released, some of the Rolling Stones box sets showcase the finest rock art. As always with the Rolling Stones, art meets commerce. They get on very well, thank you very much.

Top Rolling Stones album covers: official bootlegs

Rolling Stones album covers rank among the strongest images in rock art.

You even find high quality album cover artwork among the lesser-known Rolling Stones “official bootlegs”.

The Rolling Stones Archive of officially authorised live sets has a couple of inspired covers. My favourite is the album cover for Hampton Coliseum (Live 1981).

Rolling Stones official bootleg 1981

Hampton Coliseum (Live 1981), Rolling Stones Archive

Hampton Coliseum (Live 1981) competes with better-known mass market releases such as The Rolling Stones or Out Of Our Heads (UK) for the accolade of top Rolling Stones album cover.

The Brussels Affair ’73 has long been a favourite bootleg recording among Rolling Stones aficionados.  The official release, the cleaned-up 2011 version, mixing both the fabled shows at la Forêt Nationale, also has a striking cover, though some might balk at its adolescent smuttiness.

Rolling Stones official bootleg, 1973

The Brussels Affair ’73, Rolling Stones Archive

The album covers of the other releases in the series – LA Friday (Live 1975), Live At The Tokyo Dome (1990), and Light The Fire (Toronto Phoenix Club, 2005) – are noteworthy, but lack the impact of the Hampton and Brussels albums.

You can download all these albums – and their fine album cover artwork – at low cost, from the Rolling Stones Archive